Leading these pit ponies to their new home, the North East’s mining heritage was the focus of celebrations this weekend.
With a procession of brass bands, banners and a grand parade, Beamish Museum opened their new stables in style.
Crowds gathered at the museum in County Durham on Saturday as the region’s mining heritage was marked with a four-day celebration.
The newly-completed attraction in the Pit Village area of Beamish Museum will now be home to seven pit ponies, demonstrating the role of horses in a North East colliery in the years leading up to the First World War.
Families turned out for the grand unveiling of the stables which were opened as part of Old King Coal at Beamish – a four-day-long celebration of the mining heritage of the North East.
The pit ponies were given a rousing welcome, starting with a parade from The Town to The Pit Village, with brass bands, miners’ banners and a host of costumed folk, invited guests and Beamish visitors.
Ferryhill Brass Band marched with the parade and banners included those from Bowburn, Deaf Hill, Easington, Felling, Heworth, Murton, Quarrington Hill, Shotton, Silksworth and Wardley.
Richard Evans, museum director at Beamish Museum, said: “This is another pieces of the jigsaw of our rich mining heritage and the stories we tell at Beamish. Pit ponies are amongst the most iconic and emotive symbols of mining life.
“It is fantastic to have so many people here to help us celebrate the grand opening of our new pit pony stables.”
Following the ceremony the new occupants moved in. These included Flash – who can trace his ancestry back to Lord Londonderry’s Seaham stud – along with Aurora Borealis, Briar, Maygold, Milkyway, Silver Lining and Tippet.
They are all pedigree Shetland ponies, a breed commonly used throughout the Durham coalfield.
Now that the new stables are open, visitors will be able to meet the ponies, find out how they were cared for and trained for their work underground and learn more about their contribution to the North’s mining heritage.