Back, the plane of cleavage in coal having a smooth parting, an easy parting in the coal at a high angle to the roof and floor. To work with the cleavage is said to work the ‘back of the slip’ or ‘on the back’. When working against the cleavage it is said to be working ‘on end’; or a term describing coal projecting from the line of the face after cutting.
Back end. In working a board, an excavation or kirving is made in the bottom part of the coal, half of the width of the board, and as far as the hewer was able to make it with his pick. This was followed by a vertical cutting of equal depth, next to the side of the place. A hole is then drilled near the roof, and fast side of the coal undermined, and in it gunpowder was placed, and the coal blown down. This was called the ‘sump’. The remaining half of the place is called the ‘back-end’, and is similarly undermined and shot down, (N.East).
Back-casing, temporary lining built in the upper part of a shaft during sinking through weak ground. This was usually left in behind the final lining on completion. Also called ‘brick casing’.
Back cleat,-see Cleat.
Backwork or Backbye work, work done outbye of the working face. Also called ‘oncost work’.
Back dook, the return airway. (Scot).
Backfill, mine waste or rock used to support the roof after coal removal.
Backing or Backing deals, wooden planks, some 6 ft long, driven down close together behind the cribs if required, in bad ground.
Back-overman. The overman in charge of the backshift.
Back ripping, ripping other than at the coalface to reopen air-roads closing up with the effects of strata pressure. It involves removing the existing deformed roof supports, excavating to the required dimensions and then re-setting with new supports.
Back road, the return air-road.
Back shaft, the non-drawing shaft, i.e. the one used for other purposes other than drawing coal. This was usually the Upcast Shaft.
Back shift, the second shift of hewers in each day. They usually commenced work four hours after the pit began to draw coal. In later years back-shift became synonymous with the afternoon and night shifts.
Backs, another word for ‘cleats’. –see also Back.
Back shear, a vertical cut made in the seam in advance of and parallel to the face line.
Back skin, a large leather covering for the back and shoulders used in sinking and shaft work.
Back slum, tubway connecting the tubways on one side of the shaft to the other for returning the empties.
Backstay, a drag or trailer fixed to the back of a haulage train or set as a safety device when going up hill, to prevent runaways.
Baff-ends, two outer wedges used in setting tubbing, used with a third central wedge called a ‘spare’; or generally pieces of wood, 15 or 18 inches long, 5 or 6 inches broad, and from 1 to 2 inches thick, used for driving behind cribs or tubbing to bring them to their proper position in a shaft.
Baff week. At one time the colliers were paid on a two week basis. The baff week was the second week. (N.East).
Bags, inferior coal associated with the upper part of the Barnsley Seam, (Yorks.).
Bag-muck, dirt parting above the bags. –see Bags,(Yorks.).
Bag of gas, a cavity found occasionally in gassey seams of coal containing gas under pressure, (N.East). –see Blower.
Bagging, a flexible canvas tube used to conduct air from an auxiliary fan to where it was needed at the head of a drivage.
Bait, food taken underground for the mid-shift meal break. OE "to bite or tear". - see also Snap.
Bait poke, the bag in which the bait is carried.
Baiting, Beating or Beating-up, removing the floor dirt to improve the height of a roadway. - see also Bate, Dint, Denting, Pocking and Pavement brushing.
Balance brow, a self acting inclined plane in steep seams. Driven on the full rise of the mine, down which full tubs of coal were lowered and the empties elevated up on a kind of carriage or platform on wheels actuated by a rope or chain haulage from above. (N.Staffs.).
Balance platforms, systems designed to load and unload automatically multiple decked winding cages at the shaft bottom. Also called ‘hydraulic decking plant’.
Balance rope, a rope hung under the cage in the shaft as a counter-balance.
Balance weight, a replacement for one cage in a small shaft.
Balk, -see Baulk.
Balls or Ball Ironstone, nodular concretions of clayband ironstone.
Ballstones, an early term for ironstone. (N.Staffs.).
Bally seating, underclay with nodular concretions. (Lancs.).
Baln stone, the roof rock or roof stone, (N.East).
Band, any widespread thin rock deposit; or a winding rope or chain; or a bed or seam of coal; or a thin layer of shale in the coal.
Banded coal, coal seam made up of layers of various types of coal from hard bright coal to dull coal, or mineral charcoal.
Bandsman, the man who loaded the cage at the pit bottom. (S.Staffs.) - see also Onsetter.
Banjack, compressed air drill.
Banjo, a large type of collier’s shovel, usually pear shaped, also known as a ‘pan shovel’, ‘oscar’ (S.Staffs.) or ‘pit pan’; or an old type of miner’s water bottle (S. Mids.).
