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HIGH PIT WILMA

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HIGH PIT WILMA last won the day on December 12

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About HIGH PIT WILMA

  • Rank
    Bedlingtonian

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    BEDLINGTON NORTHUMBERLAND
  • Interests
    Guitars,Motorcycles,my wee Labrador cross...Little Black Jess!

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  1. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Coal Mining

    Eh ye bugga,Alan,great ti hear a story from ye ,insteed o' hearing me aan tung gaan on in me heed! A wadn't o' recognised young Davey in this pic,if ye hadnae o' prompted me,cos when aa knew him,ye cudnae see he's fyess for hair!![in the years from 1965-1971..at the pit,then occasionally at the Station,just knocking aroond the place owa the years] He was also a great character,funny as hell,and he's aad chep was a canny aad..[ti me!] ..fella,also wi bowed legs...young Davy waaked exactly like aad Davy![...or "Djevvy"...as we caaled them..] Noo a must commend ye,Al,for ya diligent use of phrase,when referring ti Djevvy's ....er.."Talent"..!!!...let's just say if he fell owa...he wadnae hae needed a waaking stick fo' balance...!! A divvent knaa Djevvy's Marra,Jas...did he nivvor work at the Pit?..in fact,aam wondering if Djevvy is still knocking aroond yit.. A wus wondering if any o' ye's had a musical talent that might o'tekkin ye's doon ti the high life...cos that's why my eldest Son went doon...ti be a recording engineer/record Producer,and that was in 1987 when he went,when the music biz was thriving. What strikes me is hoo smart these kids looked for being so young,when ye look aroond these days....tattooed fyesses,holy raggy-kneed jeans,skinheads almost....and that's just the lasses....!!...a suppose we aal had wor aan fashions...wors was leather jerkins wi upturned collars...Eddie Cochran...James Dean..Gene Vincent..etc..!..."Rockers"! These young kids like Davy Bower,and Norman Hills,were pretty strong youngin's,for their size,whey they had ti grow up quick,working doon the pit,nowt was ever easy..it was aal push,shove,lift....a wad like ti see some of these big lads that come from the High School,at yem-time,lifting a full tub o' coal back onto the way,even just the front end,nivvor mind being fully lanched...[off all fours!]....heh heh! Cheers Alan!Thanks again for another blast from the past!
  2. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Coal Mining

    Hi Alan!...wheor dae a start?!! Forst off..big thanks for posting this one....gives me a blast from thi past! Aa started thi Aad Pit in 1965,and a got ti knaa a whole bunch of canny youngins,of which Norman was one of the canniest you ever wish ti meet..not just canny,but a really affectionate warmth aboot him. Aa was ownly 21 mesell' but a was face-trained and had been coalfilling ,coalcutting,and everything in between,at the High Pit..[cos that pit management sent the youngin's for face training as soon as they came of age,whereas the aad pit lads didn't get trained till they were in their mid-twenties! Enywheh!As time went by a got ti knaa Norman's family,"Thi Hillsies"..ie Bob Hills and Billy Hills,both coalcuttermen at thi Aad Pit,and Norman Hills,cutterman also,but worked at Bates Pit....my problem noo is,a canna mind which one was young Norman's aad chep!! A can mind that Aad Norman used ti tek a moothie ti work in he's bait bag,and play it owa the "DACS"..[Coalface tannoy system..],so the whole pit,reet up ti thi Control Centre on thi surface,used ti hear Norman playing "Lily thi Pink"...and other songs as gud as Stevie Wonder might have done!!...anybody else might have had ti gaa ti thi Manager's office,but ivrybody knew Norman,and he didn't dae that ivry day,usually aboot this time of year..."White Christmas" ...and aal that,so ivrybody used ti shout owa the DACS..."Howeh Norman,gie wi anotha one."![usually when the shearer was on a shearing run and things were "Quiet",in mining terms! Aav nivvor seen young Norman for a lot of yeors,wonder hoo he is getting on...[Oh!....a "Moothie"..is a slang term for a Mouth Organ..!] Your query aboot the Shafts,Alan..!...thi Aad Pit was a weird set-up..The "Smallest" Headgear,[on the left..] was the deepest and widest shaft,cos it ran both cages conventionally in the same shaft. The shaft was 900 feet deep,and and the lowest seam was the "Harvey",at anything from 1 foot 10 inches high,varying up to 2 feet and 2 inches high.[They drifted down to the "Denton Low Main" seam not long before the Pit closed in 1971.] A think they worked aboot twenty seams from that shaft,over the 145-or so-years of the Pit's life. Noo,the "biggest" Headgear ,[on the right] was that size,because each cage had it's own shaft,sunk adjacent to each other,for some wierd reason which aa canna fathom oot![unless Geological conditions meant it had ti be that way.]...this set-up was referred to as "The Little Pit",and the "Harvey" shaft was referred to as .."The Big Pit". The Little Pit was sunk down to the "Main Coal" seam,when a started,although it might have been down to a deeper level in the old days,and may have had a false "Sump",at the level it was when Aa started.[The Sump was generally at the shaft bottom,below the level where the cage would come to rest,to change tubs,and was a collection point for all of the minewater pumped from all over the pit...Where huge shaft pumps pumped all the water up the shaft and out to what we called.."The Pit Ponds"...settling chambers to allow all the silt to settle out.] The "Banksmen", on the Heapstead",at the surface,and the "Onsetter's" at the shaft bottom,used ti walk a million miles a day,to load and unload each cage in turn,even though the shafts were only a few yards apart![as opposed to a normal set-up where they would only have to step a few feet from one cage to the other.[daily average..winding aboot 25-30 score of tubs a shift....i.e. 25 x 20 or 30 x 20...one score=20 tubs] So the two headgears had three shafts between them! Ye canna see from this angle,but if ye check oot any pics in thi gallery,showing the Headgears fully sideways on,ye wud see hoo the big headgear has the two cage wheels offset,and slung one below the other...and by scaling,ye might can envisage hoo far apart the two shafts were....the average Pit Cage Wheels were aroond 12 feet high...give or take a foot or two!...so ye can judge the size of the headgear...but summick is telling me that them wheels were a bit smaller than average....aa not sure!! Hope ye dinna mind the lang-winded explanation Alan...ye knaa me!! Cheers!
  3. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Whitley Memorial

