October 1, 2009

John Dolan - Tyneside Horse Dealer

Horses were John Dolan's life

By Clive Dalton

John Dolan (my uncle) was not an enthusiastic hewer of coal down Clara Vale pit on the banks of the River Tyne. Clara Vale just squeezed into County Durham by a matter of a couple of miles. The Dolan family lived in a pit house in West View, Clara Vale, and rented a small field at the end of the row in which they kept a few horses. They didn't keep them for long, for as soon as there was the chance of making a bob or two, the Dolan lads (especially John and Willie) would have made a deal.

John Dolan's ability to deal got him out of the pit at an early age, and he eventually became a very large scale and successful horse trader on Tyneside. As his business expanded, he moved to Prudhoe further along the Tyne valley towards Hexham where he had more land to keep more horses.

This photo of John Dolan, was probably taken in Scotland just after the 1939-45 war, when pacing races were run on the main roads in the early hours of the morning before the traffic, such as it was, put an end to events. It sounds as if the legality of such events would be very questionable, but being a 'Dolan', John would not be deterred by that if there was money to be made. The photo has been taken on the beach somewhere with the horse is being ridden in hobbles to teach it to pace.

For the full Dolan story in the form of a Google knol, click here.

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