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I just realised that there is one thing of interest in my Bates' pic,which Eggy has kindly posted here for us all to refer to,and that is the machine on the right of the pic,where hoses lead from the machine and actually into the coal seam.

For those who might not know,the machine is a "Cementation" pump.

Holes were drilled into the coal seam,and liquid cement slurry,which was quick-setting,was pumped under very high pressure,into the holes in the coal,therefore grouting and sealing any breaks in the strata which would cause inrushes of Methane,or other noxious gases,or water,which could be lethal to us,as we were very near to breaking through a 36-feet thick Blue Whinstone Dyke,[Igneous Intrusion].

By virtue of the fact that the Whinstone was molten rock,200 million years ago,when it first forced it's way through the strata,by brute force,and extreme temperatures and pressures,it figures that a lot of damage to the surrounding strata occurred,including burning of the coal seam,to cinder coal,on either side of the seam.

So that was the purpose of the grouting pump.

Last year,My Wife and Myself were walking LBJ,[well my Wife was driving her mobility scooter!],along the riverside walk at Rothbury.

Heading along the path,away from the town centre,towards Thropton,about a quarter of  a mile,I heard a very familiar sound.

Wndy drillers?....out here?....as we got up the source of the noises,it became clear that they were impact percussive drill-rigs,only they were hydraulic,and not compressed-air[windy] drills.

Apparently,the substrate beneath the road had began showing signs of movement,and so these contractors were drilling hundreds of very long holes into the strata all the way from the level of the road,down to the level of the path,maybe  a difference in height of about 40 feet or so.

They had huge "Cementation" pumps similar to that on my pic,and one lad had the sole responsibility of keeping the pump tanks filled with the cement slurry mix.

He was constantly humping big bags of cement powder,from the stack,across to the pumps,and then filling the tanks with water.Upon requests from his Marra's,he switched the pumps supply hoses on and off as each hole was filled up.

I had a quick chat with him,had a laugh when I told him I was doing this over thirty years ago,and left him to his job.

A few weeks went by,and when we walked along again,there was no trace of them ever having been there!...ground landscaped,trees planted,all so-so!!

It was the first time I had witnessed Cementation being used anywhere other than down a mine!!....Ignorance is bliss!!

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Sorry to read you have been ill HPW.

My best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

As we get older that toast 

Health Wealth and Happiness makes more sense .

The happiness you get from your pets is a great way to live and an inspiration for us all.

Gan Canny

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HPW - I've made a start with your Bates Pit album :- 

As well as the photos I have copied & pasted some of the comments made by you and the Flickr members - I couldn't leave them out but if you want anything removed just say and I will arrange it. 


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Hi Maggie! Many thanks for your kind greetings!Aam aboot getting back ti normal again,been a rough ride,but aam a fighter when it comes ti illnesses!!


Hi Eggy!....Can a just say yi are daeing a magnificent job wi me Bates Album!

A just hope a lot of folk will appreciate your efforts and see how bad a job we miners had..,and also learn about mining by referencing them.

A divven't knaa hoo me story above has been crossed through as many lines,aa haven't done owt wrang!!![it happened once before!].

Adam,if ye are in there,show your aad chep wat Eggy's tasking owa!!

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HPW - there is just the one photo left from your bates Colliery Flickr set to add to the album on this site.

That's the photo of your dad. I have left this one till last as if it wasn't for him, and your mam of course, your BATES pit stories and photos would not have have been posted.

I know there are comments on the Flickr site that I will copy across and add as comments when I upload this last photo.

The first comment you have on the Flickr site is :-   


My father aged about 15 yrs old,with his pony,at bait time,and his marra,a coal filler,taken down Choppington high pit, in an unusually dry place!!

The pit was the wettest in the northeast coalfield,and the roughest conditions,according to the influx of men from other collieries in the area,during the 1960's closure programme!![ they all said the same thing when they went down the first day....."this is just a tetty pit"....!]

