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BS: Last pit pony dies

Arnie 06 Apr 07 - 12:17 PM
Wesley S 06 Apr 07 - 12:24 PM
Jean(eanjay) 06 Apr 07 - 12:26 PM
Folkiedave 06 Apr 07 - 12:29 PM
Jean(eanjay) 06 Apr 07 - 12:33 PM
Peace 06 Apr 07 - 01:19 PM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 07 - 01:55 PM
Mickey191 06 Apr 07 - 03:04 PM
katlaughing 06 Apr 07 - 04:49 PM
Jean(eanjay) 06 Apr 07 - 04:58 PM
Charley Noble 06 Apr 07 - 08:36 PM
Joybell 07 Apr 07 - 02:24 AM
Peace 07 Apr 07 - 02:59 AM
Jean(eanjay) 07 Apr 07 - 05:17 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 Apr 07 - 05:35 AM
Jean(eanjay) 07 Apr 07 - 05:45 AM
Leadfingers 07 Apr 07 - 06:08 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 Apr 07 - 06:54 AM
Jean(eanjay) 07 Apr 07 - 07:11 AM
Rusty Dobro 07 Apr 07 - 09:51 AM
Jean(eanjay) 07 Apr 07 - 10:23 AM
robomatic 07 Apr 07 - 02:00 PM
Peace 07 Apr 07 - 02:08 PM
mick p r.m s.c 07 Apr 07 - 03:13 PM
Bert 07 Apr 07 - 07:33 PM
Liz the Squeak 08 Apr 07 - 06:19 AM
Billy Weeks 08 Apr 07 - 07:12 AM
Jean(eanjay) 08 Apr 07 - 07:30 AM
Billy Weeks 08 Apr 07 - 03:18 PM
Charley Noble 08 Apr 07 - 09:49 PM
Jean(eanjay) 09 Apr 07 - 05:43 AM
Big Al Whittle 09 Apr 07 - 08:34 AM
GUEST,Observer 09 Apr 07 - 03:06 PM
Herga Kitty 09 Apr 07 - 07:46 PM
Joe_F 09 Apr 07 - 09:53 PM
The PA 10 Apr 07 - 04:09 AM
GUEST 11 Apr 07 - 06:24 AM
Mr Happy 11 Apr 07 - 10:54 AM
danensis 11 Apr 07 - 11:49 AM
Gurney 12 Apr 07 - 03:47 AM
fogie 12 Apr 07 - 06:58 AM
Jean(eanjay) 12 Apr 07 - 07:21 AM
danensis 12 Apr 07 - 03:53 PM
jack halyard 12 Apr 07 - 05:38 PM
Gurney 13 Apr 07 - 03:43 AM
GUEST,Rahere 03 Oct 14 - 06:47 AM
Musket 03 Oct 14 - 10:09 AM
MGM·Lion 03 Oct 14 - 12:25 PM
Musket 03 Oct 14 - 01:57 PM
Ebbie 03 Oct 14 - 04:00 PM

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Subject: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Arnie
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 12:17 PM

Just read that the last pit pony in Britain has died - Sparky was 36yrs old and spent 13 of his years working in Ellington colliery in Northumberland. Working pit ponies only lived to around 14yrs so he's had a long and hopefully happy retirement. Reminded me of the Jez Lowe song Galloways Grazing, about the blind pit ponies he saw around his home town. I don't think Sparky was blind, at least I hope not. End of yet another era.....


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Wesley S
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 12:24 PM

Translation request : What's a "pit pony" ?


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 12:26 PM

Pit ponies are ponies who worked down the coal mines.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Folkiedave
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 12:29 PM

This link has some stuff..........


http://www.staffspasttrack.org.uk/exhibit/coal/support%20systems/pitpony.htm


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 12:33 PM

Many pit ponies lived and worked in the mines and never saw the light of day so their sight was affected. It's great to see that Sparky had a long retirement.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Peace
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 01:19 PM

Click the pics and image gets larger.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 01:55 PM

According to the information at the Scottish Mining Museum (a few minutes from here), pit ponies were brought to the surface for two or three weeks a year to graze in open fields. They had to be dragged back down screaming.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Mickey191
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 03:04 PM

Jack, This breaks my Heart.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: katlaughing
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 04:49 PM

Thank gawd that was stopped years ago. Good on ol' Sparky. Glad he lived to a ripe old age - well-deserved, I am sure.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 04:58 PM

A spokesman for the National Coal Mining Museum where Sparky lived said that he was wonderful but he wasn't very patient and had a special kick for his stall door when it was time to go back to the field. At least he had a lot of years going to the field.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 08:36 PM

I'm also fond of Jez Lowe song "Galloways Grazing." There's no need to compose another.

