The British Museum have just opened a new, free, exhibition "The Horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot". The exhibition seeks to demonstrate that "The history of the horse is the history of civilisation itself".
Well I don't know much about the history of civilization beyond the M25 but surely no other creature has done so much to shape London or been employed here in so many different roles.
So to celebrate the opening, whilst wearing my best London blinkers, I thought I would share some rare images of horses in London. All of these come from the late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century.
Even in the 1920s and 30s horse were transporting the majority of the Capital's goods.
Here are cart horses enjoying a drink at one of the many drinking fountains that can still be found in London today. This one (on the corner of Mark Lane and Tower Hill) was provided by The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association.
Horses could be a source of pride as well as of labour.
Horses were crucial for transporting people.
Long after hunting ended in the Royal Parks horses were, and still are, being used for leisure.
Equestrian sport has always drawn crowds.
Horses are still employed in so many ceremonies.
The British Museum exhibition The horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot is part of the Museum's Diamond Jubilee Celebration. It is open daily from 24 May – 30 September 2012 and admission is free.