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Thanks Eggy & VIc.

I use these sites also ut they have one big prolem for me: It often requires a considerable degree of mining knowledge in order to understand the content. Take the second definition of "haulage boy" given by Eggy. In the first sentence you have "jotties", "panel gates" and "ganging" - all meaningless to me , so that definition is wasted on me.

It's much better to ask here on Bedders where we have people with a great deal of mining experience and who are able to answer in simple everyday language that can be understood by the likes of me. There's the added bonus that if I don't understand then I can ask for clarification.

It's not a bad idea to have these things explained in 'clear speak' somewhere on the Internet. There must be more than me who have believed that everybody underground is simply a 'miner' when, in truth, there are a myriad of occupations with varying specialist competence below ground. It's a whole new world for me.


Edited by Canny lass
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1 hour ago, Canny lass said:

My last post (11.47am) is marked "hidden" and doesn't appear in the time line. Can anybody tell me why?

Nope - in the past I have had a couple of posts that required Admin approval ( @Andy Millne) but can't remeber the word 'hidden'  against them:( 

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1 hour ago, Canny lass said:

My last post (11.47am) is marked "hidden" and doesn't appear in the time line. Can anybody tell me why?

Don't know why but it was waiting for approval, maybe it's like facebook and you've been put in the nick @Canny lass!😉

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2 hours ago, Canny lass said:

My last post (11.47am) is marked "hidden" and doesn't appear in the time line. Can anybody tell me why?

There are a few common spam words in the filters you may have hit but I can't see anything in your post that would have caught it. I'll check on it though, thanks.

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4 hours ago, John Fox (foxy) said:

maybe it's like facebook and you've been put in the nick

Moi? Never!

Edited by Canny lass
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A  very wise decision Canny Lass!!..and very nice words spoken about wor wise aad pitmen friends on heor!

As you say,CL,you usually find answers to your questions,and NO [!]..we don't mind you asking aboot things that puzzle ye...that's what we aal come on heor for..ti share wa nollege wi those that haven't experienced things such as mining.

Me porsinally,a tek delight in being able ti share me experiences wi folk cos when aal us aad pitmen are gone..tha'll ownly be byeuks ti refer ti.

Nowt wrang wi that,ti a point,but most byeuks aav read,hev been writtin by folks wi nae REAL experience in rough conditions,daeing aad-fashined hand-filling in low seams,[a shudda sed "LAA"seams theor..but it might hae been owa much ti decipher!!].

Enywheh!...traditionally,when kids went doon the pit on the forst day,they started working at ,or near,the shaft bottom area..where coal tubs ["Chummins" i.e. ..empty ones]..were sent doon in the cage,and pushed oot thi cage by the Onsetters pushing "Fullun's"[full tubs]..INTO thi cage,at the shaft bottom,if that was where the seam was being worked,or it might be any distance doon thi shaft wherever other seams were being worked simultaneously,such as the "High Main",or the "Yard" seam..and so on.

If a seam like this was being worked,we  called it the "Yard Seam Inset"...etc,to denote that it wasn't actually the shaft bottom.

My elder Brother ,for instance,started pit life,in 1956,on the surface,at Bedlington A pit..[Hereinafter referred to as "The AAD pit],then his first job underground was "Hingin' on",in the "Dish" at the "Harvey East Plane".[aa was 12 yrs aad on his borthdi...born same day..three years apart!]

NOO!..can ye imagine the puzzlement on my fyess when he was cummin yem at neet,after he's shift,and trying ti explain ti ME...aged 12 years,wat a "Plane was?![but aa was a little bit wiser than me schoolmates aboot pitwark cos a read loads o' byeuks aboot it!]

The term used at thi Aad pit was "The Engine Plane"....at Choppington B pit,[Hereinafter referred to as "The High Pit"],the term was "The Trot"...or at most pits "The Rolleyway"...all of which referred to the Rope Haulage Roadways from the shaft bottom area which hauled Chummins inbye,to the Loader-end,and simultaneously hauled Fullun's back outbye to the shaft bottom to be sent to  Bank..[the surface].