An era passes.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Joybell
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 02:24 AM

We had a short story in our school readers called "Black Diamond". That was back in 1950. It was about a pit pony. We had some quite realistic stories told to us then. It still haunts me. We were not told they were still being used.
Joy


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Subject: Lyr Add: GALLOWAYS (Jez Lowe)
From: Peace
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 02:59 AM

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Galloways & Galloway Lad
From: GUEST,Jacqued - PM
Date: 25 Aug 05 - 09:49 AM

Here you go:

GALLOWAYS
(Live at the Davy Lamp - Jez Lowe CD1)
Jez Lowe

If you walk in the evening where Galloways graze in the sun,
Grazing and standing, you won't see them gambol and run.
You won't see their heads turn around when you're walking away.
But the sun is still blazing on blind eyes a-gazing,
On Galloways grazing all day.

It casts a fine shadow from pulley wheels black in the sky,
But the streets seem so narrow where once they were gaping and wide.
There's never no children where children always would play.
But the sun is still blazing on blind eyes a-gazing,
On Galloways grazing all day.

There are hard restless memories but it doesn't seem so long to me,
But the yards seem so empty, like broken hearts for all to see.
The ragged red walls are bent and breaking away.
But the sun is still blazing on blind eyes a-gazing,
On Galloways grazing all day.

And these are the windows that once shed a warm winter's light,
Where a dusty old wind blows around corner-ends in the night.
Its howl goes unheeded, the weeds let it moan where it may.
But the sun is still blazing on blind eyes a-gazing,
On Galloways grazing all day.

All that was, and was made, it has gone, but it's hard to forget,
'Cos they've left it all naked and standing like stones of regret.
So tear it all down, put an end to its death and decay.
But the sun is still blazing on blind eyes a-gazing,
On Galloways grazing all day.
Yes the sun is still blazing on blind eyes a-gazing,
On Galloways grazing all day.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 05:17 AM

The last pit ponies retired in 1994 so it's amazing to think that Sparky had already retired but has outlived them all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 05:35 AM

I dunno. The shitty places I worked to earn a living are still standing, and some poor bastard is in there wasting his life, like I did. Save your tears for the living humans.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 05:45 AM

I think the thread was started to point out that this is the end of yet another era - like the children who used to sweep the chimneys.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Leadfingers
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 06:08 AM

The Home Of Rest For Horses at Speen near High Wycombe used to have some retired Pit Ponies resident . A lovely place to spend an afternoon , with a bag of chopped up carrots etc (and possibly a mint or two) for the horses in the stable area .


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 06:54 AM

Of course its terribly sad that we abused animals in that way - as you say the passing of an era.

a bit like the Irish Rebel thread we were both chatting on eanjay. I wonder if we'll ever step out into a brave new world.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 07:11 AM

The thing with these eras is that we're always glad when they've gone!


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 09:51 AM

I went down a coal mine near Coventry in the late 1960's with my college economics group - we didn't see any ponies, but there were boys working pushing trucks of coal around in the heat and semi-darkness, wearing shorts and a liberal covering of coal dust. We were about 18 at the time, and they looked quite a bit younger than us.That sort of image stays with you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 10:23 AM

The 1842 Report on Child Labour

There are instances, the report said, that children were taken to work in the coal mines as early as 4 years of age - and sometimes between 5 and 6 - while 8 to 9 was the ordinary age at which employment in the mines commenced.

A good proportion of persons employed in carrying on the work in mines were under 13 years of age: and a still larger proportion were aged between 13 and 18. In several districts female children began work in the mines at the same early ages as the males.