Bank or Benk, the colliery surface near the shaft and at the level from which the cages are loaded and unloaded; or a general term for the surface; or to cover the fire in a boiler or domestic fire grate with slack or small coal to make the fire burn slowly through the night. Pronounced ‘Bonk’ in N. Staffs.
Bank-head, the top of an incline.
Bankman or Banksman. The manager of a small mine employing less than a dozen colliers was known by many different names but the most common in the Midlands and Durham was Bankman or Banksman (16th Century). He usually stood at the head of the shaft to direct operations, and was responsible for the everyday running of the mine and for the sale of the coal; also the person in charge of the shaft and cage or skip at the surface of the colliery, i.e. the person at the surface who operates the signals from the cage or skip to the winding engineman and Onsetter, controls the loading of the cage and collects the checks or tallies from the men as they enter the cage. He may also search men for contraband. Sometimes called the ‘banker’or ‘lander’.
Banker, -see Banksman.
Banking-out, the operation of changing the tubs in the cage at the surface.
Banking wagon, a moveable security cover over the shaft top during sinking, also called a ‘ running bridge’. A moveable platform of wood, usually, mounted on a frame with wheels. Rails are laid on this platform on which the tip wagons run.
Bank plates, cast iron sheets with which the heapstead or pit bank was laid out or floored to help in the manipulation of tubs.
Bankswoman, a female employed on the bank to pick dirt and stones from the coal, before the introduction of the screening plant. (S.& N. Wales, Scot., Lancs.) - see also Pit brow lassies.
Bank to Bank, the time occupied by a collier between leaving the bank, i.e. pit top, and returning to the same. i.e.a shift.
Banicking, holing in the roof immediately above the coal seam and breaking down the coal off the face with crowbars. (Cannock).
Bannock, to overcut the coal by hand (S.Staffs.); or a brownish grey clay used for making firebricks. (Shrops.).
Bannocking, a method of working a seam of coal containing a dirt band. By removing the dirt parting before the top coal. (S.Derbys. and Leics.).
Bannocking dirt, soft, slippery shale or musdstone forming the roof of a coal seam.
Bant, an old Lancashire dialect word for string and could be from the earlier ‘band’, a rope or chain. Later it was used to refer to a certain number of men, usually three or four. Before the introduction of cages and conductors the men would ride up and down in the pit shaft sitting in short loose pieces of chain attached to the hemp rope in a cluster, with their knees facing inwards towards the centre of the shaft. There were usually two bants, the lower or bottom bant, composed of men, and the upper or foaley bant, made up of a cluster of lads fastened a few feet above the heads of the men. In later years the word was used in the sense of ‘to catch the last bant’ or the last journey into or out of the pit on the underground haulage.
Baraque, a boring tower erected on the surface over a shaft being bored e.g. as in the Kind-Chaudron method.
Bar, a horizontal timber or metal crosspiece between two props. - see also Slab and Strap.
Bare, to strip or cut by the side of a fault or boundary.
Bar-hook, a fork-like trailing bar attached to the back of the last tub on an incline to arrest the journey in the event of a detached or broken coupling, chain or rope. Also called a ‘trigger’ or a ‘devil’.
Barren ground. When a seam of coal becomes too thin to work it is said ‘to become barren ground’. (Gloucs.and Bristol.). In other areas it was also known as ‘dead ground’, or an area that lacks coal or any other valuable mineral.
Barren measures, strata with unproductive seams of coal, e.g. of an unworkable thickness.
Barrier, Barrier coal, Barrier pillar or Pillar, a area or tract of coal left unworked to separate the workings of one colliery from those of another. The barrier was also left in place to protect a working colliery from the build-up of gas and water in old and abandoned workings. A barrier would often be left in between working districts in collieries for the same purpose.
Baring dirt, -see ‘Bannocking dirt’.
Barring, a method of securing the sides of rectangular shafts in Scotland where the strata is very strong. Lining was inserted only where the sides of the shaft were not strong enough to stand without support.
Barrings, a set of timber bars and props supporting underground roadways or shafts.
Barrow, the next development in vehicles for transporting coal underground after the sledge. Gang planks were often laid on the floor where it was soft, forming a ‘barroway’.
Barrowmen or Hurriers, men who transported coal from the workings to the shaft bottom or some intermediate transfer point underground. The name originates from the time when barrows were used for transporting coal. (Newcastle). –see also Putter.
Barrow way, the underground road along which the barrowmen worked. (Newcastle).
Barry system, a system of coal face transport in which empty tubs enter by one gate, pass along the face where they are filled and return along the next gate, on a multi entry face. (Mids.).