Of course ,there were haulage roads aal thi way inbye reet ti thi coal face almost,but by Regulations in the Mines and Quarries Act 1954,these had to be kept a cetain distance from the actual face itself.

Personell who were not "Face-trained" in all aspects of coalface work,were not allowed within 20 yards of any coalface....which was a laugh cos at age 17 yrs,us lads at the High Pit used ti tek wor materials inbye reet to thi face for the men,[Cutter cables..Face conveyor driveheads.Drillers..coal-cutters...owt that was needed],and we sometimes used ti gaan "Under the low"..[meaning actually ONTO the face!],and help the "Nyeuk" coalfiller ti cast he's coal oot and onto the conveyor belt...cos the nature of his job meant he could be five or six,or more,yards away from the "Boxend"..[the return drum end of the rubber conveyor belt].

It was highly illegal from the point of safety,but we weren't exactly dumb nuts!,it was just as rough in the miles of roadways we travelled in aal day,as it was on the face, so we were used to thi dangers,and it helped us gain a bit of face experience which primed us up for wor actual Face-Training".

But back ti thi "Rope Boy"..[or "Haulage Boy"]..so me older Brother,stood in a dip in the shaft bottom area roadway,which was called "he Dish"..Chummins came rattling doon inti thi dish four at a time,[each cage carried four tubs  -two tubs in each deck..in thi double-decked cages],and his job was ti couple thi tubs together with the attached "Chynes"..[Chains].. and "Yeuks"..[Hooks]..inti "Sets"..[GANGS".."GANGING"...??]...of a "Score"..[Twenty tubs in a set]....and "Hing"..[Hang].. them onto thi haulage rope ..which was continuously moving about four miles an hour..[and which was fast underground in confined spaces!],using "Hambones"..special heavy steel clips with about five feet of pretty thick heavy chain and a  big"Sheckle"..[Shackle.."C-shaped to fit into thi middle "Cock-hole" on the tub].

I have explained in depth about the crude terminology elsewhere in this topic,so won't go into it here!.

As soon as thi hambone was slung onto thi moving rope,it "Clicked" the set of twenty tubs away instantly..no gradual pick-up of speed...you had to hing thi hambone onti the rope and jump back to safety from between the rolleyway rails.It often happened where lads slipped and got either their feet injured by being run over by the set,or at the very least a hand injury..if you didn't get your hand crushed severely while coupling the tubs on as they bumped into each other in the dish![which happened often!].

NOO!...here's what puzzles me a bit...'cos a "Rope Boy"could also refer to an apprentice rope-splicer,which was usually one of the tasks of the Rolleywaymen,but not aalwis..cos at Bates Pit,thi "Ropemen" were dedicated to exactly that..repairing or replacing haulage ropes..or even doing rope extensions..which involved cutting the rope and anchoring it,splicing a predetermined length of new rope into the loop,then moving the "Sheave"..[Return Wheel]..further inbye to be nearer to the face as the face was advancing....then tensioning the rope up to operating standards .

"JOTTIES"..My guess would be they are referring to vehicles other than coal tubs..flat trams for instance,used for loading coalcutters or other machinery onto,or,as was thi case at thi Aad pit,"Mary-Janes"..which were flat trams with wooden panelled sides all around to hold timber props and planks,or long cutter cables etc.

At thi High Pit,we had "Three-barred-trams",which were small bogies or trams,with three vertical steel bars on each side with a top rail connecting them for rigidity.

At Bates Pit,they had trams with three sides called " Betties".

I suppose every pit had it's own terminology for all the different operations and gear which they used.

As I mentioned earlier,"Ganging"..may have been an old term for "Sets" of vehicles underground.[like nowt ti dae wi "Gangers"..which refers to men in charge of a gang of workmen  in other industries..but not in wor coal  industry..that aa ever knew of!

