'Blackie' the Blackler's rocking horse

On display until May 2005

Please note that this display has now closed

'Blackie' the Blackler's rocking rorse. Accession number MMM.2004.171 'Blackie' in Blackler's Children's Clothing Department. Copyright Liverpool Daily Post and Echo Blackler's Stores Ltd Liverpool paper bag. Accession number MMM.1995.142 Blackler's Winter Wonderland Grotto badges. Accession numbers MMM.2004.23.2, MMM.2004.23.3 Blackler's Stores Ltd matches. Accession number MMM.2004.23.1 Blackler's Stores Ltd matches. Accession number MMM.2004.23.1 Blackler's Stores Ltd Liverpool staff rules book. Accession number MMM.1985.563 Blackler's, Great Charlotte Street before closure. Copyright Liverpool Daily Post and Echo

This display at the former Museum of Liverpool Life was the first time that Blackie the rocking horse was exhibited after being donated to the collections by Alder Hey Children's Hospital League of Friends. He is now on display in the People's Republic gallery.

Blackie will perhaps always be most fondly associated with Blackler's children's clothing department. He was a favourite fixture there from the 1950s after the original rocking horse was destroyed when the store was gutted by fire during the May Blitz of 1941.

Elizabeth Hawkins has very fond memories of Blackie when she visited the store as a child with her parents and brother in the 1950s:

"I loved that horse, it was like meeting up with a much loved and very dear old friend. I'd give him a huge hug and a stroke of his mane before I began to ride. I remember there was always a big queue of other children waiting their turn for a ride. Once I had ridden the horse, I would join the queue again!

When riding on the back, I could see into the 'posh restaurant', which I was never taken into, with everyone having their tea and scones with the waitresses in their black dresses and frilly pinnies".

Blackler's was particularly famous for its Winter Wonderland Grotto, which proved incredibly popular every year. Over 10,000 visitors a week went to see the magical scenes, to tell Santa Claus what they'd like for Christmas and of course to ride Blackie.

Blackie was gifted to Alder Hey by the department store when they sadly closed their doors for the last time in April 1988 after 80 years. He went on to become a well-loved feature of the central admissions and cardiac clinic.

Blackie's appearance has changed quite markedly over the years, including undergoing restoration work in 1992. After making children very happy for approximately 60 years, National Museums Liverpool have given him a new real horse-hair tail and some well-deserved conservation work.