Bars, these may be of wood or steel and are generally from 4 feet 6 inches to 7 feet in length. They are set as shown with two or more props to hold them to the roof. Compared with props and lids they are more stable, they support greater areas of roof and are in consequence more suitable for supporting broken roof. Wood bars are generally made by sawing props lengthwise so that the bars are half round, but bars of rectangular section are sometimes used. Their widths and thicknesses vary but the average wood bar is 5 inches wide and 2½ inches thick. Steel bars have a corrugated section, so that their resistance to bending is greater than that of flat bars. They are not as easily damaged as wood bars; if bent they can be straightened and reset several times. Steel bars of ‘H’ section or channel |¯| section may also be used, especially if the bars have to be long. Long bars such as this are frequently used at road heads and at other special places
Bashing, to build airtight stoppings using colliery waste. - see Stoppings, or the complete stowing of roadways or old workings.
Basket (measure), a common measure in Lancashire in the 17th and the 18th centuries. Similar to a ‘corf’ or ‘corve’. It contained approximately 1.1 cwt of coal. There were eight baskets to the load and ten loads equalled one ‘rook i.e. 88 cwt or 4.4 tons.
Basket, a shallow pan into which smalls were raked by the fillers for loading into the tubs. (S.Staffs.), or before the introduction of the cage, baskets were used for winding. - see Corfe and Corve.
Basket ventilation, a system of ventilating a mine using the principle of hot air rising. This was achieved by hanging an iron basket containing burning coals in one of the two shafts or in a section of a bratticed shaft. The hot air rising in the shaft caused an updraft which drew the foul air out of the mine which was replaced by clean air descending the other shaft or section. The first recorded use of this system was in a colliery at Cheadle, North Staffs in about the 1650’s.
Bass or Bast, black carbonaceous shale. (Yorks., Lancs. and Staffs.); or a thin band of cannel in a seam. (S.Wales.).
Bastard, inferior coal, which burns to a white powdery slate (Yorks., Lancs., and Staffs.); or dirt in coal. (Yorks., Lancs., and Staffs.); or meaning ‘impure’.
Bastard Whin, very hard sandstone, but not so flinty as to be called ‘whin’, (N.East).
Basset or Basset edge, the point where a coal seam comes to the surface or ‘outcrops’.
Bast, -see Bass.
Bastard fireclay, underclay or seatearth of a coal seam which is unsuitable for manufacturing firebricks.
Bat, or Bats, Batt or Battice, carbonaceous shale or stone in coal. (Mids); or alternative term for ‘Bass’.
Bate, to excavate the floor material of a roadway to re-grade it after floor lift. (S.Staffs.). – see Dint.
Batt-picking, an old term for picking out stone by hand in the screening process. -see also Crow-picking.
Baulk, a partial washout in the top part of a coal seam, often filled with sandstone; also a strong timber beam; or an interruption of the coal seam. (N.East).
Baum pots, calcareous concretions in the coal or in the roof. (Lancs.).
Baum washer or Baum jig, a system for cleaning run of mine coal invented by Baum in 1892. A well known type of coal jig washer in which the water pulsation is obtained by admitting compressed air above the water level at one side of the washer box instead of the operation of plungers as in other jig washers.
Beche, an instrument having some resemblance to the extinguisher of a candle, it was used for the purpose of extracting the bottom portion of a broken set of rods from a borehole or shothole.
Beachleaf marl, finely laminated brown marls, possibly of glacial origin. (Lancs.).
Beans, a descriptive name for very small coals, the size of a bean.
Bearers, in early coal mining, these were boys, girls or women who transported coal underground in baskets on their backs, i.e. the ‘bearing system’.
Bearing System, -see Bearers.
Beater, an iron rod used for stemming or tamping a shot hole prior to blasting.
Beating or beating up, - see baiting.
Beche, an instrument resembling the extinguisher of a candle,used for the purpose of extracting the bottom portion of a broken set of rods from a borehole or shothole.
Bedrock, the first solid rock met when sinking a shaft.
Beehive pit, -see Bell pit.
Beethoven, a dynamo-condenser type of shot firing device.
Beetle, a small locomotive engine driven by compressed air, the invention of Messrs. Lishman and Young, (N.East).
Bellite, a ‘third class’ explosive which could only be exploded by a special detonator composed of fulminate of mercury. This explosive comprised 80% ammonium nitrate and 20% dinitrobenzol and obviated the risks from explosion by heat or sparks or by any ordinary shock. The invention of Carl Lamm, said to act like the best slow powders and was very useful for coal-mining.
Bellmen, men who worked on the conveyor belts or rope haulage signalling system.
Bell mould, -see Caldron bottom.
