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janwhin 22-04-2016 03:53 PM

Coal Pits
This isn't about a very local pit but one further north in the county and I would like some assistance from the experts!

A newspaper article from 1873 states that the pit in question has a drum windlass operated by men alternately with the pony. Any help on what the drum windlass would be like?

Coquet 23-04-2016 11:00 AM

I assume it's just another name for a horse gin type device?
Last autumn I was at Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Once you have had enough of that horror the next thing nearby on the agenda is the Wieliczka salt mine, fascinating place that is. Many of the roadways near the shafts are 1600s.
Down there they have reconstructed the man and horse powered equipment from the 17th -19th centuries.
I doubt the technology was confined to Poland so this 'gear' would be used in British mines?

Below: Human powered underground winch, lifting material from a lower level up a vertical shaft, being operated by some of our group.

Below: 4HP! underground horse gin

Below: Man powered water pump

Below: Roadway near the shafts. Probably 17c! Not too dissimilar to 19c 20c roadways around Nothumberland collieries, apart from the excessive and massive timbers. Not sure if the timber below had ever been replaced; our guide said the salt penetrates into the wood and preserves it over time.

Below: Roadway a bit further 'inbye'. Still very old workings, ancient wood constructed channel for water, preserved by salt, still doing its job. Change that channel to a pipe and this could be old workings 'backbye' in a Nothumberland colliery.

janwhin 23-04-2016 12:07 PM

Well, thanks for all that Coquet......didn't expect the photographs. Fascinating stuff.

Coquet 23-04-2016 12:10 PM

Re: Gin v Windlass.
I'm looking in one of my old mining books; 'Historical Review of Coal Mining 1924' which is largely devoted to explanations of mining equipment models exhibited at the Exhibition Hall at the Wembley Coal Mine.

Section VII of the Appendix is on winding, has model descriptions, and some illustrations from Galloway's earlier work, but no pics of the models themselves. A windlass here is quite a primitive device, perhaps the 1873 author is calling a Gin a Windlass in his description??


1.—MODEL OF WINDING BASKET. Lent by the Mining Association of Great Britain. c. 1300.
The " corfe " or winding basket in almost universal use until the introduction of the rectangular " cage," consisted of a series of hoops, with a wooden bottom, simply slung at the end of the winding rope.

2.—MODEL OF MINING WINDLASS. Lent by the Science Museum, South Kensington. Scale 1/12. c. 1300.
Before mechanical winding gear was invented the mineral was raised to bank by hand windlasses such as this model represents. The windlass consists simply of a wooden roller of oak with square iron axles at each end, supported over the shaft in brackets attached to wooden uprights and frame. The axle may be locked by a catch fitting over the square part, so that the rope will not run off by its own weight when the windlass is left unattended. A sliding board closes the mouth of the shaft when the bucket is not being drawn through.

3.—MODEL OF COG AND RUNG GIN. Lent by the Mining Association of Great Britain. c. 1650.
The Cog-and-Rung Gin succeeded the windlass as a means for raising coal.
As will be seen from the model and figure, it consisted of a horizontally mounted drum with rude spokes (" rungs ") attached at one end, these engaging with a horizontal wheel having vertical " cogs " upon it. The axle of the latter carried a long horizontal bar to which a horse was harnessed , the horse was driven in either direction round a circular track whose circumference completely surrounded shaft and gin. The rope, carrying a corfe at either end, was wrapped several times round the drum, as in the windlass. Reversal of winding was, of course, effected by driving the horse in the opposite direction.

4.—MODEL OF WHIM GIN. Lent by the Mining Association of Great Britain. c. 1680.
This form of gin was introduced in the late 17th or early 18th century, and was a considerable advance upon the cog-and-rung type.
The rope drum, being mounted on a vertical shaft, could be taken some distance away from the pit mouth, and its diameter could be increased so as to obtain faster winding. In addition, the horse track was clear of the shaft, hence the number of levers and horses could be increased without interfering with banking operations. Heavier winds from greater depths could thus be made. The winding rope was guided over pulleys at the shaft-head.

5.—MODEL OF DOUBLE-BUCKET WATER-WHEEL. Lent by the Mining Association of Great Britain. c. 1760.
The wheel used for winding during the 18th century was constructed with double buckets facing oppositely, so that
revolution could be reversed. Water was supplied to both sides of the wheel by separate flumes, each controlled by a simple sluice operated by hand levers.
The drum was arranged horizontally, with a single rope wrapped several times round it, carrying a corfe at either end. It has been recorded that one of these water whims, installed in 1777, saved the work previously done by sixteen horses and four men—a very considerable economy.

janwhin 23-04-2016 12:45 PM

Mmm. The cog and rung gin refers to the use of a horizontal drum.

