How did people travel?

A man at the reigns of a horse and cart

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Many people thought horses would be crucial to Britain's success in World War One.

So, when war was declared, tens of thousands of ponies and shire horses were taken by the government. Farmers were sad to lose their horses, and children missed their ponies, but everybody wanted to help the war effort.

Some horses would be used by cavalry regiments of soldiers who fought on horseback, while others would pull weapons and ambulance carts through the mud.

A busy street scene with horses and carts. A policeman conducting horse-drawn carriages on a busy street in London.
Horse-drawn bus An early 20th century 'garden-seat' horse-drawn bus.
Horse power

A horse for everything

A pony

In 1900 more than 300,000 horses were needed in London. They pulled everything from private carriages to buses, trams and delivery vans. There were even double-decker horse-drawn buses.

With so many horses sent to war, only very young or much older horses and donkeys were left in Britain.

Petrol was in short supply, so lots of companies used a horse and cart to make deliveries. They delivered letters, parcels, laundry, milk, coal, beer, bread and groceries.

Horse-drawn carriages or cabs were also used to carry passengers around town.

Importing food from other countries during the war was difficult and dangerous so the government encouraged farmers to grow more fruit and vegetables.

With a shortage of petrol for tractors, farmers needed strong horses for heavy work like ploughing and harvesting crops. If horses were not available, people had to work very much harder.

Teachers' notes

Teachers' notes and classroom ideas looking at transport 100 years ago.

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