Bell pit, One of the earliest methods for working coal that was lying very near to the surface. It consisted of short shafts from the surface to the coal seam, belled out at the bottom as far as possible until it became unsafe. When it became too dangerous to work the miners would abandon it and sink another nearby. The refuse from the new shaft would often be thrown into the old one. Also called a ‘beehive pit’.
Bell wires, two bare wires that covered the length of a haulage system, which, when held together made a bell ring as a signal to the haulage driver.
Belt or Belt conveyor, a conveyor belt, a moving endless belt. A series of conveyors, in tandem, would be used to carry coal from the face to the shaft or in some cases up a drift to the surface. It was driven by a drum to which it returns after passing around a tail pulley. Belt conveyors could vary in length from a few yards to over a mile. –see Cable Belt Conveyor. Conveyor belting was made of layers, or plies, of woven cotton (called cotton duck) which had been impregnated with rubber. These layers are enclosed in a rubber cover. It is the cotton duck that enables the belt to withstand tension. The rubber protects the cotton from damage.
Belt clamp, a device constructed from lengths of timber which were clamped to the conveyor belt either side of a damaged joint. The clamps were then drawn together by using two ‘Sylvesters’ thereby taking the tension out of the conveyor belt between the clamps. The belt-man would then cut out the damaged joint and remake a new one.
Belt-cleaner, a man employed to clear up the spillage alongside and below the conveyor system. A necessary job to prevent fires caused by friction, or a device fixed to a conveyor belt to scrape dirt from the surface of the belt as it passes.
Belt extension, adding lengths of structure to a conveyor belt to make it longer as the coal face or roadway advances.
Belt fastener. A conveyor belt consists of a number of lengths of belting joined together so that it is endless. The joints must be as strong as they can be made, and several types of commercial coupling or belt fastener were used, such as Bristol, Hayden Nilos and Comet.
Belt idler, a cylindrical roller that is mounted on a frame which supports and guides a conveyor belt. These and the metal suppoeting frame are called the ‘belt structure’.
Belt-men, the maintenance team responsible for the underground conveyor system.
Belts, an underground conveyor system.
Ben or Benn, a queue of men waiting to ride the cage. (Scot.).
Bench, to under-cut the seam. Also called ‘kirving’ or ‘holing’; or to work coal in layers from the top downwards.
Benching, Breaking up the bottom coals using wedges when the holing has been made in the middle of the seam.
Bend-away, the order given by the person in charge for the cage to be drawn to bank, (N.East).
Bend-up, an order given by the person in charge to raise the cage slowly, so that it may be instantly stopped on the order "Hold!" being given, (N.East).
Bevin Boys. During WW2, the shortage of manpower in the mines resulted in the Ministry of Labour, (Minister: Ernest Bevin), inaugurating a policy of drafting men of military age into the mines. From July 1943, the draftees for the mines were chosen by ballot and a number of men already serving with the forces were given, and took the option of working in the mines.
Bevin Shift, a colloquialism for idle shifts which, with the help of too easily obtained medical certificates, qualified the miner for the guaranteed weekly wage.
Bibbley Rock, a conglomerate (N.Staffs.).
Bi-Di’s, bi-directional shearers, capable of cutting the coal in both directions along the coal face.
Biggin, a pack built to support the roof.
Billy, a box for holding ironstone when ironstone was mined along with the coal (Forest of Dean).
Billy Coal, a thin unworkable coal seam, occurring above or below a workable seam. (N.Staffs.).
Bin or Binn, the parting of black bass in the Bin Mine. (Lancs.).
Binching, the stone ‘seatearth’, or ‘fireclay’ on which the coal seam rests. (Som.).
Bind or binds, indurated shale or mudstone; or clay frequently containing clay ironstone; or sandstone or hard shale. (N. East). A term often applied by miners to any fine grained rock.
Binding coal, another term for bituminous coal, (N.East).
Bing, a colliery waste heap. (Scot.).
Biscuit, a piece of wood about 1½ inches thick and 4 inches square, placed between the top of a prop and the roof bar. Used with a wooden prop the biscuit would absorb the roof pressure and in most cases save the prop for further use. When used with steel supports it helped to stop the slip of steel on steel when erecting a prop and bar. - see also Bonnet, Cap, Lids and Wedges.
Bitting, the name of, and the action of, small pieces of stone falling from the roof.
Bituminous coal, coal intermediate in rank (maturity) between sub-bituminous coal and semi-anthracites and includes coking coals.
Black air, -see Blackdamp.
Blackband ironstone, a carbonaceous sideritic ironstone occurring in beds, usually associated with coal seams and containing sufficient included carbonaceous matter to enable it to be calcined without the addition of further fuel, also known as ‘hard binds’ in Scotland. Exploited commercially during the latter half of the 1800s in the Ayrshire and North Staffordshire coalfields.
