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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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On 01/03/2019 at 11:28, James said:

Anyone know when the baths were officially opened and when they closed for the last time?


James - 1973 newspaper article and photos posted by John Krzyznowski on the Facebook group Bygone Bedlington



1May 1973 text.jpg

1977 text.jpg

Edited by Alan Edgar (Eggy1948)
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Thanks for the information Eggy.

It looks like the swimming baths were open for about 47 years; 1926 to 1973. After it closed it was converted to a paddling pool but this didn't last long and now it is a children's play area. The two photos are taken from roughly the same position about 40 years apart.1216737832_Humfordbaths.thumb.jpg.052f3d6d90b09779fb924e11e580fd21.jpg263965188_PaddlingpoolHumford.thumb.jpg.984b26b1afc5ee543d09098f58d29207.jpg




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5 hours ago, James said:

Thanks for the information Eggy.

It looks like the swimming baths were open for about 47 years; 1926 to 1973. After it closed it was converted to a paddling pool but this didn't last long and now it is a children's play area. The two photos are taken from roughly the same position about 40 years apart.1216737832_Humfordbaths.thumb.jpg.052f3d6d90b09779fb924e11e580fd21.jpg

Now that's before my time and one I haven't seen before. There are a couple of photos that have done the rounds on the Social Media groups showing when they used to hold competitions at the baths :- 




Humford Baths Competitors.jpg

Humford Baths Spectators.jpg

Caroline Dobinson posted this 2017 photo of the area:-

2017 from Caroline Dobinson2.jpg

Edited by Alan Edgar (Eggy1948)
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Such a shame it's not there any more. Definitely some of my happiest days were spent there, we would swim all day - in that freezing water and talk to 'Wilf' (the manager) about the correct way to do the 'Australian Front Crawl', in between crash diving on your mates ... still go on about it now.



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On 13/02/2019 at 02:05, HIGH PIT WILMA said:

Whey yi bugga!Barry Muldoon went on ti Deputy -work and eventually became Face-Overman in charge of wor District doon the Three-Quarter drift..well-liked and respected by all the lads.One day we had a stretcher-case,and we carried the lad oot doon the Mothergate till we came to a lang deep swalley..pump had burnt out,[which was the norm!],and the water was above waist high..Barry was with us escorting the stretcher bearers,[me included!]..the swalley was about 50 yards long,and ye cud see the girder crowns gaan away in the reflection of the black stinking water.Barry looked at me,[cos aa hadn't been off Deputy-work very long,and had more pit experience than him..with respect..],a said to him.."Barry..we haven't got any choice...!" ...he looked at me again and replied.."ya reet bill..aal stop the belt.."

He went to a "Latch-box",safety  stop-button,and stopped the conveyor belt.We humped the stretcher,with the lad strapped onto it,high up onto the coal-laden conveyor belt,Bill Etheridge..[my long time Marra..and "pit-Brother"]..lay completely flat on top of the coal,facing outbye,and holding the stretcher handles to steady it,and aa did the same thing at the other end of the stretcher..only aa was laid flat and facing INBYE!,going out legs first,and fully trusting Bill to direct me when to keep my head down in the coal,when to move my head to one side or the other,to avoid broken timber struts from taking my head off,etc.[cos the roof was only aboot 12 inches above us in places!]

Barry stayed in control at the latchbox,and "Janted"  the conveyor,[got the conveyor belt button man to switch the belt on and off in short bursts],each time the belt would run about 15 yards and stop...we were thrown up and down over the rollers and the lad on the stretcher was screaming in pain...but there was no option..we were in a dead-end situation,at this point the conveyor belt was slung high to the roof because of the deep swalley,to keep the belt-line straight and level as possible,but it mean't we couldn't get back off the belt once we had cleared the water,so Barry had to keep Janting the belt for about a hundred yards till we were near to the ground again..!

Maybe doesn't sound much of a story,but I can tell you that going backwards on a conveyor,nearly ten feet up from the ground,in bad conditions,with the risk of being thrown off the belt,or the belt breaking with continuous Janting,and being cast into four feet deep black freezing water..wasn't much fun..and I can honestly say I had the wind up until we were safely on the ground again.

After that,we had to carry the stretcher half a mile more outbye,and up a quarter-mile long drift,with a 1-in -6 gradient,rough-shot stone ground..slipping and sliding all the way,and hanging onto the girders with one hand for support,and holding the stretcher with the other hand.

Barry was cool as a cucumber the whole way,with no flustering at all...a great lad to have in charge![funny situations occurred like that,where I used to be in charge of a team,one minute,then some of the teams went to be Deputies,and Overman,then they would be in charge of me..!!]

Les Coleman..[Deceased..R.I.P. Les..],was one of our fitters when we were winning new coal-faces and roadways oot..["Composite-work"..it was called..].

Les wasn't very tall,or well-built,but what a fitter he was,among the best...and we had some gud fitters,and electricians!!

He wud have been an apprentice on this pic,cos he was an underground coalface fitter full-time....so would Jimmy Mulvain,he was an affectionate quiet lad,unlike Les and all the tradesmen,who had wits sharper than a pit bowsaw!!..ye had ti be ready ti counter most of the crew,or they would make mincemeat of you,in front of an audience underground..Jimmy didn't have that in him...so docile and mannerly,he used to take a lot of flak from his Marra's..in the way of banter!

Eh! These pics bring back loads of memories!

Sadly,a lot of the lads died at very early ages,and we often wonder if it was through handling fluids such as Phosphate-Esters ,Hydraulic fluids,Aquacent soluble hydraulic fluid,gear oils etc..another one was "Rodol",a caustic agent used to burn heavy Carbon deposits off the Flame-traps on the Diesel loco's used underground..as well as diesel fumes and exhaust fumes from the loco's.