Before I post this photo, and the other Flickr comments, is there anything you would like to add that will be the initial comment with this photo. 

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Hi Eggy,would "Unsung Heroes of the Industrial Revolution" ,be out of place?

These guys were "Hewing" solid coal,down,from the seam,using only a pick,sheer brute strength,and stamina,and a shovel to load the pit tubs....no drills or explosives,or coal-cutting machines!...it was a soul-destroying job which they faced  with no other option,to enable warships,aeroplanes,tanks etc to be built,and to provide power,gas,and not least,warm fires at home,which everybody took for granted.

They should be remembered nationally,as thier efforts shaped our world and society.

A canna think of owt mair fitting,Eggy,that's from the bottom of me heart,hoo a feel aboot me ancestors and the early coal industry,we had it bad,they had it

as legal slavery.

Many thanks again!

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On ‎2‎/‎6‎/‎2017 at 22:53, Eggy1948 said:

HPW - I've made a start with your Bates Pit album :- 

As well as the photos I have copied & pasted some of the comments made by you and the Flickr members - I couldn't leave them out but if you want anything removed just say and I will arrange it. 


I've attached a photo of a "man riding set" at Bates Colliery taken around 1955 before the modernisation of the colliery.


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On 2/5/2017 at 22:30, HIGH PIT WILMA said:


Last year,My Wife and Myself were walking LBJ,[well my Wife was driving her mobility scooter!],along the riverside walk at Rothbury.

Heading along the path,away from the town centre, towards Thropton, about a quarter of  a mile, I heard a very familiar sound.


Pity they had to 'pebble-dash' (cos a don't know the right term for adding non-slip material onto the tarmac) that riverside walk. On a mobility scooter even those small chippings make you feel as if your riding over cobble stones and if you haven't got ya teeth glued in it's murder!

I see they took the the one disabled bay away from outside the Newcastle Hotel so if tour wanting to eat then The Three Wheat Heads, in Thropton is worth a visit and normally lunch time through the week ample parking. Through the main door and turn right for the bar and left for the restaurant with a pleasing view. Bar meals served in both areas.   

Three Wheat Heads Thropton.jpg

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Hi James!

Great pic of old Bates..."Before Modernisation"!

I know what you mean!,but I canna help but think how modern this was,compared to other pits where investment was virtually nil,other than a wagon load of wood pit props and planks,a tramload of relatively small section arched girders,and a roll or two of rubber conveyor belting noo and again!

At Choppington High Pit,the men on the screens had to lift all the props off the belt that came out with the coal,[they were only 2'-3" or less in length!....very low seam]

They were sent down to the timber yard to dry out,cos they were water-logged and clarty,and heavy!,then they were sent back down to be re-used![re-cycling before the term was coined!]

Even severely twisted and bent arched girders were straightened as best as the 'Smithy cud!

One day,as a 15 year-old timberyard laddie,new to the pit from the training gallery,my supervisory timber yard man took me over to the Blacksmith's Shops,with a

handfull of arched girder plates each..[about a dozen in total.]

We watched the 'Smithy put the plates one at a time,into the jaws of a steam press,without heating them...stone cold steel.

As he piled the pressure on,up to 75 tons,the plates bent like tin,a fraction of an inch each time,till he restored the slight curvature,which would allow the plates to be re-used in an arched girder,to hold two legs together..

All went well the first half dozen times,then the next one seemed to require a bit more steam!

Nearly 100 tons,then with no warning,there was a crack like a cannon shot,and the plate broke in two,sending the remains flying at the speed of a gun bullet,bouncing and ricocheting all over the huge workshops.

Sparks were flying for a second or two as the bits struck the girder-framed structure of the building,and men dived for cover,while I was mesmerised by this activity!

Miraculously,no -one was hit at all,but only by the Grace of God,so to speak.

Noo,looking at this manset,it reminds me of the lack of health and safety of the early days!![inspectors in latter years would have a fit seeing this!!]

It looks like this was the carriage for the deputies,obviously a posed pic,going off the abundance of walking,and shotfiring stemming sticks.