Black-batt, black, carbonaceous shale.
Blackberry dirt, a crumbly carbonaceous shale forming a band 2 or 3 inches thick in the Bullhurst Seam. (N.Staffs.).
Blackdamp or Chokedamp, a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide present in mines. The gas will not support a flame or life. Usually found in old mine workings where ventilation is poor. Also known in Yorkshire as ‘Black air’.
Black list, a band composed of thin layers of bright coal and fusain in the hards of the Barnsley Seam, (Yorks.).
Blacks, coaly blaes. (Scot.), or black shale (Yorks.).
Black spit, pneumoconiosis, a disease of the lungs, caused by the inhaling of coal dust, causing the spitting of black phlegm.
Blaes, shale or mudstone, laminated, but typically soft and fissile. (Scot.).
Blast coal, -see Lignite.
Blast packing, -see Pneumatic packing.
Blast piece, part of an old reciprocating pump.
Bleed, coal is said to ‘bleed’ when water oozes in drops from its pores.
Blind Coal, a coal that has lost part of its volatile constituents, and so burns with little or no smoke. (Scot.).
Blind drift, a pilot heading that has been driven in search of coal and then abandoned. Often used for storing equipment.
Blind heading, a heading or roadway with only one way in or out.
Blind pit or Blind shaft, -see Staple pit.
Blocking out, driving roadways all the way around a piece of coal it is proposed to work to ensure that it is free from faults or other features that may hinder its exploitation.
Blocking-up, -see Dinting.
Blocks or Stops, small wooden blocks, mounted between the rails, to stop loaded tubs running away down an incline.
Blow, floor lift due to gas or strata pressure.
Blower, a flow of gas (firedamp) from some chasm or fissure in the coal or surrounding strata lasting for long periods, without apparent decrease. –see also Bag of gas.
Blue-cap, the characteristic blue haze over the flame of a safety lamp when firedamp or methane, is present in the atmosphere.
Blue metal, – see shale.
Bond, a cage in manriding mode waiting to ascend or descend the shaft. (S.Staffs.).
Booster or Booster fan, an underground ventilation fan used to increase the ventilation of a district or seam.
Bord or Board and Pillar, a system of working coal by partial extraction which is similar to ‘pillar and stall’ in which between 30 and 60 per cent of the coal would be removed depending on the condition and the weight of the roof. Sometimes the pillars would be worked out at a later date by using the retreat system. Also known as ‘board and wall’, ‘post and stall’ ‘square work’ and ‘stoop and room’. The bord is a roadway driven in the seam, usually at right angles to the cleat; or the principal working place with one or two hewers (N.East).
Boardways, headings driven across the cleat, or ‘on the bord’.
Boardway’s course, the direction at right angles to the line of cleavage or cleat of the coal.
Bob-a locker, the man who stood by the side of the road pushing lockers between the spokes of the tubs to slow down their progress. (N.Staffs.).
Bobbin, the return pulley wheel on a self-acting incline.
Bogey or Bogie, a flat-bottomed truck for manriding or transporting materials. - see Flat Danny or Horned Danny.
Boghead coal or Torbanite, closely allied to some varieties of oil shale and consists essentially of oil-bearing algae mixed with small quantities of sediment.
Boilum, hard calcareous or siliceous nodules of irregular shape found in the shales and under-clays of the Coal Measures. (N.Staffs.)
Boll or Bowl (measure), a measure of capacity used in the North of England and Scotland for grain, coal and other dry goods. The coal boll was probably derived from the corn boll, i.e. the amount a man could carry. The boll or bowl was a wooden tub or wheelbarrow used to load coals into the keels on the Tyne. At Gateshead in the mid 16th century the boll contained eight gallons. In the first part of the 17th century, in a lease of mines from the Prior of Tynemouth, the ‘chaldron’ was defined as six bolls. The size of the boll was fixed by statute in 1678 and contained 22 gallons and a ‘pottle’. By 1704 at Town Moor Colliery (N.East.) the boll had risen to 36 gallons. In evidence before a Select Committee of the House of Lords, in 1829 the boll contained 9676•8 cubic inches, or 34•899 imperial gallons. It would appear that the boll never attained a uniform measure.
Bolt, a steel rod, about 1 inch in dia. used in ‘roof bolting’ -see also Slot-and-Wedge and Wedge-and-sleeve bolt; or a short narrow heading connecting two roadways in ‘square work’. (S.Staffs.) Also known as a ‘Bolthole’.
Bond, a thin band or stratum. (N.Staffs.).
Bone, a hard cannel coal. (Lancs.).
