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Use of horses for freight and passengers in cities

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  • Simon Baddeley
    I have written to the City of Aberdeen in Scotland to see if anyone can throw any light on the following (See quote below)? I have said I would be grateful to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2001
      I have written to the City of Aberdeen in Scotland to see if anyone can
      throw any light on the following (See quote below)? I have said I would be
      grateful to have the opportunity to learn more about this experiment and
      possibly David Welch's whereabouts - presumably in retirement. I thought
      Carfree Cities would find this interesting. Comments? My hunch is that the
      experiment died the death - but could in the right circumstances be
      revisited. We'll see.


      Simon Baddeley
      34 Beaudesert Road
      Birmingham B20 3TG
      United Kingdom
      00 44 121 554 9794
      mobile 07775 655842

      In a report published 12 years ago by the Shire Horse Society with the
      support of the Royal Agricultural Society (RASE) "History with a Future:
      Harnessing the Heavy horse for the 21st Century"(1988) compiled and edited
      by Keith Chivers MA there is the following (among other v.interesting

      Local Authorities
      Perhaps the most successful exploitation so far of the dual role of the
      heavy horse has been achieved by a number of local authorities. Their number
      is growing and the possibilities almost limitless. The kind of work
      performed varies enormously, but the social and therapeutic role is
      essentially always the same, though its value is clearly highest in
      densely-populated towns.

      The City of Aberdeen
      David Welch, Director of leisure and Recreation, is the pioneer of the new
      horse-movement among local authorities, having introduced two Clydesdales in
      December 1980 to replace a 35 cwt (hundredweight) van. The Sunday Times
      commented on the City Council's "extraordinary courage and immunity to
      ridicule in pursuing and proving a seemingly unlikely practical point: that
      heavy horses are not only more attractive than tractors but no less
      efficient and - closest to the heart of municipal treasurers - actually
      cheaper to run".
      There are now 14 Clydesdale geldings in work replacing dumper trucks, vans
      and lorries. There is also a group of brood mares whose foals produce income
      on sale. The Council has also started a stagecoach service, has five white
      cobs taking passengers to and from the parks and children round the city,
      and now runs a landau for use at weddings. Its horses have pulled a street
      organ and have conveyed civic dignitaries on their tours of inspection of
      the parks. The number of council-owned horses in now (Sept 1987) 38.

      The book lists about 11 other local authorities experimenting with these

      David Welch (Aberdeen) was quoted "The technology of the cart is that of 50
      years ago, but there are now lighter stronger materials than those
      traditionally used. Nylon bushes are available for wheels. There are
      substitutes laboriously cleaned chrome chains and fittings. The College of
      Technology in the city is co-operating in looking at ways of introducing
      modern materials . There are advantages in introducing horses beside utility
      and economy. There is the question of civic cheerfulness. Nothing is quite
      so agreeable to the eye as a pair of large horses and a cart, their
      amiability in sharp distinction to the menace and aggression of the motor
      car. Their hooves make a cheerful rhythmical clatter, and the iron shod
      wheels of the cart grate with a continuous burr upon the carriageway like
      the drone of a bagpipe. They elicit smiles from adults and waves from the
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