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HIGH PIT WILMA

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  1. 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.
  2. 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".
  3. 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..!
  4. Great Alan! Hope Geoff has a gud memory of the aad days! Watcheor Geoff!!
  5. Hi alan,aav been on the last hoor,reading an article in the Durham mining museum....ye'd think aa had written it!!..except for one variation on the description of the controls on a coalcutter. They say that the speed handle is raised for high speed..["Flitting" the cutter]...and dropped down for slow speed..["Cutting" speed]. AAL thi machines aa ever worked on,ye dropped the handle down and pulled it out past a detent,then dropped it further..that put the machine inti FLIT MODE.[OR.....to run the rope on or off the haulage drum at a higher speed than that used for cutting.] A think it's a slight mistake on the drawings,cos an AB 15 OR AM 16[LATER YEARS]..were aal the same. Check it out..it's a really gud article!
  6. Alan,hae yi checked oot anywhere ti see if thi pit dictionaries mention the Gummers?...a once saw one come adrift from the latches when we were cutting the face and it fell inti thi picks...wat a mangled mess it was..solid steel casings ripped like a piece of old rag ...seeing that made me respect this machine's power even more!...many a time a saw lads who were at the jib,scuffling wi a big filler's shuul,as we were jibbing in ready ti cut thi face,and they wud get a wee bit too close ti thi picks...and the shuul wud be snatched oot their hands and taken up inside the cut by the back picks,only ti be thrown oot a tangled mess wi nea resemblance to the shuul that was!
  7. Heh heh! The power of the net again! ....bringing auld pit marra's tigitha again! Thanks Alan,please pass my regards ti Geoff,haven't seen Geoff for a canny few years...last time was when he was at the Chapel at the Half Moon,Stakeford,and he was in the chapel with the organisers of the Russian[?] Butter Mountain distribution team,handing out the free ration of butter to the old and needy folks in the community,and I was seeking the rations for the old neighbours of mine at that time.It might have been in the '80's...I can't remember exactly,but Geoff probably does.When Geoff came to the Aad Pit at Bedlington,from Hauxley Pit,He described the conditions there,and I can vividly remember him being met with scorn from the Aad Pit old-timers,who hadn't seen water get owa the bootlaces...and the reason I remember it well,was because me and my Marra's from Choppington High Pit had met with the same scorn just before Geoff came..so Geoff and me exchanged stories of how rough our pits were!! "SCORN"= Comments such as....."oh Aye ....heor wi gaan.....wiv hord it aal before...clivvor bugga's...working in three foot o' waata..in a two-foot seam..."...said very sarcastically,from a gathering of the aad pit coalfillers....in answer to THEIR question as "was Choppington as rough as this then?"...as we rested for five minutes on the way inbye..sitting on a wood chock,wi wa byeuts pressed into stone dust four inches deep....the dust was a killer mind,even waaking inbye ye were choking on it in the High MAIN seam. We just telt them it was a thoosand times rougher at Choppington,cos A] The water teemed in from the roof,there were very few pumps,the water just filled long swalleys,until it overflowed and ran down the inclined roadways ti fill the next swalley...and so on.....! Some swalley's were 50-100 yards long,and up to your waist...we transport lads travelled through up to a dozen times a shift,in the different roadways in the pit. B] Because the seam went doon ti less than two feet high,the cuttermen had ti cut thi bottom oot,throughout the face ti mek height for the cutter ti pass through..so ye had airborne dust filling the roadways alang wi roof droppers of waata and ground water aal tigitha...! C] The Shaft was sunk through sandbanks and musselbeds[fossilised!],and the whole of the seams were driven through nests of geological faults...["Faaalts"..!]..making roof and sides very difficult to control...men got killed or injured every other few weeks and my Father told me it was like that in 1929 when he was a young putter down there!!..[as you know...aged 14 years!]...and the changes for the better came only with rails laid in the Mothergates as well as the Tailgates,when the new Drift doon ti thi Top Busty opened up not lang afore thi pit closed...the waata and bad roof conditions remained the same as the other seams!! A wonder if Geoff cud relate sum stories from his time doon thi black hole!!A wud luv ti hear from him on wor site,cos aam not on Facebook. Thanks for posting his pics Alan,he's nivvor changed..just a bit mair matured in the oak..so ti speak!
  8. Just as an afterthought,and before I stand corrected...[!]....on a face which was prone to "Laying -on",the cutterman following behind the machine,that is where the cutter has just passed,would push a prop under the cut so far,and wedge it up by inserting another prop crossways-on underneath the first one,and in doing so,would serve to support the coal seam,and prevent the jib becoming fast. At Choppington High Pit,we called these "Judd-Stays"....and don't ask me why!..it was just a term carried on through generations of cuttermen and coalfillers at the pit.I never heard that term used anywhere else at any other pit. These stays were placed under the cut at intervals throughout the face ..usually a few yards apart,or wherever the cutterman's marra ahent the machine thowt it was nessissarry....... Cheers!
