Before the advent of motor ambulances with two-way radios, accidents were familiar hazards in local mills and foundries. The people engaged in industry were not accident-conscious as they are nowadays. About 60 years ago, Rochdale had one horse-drawn ambulance for accidents and two horses – a rangy bay gelding and a handsome dappled grey. To see the ambulance hammering up Whitehall Street from Yorkshire Street, with the horse stretched out at a gallop, was a sight which comes vividly to mind. As children, we used to try to estimate the severity of the accidents by counting the number of blasts which PC Fletcher blew on his whistle when crossing the intersection with Reform Street and again when turning into Industry Road; these were signals to the Infirmary staff. After the patient had been taken into the Casualty Department, the horse would stand with heaving flanks and foam-flecked neck until it gradually regained its composure.
Gone are the horses and gone also much of the vivid colour of the daily scene of our youth.