An act of parliament was passed in 1847 prohibiting children and women working in coal mines. This act gave rise to ponies being used in the pits. The first ponies to be used as pit ponies were in England in about 1850. Only male ponies were used for this work. Some mares were bought by coal masters who started breeding their own ponies. The 5th Marquis of Londonderry owned a number of coal mines in County Durham where he set up a stud with ponies bought from Shetland. He also set up a stud at Bressay in the Shetland Isles, through selective breeding he developed the Londonderry type, described by Charles & Anne Douglas in The Shetland Pony as admirably adapted for pit work, massive, muscular, and heavy, yet able to walk comfortably in a passage not four feet high. The demand for Shetland Ponies came from all over Britain and the demand from America was growing. This led to a sharp decrease in the Shetland Pony population on the islands…… to be continued.
Shetland Ponies were the only means of transport in their native islands until the building of roads. They were used for transporting peat from the areas where the peat was dug known as peat banks to the crofts, this process was known as flitting the peats, mares were used for this work sometimes with a foal at foot. In some areas peat flitting was done by carts This work generally stopped in the 1950’s
The Shetland Pony was also used for some light farm work, mainly pulling carts, harrowing, and they were used for ploughing but not generally.
If anyone has more information on any of these photographs. I would be happy to add it to the text
2 photographs of Shetland Ponies carrying peat using Keishie (or kishies) baskets woven from flags or tough grasses. 1800’s.
The baskets were also called Rivakeshies.
Shetland Pony working as a pit pony. Location and date unkown.
Delivering milk on the Isle of Wight around 1950.