Liverpool Carters

Photo credit: Liverpool Museums

Although every city relied on its horse transport for day to day life, Liverpool’s was famous across the world for its carters. As the industrial revolution got into its stride, the short distance between the dock system and the railway yards meant every cargo had to be shuttled by horse. As the docks grew busier, so too did the carters.

The city itself and the Docks & Harbour board invested in its road systems, spending a fortune on a road surface of granite sets that allowed the horseshoes, specific to the city draft horse, maximum purchase.

Photo credit: Liverpool Museums

The carters reputation for the care they gave to their horses was unusual at the time; although attitudes were changing towards animal cruelty, the horse was often treated more as a machine then a living beast.

The horses themselves were famous in their own right for being the most powerful; some of the biggest lorries were over 1ft wider and a full 2ft longer then anywhere else, and it it wasn’t uncommon to see a pair of horses at the dockside moving a lorry laden with up to 10 tons.

Scallop blinkers like this were a popular, achieved by pressing the wet leather into a wooden mould. This design was not only aesthetically pleasing but practical, as the convex shape kept the blinker from touching the horses eyes.

A less commonly seen piece of equipment was the muzzle. In some cases it was to prevent stop a horse from biting, but it also stopped a horse from snacking. In city work,

horses and their wagons would often find themselves lined up one behind the other, and some horses found it too much of a temptation if positioned behind a cart loaded with foodstuffs!

This one is made of leather and features a browband to help keep it in the correct position over the horses nose.