Duke retires to the sanctuary
Stockport Express 22 Jan 1976
Duke, the biggest Shire horse in Britain, has rolled out the barrel for the last time. At the beginning of next week he retires from Robinson’s Stockport brewery after 12 hard working years there to go to the Humane Education Society’s convalescent home in Wilmslow.
Now aged 22, the equivalent of 150 in human terms, Duke has delivered beer to local pubs with his drayman valet, and companion 64-year-old Arthur Bancroft. Arthur, of Hazel Grove, said this week “He has been a tireless worker and yet so gentle. A child could take him round the streets of Stockport.”
“Duke only weighs a ton now but in his prime he was 23 stone and must have been the strongest horse in the country.”
Over the years Duke, or to give him his stud name ‘Heaton Ambassador’ has won hundreds of prizes for his obedience and colourful rig-outs. His massive shoulders are nearly seven feet off the ground and despite grey hairs in his tail still has a purposeful stride. Arthur is now hoping to find a new companion for Captain, who shared a stable with Duke.
Duke's memory lives on: Mr Dennis Robinson, Director of Robinson’s Brewery said “I certainly remember Duke, he was a kind, gentle giant and we chose the Sanctuary because we wanted to make sure he spent the rest of his life being well cared for” and Janet Thompson of the Sanctuary said “Although it was a very long time ago, who could forget Duke? He was such a magnificent and gentle horse and I think he was the biggest resident we have ever had.”
Photo: Duke with drayman Arthur, who had to use a stepladder to carry out grooming