Great to have this added to the site!

Cheers James! [nice one about the B.u.d.c also!]

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Hi Eggy!

Thanks for yor advice on the Three Wheats,it's a lovely little place.

Seems like ye have had experience of that footpath,which was great when they laid it for Princess Sophie's visit, a year or two back,it was as smooth as a babby's bum!

But it seems like they hoyed a pailfull of tar here and there and rolled it oot ti a quarter of an inch before gritting it!![the frost soon discovered that aan aal!]

 AA got me Wife a new Scooter for her  Birthday,last year,with sprung suspension aal aroond,[still a car boot scooter..not a big road one..],and even wi thi springs...it shudders through her spine,resulting in severe pain in her back,and more drugs to try and relieve it.

But ye hae ti get oot and aboot,regardless!!

A canna thank ye enough for wat ye achieved wi me pics!!

Cheers Eggy!

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  • 1 month later...

HPW - posted by John Dawson on the Facebook sixtownships group site was this photo with the comment :-  Group of Miners about to clock-off at Bates Colliery.

Do you know 2nd and 3rd from the left or is it before your time?



Edited by Eggy1948
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Hi Eggy! The lad with thi donkey jacket on,third from the left is Derek Burt. In the 1970's a was in charge of him,when a was a deputy,then when a came back  into the N.U.M. ,HE went onto Deputy work,and was often in charge of ME!  Smashing natured lad and a bit wildly,likeable,hot-headed! A knew  most of the lads but 30 years have passed since a left mining.........!

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  • 8 months later...

Another one from John Dawson @HIGH PIT WILMA - 

Bates Colliery, Blyth. Miners leave the pit as the final underground shift leaves 1986
Denise Hodgson Jen Black is that work Ken xxx
Jen Black
Jen Black Yes it is x

Henry Dobson
Henry Dobson Davy Robinson left of photo
Alan Dickson
Alan Dickson John Bird, the lad with the beard, good worker.
Alan Dickson
Alan Dickson Wally the lad with the tash.
Alan Dickson
Alan Dickson Andy Wallace my friend behind Wallys right shoulder in middle.
John McKenna
John McKenna Geordie Trench behind Wally.
Michael Collins
Michael Collins Worked with some of these guys. Good memories.

Bates last shift 1986.jpg

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Geordie Burt in the front smiling away as usual! A reet canny fella,when I was in charge as a Deputy, he would dae owt that ye asked willingly. Nae relation ti Derek Burt in thi pic further up.

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  • 1 month later...

Vic or HPW, do you know what a 'jockier'(or something similar to that word) is or was? Could it be anything to do with pit ponies (I'm thinking of the word 'jockey' here)? I can read the first 4 letters - jock - and the last letter - r - very clearly but the rest is a bit blurred.

I found a relative, a 14 year old boy who is noted on the 1911 census to be a "jock(ie)r, under ground".

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Hi Canny Lass! In case a didn't,then a wish you a happy and healthy new year!

Noo!!, a "Jockey" was a type of haulage rope clip,by which means,a pit tub,or "Sets" of tubs would be hauled along the roadways underground...usually from the loader-end of a conveyor belt,where tubs were loaded with coal,then coupled up into "Sets" of whatever number of tubs in a set  was applicable to a  particular pit.

To try and simplify it,start at the surface. "Chummings"..[empty tubs] were sent down the pit in the cages.At the shaft bottom,the tubs were pushed out of the cage by "Fullun's" [full tubs],being pushed in.

The chummings ran down into the "Dish"..[a man-made swalley,or dip,in the road],which was a collection point for the chummings,and where the "Dish-lad" had the job of "Hinging-on" [Hanging on] sets of tubs at intervals of distance between sets,sufficient to allow his Marra inbye,to " Knock-off" the sets..and send them along to the "Loader-end,to be filled,and sent outbye,by the same method.

Now this where the "jockey" comes in!

