Around 50 horses will be hard at work at Beamish Museum this weekend. Horses at Work – an annual event celebrating the contribution these animals once made to British life – will start on Friday 21st and run to Sunday 23rd April. 

Visitors will be able to see huge shire horses, tiny Shetland ponies, and breeds such as Percherons, Clydesdales, Gelderlanders and Friesians. 

As well as meeting pack horses and pit ponies, visitors will get to see some of the horse-drawn vehicles that would have once been a familiar sight trundling around our streets.

See Shire Horses and Shetland Ponies at Beamish Museum this Weekend
Around 50 horses will be on display from huge shire horses to tiny Shetland ponies (photo from T.C. Birdman

Highlights are set to include horse-drawn omnibuses and horses pulling traditional stage coaches. 

The military role of horses will also be remembered, with an encampment of the 16th Lancers Cavalry Unit being set up in Beamish Museum’s Pit Village. Here visitors can even sample the catering of the time, with food served up by the 29th Field Kitchen.

The Lancers will also be used to disperse a picket line of striking workers.

Visitors can watch horses working in farm fields and enjoy a farrier demonstration in the stables.  

There will also be the opportunity to ride in horse-drawn vehicles and to see the wooden wagonway and horse-powered gin in operation that was used to fetch men and coal up out of the mines.  

See Shire Horses and Shetland Ponies at Beamish Musuem this Weekend
A Shetland pony, of the type that worked in the mines (photo from Neil Gibson)

Beamish Museum’s horse operations leader, Chris Thompson, said, “This event is an amazing opportunity for us to show how important the use of horses was throughout the 1800s and 1900s.”

“Our previous horse events were a great success and this time we’re hoping it will be even bigger and better.”

This year’s event will be the third time Beamish has put on Horses at Work. It will be the first time the extravaganza has been staged across three days.

Horses at Work is part of Beamish Museum’s Great North Festival of Transport, which has recently included events focusing on steam-powered vehicles and the north east’s mining heritage.

To learn more about Horses at Work, please go to

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David writes about local news, thought provoking stories, and yearns to capture the community spirit with a unique writing style.


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