Conisborough Cruelty to a Pit Pony

May 1895

Mexborough and Swinton Times May 10 1895

Conisborough Cruelty to a Pit Pony

William Turner, a miner, in the employ of the Cadeby Main Colliery Company, resident at Conisborough, was charged with unlawfully striking a pit pony, so as to causing grievous bodily injury, and suffering, at the Cadeby colliery on 17 April.

Mr Pawson appeared on behalf of the colliery, and Mr Baddiley defended.

Mr Pawson in opening, said it appeared that the defendant was driving the Pony in question down an incline. At the same time a lad named Haggard was taking empty tub from the bottom of the pit to be filled. The defendant was taking his Pony, which was attached to a tub into a siding to direct it down an incline. Defendant was at this siding, in the bottom of the pit, and on the evidence of the lad Haggai it would transpire that when the Pony was passing the  defendant it was seen to attempt to kick at him, not, however, so as to injure him. Defendant was then seen to pick up something from the ground and strike the pony with it.

On a man named Taylor going down soon afterwards he found the poorly still standing, it flanked was covered with blood, it was also injured on the knee.

As a pony was passing the defendant the lad Haggard heard him say “I’ll teach you to kick me.” The Pony was very seriously injured. The matter was ultimately reported and a corporal named Wood, examined the Pony, and a wound of considerable size was discovered in the animal’s flank. It was a punctured wound which appeared to have been inflicted by the point of a pick of 3 1/2 inches in depth. In his (Mr Pawson’s) opinion it was a very serious case.

Wilfred Haggard said he was a miner at the Cadeby Colliery. On the date in question he was in charge of a pony which was attached to an empty corve which he was about to exchange for a full one. As he was doing so he saw the defendant. He heard him say to the Pony “I’ll teach you to kick me.” This the witness explained was after the pony had kicked at him in passing. The defendant was standing in the siding at this time, and directly after saying that he picked up something from the siding and struck the pony with it. Witness didn’t see then what this something was.

Mr Pawson: When you put your tub in the siding you notice anything?
Witness: I saw blood upon its line.
Mr Pawson: what did you do?
Witness: I talked earlier about it, and he said he had hit it with a pick.
Witness thought the Pony very badly hurt. The wound in the left flank was a more serious.
Mr  Baddiley: is it not your duty when you take an empty corve up to this  place?
Witness: Yes
Mr Baddiley: Your ponies do not like to go over this part I think?
Witness: No
Mr  Baddiley: There is a flat piece of iron there and the ponies slip on it?
Witness: Sometimes.

Continuing the witness explained that it was on this slab of iron that the corves were turned around, preparatory to  their being sent down the incline onto the face of the coal to be filled. The ponies were very timid in reaching that quarter. He had asked the lad to put his tub down the incline on this occasion. Witness didn’t see defendant put his hand upon it. The defendant told his  pony to go on. Witness was not near enough to see the pony kick the defendant, although he knew that the pony had kicked the defendant. Defendant did not asked witness to assist him with the Pony. He didn’t see defendant cleaning the pick shaft.

In answer to Mr Pawson, witness explained that the flat was covered with a brattice cloth to prevent the Pony from possible slipping.

Robert Taylor said he was a horsekeeper at the Cadeby colliery. On the day in question he went to the part of the pit in which the alleged cruelty took place. After speaking to the lad, he went up the jinny and found a corporal named Wood. He there found a pick with blood upon it. He then examined the pony. On the left flank he found a three cornered wound. This was about 8 o’clock.

In reply to Mr Baddiley witness said it would be quite seven hours after the accident he found the pick in the working place, a few yards from the face of the coal (witness pointed out on the plans produced)

Ernest Wood, a corporal, examined the pony with the last witness, and found two pick heads upon the shaft in the working place. The bottom one was covered with fresh blood. The ponies could not slip on the flats.

Mr William W Norwood, veterinary surgeon, of Conisborough, said he had medical charge of the horses in the Cadeby colliery. On the day after the occurrence he was sent for to examine the Pony in question. He found a punctured wound on its left flank. Witness probed the wound and found it extended 3 ½ inches into the back. It appeared to have been inflicted by a blow from behind, forwards in a lateral direction. He examine the picks and found on the end thereof a substance. This being microscopically examine proved to be a mixture of blood and dust.

Mr Baddilley for the defence said that there was no doubt the pony had been injured, but the defendant was not guilty of such a piece of wanton cruelty. The defendant had worked in the pit for about three years, and was moreover of pious inclinations, his Sundays being spent in chanting in the Conisborough Church Choir. His instructions were that on the date the lad, who was a filler, and devolved upon him the duty of seeing that the empty corves were taken down to the place in which the miners were working, so that it could again be filled with coal. This the defendant was in the act of doing when the lads ill-treatment took place, his driver had taken the Pony down, and the next thing was to take it over the flat. Now, the Pony were sometimes very timid and passing over the flats, and the lad Haggard had asked the defendant’s to turn his pony as it was there on. The defendant put his hand on it and the Pony kicked him. Defendant then took a pick shaft and struck the pony. There was a pick on it, and it didn’t injure the pony in anyway. The defendant immediately told the manager, Mr Witty what had taken place.

The summons had been held over from the 17th to the 30th in order to obtain information against the lad, William Taylor. He commented upon the lack of corroborative evidence.

The Bench had no doubt as to the defendant’s guilt and striking the animal, and he would be fined 30 shillings including costs.