Archive for November, 2010

Foxearth History Society – November 9th

For its meeting on November 9th the Foxearth and District History Society welcomed a return visit by local historian, Anne Grimshaw who took as her subject “The world of the working horse” Anne felt that research into the history of the horse at work had not received much attention in the past and she gave a very detailed account of how the animal had been used by mankind since time immemorial. Pack horses had carried just about everything as they were able to cope with the rough terrain of primitive roads. Public transport in the form of horse drawn coaches arrived at the beginning of the 19th century and a network of inns with stabling developed. The coaching business thrived – but there were no emergency exits! Passengers were given manuals on what to do when (not if!) the coach overturned. Horses pulled fire engines and canal barges, funeral hearses and delivery wagons. One of the last vehicles to stop using horses was the milk float. Farmers relied heavily on their teams of strong horses before the advent of mechanised equipment and in Word War 1 thousands of horses were lost on the front line.

This very entertaining talk was accompanied by lots of slides showing horses at work on for example the London underground railway construction, pit ponies and ingenious inventions for using horse power. Some wealthy estate owners built beautiful stable blocks as evidence of the pride they took in their charges. Anne told us of a few of the weird superstitions associated with mans’ power over the beast including a most curious procedure involving a frogs leg. Early photographs of Anne in the saddle proved her lifelong interest – an interest that had never fallen off!

On behalf of the 17 members present Chairman Alan Fitch warmly thanked Anne for her contribution.

On routine matters Alan reported that the Committee had decided to set up a Friends of the Society to cater for those people who preferred to attend occasionally rather than pursue full membership. It had also been agreed that the membership fee would remain at £10 for the next year. Arrangements still had to be finalised for the Christmas meal and members would be informed as soon as possible. The next meeting of the Society is on Tuesday 11th January 2011 in Foxearth Village Hall when there will be a talk on the making of a TV programme.

Ken Nice