  9. Hi Canny Lass,and ye'all! Alan Dixon's right aboot thi Rolleywayman.He had he's cabin at or near the shaft bottom area,where he kept his gear.His main duties were ti maintain the rolleyway..[Railtracks] ...in good order,which was a doddle at dry pits like Bedlington A pit...[the Aad pit],where the sleepers weren't subjected to rot,and the nails and dogs kept the rails tight . If ye cudda been doon Choppington High Pit,or Bates 3/4 seam,or Hauxley,where Geoff Glass came from..[assuming it's the Geoff that came ti thi Aad pit when Hauxley pit closed..],and ye saw 40 or 50 yards..[or more!],of rolleyway....floating just under the water,where the water cud be three feet [or more!] deep.....then that became a nightmare for the set-lads who had ti travel in with long sets of materials /girders/machinery ..etc....when the "Way" just collapsed and the rails parted company from the sleepers!! This isn't summik that's ivvor mentioned in books aboot mining by so-called experts....nae disrespect to anybody...it's just that pitmen like Geoff,and Mesell',who came from really wet pits, had ti contend wi these conditions ivry day. Choppington High Pit had nae rails in the Mothergates,only in the Tailgates,so we had to trail everything inbye on the rough-shot stony ground,and the Rolleywayman had nae work ti dae in them roadways!! "Scuffling" was , as Alan Dixon says, cleaning oot the undercut coal in order ti provide for better "Shots",when the seam was drilled and fired .[Edit...not primarily though!!see notes further down!!] The only time in recent years after the war,that a "Scuffler" was needed ti follow the Coalcutter up thi face was if the Cutterman didn't fix a "Gummer" ti thi front-end [Cutting-end] of the cutter...this cud be cos the Gummer was lost in the goaf,or THROWN into thi goaf after cummin adrift from the cutter and gettin chowed up wi the picks on thi cutter jib...which happened!! The Gummer's other name was a "Scuffling Bucket",and there were two types. 1] The Worm Gummer 2] The Fling Gummer The first one was so-named cos it had a large "Worm" shaped blade rotating on a shaft, which was driven by a "Dog"gear system,on the cutting -end,and which was encased in a "Bucket-shaped" housing.The gummer was "hung" onto the cutting end and held by two latches.During cutting operations,the Gummer/worm collected the small coal scufflings,which the cutter picks brought out from the cut, ..["Duff"],and deposited them in a neat continuous heap behind the cutter in the cutting track.The undercut coal was relatively clean,but not perfect!! ..[Each coalfiller had to "Duff" his own "Stretch..or "Stint",by shovelling all thi duff onto the conveyor belt before firing his shots so people could travel the face.] The second one was equally hung onto the same latching points as the first one,but the orientation of the scuffling cycle was totally different!..The "Fling" Gummer was so-named cos it had a heavy-duty!!..set of three blades ,again housed in a really heavy casing,and again,driven by the same gear "Dog",only this was designed to collect the scufflings from the cutting jib,and literally "fling"them over the face conveyor belt and into the goaf..[waste area where coal has previously been extracted].This was the best system,cos the fillers had very little duff to clean up before starting to fire and fill off the coal. I must add that the intention of "Scuffling " the cut,wasn't primarily to give the coalfillers better shots,[though it was a bonus when the cut was clean!],it was to prevent the the coalcutter jib from becoming "Fast"..["Stuck"],in the cut,and potentially throwing the cutter out and making it dance around. The AB15 coalcutter weighed three and a half ton,and was nine feet long,two feet wide,and fifteen inches high,and with a six-feet long cutting jib attached,was the most viscious machine ever invented by man,grossly overpowered and underweighted. You had to see a cutter with the picks running, dancing wildly under a low coal face....18 to 20 inches high,or even in a 36 inch- high face, knocking timbers out,picks flying around,throwing the whole machine around,crazily, as if it was made out of balsa wood..trapping a coalcutterman up against a steel Desford chock...[the earliest ones made]...nearly killing the man,to appreciate and respect how viscious these machines were. It only took a bit of "Brass"..[Pyrites],under the cut to catch the picks and Hoy the cutter oot the cut....so the job of hand scuffling behind the machine, was not only hard work,it was also really dangerous,only those who have never seen a machine dancing around,would be complacent enough to get too close to the cutter when it was on "Full-ratch"!...[Fullspeed]. Accidents to one side,the dread of the cutterman was when the face started laying on,[or "Weighting on..],and the roof starts to lower in front of your eyes,the danger here is of the cutter jib becoming "Fast as a kna..er!"....nipped tight by the weight of the lowering seam closing the cut and rendering further cutting advance to a standstill.When this happened we had to drill holes around the jib area,put a wee bit Pooda..[explosives] into the holes,and fire them,so as to release the cutting jib and commence cutting. Aye,it wasn't aal plain sailing was it Alan [or Geoff]! Canny Lass,a hope me lang draan oot explinashin has helped yi oot wi yor qwestyins! Sorry a didn't respond straight away,aav had a lot of stress at yem,and just got back inti thi fold!!
