Jacob the Dray Horse

by Shirley Pace (1987)

Photo credit: Robert Wilkinson

Standing at the eastern end of Queen Elizabeth Street, Shad Thames, London SE1. 

This bronze sculpture was commissioned to celebrate the history of the area. It stands on the site of the 19th-century stables for dray horses that delivered beer from Courage’s Anchor Brewery on Shad Thames. The name Jacob probably comes from the name of the nearby Victorian slum, Jacob’s Island, where Bill Sykes met his end in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. The sculptor said she sought ‘to portray the dignified tolerance and the power of these horses plus the hint of resignation to men’s direction and the vagaries of a cold wet windy winter’.

Jacob was flown over London by helicopter into Queen Elizabeth Street to launch The Circle in 1987. According to a plaque on the plinth, the name of the area, Horselydown, derives from ‘horse-lie-down’, referring to working horses resting. According to historians, however, the name (also known in its 12th-century version as horseidune) means ‘hill by the horse marsh’.

Commissioned by Jacobs Island Company and Farlane Properties.

Shirley Pace

Shirley Pace is a British equine artist. In 2014 she completed another dray horse commission. Drummer is also cast in bronze and stands at the site of a brewery in Dorchester. Both horses are one and a quarter life-size.