Pakefield Riding School was established by Tess Hardy (then Tess Cooper) in 1946. She gives a brief synopsis of its 74 year history:
“I started by riding school in 1946, with just on horse called Bonny Lass. I bought Bonny from Beccles Market with my savings a little help from my dad. I rode her back to Pakefield with just a rope halter and no saddle; something that we just wouldn’t dream of doing nowadays. But in those days the roads were much quieter and ‘Health and Safety’ hadn’t been invented.
My first stables were near my home in Pakefield Street, behind a pub called the Jolly Sailors. It was an old ‘beating chamber’ where fishing nets used to be repaired and treated. I was able to graze my horse between the racks that were used to dry the nets.
Initially, I called my school ‘Castleton Riding School’ after my father, Stewart Castleton Cooper, who was always a great support to me. By 1948 I had acquired a few more horses and moved to the site of my present ‘yard’. In those days, it was a large marshy field with just two corrugated iron stables; I shared the grazing with Mr. Ewlwes, a local coal merchant, who also kept his delivery cart there. Over the years I slowly increased the number of horses and built more and more stables.
During the mid sixties a covered school was constructed at the yard (the first in East Anglia). This helped to ensure that we could hold lessons whatever the weather. During the 1980’s the old, rather rickety, stables were replaced by the modern, wooden stables blocks that stand today.
In 1968 I started our Riding for the Disabled Group; the first in the area. This has allowed us to help physically and mentally disabled people to improve their health and wellbeing by using the therapeutic benefits of horse riding.
The photographs show that little has changed over the years. These shots were taken in the 1960 on Pakefield Beach. The horses and the scenery look much the same as today, although the riding gear has changed a lot since then.”