"Panel Gates"..where coal is extracted using "Bord and Pillar" methods,pits like Lynemouth,and Ellington,referred to the areas of coal they were working ,as "Panels",and "Gates" referred to roadways underground the world over!![as the saying is!]..."Mothergate"..."Tailgate".."Dummygate"...etc..so the Panelgates would have been the main roadways leading into the workings,with cross roadways being driven every 60 yards apart,giving a "Cross-hatch " set of roadways called "Stentons"...[or,at the High pit.."Through-shuts"[slang for "Through-Shoots"]

At thi Aad pit,in the High Main seam,they referred to the "Tailgates" as the "Narrow Bord"..[Bord and Pillar remember?!]...or some men called it "The Back Road".

Getting tired noo,Canny Lass,a hope aa hevn't went on too lang ti answer ye,but pitwark isn't an easy thing ti describe to folks who have never worked doon theor!!..wat wi aal thi different terms used at different pits owa thi ages..it's mind-boggling wat ye had ti learn..worse when ye were transferred away ti another pit...and had ti learn aal owa again...!!

Cheers bonny lass!..and ti Vic and Alan,not forgtting Geoff and Alan Dixon,me aad Marra's..!

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Hi again Canny Lass!

Aam a bit fresher the neet...only 8-0pm,Saturday 27th Oct.,a was re-reading the last page comments regarding your query aboot "Jotties" and "Ganging"...in wor pits, in the aad days of wat was knaan as "The Arc-Waals"..[Arc-Walls],where "Hewers" actually got the coal out by sheer brute strength and perseverence..i.e....no coalcutters or explosives to blast the coal....it was won out by using a pick and shovel...the Hewer would pick at the base of the seam to create an "Undercut"...,then just tirelessly pick away at the coal bit by bit until larger pieces came down,which he would then fill into a waiting tub,which the young "Putter" [like my Father..in the Gallery],had just put in behind him.As he was filling this tub,the Putter would "Put " the full tub,[ which the Hewer had just filled],outbye so far onto a "Landing",where,as the tubs mounted up,a young "Driver" would couple the tubs into "Sets",of usually six at a time,and "Drive" them right out to the shaft bottom,to be sent to bank.Noo!,the term "Ganging" probably referred to this operation,where ponies were used to Drive,or Haul,the the sets .

Before ponies came into use,the Putters had to push the tubs in by hand,and push the fullun's out...even when ponies were available,if the seam height was just above the tub height,then ponies wouldn't be able to get into these low roads,so it had to be "Hand-Putting".

There was a very slow rate of advance in those days of "Hewing " and "Hand-Putting"..it was only when the Coalcutters and drillers came into use,along with black powder ["Pooda"]which was used to fire down the cut and drilled coal,that advance rates improved.

Miners aged long before their time..hence the lyrics in Rita McNeil's song..."The Working Man"..."Where you age before your time ,and the coal dust lies heavy....on your lungs...."..rings very true![if you go to my gallery and see the old Hewer sitting with my 14 year-old Father and his pony,at bait-time....He wouldn't be barely 50 yrs old...if that!]

Getting back to the Rolleywayman,he was in charge of all personell and operations  from the Shaft bottom,to the Loader-end ..where tubs [in later years],were filled at the Conveyor belt head-end,and transported out to the shaft bottom by rope haulage,or,in the case of the High Pit,by free-fall on a really slight gradient downhill..they just rolled out all the way!![Alan Dixon might remember the same system at the High Main seam Loader-end..at the Aad Pit]

The Rolleywayman was responsible for the maintenance of all rolleyways [wherever rails were laid],in the pit,and had assistants,but he wasn't in charge of Personell inbye..that was the responsibility of the "Overman" and face "Deputies".

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22 hours ago, HIGH PIT WILMA said:

a hope aa hevn't went on too lang ti answer ye,but pitwark isn't an easy thing ti describe to folks who have never worked doon theor!!.

