The Pit Pony Memorial and the memories of "Dai"

by David Nurse September. 20, 2021 286 views

I visited my local nature reserve again which was prompted by a notice in the local paper of a memorial service that is held every year at 8.20 am on the 26th of August on the anniversary of the time and day when 146 men and boys died when there was an explosion in the coal mine. I covered this story in this post a few years ago.

I was happy to see that the area has had a facelift and a new memorial bench has been placed in the area.

The carving is of a miner and his "Pit Pony".

It was shining in the warm late summer sunshine and it got me thinking of the area where I grew up not 10 miles from here.

I Digress:-

The area was very much a mining valley and back in the late 60's, it was common to see men in the street with "Blue Scars" where coal dust had gone in beneath their skin and cause scars that looked like tattoos permanently on their face and arms.

But the Pit Pony sculpture reminded me of the stables that were behind the row of our houses and that still housed a number of Ponies and I was told that they were Pit Ponies that I assumed now were there in their retirement. No open field for these old boys, I believe they spent their last years in these stables, as I never saw them outside on a single occasion.

I am not sure when the last ponies would have been used here underground but I would guess, these ponies would have been quite young when retired.

This led me to think of the man who looked after the ponies or horses. His name was David Thomas.

In Wales David is a very common name and anyone called David would be known as "Dai" also it was very common to have this as the first part of your nickname and your job or some other "theme" as the second part, One chap in my street was called "Dai Bad Back", yup you've guessed it for years he could not work because of a bad back (I still can't recall his real surname). We also had an "Alan Potcher" who could turn his hand to any odd job and fix it up or "potch it up". Now I think of it there did seem to be many "Dai's" who had something attached to their name (Or maybe I can recall them easier as I was called "Dai" for the first 25 years of my life)!

For the first few years, I knew him I only knew Mr. David Thomas as "Dai Horse" and everyone knew "Dai Horse".

A few years later Mr Thomas started to look after the deliveries of the local Evening newspaper (The South Wales Echo). The papers would come from Cardiff (about 25 miles away) by train to Bridgend and then by bus up to the valleys. The conductor of the bus would then throw the papers from the bus at the main but stop in the village where "Dai" would be waiting. He would then distribute the papers to houses or local shops where we paperboys would take over and deliver them to the houses.

Of course, this meant that "Dai Horse" soon became known as "Dai Echo"

I remember fondly many people having this type of nickname back then but the strangest one I think I heard was the David who bought the biggest house at the head of the valley which at one time would have been the mine managers house. His nickname? Well "Dai Big House" of course.

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There are 9 comments , add yours!
Brian Scott 4 weeks ago

Wonderful. I remember looking for people in a large organisation in Wales, not knowing that Dai and David, were the same person.

4 weeks ago Edited
David Nurse Replied to Brian Scott 4 weeks ago

Sure can be confusing sometimes, Of course Dafydd (pronounced Dav-ith) is another welsh word for David.
Thanks for your comments.

4 weeks ago Edited
Adrian Morris 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Great pictures. Fascinating information.
As I mentioned previously, I was brought up in a mining village. There was a drift mine literally at the botoom of our back garden. Every morning the pit ponies would be led from the stables - located in Stable Row - and led down the drift to the mine workings. Thank you for reviving those memories.

4 weeks, 1 day ago Edited
David Nurse Replied to Adrian Morris 4 weeks ago

Glad you liked it Adrian. Thank you.

4 weeks ago Edited
Thomas Thompson 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Very interesting love the capture of the memorial statue well done

4 weeks, 1 day ago Edited
David Nurse Replied to Thomas Thompson 4 weeks ago

Lovely sculptures but they cant relate to how hard the work must have been. Thanks for your comments.

4 weeks ago Edited
Gethin Thomas 1 month ago

Love it. Brings back many fond memories. Plenty of Dai's in my family too. Some lived in Blaengwynfi including my Great Grandfather. I always wondered why they always stuck to the same names. The women were all Elizabeths. And of course then you have the lack of different surnames too, made working out the family tree a nightmare.blush

1 month ago Edited
David Nurse Replied to Gethin Thomas 4 weeks ago

Thanks for the comments Gethin, reflecting about it today I could have put many more names in, and quite a few that I could not in polite company. Your reference to the same names is also interesting. I have heard of a few with the same Christian and Surnames. My neighbour is one of these Mr. William Williams and he introduces himself as "Billy Twice". I also recall that we had two lads called Michael Davies who were at infant school with me, not an uncommon name, but I can't imagine that the school teacher could have thought in her wildest dreams that when she "renamed" these two that over 50 years later they would still be known as Mickey A and Mickey B .

4 weeks ago Edited
Gethin Thomas Replied to David Nurse 4 weeks ago

My Great great grandfather was Evan Evans. You don't get much more Welsh than that.blush

4 weeks ago Edited