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Thanks a lot,Canny Lass,and Eggy also.!

Aye Lass,if it hadn't been for coal,and the down-trodden miners and wee boys,AND women,the industrial revolution wouldn't have taken place!

The Navy wud still have been in wood ships wi sails and oars!...nae aeroplanes....nae steel....nae trains......

....nae androids......!!!!!!!!!!!

Back on thi subject of baits and fleas,wi say,truthfully,jam n breed,and dripping,but as time went by,and money became a little bit mair in miner's Wives' purses,there became a variety of interesting baits!!

After having banana sammidges EVERY single day,[ sometimes 7 days a week wi overtime],for NINE solid years!,a

came yem and aked me Mutha ti put apple sammidges in the morn,cos sumhoo a just got sick o' banana !!!

Then after six years,and noo on the coalface,[as opposed ti being a transport and girder-lad],a started tekkin'

Mars Bar sammidges,wi thi bar thinly sliced up,and only six sammidges,cos yi didn't hae time ti eat fowerteen,when yi were on piecework on the fyess!!

One auld fella who was a canny quiet aad sowl,was caaled "Saalt",for a nickname,cos he played hell wi he's Wife for not puttin any salt on he's Corned Beef sammidges!

Another fella who was a training instructor at the Yard seam training gallery at Bedlington Aad pit,tuk crisp sammidges ivry single day,and he used ti sit on the ootbye side of me,so aa was tasting bliddy crisps,which a detested!!,cos they made me want ti vomit!!

When a got oot the pit and into cabinet-making,a used ti tek lime marmalade sammidges,and on a Friday,when the lads did the chippie run,a used ti cadge just fower or five chips ti put on me Lime marmalade butty.........gorgeous!!

Anywheh,back ti thi pit,one young lad at Bates didn't tek any bait at aal,but he used ti sit doon aside yi,and pull a Kelsae Giant onion oot o' he's sack,and start chowing at it like it was an apple!! I kid ye not!!

That lad noo lives in Perth,Australia,wi his family,and got in touch wi me after nearly thirty years,through seeing me Bates pit photos on Flickr!!

When a was only nineteen,a did me coalface training at Bedlington aad pit,then went back ti Choppington high pit,onto a rough coalface,in the 6-0am shift,as a spare coalcutterman.

A worked wi an aad fella caaled "Scrammer" Young,so-called because he came from Scremerston pit after it closed.

He was a hard,tough aad chep,thin as a rake,strong as a horse,and a gud aad cutterman,wudda been aboot 60-ish,[but ti me as a young lad,he was a dinosaur!].

The face was teeming in wi roof-waata,the roof was brekking up atween ivry set o' gears,[one 6' plank wi a prop

at each end,and a prop in the conveyor belt line..roughly in the middle= a set o' gears.],and a fyess-brek [face-break],occurred as soon as ye were cutting the face,and the roof literally lowered as ye were crawling slowly in

front of the cutter machine.

Where the seam was aboot 2'-6" ti start with,it was doon ti anywhere between 2-0' and eighteen inches high,and grumbling on aal the time...by thi time thi face was filled off.

The coalface was under so much roof pressure as the strata started laying-on,and breaking up,that the face itself used ti "Bowk-off",that is...huge chunks of solid coal the height of the seam,and mebbe six feet lang,and aboot a foot thick,wud suddenly crack audibly and loud,and fly out from the face,scattering aal ower,and hurt when it hit you!!

Whey one day,we finished cutting the face,we were soaking and up ti thi eyes of clarts,which was a mixture of fine coal and stone curvings,from the cutter jib,and of course,filthy black waata,which ye were lying in aal day,so we crawled through the whole of the face,150 yards,ti get ti thi Mothergate,which was a hell of a struggle ,in a seam that low!!

Haafway down the face we smelt summick really foul.....aye,one of the "Pullers"..["Bumpers" at other pits...],had been caught short,in the middle of the face wi nae choice but ti drop he's gears there where he lay..........and we had just crawled like snakes on wor bellies,stryght thro' it!!

The pullers were the team who advanced,or "pulled",or "bumped",the face conveyor over into the new track,ready for the coalfillers to start filling the shot-down coal onto the belt.

