Sparky, Carl, National Coal Mining Museum, coal mining industry, Welsh Mountain Pony
SPARKY - the UK's last surviving deep pit pony - has passed away after pining the death of his favourite four-legged friend. The lovable workhorse, who went on to became a tourist attraction, was aged just four when he began hauling coal-filled carts under the North Sea. Sparky toiled in a coal mine six miles offshore and eight miles down. He and his four-legged workmates spent their nights in pitch-black stalls. The only time he saw daylight was for the annual holiday - or during long strikes or lockouts. But he made it through to enjoy a long and happy retirement in the company of his best pal and former workmate Carl, a Welsh Mountain Pony. Sadly the pair, who were cared for at the National Coal Mining Museum, were separated when Carl died last October, aged 29. And now broken-hearted Sparky has followed his pal for the final time. A spokesman for the museum near Wakefield, West Yorks, said: Since Carl's death, Sparky's behaviour had changed. He took Carl's death quite hard. "He did get on with the other horses but he was really close to Carl. The sad loss of Sparky sends us one step closer to the end of an era in coal mining." Sparky, who at 35 was the equivalent of 105 in human years, had been at the museum for 18 years. "Sparky was wonderful. He wasn't very patient and had a special kick for his stall door when it was time to go back to the field," the spokesman added. "He was loved by all. His loss will be felt by all the staff, the visitors and those who adopted him." Sparky and Carl had laboured at Ellington Colliery in Northumberland. The museum spokesman explained: "Their life sounds harsh but they were washed, groomed, fed and in an area with electricity and water. They would be checked daily by the blacksmith and farrier. "And when the ponies were out of the pit it was a holiday for everyone. "All the villagers would feed them. The ponies wouldn't stop running around for those weeks of freedom. "And when the holiday was up, it was as if the ponies knew beforehand. "Some of them would try to run away. It took a lot of manpower to round them up and get them ready to go back down." Pit ponies were the backbone of the coal mining industry for three centuries. In 1913 there were more than 70,000 in collieries but numbers had fallen to a handful by the 80s. 30th October 2006"
|Keywords||2000s,2006,Pit Ponies,Horse,Animals Colour,Core05,Cruelty,Coal Industry|
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