ELHAS Meeting Report June 2008

The summer program of meetings was brought to a close by Mr Duncan Jagger who hugely entertained an audience of 33 members and guests with a talk entitled "An Hour With the Ostler". Duncan has worked with and owned horses for over 35 years, in spite of being told by his father " keeping horses makes rich men poor and poor men lousey"! This was not enough to deter him and he now owns a company which supplies horses and carriages for weddings, funerals and film work. During his career he was coachman at the Museum of the Working Horse Halifax and horse keeper at The National Coalmining Museum at Wakefield.

Duncan began his talk by describing how he purchased his first pony for £19.00 from a man who was threatening to shoot it, and took several weeks to admit this fact to his wife! The pony meanwhile was being housed by an assortment of well meaning friends. In a talk which literally had the audience holding their sides with laughter he regaled us with many stories of his life with horses. Such as the time he drove a newly acquired team of black horses to Brighouse in order to convey Father Christmas to his grotto, and the horses were so frightened by an outside radio van that one fell to its knees and the other one was rooted to the spot. Despite all Duncan's best efforts the horses could not be moved, traffic in Brighouse came to a standstill, and Father Christmas had to continue his journey by vintage car. Duncan expressed surprise that he was not paid for that job!!

Or, when working at the Halifax museum, he was asked to provide a horse to pull a barge along the canal - a new service to be introduced by the Museum. His hilarious description of the inaugural journey which culminated in both horse and minder ending up in the cut brought howls of delighted laughter from his audience.

Although lasting over an hour, his talk seemed to come to an end all too soon and he left his audience clamouring for more. This was certainly a fitting talk with which to end the current season and break for the summer.

The next meeting will be on Monday 29th September when archaeologist Eric Houlder will present an illustrated talk entitled "Mortal Remains"