The Tale of the Last Working Horses in Ropley
With thanks to Brian Lawes and his long memory
The third to last known working horse in Ropley was PUNCH at Dean Farm belonging to the COLEBROOK family. He worked in parallel with a dark green Fordson standard tractor. Most of the horse trailed implements were altered from shafts to drawbars by ARCH HALE the village blacksmith.
The second to last was MAJOR belonging to E A LEGG (Allen), who was Brian’s grandfather. Major was a very gentle soul allowing Allen’s daughter Queenie to walk between his legs and ride on him when returning to the farm down Webb lane. Major was sold when Ryecroft farm was sold in 1952. He made £48 10s.at the Auction.
Allen Legg worked with horses all his life driving mail coaches for the Royal Mail, Collecting two ex World War one cart horses from the horse hospital at Morn Hill Getting kicked in the face by one, developing a jaw cancer and having an early operation and ending up with two weeks convalescing at Hayling Island. As a result of this he had half a top jaw and a distorted mouth. He worked for ADMIRAL HENDERSON learning to drive an early CASE tractor with a weeks training with a Case mechanic, using a pony with leather boots to mow the Admirals lawn. He was a member of the Home Guard during World War Two.
When the Admiral passed on Allen set up Ryecroft Farm with half a dozen cows, a village milk round with a trade bike, a poultry farm and he used Major the cart horse. He also kept Miss ALEE HENDERSON’s donkey at the poultry farm until the stable was built in Maddocks Hill.
The last known cart horse was PUNCH belonging to FRANKIE DARVILL who kept him in a stable in Park Lane. One morning John Liddicot and Justine Harfield, waiting for the school bus on the Petersfield road had a surprise as Punch wandered out of Park Lane into Petersfield road. John was scared and climbed the Post Box while Justine (Allen Legg’s granddaughter) talked to Punch, got hold of his bridle and led him back to his paddock for safety, Punch learned to respond to Frankie’s swearing (walk on you old b____r !)
Some questions ?
- Were these the last 3 working horses in the village ? If you have information on others please post a comment
- Was the horse called Punch owned by Dene Farm and the horse belonging to Frankie Darvill one and the same horse ? If you know – let us know and post us some additional information.
Thanks Brian Lawes