Anywheh!!,we got ti thi Mothergate,and aa scraped me claas as best as a cud,wi a bit of sharp stone,like a knife,ti get thi clarts and sh.... off me,and start ti get me bait.

Noo me hands were aal clarty,still,cos nae wesh-basins,so a held me sammidge by a corner,chowed the rest,and hoyed the corner bit away.[as ivrybody else did......except Scrammer!!]

He followed me off the fyess,inti thi high,and started gettin a diddle a cupple o yards away from me,and as he did so,he started ti wesh he's hands under he's John-tom,using he's aan waata ti clean he's hands doon.

Then he calmly sat doon amang the waata and clarts,cos naewhere was dry!!,and held he's bait,eating the whole sammidge!!

Aa was disgusted at him,and sed "Ya mekkin' game aren't yi,Scrammer?"

He sed "Hoo's that Wilma?"

"Need a say,ye hacky aad sod..."....in banter-fashion of course!

He sed "Wilma,it's  YE that's thi hacky sod ,not me,aav got clean hands,me aan waata's a lot cleaner than that wat ye've just craaled through,ya sittin theor like aan aad tramp,wi ya clarty,sh......y hands on ya bait!"

A had ti laugh,cos Scrammer was a hell of a character,and we got on really weel,seeing the big age difference!

Years later,a used ti see him waakin doon from thi top-end ti gaan ti the Market club,in he's late seventies,from a haaf a mile away!.....stryght as a die,a thick crop of pure silvery white hair,and a peculiar gait....he was fit as a lop!

Sumbody on here is boond ti hae knaan Scrammer Young!![John Dawson.....where are ye?!!!]

It was a party trick for them that had a kink in thier sense of humour,ti throw thi proverbial "Sh..."into the blades of the auxiliary fans which were hung in the fresh-air stream,and which were used to ventilate  solid drivages,which had a dead-end,like those in my pit pics.

A sure-fire way ti draw the men oot of thi working....but a bit sick aa used ti think.

There was a big young lad at Bates pit,on a fully -mechanised face,who was the laziest bloke in thi pit,[whey....ONE of them ....!],who,when aa was a deputy in charge,would tell me ti ....whey....where ti gaan..!,when a asked him ti help carry timber up ti thi face for he's aan marra's doon thi face,where the roof was badly breaking up,and stopping the conveyor belt.,wi falls of roof stone.[he was aboot 16 stone,and wasn't as strong as he's aan shadow!!]

Whey as time went by,aa came off deputy-wark,and HE, went ONTO deputy-wark,then as overman.

He was very badly-liked,and had a piggish attitude to everybody,especially the young timber-laddies,who hated him.

One day,after several of his flasks of tea had been smashed by someone who had it in for him,over a few weeks,

we were sitting getting wor baits,[me marra's and me..],when he came owa ti us and said "lukka this.....mind tha stooping low noo..."

He had aal he's sammidges in he's hand,in the loaf-wrapper,and they were aal covered in human muck and had been re-wrapped so he wouldn't suspect owt till he had them on he's knee,ready ti eat his bait.

Noo ye might say he deserved it,but me,aa wudda rather had it oot wi him man ti man,aa thowt it absoloutely disgusting for anybody ti interfere wi another man's bait.

It was sacrosanct in the aad days,just wouldn't be thowt of,but this was in the mid-1970's,when a new breed of young miners came doon,who hadn't been browt up wi a gud greasing atween thi legs as an initiation ceremony,

and they were browt up wi mechanisation on reasonably high coalfaces[3-0feet at least]

If these kids had been thrust doon a pit like Choppington,or Whittle,or Longhirst Drift,where it was rough......they wudn't last two minutes!

Whey,aam tired,hungry,and need me bait,after aal that coal dust chowkin' me throat!!

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Youtube clip by John Ashford - End of Coal Mining in Northumbria, featuring local lads  

You can never go on too long HPW! Every word is valuable to me. I all helps paint a picture of the life and times of my ancestors. It's not always a pretty picture but it's vivid and full of detail. A

A should mention that this pic was taken when we were driving the main roadway into a virgin seam that no pit in the country had ever worked,and was waiting to be opened up at the other side of a 36-f

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....Er....afore a switch off,it just came ti me,when ye were aal getting ya baits tigitha,a line o' ye and ya marra's,thi trick was ti either switch ya caplamp off so thi little

buggaa's would hang aroond one o' ya marra's leet,or ivrybody tek tha lamp off and put them a wee distance away,ti draw the swarm away from ye,so yi cud eat in peace!!