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. As you say, pitwork isn't an easy thing to describe to someone like me, who's never been, let alone worked down a coal mine. It isn't easy for us either when the 'experts' write about it using a terminology which only miners can understand. I really appreciate the time and effort yourself, Vic and Pete take to write about coalmining and the way you explain the terminology as it crops up in the text.

Now, here's something from my field of work that you miners might find interesting:

You mention "Gates" - tailgates, dummygates, mothergates and panelgates and you say that these 'gates' are "roadways". I, in my naivety, when these 'gates' have previously been mentioned have thought that it was a gate of the open and close kind. Now I know otherwise!But did you know that you've been speaking a bit of Swedish (Old Norse, to be precise) every time you speak of gates down the pit. Gate - meaning roadway - comes from the Scandinavian word gata - a word, still in use today, meaning 'street'. It can be found above ground as well in some street names like: Oldgate, Oldgate within, Newgate etc. 

So, I think you have earned the title 'HPW Honorary Swede'.

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Hi Canny Lass!

First off, many, many thanks for your kind re-assuring comments! My other pseudonym among my old pit marra's ..is .."Bill the gud taaaka!!..[.."the good talker"!]

I tend to ramble off the beaten track..then realise later and think...have a went owa the top?...!!

Everything I write about is all my own experience with no references to books of any kind whatsoever!..I don't need books..I went through it and aam fortunate to have taken such an interest in mining at the time,and also have a vivid memory of events and people..although my recall of a lot of my Marra's names are beginning to fade..and I blame the drugs I am on for heart and lung..and other men's problems!heh heh!

I always thought "Oldgate" etc..referred to the old Castle walls and gateways!..

My eldest Son is a Record Producer/Engineer,in London,and has been for the last 31years.

A few years ago, He was working on an Album by a Danish Band called "Efterklang"..who were like the Beatles at the time for popularity.

After a few weeks  in Denmark,it became apparent to him of the Nordic influence on our local dialect.

One of the lads in thi band spoke decent English and said jokingly.[and intentionally!]..."When you GAAN YEM..give our regards to your people..."[etc   etc]..and in conversation,he spoke lots of words which we use as slang,as well as "proper English" words.

Everybody my Son met or dealt with , both professionally ,and casually,in shops ,for instance,were all lovely people.

Enywheh!!.....back to mining!

While I was writing my long comments,I realised that I didn't explain more about the use of the word "Plane"..when talking about my Brother's first job.

Bedlington Aad Pit was the only Pit I ever heard that term used for a haulage road.My assumption is that it has it's origin in old Engineering speak..a Drift mine,for instance,is driven either up or down..an inclined "plane"..[or.."Declined"...or "Anticline"..] ...a screw jack uses the principle of the "Inclined Plane"...the "Harvey East" was a haulage road in the "Harvey " seam,[nearly a thousand feet down underground],which was driven on a horizontal "Plane",by virtue of the Geology of the Seam and surrounding strata.[as opposed to the strata at the High Pit,which ,on a westerly direction,rose steadily until at some point outcropping took place..i.e. where the coal seams broke to the surface causing pitfalls in the fields ,where mining operations had taken place].

The interesting thing about that place,was,the actual "Hauler" ..[" Haaalaa" ..in pit slang],that worked the system of rope haulage.

Every pit I worked at,or visited,had haulers in every roadway..[except the High Pit...Tailgates only!],but the Hauler in the Harvey seam,in it's heyday,[many years ago],used to drive THREE roadway rope systems ,either all together,or individually..whenever situations demanded this.

I cannot remember the other two roadways now,but I have a clear picture in my head of the actual Hauler.

Electrically driven,with three separate driving drums,as opposed to the usual.. One only.

Each drum had it's own engaging clutch,and braking mechanism,so if one "Plane" needed to be halted,after receiving a signal on the "Bells"..[signalling system],to stop the rope,the Haulerman would simply disengage the clutch for that roadway,stop that driving drum,and leave the others running.

