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Thursday, 6 October 2016

A Trusty Horse: Sepia Saturday - Here to There 2

A trusty horse for work and pleasure

Horses at work in Earlston, in the Scottish Borders 

"Horses are absolutely necessary in this part of the country, for it is by them the farmers labour their farms and drive their corn to market.  They never work with oxen now as they did formerly" -
This is a quote from the chapter on Earlston, Berwickshire in  "The First Statistical Account of Scotland" written 1791-1799.    

Sixty years on,  the 1851 census for Earlston (population 1,819)  lists 9 men working as  blacksmiths, 7 carters/carriers, 3 saddlers, 2  stable boys, an ostler, a farrier, a groom and a coachman - plus of course all those who would be working  with horses on the many farms in the parish.  This meant the horse made a vital contribution to the local economy. 

  Earlston Smiddy - still  held by the same family down many generations. 

Anyone tracing their family history, may well have a "carter" or "carrier" in their ancestry - an essential occupation in transporting goods - as shown in these photographs   

My great grandfather Robert Rawcliffe of Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire was described as a carter, but otherwise the only other "horse"! connection in my direct line is a recollection of my father who left school at the aged of 14. In his own words:

  "I went to work at the grocers.  I had been an errand boy there and also worked on Saturdays with time off for soccer.  I went out in a horse and trap  delivering orders (we sold bags of corn 80 plus pounds).  The pony, a Welsh cob named Tommy, was inclined to be lazy.   At night time I rode him bareback to a field!    
This was  a surprising memory as Dad never gave any indication later in life of having the slightest interest or affinity with horses!
A century on  -  Clydesdale Horses pulling the dray.  advertising Vaux Brewery    Fine Ales at the Border Union Agricultural Show in Kelso. . 

Passengers,  who could afford it, had the chance to hire carriages, or gigs  to get around.
One of the carriages in the Oldham family business of coal men and carters
in Blackpool, Lancashire. 


Two signs in the Stable Yard at the Beamish Open Air Museum in County Durham. 

A horse drawn charabanc in Krakow, Poland 

For journeys further afield, we often think of  the Images of stagecoaches on Christmas cards.  They  look colourful, dashing and rather romantic, but the reality for our ancestors travelling 170 years ago was often very different, with tales of bumpy journeys, freezing cold  conditions and  accidents. 
A wall mural on an inn  in Austria.

A pub sign in Greenwich, London 

We were on holiday in Warsaw, Poland,  when this stage-coach drove into a square  - we never found out what it was all about. 
Horses for Pleasure 
I live  in the Scottish Borders, a region often called "Scotland's Horse Country", where riding is in the blood.   In the summer the towns celebrate their history and heritage with the annual Common Ridings - with  cavalcades of riders re-enacting  the age old ritual of  "riding the marches", made in the past to safeguard burgh rights
Hawick Common Riding with he Cornet carrying "The Banner Blue" 
Photograph by Lesley Fraser, www.ilfimaging.co.uk
Not surprisingly, riding is a popular activity locally  and one my daughter was keen to join at any early age.   

Moving on the real thing - a donkey ride on the beach at  Blackpool. 

 And granddaughter is following suit:

With thanks to Auld Earlston for the use of  photographs from their collection  and also
Click HERE to find out how other bloggers are getting from "Here to There". 


  1. Informative and entertaining as always, and the pix of daughter and granddaughter on horseback bring your post to a perfect conclusion. :) (That's a beautiful pony granddaughter is riding, btw.)

  2. Your post reminds me how important horses have been, and not that long ago actually. I think of my great grandparents as living in "modern times." However, in working on my own post, I realize they relied on horses in their younger days before cars became more readily affordable and available.

  3. I’ve always been a little wary of horses up close (though I love donkeys), but I do appreciate them, especially the ones who pull the plough! You’ve given us a varied selection of interesting photos, and it seems your Dad was a bit of a dark horse himself!

  4. I had thought of doing horses as a blog subject this month, but I have very few photographs compared with your wide-ranging collection. Nell's comment is very appropriate. Do donkey rides still exist on British beaches?


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