The pit I am looking at would have been pretty crude although it operated for some years. The coal was destined mainly for lime kilns and had a very high tar content. (Thereby hangs a name...Tarry Colliery!) A nearby pit where there was a fatality in 1859 refers to that pit being about 24 ft. deep with tubs being brought to the surface by hand roller.

Coquet 23-04-2016 01:18 PM

You doing some investigations regarding collieries around Eglingham? Have you come across the 1930 Alnwick geology memoir? I can copy the Eglingham section out and put it in here for reference.
Those pits were working the Scremerston coal group. An early 'Eglingham Colliery' gets a mention, but not much, operating 1760?, location now unknown?? (better check the bottom of your garden?:D)

Coquet 23-04-2016 01:57 PM

Eglingham and Shipley.—South of Hagdon a cross-fault shifts the measures ¾ mile to the south-west, on to the outskirts of Eglingham Moor. From here onwards coal has been wrought for a distance of 2½ miles in the direction of Shipley. As in the ground to the northeast, two seams have been worked, the Blackhill and Main Coals the latter is the more important. They dip N. or N.E., the eastern boundary being marked by the great Bolton Fault, bringing up the Fell Sandstone. The field as a whole was of importance in past times and several pit sections are on record.

Beginning at the northern end, beyond Curleheugh, both coals have been wrought, the Main Coal in particular. Between the higher seam and the northern boundary fault a borehole is said to have been put down, near the stone wall running north-west, to the ' Main Seam,' but it is said ' to have been lost from water,' the probability being that the bore intersected the fault (down south) which lies a little to the north. The lower coal, which is most likely the Main, has been worked from bell-pits about 350 yds. north of Curleheugh. From the line of these the coal apparently dips N. and N.W. on the west side towards the boundary fault, but farther east the dip changes to N.E. The late Mr. Topley, in his original survey of this district, states that the horizon of these two coals is uncertain, but that they are probably lower than others wrought in the district. This must remain a matter of opinion, for we have no knowledge as to their relationship to the Dun Limestone or any other known datum line.
At Curleheugh the coals are repeated by a fault down south where the workings, as judged by the size of the pits, appear to have been on a larger scale. A soft sandstone, massive, false-bedded and whitish-buff in colour, forms a knoll overlying the two seams wrought north-west of the hamlet, where the dip approaches 8° to N.N.W. Most of the pits to the Main seam show small fragments of entomostracan limestone on their refuse heaps as well as buff-coloured planty sandstone ; one of the heaps, 350 ft. west of the house, contains pieces of greenish sandstone as well as fragments of a very hard sandstone. Reference to the section given on the preceding page confirms the presence of such strata overlying the Main Coal in the Houghterslaw area.
In some MSS. notes on Eglingham Colliery dated 1760 the following occurs :—

CROW COAL Limestone Roof ... 1 yard thick
Top Coal... 1 ft. 1 in.
Stone... ... 11 ins.
Foul Coal... 2 ins.
Coal... 10 ins.
... ...

The Crow Coal is 7½ fathoms above ye Main Coal and comes on with the bank about 200 yards west from ye Coal Houses.
The Main Coal has a black slate or mettle roof of 2 feet thick, and sometimes falls till it comes to 2 feet of limestone.

Coal (Fine)… 6 ins.
Mettle… 9 ins
Coal rather coarse ... 2 ft. 0 ins

The exact location of ‘Eglingham Colliery' is unknown, but the above section is in fairly close agreement with those from Tarry, Bannamoor and Shipley Collieries to the south.

About 300 yds. south of Curleheugh a strong E.-W. cross-fault moves the coals a mile to the west. South of this the principal working was at the Tarry Colliery, 500 yds. north of Eglinghamhill farm. This pit closed in 1896: no actual sections of the coals are available, but on a plan of the old workings it is stated that the depth to the top coal (called the Blackhill on the plan) was 19 fms., the coal being 2 ft. 6 in. thick, whilst the bottom coal (called the Main) was 2 ft. 9 in. thick and lay 27 fms. from the surface. The dip was N.N.E. at 1 in 7. Both coals were worked over the same area, approximately 1,400 ft. by 350 ft. Besides the large pit there have been innumerable smaller pits (bell-pits) sunk to both coals, but of these the most important are again to the bottom or Main Coal. About Tarry farm, on the east side of the road leading from Eglingham village to Eglingham Moor, the workings are stopped by a small branch fault which throws to the west. A drift appears to have been made, 250 yds. west of the road, in massive and micaceous sandstone to a coal (probably the Blackhill seam) close above : 9 ft. of sandstone is seen dipping north-east at 12°. No attempt appears to have been made to reach the Main Coal, which lies 45 to 50 ft. below.
Nearly 1 mile east by north from the village the Blackhill outcrop crosses the stream which flows south and south-east to Shipley. The coal itself is not seen but there are good exposures of an underlying bed of sandstone—hard, buff, blocky and micaceous—which dip slightly south by east at from 14° to 18°. The southern limits of this sandstone are disturbed by minor faults before being finally cut off by a larger one, passing by Eglinghamhill, which again throws to the south. This larger fault shifts the coal outcrops westwards for 800 yds. and thereafter they run, without interruption, for over a mile to the Bolton Fault, marking the eastern boundary of the field. In this undisturbed area there are, besides many smaller pits, the two important shafts of Bannamoor and Shipley, for both of which records are extant. The Bannamoor Pit lies 1,450 yds. east-southeast of Eglinghamhill farm. A full account of Tate's section of this pit is given in the Appendix (p. 120) but a condensed version is as follows :-

