A LION tamer and an Indian elephant feature in a book that has been penned by a retired veterinarian who set up Bridlington’s first veterinary practice 60 years ago.
Entitled ‘Reflections of a Bridlington Veterinarian’ the book tells the story of Michael Horrox’s experiences of working as a vet in the town in the 1950s and early 1960s - a far cry from the profession today.
“I decided to write the book because everything is so different now and the ordinary man in the street doesn’t realise that,” said Michael who retired from the profession around 20 years ago and admitted he misses it.
Michael, 86, founded a practice under his own name on Marton Road in 1951 and went on to establish what has become Priory Vets which is now based in Bridlington, Beeford and Driffield.
When he qualified around three years earlier Michael had been the youngest vet in Yorkshire to do so.
The book details the challenges he faced in the first few years of the practice and gives an insight into Bridlington in a by-gone era and many of the characters he encountered.
In those early days there were some 2,000 pigs in the Old Town, many of them at the Green Dragon Piggeries behind Market Place.
The practice started with cats and dogs before progressing onto pigs and other farm animals, guard dogs from RAF Bempton, animals including an Indian elephant at Butlins, the zoological collection at Sewerby Park and horses belonging to local gypsies.
Characters he encountered along the way included Priscilla Kaye the lion tamer, Mr Redshaw the coal merchant, the lady on the South Side who regularly dined with her dogs, and the ‘donkey ladies’, otherwise known as the Carvill sisters.
Michael has recalled visits to Duckworth’s Farm that became Hilderthorpe School as well as Bessingby Hall before it became a retirement home.
The text highlights various diseases which modern science and vaccines have long since consigned to the history books including strangles in horses, swine fever, erysipelas in pigs, and distemper in dogs.
Copies are available from Positive Action Publications Ltd, PO Box 4, Driffield, YO25 9DJ priced at £5.50 including postage and packaging.