Lownthwaite Fell Ponies

History of Lownthwaite Fells

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29 September 2003

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have sounded like a death knell to the ponies. Numbers sadly depleted by the army, in their search for pack ponies slowly recovered, only to find that now the market was disappearing. It is somewhat ironic that when the effects of The First World War almost wiped the ponies out, the ramifications of the Second World War gave the ponies at Lownthwaite a reprieve.

Firstly, food rationing for both man and beast was enforced; thus it was that Joe Baxter’s Storm Boy, 2288, came to Lownthwaite, no one else would have him, where he would earn his keep by covering mares. Secondly, petrol rationing gave rise to a renewed demand for ponies, who were easy to keep and useful for a variety of work. Market forces ensured that the ponies began to command better prices. And upwards of seventy ponies were gathered in off Milburn Fell, of which fifty were Lownthwaite ponies. Only seventeen Lownthwaite ponies would return, the rest were sold.

In 1946 Frank went, with his father Harry, by car, to his first meeting of the Fell Pony Society. It was held at The Guards, the home of Mr Little. Mr Relph was in the chair; other members present were Mr Charlton, Mr Joe Baxter, Mr Bellas of Keswick, Mrs Sylvia McCosh, Mr Eddie Wilson and Mr Wood of Crosby Lodge. There were thought to be less than fifty registered Fell Ponies left, of which it was estimated 36 – 40 were mares, while the number of quality stallions was limited. It was at such a meeting that the idea of the Enclosure Scheme was hatched, its purpose was to revive the breed. Fell Pony stallion owners could parade their stallions at the Penrith Stallion Show, where ponies could be awarded a premium. Stallions, whose owners were agreeable, would then be selected to run on the enclosure. Before the Second World War the premium for a Fell Pony was £50, this was a large amount of money at that time. The Clydesdales were awarded more than this.

If the ponies had worked for King and Country then it was, perhaps, only appropriate that their King would "work" for them. Many people believe that if it had not been for King George V and VI’s interest, the Fell Ponies might have followed the Galloway ponies into relative obscurity, with the harnessing of steam power. Although the Mining Act of 1841had ensured the