Tuesday, 19 February 2013

What is a Pit Pony?

Sultan the Pit Pony is the UK’s largest figurative earth sculpture!

A Pit Pony was a type horse bread especially for their strength and size and commonly used underground in coal mines from the mid-18th until the mid-20th century.

Ponies began to be used underground, often replacing child labour, as distances from pit head to coal face became greater.

The first known recorded use of a Pit Pony was in Britain was in the Durham coalfield in 1750.  

At the peak in 1913 there were 70,000 ponies underground in Britain.

In later years, mechanical haulage was quickly introduced on the main underground roads replacing the pony hauls and ponies tended to be confined to the shorter runs from coal face to main road (known in North East England as "putting") which were more difficult to mechanise.

Typically, the Pony’s would work an eight-hour shift each day, during which they might haul 30 tons of coal in tubs on the underground narrow gauge railway.

Penallta Colliery (pictured above) was a coal mine, located close to Hengoed in the Rhymney Valley in the South Wales Valleys. Work began on Penallta Colliery in 1901 and by 1909 was in full production, in 1939 Penallta held the record for the most coal produced in a single week. Penallta Colliery closed in 1991 when political pressure forced its final closure.


  1. SO interesting, Frank! Thank you for telling us about the ponies and for showing us the Ariel view of Sultan. What a magnificent memorial!

  2. Wow, that's very interesting. I love the aerial shot of Sultan. I was trying to picture him yesterday and not doing a good job!

  3. WOW WOW. That is soooooo cool. Thank you for showing us. I want to go ride that pony.

  4. That was a good post, did you go into the airplane to get the good shot?

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley
    Online Doods

  5. Hi Frank! How interesting! We have nothing quite like that here in the US. I have to admit I kept waiting for a mention of pugs, though.
    Love Noodles.

  6. Brilliant sculpture and great to remember all working animals. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  7. LOVE the ARIEL view of Sultan. We have some INDIAN(native American) Earthworks in our area.. over 2,000 years old. One is a Serpent and one is a circle and there is a spider and some lizard like thingys.
    In our area of this state there were a lot of WELCH who came here to settle and they brought Ponies to help mine coal. Sadly many were blind.
    This was a VERY VERY informative post. WE love learning about other places... through our FURENDS and their pawspective. THANK YOU my furend fur this !!

  8. Thats a cool story, thanks.

    Loveys Sasha

  9. Very interesting - thank you for that history and we like the aerial photo of Sultan - it is lovely :-) woofs and licks from Magic xx

  10. What an amazing photo. That horse looks so cool and to learn the history of how they were used, is very cool. My Grandpa was a coal miner and that is tough hard work for human and horse.

    Thanks for sharing


  11. Nice fairly accurate & enjoyable post. Well done. There are still a few old Welsh Pit Ponies (retired no) surviving at the Pit Pony Sanctuary, Penycoedcae, Pontypridd. Much warmer and softer than Sultan. They are open to visitors in the summer. They alow nice dogs on a lead. There are some videos on You Tube search for pitponyman channel and enjoy.