Lincoln Horse Fair antique print. The following text is from my ‘In Your Area’ blog for Reach plc.
Today May 7th in 1870 The Illustrated London News published this wood-block engraving of the Lincoln Horse Fair.
Today Lincoln is a small cathedral city county town in Lincolnshire. However, during the 13th century, it was the third largest city in England.
In 1223 King Henry III granted rights to a ‘street market’ to Lincoln. Various daily markets, including a cloth market flourished, but probably the most widely known, and best attended, was the Horse Fair.
Held in the High Street, a road that follows the alignment of the Roman ‘Ermine Street’, it was one of the largest ‘horse fairs’ in England.
The ‘iron horse’ arrived in Lincoln in 1846 when The Midland Railway opened its Nottingham to Lincoln Line to Lincoln St. Marks railway station, the first in the city. Followed in 1848 by The Great Northern Railway’s Lincoln Central railway station.
“In its heyday during the nineteenth century,” said Alan Middleton in Lincolnshire Life “800 or 900 horses could be sold on the first day and the fair brought visitors not only from all parts of England but from Ireland, France, Germany and Belgium”.
In 1905 Lincoln Corporation Tramways replaced the horse with an electric service.
In 1915 ‘Little Willie’, a prototype military tank was developed in the city by William Foster & Co., and tested by the British Army.
The tank would replace the horse in warfare; with cavalry regiments being mechanised and becoming the tank corps.
“As motor traffic increased in the High Street the fair became a problem and in 1929 it was moved to the West Common”
“In 1951 only six horses were offered for sale but in 1952 not a single one and the Horse Fair was duly ended”.