Backstage access to our collections: Horses in the GRC area

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Horses were first introduced to Australia in 1788 with arrival of the First Fleet. On board the ship Lady Penrhyn were two stallions and five mares. It is from these seven horses that the population of horses in Australia first originated.

Horses were indispensable to Europeans in these early days as they were used as a means of transport, recreation and sport. Horse-racing became a well-established sport in Sydney by the 1810s and this appreciation had spread to the St George area. As the towns established in southern Sydney began to grow, horse buses (which were a large horse and cart) were used as public transportation from around 1848 to approximately the 1870s.

There was a large culture surrounding horse racing in the area, with races taking place in a number of locations. The site of the war memorial in Forest Road was once where the Free and Easy pub stood, formerly known as The Currency Lass which was built in 1852. It was along from the Free and Easy that horse races were staged. Another venue for horse racing in the area was built in the 1850s known as Chappelow’s Paddock, which was located behind the Blue Post Inn on Forest Road.

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1980.729 – one half of a set of hames for horses, Hurstville Museum & Gallery collection.

As horses played an instrumental part in developing the area, the museum has a number of pieces of farming equipment such as this piece which is one half of a ‘hames’ which would attach to the collar of a draught horse [1] and horse shoes of various sizes [2].

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1980.540 – variety of horse shoes, Hurstville Museum & Gallery collection.

Did you know? Humphreys Lane was named after former Mayor of Hurstville, Alfred Humphreys, as it was there that he kept his racehorses. One of his racehorses, Silver Rose, inspired the name for Rose Street.

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[3] Photograph of Railway Parade, Kogarah, 1910. Georges River Council Local Studies collection.

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