Whatever happened to Portsmouth horses Bill and Ben?

The stables in Sussex Street that were to be demolished.
The stables in Sussex Street that were to be demolished.
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Can you remember, as I can, when Portsmouth echoed to the sound of horses clip-clopping around the city?

I remember dozens of them, so there must be senior readers who can recall hundreds of horses in action and being used for all sorts of purposes.

Sally with her owner.

Sally with her owner.

The Dockyard was run on horsepower at one time and every Friday they could be seen being led to their weekend stables all over the city.

Workhorses were also used for hauling coal, totters’ and rag and bone men’s carts.

In September 1969 it seemed the sound of the horse echoing around the streets was to end as the demolition of stables in Sussex Street sounded the death knell for them as the council was not going to find alternative accommodation for them.

A spokesman for the totters said: ‘Totters who have cars have had parking found for them but for us animal lovers who look after our horses there is nowhere for them to go.’

It seems that it was not only the horses that were to end up at the slaughterhouse. The spokesman said nine horses were to be put down, but one of the totters would also have to put down his two dogs, Blackie and Lassie.

‘It’s a crying shame. The city just do not want us here any more’, added the spokesman.

One of the horses in danger was 14-year-old Sally. Her owner said: ‘I will also have to lose my Bill and Ben – just five and six years old. As an animal lover who adores his horses it breaks my heart.’

A council spokesman said the totters had been told the stables were only a temporary arrangement and it had not suggested alternative accommodation.

The totters disagreed. ‘We asked about the unused stables at Hilsea Barracks and other unused stables in the city. Why can’t we use them? That’s what we’re complaining about,’ the spokesman continued.

The city spokesman said that in a redeveloping city the unused stables were all to be demolished.

In protest, the totters were planning a parade through the Guildhall.

What was the outcome and what happened to Bill and Ben?

The stables in Sussex Street shortly before they were demolished in September 1969.