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Sheep in Central London: Once Flocks Of Sheep Roamed Around Hyde Park With Farmers Herding and Women Shearing The Farm Animals
By Mark McConville
INCREDIBLE images have revealed the seemingly BAA-rmy time from the not-too-distant past when FLOCKS OF SHEEP roamed Hyde Park in Central London.
Stunning pictures, revealed by the website Retronaut, show wool gatherer Peggy Budd of Hainault, Essex with a pile of fleeces from the newly-shorn sheep in Hyde Park in 1949, a shepherd observing the two minutes silence for Armistice Day in 1933 and sheep being loaded into trucks to provide Christmas fare for an Essex butcher in 1935.
Other striking shots show Hyde Park’s 500 sheep being shorn in full view of the public on Buck hill by four Welsh shearers in 1936, and a detachment of land-girls assisting in the annual shearing of the sheep for the first time in 1940.
The Hyde Park flock, which surprised strangers in London by introducing a rustic touch to the heart of the capital, fulfilled a double mission by assisting Britain’s production drive and keeping the grass clipped.
In the 1920s and 1930s, sheep were routinely introduced into London parks to keep the grass under control and reduce mowing costs.
Shepherds competed for the privilege of grazing their flocks on Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Clapham Common and other pastures around the city.
George Donald once brought his flock all the way down from Aberdeen, Scotland. Considering the difficulty involved in transporting hundreds of sheep over 500 miles, this caused a bit of consternation in Parliament. Sir Harry Brittain asked, “Were not any English sheep available?”
Though these woolly lawnmowers were eventually barred from grazing in the city in the late 1950s, they have recently experienced a resurgence. In 2010, sheep were introduced to Hampstead Heath as an eco-friendly alternative to machine mowing.