I have explained about these in another comment a while ago,so here we go!...If you can picture a steel bar about 2ft-6inches long,and about an inch thick..[maybe a little more...],and with a two-pronged fork on the end,the prongs being about four inches long,then that was about the size and type of Jockey that i used while doing my training after leaving school at 15 yrs old.

The jockey had to be dropped into two round holes which were formed from the steel banding which held the structure of the tub together,at each end of the tub.

One hole was at the top of the tub,and the other hole was at the middle-height of the tub's body.[if you see any pictures of a pit tub you will see these holes.]

Noo!Because of the nature of this forum,I feel it is important to adhere strictly to facts,and pit-terminology!

The holes I describe were referred to as "Cock-holes",and it was an acquired difficult skill,to drop the jockey's,[which were canny heavy for a 15 yr old kid to hoy aroond!],into the holes,and quickly grab the MOVING! steel wired haulage rope,and press it into the fork,which grabbed instantly and jerked a stationary set of tubs into action,at a speed of aboot four miles an hour....doesn't seem fast....walking pace.....but it is really fast when you are standing directly in front of the set,and have to jump back like a cat as the set pulls away!![no H&S in those days!!]

Now there were different designs and types of jockey's ,some had a swivelling fork-head,which could be awkward to get the rope into,and which were a lot heavier than the ones I have described.

I can only suggest that the answer to your question,Canny Lass,was that in those days,when mechanisation,including rope haulages replaced pit ponies,the lad who we called the "Dish Lad",or his marra,up on the "Kip"[who removed the jockeys and sent them back down below him for the Dish-lad],were called "Jockey'ers".

Does all that mek any sense ,Canny Lass?,sum things in pitwark were hard ti describe withoot ye actually being shown physically!!

Aal these scum young'uns who create havoc on our streets,would just wanna get their dinner and have a sit doon at yem,if they had ti dae the job eight hours a day,after just leaving the comfort of their school desks....I can assure you!!

Sets of tubs at Choppington High Pit were hung on in three'ses,20 yards apart,same at the High Main seam,at Bedlington A pit..,but down in the Harvey East plane,["Engine Plane"=Haulage roadway],my older Brother started in 1956,[15 yrs old],and he worked in the Dish,for a few years,and he had to hang sets on with 20 tubs [a "score"],in each set,only he used "Hambones"[another tutorial there!].He used to tell me stories about "Horsing" up to Forty-Score [800 tubs!!],all coupled together,and hung onto the powerful haulage rope,to take them to the shaft bottom area,ready for the next shift.That haulage road was about two miles long,stretching from the shaft-bottom area to the loader-end inbye.

THAT was a sight I never saw or heard of even,at the other pits where I worked....an incredible feat for a rope hauler to  perform!!

I hope I have enlightened you even a wee bit,Canny Lass,if only to encourage you to further search for info and pictures of these methods of rope-haulage systems underground!


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Hi Pete! Aal the best ti ye for 2018,and ye are spot-on wi your reply to C.L.

Your reply came as I was in the middle of my hour-long typing session to answer C.L. also!

Were ye ivvor doon the pit Pete?


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Canny Lass, just to re-iterate,"Jockier" had nowt ti dae wi horse's,nor did the term "Horsing-up" which I used in my long-drawn-oot answer to you![that term probably  did originate from the days of pit ponies,when they would have had to use a few horses in tandem to do a similar task each day.]

I have just realised noo,that I mis-spelt the word "Jockie", all the way throughout my posting!![this is the correct way that it is spelt!]

Lbj just awoke and started giving me those big brown eyes![walkies early tonight....it seems!]

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Tell you what,Canny Lass,when I went down Choppington High Pit ,as a kid,I went straight inbye,to go onto heavy transport,which was taking anything steel and heavy,such as coal-cutters,conveyor belt driveheads,pipes..[21feet long and HEAVY!!],cutter cables which were 170 yards long and about3 inches thick,girders for supporting the roadways,etc etc!

