The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #100552   Message #2019684
Posted By: Billy Weeks
08-Apr-07 - 07:12 AM
Thread Name: BS: Last pit pony dies
Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
I was evacuated from London in the war and spent three years (from 1940) in a South Wales colliery area (most of south Wales was a colliery area then). The miners in both the places I stayed in had no pithead baths and the men came home in their working clothes, black from head to foot, and were bathed by their wives in a tin bath in front of the kitchen range. Serious illness and death from silicosis (caused by inhalation of coaldust) was common. A small local pit (small in the sense that the seams were thin and sheer torture to work) closed while I was there and I remember the ponies that I had seen working when I had the rare privelege of a trip to the coal face, being brought to surface wearing thick leather masks with tiny slits for the eyes. They were short-legged,tough creatures. The eye covers were opened over a period of,I think, weeks, to spare the animals the agony of sudden exposure to light.

I was 11 years old then and absorbing experiences that are still, 68 years later, the bedrock of my present political outlook.