    Aah, aam sorry to hear about Lynn Hayes passing away. We had a class of about 43 pupils, and sadly a lot of them have passed on too soon in life. Lynn and me were good friends.. like Vic's boss was also..a lot of my male classmates are no longer with us. I have lots of vivid memories of the days when time went by slowly. These pics are gold dust to me! R. I. P Lynn.
  4. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Whitley Memorial

    Spot on with me age group,Alan,and it's great ti see aal me aad school friends from the Whitley! Aa lost a lot of schooling up ti that period till a had ti gaan ti Morpeth Cottage Hospital aroond this year ti hae me tonsils and adenoids removed.A have nae recollection of this trip at aal!..it might hae been when was off school...but aa wudn't hae been anyway,me Mother wudn't have been able ti afford ti send me.She couldn't afford most of the yearly group photo's either,so a have very little memorabilia apart from the odd single pic.owa me school life.Thanks ti James for posting it,and ti ye Alan for notifying me!...it leaves me wanting more!! Funnily enough,Eric Campbell worked at Choppington High Pit,as an Apprentice,in the early 1960's,and when the pit closed in 1966 a never saw him again....till a few weeks ago,doon at Cambois beach,we stopped ti taak ti this canny couple,wi LBJ,[Little Black Jess for those who don't know her..],and it was Eric and his Wife,Pat,both of who aa hadn't seen since the 1960's!! Then after aal them years break,we saw them again a few days later at Wansbeck Hospital!!...small world! The first lass a cud think of immediately a saw this pic,at number 13,was Lilian Moore,sadly now deceased..R.I.P. Lilian. Doreen might remember,Vic,she was Lawrence Moore's Sister.[Lol was his nickname,at number 11..]..a cud be wrong but just wat struck me.
  5. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Coal Mining

    Heh heh...Vic!..."very nice to read ABOOT HIM AGAIN"....!!....aye...meks sense ti me but a nivvor thowt aboot that!Aam pleased Andy got me comments aboot Charlie,courtesy of wor Eggy!
  6. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Coal Mining