The miners lives depended upon the proper ventilation of air, and this depends on the trapdoors (Brattice) being kept shut after the trucks carrying coal had passed through them. The youngest children called 'trappers' had to perform this task. The report said while this was not hard work it was monotonous and painful to contemplate the dull, dungeon-like life, for the most part spent in solitude, in conditions of damp and darkness. They were allowed no light: but sometimes a good-natured collier would bestow a small piece of candle on them. These children had to work the same hours as the men.

At the Gnoll Colliery in 1842 the children were lowered down the shaft in a bucket. In 1837 at the Eaglebush Colliery children had the option of using a ladderway after a fatal accident when one boy fell out of the bucket.

At both collieries the coal was brought out of the workings to the main road in slides or sledges, drawn by boys aged 10 to 13, using a chain passing from a girdle or band round the waist and between the legs to a hook in the front of the sledge. The weight of these sledges, when loaded, was between 2 to 2½ cwt.

In the 1842 enquiry report, R. H. Franke, esq. one of the sub-commissioners wrote:

A brief description of the hard and dangerous conditions in which the children had to work. The female child had first to descend a nine ladder pit to the 1st rest, even to which a shaft is sunk. She then has to draw up the baskets or tubs of coal filled by the bearers: she then takes her 'creel' or basket shaped to conform to her back not unlike a cockle-shell flattened towards the neck , so as to allow lumps of coal to rest on the neck and shoulders. She then pursues her journey to the wall face or as it is called the room of work. She then lays down her basket, into which coal is rolled, and it is frequently more than one man can do to lift the burthen on her back. The tugs or straps are placed over the forehead and the body bent to a semi-circular form, in order to stiffen the arch.

Large lumps of coal are then placed on her neck and she commences her journey with her burthen to the pit bottom (shaft) first hanging her lamp to the cloth crossing her head. In this girl's case she has first to travel about 14 fathoms (84 ft) from wall face to the 1st ladder. which is 18 ft high; leaving the 1st ladder she proceeds along the main road, probably about 3ft 6in to 4ft 6in high, to the 2nd ladder, 18ft high, so to the 3rd and 4th ladders, till she reaches the pit bottom, where she casts her load, varying from 1 cwt to 1½ cwt, into the tub.

This one journey is deigned a 'rake'; the height ascended and the distance along the roads added together exceeds the height of St Paul's Cathedral; and it is not infrequently that the tugs break and the load falls on the children following. However incredible it may be, I have taken evidence that fathers have ruptured themselves from straining to lift loads on the children's backs

Fatal Accidents in Mines

In the year 1867, 1190 people perished in our 3192 collieries, which employed 333,116 workers: Of these:

286 were killed by explosions.

449 by rock falls

211 by other causes (156 in the shafts and 88 above ground)

This melancholy account gives no figures for the number of serious but non-fatal accidents which are not mentioned the official figures.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: robomatic
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 02:00 PM

I enjoyed reading this thread and I have a technical question, which I'm afraid I may already know partial answers to:

1) What was the effect of coal dust on human and horse lungs eyes and delicate membranes?

2) What is the explosive hazard?

3) What was and is done about it?

robo


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Peace
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 02:08 PM

"Save your tears for the living humans. "

It's possible for people to have enough for both.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: mick p r.m s.c
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 03:13 PM

WELL SAID PEACE. We leave it there I think.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Bert
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 07:33 PM

...and they looked quite a bit younger than us...

They probably were, school leaving age then was 15. I started work as a boilermaker apprentice at 16, having spent 8 months before that as a trainee because I was too young to start my apprenticeship. The bastards got 2/3 of a year extra cheap labour out of me.

"Save your tears for the living humans. "
Well said Peace, just because people were ill treated it doesn't mean that we should ignore or condone the ill treatment of animals.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 06:19 AM

Although it says a lot about us when you realise that the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was founded 60 years before the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) which began in 1884.

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 07:12 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 07:30 AM

What would have happened about the adjusting to light when they came up to the field for the annual holiday of approx. 3 weeks?


