Horse and carriage rides are returning to the streets of Ripon more than 100 years after motorised cabs were first introduced.
Greg Hunt and his partner, Bev Langley, both 47, have launched The Keeper’s Carriage which will operate from the Cabmen’s Shelter on the market square and offer 30-minute tours of the city and access to Ripon’s museums.
The idea for the service first came to Greg – who is a carer – 18 years ago when he was then working as a conventional taxi driver in Ripon, but it was only after a stay in hospital he decided to make his dream happen.
“I had spinal surgery and said if this is a success I am going to do it,” said Greg, who credits Bev – a dental nurse – as the driving force behind getting the project off the ground.
Planning began in earnest two years ago when after finding a field for his horse, he acquired a shire horse – Treflech Megan – who featured in this year’s St Wilfrid’s Procession.
“There are only 3,000 shire horses registered in the UK now and that’s one of the reasons why I’m using her,” said Greg. “They are on the endangered list and I want to promote shire horses.”
Once the bond with Megan was established and training complete, Greg applied to run the business in April, with Ripon City Council granting rights to use the Cabmen’s Shelter and Harrogate Borough Council permission for use of the market square.
Greg and Bev are not planning to end their day jobs but will operate the business on weekends for the rest of the summer to test the market before restarting in April.
The carriage can carry two adults and three children, or four adults, and the tours – which pass the city’s three museums and feature a history talk along the way – cost £30 and will run between 11am- 3pm, and 6-8pm.
“We’ll travel round to see all the museums – the Prison and Police Museum, the Workhouse Museum, and the Courthouse Museum,” said Greg.
“Each touring party will get two-for-one entry at all the museums and a framed photo memento of the tour.”
Greg, who will sometimes be accompanied by his son Joss, seven, acting as footman, said they will wear period costume to promote the historical theme.
“I’m hoping to create what it would have been like 100 years ago to travel on a horse and carriage and gets tourists to experience parts of Ripon that they probably wouldn’t get to normally,” said Greg, whose main goal for next year is to acquire a carriage allowing wheelchair access.