Aam gone this time!!

Keep a hauld fo' noo Marra's!

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Heh heh!

Canny Lass,can ye imagine Mr Abrahart,at Westridge,[History],subsituting his lecture on Disraeli and and the Peel reform laws[1850...odd!] etc....for HPW'S "Thesis on Mining........"!

"Now,class,turn to the chapter on "" Baits and Sh..fl..s ""...",.......mind , a bet he'd hae bother quieting them aal doon!!

Reminds me of one single moment in Mr Marley's class,when he was lecturing us in his very stern, authourative manner.....when a lad caaled Billy Broon,who was one of my Hollymount Square friends,had been fidgeting in his seat.....

Oot of the blue,Mr Marley raised his voice loud,and shouted...." Brown,will you sit still,you are fidgeting about like a constipated pig..."[quote!]

The class fell aboot laughing,but only for a nanosecond!!....Mr Marley yelled..."Quiet"!......and it was like switching off a light!!

Nobody,not even the "big boy bullies squad",dare utter a sound!....nobody messed with Mr Marley!....and he was a smashing teacher....loads of Patience,if ye had a problem,like Mr Freeman..irreplaceable fellas!

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20 hours ago, HIGH PIT WILMA said:

can ye imagine Mr Abrahart,at Westridge,[History],subsituting his lecture on Disraeli and and the Peel reform laws[1850...odd!] etc....for HPW'S "Thesis on Mining........"!

I just had a lovely mental picture of Mr. Abrahart doing just that! I wonder what he would have painted on his classroom wall? Can you remeber those lovely maps he had hand-painted around his classroom?

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Eeeh!...ye hae me beat theor noo!,Canny Lass,me lasting vivid memories are of Mr Abrahart storming back and forth alang the class floor,waving his arms aboot and tekking on the Characters of hoo-ivvor the history subject was aboot....he wud be giving us dictation,which we had ti copy as fast as he was raving and ranting,and ye cudn't haad the pen for laffin!!....sumtimes he wud hae me sick in me stomach,if lessons were just after dinner,wi joggling aal owa thi place!! He was a big miss when he left ti gaa ti West Moor.But a canna mind o' any map-paintings on thi waals..!

Another great teacher was Mrs Nicholson..one day she asked if anybody played any instruments.When Alan Spowart,and Alan Stewart,[noo Councillor Stewart!],said they were learning the guitar,she asked them ti bring their instruments in next week and we'll hae a sing-song!

So they did!,and a little lad,[smashing natured lad],caaled "Dicka",[for Dixon...forget his first name!],went in front of the class and proceeded ti entertain the class for a full hour,singing aal the chart hits of the time..[1958-ish]"Story of my life" [Michael Holliday],"He's got the whole world ,in His Hands"...[ Mike Holliday again?...not sure!],"Catch a falling star"..[Perry Como ].....and so on....non-stop,and he was putting on aal the actions of a pop star!!.....oh!..and he did Lonnie Donegegan tracks as weel,that's one lesson that stuck in my mind,and it was the two Alan's who were instrumental...[ugh!!!],in giving me the drive and inspiration to want to learn guitar,but I cudn't afford one,nor could my Mother,when I was 14 yrs old,it was finally Hank Marvin [with "Apache" in the charts],that finally put the seal on my determination.

But aye,Happy memories,gie me a warm feeling when a start reminiscing![sure sign of aad age approaching!]


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You must remember his maps. HPW! They were massive! Roman Empire behind his desk, to the left of the blackboard. WW2's Europe on the back wall together with one other - long since forgotten (may have been Viking Britain). They were real works of art. Did he insist that you wrote everything in italics? We had to.

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Canna mind,Canny Lass,aal a knaa is,ye had ti write so fast that it was aal scribble,personal shorthand and abbreviations,and sumtimes ye cudn't read it yasel!!crazy or wat?!

