Visitors to the new National Brewery Centre opening in Burton Upon Trent, Staffordshire, will be greeted by two shire horses, a breed with a historic role in the brewing industry.

The centre, which is due to open on 1 May, has just launched a competition to name one of the horses, offering an annual family ticket to the winner.

Major, a 16.3hh two-year-old gelding, and an as-yet-unnamed 15.2hh yearling colt will be stabled at the brewery during weekends and school holidays, retiring to pasture at a nearby farm during term-time.

“We are absolutely delighted to be bringing the shires back to the stables here,” said John Lowther, chief executive of Planning Solutions Ltd, who is behind revamping the former Coors Visitor Centre and Museum site, which closed in 2008.

“Shires are an integral part of the history of brewing and will have been a very familiar sight throughout the UK delivering beer.”

The brewery has appointed Andrew Whetton, who used to work at a Blackburn brewery looking after shires and delivering beer and has successfully competed in shire horse shows throughout the UK, as head horseman.

“Shires are in my blood and a large part of my life has been dedicated to these magnificent creatures,” said Andrew. “I’m really happy to be working at the new centre showing visitors just how great these horses are.”

The horses, which are owned by local company Dream Ponies Ltd, will be used to pull drays at big occasions such as weddings, and will compete in shows.

“The two shires are still young and won’t be driving the drays until they reach three,” said Lucy Quy from Dream Ponies Ltd.

“When they are reach full maturity — at about five-years-old — they will stand at 18hh and weigh a tonne!”

Entries for the naming competition close on 31 March. To enter, send your suggested name and contact details to