Strata ... 38ft 8in
Limestone 1ft 3in
Strata 17ft
Limestone 4ft
Shale 3in
Crow Coal (with 2 to 3 in. of stone in middle) 2ft 0in
Strata 38ft 0in
Limestone 3ft 2in
Blue thills (shale) 2ft 6in
Coal 6 in.
Shale 6 in. MAIN or CANCER COAL ... 2ft 8in
Coal 20 in.

Shale —

This section is probably correct, for the distance between the two coals at Tarry Pit is 48 ft. and at Eglingham Colliery 49 ft. Another version of the Bannamoor Pit is given in the Survey Borebooks as coming from a Mr. Baird (Appendix, p. 120). According to this the two coals are only 28 ft. 2 in. apart : the record is pretty close to Tate's so far as the coals themselves are concerned, but disagrees seriously in the distance between them. It is ten years later than Tate's section and may have been only from memory : at any rate Tate's record seems the more reliable as it is in virtual agreement with those at Tarry and Eglingham Collieries.

Between Tarry and Bannamoor Collieries, on the right bank of the stream which flows south towards Shipley, at a point just north of Coalburn Cottage on the six-inch map, there is an old engine pit which is reported to have been 10 to 12 fathoms to the bottom coal ; here the higher seam is said not to be ‘on,' but the thickness of strata passed through shows that the higher coal outcrop must pass very close to the north side of the shaft. Between here and Bannamoor Pit two other sinkings are recorded ; the first (to the higher seam) was 9 fathoms deep, of which the top 6 or 7 fathoms were said to be in clay ' (? boulder-clay) ; the second, 400 ft. from the first and situated lower down the hill, is 10 fathoms to the bottom seam.
Farther to the south were the Shipley workings, but here there seems to be some confusion as to the exact site of Shipley Colliery itself. On the six-inch Ordnance map that name is given to an old shaft 1,200 yds. north-west of Smallburns farm ; this may be termed the ‘Old Pit.' There was a more recent working 1,100 yds. west of Smallburns which was also known as 'Shipley Colliery' and filed under that name amongst the Home Office plans. This was abandoned so recently as 1905 and may be termed the ' New Pit.' The ' Old Pit ' seems to have passed through both coals, being sunk 24 fathoms to the Bottom (or Main) Coal. A section of Shipley Colliery ' according to Stanley Smiths was :-

Limestone ... 3ft 0in
Blue metal 9in
Coal 10 in.
Band 6 in. [3ft 4in]
Coal 24 in.

The coal from this seam is described as fairly hard and a good gas coal ; it burned to a white ash, giving off a large quantity of black smoke. Dr. Smith terms this the Blackhill Seam,' i.e. the upper of the two coals wrought locally. There seems to be a mistake here ; the section agrees much better with that of the Main or Bottom Coal in Tate's section of the Bannamoor Pit, close at hand ; all the more so since on Mr. Topley's maps there is no mention of the Top Seam (the Blackhill ') ever having been wrought. Even so, we are still in doubt as to which of the Shipley Pits, the ' Old ' or the ' New ', the section belongs ; most probably it was from the 'Old ' one.
The ' New ' Shipley Pit, abandoned in 1905, was 18 fathoms deep to the Main Coal. The section of the coal, taken from the Home Office Plan (No. 4971), is as follows :-

Limestone 2ft
Shale 3ft 0in
Coal 5 in.
Band 5 in.
Coal 12 in.
Band 1 in. MAIN COAL 2 9
Coal 8 in.
Band 1 in.
Coal 1 in.

