Sale expected to draw buyers from across UK as heavy horse enthusiast reins in collection
- Credit: Archant
The entrepreneur behind Norfolk and Suffolk’s most prominent animal attractions is set to part with a large portion of his heritage horse collection as he approaches his 70th birthday.
Banham Zoo heavy horses have been a regular feature of agricultural shows all over the country, including the Great Yorkshire, the Highland and the Royal Norfolk.
Now animal-lover Martin Goymour - the businessman behind Norfolk's Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! in Kessingland, near Lowestoft - is planning to sell a wealth of his heavy horse collection, citing his advancing years and a desire to "strip down to the essentials".
MORE - Dairy farmer says creating cheese business was 'hardest thing we've ever done in our lives'Mr Goymour has been an enthusiastic supporter of Suffolk Horses - a heavy horse breed which was once the backbone of East Anglia's farming economy and is now under threat - during his high-profile career.
He will continue to maintain six or so heavy horses and to attend shows and events "within a reasonable radius", from country shows and steam fairs to carnivals and ploughing matches.
"With any luck we will continue to breed the occasional Suffolk too as our contribution to the future of this iconic East Anglian breed," he said.
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The former zoo owner stepped away from the day-to-day running of the business he built up, placing it in a charitable trust, but retains various property interests through Goymour Properties Ltd and has a farm at Banham.
James Durrant, of auctioneers Clarke and Simpson, which is organising the sale at Wash Farm, Banham, on September 14, said Mr Goymour's Banham Zoo show lorry and immaculately turned-out horses and vehicles had been a familiar sight at shows all over the country for many years.
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"The sale will include both show and working heavy horse harness, expertly restored horse-drawn vehicles and implements. It is not very common for items of this quality to come up for sale and we are expecting interest from all over the UK and further afield," he said.
Banham Zoo had grown, Mr Goymour explained, and while the family business had supported the horses for many years, the heavy horse barn and stables were now fully occupied for other purposes. The time had come to "strip down to the essentials as I approach 2020 and my 70th birthday". "Time has flown," he added.
Wash Farm's Heritage Horse Stables was launched after Mr Goymour purchased the then Suffolk Wildlife Park at Kessingland in 1991, and decided it would specialise in wildlife from the African continent.
Among the stock which came with the purchase were two heavy horse mares - a grey shire and a Suffolk Punch.
While they were "surplus to requirements", they rekindled his memories of working horses on the family farm in the mid-1950s, sparking an active interest that has persisted since.
He joined the East Anglian Heavy Horse Association which keenly encouraged the passing on of heavy horse skills. He admits that at the time although he was "comfortable working with wildlife of a diverse nature, horses were an unknown quantity".
The Suffolk mare 'Poppy' was put into foal at a time when just 200 pure-bred Suffolks remained, as he felt the breed was "part of our history", and should not be allowed to die out.
He also purchased two shire horses - Taffy and his half brother, Captain - and his heavy horse collection began to grow. Show stables were added to Banham Zoo and Matt Bundock joined the team as head horseman as heavy horse numbers reached 20.
Mr Goymour joined the Suffolk Horse Society, eventually becoming its chairman.
"The heavy horses had become a part of my life, and every opportunity was taken to attend various county shows throughout the country," he recalled. "Farm auctions were a magnet too, and various agricultural and trade wagons were purchased together with sets of harness and anything to do with the heavy horse."
Among the surplus heavy horse items up for sale are a char-a-banc, a restored horse-drawn omnibus, a harvest wagon which was once owned by Kilverstone Wildllife Park and a 1865 heavy wagon.
Viewing is from 8am on the morning of the sale. Catalogues will be available online three weeks before it, with online bidding at www.the-saleroom.com.