CARDIFFREMEMBERED How an old war horse helped to in­spire films and great poem

South Wales Echo - - CARDIFF REMEMBERED -

THIS week we take a 12-mile trip to the town, or city as it is to­day, which ac­cord­ing to An­drew Hem­mings’ Se­cret New­port, was a pow­er­house of Bri­tain’s in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion.

The au­thor shows how New­port left be­hind its Ro­man and me­dieval past to de­velop into a mod­ern com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial cen­tre.

Hav­ing re­searched, al­beit in a small way, the life of God­frey Charles Mor­gan, First Vis­count Lord Tre­de­gar whose eques­trian statue stands in front of Cardiff City Hall, I was in­ter­ested to read the piece “Sir Briggs – The Orig­i­nal War Horse”.

Although the book doesn’t say so, this horse was at one time known as Mr Briggs and, as the au­thor re­lates, had car­ried Lord Tre­de­gar in the famed, but ill-fated charge, of the Light Brigade at Bala­clava which in­spired Lord Ten­nyson’s fa­mous poem and sev­eral fea­ture films.

I be­lieve Sir Briggs, which had won a steeplechase at Cow­bridge races, was “knighted” by Lord Tre­de­gar af­ter the bloody bat­tle in which 188 sol­diers died and 335 horses were killed.

Sir Briggs was struck on the head by a sabre.

Lord Tre­de­gar’s rac­ing colours were pur­ple and or­ange and he of­ten rode in races against his brother Colonel Fred­die Mor­gan.

In­ci­dently, the fine bronze eques­trian statue by Cardiff’s Goscombe John – his first at­tempt at an equine sculp­ture – cost £4,000 and was erected in 1909 some four years be­fore Lord Tre­de­gar died.

Three fa­mous au­thors from New­port fea­tured in the book are Arthur Machen, Les­lie Thomas and Wil­liam Henry Davies, who is best known for his mem­oir The Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of a Su­per Tramp.

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