Bonnet, an overhead cover for a cage constructed in the form of an inverted ‘V’ to deflect anything falling down the shaft while men were riding; or a section of a seam left in situ to form a roof. (Scot.); or the metal casing around the gauzes of a safety lamp; or a flat rather than a wedge shaped piece of wood on the top of a prop. - see Biscuit, Lid and Crown piece; or an overlying layer of shale or gas coal that is worked along with the coal seam. (Scot.).
Boobey, a type of box which held 6 to 8 cwt.of coal in which dirt or rubbish was sent to the bank or surface. (Som.).
Boom ripper, a machine for cutting down a ripping by means of a rotating cutting head on a fixed or telescopic hydraulic boom.
Booster, a machine that adds to the work of another, i.e. a booster fan is one used to supplement the main fan.
Boother, a boulder in the ‘Glacial Drift’; blue ‘Boothers’ were much prized for road-making on farms. (N.Staffs.).
Bord and pillar, -see Pillar and stall.
Bord cleat, -see Cleat.
Bord, or Board, the main cleavage or cleat in coal seams. The direction of the cleat; or a roadway at right angles to the main cleat, or a roadway with solid coal sides. ‘Board’ or ‘board’ was also the principal working place some four to five yards wide, where one or two miners worked, hewing the coal.
Bord face, a coal face advancing in a direction at right angles to the line of main cleat.
Borer, a long iron bar with a hardened chisel shaped tip used to bore shot holes in coal. Also known as a ‘puncher’ it was used without the aid of a hammer. The miner used a jab and twist action to bore the hole. - see Boring bar, Driller and Jumper; or a person whose business it was to search for minerals by boring
Bosh or water bosh, a tank or tub out of which the horses drank underground. (S.Wales.).
Bossing, the holing or undercutting of a coal seam. (Scot.).
Bottle-coal, coal containing a high percentage of volatile hydrocarbons, suitable for gas making. (Scot.).
Bottom gate, on an inclined face the lower of the two or more gate roads serving the face.
Bottoms or Bottom coal, the lowest section of a coal seam that may or may not be extracted.
Boundary fault, a large fault usually forming the boundary to the mine or a section of the mine.
Bowk, originally a small wooden box used for lifting refuse out of a sinking pit. Later it was one of the many names given to a large barrel or bucket-shaped tub used when sinking shafts. - see also Kibble and Hoppit. Also the term used to describe in the North East for a report made by the cracking of the strata owing to the extraction of the coal beneath, or the noise made by the escape of gas under pressure.
Box bottoms, the small coal or slack that fell to the bottom of the tubs or boxes. It was produced by breakage in transit. (Leics.).
Box-end, the tension end of a conveyor belt.
Box scraper, a method of loading coal on a longwall face adapted from the main-and-tail haulage system and a forerunner of the coal plough. The simplest type consisted of a double-drum haulage engine that pulled a bottomless scraper box, skip or scoop backwards and forwards along the face by means of a main-and-tail rope. The system was first introduced in 1929. - see also Slusher.
Bracehead, a piece of tough ash or oak, about 3ft long, passed through an eye in a short piece of iron, at the other end of which is a male screw to connect with boring rods. Using this men could manually turn the boring rods to form the borehole.
Braddish, - see Brattice.
Bradford Breaker, a screening and coal crushing machine which uses gravity impact to break the coal. It passes the run-of-mine coal through a cylindrical screen 8-14ft in dia. and 15-22ft long. It could deal with 500-600 t.p.h. reducing the coal to size according to the screen plates fitted.
Brae, an inclined roadway. (Scot.).
Brake, to lower trams down a dip using a wheel and rope. (N.Staffs.) - see also Jig.
Brake incline, a self-acting haulage system that used a hand-operated brake to control the speed of descent. - see also Gravity haulage.
Brakesman, the man managing the winding engine.
Branch, dull hard coal forming the top part of the Silkstone Seam, (Yorks.); or sometimes inferior cannel coal.
Branches, cross-measure drifts. (Som.).
Brashing, the action of coal falling away from the face. - see also Ratching.
Brashy, rotten old timbers in the mine that had been attacked by fungus and could look sound, but were in fact brashy. (Yorks).
Brass, Brasses or Brassy, iron pyrites, fools gold, iron sulphide, a brass-like mineral occurring in coal. Thought to be possibly one of the causes of heating or spontaneous combustion in wastes or gobs.
Brassey coal, coal containing golden specks of iron pyrites, also a well-known coal seam in the Lancs. Coalfield.
Brat, a thin stratum of a coarse mixture of coal and carbonate of lime or pyrites, frequently found lying at the roof of a seam of coal, (N.East).
