A sculpture of a working Shire horse was unveiled at Liverpool docks on Saturday (1 May) to commemorate the horses’ efforts during the Second World War.

Called “Waiting”, the statue — a life-size bronze Shire — was designed by sculptor Judy Boyt and unveiled outside the Museum of Liverpool on May Day.

Heavy horses were a vital cog in the war effort, carting food and raw materials from the docks to the city when vehicles and fuel became scarce.

At the peak of their use, as many as 20,000 horses — more than any UK city except London — worked in Liverpool, helping establish its reputation as a major commercial centre.

The project has taken over 10 years to complete after a group of 10 retired carters proposed the monument in 1999.

“It’s been a long time coming, but this makes it all worthwhile,” said ex-carter Jimmy Doran, 78, who was a pony lad at the docks from 1944-5.

The British Shire Horse Society supported the statue, contributing £3,000 towards it being built and providing four heavy horses for the unveiling ceremony.

Judy Boyt’s other well-known equestrian sculptures include Evocation of Speed in Epsom town centre and a statue of Golden Miller at Cheltenham Racecourse.