In a bit of a change, of author and subject, I will be looking at some of the other work going on in the Transport and Industry team. Firstly, I will be charting the construction of our new colliery stables. Started on Monday 13th May, as already reported in a previous update, they will house our growing band of ponies.
The stables are being built at the opposite end of the Pit Village from the Colliery Yard, next to the School and Band Hall.
Stables were an essential building in any colliery, at the height of coal production, in 1913, the Durham coal field was home to 22000 pit ponies. The tradition of using horses underground was a long one, with Ellington, the last north east colliery, not retiring its ponies until 1994.
The building which will be constructed, in the Pit Village, will be a copy of an existing building, rather than a relocated building. The original stable building, which we are copying, is situated between High Spen and Greenside, near Rowlands Gill. The stable served the Victoria Garesfield Colliery via Rickless Drift. This was a drift mine entrance to Victoria Garesfield Colliery, two miles to the south of the main colliery site, it was used only by men and horses to avoid having to use the cages to travel the main, deep, shaft.
The building is still in use as a stable today. The interior of the building has changed but the exterior remains, largely, unaltered.
As work progresses we will be updating the blog with pictures and information. If you have any memories of the Rickless Stables we would be very happy to hear from you.
As you can see from the photographs the foundations are well underway and the block work has begun.