Shirehampton war horse sculpture unveiled

Unveiling of Shirehampton warhorse sculpture, Saturday 16th September 2023

A new sculpture was unveiled on Saturday 16th September in the Daisy Field opposite Shirehampton Station.  The War Horse is made entirely of horseshoes. The sculpture is a memorial to the many horses that transferred through Shirehampton Remount depot on their way to the front during World War One.

The statue was crafted by Jason Baggs and Phillip Smith, farriers and sculptors.

Shirehampton Remount Depot

Speakers gave interesting addresses about the history and significance of the Remount depot.

Local residents John Hastings and Stephen Judd outlined how the Daisy Field was not built on due to its years as the local tip. It was later transformed into a nature reserve with the help of Friends of Lamplighter’s Marsh.

Pete Insole, Principal Historic Environment Officer of Bristol City Council explained how the paddocks, stables and shoeing sheds extended from Shirehampton station as far north as Avonmouth Primary School, across the present day Park & Ride nearly as far as Avonmouth station.  Troops were billeted in huts near Barrow Hill. Pete showed examples of horse and mule shoes that local people dig up in their gardens to this day.

Map of Shirehampton Remount Depot (c) locallearning.org.uk
Map of Shirehampton Remount Depot © locallearning.org.uk

Speaking at the event, Darren Jones MP told onlookers that he grew up in Grove Leaze. This is one of the roads built across the site of the Remount depot.

Peaches Golding, Lord Lieutenant of Bristol, attended as the King’s representative. During the unveiling she used her sword to good effect when the cover got stuck on the horse’s ears!

War Horse with Severn Beach Line and River Avon in background
War Horse with Severn Beach Line and River Avon in background

Horses at War

During World War I the main form of transport for troops, munitions and supplies was the horse or mule. The military effort on the Western Front required a continual supply of these animals. Several Remount Depots were set up across the UK to maintain this supply.

In 1914 most horses were requisitioned from British farms, but this supply was quickly exhausted. From 1915, 600,000 animals were shipped over from the Americas. These were stabled in Remount centres before deployment to the front. Shirehampton was one of the largest centres and over 350,000 horses and mules passed through Shirehampton and Avonmouth.

After the unveiling, local singer John Tams sang “Only Remembered” from the musical “War Horse,” accompanied on the violin by Tina Biggs of Shirehampton Sailing Club (and also Bristol Rail Campaign!).

A crowd of a few hundred people turned out for this great community event.

The War Horse can be found in the Daisy Field area of Lamplighter’s Marsh, between the Severn Beach railway line and the Portway. It is a short walk from Shirehampton Station, or a slightly longer walk from Portway Park &Ride Station. You can also see the horse from the train if you look east through the trees north of Shirehampton Station.

Further information on the Shirehampton Remount Depot can be found on this website, including an overlay of the depot on the modern street layout.


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