Canna bring ti mind the maps,were ye in his class from 1956-9?,cos they were my years,and mebbe they were done after aa left scyuul![regardless of the long-drawn dispute a bit back!]

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  • 1 month later...

Whey,aav just aboot seen ivrythin noo!!

 A divvent waatch telly,like other people,cos aam busy mornin ti neet,till a cum on heor after midneet usually!!

Me Wife "taped" [!] a programme aboot the closure of Kellingly Colliery,the last deep mine ti close,so thi neet a sat and waatched it from 11-0pm -12-0 midneet.

A wanted ti switch it off after five minutes into the programme,for a few reasons.

A] A rubbish production wi so little content aboot actual mining,i.e.seeing the owamen and shift managers in their offices bantering on,[ "acting"], on camera.

B] Absoloute proof of a North/South divide in the mining industry...i.e regard to investment.

C] Seething at the thought of the atrocious conditions me and my Marra's worked in,and were blatantly ROBBED of what we had honestly earned,due to a Deputy Manager at Bates Pit scratching out "delays out of our control" as recorded in our Deputy's reports [ Productivity bonus scheme....wat a laugh..].

Kellingly pit had 6-feet  [maybe more],high,coal faces,where thi miners didn't need ti wear knee-pads cos they walked up and doon the face!

Fluorescent lighting aal thi way doon thi face,water fed dust suppression that worked,on the shearers, massive "Chock-shield" [Reg.T.M.!] face supports,where the whole of the extracted area was totally enclosed in an armour-plated cocoon,so nil chance of anyone being remotely hit by a roof fall of stone,not even a walnut-sized piece wud come doon between these chocks!![and  a wudn't any ti either for thi lads' sakes!]

Nae waata ti be seen except in the lad's waata bottles,mind,they needed it cos the one thing we didn't hev up here was equatorial temperatures doon theor!

Doon the 3/4 Seam at Bates,it was the opposite,the north sea teeming in,frozzen caad,sowked ti thi skin,wat shud have been a 42-inch high seam,was owa 15 feet high on some faces,and that wasn't a pleasant height through choice,it was cos the bliddy roof had so much pressure it used ti flatten the flimsy face chocks ti thi floor and cause roof falls up ti 70 yards lang,and more,reet doon the coal face,absoloutely treacherous.

We had ti stand on TOP of the face chocks,[which were supposed to be protecting us!]and build "butts" on top of the chock canopies,till we couldn't reach any higher,so had ti build another platform to stand on,so we cud continue building the butts up thi roof![a "butt" consisted of two 2' x 6" x 6" hardwood beech chocks side by side,with another two on top at 90 degrees with respect,then two more,and two more...etc,tillyou reached the roof!]

See my Bates pit pics on Flickr,there's a pic of a high wood butt,aal squashed with roof pressure.

Aal thi time we were working like this,it was in completely bare exposed roof conditions,totally against Manager's support rules for the mine,and against Mines and Quarries act 1956.......but with NO alternative,if we wanted to preserve our own lives,we had to take the risks.

These lads doon sooth,[mind the lads at the Plessey at Bates,and the lads at Ellington also],didn't knaa haaf of it.and half of the lads I worked with on those faces are long gone noo. Sadly,some died at a very young age,late 30's,early forties,don't suppose the Coal Board wud have an inquiry as to why they all had thing like Leukaemia and cancer-related diseases after working on a Prototype Shearer with a nuclear isotope device mounted on the top of the machine,which was supposed to be "Ultra-Safe!],others became victims ti roof falls and girders being knocked oot,etc.R.I.P aal thi lads that aren't here ti bear me oot.

2-0 am,so will have to close me rant!![till another day!]

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Thanks Canny Lass!

Mind,a wasn't ranting at thi lads,they just did their job,it's senior management,and governmental levels my rant was aimed at.

Something DID make me smile ti mesel',it was the bit where the guy pointed ti a now defunct and buried-forever £100 million coalface shearer,whey,aam saying £100 million,that's wat a coalface installation cost in the 1970-80's,probably cost that much just for the shearer alone,being that it was a massive monster!.......thi machine had a notice on it saying summik like"Dave's Shearer...bye bye"...[or words to that effect!].

