On Saturday, 18 June, 2016, a parade of heavy horses wound their way through the streets of Norwich, a living history of Norfolk's agricultural bygone past, and a splendid spectacle to raise awareness on the British Art Show 8, showcasing an exhibition of contemporary art.
The History Train, an idea by artist Alan Kane, who has a studio in Great Yarmouth, used a procession of six horse-drawn wagons to transport over 100 works of art by 42 artists to three BAS8 venues - Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Norwich University of the Arts in St George's Street, the Art gallery opposite S Andrews car park and the Forum.
In addition Alan Kane had asked members of the public to design a horse brass which he then cast in brass for each horse to display as part of the History Train.
Richard Dalton, farm manager at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, was responsible for co-ordinating the ten heavy horses taking part in the parade, the first to be seen in Norwich for a great many years with the last time being 1914, it is thought.
Originally planned to have led the parade with a farm tumbrel pulled by Trojan, a Suffolk Punch from Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse, Richard followed up at the rear, a move he anticipated would be preferable for crowd control and ensuring the well-being of the horses.
Also taking part were Harvey's Shires from Bergh Apton, with George and Warrior pulling a 1916 brewery dray; Dove Percherons from Poringland, Jim and Revoir, pulled a 1912 miller's dray; also in the line up were Middleton Percherons, Ron and Tim, from Littleport near Cambridge, Herbie the Shire Horse from Smallburgh, and, finally, Suffolk Punches Bazoo Riley and Gabriel from Banham Zoo.
The parade assembled in Chapelfield Gardens and departed at 11:30am. The magnificent display of heavy horses, wagons, and their well-dressed entourage, then made its way down Theatre Street and into Red Lion Street, where it headed up to Norwich Castle.
After unloading works of art and, no doubt, posing for photo opportunities, the horses continued along Castle Meadow and onto Agricultural Hall Plain, from there towards Bank Plain and down St Andrew's Hill and into St George's Street to call at Norwich University of the Arts and the Art gallery in St Andrews to unload a further consignment of artwork.
From there the parade headed back to Bank Plain and entered London Street, turning left onto Gentlemen's Walk, then up Hay Hill and to the Forum where the final delivery of works of art took place.
It was, without doubt, a most unique event and attracted a great many onlookers, thus bringing to the public gaze the enthusiasm of those present who dedicate their time to caring for heavy horses and ensuring their continuing well-being and survival for everyone to enjoy.
The History Train Photo Album
For more information, please see www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/Gressenhall