We will never know..

Thanks for posting Alan,and could you pass my regards ti Steve,please!

@HIGH PIT WILMA - one of the responses on the Facebook Friends of Bates Colliery group was from a Keith Wilson:-

Keith Wilson  
Fantastic! The story telling that is, not the event, that scared the life out of me an brought home something of the hardships you lads had to endure

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Thanks Alan,for starting a new topic on Bates,and rightly so....I get engrossed in my memoirs so much that I don't realise I am digressing to other topics!!

Also can you pass on my gracious thanks to Keith Wilson for his kind comments on me reminiscing!!...I wonder if Richard is his

middle name,and if it is....it is a small world,to me that is!!....but maybe not to Kieth!!

I think if he is  who I suspect he is,then he will understand what I mean!...[Johnny-B-Goode should be an important clue!]

Noo,the pics of the Humford  baths brings loads of memories...of jumping into the freezing waata and nearly droondin!!

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Sym, would ye be sae kind ti pass me regards and best wishes ti Barry Mulldoon,and remind him of this event,["Story" is a figure of speech...this was no story which I posted aboot Barry and the stretcher case dilemma!],also please tell him it was a pleasure working with him in the most stinkinest conditions ye could ivvor put a human being to work in...the 3/4R SEAM doon Bates Pit!!

I will PM you Sym,with my name and that of my Marra's,some of whom are no longer with us now,in case Barry's grey matter needs a jog....like mine!

A just had another glance at thi pic,and Roy Pink's face flashed back at me....and it just hit me...Roy was a smashing fella,a think naebody wud disagree wi me on that ...a wonder if Roy is still knocking aroond..

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Can any of you miners help me? On a death certificate dated 1913 the profession of the informant is given as "Coal miner (Charge man)". Previously the same person has been recorded as Coal miner, Hewer (underground) so there seems to have been some sort of change. Can anyone tell me what a "Charge man" is/was?

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15 hours ago, Canny lass said:

Can any of you miners help me? On a death certificate dated 1913 the profession of the informant is given as "Coal miner (Charge man)". Previously the same person has been recorded as Coal miner, Hewer (underground) so there seems to have been some sort of change. Can anyone tell me what a "Charge man" is/was?

CL - the Durham Mining Museum site has a section - Mining occupations in alphabetical order :- http://www.dmm.org.uk/educate/mineocc.htm

What I don't know is if the profession 'Charge Man' refers to the same as 'Chargeman' as list on the DMM. I don't know if there is also a connection to the miner in charge of the 'Shot Box' as shown, and briefly described, in James's photo in the Dr Pit & Roes album.


I'm sure @James or @HIGH PIT WILMA will fully ex[plain 


Chargeman    1894: 
Person in charge
Chargeman tunneller    1894: 
Foreman in charge of men driving a tunnel
Hewers    1825: 
persons that hew or cut the coal from its natural situation.
A man who works coals. His age ranges from 21 to 70. His usual wages (1849) are from 3s. 9d. to 4s. 3d. per day of 8 hours working, and his average employment 4 or 5 days in the week. He also has, as part of his wages, a house containing two or three rooms, according to the number in his family, and a garden, of which the average size may be 6 or 8 perches ; also a fother of small coals each fortnight, for the leading of which he pays sixpence.
The hewer is the actual coal-digger. Whether the seam be so thin that he can hardly creep into it on hands and knees, or whether it be thick enough for him to stand upright, he is the responsible workman who loosens the coal from the bed. The hewers are divided into "fore-shift" and "back-shift" men. The former usually work from four in the morning till ten, and the latter from ten till four. Each man works one week in the fore-shift and one week in the back-shift, alternately. Every man in the fore-shift marks "3" on his door. This is the sign for the "caller" to wake him at that hour. When roused by that important functionary he gets up and dresses in his pit clothes, which consist of a loose jacket, vest, and knee breeches, all made of thick white flannel; long stockings, strong shoes, and a close fitting, thick leather cap. He then takes a piece of bread and water, or a cup of coffee, but never a full meal. Many prefer to go to work fasting. With a tin bottle full of cold water or tea, a piece of bread, which is called his bait, his Davy lamp, and "baccy-box," he says good-bye to his wife and speeds off to work. Placing himself in the cage, he is lowered to the bottom of the shaft, where he lights his lamp and proceeds "in by," to a place appointed to meet the deputy. This official examines each man's lamp, and, if found safe, returns it locked to the owner. Each man then finding from the deputy that his place is right, proceeds onwards to his cavel†, his picks in one hand, and his lamp in the other. He travels thus a distance varying from 100 to 600 yards. Sometimes the roof under which he has to pass is not more than three feet high. To progress in this space the feet are kept wide apart, the body is bent at right angles with the hips, the head is held well down, and the face is turned forward. Arrived at his place he undresses and begins by hewing out about fifteen inches of the lower part of the coal. He thus undermines it, and the process is called kirving. The same is done up the sides. This is called nicking. The coal thus hewn is called small coal, and that remaining between the kirve and the nicks is the jud or top, which is either displaced by driving in wedges, or is blasted down with gunpowder. It then becomes the roundy. The hewer fills his tubs, and continues thus alternately hewing and filling.
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Thanks Eggy! I've had another look at the death certificate after reading your reply and I think it is only one word 'Chargeman' but the handstyle isn't the best so I can't be certain. Myself, I was wondering if "charge"  could be anything to do with explosives.

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