On my Bates pics,I scrawled the words on a plank of wood,which was supporting the "face-caunch"[not strictly correct but pitmen knaa wat we mean].........

...."10's Tailgate..Abandoned Forever..February 26th 1986"[ it was 30 years ago,and I could check me pics,but a think that was the exact words I wrote,that day...seems like yesterday!]

They were probably running six or more faces like this one,but they only needed ti show one,ti press thi point.

All this massively expensive machinery lying rusting underground,never to be seen again...in scores of pits all over the country.

Like I keep repeating,so the point is never forgotten....probably the equivalent of the Chancellor's purse lying underground.

Now that you saw that coal-face,Canny Lass,and how the miner's were strolling around as if it was a Saturday neet on their way to the club,try to picture a coalface in a seam only three feet high,or less,from floor to roof,in which the face supports' canopies,[the part which keeps the roof up over your head],takes away about six inches at least,from the height down the travelling road,which is where those guys are walking about.

You had to pull yourself along like a snake,and squeeze your body between falls of roof stone in between each face chock,cos they weren't armour-plated "Chock-shield " supports like in the programme,they were old-fashioned six-legged Dowty chocks,with great gaps between each one,which allowed the roof to break up and cause accidents on piece.

In the 3/4 Seam at Bates,sheer roof pressure used to twist and push the whole face chock around until they sometimes turned over onto their sides,which was a mammoth task,and very dangerous,with no cranes underground,to rectify and replace damaged parts.it was all sheer brute force and muscle-power.

These conditions were bad enough,but when you have "runners",that is,not droppers!,of freezing cold seawater pouring in over you constantly,you are blinded if you look up into the spray,with the salt from the water,it pours into your ears,runs down your clothes next to your bare skin,carrying fine "curvings"of wet slimy stone and coal,which cuts the skin to ribbons.....and you are lying on your side with a heavy "stone-shovel" desperately trying to "redd" enough of the fall of stone

to clear a way through all this mess,so you can let other miners on the face pass through,as well as try to repair the damaged supports.

Let me put this all into context.

On the programme,I think it was the shift Manager,or another official,who said,"Every minute the face shearer stands,it costs £400....each minute!"

So they were worried cos the face stood broken down for about six or seven hours....reckon it up....£400 x 60 [mins] x 6 hours.........!

Down the 3/4 Seam at Bates,in 1973-4....ish,the coalfaces used to suffer massive roof -falls which were so severe,that they used to completely flatten the inferior

face supports in use at the time,for distances up to 70 yards at a time,sometimes more.[on a 200 yard-long coalface]

The devastation caused by this total mismanagement at Area level,used to take up to a MONTH.. of 24-hour, 3-shift working, continuously,to transport new face chocks into thi pit,blast through huge stones on the face,with explosives,to break them up so they could be cleared away to allow face-teams of men like myself to get in there and dismantle the absoloutely -wrecked chocks,,in areas of the face which was now over fifteen feet high,due to the roof falls,and which had to be re-timbered up,a hugely dangerous task,then the new chocks,each weighing over a ton,and costing a million pounds each,[yes!-in the 1970-80's!],had to be man-handled onto the face using hand-operated blocks and tackles,pulled into place and built up in situ,hydraulic hoses all connected up,ready for coalwork again.

If you reckon up that seventy of these supports had to replaced at a time,[£70million pounds just for the parts-plus extensive labour charges,overtime payments etc],plus a lot of injuries and accidents associated with the whole affair,and you also consider that for a few years,this fiasco continued on several coalfaces,until bosses took OUR advice,and abandoned the faces and won out new ones further inbye,clear of the faulted strata,then you begin to understand that all the propaganda about Bates being "uneconomical",was totally untrue,cos the pit would have paid for itself many times over,if Archibold,the area director at Teems Valley Headquarters,had authorised "Rev-Lem"face supports,or even "Chock-shield" supports like those in the programme about Kellingley pit.

Instead,he kept persevering with inferior cheaper unsuitable face supports which risked all the lives of the lads working on those faces,more than the risks which would normally be part of the job....,and doomed the pit to it's death.

The pit Manager told my marra's and myself personally,before it's closure,that Archibold had "a personal vendetta against Bates Colliery".

