Brewer’s horses won parade prize to secure grand trophy

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This trophy, currently on display at Weston Park Museum, was given to the ‘best pair of heavy horses’ in the Sheffield May Horse Parade of Monday May 7, 1906.

The Horse Parade was an annual procession from Fitzwilliam Street to Hillsborough Park.

The parade showed off the city’s working horses used by traders such as brewers, butchers and grocers

The parade was reported in great detail by the Sheffield Independent newspaper and describes the “enormous masses” of people that lined the Moor and along the whole route, delaying the trams for several hours.

The parade showed off the city’s working horses used by trades such as brewers, butchers, grocers and milk sellers.

The horses and their wagons were decorated with flowers, rosettes and ribbons in the hope of winning a prize.

The Independent reported that the “prettiest sight…was the wagon on which reposed a number of charmingly-attired young women from the bottling department of a local brewery”.

One little girl was dressed as the Queen of the May with a garland of hops on her head.

When the procession arrived at Hillsborough Park, the people of Sheffield, for an entrance fee of sixpence, could enjoy a funfair, music and mounted displays.

These included a demonstration of Fire Brigade equipment, using ladders and ropes to rescue people from a roof and using their horses to show a “mounted escape”.

There were also ‘leaping horses’ who came from all over Britain to take part in a jumping competition.

The main part of the day was the judging of the different classes of horses.

In 1906 there were around 200 entrants.

They were judged on “cleanest and best decorated” and included single, pairs or four light or heavy horses with two- and four-wheeled vehicles.

A number of cups were presented; the one in Museums Sheffield’s Collection was awarded to Henry Tomlinson Ltd who owned the Anchor Brewery on Cherry Street.

It was presented by GE Clarke Esq who was a horse dealer based on Psalter Gate in Chesterfield.

On the cover is a cast figure of a ‘heavy horse’ also known as a draft horse.

They are muscular, broad and short-backed with powerful legs and can be up to 20 hands tall.

They were bred for pulling heavy loads such as ploughs and other farming equipment and in cities were particularly used by breweries to deliver beer barrels to local pubs.

This electroplated nickel silver cup was made by the famous metalworking firm Joseph Rodgers and Sons Ltd and was worth 15 guineas.

Rodgers were one of the largest cutlery firms in Sheffield based on Norfolk Street, but also made high-quality table wares and presentation pieces like this cup.

n Clare Starkie is director is curator of decorative arts at Museums Sheffield.