Brattice and Brattice cloth, a division or partition in a shaft, heading or other underground working place to direct air to a specific point, often to dilute flammable or noxious gases. It could also be used to divide the place or a shaft into two parts, one for the ingress of fresh air and the other for the egress of the used air. A brattice could be constructed of wood, brick or stonework, or heavy-duty tightly woven (sometimes tarred) cloth nailed to a timber frame or timber boarding.
Bratticed shafts, before the Act of 1862 made it compulsory for every mine to have a second shaft it was common practice to divide the shaft into two or more sections by means of brattices. This enabled the one shaft to be used for several functions simultaneously e.g. winding, pumping and ventilation. These partitions were a source of great danger. Being constructed from timber, if the brattices caught fire or were wrecked the men would be trapped below ground.
Brazzle, Brazils or brazzles, another name for iron pyrites; also ? the term ‘brazils’ was used for small round nut-shaped nodules found in some blackband ironstones.
Breadth, a series of coal pillars formed by rearer working. (N.Staffs).
Breaks, cracks and fissures found in the strata and coal seams due to the working of coal in the near vicinity or subsidence. This can also occur when a seam is being worked above a previously worked area. (S.Staffs.). Subsidence cracks at the surface are called ‘Break lines’.
Break lines, -see Breaks.
Breaker props, props set at the waste edge.
Breasting, a short heading stall, worked at right angles to, and forming the face of the main level or a short face advancing along the strike in ‘rearer working. (N.Staffs.); or a wide heading or level; or pushing tubs etc. as opposed to pulling them. (N.East).
Breeding fire, spontaneous combustion, usually caused by ventilation air mixing with fine coal and made worse by the presence of pyrites. (S.Staffs).-see also Heatings.
Breese or Breeze, fine slack. (Scot.); or small coal; or poor coke, used to manufacture breeze blocks.
Brew or Brow, section of rock above the seam that is removed to extend the gate road. (S.Staffs). –see also Rip.
Brick casing, -see Back-casing.
Bride cake or Bright cake, black highly carbonaceous slickensided shale with mussels, (Yorks.).
Bridge rails, iron rails, the upper part of which was hollow, weighing about 5½ lbs. per foot, used in barrow-ways instead of tram-plates; the tubs being fitted with flanged wheels, (N.East).
Bridle or bridal chains, short chains by which the cage is attached to the winding rope; or a chain for preventing tubs overturning when travelling on a steep incline. (Scot.). Also called ‘Bull chains’.
Brights, bright coal, mainly vitrain.
Britisher, a strong corner pack formed of chocks built of broken wood and filled with stone.
Broken place, an easy place to work with soft or loose coal. (N.East).
Broken working, the second stage of bord and pillar working, i.e. abstracting the pillars. Also known as ‘robbing the pillars’.
Brot, a thin stratum of coal contaminated with lime or pyrites. (Scot.).
Brow or Broo, Hill or bank in Scotland, also the pit top or a haulage incline underground e.g. a ‘jig brow’ in Lancashire; or the face of a fault plane, (N.East).
Brown coal , woody or soft peaty looking coal, brown or black in colour, with a high moisture content. – see Lignite.
Brown Metal Coals, coals that when broken give much brown or red dust.
Brown Rake, shale with ironstone bands and balls.
Brush, the ripping face of a roadway. (Scot.) - see Ripping; or unscreened coal straight from the mine, i.e. ‘run-of- mine coal’. (Bris. and Som.); or a strand torn out of a wire rope. (Scot.).
Brushing, the action of ripping. Normally enlarging a road by taking down the roof, also a rich brown iron ore. (F.of D.).
Buckler or Buckler machine, a machine for making new joints in a conveyor belt. (Scot.).
Buildas. A way a Butty could avoid paying for work done. He would call ‘buildas’ half way through the working day and then pay nothing for the half days work that had been done, or pay a proportion of the wages in beer.
Builders, large blocks of unlaminated sandstone, which are used for rough building purposes such as foundation work or strong walls. (N.Staffs.).
Building, a portion of the pack wall as it is built.
Bull, an iron rod used for preparing a shot-hole, which has been lined with clay to protect the shot in wet ground, i.e. also to ‘bull’ a hole, (N.East), (Yorks). - see also Pricker; or a fork-like trailing bar attached to the back of the last tub on an incline to arrest the journey in the event of a detached or broken coupling, chain or rope.
Bull chains, -see Bridle chains.
Bull end, return roller unit of a belt conveyor.
Bullion or Stone bullion, calcareous concretions, occasionally ironstone nodules or quartzite boulders. (Lancs).
Bull props, props set at an angle to prevent tubs running away on an incline. Various other names used; Bull Stumps, Warwicks., Derricks, (S.Derbys)., Stall,
Stell, (Scot.). Bullseye, early type of hand held electric lamp with a bulbous lens.
