Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Of goats and kids

One of the most popular images on our website – judging from the number of times we’ve seen it copied –  is that of young Reg Grey driving a goat cart down the street in 1919. Reg later owned a hairdresser’s at Number 23 and his wife Enid Grey still lives in the street over the road at Number 37.

Reg’s mum or dad, or perhaps an indulgent uncle, would most likely have hired the cart nearby on the seafront next to Hove Lawns. Goat carts had been a popular attraction in Brighton since the 1830s, according to the Francis Frith website, but they were expensive, costing one shilling per hour by the mid 19th century.
Reg and his little sister Rita driving their goat cart down Temple Street

A flower girl and goat carts for hire near Hove Lawns, c.1890

A goat should only pull about 1 ½ times its own weight, according to experts in the field, so the little carts were perfect for carrying young'uns up and down the front, but they were also used for more workaday duties by tradesmen of the time, delivering items such as milk, vegetables and barrels of water.

Many of the carts, few of which have survived, were beautifully made by craftsmen and two motor companies of later renown, Peugeot in France and Studebaker in America, manufactured them before moving on to more glamorous vehicles.

Sadly the goats were often abused and ill treated. Local councils at seaside resorts later licensed all operators giving goat carriage rides and conditions improved somewhat.

In Brighton, the last known Harness Goat Licence was issued in 1953.

A couple of Victorian children take 'Our Morning Ride' on Madeira Drive

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