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Mr. William Harris and Kate

In 1965, Kate was one of the last working horses left in the country and was regularly carting loads through the streets of Ross-on-Wye. Kate was at this time aged 10 and owned by carter Mr. William Harris, who was 73 and lived in School Lane.

Mr. William Harris had been contracting with a horse and cart for 35 years and had a regular contract with Ross urban council. He also did other work in the evenings for the local towns people when needed.

Bill Harris and Kate
Bill Harris and Kate [Photo: J.C. Coombes]
(Click for a larger image)

He was quoted as saying2:

"I find it [a horse] is more economical than a lorry. It does not cost so much to keep, but if I were younger I would have a lorry. They call me Steptoe because of the cart and the things I take around."

Mr. Harris was well known around the town and was a true "character", in fact he was also known to thousands of tourists who came to the town and were amazed to see him working using his horse and cart. Having a horse and cart collection service in the midst of a town choked with traffic was unique by the 1980's and it appealed greatly to camera wielding tourists. This combined with Bill's nature, always totally relaxed and full of humour, gave him real appeal and both Bill and his horse were extremely popular with children who loved to stroke the horse.

He continued working for the council clearing up rubbish on the streets until he was 87, by which time he had moved to Pontshill3.

His death, aged 89, and funeral, held on 19th March 1983, marked the end of an era. When he retired the town council had a long and difficult task working out how and who they would replace his old-fashioned but efficient service with more modern methods.

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1 Ross Gazette - 29/3/2001 - Article: "Thomas Blake"
2 Western Daily Press - 2/11/1965 - Article: "Kate plods on almost alone"
3 Ross Gazette - 25/5/1983 - Article: "Ross 'character' dies"
4 Crossroads Fan Club - 19/12/2009 - Article: " Backstage stories"
5 Hereford Times - 5/5/1988 - Article: "Tireless worker for Town"

[Page updated: Feb 15 2011 13:31:59]

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