The Fell Pony Museum: 17th century
The Fell Pony Museum
Cheap Transport :: Appleby, Kendal and Carlisle :: The Pack Trade :: A Pack Pony's Day :: Small Ads :: Galloways 1 :: Galloways 2 :: Galloways 3 :: Gaits

Cheap transport

The tradition of pony transport continued for many hundreds of years after the monasteries were broken up. Costs were low because the ponies were local and cheap and could work on small rations, mainly the rough grass available around their stopping places. Around 1770 the cost of a load from Backbarrow to Coniston (22 miles) was 8 pence for a 2 hundredweight load (224lb). Iron and lead-ore, copper, coal, slate and lime as well as wool were produced in the Lakes and carried by pony to their destinations. A labourer then earned 16 pence to 19 pence a day and a craftsman 24 pence a day; so a horse earned half to a third of a man's wage.

At that time, Kendal was the most important centre for packhorse work in the North of England. Trains went to and from Barnard Castle, York and London, to mention only three destinations.

Gibson (1868) is quoted by Rollinson, describing an unusual method of organisation:

" ... there are many of the old inhabitants of Langdale who remember gangs of pack-horses on the way from Kendal to Whitehaven over Hardknott and Wrynose, one especially, led by a sagacious old black stallion; their master and only attendant rode a pony and had a habit of taking his ease at ... several inns along the route, following and overtaking the horses between his stopping places and riding on to the next, where he would rest and drink until they had plodded patiently past, when, at his own good time, he would follow and repeat the process."

The outline of a normal pack pony's day was probably more organised.

For on outline of the development of road networks in Cumbria please see

Horses and Ponies in Agriculture

The "owd Gallowa'" was a "maid of all work" and could be employed in many roles - from taking the farmer to market on a weekday and the family to church on Sunday, to carrying hay to sheep or cattle in winter, or on better land, working alongside oxen or a larger draught-horse cross to plough, till or harrow.

old painting of ponies and oxen ploughing

"A remarkable oil painting, formerly in the Woolpack Inn at Boot in Eskdale but now privately owned, illustrates the primitive ploughing technique. Painted on wooden boards, the picture is thought to date from the mid-eighteenth century; it shows a proud farmer dressed in his Sunday best with a three-cornered hat on his head, driving a crude wooden plough, assisted by two labourers who control the ox and horse team and keep the plough in the ground".

(Rollinson, The Lake District: Life and Traditions)

The General Survey of the Agriculture of Northumberland in 1794 (including Westmorland and Cumberland) remarks that ox-teams and mixed ox/horse teams had been common 70 or 80 years before but that an ox team was now almost unknown. (Bailey, Culley, Pringle)

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Last updated 30 July, 2021 .
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