Turkish baths for animals

London: Finchley: Pickford & Company's hospital for horses

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Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline

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Pickford & Company's hospital for horses at Finchley

Pickfords and their horses

Pickford & Co, the carriers, appear to have been started late in the seventeenth century and continued, in some form or other, right up to the present day. From the beginning, horses were used for transporting goods and were still doing so well after the end of World War II. The number owned by the company must have peaked towards the end of the nineteenth century.

By 1919 Pickfords had 1,900 horse-drawn vehicles in London alone, and 1,580 horses to draw them, although by now they already had forty-six motors vehicles. By 1933 there were 628 motors, yet the company still had 866 horse vehicles and 509 horses to keep them in operation. Even as late as 1946 there were 300 horse vans in circulation.

In 1872, Pickfords built a Turkish bath for their horses at their large Finchley depot. During the previous decade a number of such baths had been used for keeping racing horses in good condition and Pickfords must have found this method of sweating their horses equally beneficial.

The baths

The bath was heated by what was, in effect, the industry standard Turkish bath heater, Constantine's Convoluted Stove. Constantine, ever keen to obtain a publishable testimonial for inclusion in his advertisements, wrote to Messrs Pickford three years later to find out how the stove was progressing. Pickford's Mr J Hayward replied:

We use it regularly three days per week, and sometimes oftener. Never less than twenty horses per week are put into it, undergoing sweating, washing, and drying again in an out-room...

The procedure used to sweat their horses in the Turkish bath was almost certainly the same as was later used by the Great Northern Railway, Pickford's Totteridge neighbours.

Twelve years after its installation, in 1884, Constantine wrote again and this time received a reply from Mr J H Brett who assured him that they still used his bath and found it 'useful and beneficial to the horses.' It is not yet known for how many years longer the bath remained in operation.

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Typical Pickford delivery van

Constantine's Convoluted Stove

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Other Turkish baths for animals

Other Turkish baths in London


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