Runaway Horses

This picture is of horses being trained to cross the river Ouse at Piddinghoe during the war. Although the army had motor vehicles, they still relied quite heavily on horses and occasionally accidents happened.

Just before 10am on 5th October 1915, two horses were drawing an Army Service Corps wagon driven by Sappers Pearce and Bartholomew of the Sussex Fortress Royal Engineers. They were just about to enter Bridge Street from the Bridge end when Sapper Pearce, who was riding one of the horses, noticed some sheep approaching. Knowing that his horses were a bit jittery, he dismounted to lead them. However, the horses broke away from him and bolted up Bridge Street. Onlookers were “appalled to see them take the ‘hairpin’ turning into Chapel Street, and all expected to find them landed in Mr Norman’s shop”. They missed the shop, but instead collided with one of the Co-op’s light carts, which was standing outside the butcher’s department. They continued along Chapel Street, luckily missing some children who were playing there. Just before they reached the Wesleyan Church, one of the horses fell over, bringing the wagon to an abrupt stop. Sapper Bartholomew, who was still on the wagon, was thrown “heavily to the ground, receiving a severe shock, as well as several facial wounds”.  He was taken to the Military Hospital (the Hillcrest Centre), where he was said to be ‘progressing favourably’. As you can imagine, a large crowd had witnessed the event and it was, in the reporter’s words, “lucky there was no loss of life and that so little damage was done”.

This wasn’t the only horse-related accident to occur in Newhaven. On 27th October 1914, a horse attached to a trolley got out of control coming down Meeching Rise. It hit a lamp post at the junction of Dacre Road and Meeching Road, snapping off a fire alarm pedestal and damaging the ‘telephonic connection’. Neither the horse, nor the soldier driver, were injured. On 18th November 1915, Mrs Brooker-Stone, of Meeching Road, sustained a fractured arm and cuts and bruises when she was knocked down by a military horse, which was being exercised in Lewes Road. On 4th October 1916, a pair of horses pulling a large military transport bolted in Church Hill, hit the wall of the Baptist Church, knocked down a road sign and “collided with a milk pram, which overturned causing milk to be wasted”. When the wagon flipped over, the horses were freed and bolted down the high street. The driver had already jumped from the wagon just after the horses bolted, so although shaken, he was uninjured. Both horses were eventually secured, although one was badly cut and had several teeth knocked out.

By Jenny Flood from stories in the East Sussex News between 1914-1916

Photograph: Newhaven Museum ref: A050-029