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Pony-Driving Song


Bill Price recorded the Pony-Driving Song in 1972 for his Folk-Heritage album The Fine Old Yorkshire Gentleman. His sleeve notes commented:

Parts of this song were collected in Methley, near Castleford. This version is from the singing of Joe Lindley, who was a doggy at Swillington Colliery. The pony drivers were lads of 13-14 in their first job in the pit, leading pony-drawn tubs along the narrow galleries. The turn minder, or doggy (in this case Bobby Bellwood), was in charge of the teams of pony drivers, counting and allocating the tubs to the face-workers, and being older and stronger, he would lift the derailed tubs back onto the rails. Joe himself was a doggy at 16.

Graham Metcalfe with Folly Bridge sang the Pony-Driving Song in 1992 on their second WildGoose cassette, Unabridged. They noted:

a gentle song from Swillington Colliery, learnt by Graham from the late Bill Price. ‘Doggies’ were lads of 15 or so in charge of the (even younger) pony drivers, allocating the tubs to faceworkers.


Graham Metcalfe with Folly Bridge sing the Pony-Driving Song

This is my pony, these are my tubs,
I’m off the road lads, my pony rubs.
Where’s Bobby Bellwood, nobody knows,
He’s down at the pass-by pickin’ his nose.

Workin’ all day lads for five bob a day,
Little snap time, little pay.
And if tha grumbles, deputy’ll see,
Put on thy coat lad, tha’s finished for t’day.

I’ll soon be glad when this shift is done,
Then I’ll be up there out in the sun.
Thou’ll still be down ’ere, In this dark ’ole,
Still gruntin’ and groanin’, pullin’ this coal.

Corn’s in t’manger, water’s in t’ tub,
Tha’ll shove tha nose out, when tha’s ’ad enough.
I’ll tak thee t’t standby and drop off the gear
And when I come back I’ll know tha’ll be ’ere.

For I am a driver, these are me tubs,
I’m off the road lads, my pony rubs.
Where is the doggie, nobody knows,
He’s down at the pass-by, pickin’ his nose.