This is the first in a series celebrating Morecambe’s Finest, the personalities and unsung heroes who make our town great. GREG LAMBERT speaks to MICK GORRY, sandgrown’un, businessman, farmer and the man whose old-style horse-and-carriage will lead this year’s Morecambe Carnival.
Born on Maple Avenue in the West End, Mick Gorry’s passion for horses came from his dad Joe and his friend Jack Stamper.
When Mick was a boy, Joe used to drive tourists on Morecambe promenade in a landau, a four-wheeled carriage pulled by horses.
He also took people for rides in a charabanc, a horse-drawn motor coach.
Joe was great pals with Jack, a Morecambe legend famed for his landau and charabanc business. It did a roaring trade during the town’s heyday.
Mick said: “Jack was in the horse cavalry during the war and he passed many of his old ways onto me.
“A man called Mr Lupton also used to drive a garden-seat charabanc on the prom called Happy Days. My dad worked for him and I first drove it when I was 12.
“Mr Lupton eventually sold Happy Days and it’s now in Beamish Museum. An old friend of mine, a coach builder, built me a replica and I’ve got it on my farm. I still take it out regularly in the summer.
“I also used to drive people up and down the prom during the Morecambe Illuminations.”
Mick, 70, rediscovered his love of horses around 30 years ago. He now hires out his horse-drawn vehicles for weddings, funerals and other occasions from his farm, Downeyfield Farm at Middleton.
Mick, who also set up White Lund haulage firm JM Gorry & Son 45 years ago, is very proud to have been asked to ride his glass-fronted landauette at the head of the Morecambe Carnival parade on May 4.
The carriage, pulled by two horses Master and Jip, 10-year-old Friesian Gelderlanders from Holland, caused a stir with passersby when Mick rode it outside the Midland in glorious sunshine last Wednesday.
“I’ve been driving them since they were 18 months old,” said Mick.
“They are good quality horses, very headstrong with a lot of power. We have 12 horses at the farm. Sometimes we’ll use two on the landau, sometimes four.”
Mick hopes the carnival’s revival will play its part in a renaissance for the town.
“I’d like to see Morecambe come back to life again.
“They’ve done a marvellous job on the front. In all this bad weather, we haven’t been hurt at all. The link road will be a big thing for the town and for the harbour. The harbour is operating with four times as many trailers as they had 10 years ago. I was actually on the M6 link committee for six years when we were trying to get the western bypass. I was in the committee room when (former Lancaster MP) Hilton Dawson stood up and said if you want a bypass, it will have to be northern, and it collapsed from there.
“Morecambe isn’t London or Birmingham. Dare I say, it’s the backside of Britain. There’s not much business in Morecambe. You’ve a job to survive. All (JM Gorry’s) business is on Heysham Harbour and all over the country.
“If things go wrong in the transport business I try different things. That’s what we all have to do in Morecambe. We all have to keep trying.”