The nosebag is a portable feeding bag for the working horse. This humble tool was part of the enormous range of tools, infrastructure, and work that went into horse transport in the 19th century and in earlier years. The horse's place in the development of modern society can hardly be overstated. Before the internal combustion engine, the horse was responsible for goods transport to and from the railways, and for most cargo carried on canals, and for all local transport. Without the horse, the development of an industrial society would have been thwarted. The canals were key to the industrial revolution: they made it possible to transport goods and without transport, industrialisation would have been impossible. But the canals depended entirely on the horse for motive power.
In cities too, the horse was essential. There were an estimated 300,000 at work in London alone in the late 19th century. They carried everything to and from canals and railways, and they remained in service on the canals until the 1950s even though motorised canal boats had been introduced in Britain in 1911.
On this nosebag, recently conserved for London Canal Museum, civilisation depended!