The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2016 > The Dales Pony – 100 years of Service

The Dales Pony – 100 years of Service


2 April - 4 September

From the mid-19th century to the end of the second world war, thousands of Dales ponies were to be seen in our northern and midland towns. They were familiar light tradesman’s ponies, worked on pit banks and in lead mines and they provided the muscle-power on virtually every farm in the dales of North Yorkshire and County Durham until the introduction of the tractor. During the second world war many Dales ponies were taken by the army for pack work and mountain artillery with many never returning from service. They are now used in all disciplines as a true pleasure pony but remain critically endangered as classified by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust with less than 90 foals born every year.

2016 marked the Centenary of the formation of the Dales Pony Society with Barnard Castle being the hometown of the society having held its meetings and shows in and around the town since its inception. This exhibition highlighted the history of this rare breed showing why the Dales Pony is known as the “Great All-rounder”.

Related Event


Dales Pony Society Marks Centenary
24 July, 11.00 – 3.00

The grounds of The Bowes Museum welcome a special four-legged visitor when Dales pony Rocky pays a visit with his owners, who will chat to visitors about this rare breed native to Teesdale. Have your picture taken with Rocky, and learn how the breed was once the backbone of many hill farms in the area. Rocky’s visit complements the current display in the Museum, which highlights the breed during the Dales Pony Society’s centenary year.

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!


Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.