Bristol M Shed Museum

Last weekend we went to Bristol Harbour Festival and, as always , had an excellent time. Good food, drink, music, and surprisingly weather, even the bus journey home was enlivened by a child spilling a box of brightly coloured beads and the frantic dash to retrieve them all as they rolled around the floor of the moving vehicle.

The Bristol M Shed museum had just re-opened by the harbour on the site of the old Industrial museum. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to visit.

Mediaeval spurs and horseshoe

The museum aims to tell the story of the city from prehistory to the present day. The Telegraph reviewed it better here than I can. I was, perhaps predictably drawn to the transport section which featured a full size model of a carriage horse.

The display next to the horse showed a 12th century prick spur and a 14th/15th century long necked rowel spur, a wavy-edged medieval horseshoe, a harness pendant and, most fascinating, an 18th/19th century poultice boot.

The model horse had the following caption :
Henry the horse, early to mid 1900′s
This life-size model of a carriage horse is affectionately known as “Henry”. He may have been made as an early museum model although he could have been used to demonstrate harness at Fullers Carriage Works. He has been copied and used in many other museums around the UK.”

It was such a nice day I didn’t really want to bother a curator about Henry’s somewhat unconventional bitting arrangements….

Upside down Buxton bit

Maybe I should write & tell them that it’s upside down….

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3 Responses to Bristol M Shed Museum

  1. Old horse lover says:

    I too noticed when the museum first opened [reopened] that Henty’s Buxton bit was not only upside down, and back to front, but that he had a crupper for a ‘martingale’ chest strap!
    I offered to put it right, and reported it as incorrect to the curators, but they still have done nothing to correct poor Henry! thank goodness he isn’t a real horse, as he would be in serious pain!

    Yesterday I went again, and Henry is still tacked up in this unconventional way.I really feel like offering to do the job myself [again] but evidently the machinations are slow, and probably involve ”risk assesments” &c! Henry is my favourite Exhibit at the museum, and in London there was a magnificent saddler’s model in a window of a saddler’s [long acre, possibly?] and the horse was in original paint, with dapples. Poor old Henry, I hope someone sorts him out.Come on , Bristol M Shed! it will only take a few minutes to put right!

  2. Andy King says:

    We’ve had a go at sorting Henry out but I’d be delighted if someone who knows would call in and check what we’ve done – no-one here is an expert on horse harness, and we sometimes wonder whether the harness sets we are using are complete.

    Andy King
    Curator at M Shed

  3. Tracey says:

    Hi Andy,

    Henry looks much improved! – went back to MShed last weekend. Whilst I’m not a driving expert (but do know about horse tack generally), his bit now the right way up and crupper in the right place which were the main things I had spotted.

    Tracey