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 03:18 PM

I never saw that happen and I never heard of such a holiday being customary (though, at 11 I was probably too dumb to ask), but if the risk of hurt was the same, the procedure must have been the same.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BLOSSOM THE MINING HORSE
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 09:49 PM

I'm thinkng that Australian songwriter John Warner also has a song about a mining horse named "Blossom" who had the good sense to aniticipate a cave-in and refused to continue pulling her cart full of ore through that part of the mine shaft:

BLOSSOM, THE MINING HORSE
words: © John Warner 9/3/93
tune: Margaret Walters/Kim Poole 9/3/93

Now Blossom was a mining horse,
    Among the coal and slack,
Who hauled the skips with all her force,
    Get out of that, gee up you beggar,
    Come here, gee off, whoa back.

Wonthaggi miners all did know ...
What happened when Bloss refused to go ...

Now Bloss came out of the bord one day ...
Pulled to a stand and blocked the way ...

She had a full and heavy load ...
Of skips which blocked the wheeling road ...

Now Harry the wheeler cursed and cried ...
But Bloss dug in whatever he tried ...

With ears laid back our Bloss stood fast ...
No man behind in the bord got past ...

So Mac, who fired the shots, did say ...
"Let's eat, we could be here all day" ...

But, as the lads got out their lunch ...
The roof caved in with a deadly crunch ...

Our Blossom saved the miners all ...
She stood between them and the fall ...

And when the rescue team dug through ...
The lads were alive and Blossom too ...

Which goes to show, now and again ...
The mining heroes weren't all men ...

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 09 Apr 07 - 05:43 AM

A good song. It inspired to me to look for more (I can't actually remember any songs about pit ponies but there must be more). Anyway I discovered instead that Bryan Ferry's father had worked with pit ponies.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Apr 07 - 08:34 AM

I suppose all miners did. My Grandad lived in the Parr district of St Helens. He went down the mines when he was twelve (1880-1965). He'd been sold by an Irish tinker woman in a St Helens pub when he was a baby - he said for a quid - there was a feeling in the rest of the family that she'd sgot a good deal.

I'd like to say I found him a wealth of folk culture and wisdom, however honesty forces me to admit - we didn't really get on.

He used to do that sort of clog dancing that I saw Sam Sherry do years later - where one leg stays still and the other swishes madly around. Dancing with just one leg seemed a bit stupid to a snotty fifteen year old. He had a lot of songs - mostly music hall and Lancashire street stuff that I found even less entertaining than his dancing and tales of days gone by.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 09 Apr 07 - 03:06 PM

A song wriiten by Steve Harrison who sings with a UK four piece called Quartz.

Endless Working Days


Chorus
In a world where there's no Summer no warming sunshine's rays
In a world where there's no Winter no snowflakes on my face
No gentle spring, no Autumn winds no luscious grass to graze
No babbling brook to drink from just Endless Working days.


The year is 1892, I'm young with spirits high
My home a meadow by the fields of barley, corn and rye
But Master's sold me to the men, who own the new coal mine.
And now I'm sentenced to a life, among the dust and grime.
Ch

Now I'm put in harness, pulling coal tubs from the seam
Those long lost days of Summer, well now there just a dream,
My coat is scarred and dirty, the light fades in my eye
I hope to be released one day, I hope before I die.
Ch

Though I'm old and weary, the work gets harder still
I'm longing to be back, in that meadow by the mill
They say they've now got engines, to pull the tubs of coal
And soon I'll be released from, this underground hell hole.
Ch

Now at last the day's arrived, my shackles they have gone
I'm taken to the pit-head, my working days are done.
I can feel the breeze of Autumn, smell the harvest of the fields
I'm going to my meadow, to end my days in peace.

To a world where there's a Summer with warming sunshine's rays
A world where there's a Winter with snowflakes on my face
The gentle spring, the Autumn winds, with luscious grass to graze,
a babbling brook to drink from until my dying day.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 09 Apr 07 - 07:46 PM

Graeme Knights sings the Steve Harrison song.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Joe_F
Date: 09 Apr 07 - 09:53 PM

'Twould ring the bells of Heaven
The wildest peal for years,
If Parson lost his senses
And people came to theirs,
And he and they together
Knelt down with angry prayers
For tamed and shabby tigers,
And dancing dogs and bears,
And wretched, blind pit ponies,
And little hunted hares.
   Ralph Hodgson, The Bells of Heaven (1917)


