Sunday 6 November 2022

Horse Shunting at Nystrup Gravel

Horses for shunting and as traction for whole trains of skips was a usual mode of operation on many narrow gauge industrial railways. Even into the 1950s the standard gauge Danish State Railways used shunting horses on medium to small stations.

An old image from Nystrup Gravel showing the horse used for shunting getting a bit of fresh grass.

Nystrup Gravel originally relied completely on horses to pull the skips from the pits located quite close to the works. Between 1908 and 1910 the company bought one or two Danish built oil engine locomotives. The pits closest to the works had been emptied and gravel was now quarried much further away, making horse traction uneconomical. Horses were still used for shunting, though. In the mid-fifties horses were finally phased out on Nystrup Gravel's 600 mm line.

Although the Schleich horse is missing its harness, it can't keep away from the skips. Perhaps a few juicy tufts of grass also helped?

My model of the Nystrup Gravel shunting horse is a Schleich model of a Shire and most likely too big and powerful a horse for a small gravel line. The model arrived on my layout from my daughter's collection of model horses and is as such not a well considered investment, but a loan. The model is the Schleich 13605 Shire Mare introduced in 2006 and retired from the catalogue in 2009. The Schleich animals are usually of a good quality with life like poses and well painted.

At the small Brundby Brickworks on the Danish island of Samsø horses were the only form of traction ever used on the small clay line. Here a young girl rides the horse (most likely a Norwegian fjord horse) while three workers ride the skips. The men will probably have to load the skips by hand shovels. Photo: Samsø Egnsarkiv B830.

Presumably the last shunting horse on Zealand: 'Klaus' (a commonly used name for a male horse in Denmark) on Tølløse Station, 1958. Notice that the harness is different from the one applied to the horse on the image above. Photo: The Danish Railway Museum.

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