1822 – 1904
Ginger the Cabber, London to Brighton run 1886
Oil on canvas
Signed & dated
Frame size: 21½ x 29½ inches / 55 x 75 cm
Stock number: BL9694/0718
A large provincial 19th century oil on canvas of a chestnut cabber horse pulling a rider and trap, a super example of rural folk art, with a lovely sense of speed and exhilaration. The painting is inscribed on the slip: “Ginger, (The Cabber) trotted from Angel, Islington to Aquarium, Brighton, 52 miles in 4h 16m” & 50 miles on the Bath Road in 3h 50m in 1886″. Mounted in the paintings’ original oak frame with inscription hand painted on the gold coloured slip.
Edward Garraway was an accomplished animal painter, active in the 1870’s and 1880’s, and was known for his paintings of horses, genre scenes, dogs and donkeys. He exhibited chiefly at the Suffolk Street Gallery in London from 1875, which was the original home of The Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) founded in 1824.
Ginger is mentioned, albeit briefly, in ‘The Brighton Road: The Classic Highway to the South’ by Charles G Harper. This is a very interesting read of the history of this main road. By all accounts, sections of the public would race their horses and wager upon them, at the slightest encouragement, and Ginger obviously made his name in this way.
Horse drawn carriages were the main method of public transport before the invention of the motor vehicle. Cab drivers were required to be licensed and had to pay a fee for this licence. They were in general known to be reliable and honest men, and cared for their horses, the cabbers, which were of course their livelihood. Horses could be available for hire, and these unfortunately could be overworked and underfed.
‘Ginger’ appear to be a happy horse, thoroughly enjoying his race through the countryside. This was a harness race in which the horse does not carry the jockey but pulls him in a light-weight two-wheeled cart, known as the sulky. Trotting (of a horse) is movement between a walk and a run, in which the legs move in diagonal pairs, but not quite simultaneously, so that when the movement is slow one foot at least is always on the ground, and when fast, all four feet are momentarily off the ground at once.
Trotting races are still popular but carried out on a more formal basis, than the ad hoc horse races that were such a popular pastime until the beginning of the 20th century. The London to Brighton trotting race has now been overtaken by the Veteran Car Run, bike and running races. The Bath Road out of London has existed since the Roman period and was another popular racing route. Bath alongside Brighton was another town much improved through its’ patronage of the upper English classes during the Georgian period.
Brighton had been a fishing village from the earliest of times. The Prince of Wales, later George IV built The Pavilion, his seaside pleasure palace in Brighton in the early 1800’s. Built in full Regency grandeur, with the visual styles of India and China, this sleepy fishing village suddenly became extremely popular with the ‘Royal London Set’. Hence transport links from London to Brighton, roads and buildings were rapidly built and improved.