Now I have my own opinions why that would be,and I think it is blatantly obvious![I cannot fathom out how he explained the losses on the books at senior meetings in London]. Canny Lass,I know you are interested in mining,so that's why I have tried to help you picture the scene,and compare a six-hour breakdown,with umpteen face closures lasting months before they were back onto coalwork again!

Wish some of the Bates lads would see this subject and come on with their stories!![there's some to tell beleive me!!]

Cheers Lass!


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Just now, HIGH PIT WILMA said:

...."10's Tailgate..Abandoned Forever..February 26th 1986"[ it was 30 years ago,and I could check me pics,but a think that was the exact words I wrote,that day...seems like yesterday!]



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Thanks Eggy!

Noo,THAT was pitwark..the most depressing place on earth when you get inbye,aboot 1-0am,after riding [cage down] at 12-0midneet,and tek ye claas off,have a five minute snack oot ya bait,while looking inbye at this place from aboot 20yards oot,and keeping one hand owa ya flask cup,ti stop droppers of seawatter from getting amangst it.[just the eerie soond of the droppers splashing in the ground water,in the deathly dark and quietness,was depressing on it's own!]

The waata  was taken ti the Labs to be analysed,as it was corroding everything in sight in days,which took six months at other pits,and was found to be 6 times saltier than seawaata,and three times more corrosive,and that is a fact!!

Electricians and fitters,as well as us mere miners,had ti work every weekend all the way through,running every machine and conveyor belt in the three-quarter seam,to prevent seize-ups on the first Monday shift start.[apart from repairing aal the damage on the face as weel!]

A wished a had had the foresight ti tek me camera doon onto the faces what a described above,it would have been better than trying ti describe it,but it was bad enough working in a hell-hole,withoot thinking of tekking photos of it!

At thi time,we were just pleased ti gaan yem and get some sleep and forget aboot it,till thi next neet!

Just before the pit closed, a was taaking ti aan aad-timer,like me noo,[but 30-odd years ago remember?!],and he said,"Aye,the miners have got it easy nooadays,the  machines dae aal thi wark noo!"....

Like a red rag ti a bull!

A telt him [speaking only for mesell' and me Marras doon thi 3/4 drift],that WE had it WORSE than some of the aad-timers who worked in dry conditions,wi a coalcutter wi a 4'-6" or a 6'-0" jib on,and hand-filling wi a big pan shuul!,back in thi aad days!

The usual way ti win a face oot was ti arc oot wi a 6 foot jib,giving 14 feet wide workings,then take a side cut along the newly - won-oot face,with the same size jib on the cutter,ti give 18 feet wide coalface x the length,usually 200 yards long.

Wor Undermanager wanted ti save time and money wi aal this double- cutting,so he sent a coalcutter in with a NINE foot long jib,[which is clearly seen on me photo's],which gave a TWENTY-FEET wide arc, so after we cut the place,we had ti drill and blast 2 feet each side  of the arc,straight off the solid,ti give a 24-feet

wide coalface,ready to install the face installation.

The sheer physical effort of cutting,hand-drilling,and hand-filling,an arc off,onto a conveyor belt which was sometimes 20 feet away from you,as you advanced the workings,and you had to "fling" each shovel-ful in one go,onto the belt,and not "double-cast" the coal,was immensly draining to body and soul.

It wasn't just coal we had to fill,there was about a foot of "Rammel",[broken-up crushed loose roof-stone],which used to come away with the coal,and which weighed a ton,even small pieces,as it was waterlogged.

That's the darker grey part of the strata you can see in my pic above,which was very undulating,and could be six inches in one cut,then two feet thick in the next cut,but averaged aboot a foot overall.

The seam shown here is about 4-feet high,but more than a foot is under water!

Eh,lad,not a very pleasant place ti spend an evening!

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A should mention that this pic was taken when we were driving the main roadway into a virgin seam that no pit in the country had ever worked,and was waiting to be opened up at the other side of a 36-foot thick Blue Whinstone Dyke,which we would have been driving through within a few days of this pic been taken.

This roadway was 14-feet wide x 10 feet high arched 3-piece girders.

