Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

What Happened to Horsepower?

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

What Happened to Horsepower?

Article excerpt

IT may be our imagination, but it seems that ever since we published the "Penny a ride" story in RW 103 it has sparked off people's memories of having the milk or coal delivered by horse-drawn cart. It sounds incredibly archaic now but horse drawn deliveries were still a common sight through the 1950s until the early 1960s as Geoff Ward from Stockton recalls.

"I read the other day that there are more horses in Britain now than there have ever been in any other time in our history. It seems such an unlikely statistic that it is probably true. All I know is that compared to my childhood in the 1950s street horses seem virtually extinct.

"I grew up in the York Road area of Middlesbrough and remember 'helping' the milkman on his horse drawn cart to deliver the milk until he paid us with a bottle of orange juice just to go away. All the bottles had different coloured tops, silver for ordinary milk, gold for extra cream, red top for semi-skimmed and blue for skimmed, the orange juice bottles had green foil tops.

"All this was pulled by a horse who I was told by the milkman would stop without being prompted because he worked the round so often. One morning I was woken by a commotion outside, the milkman was swearing loudly at the horse because it had wandered off yards down the street taking the cart with him - presumably this was a new horse.

"In addition to the milkman and his horse was the coal man with his cart pulled by two magnificent heavy horses. Those poor old horses had to be strong as everyone burned coal then even during the summertime and the cart would be fully laden with hundredweight sacks. "The men would heft those heavy loads on to their backs and after tipping the contents into the coal house would then drop the empty sack for the housewife to count so she knew how many had been delivered and therefore how much she owed.

"If she was canny she simply counted the sound of the emptying sacks rather than count through the dirty coal dust coated sacks, there was a lot of trust about in those days.

"As well as coal, we used to get a delivery of logs, and this cart was pulled by a horse called Darkie. …

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