There were no rails on the ground in the Mothergates,[main air intake roadways],so everything had to be trailed inbye with my pit pony,and long " Tracing chains" attached to each side of his collar with hooks on the other ends,along rough stony ground through long swalleys of deep black stinking water,up the knees and above.Lots of physical demanding lifting and carrying,which after a few months turned me from being a small skinny kid from school,to a pretty-much athletic muscular sort of lad,through sheer hard work...and still only 16 yrs old!

I never did any work at the shaft bottom area,which was always considered as ..."Light Work.."!!

That is...until the High Pit was about to close in 1966,and I was sent to Bedlington A pit,in 1965,[a few months before closure],as a fully experienced coal-cutterman/coal filler faceworker.!

For the first few months we High Pit Lads were treated as "Strangers" ...[pit terminology meaning we weren't Bedlington men!!]

SO! We were sent to all sorts of places in the pit to fill in for absentees,which saw me and my Marra's doing work at the shaft-bottom for odd spells of a few shifts.

The shaft lads had the worst deal in every pit in the country,lowest paid,longest hours cos there was no travelling time..you started work the minute you stepped out of the cage and hung your bait-bag up.....and worked until the Buzzer went, on the surface ,at the very last minute of the working day!....and it was always freezing cold,summer or winter!!,with a cold blast of downcast air which ventilated the whole of the mineworkings..which was a mighty big blast of air!!

Now one day,the Overman said to me "Wilma,gaan onto the kip at the High Main..[seam],and tek Jockies oot.."

"O.k Alan"..and away aa went up onto the kip.

The kip was only about five feet high,so I was walking along for about twenty yards,back bent,meeting single tubs flying towards me at about ten miles an hour,free-fall,after being un-hooked ..[or "loused off" from the haulage rope..],and me having to quickly reach out at arm's-length,and quickly lift the jockies [front and back of the tub],from out of the cock-holes,and lay them in an arranged pattern,around a hatch-hole,on the floor where I worked,so the dish-lad,below the level where I was, could reach up and take them two at a time,to put back into the empty [chumming] tubs to send them back inbye to be loaded with coal again.

Well,as strong as I was,THIS was a different ball-game!!

The first half dozen tubs went flying past with me frantically running,bent-backed desperately trying to unhook these damned jockies which was a lot harder than I expected!!

I had to use my right arm stretched out full,and synchronise the speed of the tub with my effort to lift [or "Snatch"],the jockie out,then as the tub flew past,reach out quickly,with my left arm,and snatch out the jockie from the back of the tub,whilst still holding the heavy jockie in my right hand.[the actions resembled a Matador with his cape to one side of a charging bull!...picture the elegant way he turns his body......that was me.....but swearing like hell at the stupid things for being so tight to snatch oot!!]

Well,after a few weeks,the muscles under my arms became more developed,and I was snatching the jockies oot like they were made of wood,and light as a feather.....but being bent-backed for a full shift, and walking back and forward to snatch jockies out of thirty-score of tubs every day,took it's toll on my spine!..[30 score=30 x 20 tubs =600 tubs every shift!]

All that was apart from the number of tubs that jumped off the way,with 15 cwt of coal in them,and had to be lifted back  onto the rails["the way"] using arm and shoulder-power!!...and THIS was regarded by management as ..."LIGHT WORK"...!!

More like hard labour!!

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Look at old pics of miners from the "olden" days,and you see badly damaged joints throughout thier bodies,stooped gaite,bandy legged,strained hard sinewy arms,and prematurely-aged faces,after working in very poor light ,poor ventilation,very low seams....wet conditions ,etc....

On my Father's pic taken down the High Pit,when he was 14 yrs old in 1929,his old Marra,[a hewer..before coal-cutters came along..],was probably in his early fifties,maybe younger,but with absoloutely no disrespect intended,he does look like he should have been retired a few years before the pic was taken.

I do know that in the coal-owner days ,miners worked at the face till they were in their seventies!,but I don't think this was the case here.

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  • 7 months later...

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