Here is the sixteenth weekly digest for Animal History Daily, which I'm running on Twitter (@hannahvelten) every day for 2014. Using the #AHD tag, I find random titbits of animal history from the British Newspaper Archive (@BNArchive) on the appropriate day, from any year (generally the 1800s).
Sorry, no 'Image of the Week' this week - Easter holidays have curtailed archive delving... should, hopefully, resume normal service next week! Instead, below is one of the first films I found when searching the newly uploaded cache of over 80,000 British Pathe films uploaded to YouTube - it's atmospheric, subtle and shows Dartmoor's 'Animals' Friend' at work....
#AHD tweets this week:
16th April: 1897: Coventry firm made special tricycle for a young elephant, weighing just over a ton, for a 'well-known animal trainer' (Dundee Courier)
17th April: 1852: Wolf hunt in Wales: escapee wolf from Wombwell's menagerie killing lambs - after chase eventually shot with eight musket balls (Chester Chronicle)
18th April: 1874: An official called the Horse Coroner inquires into circumstances of every animal brought to knacker yards of London - horses esp. (South London Chronicle)
19th April: 1941: War's Impact On Animal World: When Bombs Fall On The Farm. Pigs unaffected, pheasants sound warning, horses fine if harnessed up (Worcester Journal)
20th April: 1897: Royal stables training horses ready for Jubilee - subjected to firing of guns, fluttering of banners and cheers from many voices (Yorkshire Evening Post)
21st April: 1826: Fatal Accident: man found lying on road, nr Paddington; a lifeless corpse with fractured head. Thrown from spirited horse (Chester Chronicle)
22nd April: 1916: 'Women have taken up strange professions and trades since the war broke out... but one of the strangest is that of blacksmith.' (Western Daily Press)
Stories behind the 140-characters:
1) The Horse Coroner's report on the knacker yards of Belle Isle, Islington, London was deemed to be of interest to readers of the South London Chronicle. They learnt that during the year ending April 7th, 9,191 animals (of various kinds) were sent to Belle Isle for slaughter, or were already slaughtered. Of these 9,040 were horses: 3,978 alive, and 5,062 dead. Most of these horses were old and decrepit, but (worryingly) a very considerable percentage were 'victims to London pavements [roads], or the carelessness of drivers' - these animals would either be pole-axed in the street or limp into the yard. It was the Horse Coroner's job to inquire into the circumstances of every animal brought to the yard, especially as to their ownership as horse stealers would regularly try to dispose of stolen property. Other animals sent to the knackers, included cattle from the urban cow-sheds and 'Jerusalem ponies' [donkeys], but not that many despite both species being relatively abundant in London - could donkey flesh be going into the food chain disguised as veal? asked the paper.
2) The fact that horses seemed to be less alarmed during an air raid than previously expected (pre-war), was probably because they'd become so used to motor traffic and its noise, explained the Worcester Journal: '... they regard an exploding bomb simply as an exaggerated backfire. In other words, they look upon human beings as quite mad anyhow and bombs are only another insane incident in the lunatic asylum where they find themselves.' The report continues with a tale of pigs sleeping 'sonorously' at an abattoir during intensive 12hr night bombing, even though the roof of their lair was completely wrecked! *
3) The lady blacksmith, Miss Ward, was keeping the forge open for her brother who was fighting at the Front. She'd been working for a year, earning 2s 6d a shoe, and declared it was actually 'quite easy', but not the roaring trade of former days since motors were everywhere.
* When I have time, I'll write a blog post at 'Round The Watertrough' (my other blog) including more detail from this report, which was called 'War's Impact on Animal World: When Bombs Fall On The Farm'.
Hannah Velten - author of