Gold appears to have been discovered in at least two Devonshire districts prior to the seventeenth century.
According to Lyson in his History, during the reign of Edward I, especially in the year 1296, great profit was derived from the Devon mines at Combe Martin and Beer Alston (a silver mine) and 360 miners were forcibly removed from their homes in Wales and Derbyshire, and made to work in these royal mines. In the reigns of Elizabeth, and later, William and Mary, the Combe Martin mines were again worked, but with little success, and probably only for the sake of their silver.
It used to be common to use horses in sub-surface mining. The coal mining industry used "pit ponies" to haul coal from the mines and later, as the workings progressed, in the mines themselves. Because of low roofs, steep grades and forced production, pit ponies had to be low set, heavily bodied and sure-footed. The first known recorded use of pit ponies in Britain was in the Durham coalfield in 1750.
Pit ponies were normally stabled underground, coming to the surface only during the colliery’s annual holiday. Typically, they would work an eight-hour shift each day, during which they might haul 30 tons of coal in tubs on the underground narrow gauge railway.
At the peak in 1913, there were 70,000 ponies underground in Britain. In later years, mechanical haulage replaced pony hauls and ponies tended to be confined to the shorter runs from coal face to main road. Probably the last colliery horse to work underground in a British coal mine, 'Robbie', was retired from Pant y Gasseg, near Pontypool, in May 1999.