It was a fairytale ending for Prince, the commemorative pit pony sculpture who needed to make his 200-mile journey ‘home’ to Britain’s deepest seam mine at Chatterley Whitfield, an industrial time capsule near Stoke-on-Trent.
Award-winning logistics business Pallet-Track answered the pleas of the Friends of Chatterley Whitfield charity to use its member network to carefully transport the 40kg, 12-hand art installation from the sculptor’s studio in Ipswich to the Staffordshire heritage site.
The sheet metal sculpture was collected from the artist’s studio in Suffolk by Pallet-Track member Bartrums and moved to Pallet-Track’s 276,000 sq ft hub in Wolverhampton, from where Staffordshire member, TPL, moved it to Stoke on Trent – all within 12 hours.
The work, which next year is to take pride of place at a memorial garden at the heart of the 18-acre site described as ‘the Stonehenge of Britain’s coal industry’, was designed and shaped by Adam Godden, the grandson of Ken Walley, a blacksmith welder at the colliery in the 1950s.
Significantly, Adam, who used to visit his grandparents and go to the site as a boy, shaped Prince – named after another horse looked after by Ken during his time at Chatterley Whitfield – using his grandfather’s own blacksmith tools.
The sculpture was inspired by a black and white photograph of the original Prince walking with Ken, the original image of which Nigel Bowers, the chairman of the Friends of Chatterley Whitfield, was able to share with Adam.
“I had a copy of the photograph, but it but it got damaged,” said Adam, a former Honda technician who now works as a shift manager at paint giant AkzoNobel.
“I idolised my grandfather – he could turn his hand to anything, something I believe I have inherited as I have always been good with my hands.
“I got in touch with the Friends and I was amazed when they were able to get me the original. I was going to use it as the basis of a picture, but I decided to use my grandfather’s tools to convert it into a sculpture that could be donated to the former mine, which is somewhere where I used to play as a boy.”
Working in his spare time, Adam worked tirelessly to shape the horse from sheet metal as well as adding a tail and main in readiness for the delivery to the Friends via Pallet-Track, whose managing director Nigel Parkes had offered to help, free of charge.
Nigel Bowers said: “It is a great thing that Pallet-Track, who have supported the ‘Friends’ in the past, have done in moving the horse here. Next year it will take pride of place in the memorial garden where we will create and we will invite those involved to the unveiling.”
He said: “The mine is steeped in history. During its heyday its productivity was such that it was the first mine in the UK in 1937 to produce one million tons of saleable coal in one year.”
Nigel Parkes said: “Chatterley Whitfield is a site of historical significance to Britain’s industrial heritage and the work of Nigel and his volunteers is helping to preserve that legacy. It was the least that we could do as a business to support this important cause.”