A CASH-strapped council has been forced to sell a historic carriage belonging to the Lord Mayor of Newcastle.
The 18th Century carriage has been used on special occasions by Lord Mayors in Newcastle for more than 200 years .
But as the city council faces financial difficulties it has decided to sell the horse-drawn carriage to raise some much needed money.
The carriage, which is insured for £80,000, is kept at the Lord Mayor’s official residence, the Mansion House in Jesmond. It will now be auctioned in the New Year.
Coun Nick Forbes said there was “no room for sentimentality” as the council oversees the biggest cuts in their history.
He said: “We have endured two years of savage cuts from this Government with another three to come.
“It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to sell off the Lord Mayor’s coach to the highest bidder, but our financial situation leaves us with no room for sentimentality.”
Built in 1798, the carriage was commissioned by Henry Shadforth, who held the position of Gentleman and Clerk of the Chamber of the Lord Mayor.
It was built by Caleb Agnas coach makers, nearly 70 years after the family-run company’s founder, Caleb Agnas, died and his five sons took control of the Tyneside business.
Over the past century, the carriage has formed an important part of Tyneside’s rich heritage and up until the early 1990s was used in a string of annual events across Newcastle.
But the carriage has not been used in public since 2006 when the Lord Mayor travelled across the Tyne Bridge for a parade.
As the council struggles to meet restoration costs, the carriage is being sold with the hope the collector will keep it on Tyneside.
It is unclear how much the carriage will fetch but it is believed a reserve price could be set at £50,000.
Coun Forbes said: “As a council we have a duty to help families who are suffering. To do that we now have to sell off the family silver. As leader of this council I will always put people before objects.
“If the coach raises money that will help us to avoid cuts to services that people need then I make no apologies for that.”