A life-size bronze statue of a shire horse will be unveiled in the Albert Dock, Liverpool on 1 May this year, the traditional date for the May Day Horse parade.
The statue is the result of a 10-year campaign, and will be a monument to honour the city’s hard-working dock horses and carters that worked in the city for 250 years.
The eight-foot sculpture, called “Waiting” and created by Judy Boyt, will be mounted on a plinth and accompanied by information on the history of the working horses.
During the prime of Liverpool’s port, the horses were used to carry provisions from the docks to the warehouses and shops, and were integral during the petrol-rationed days of World War II.
In 1935, Liverpool had 4,910 working horses, the second highest number outside London, but their numbers diminished. By the end of the 1960s, vehicles had replaced the remaining horses.
Up until now, the only tribute to the horses was a plaque in Scotland Road, where most of them were originally stabled. However, the carters who used to drive the horses have been leading a fundraising campaign for a proper monument since 1997.
“The horse-drawn carts have 250 years of history and they were so important to Liverpool,” Jimmy Doran, one of the few surviving carters who worked as a pony lad in 1944 and 1945, told local papers.
“During World War II when there was no petrol, it was the horses that kept the goods going. As well as food, they helped bring in vital supplies for the Normandy landings.”
The fundraisers, supported by the Lord Mayor’s charity appeal, Liverpool city council, and the British Shire Horse society, have raised over £120,000.
“Children today can’t reconcile that horse-drawn vehicles would have been used to bring up goods from the docks. There are still some carters left but they’re getting fewer and fewer as time goes on, and I’ve seen how passionate they are about it,” said Sharon Brown, secretary of Liverpool Carters Working Horse Monument Fund.
“It’s a monument to the every day working man who went about his job and put all his effort and care into it. It means so much to them that it will be remembered.”