Weston Workers Club hosts fundraising concert for pit horse statue

FUNDRAISING: Pit horse statue project committee members Royce Moore, Mary Holdom, Fay Thorpe and Brian Mould, preparing for the fundraising concert.

FUNDRAISING: Pit horse statue project committee members Royce Moore, Mary Holdom, Fay Thorpe and Brian Mould, preparing for the fundraising concert.

The campaign to have a pit horse statue constructed in the Cessnock area ramps up this week, with a fundraising concert to be held at Weston Workers Club on Saturday.

The project started with a petition in mid-2015; a small committee was formed and Kurri Kurri’s Towns with Heart soon came on board.

A country music show at Bellbird Workers Club this time last year was a great success, with standing room only, and the committee hopes this week’s concert at Weston will be even bigger and better.

The aim of the project is to honour the legacy of the pit horse and its role in the success of the mines of the South Maitland Coalfields.

“They were so important that, without the horses, there would be have been no collieries in this field… and it was the best gas coal in the world,” committee member Brian Mould said.

“The horse was just as important as any part of the mine, until the 1950s, when the mechanisation started and the horse was phased out.”

The location for the statue is to be determined, but it will be somewhere “central to the Coalfields”, and will be based on the pit horses of Richmond Main colliery.

Mr Mould said the horses at Richmond Main were sent down the shaft on Sunday night, were stabled underground during the week, and were brought back up on Friday afternoon. 

The horses hosed down on and dried on the pit tops, then taken to paddocks at Mulbring for the weekend.

“They were very well looked after, they were broken into that type of work before they were sent down the mine,” Mr Mould said.

HARD WORK: A pit pony at Richmond Main colliery. Picture: The Jim Comerford Collection, University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

HARD WORK: A pit pony at Richmond Main colliery. Picture: The Jim Comerford Collection, University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

The committee estimates it could cost $100,000 to construct the statue – and they haven’t set a time limit for their fundraising efforts.

A similar project in Collinsville, Queensland took 18 years to raise enough money.

“If we can’t do it properly, we won’t do it at all,” committee member Col Andrews said.

Raffle tickets at IGA complexes and the Kurri Visitor Information Centre have also sold well, and a online fundraising page will be established soon.

The concert at Weston Workers Club on Saturday features a great lineup of country music performers, including Slim Newton, Kerry Walsh, Michael Casey, Patti Morgan, Allan Lavender, Greg Bain, Christina George, Rodney Walker, Lynette Guest, Brian Stitt and the Bush Rock Band.

The show will run from 7pm to 11.30pm and tickets are $10.

Anyone who can contribute to the pit horse statue project can contact Towns With Heart via the Kurri Kurri Visitor Information Centre on 4936 1909.

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