  10. This was a set of canny lads,of which there were loads of sets in the pit. Faceworkers were grouped into "Sets",such as the Caunchmen..[stonemen]..The "Bumpers"[who advanced the Armoured Face Conveyor as the Shearer passed through the coalface],Advanced Heading men,Shearer men,Composite men..and so on. Gordon and Billy,[above] were on the face I worked on in 1971 [84'sFace in the Beaumont Seam],which was my first appointment as a Deputy on that face. Sadly,lots of men and young lads are no longer with us,so it is fitting that Families and friends can see these pics as mementoes.
  11. Hi Eggy! Aav seen this pic amang a set of others. Gud ti see sum of the lads.. brings back memories! Gordon Hickson second left, Billy Smith second right, aav forgotten the other lads names... last days afore Bates closed... if not THE last day.
  12. Hi Eggy! A can mind of a few groups, but not the Dinosaurs. Might have been after I got married and stopped gaaning ti thi Clayton. Sorry nae help this time. Aal dae a bit asking aroond me aad marra's. Me Wife has had an op. on Friday gone ti hae two new plakka joints put in her hand, so aam caring for her intensely. If a dinna post owt for a while, ye knaa aam not deserting thi forums!
  13. Mebbe it's just LIGHT rain..........! ...not workin' here eethaa!....a naa wat it is ....it's rain stopped play.....!!!
  14. Gud ti see Bedltn gettn an airing on the telly!![and gud ti see the little Bedltn's also!!]
  15. Correction to my last post above,which SHOULD read..."..where I met my Wife,in 1962,at the skating rink,one Wednesday night, in JULY[!]",[and Not February!!]. A very rare slip of the mind by Wilma,and one which wud not be forgiven if the Boss knew I had slipped up!! Heh heh! Gettin' auld's not much fun!
  16. Yi cud set ya aan shop away caaled.." Vic the Veteran"....ner!... a mean...."Veteran Vic's car parts"..........NAA!!!!!,,,aal get it reet yit......a mean....."Vic's Veteran Car Parts"....[Prop. Veteran Vic!]....heh heh! [....another lead balloon!]
  17. Belated Happy Birthday Foxy! Just tuned in noo,late as usual,but aad nicky wor heedmaster at the Whitley schyuul aalwis sed....."Better late than never!"
  18. As an afterthought, Billy who aam on aboot,also lived in Beattie Road,and will be getting on for 74 years noo.....same age as me.
  19. Wow! Wat a blast from thi past for me! Hi Eggy,and all on the forum!First off,Billy McGlenn didn't play in my Rock group,in the 1960's. I have known Billy practically aal me life,and when we left school in 1959,[Billy was at the Catholic school],we both started our pit training together at Seaton Burn colliery training centre. Billy was a small blonde lad,very sociable and a born comedian,served his time at the pit,then left later on to join the Merchant Navy. A canna figure oot where he fits inti thi family tree above,cos he certainly didn't play footie that aa knew of! Last time a saw Billy was at the the Domino at thi Station,in the late 1960's/very early '70s..[not sure exactly],and he had just come yem on leave from the sea,wi a bulging pocket of fivers!![ye canna spend ya pay at sea!] Me aad Marra Davy Holland..[Holly] was starring in the cabaret wi he's chart group caaled "Toby Twirl"...that's hoo a can mind aal this.[Billy got he's eye on me in the darkness and came owa for a natter!] Noo,the blast from thi past continues on,seeing other aad marra's in thi pics,hoo aav nivvor seen for donky's yeors...Jackie Mason lived aside me in Hollymoont Square,and we played tigitha aal wor young life! Ray Chilton and he's Wife are friends of wors,a have seen often,Geordie Elliot was an old friend in the 1960's,nivvor seen for donkey's,a smashing lad...footbaal crazy...used ti be drunk and sobbing like a kid,him and Jimmy Burke,his close mate,when thi Toon lost on a Saturday Aftanoon...in the 1960's!! Geordie's Dad was a Deputy at thi Aad pit,in thi 1960's ,when a went there from Choppington High Pit,and he was the most likeable bloke ye cud ivvor wish ti meet!! Bob McGregor was me neighbour and good friend for the 30-odd years a lived at West Terrace in Stakeford,till a moved away 18 years ago. Nivvor seen Bob Short for donkey's eetha! Great for me ti see these pics,but sorry a canna help in researching the family tree,Rigger!! Hope ye find more success as ye gaa alang ,Marra!