Bull's head, the motorised end of a boring machine. The name roughly describes it’s shape. Various other names used in other coalfields are, Pig’s head, (Leics.), Tup, (Lancs.), Tich, (S.Derbys.).
Bull stakes, the four posts at the floor of the shafts to which the conductors are fixed. (Yorks.).
Bummer, the man in charge of a group of men on the longwall face. Various other local names were used such as Coddy, (Leics.), Puffler, sometimes Fuffler, (War.), Pool-leader and Leading man, (Scot,), also Face captain and Face chargeman (Lancs.).
Bump, the sound caused by a break in the strata above while underground, or the actual movement due to the break; or a sudden floor uplift due to a break in the floor. Also called a ‘pounce’ or ‘crump’.
Bumper, a large piece of iron that was used as a counter balance on a hand windlass when winding loaded corves or tubs up and down an underground staple shaft. (Som.) and (Bris.), also iron catches fitted in a cage to hold the tubs in place during winding. (Lancs.), (Mids.).
Bunches, small temporary areas or pillars of coal left during holing to support the coal until the holing is complete. (N.Staffs.).
Bunker, a high capacity hopper either above or below ground to store run-of-mine during a breakdown in the shaft or between the shaft and the washing plant or to act as a buffer between the production face/s and ‘outbye’ transport systems; or areas of loose coal after shotfiring, or a place where coal was stored temporarily. (N.East).
Bunker top-holes, another term for a rise heading in steep seam working. (S.Wales).
Bunkey, a small fault in a coal seam, (S.Derbys.).
Bunton, a beam of wood or steel placed horizontally across a shaft to act as a support or for fixing equipment or a brattice. – see Main Buntons and Collaring Buntons.
Burgy, small coal also slack or poor coal with a high dirt content; or coal that readily breaks into smalls. (Lancs.).
Burr, - see Cank.
Burnett's coal wedge, a roller wedge patented in 1884 by C, Burnett. The wedge was used to break down coal after it had been undercut.
Buskins, sacking tied around the legs when working underground in water. (S.Staffs.).
Butt, another word for a heading, i.e. a roadway, usually in coal. (S.Wales).
Butt cleat, -see Cleat.
Butterfly, a detaching hook associated with cages. In the event of the cage being ‘overwound’ the hook detached the cage from the winding rope and prevented the cage from going through the headgear and into the winding house.
Buttock, a corner formed by two coalfaces more or less at right angles, such as the end of a working face, also called the ‘fast side’; or any short piece of coal approximately at right angles to the face; or the amount of coal removed from a handgot face in one operation (cycle), also called a ‘turnover’.
Buttocking, a method of working a handgot longwall by forming a length of coal on bord, known as a ‘buttock’, which is then worked parallel to the face. If worked in both directions, it was known as ‘double buttocking’. A modification of the buttocking system was ‘continuous buttocking’, where a buttock was commenced at one end of a face and was then advanced, or ‘taken up’, until it reaches the end of the stall in which it was started. The next stall and succeeding stalls take up the work in turn, and the first stall commences another buttock, producing a stepped face line.
Button-man, a man who monitors conveyor transfer points. Stopping and starting the conveyors after stoppages or breakdowns, by use of the button.
Buttress pack, a strong pack in the waste, stronger than and in addition to the roadside packs, placed some distance away fron the roadway to protect it. If this is carried out on both sides of the roadway with comparatively narrow roadside packs, then this is termed ‘Double packing’.
Butty, a mate or working partner in the pit. Several men could work a ‘butty system’ together in a working place or district within a mine, also an early name for an underground boss, contractor or Charter Master who supervised the extraction of coal for the owner. He engaged and paid the underground labour.
Buttyman, a man in charge of others who is paid for the whole job and he himself pays those under him. The ‘butty system’ first started with a miner employing members of his own family including his wife and children to transport coal from the workings to the pithead.
Buzzard, small layer of inferior coal in the roof of the Arley Mine. (Lancs.).
Buzzer, a steam siren sounding at the beginning and end of each shift and at midnight to let in each New Year. If a miner was late for work he was said to be ‘buzzed’. (S.Staffs.).
By gate, the passages from the mainways to the headings. (Yorks.).
Byat, a harness, which in the south (Staffs) is described as the 'girdle', but differs from it by being a pair of straps over the shoulders, meeting in a broad piece behind, and terminating in a chain and hook, used for drawing coal dans. (N Staffs).
By-pit, a pit or shaft situated at a higher elevation than the main winding shaft of the colliery, e.g. on a hillside. The by-pit was usually a ventilation pit that promoted natural ventilation currents.
Bye work, -see Dead work.
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