Horses weren’t forgotten as Hartlepool prepared for war

1938: How the Northern Daily Mail reported the gas masks for horses story
1938: How the Northern Daily Mail reported the gas masks for horses story

AS England prepared for war with Germany and the population were issued with gas masks Hartlepool Council workmen expressed their concern for the welfare of their horses.

But Mr William Butterworth general foreman to the Hartlepool Corporation came to the rescue with a cunning plan. This is the story as told in the Northern Daily Mail.

Mr William Butterworth general foreman to the Hartlepool Corporation, has improvised from components of the civilian respirators what is believed to be an efficient gas mask for horses.

Gas masks for all. That was the position so far as the general public were concerned when, during the days of the crisis Mr Butterworth and other members of the Corporation were working feverishly on assembly and distribution. In the middle of the general turmoil a workman said to him: “There’s nothing for the horses Bill’’.

“No”, said Bill but it set him thinking.

The Government had announced there was no protection from gas available for animals, but a horse lover himself he decided something must be done for for Bobby, Royal and Major, the three strapping horses on which the corporation still rely for many kinds of work.

The idea matured and today Royal a 19 year old horse, wore his gas mask for the benefit of the Northern Daily Mail photographer, with an air of superiority and aloofness.

He likes it-at least there is not the slightest sign of objection.

Through two celluloid windows his eyes blink calmly. The end of the giant nose piece contracts and expands as he breathes, and from the region of the ears stentorian blasts of air spurt out at intervals. The whole mask is designed on the civilian respirator and works in exactly the same way.

The construction of this outsize mask is, to say the least ingenious.

Mr Butterworth was helped in the ‘asssembly’ work by Mr R H Sanderson, a motor driver for the Corporation, and this is how they set about it.

Material consisted of a pair of proofed canvas waist high waders , two civilian respirators, two pieces of celluloid and and some strong thread.

A leg of the waders was almost a ready made nose bag, and after the ends had been sewn up, holes were cut a little higher up to insert the two charcoal filters.

Insertion of of the celluloid eyepieces, a little judicious shaping of the head piece and the sewing on of straps completed the job.

Then came the fitting. A ticklish job one might think, but Mr Butterworth and his co-helpers felt more than rewarded for their efforts when the noble animal submitted with complete docility to their unquestionably suspicious advances.