Saturday, 9 October 2010

'Twould ring the bells of Heaven

'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

This moving poem was one which Mum used to quote, giving particular force to the next to last line because she had seen pit ponies in her youth when she had been down a coal mine in Derbyshire - A remarkable thing for a young girl to have done in the 1910s.    At their peak in 1913, there were 70,000 ponies underground in Britain. Almost unbelievably, there were still pit ponies in use in the 1980s and in 1984 there were said to be 55, many of them at Ellington in Northumberland. The last surviving pit pony is thought to have died in 2009 at the age of 35.


  1. Who is Parson?

    Amazing that this last pit pony lived to such an old age. They must have been taking very good care of it, after all.

    My husband's grandfather up in Yorkshire finished school at 15 on a Friday and was down the pit the following Monday.

  2. Another bit of information that I did not know...

  3. The media have told "the last Pit Pony" story so many times the real last pit pony will be hard to find. Here at the Pit Pony Sanctuary, Pontypridd. Wales we have three still alive & kicking. Jake, Beauty & Dylan. There is some bits of video on You Tube search under pitponyman and some information on our website Enjoy!


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