Meet Cherry

Cherry was donated to the Museum in 1989 by Helen Laurance in memory of her husband David. A treasured family possession, Cherry was well loved and used with mane and tail largely missing, broken bridle and cracks in the wood and painted gesso surface.

Cherry (after conservation) – F.H. Ayres Rocking Horse, circa 1920

Although not marked, Cherry has been identified to have been manufactured by Frederick Henry Ayres of London Circa 1920. Ayres began in 1864 and was a well renowned rocking horse maker. They also produced high quality sporting goods, games and a variety of toys including push and pull along wood carved horses on wheels.

FH Ayers produced large numbers of rocking horses and are considered to be high quality with great attention to detail with the carving. Although it is not uncommon for the rocking horses not to have a makers mark, they are quite distinctive. They may be identified by their pointed and beveled ends to the hoof rails, baluster turning of the stand columns and brackets with four bolts.

The company was taken over by William Sykes in 1940, merging in 1942 into Slazenger Group. At this time the production of the rocking horses was moved from London to Yorkshire with a distinct reduction in quality.

After a condition check of Cherry in 2019, we made the decision to send her away for conservation, stabalisation and repair. This work was for conservation and not a restoration which would have returned the rocking horse to it’s original state and lost much of its historical character. This work was made possible with a very kind bequest from Mrs Maureen Mathews.

Just prior to lockdown in 2020 Cherry was delivered to Julia Park-Newman of Conservation Services. Julia is a registered conservator and has carried out other conservation work for the Museum. Julia spent lockdown working on Cherry and you can see exactly what she did by taking a look at her blog.

Cherry is now back at the museum! The Museum has now re-opened after the COVID-19 shutdown and you can see her in the main Riding School. Please check our new opening times.