The system of driving the rope involved using an "Endless" loop of steel stranded wire rope,usually,but not always,about 5/8" thick,and was "Lapped" [wound] around the drum three times,to provide the friction required to move the rope,and then the rope was fed around "Sheaves"[large wheels with wide flanges]..to direct it's path along the intended roadway..[or "Plane".]

The rope ran the whole length of that roadway,sumtimes a mile or more,in between the rails and supported by rollers every few yards which were mounted on the sleepers.

At the inbye end of the Plane,the rope passed around a "Return Wheel"[..or Sheave],and usually,but not always!..came back outbye,running along a different set of rails. ..the rail sets ran parallel all along the length of the roadway.

So you can see that Chummins,[empties],were hauled inbye on the one set of rolleyway,and returned on the other set of rails..as "Fullun's".[full tubs],having been filled at the Loader-end,as described above.

The rolleyway's were known as .."The Full side"..or..."The Chum side".

What was interesting about THIS particular Hauler,was the  huge "Wheel-block",which was mounted beneath the walkway ,not far from the Hauler-house,and in a designated point,so all three ropes could leave the hauler,be directed into their intended roadways,and all three return ropes could be directed back to the hauler.

Sounds simple!

The Engineers who built the Hauler couldn't figure out the solution,as to how the ropes could be fed to three roadways running in three different directions!..[to be fair...they weren't "dumb pitmen"]..[as the old adage went!]...they were brainy Engineers!!

Enter old Jack Anderson!..Jack was one of the Overmen in charge,in the Harvey Seam,and who was regarded by all the men as "A GUD Pitman".

He saw the problem,and went home at the end of his shift and pondered for days,with pencil and paper..finally coming to work with the answer!

This was LONG...LONG... before my Brother was born,probably, [and HE was born in 1941!] ,and Jack's "Wheel-block" remained in working order until not long before the pit closed in 1971...and it will STILL be there as I write...cos when the pits closed under Maggie,[AND Labour  as well!],very little ,if anything at all,was salvaged!

This Wheelblock,resembled a giant clock mechanism,as big as the whole floor  area of my house,and you had to see it ti wonder how Jack had figured it all out..it was a myriad of huge wheels..["Sheaves"],spinning slowly in different directions,some clockwise ,others anti-clockwise,with ropes like a spider's web all moving in different directions.. accordingly!!..amazing!..and it was all framed by a  huge-section girder framework anchored to the stone floor.

With hindsight,I wish I had taken my camera down to capture that one feat of engineering produced by a pit Official who had worked his way up from being a shaft-laddie..to a Putter,then Driver,Coalfiller,then self-educated Deputy,and finally Overman.,with no qualifications as an engineer...just loads of plain common-sense....and...being an aad pitman....loads of problem-solving capabilities!!

There were no official mining school courses for deputies and overmen in those days,they had to fund themselves and go to school after a shift at the pit.

Mind,the only thing old Jack DIDN'T possess...was People-Skills!!...he was the grumpiest old bugga I ever came across,apart from my own Father!!

The story went...[at the local "STORE"..co-op]..."A waant a haaf-duzzen eggs"..[no manners!]..[the lasses knew old Jack!]..."Areet Jack...shud a put them in a bag?"........."Ner,hoy thim on thi grund and aal dribble thim yem...!"[head down looking at the floor....!!!!!]

Mind,this was told to me on my first day at the Aad Pit,after being transferred from the High Pit...I was forewarned about Jack!

On the first day of me working under his charge,[aged 21 yrs],he went into the pit baths at the end of that shift,went over to my canny quiet Brother,and said,[bottom lip hanging down!],"Jimmy, wheor war ye wen thi noise waas dished oot in yor famly....?!!"

Just that  I always shouted out for my rights,like a lot of other lads did..and was afraid of nobody.!!

Another story about old Jack went like this...Jimmy was trying to lift a coalcutter up  with a "Simplex ..[Ratchet]..jack,and the jack mechanism broke.