Hard grey post thill 6 0

The coal dips to the south-east at 8° and minor faults down south were encountered in the south-west area of the workings.
Between the sites of the Old ' and New ' Shipley Collieries several pits from 13 to 18 fathoms deep have been sunk to the Bottom Coal. Mr. Topley's map also shows that 250 ft. north-northeast of the new shaft a 14-fathoms bore, said to have been in soft yellow freestone, was put down some time before the opening of the new colliery. About half-way between ' New ' Shipley Colliery and where the coal outcrops cross the burn to the north-west there is an old pit said to have been 10 fathoms deep. The coal got here (fragments can still be seen on the pit-heaps) must lie well below the Main or Bottom Seam, and cannot be far from the base of the Scremerston Measures.

Coquet 23-04-2016 02:13 PM

The Scremerston coals, lovely 6 foot seams at Scremerston, gradually thin to the south.
In a vertical complete sequence of rock, the Scremerston 'Blackhill' coal would be found at about 407 metres below the Shilbottle seam.

Coquet 23-04-2016 02:42 PM

Nothumberland 'Miners with their equipment and a Collier Loading' - Vignette from a 1769 atlas page for Northumberland:

Collier is being loaded from a lighter in the water.

Coquet 23-04-2016 03:08 PM

Unloading at the other end (London) looked a dodgy business back then as well:

janwhin 23-04-2016 03:11 PM


Originally Posted by Coquet (Post 6290)
You doing some investigations regarding collieries around Eglingham? Have you come across the 1930 Alnwick geology memoir? I can copy the Eglingham section out and put it in here for reference.
Those pits were working the Scremerston coal group. An early 'Eglingham Colliery' gets a mention, but not much, operating 1760?, location now unknown?? (better check the bottom of your garden?:D)

Lovely stuff Coquet, thanks :) Fortunately the coal occurs east of us but I know who has Tarry Colliery in his field! One of his cows fell down a shaft, hauled out safely though. I'm going to have a recce there soon. Curlheugh had a pit there, one of my Radcliffe ancestors started out his married life working there. The 24 feet deep pit was called Hangwell Law near Ditchburn had a fatality too. The Eglingham pits managed a few deaths sadly.

Coquet 23-04-2016 03:38 PM

Eglingham Coal Field
1 Attachment(s)
The coal authority map does show nicely the two seams dissected by faults and the shafts and adits around them. Tarry is on the map too.

Coquet 23-04-2016 05:40 PM

I see 'Tarry' the place and 'Tarry Colliery' are some distance apart:

Coquet 23-04-2016 05:44 PM

I see on google maps the spoil heaps are still there. I'll have to come up some day and get a jar of Scremerston coal for my coal collection! :D (you think I'm joking don't you? :eek:)

Coquet 23-04-2016 06:05 PM

Here's the Geology map showing the outcrop of the two seams as described above. The circles with the crosses over are known closed shafts.

janwhin 23-04-2016 06:18 PM


Originally Posted by Coquet (Post 6298)
I see on google maps the spoil heaps are still there. I'll have to come up some day and get a jar of Scremerston coal for my coal collection! :D (you think I'm joking don't you? :eek:)

The farmer has put a pond in there! Not only a jar of coal but a good jar in the pub as well.

janwhin 23-04-2016 06:20 PM


Originally Posted by Coquet (Post 6297)
I see 'Tarry' the place and 'Tarry Colliery' are some distance apart:

Tarry itself is now only one large house but the pit cottages were there. It's only a short walk down a greenway from there to the pit. Curlheugh is beyond Tarry up the lane.

Coquet 24-04-2016 09:55 AM

Is there anything left of the lime kilns?
I found 3 on the 1861 map but the are all marked as 'old': Curleheugh, Tarry and Shipley. (Also found Shipley Colliery on the 1861 map)
I assume the quarries shown on the maps are the limestone quarries for the kilns?

Don't forget the camera if you go walkabout!

janwhin 24-04-2016 11:05 AM

There is supposed to be some remains of the kilns off one of those footpaths between Tarry and Eglingham Moor Farm. The camera is definitely required!

janwhin 24-04-2016 11:22 AM

Reading again some of the information from the Memoir about Eglingham, a closer look at Curlsheugh would be exciting. The area is moorland and undisturbed. There are a lot of what look like bell pits and somewhere must be the foundations of the cottage that was there. The Memoir suggests spoil heaps too!
The Parish Registers show the earliest references to Coal Burn, then Coal Houses (1740s to 1750s). we then get Coal Burn Houses , Ditchburn Coal Houses, and Hagdon Coal Houses all in the 1780s. In the 1790s Eglingham Coal Houses appears. The baptism of one of my ancestors at Curlheugh is in 1821.

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