The working horses of Wolvercote and Wytham

The working horses of Wolvercote and Wytham

5 June 2023 Off By Michael Daniell

“Before the war we had working horses: milk, bread, coal, vegetables, even the beer were all delivered by horse drawn carts,” wrote Michael Stockford in Growing up in Wolvercote.

He might have added the horses that pulled the coal barges along the canal from the Midlands to Oxford and along Duke’s Cut to the paper mill. There were stables behind the White Hart in Lower Wolvercote for the horses delivering to the mill.

For a short time in the 1900s there were horse trams coming up the Woodstock Road as far as First Turn.

In a radio interview in 1986 Peggy Godwin described how in the 1920s her father kept horses in Lower Wolvercote to run a haulage business. He also had a horse-drawn waggonette that was used for WI outings and evening trips to St Giles’ Fair.

It was hay that kept horses going and there was plenty of that available from Henry Osborn King at Church Farm House. And when a horse needed re-shoeing, that could be done by Howell Saxton the blacksmith in Lower Wolvercote. But to consult a vet it would be necessary to go to Summertown.

There would have been the steady sound of horses’ hooves and of greetings passed, but rather sadly Michael Stockford concluded that at the end of the war, “The cheerfulness had disappeared. Not only were you unable to speak to van drivers as they passed, but also the horses had gone, all of whom we knew by name.”

The Wolvercote Local History Society welcomes everyone who enjoys finding out about the history of the area. We’ve already undertaken many local research projects and published articles in Wolvercote Papers. We would especially like help with recording memories of people’s lives and work and how Wolvercote is changing. We would be grateful to see photographs to copy for the archive collection.
Do join us. Get in touch with the Chair:, tel 01865 513042