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: The PA
Date: 10 Apr 07 - 04:09 AM

Not all the ponys were blind. I knew of one who moved on to a riding school in warwickshire and took to it like a duck to water, pardon the pun, taught loads of children to ride and because of his experiences with the noise and machinery was absolutely 'bomb proof' (horsie expression for being totally safe around traffic etc), nothing spooked him at all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Apr 07 - 06:24 AM

A passing of an era, sometimes it's sad to see an era end others we are glad to see the passing. I for one are pleased to see an end to this era and wish for more safety for the people still working in this evironment.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Apr 07 - 10:54 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pit_ponies


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: danensis
Date: 11 Apr 07 - 11:49 AM

I visited a working ine in the 1960s. I was surprised just how much dust there was in the air - it was like walking into a snowstorm, and you couldn't see more than a few feet ahead of you because of the dust. This came from the stonedust barriers, which were supposed to stop fire spreading in the event of an explosion. They comprised a wide plank fixed horizontally above the roadways, and piled high with stone dust. Some men were employed to do nothing else but top up the stone dust which was constantly blown off by the ventilation. The idea was that in the event of an explosion the stone blew off the plank and formed a curtain of dust which stopped the flame spreading - I've no idea if it worked but I guess they wouldn't have done it if it didn't.

The coal face was relatively clean - the pit I visited was hot rather than wet, and the face was cooled by jets of water, which helped to keep the dust down.

The other thing that really impressed me was the diesel workshops, where fitters were repairing diesel injectors in the ever-present cloud of stone dust.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Gurney
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 03:47 AM

I was a miner for two years, starting as a boy of 16 in 1957. There were no ponies in my colliery, but there was one in the training colliery that new miners had to attend. It was a mischievous devil, and loved to rip the buttons off your clothes with its teeth. It was a glutton for work, for sandwiches, and for company. It had no problem seeing, and we were told it enjoyed its time on the 'bank,' as the surface is called, but was always ready to come back below because it missed the company.

Robomatic: Later on I was an insurance agent in the same town. Coaldust affects the lungs by 'setting' in them and reducing their function. This was called Pneumoconiosis, and it leads to death in the same way that Emphysema does, by not allowing the sufferer to breathe and making them vulnerable to other infections.

I've never heard of coaldust affecting the eyes or mucous membranes in humans, but I'm not a doctor. It possibly could affect horses, in that they haven't hands to remove FBs in the eye, and are more philosophical about them than humans.

On the health issue, at that time, to reduce the risk of explosion from the coaldust (and it does!) stonedust had for years been spread in the mines. This led to a condition called Silicosis, where particles lodged in the lungs in quantity, and abraded the lungs internally. An unpleasant thing to die from, as is Pneumoconiosis.
Ever miner's Death Certificate I handled, about 35 of them, listed lung problems as a contributing factor.

Miners did spend twice as long in the mines as ponies, as they live thrice as long. Ponies were stabled on the intake side of the ventilation system.
What was done about it? Don't know about now, but precious little then. Smoking was strictly forbidden, in those days when everyone smoked, miners used snuff and chewed tobacco. They would cause to be sacked anyone who smoked down the pit. Miners going on shift would be patted down in a formal search for smoking equipment, which was mainly a reminder, because if you smoked down there, your mates would have you OUT. Industrial diseases were then regarded as occupational hazards.
I enjoyed mining as much as I've enjoyed any job I've had. As a boy, I didn't get into the serious stuff, Stripping and Ripping. I was a Jig Runner and a Ring Dragger.
I'm not kidding. I'll leave you to guess what those occupations were.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: fogie
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 06:58 AM

I think they should be reinstated in Beamish or the Black-Country museum or Ironbridge, and treated the way we think they should have been treated - so the kids can feed them carrots and apples and they could pull a little cart for youngsters to ride in - any small breed would do. They could go running about in the fields in shifts - no not attire. must be better than rounding them up to sell to continental butchers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 07:21 AM

Apparently pit ponies were very good with children when they did come up from the mines.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: danensis
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 03:53 PM

