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Adnams horses make last-ever deliveries

PUBLISHED: 12:30 09 September 2006 | UPDATED: 17:03 25 February 2010

Sam and head horseman Chris Orchard during their last trip through Southwold yesterday.

Sam and head horseman Chris Orchard during their last trip through Southwold yesterday.

AN ERA came to an end in a seaside Suffolk town yesterday as, with his brass gleaming in the brilliant sunshine, Sam the dray horse made his last regal journey through the streets to rapturous applause.

Farewell to Sam from head horseman Chris Orchard before their last trip through Southwold yesterday

AN ERA came to an end in a seaside Suffolk town yesterday as, with his brass gleaming in the brilliant sunshine, Sam the dray horse made his last regal journey through the streets to rapturous applause.

Sam and his companion Monarch made their last working deliveries for the town's brewer Adnams, yesterday morning when, with drayman Chris Orchard at the helm, they visited three pubs in Southwold.

Then for Monarch there was a chance to have a last run round in the field while Sam took a ceremonial trip through the High Street to say goodbye to their supporters.

And what a turnout it was - hundreds of people from as far away as Australia lined the streets to see the Percheron horse pull the dray one last time.

Sam and head horseman Chris Orchard (left) with mayor Michael Ladd

As 16-year-old Sam pulled out of the Adnams distribution centre the crowds burst into rapturous applause.

In an emotional event there were shouts of “wonderful” and “goodbye” as Sam made his way along the road.

At the Market Square he was met by more well-wishers and town mayor Michael Ladd who had a ride round.

Mr Ladd said: “Everyone in Southwold is sad to see them go but at the same time we understand the reasons.”

Some of the huge crowd that turned out to watch the last horse-drawn Adnams delivery

The company decided to stop using the horses because the distribution centre is being relocated to Reydon, which is too far for the animals to pull the drays for, and concerns over traffic.

Apart from a 17-year break between 1953 and 1970, the tradition is hundreds of years old.

Regular visitor to Southwold Michelle Kearns, of Maldon, could not help shedding a tear. She said: “I understand in terms of progress, but I am really so sad.

“This is part of what makes Southwold what it is and why so many people keep coming back. When you lose something like this it is lost forever and these horses were part of why Southwold is so special.

“So many places have lost the things that make them charming but Southwold is almost a step back in time - a chance to take a deep breath and just slow down.

“But I wish them a very happy retirement.”

Roger Norrington, from Chelmsford has been holidaying in Southwold for 25 years. He said: “Of course I am sad to see them go. They are marvellous animals.”

Ron Rayner, of Lowestoft, whose daughter is visiting from Australia said: “I don't see why they can't keep them. I think it is the wrong decision.”

Alan Ruff, also of Lowestoft, added: “It's an economic decision. If they really wanted to keep them they would.”

But drayman Chris Orchard, who will be looking after quite a different distribution “vehicle” - the lorries - said they had to think of the animals.

“I could not think of them coming down Halesworth Road, in Reydon with all that traffic. They couldn't have pulled the weight and there would have been tailbacks. It was not fair on the horses.”

It was hoped Sam would see out his retirement in Reydon, but the person who was to look after him is emigrating to Australia.

They will now both head back to Spalding, where Sam will be instrumental in teaching a new generation of show horses and Monarch will be a show horse.

Chris said: “We knew what we wanted for them and this is the best solution. I shall be sad to see them go, but they are going back to people they know and surroundings they are familiar with.”

Factfile

nSam is 16 and Monarch is 8

nThey originally came from Spalding

nThey carry approximately 1.5 tonnes

nPercheon horses are unusual in that they rest lying down, but sleep standing up

nSam and Monarch have a mixed feed but are not fed oats

nUnlike most men they have new shoes every six weeks.

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