The Horse-Slaughtering Yard

In the 1800s, the largest horse-slaughtering yard in London could be found in Garratt Lane.

Horse-slaughtering was a licensed trade with many rules, so the yard - nestled next to a fireworks factory - was strictly regulated. No horse was permitted to leave a slaughteryard alive; so as each horse entered, its mane would be cut off, to make sure that nobody could sneak it out the back and sell it on.

A report of the time describes the horses: "the favourite horse killed at his master's death, to save him from falling into cruel hands; the runaway horse that has injured a daughter; the brute that has begun to kick and bite - all come here to die with the hundreds of the injured and the old".

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Picture by Franz Marc: Elefant, Pferd, Rind, Winter
W.J. Gordon, The Horse World of London, 1893.