    Thanks a lot Alan,as always,for your tireless patience! I've been racking me little brain an aal,and aam beat,Alan..a canna think what Andy meant ti say...unless it's an Artist's terminology for something meaning like.."nice to read aboot me Uncle again...."...ye knaa hoo reporters and editors refer to an article or a live event as "Good Copy"..in a word.? Anywheh aam mighty pleased that Andy has read me comments aboot Uncle Charlie..as a young trainee,he was well thought of by all the team members of my set on Composite work..in the different shifts,he just knew wat ti dae within a week of starting alang with us...Drilling Firing...filling a shot off by driving the Eimco mechanical shovel..we never told him wat ti dae..he just volunteered every operation...he was only aboot 19 years old..if he was that! A hope Charlie is well,and he sees my comments and remembers me and Tom Young..[sadly now Deceased..R.I.P.Tom],and big Bill Etheridge...and aal the good banter that went on between us aal! Les Welch who runs the "Empire School of Boxing",in Cowpen Road,Blyth,was another of wor trainees at the same time as Charlie was with us,and Les was the same stamp as Charlie,gud ,intelligent and willing workers.[Les ran with the Olympic Flame through Blyth during the Olympic Games run up]....nae pussyfooting...a speak from the heart!!
  7. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Coal Mining

    ...Er....!..shame on HPW!....Grey matter letting him doon! Aal me comments above are true in context,but it came to me today that the Safety poster Artist wasn't Joe Sigorski....it was Joe Kryoszxa..a divvent knaa hoo ti spell it,but it soonds like "KRI..OSKA",and anybody who knew Joe,AND the Sigorski family,couldn't fail ti agree wi me as ti hoo smashing natured lads they were..and good workers to! Sorry for the misconstruction of the facts in me comments,and aam sure if either Joe,or any of the Sigorski family read this....they would laugh and say .."Dinna worry Billy,man,ya just gett'n aad!..."
  8. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Coal Mining

    ....a just thowt on....thaas summik missin' from Andy's draa'in.....it's my car.....it was there 7days week,sumtimes for 18hour shifts...that it was part of the fittings..!!...[..a was caaled a greedy sod...a used ti say..."Need..not Greed.."..!]..heh heh!
  9. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Coal Mining

    Heh heh! Live and larn eh ? Many thanks for the education CL..of aal the hundreds, if not thousands, of men I worked with, in the pits,a bet not one pitman knew the origin of the words Mothagit and Tailgit!![Mothergate...Tailgate..!...Maingate..Crossgate..etc..! Most o' the lads wudda thowt "Gata"....[pronounced "Garta"..?]...wud be used ti haad ya pit stockings up..! Another thing aam thinking of,CL,was that we had a lot of Polish,and Eukranian miners among us,who came during the war,and who stayed ..[cos they loved the Geordie folks..presumably?!],and they would have brought a few of their sayings here,surely? Mind,they were all hellish workers...didn't know when they were tired or hungry!! Alan,aam glaaky!....course a knaa where Union Street is....noo that ye prompted me,a just cudn't think of it when a was shattered! That is a mighty fine mural,and Andy is a magnificent Artist,noo is it a co-incidence that in the early 1980's,one of my Trainees doon the Three-Quarter Drift,at Bates' Pit,a smashing natured young kid,hell of a worker for just larnin' facework,was a lad caaled....Charlie Treadwell...and he lived at Newsham Blyth,and aam wondering if Andy and Charlie are related to each other? We had one the National Coal Board's countrywide Artist competition-winners at Bates also,in the name of Joe[?]Sigorsky..one of a lovely Family of four Sigorsky's..[Father and three smashing Sons..],Joe was commisioned by the NCB to draw a load of cartoon safety slogan posters,which were posted up at all the pits..they were great! A wonder if Andy knew Joe also....aye we had some talent doon thon big black hole!!....there was me...a cudda been on top of the pops.....playing guitar...only me singing chased ivry bugga away....even the Craas owa the heaps...!
  10. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Dr Pit Welfare Park

