‘In the autumn of 1811 people doing business in Bedford market had the surprise of their lives when an eccentric farmer came to market in a vehicle drawn by four large
hogs. It had been specially constructed and was smaller than most other conveyances on the roads.
The farmer who lived outside Bedford is said to have entered the town ‘at a brisk trot’.
Crowds seemed to come from all over the place to see the unusual spectacle. He took the vehicle round the market place three or four times, then drove into the yard of the Woolpack Inn, where the hogs were unharnessed in a stable and fed well from a
trough full of beans and wash. The farmer went to do his normal market business,
returning three hours later with his purchases. The hogs were harnessed again and
the farmer set off home. He, his vehicle and his hogs drove out of Bedford to cheers of
encouragement from people lining the streets.
The farmer had only been training the hogs for this sort of work for six months. An
eyewitness commented ‘it is really surprising to what a high state of docility and tractablity he has brought them’. A well to do man was so struck by the novelty of
what he had seen that he offered the owner of the trained hogs fifty pounds for the conveyance and the animals. The offer was indignantly refused.
The demonstration may have been in part a protest against government taxes levied on various forms of livestock to pay for the Napoleonic wars. There had been earlier protests at taxes on animals. When the horse tax was imposed by William Pitt in 1784 a northern farmer drove his cow to market to show his contempt for the legislation.’
Based on a report in the Wakefield and Halifax Journal of November 1811.
Source :Bedfordshire Magazine Vol 21 No 161
© Ella Jo