The Heltondale Ponies

Sarge and Thomas Noble.jpg

Sarge and Thomas Noble

The Heltondale ponies leave a legacy to the Fell pony breed that goes back for more then 200 years. William Sargeant Noble, know as Sarge was born in 1923 at Moora Hill Farm below Keld Head in Heltondale near Penrith. Sarge's father Thomas bred Fell ponies but not with the registered name of Heltondale. In the early years of Stud books and the Fell Pony Society very few hill farmers could afford to register their ponies but by the 1930's the Nobles were among the few that did. In the Black stud book in Volume XXV Heltondale Romer 2540 is noted as owner Thomas Noble but breeder was J. W Rowlandson. Thomas Noble used a suffix which is putting the name of the pony first ! then Keld Head and he registered 9 mares in that Volume but I also see a Gipsy of Heltondale foaled in 1932.

Sarge's father died in 1949, and the FPS wrote in the 1951 Newsletter, " the Society has suffered a sad loss by the death of Mr Noble of Keld Head, who bred a large number of ponies on the Fells above Bampton " and it is the sheer volume of good ponies that they bred over the years that is so impressive. By the 1950's Sarge and his brother Thomas were breeding suffix registered ponies by both Heltondale Romer 2540 and Heltondale Prince 3751 foaled in 1951.

Heltondale Prince.jpg
Heltondale Roamer (Romer).jpg

By 1961 Sarge and Thomas had combined two farms by moving to High House, Butterwick. The total land owned was 100 acres but the grazing rights for cattle, sheep and ponies was over a vast area of common land, it was from Askham and Brampton commons over to Haweswater and Sleddale Fell then west to Ullswater and north to Kentmere, Sarge and Thomas also bred Galloway cattle and Rough Fell sheep and used their ponies for shepherding and bringing down the breeding ponies from the fell, they were excellent riders over rough ground using their ponies like sheep dogs to gather the herd together. In these round ups mares would come in with a foal at foot and sometimes with a yearling as well, the Noble family ordered a natural regime come summer and winter.

Heltondale mares and foal's spring 1987.jpg

Heltondale mares and foal's spring 1987

In Volume XXXVII Sagre and Thomas registered 4 colts and 32 mares foaled from 1959 to 1967. In Volume 43 in the year 1973 they registered 22 colts and 34 fillies, in Volume 49 - 50 in the year 1980 they registered 7 colts and 34 fillies.

The Nobles showed their ponies with great success and many were foundation mares and stallions for other breeders. By the early 1960's the Heltondale preffix was in use by the Nobles. Molly Laing Twislehope bred ponies used Heltondale mares, she also bought Heltondale Rover in 1966 to use as her breeding stallion. Walter Lloyd established the Hades Hill Fell Pony Stud around 1957 when buying two mares Heltondale Firefly foaled in 1953 and Heltondale Polly Perkins foaled 1952, they were by Heltondale Romer who survived the very bad winter up on the fell in 1947. Heltondale Josh and later on Heltondale Bonzo Boy were stallions at the Townend Stud. The Greenholme, Drybarrows and Murthwaite studs used Heltondale breeding stock and others.

Around 1968 Sarge decided he needed a new bloodline in his breeding as his customers wanted bigger ponies so he used Glenwelt 4546 foaled in 1964, a stallion with Dales in him on both sides, this was just before the FPS closed the Stud Book.

He married Greta in 1970.

Heltondale Black Prince III who was four times supreme champion at the Stallion and Colt Show was sold to the Narnia Fell Pony Stud in Germany, they too bought Heltondale mares. Heltondale Crown a grey stallion was sold to Holland and was a champion at a big show of all pony breeds.

In 1990 Sarge bought Tebay Cambell Ton Victor, who was foaled in 1974 and bred by David Trotter and in 1991 Victors first Heltondale prefix foals were born. Victor's offspring considerably influenced the Fell breed in the 1990's. Sarge and Greta Noble decided to sell the majority of their ponies in 1995, retaining Victor and a few mares. 100 Heltondale ponies were sold at the FPS annual sale on the 6th October,with 80 of them being mares and fillies. It brought nearly to an end the most influential herd and Stud in Fell pony history but the sale again spread Heltondale ponies far and wide; Hades Hill Stud bought 2 mares, the Wellbrow Stud got a good start with their Fell pony breeding buying a number of mares. Greta Noble has carryed on breeding a few foals after Sarge died suddenly in 1996 and the Heltondale name is still carrying on in a small way but never to be forgotten. 

Heltondale Rusty and her filly foal Twislehope Rachel in 1974.jpg

Heltondale Rusty and her filly foal Twislehope Rachel in 1974

Heltondale Bonny with Greta Noble at the 1992 FPS Breed Show. Winner of the 2 year old cla
Heltondale Bonny Lass VI Sold for the record price at the FPS annual sale of 4,600 gns in

Heltondale Bonny Lass VI Sold for the record price at the FPS annual sale of 4,600 gns in 2007

Heltondale Bonny with Greta Noble at the 1992 FPS Breed Show. Winner of the 2 year old class and Reserve Youngstock Champion