    A must be gaan senile!..a realised after posting me above comment that it wasn't Alan Sanderson who worked at the High Pit,it was a lad called Jacky Watson!!...a knew them both,Alan Sanderson was a quiet lad,they both went to the Whitley School..as did a lot of the "Parky Gang"..as we called them. With prompting,I can see Ronnie Helmsley No 10,noo,he sat directly behind me and Alan Wilkinson..third desk from the front! Same with No 3..Brian Parmley,his nickname was "Branchy",and his younger Brother Gordon,who was also in my class,[both great characters!],was nicknamed "Twiggy"..this was because Brian was a big strong lad,and Gordon was a very thin lad...totally opposite to his bigger Brother!...this was in the mid-1950's.. Funny hoo ye canna place a face till ye get a prompt!..a knew most of these lads as we grew up together,but canna recognise some of them on this pic..like Geordie Webster...knew naebody better..Micky Bradley..Jackie Hope was in my older Sister's class... One other thing came to me after I posted the above comment aboot the park....I distinctly remember going through the park to school at the Whitley,one day,[aged aboot 10 years..1954-ish],and the Cooncil men were repairing all the broken swings,which were absoloutely vandalised for a lang time,and the whole park was in disrepair. The Roondi had broken bars on it..sticking oot like spears,for a lang time..naebody got hurt,but it was the big lads who did the damage...deliberately crashing the Roondie against the centre pole..bending the bars till they broke. Same with the High flyer..took it up weel past where it was supposed ti gaan... So anywheh,as the days went by,aal the rides were repaired or renewed,and then painted a bonny Silver..that sticks in my mind..a can smell the paint yit!! When they re-opened the park,the kids queued up for a go on the swings and things...but it didn't tek lang for the big lads ti come back and spoil things again..they used ti swing the seats so hard that they literally wrapped the swing chains roond and roond till they were suspended aboot six feet in the air,so we little kids cudn't reach them doon.We had ti wait till thi Parky [park-keeper],came and put them back in order. We used ti say that the Parky was mair bothered aboot thi Bowling green,and tennis courts and gardens,than he was aboot the kids park!...cos they were kept absoloutely immaculate..aa can mind even in later years ,waaking through and seeing hoo luvly he kept the place for the adults!! Mebbe they moved things aroond in the park while daeing the repair -work,and mebbe that's hoo a canna get me heed aroond the park background in thi pic...also it's thi big shelter behind thi Roondie,aav got no recollection of that shelter being there when a grew up playing there,cos even when aal us kids left school,and the majority of us went doon thi pits at 15 yrs aad,we used to congregate owa the park at neet time,in the summer,after the little we-ens were away ti bed,and compare stories aboot the different pits we were in,and what operations we were learning...such as timber-leading,transport lads,like me,pipe-fitter appprentices,welder apprentices as weel as the fitting and sparky trades..and we used ti just sit on the Roondie seats or Low-flyer seats or whatever..cos there was nae seats ti sit on properly...otherwise if the shelter had been there...whey it wudda med sense ti sit in there! Mind , aam just reminiscing here,trying me best ti get things reet,in me heed!,not saying that thi shelter wasn't there aal thi time,just that aa canna mind of it...nor thi big trees in the background,aam sure yi cud see owa ti Roslin Avenue hooses from the where this pic was taken..lukkin owa the big playing field. Can sumbody put me reet ,aam taaking aboot thi park from aboot 1954-9 ..ish..[this pic was 1951..was there a big clean-oot aroond that time?]
  11. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Dr Pit Welfare Park

    Hi Alan! Sorry a canna be any help ti ye, but Len Thompson, Aras Haley, a wud agree with.. a wonder if Arras can mind he's thick leather shorts he wore as a wee bairn. We called them Dutch pants, cos we saw them in the movies as kids. Mind, a dinna recognise the park! A knaa its a typo where ye say "Top left"... where it's top right, but the High flyer was extreme right, Swings on the left, teapot lid in the middle, Roondie.. (in the picture), to the right of the teapot lid, and the Low flyer in front of the Roondie, as ye looked down from the path from Hollymount Square, owa the playing field. Summik doesn't luk reet in the pic but maybe it's just the way it was shot. Len Thompson was in my class from starting school ti me leaving and a think he stayed on ti sit he's GCE. Smashing lad was Len! No4 reminds me of the Woodie twins.. maybe not!.. its the specs....... Alan Sanderson. correct.. he was an Apprentice Sparky or Fitter at the Choppington High Pit when I worked there.
  12. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Doyle's shop - Stead Lane

    Two great old pics!..Doylies...that's a blast from the past!..my Wife remembers Tommy and his Wife,when she lived at Puddlers Raa as a bairn.[..a just remember the shop but a didn't knaa thi owners..] Nice ti see an aad cuddy hung onti thi Limma's..[Limbers-shafts...].
  13. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Coal Mining

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

    Coal Mining

    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! H.P.W.
  15. HIGH PIT WILMA

    Coal Mining

    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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