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Sylvester.jpg


James
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From the album:

Doctor Pit and Rows

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Hi Alan, thanks for sending this excellent, very rare, piece of historical Mining  Memorabilia! I learned how to use the Vicious Sylvester from my first weeks down Seaton Burn Colliery, at the training gallery, underground, in 1959.It was designated specifically, as a pulling device, and lifting anthing with it was strictly forbidden.. well!.. theoretically! Although it was against the law to use it for lifting machinery, etc, what else could you use, if there was nothing else but the Sylvester! So! It was used for lifting, and over the years many lads lost fingers and thumbs at the very least, and at worst, some were knocked unconcious, and suffered fractured Skulls and Jaws, due to the "Butterfly" catch slipping and either taking fingers into the Sword, or the handle being viciously lashed forward by the weight of whatever was being lifted, usually  a Coal cutter Stator, or a Conveyor belt Drive Head.. One lad at Bates, called Peter Brock, was using it correctly, pulling a conveyor belt return boxend, to tighten up the belt, to get it to run. Somehow, bizzarely, the Butterfly catch slipped, as it often did, and took Peter's  thumb clean off. The Deputy dressed his hand, which was bleeding through the dressings, and as the Deputy went to phone the surface control centre, to organise an Ambulance, Peter said, seriously, to the Deputy, Eddie, aal just gaan and pull the boxend back, and get the belt gaanin.... The Deputy said a knaa wheor ye are gaaning, and its THIS way.. (pointing in the outbye direction!). Peter was back at work within a few weeks! If you ever saw a flicknife blade fly out, well, the Sylvester handle flew faster than that, it really  was a vicious device, and by the later years, they were banned from use altogether.. but we still them had till the pits closed! 

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