A TRULY evocative picture from the past this week as we see a sight gone forever - the daily round of the horse-drawn butcher’s cart, known to all locals as “The Meat Wagon”.
The 1930s scene is in Wickworth Street, Nelson, and the horse and cart and butcher’s boy are part of the then huge local retail giants, “The Nelson Co-operative and Industrial Society Ltd”. The Co-op had dozens of branches throughout the town and villages. However, these mobile shops were most popular with residents as the horses clip-clopped along the street’s stone setts.
Note on our photo to the left in the background is a sweetshop, complete with glass jars full of goodies; this was for many years, William Pickles, grocers and confectioners shop at No. 5 Wickworth Street.
See also, as well as choice cuts of meat in the glass-sided butcher’s cart are also freshly-caught rabbits hung outside, just by the cloth-capped, striped apron-clad butcher.
Today, in the 21st Century, horse and carts are a true rarity on our streets. However, for myself growing up in Colne during the 1940s and ‘50s, horses were to be seen on our street every day. Let’s go back in time to Hall Street, Colne, 1949, on a sunny June morning.
First up is our friendly milkman, John White, with his proud white Irish draught horse, “Prince”, with his long mane blowing in the summer breeze.
Next up is the long-serving coalman, Harry Carradice, and his enormous 18-hands high shire horse “Roger”, the biggest horse in the area.
Now, coming down our street and calling out “Rag-Bone” is “Long Joe” Knowles with his piebald horse “Flash”, the fastest in town. Finally, we see happy fruit and vegetable man Bob Briggs with his splendid chestnut horse “Major”, who we always gave sugar lumps to eat.
Now that marvellous sound of horses hooves on the setts has disappeared forever I, for one, mourn their passing.