So Turpin was famous locally…

I’m a bit busy with other stuff this weekend so while I catch up with that, there’s a great story here from spotted by Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler in an April 1967 copy of the Lichfield Mercury.

Pit ponies and indeed, most of the local pits themselves were a thing of the past by 1967, but many old miners remembered these noble beasts of burden with great fondness, and the horses and men who grafted alongside them had great trust and pride in each other.

Local gentleman, historian and honorary grandfather of the blog Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove wrote of how miners would save a slice of Sunday’s fruitcake for the pit pony on Monday, and whilst it’s hard to accept the awful conditions they worked in, these animals were a matter of great love and affection.

Do you have any memory of these animals, either at work or retired? Did any of your relatives tell you about their favourite pit pony?

Thanks to Peter for a wonderful little story and if you can add anything, please do: Comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or say hi on social media.


A PROUD day for Turpin the pit pony who loved his work.

When this picture was taken, Turpin should have been enjoying a well earned rest. Instead 33 years old and still In peak condition, he had Just returned from the Royal Agricultural Show at Derby and was ready to start work again at No. 1 pit at Cannock Chase Colliery.

The pit is closed now, but Mr. A. Richardson, of 27 Union Street, Chasetown, feels there are many local miners who’d like a final glimpse of Turptn, the faithful veteran whose working life spanned 3O years.

After Turpln bad won a first prize at the County Agricultural Show in 1932, the colliery manager decided the time had come for him to be retired, and he was sent to graze on part of an 100-acre field at the colliery farm

But Turpln missed his old life at the pit. He got thinner, and had to spend a short time at the stables in Church Street, Chasetown, before he was fit and well again. After that be returned to the pit – and lived to the grand old age of 35.

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3 Responses to So Turpin was famous locally…

  1. John Anslow says:

    Pit ponies were still being used down the Coppy Pit during the mid 1950s. A gang of three miners (whom I shall not name as, though long dead, still have immediate family living in the area) relied on ponies when driving a new underground roadway south during those years.

    This hard and dangerous work is, I believe, called “rock heading”, and by working 7 nights a week, these men could each take home about £40 a week at a time when the ordinary working man might expect £10. Incidentally, I was told that these miners broke into old workings from Dry Bread pit when cutting this roadway.

    They soon discovered they could drive through the necessary weekly length of roadway in just six nights, so could enjoy a few pints on a Sunday afternoon and get their heads down or play cards underground on Sunday night.

    To maintain the pretence of strenuous labour, however, they used to pee all over the pony before returning it to the stables, remarking to the stableman: “ ’Es wairked ’ard t’night, as the ode ’oss. Got a right sweat on!”.

  2. David k foulger says:

    Can remember using a pit pony named major at c.r.c.yard pulling logs for the sawmill also pulling the roller when rolling pitch using leather shoes to avoid damage to the surface also quiet a number used to be tested in a. Field opposite the yard this was in the year 1950 approx.

  3. David k foulger says:

    Sorry tested not tested

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