50-odd holes were drilled across the whole of the place ,using a Holman Compressed-air,[windy] driller and a 9 foot long straight [not helix]drillrod,with a "Star" bit on the end of the rod.

Sheer brute force of impact,and rotation,drilled the holes,with a deafening noise from the driller,all shift long,for sometimes 12 hours  at a time.[with water/oil being thrown all over you constantly]

It took 50-60 lbs of "Polar-Ajax" explosives,[33% Nitro-Glycerine],to blast this roadway out,to give a 9' "Pull" [advance],in the roadway.

Noo,when ye saw this one after firing,ye had a virtual mountain of shot-down stones to ridd onto a conveyor belt,so in this case we had a small mechanical shovel to shift most of it,but still had to handfill the rest,in order to get the girders in,and prepare the place for bringing the cutter in to cut,and drill again.

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  • 1 month later...
On 9/1/2015 at 16:05, Symptoms said:

Basic housekeeping ... my Uncle Arthur was a 'pump man' underground all his working life (from leaving school at 14 maybe even younger until he was 65).  He started at the Algernon (West Allotment) as a boy and when that closed moved to Backworth, High Pit, and Wheatslade, although I can't remember in what order.  He was always a pump man due to only having one arm ...

Posted on the Sixtownships site by Freddie Wagstaff asking what it was and Keith Grimes commented :- Submersible pump. Used in the shaft bottom, the lifting eyes are for raising and lowering. For the non miners amongst us, every shaft has a sump the bottom of the shaft to collect water, pumped out by these beasts. Shaft sumps usually had more than one for backup. They could be lowered to water level. They were a bugger to repair/maintain...........

HPW - what do you reckon?


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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Folks!

Fresh oot o' me hospital bed,after a nasty chest infection and pneumonia at the base of me lung![as weel as an acute kidney injury!!]

Tired and very weak,but fighting it,and mighty chuffed ti find that Eggy has posted the report from the northern coalfield.

A had the dvd for a loan of from a friend a lang time ago,and have since googled it with nae success!

A worked with aal three of these lads,but especially John and Alan,real gud Marra's ti hae!

Aav nivvor seen a pump like this personally,but just past experience wi loads of different types of pump tells me that this is a single-stage centrifugal pump,definitely not a submersible one,cos the base of the pump has the suction and delivery pipe flanges clearly shown.

The suction pipe was always flexible to allow the " Strum-End" [pipe-end with a filter attached],to be lifted out of the water to be cleaned of sludge periodically.

The lifting eyes shouldn't need any explanation,given the size of the thing!,but it would have been suspended above the high water mark,on block-and-tackles,to assist maintenance,below the Sump-boards at the shaft bottom.

It's marked No 2,cos usually there would be two pumps in the sump.

Submersible pumps are self-contained sealed units,with a built-in grill inlet at the bottom of the pump body.

Check out my pit pic above,and note the small " upside-doon pail-like thingy",wi the red fire-hose coming oot the side,next ti the strata,noo that's wat we caaled a "Dalek" pump,[for obvious reasons!].

Noo when ye set that little submersible pump away,it pumped full-bore under so much pressure,that a fifteen stone bloke standing on the hose,cudn't even begin ti squash it,the hose was hard as a rock!

The waata in the pic is owa a foot deep for aboot sixty or more yards ootbye from the face,and that Dalek pump wud hae the waata doon in aboot an hoor.

Of course when we started drilling,the pump had mair work ti dae cos the windy drillers teemed waata oot like a tap running full bore.

Modern shaft bottom pumps were massive things,cos they had ti pump water vertically up a thousand-foot deep shaft,[deeper in some pits],through pipes upto a foot diameter!.......that's a hell of a lot of waata!!

Eggy,if ye cud put aal me pit pics on here,tha's one taken just as the cage disappeared doon the shaft,from bank,[surface],and ye can get an idea of the size of the pipes coming up the shaft.

Hope aav been a bit o' help,although lang-winded.....as usual!!

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23 hours ago, HIGH PIT WILMA said:


Eggy,if ye cud put aal me pit pics on here,tha's one taken just as the cage disappeared doon the shaft,from bank,[surface],and ye can get an idea of the size of the pipes coming up the shaft.


I will have a look young man. Don't hold one's breath, I often get distracted.