  20. Heh heh !...it's queer hoo time changes your perception of life when you were a kid! That's nowt like the aad Ned Metcalfe I have in me head...he has a coat on...and nae riding breeches or horse whip!....AND...he looks like a canny aad chep! He always seemed ti be in his shirt sleeves,wi sleeve armbands,[ti keep he's shirt cuffs up],and he's aad waistcoat on ...a real figure of dominance wi that whip.... What year was the pic?....[1936 was the year the trophy was presented to the club],cos aam sure that the fella on the right wi he's hand on he's hip was my deceased Brother-in-Law or if it wasn't,then he is the spitting image of him. Very interesting picture of the Bedlingtons....especially the desperate one which is squatting! Looking at Ned,[apart from his unrecogniseable attire!],his stature suggests to me that it would have been mid-fifties,I would have been a kid of nine or ten...
  21. Hi Eggy! Thanks for the P.M.,and a big HI! to you Elaine,and welcome to the greatest forum on the planet!! Sorry to have missed your post , Elaine,I have had a rough time lately..health-wise,but back into catching up on all things domestic which have to be done! My Wife's Parents,and GrandParents lived in Puddler's Row..[known locally as .."Puddlaas Raa.."],and my Wife was nine years old when they moved to the "new" Grange Park estate,around 1955,when it was just being built. She has often mentioned Paddy McCafferty,and only a few weeks ago Rosie McCafferty passed away,she was a close friend and neighbour of my Wife's family at both dwelling places for many many years. Rosie lived next door to Harry Craze and his Wife Bridgie..[ that's what we called her..],at Grange Park,and she was a McCafferty also,but not sure if she was a Sister of Paddy's,or a different relation. Those were the good old days when all the neighbours would give you a shout over the street if you hadn't seen them as you walked by,or if you were busy in the garden,it was hard work trying to just get something done.....due to being distracted by chatting too long over the fence! The McCafferty's were no relation to me or my Wife,but Bridgie,Harry,and Rosie were all so lovely,homely,and affectionate,that they were in many respects closer to us ,as neighbours,that they would have made a lovely family for us! True old saying..."Friends are the family that we choose for ourselves"....!
  22. Hi Jack,welcome to the forum!...that was a blast from thi past...."Woodbines"...[we called them "Willy Woodbines"...when we were bairns...I think we heard the aad-timers caaling them that!] A thowt ye were gaana tell us that Uncle used ti feed he's Roses wi the blood from the Slaatahoose!!![aad gardeners,especially aad pitmen,used aal manner of things ti get gud results in their gardens....even using the explosive pooda ti put aroond the flooers and cabbages ti keep thi slugs off!]
  23. Hi Arlie! Aam sure ye will love Bedlington,Blyth,Cramlington,and aal thi surroondin areas....we have the loveliest County in the Country...best beaches....most castles....finest untouched countryside.....did you see Cragside at Rothbury t'other neet? A forgot ti mention...the frendliest folk in the country! Hope ye find the info you are searching for! Cheers!
  24. A was in Leanne's [Todd's Barber's],thi day gettin a couple o' aggravating hairs cut off the back o' me heed...[waat's caaled a "Haircut"!],and she still has a gud bit crack,very pleasant,while mekkin a grand job o' me heed....a luk like a aad chep noo! Yistidi,a went ti pick up sum Croc Clips at "John's Car Parts",at the Station,[was the aad Post Office wen aa was young],and the youngin who runs it noo,[John's Son],gave me the time of day wi a gud crack also,and a friendly approach! He gaa's by the title of "J.P." Also yistidi,a went aroond ti Barrington M.O.T. Centre,ti ask George,the Owner,if he would check oot a few problems aav got wi me car. Stryght away he had me car up on the Fower-Poster,checked things oot,dropped it doon,gave me a valid and honest opinion, which a accepted,and aam gaana tek he's advice. Smashing team,him and Jean,[he's Wife],and the fitter also. Recommend them ti anybody,me next door Nyghbor has gone ti them for years and recommended them ti me and me Son.
  25. Belated Happy Boithday Vic!! Pleased aa stumbled across Pete's Thumbnail at the side!![a been awol also!] Regards to the Boss as weel!! We got wor Snaadrops and Crocuses up noo...Daffs weel up ready ti open...waiting for a bit het weather!!...
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