Neigh more work for pair as Shropshire tourist attraction seeks to replace shire horses Charlie and Joe
They have become a tourist attraction in their own right but now Charlie and Joe, working shire horses at Acton Scott Farm, near Church Stretton, are stepping out of the limelight.
And managers at the farm are on the hunt for a replacement pair. But having only limited funds, they have decided on a novel approach to raise the £5,000 needed and have launched a crowdfunding appeal.
Sarah Jane Green, manager of the farm, which has featured numerous times on TV shows including BBC 2’s hit history show Victorian Farm, said: “Charlie is nearly 21 and he needs to retire. He is the most beautiful, gentle horse and we could not wish for better. The relationship he has with our waggoner, Simon Trueman, is wonderful.
“When he does retire he will stay at the farm. People will still be able to come and visit him and Simon will use him to train the replacement horses when we get them.
“Visitors love grooming him, sitting on him or riding behind him on one of our carts. For the heavier farm work he works in a pair with our younger horse called Joe. Together they do all the work done by a modern tractor such as ploughing right the way through to harvesting.
“Joe was quite poorly last year and although he is not yet of true retirement age, he needs to step down from heavy work. We want to have a pair who will carry on in their hoof-prints.”
“It would be lovely to get a matching pair. Joe and Charlie don’t quite match ,as Charlie is bigger, and that has been tricky for Simon. So we are crowdfunding for £5,000. The more we raise the better the horse we can buy. Perhaps we will be able to get a pair who have worked in the past.”
The museum only receives a small budget from Shropshire Council, which is why the campaign is necessary.
Sarah Jane added: “A lack of proper funding has led to this. But it is a lovely story and people have got behind us. We do need to fund raise as a museum and this was one way to do just that.”
The museum is open from April to November. Conceived by Thomas Acton more than a generation ago to keep alive the 19th century farming practices he grew up with, the farm was the first of its kind and has been much copied since.
Today it offers an insight into rural life at the turn of the 19th century, as farm life unfolds daily and the land around is worked by heavy horses. There are daily demonstrations of period skills and visits from the wheelwright, farrier and blacksmith, providing a picture of life as it might have been on a Victorian country estate.
Other television programmes for which Acton Scott has provided production locations have since included Country File, Escape to the Country, Country Tracks, Making Britain Count and Ben Fogle’s Escape in Time.
A number of events are planned for the coming season including how the farm would have been managed and run in the 1940s and a special event to celebrate A Dozen Years since Victorian Farm.