If you read some of the documents of the time, the main objection to women and children working down the mine was the morality aspect, as the miners often worked naked. The miners were singularly unimpressed with the interfering busybodies from London, as the family unit was a team, and by working together they could win more coal. The men hewed the coal, the women hauled the tubs, and the children operated the ventilation doors. By removing the women and children the family incomes was decimated, leading to notions of a family wage where the man became the breadwinner and the women and children were marginalised.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: jack halyard
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 05:38 PM

What a gutzer of a thread! In Wonthaggi and Korumburra, the pit horses ( they were full sized horses, not ponies) were brought up every day. There's no record of any going blind. I highly recommend a book called "Come here, gee off" by Joe and Lyn Chambers, available at the State Coal Mining museum in Wonthaggi, Victoria (Aus).
These horses were tough, absolutely ruthless with the miner's crib tins, could open screw-top bottles, and generally could read danger well before the miners. They kept them on at Wonthaggi because of the faulted geology which made it dificult to install powered conveyers and suchlike. Oh! a gutzer, by the way, is not only the word I use for "Immense" or "Highly satisfactory", I found it to be the word used by Korumburra miners for the huge hand-brace type drill they used to use for boring the seam to set explosives. The one I saw was made by a blacksmith. The handmade bit was about ten feet long.

The horses could count. If they heard the sound of three sets of chains taking up when they moved, they kept going, if they heard four they would stop and not move. Three skips was their allocation and they knew their rights. Good union horses, those.

Good 'ealth all. Jack Halyard


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Gurney
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 03:43 AM

Jack Halyard, are the Oz mines you mention shaft mines or drift mines? Where I come from, drift mines, made by tunnelling more-or-less horizontally into a hillside fault, were mostly worked out generations ago. It would be fairly easy to walk or transport horses out of them. Vertical shaft mines, however, would have meant repeatedly putting the horses on the biggest and fastest lift/elevator in the world. You wouldn't like to be in a mine lift-cage with a panicking horse, and if they were unaccompanied, they could probably hurt themselves. I understand a 'crush' was installed in the cage on the occasions in the past when ponies went to the Bank. A lot of trouble, probably easier to leave them down below. Anyway, in those crueller days, it was normal.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 06:47 AM

Interestingly enough, there's a separate question being opened about the future of the Dartmoor ponies, which were some of the stock used for the pits.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Musket
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 10:09 AM

Seeing this thread is a reminder for me.. I need the odd kick up the arse to get going and a long time ago, I promised myself I would write a song about Whitsuntide at the pit village I come from.

Back in the 1920s, my Mum remembered as a child the ponies being brought up over the Whitsuntide weekend for a scrub and annual vet check on the Saturday, grazing in Foxe's field Saturday and into Sunday morning, then the children being given rides on them after church on the Sunday. Monday morning, the poor buggers were back down.

As an apprentice, I did my underground training at an old pit (Orgreave) that still had the stables etc in the pit bottom, albeit empty, although the pit I worked at didn't have them in the seam we were working. An old seam, flooded by then had them in the pit bottom but I never saw those.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 12:25 PM

From: Billy Weeks - PM
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 07:12 AM
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.

.,,.
The father of my first wife Valerie (1935-2007) was a Forest of Dean miner. She won a mature state scholarship after we were married [why I still live near Cambridge.] She once mentioned to one of her fellow-students that she remembered her father in the tin bath in front of the fire when he came home from the pit. "You've been reading too much Lawrence!" her friend replied scornfully.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Musket
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 01:57 PM

The tin bath in front of the fire turned into a slightly different routine by my time.

All collieries had pithead baths, and mid morning when they were quiet, lots of old retired men would come to the pit for a shower and then get a cheap dinner in the canteen.

My step father's tin bath had been relegated to being sunk in the garden to stop his mint and sage taking over the herb patch.

My step Dad told me that once after an explosion (nobody hurt badly but thick dust you couldn't see through,) he grabbed a pony's tail as it went past and hung on, knowing the pony had the sense to find fresh air.


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Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 04:00 PM

One might think that when men realized the inherent risks in the gathering of our fossil fuels (not to mention, gems) that some wise person might have said: Hey, let's not go there! And found a different means of power and bling.

Civilised contries. Hmmmmm


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