“THESE HORSES ARE FOND OF A PINT OF STOUT
HORSE-DRAWN carts are not very common sight these days, so the appearance in Burnley this week of a pair of thoroughbred Shire horses pulling a dray and accompanied by a gaitered driver and his assistant has caused passers-by to give them more than a casual glance.
The horses and dray are owned by Whitbread and Co., Ltd., brewers, of London. Ever since 1742 Whitbread’s have been brewing beer and ever since that time their brightly coloured drays, which deliver the beer to public houses, have been drawn by Shire horses. Whitbread’s, incidentally, own the only brewery which is actually in the City of London.
Shire horses, noted for their pulling power, are bought by the firm at the age of five years, and some of them give from 15 to 20 years’ service. At first a “newcomer" is paired up with an older horse until it is accustomed to the work and the traffic, then later it is paired up with a horse of the same age. As a reward for their work these horses are often given the opportunity to sample their load, and anyone in the vicinity of Gunsmith-lane on Thursday morning may have seen Burnley’s unusual visitors enjoying a pint of stout!
MR. STRICKLAND (left) and his assistant, Mr. Jack Turkentine, with the horses.
UNCLE AND UMPIRE
Altogether Whitbread’s own about 30 horses which are usually employed in London. From time to time they are sent out to carry on their work in provincial towns, as have “Uncle” and Umpire,” who are staying in Burnley for three weeks.
Both horses are five years old and each weighs about 18cwt. and stands 17 hands high.
Driver of the pair is Mr. Jack Strickland, who has been employed the firm for 29 years. Last year, at the Coronation, Mr. Strickland was the driver of the Speaker’s coach, which is drawn on such occasions by a pair of the firm’s horses.
The privilege of horsing the Speaker’s coach on great State occasions has been enjoyed by Whitbread’s since 1839, when Charles Shaw Lefevre, a partner in the brewery, became Speaker of the House of Commons.
During their stay in Burnley “Uncle” and “Umpire” are being accommodated at the Co-operative Society’s stables near Mitella-street."
Burnley Express - Saturday 23 October 1954, page 13.
Why would Whitbread be sending their dray horses so far outside their normal trading area? Their pubs were pretty much all in the Southeast at this time. I think what’s on the dray says a lot: crates of bottles. Whitbread were national when it came to bottled beer. And what better way to gain publicity for your bottles beer than by parading a horse and dray through town?
I knew that dray horses were given beer, but I’m surprised it was Stout. I’d have thought horses would prefer Brown Ale or Mild.