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Houdini, Buffalo Bill and Lathom Park


November 12, 2021



For this year’s Remembrance Sunday we have a guest post from our friend, Dot Broady Hawkes at Lathom Park, the large estate in Ormskirk that homed and trained thousands of horses during the First World War, Let’s look back at the fascinating story of Houdini, Buffalo Bill and Lathom Park.

Houdini, Buffalo Bill and Lathom Park

In 1914 Lord Derby, in his capacity as trustee of the Lathom Park Estate, held in trust for the 19 year old 3rd Earl, offered the use of part of the estate to the War Department. The decision was made to start constructing a Remount Depot on part of the estate and very quickly not only was the depot constructed, horses started to arrive from all over the world via Liverpool docks and local railway depots.

The depot also required all associated trades needed for preparing the horses for active service. This included Saddlers, harness makers, blacksmiths and grooms.

Many local tradesmen were brought into the depot to work with the horses,one of them was a Liverpool harness maker and saddler called Morris Edward Gloin.

Morris had been born in Stoneycroft, Liverpool on 30th June 1890, his father was a saddler with his own business and by the time Morris became a saddler himself, the business was in Park Road, Toxteth Park.

Morris’s father, James Gloin, had a good reputation in Liverpool as a master harness maker and in 1903, when Buffalo Bill returned to the city with his show, he commissioned James to make some show harness. A short time later, in 1904, the great Harry Houdini was performing at the Liverpool Empire and James was given an order for a straight jacket to be used in the show.

a poster for the houdinis

Morris Gloin went to work at the Lathom Park Remount Depot as a master saddler and coach harness maker, responding to the advertisement for ‘men aged 25-40 thoroughly accustomed to horses’.

Whilst serving at the depot, Morris met a local girl from Clayton’s off Spa Lane, Margaret Hogarth. Two of Margaret’s brothers worked on the Lathom estate, one as an estate clerk and one as a dairyman.

Margaret had been baptised in Lathom Park Chapel in November 1890 and grew up at Cobbs Brow Cottages and then Claytons.

After the war finished in 1918 and the Remount Depot was dismantled, Morris returned home to Liverpool and on New Year’s Day 1920, he married Margaret at Lathom Park Chapel. The couple made their home in Liverpool where Morris carried on his father’s business as a Saddler for many years.

The story of Morris and Margaret Gloin was told to Lathom Park Trust by their son Gordon who also provided copies of some of the photos his father had taken whilst at the depot.

More information on the Remount Depot and the Lathom Estate is available from Lathom Park Trust via the website or the Facebook page.

Dot Broady-Hawkes