THWAITES brewery has named its new Shire horse Drummer in memory of the musician who won the first Victoria Cross awarded to an East Lancashire Regiment soldier in the First World War.

As well as recalling the heroism of John Bent, it also commemorates the role of thousands of horses in the 1914/1918 conflict.

The new name for the recently-purchased two-year-old gelding was announced as the firm took over its new rustic-style stables for its famous Shire horses at the new Sykes Holt brewery near Mellor.

Work has now started preparing them to receive Drummer and his companions Wainwright, Gunner and Ribble later this month.

Thwaites tack room team took ownership of their new base today (Monday) and started packing up their existing home at Blackburn's Star Brewery.

More than 1,000 suggestions were made by members of the public for the new horse's name.

The final choice was made to honour the hundreds of drum horses in action during the First World War One and Sergeant Major Bent who enlisted in the East Lancashire regiment as a drummer in 1905 aged 14.

The First World War saw the end of cavalry units heading into battle to the sound of drums and other musical instruments carried by the most-imposing horses available.

Rick Bailey, Thwaites chief executive, said: “We had an overwhelming response from people over our plea for a name, with more than 1,000 suggestions put forward.

“We love the idea of having a meaning behind the name of our horse.

"With it being the centenary year of the Armistice, we thought this would be a small way we could pay tribute to the heroes whose actions gave us the freedom we enjoy today.

“Locally of course these include our own hero Drummer John Bent who won the first East Lancashire Regiment’s first Victoria Cross of the war.

“Horses themselves played such a significant part during World War One, with the army deploying more than a million to support those in battle, many of which were Shires due to their size.”

Darwen historian Tony Foster said: This seems a very appropriate name and way to mark both the horses' contribution to the First World War and Sgt Major Bent's heroism."

Thwaites’ Shires were originally used to pull the drays delivering beer to local pubs.

Nowadays they are used to visit and support the company’s pubs, inns and hotels for special occasions.