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New display celebrating coal mining’s pit ponies opens at Woodhorn Museum

27/05/2022

New display celebrating coal mining’s pit ponies opens at Woodhorn Museum

A new art installation and display celebrating the important role pit ponies played in the coal mining industry opens at Woodhorn Museum on Saturday 28 May.

Titled ‘Work, Rest and Play’, the exhibition features new work by visual artist Bethan Maddocks and historical items from the Museums Northumberland collection that paint a picture of what life was like for the hardworking pit ponies at Woodhorn Colliery and at other coal mining sites across the region.

Visitors to the new display will be able to see original harnesses and headgear used by pit ponies at Woodhorn, Ellington, and Lynemouth collieries; memorial plaques dedicated to ponies that lost their lives in mining disasters; farrier tools; and photographs and other ephemera depicting the much-loved animals and their lives both down the mines and on the surface.

“The artworks depict different stages of a pit pony’s life, and the essential role they played in coal mining. The new pieces also reflect the transformation of some colliery sites from centres of industry, to a place of rest and leisure for the local community. The balance of work, rest and play is an ideal often fought for and depicted within the mining banners and work of the mining unions.”

‘Work, Rest and Play’ – part of the countywide exhibition, A Northumberland Menagerie – opens at Woodhorn Museum from Saturday 28 May and runs until Sunday 30 October.

For more information about A Northumberland Menagerie and museum opening times and entry prices, visit www.museumsnorthumberland.org.uk.

For more information about Bethan Maddocks, visit www.bethanmaddocks.com.

-ENDS-

Northumberland Menagerie has been made possible thanks to public funding from Arts Council England and Northumberland County Council.