The London Drovers

Before refrigeration, London’s fresh meat arrived in town ‘on the hoof’.

Thousands of animals arriving from the north were held in pastures near Islington awaiting the weekly livestock market at Smithfield.

Officially licensed London drovers like James Waltham then moved these huge flocks of sheep and herds of bullocks through London’s streets in the middle of the night using just a stick, a well-trained dog, and an understanding of animal behaviour. Some accused them of cruelty, and insisted there must be a kinder way to get animals to market.

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