This week on Scratching Sydney’s Surface, we’re talking horses. But not the racing kind…

Wool drays in Pyrmont / Ultimo, c1900 (City of Sydney Archives, SRC18045)
Wool drays in Pyrmont / Ultimo, c1900 (City of Sydney Archives, SRC18045)

Delivery horses were once a regular feature in the streets of Sydney’s CBD and outer suburbs. Until the mid-20th century, they jostled for space in Sydney’s streets with motorised cars and trucks, trams, and pedestrians, to deliver supplies.

 A working horse having a snack in a Sydney street, 1916 (City of Sydney Archives NSCA CRS 51/1847)

A working horse having a snack in a Sydney street, 1916 (City of Sydney Archives NSCA CRS 51/1847)Hor

Food staples such as milk, bread, ice and fruit and veggies were delivered by horse and cart. Draught horses, usually working in teams, were used to carry heavier loads to and from the wharves, and to factories and warehouses around inner Sydney. Some of the heaviest loads they carried included wool and sugar. Horse-drawn ‘jinkers’ and drays, piled high with wool bales and sugar sacks, were a regular sight in the streets of Pyrmont and Ultimo until the 1930s.

Delivery horse and cart in Little George Street, 1902 (City of Sydney Archives NSCA CRS 51/131)
Delivery horse and cart in Little George Street, 1902 (City of Sydney Archives NSCA CRS 51/131)

One of the last delivery horses active in Sydney was the horse and cart used by Penfold’s Stationers, which was on the road from the mid-1940s until 2005.

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