Old Jack said,"Aye Jimmy,a think ye need a new jack.."................."Ner,Jack,YE need a new Jimmy,cos THIS Jimmy's awaa yem..!!"

Aaaah!..not so gud working conditions,but the crack was great and never-ending..always some wise-cracker in your team!

Just before I go,one of the Hauler signal -bell commands was...."Bend up fairly outbye.."

Of the 20 bell signals on the Hauler-house wall noticeboard ..this one was the craziest I ever saw or heard of!!

Victorian,I think..when the Hauler was installed probably!!

All haulage-ways and pit-shafts,as well as conveyor belt roads,have to have a means of communicating,and in the days before telephones,in the early beginnings,this was done by means of a thin steel wire rope suspended at head-height,along the length of the roadway,or pit shaft,and the inbye end was just anchored to the roof supports,whist the outbye end was fixed to a heavy steel "Hammer-block",which rested dormant on a steel flat plate,next to the operator..["Haala-man"]..or "Button-man"..[in the case of the conveyor belt attendant.]

When the wire was pulled,the "Hammer"rose and fell with a loud clatter,and the commands were dictated by the number of cracks made by the "Hammer"...1=Stop...2=Start...3=Slowly Outbye..4=Slowly Inbye....[in the case of a variable speed Hauler.]...5=Bend up fairly Outbye...6=No Work...[meaning no coal coming out on the conveyor belt to fill the tubs..7=Bend up fairly Inbye...etc etc up to a maximum of 20 different signal commands.

As time went by,Electric bells replaced the hammers,except in the pit shafts,where hammers HAD to be used till thi very end of coalmining,because of the nature of the job.

When the Shaftsmen stood on top of the cage to examine the shaft walls,skeets,[cage guide rails],cables and pipes,that ran down the shaft,they HAD to signal the surface by the primitive methods as they couldn't  have an infiniteley mobile   signalling bell button.

So!.."Bend up fairly Outbye".....[or Inbye..],meant that the person inbye,who was signalling to the Haulerman,required for the rope to be moved NOT full speed,but at a moderately faster speed than the slowest one.[sort of..."howay,get a move on,but divven't gallop"!!]

Noo wheor the term "Bend up" came from..aam beat as much noo,as a was when me Brother learn't me the full 20 signals when a was still a 12 year-old schoolkid![He came yem from thi pit every day and told me everything he was learning,so when I started thi pit three years later...a was a wise young pitman!!]

Just "Bending the Plane up",meant moving the rope very very slowly,usually at the end of each shift,when every tub in the pit was sent down,and hung onto the rope,to be hauled inbye as one long set,to the loader-end,ready for a good start  the next day.

My Brother told me how he used to "Horse-up" ...sets of tubs as big as 40 -score..!

In plain  modern English,that amounts to 800 tubs in one long set...and for us lads who came from a "tettie-pit"...[slang for a black hole in the ground]...THAT was an amazing sight to see....tubs coupled up and disappearing as far as your pit lamp could shine...never ending!

But more amazing,is that a Hauler had this much power it could do this!!

Now that makes me think again about "Jotties"!...cos whereas they used Hambone clips in the Harvey seam,mainly,they also used "Jockies",a sort of steel rod with a forked end in which the moving hauler rope  was forced into and which "snatched" the sets of tubs away instantly!![no room for mistakes..or you could be injured or killed].

This association between the "Rope Boy,and reference to the term "Jotties",makes me think it was an older term for "Jockies"...who knows?!!

If Alan Dixon comes on,I hope he will correct me on anything he thinks I may have misconstrued due to the passing of time!!..regarding the Aad pit that is!

Cheers once again Canny Lass!

Hoo dae ye say gudneet in Sweden?...heh heh!

Supper,then L.B.J. walkies...!

Tempus Fugit!


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Heh heh!..after all that rambling..I forgot to say I LOVE my new title!! Thanks again C.L.!!

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