Cattle Droving through Cumbria 1600-1900 : Peter Roebuck Oct 2019

Peter Roebuck gave a superb talk on “Cattle Droving through Cumbria 1600-1900”.  He explained why they were driven (because they were too big to be carried), and their value.  Cattle provided materials for making leather, glue and tallow, as well as meat and dairy products.  Organised droving could only begin once reiving had been almost eliminated in the early 1600s.

Most cattle came from Galloway and were driven about 60-100 miles then sold on as most drovers only knew the routes, inns etc in their local area.   Strenuous days were followed by easy days to allow cattle to recover, and the outer parts of their hooves were shod.

During the C17 the trade was bolstered by supplying the armed forces who required beef rations for the men as well as huge quantities of shoe leather. The Navy carried live cattle. This booming trade helped businesses such as banks to be set up.  When an outbreak of Rinderpest broke out in 1745 it did not reach Cumberland so that even more cattle were sold from this area.

Cattle droving declined with the growth of canals and railways from 1850s onwards.

Catherine Bottomley

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