Would you like me to create an Album - title of your choice - and add all the pit pics into the album? 

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On 1/30/2017 at 22:29, HIGH PIT WILMA said:

Eggy,if ye cud put aal me pit pics on here,tha's one taken just as the cage disappeared doon the shaft,from bank,[surface],and ye can get an idea of the size of the pipes coming up the shaft.


Andy - if I was to create an Album of HPWs photos of Bates pit would there be a restriction on the amount of space available? HPW has 40 photos on his Flickr page and my estimate would be that the album would require approximately 10MB to take all the photos. I have currently extracted (no simple download or copy image available on the Flickr page) 28 images and made them jpg files and those 28 = 4.63 MB (4,864,549 bytes) on my PC.

As you would expect HPW has a comment with every photo posted on his Flickr page and I would estimate that the average number of characters added into the 'Description' of each photo posted to be 180.

If HPW wants this created for him would there be a problem or could I just go ahead and say create an Album in 'Places' or '..and the rest' gallery?

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4 hours ago, Eggy1948 said:

Andy - if I was to create an Album of HPWs photos of Bates pit would there be a restriction on the amount of space available?

If HPW wants this created for him would there be a problem or could I just go ahead and say create an Album in 'Places' or '..and the rest' gallery?

There are no restrictions at all for members on Bedlington.co.uk @Eggy1948. Upload whatever you like if it's relevant. If you have any problems let me know.

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1 hour ago, Andy said:

There are no restrictions at all for members on Bedlington.co.uk @Eggy1948. Upload whatever you like if it's relevant. If you have any problems let me know.

Cheers Andy - just waiting to see what HPW would like - an Album or everything in this Coal Mining topic.

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Hey Eggy,and Andy,because of the fact that I was led to believe that Flickr is just about dead,and not many folk even know about it,[from personal experience when I am out and about cracking on wi folks!],I had thought,if it was possible,to move everything to this site,where we are all in tune!!

Maybe a full album,dedicated so that it would be easy to locate by mining-interested members.

As far as titling goes,maybe...."High Pit Wilma's Bates' Pit  Album",including a full credit to Russel Hogg for enabling me to capture the Pit Surface photo's,without whom it would never have happened.

I wouldn't want you to exhaust yourself if this was going to take an excessive amount of your time!!

I was just thinking that whenever questions crop up about mining,it would be a handy reference album!

I have no idea about the in's and oot's of doing all this,and what's involved,so I am very grateful for your interest and assistance!

I am thinking the Flickr ones would remain there just the same and you could copy them,is that correct?

Thanks a million, Guys!!

P.S. when I took these pics,I also went all around the screening plant,the blending plant and even into the Winding engine house,which wound the cages...then got home to discover I had lost the full roll of 36 exposures on a 35mm film,somewhere around the premises.....SOMEBODY ,somewhere,is bound to have had that film and developed it!!! ...if only I had been more careful!

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Hi Eggy,do you mean to include all the postings on here regarding mining,in with my pics?,surely you will be google-eyed daeing that!

I will leave it wi ye to dae wat's quickest and best for the forum,Eggy,if that's o.k. with ye,Marra!!

Thanks again!

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Sym,I have been very fortunate,to have had good assistance and help whenever needed,from Family members,and good Neighbours.

Our youngest Son has been looking to excercise LBJ,before going to work in the morning,and at night,and Brother-in-law and Neighbour walked her when My Son couldn't make it.

My eldest Son came up from London,and has nursed me,fed me and my Wife,and LBJ,oh!,not forgetting Percy the Gull,who,although he CAN feed himself,always comes and knocks his beak on the glass door to tell you he wants a tin of Sardines,or his more usual dogmeat!!![especially during the frosty days when there is nothing natural for him to find..].

There's more to looking after a wild bird than meets the eye!!

He has to have his bathwater changed daily or he won't get in,and bathing is a necessity for his health,especially during the moult,which he is going through as we speak.[ He also needs company,and proves this by coming and settling down after feeding,bathing,and preening,next to us,when we sit out in the garden,or he comes into the conservatory,and plonks down like a little duck!!]

So,although I have been through a very rough time,I am forever grateful to all those who came to me and my Wife during our period of need!

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