Call to restore horseshoe to Lancaster

On the spot where the horseshoe was embedded in the pavement at Horseshoe Corner on Penny Street, are from left, Leigh Simpson, David Fleet and Peter Jewell.
On the spot where the horseshoe was embedded in the pavement at Horseshoe Corner on Penny Street, are from left, Leigh Simpson, David Fleet and Peter Jewell.

A NEW campaign group is calling on council chiefs to hurry up and restore the famous horseshoe to Lancaster’s Horseshoe Corner.

Legend has it that the horseshoe marks the site where a shoe was cast by the horse of John of Gaunt, the first Duke of Lancaster, in the 14th century.

It disappeared from the corner of Penny Street and Market Street during National Grid gas works last month, after which the spot was patched up with temporary surfacing.

Lancaster City Council denied rumours that the horseshoe had been lost.

The council said the horseshoe was being stored by its regeneration and planning service, but declined a request by the Lancaster Guardian to photograph it in storage.

The council had said it would be reinstated “hopefully later this year” during resurfacing work.

But David Fleet, of South Road, who formed the Friends of Horseshoe Corner in an attempt to get the icon returned, said that was “not good enough”.

Mr Fleet, 49, an unemployed computer programmer, said 10 or 11 friends had so far joined the campaign.

“The public was not informed about the removal of the horseshoe,” he said.

“It should be returned as soon as possible.

“I understand the horseshoe is currently in a safe place in Morecambe, but I feel it will forever be in this safe place in Morecambe and not where it is meant to be.

“After the spate of cultural losses such as the fountain, the seating in Marketgate, the indoor market, Freeman’s Wood and our city centre if Centros get their way, I feel we deserve at least this concession.”

Mr Fleet said he had spoken to lots of people who felt the same way.

He added: “I am not a history buff but I just feel that this is a cultural icon which is really important to the city and attracts tourists.

“The sign coming into Lancaster proudly proclaims it is a ‘historic city’. It’s about time this was lived up to.”

A city council spokeswoman said: “It would not be cost effective to reinstate the horseshoe now only to disturb it again when the resurfacing works commence.”

She added that the council hoped to make more of the corner’s history as part of its Square Routes Project to improve public areas and would welcome stories “to help demystify the horse shoe’s connection with this area”.

Sim Lane-Dixon, area highways manager for Lancashire County Council, which will also be involved in the resurfacing, insisted that the work would take place later this summer, and that the horseshoe would be reinstalled.

It is understood that a public festival used to be held to mark the renewal of the horseshoe in a ceremony every seven years.

Another story suggests the horseshoe was dropped by Bonnie Prince Charlie, while other theories say it was to mark the junction’s history as a meeting place for horse fairs or the movement of cattle from Scotland to Smithfield in London.