Our weekly livestock market was one of the biggest in England, even bigger before the advent of the railway in the mid 1800s. Cattle were virtually wall to wall in The Broadway. Sheep, pigs and horses were sold in other parts of town. Livestock held in the approaching streets were herded into the town centre to be sold.

Cattle for sale in The Broadway, late 1800s.
In the early 1900s 3,000 head of livestock came into St Ives market each Monday. The town's population at that time was 3,000. No doubt there was a pretty efficient clean-up operation afterwards. In fact, the Town Council sold a licence for collecting manure. But it doesn't take much imagination to consider the difficulties facing the casual ambler.

When admiring St Ives, the tendency is to look up and around at the charming buildings, the tall church spires and the beautiful riverside scenery. But for once, keep your gaze at floor level and take in the wonderful collection of bootscrapers dotted around the town centre. This article tells you where they are, includes images and tells you about the history of bootscrapers.

The poor of our towns and cities have always walked, and got their boots (or feet, as they often couldn't afford footwear) dirty. Considering the main mode of transport up to the 20th century was by horse, dirty meant, well... yuk!

It wasn't until the late 1700s that the better off got a taste for promenading. Having discovered the pleasure of walking, money ensured that paved walkways, tree-lined avenues and public spaces followed and became popular. But when one returned home, what was to be done?

Bootscrapers started to appear in major cities such as London, Paris and New York in the late 1700s. The French called them 'decrottoir', meaning to remove excrement. And it appears the streets were so filled with horse manure and mud that every decent house required a bootscraper.

No wonder St Ives followed the trend with its own interesting collection. And boy, were they needed after a busy Monday market day! See below a location map and a selection of our bootscrapers.

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