Make Your Own Pit Pony!

Pit ponies were horses that worked underground in coal mines.

Mines went deep underground and could stretch for many kilometres so the miners needed help moving all the heavy coal that they had cut from the rock. Ponies are much stronger than people and one pony could move 30 tons of coal in one day – that’s the weight of around 20 motor cars!

A pony spent most of her or his life underground, living in special underground stables like this one:

Underground stables for pit ponies at Camp Colliery in around 1910. You can see signs with the ponies' names on the stalls.

Underground stables for pit ponies at Camp Colliery in around 1910. You can see signs with the ponies’ names on the stalls.

This pony is having its fur clipped by one of the miners – why do you think they did that?

This pit pony is having its coat clipped to help it stay cool and clean in the mine. It can get very warm underground and very dirty with all the coal dust.

This pit pony is having its coat clipped to help it stay cool and clean in the mine. It can get very warm underground and very dirty with all the coal dust.

Pit ponies pulled little railway wagons filled with coal that the miners had cut from underground. A wagon like this is called a ‘hutch’. There were no bunnies inside but the shape was a bit like a rabbit hutch but open at the top. The hutch had iron wheels and ran along rails just like a railway.

When the pit ponies retired they were taken back to the surface and lived in a field just like other ponies.

Activity Time!

Now have a go at making your own pit pony. Here’s what you will need:

  • A4 Thick white paper or card
  • Printer
  • Scissors

Here is a picture of a miner and a pit pony but their coal hutch has disappeared – can you draw it in?

Print out the picture and very carefully cut around the pony, miner and outline of the hutch.

Take care to include the two tabs at the bottom – we are going to fold those over so the pony can stand upright.

Now draw your coal hutch. You can make it any colour you like. To help you here is a real coal hutch that is on display at Summerlee Museum:

Look at the wheels – the spokes make a spiral shape, do you think you can draw them?

Now, your pony needs a background – print this picture out and stick it up behind your pony. Take a picture and show us your pony on Twitter @nl_heritage – don’t forget to tell us what your pony is called.

You can print-out this photo of a mine and use it as a background for your pit pony.

You can print-out this photo of a mine and use it as a background for your pit pony.