Saddle back, a roll or undulation in the roof or pavement of a roadway. (Scot.) -see Roll, or an anticline or up-fold in the strata.
Saddles, cast iron fittings confining the tram and tub on the rolley. (N.East).
Safety lamp, an oil lamp that gives light sufficient for the requirements of miners in travelling and working and does not ignite an explosive mixture in which it may be placed. Used to test for gas. A lamp with a steel wire gauze to prevent the passage of a flame from the lamp to any explosive gas that may be present in the mine atmosphere. –see also Cap.
Safety pit, A ‘Safety Lamp Mine’. A gassy mine and one in which safety lamps must be used. (Scot.).
Sagger, Segger, Sagre or Seggar clay, a type of fireclay.
Sally, Sylvester prop with-drawer. (Scot.).
Sammy, ironstone nodules found in the strata. (Mids.); or an easy job. (S.Mids).
Samson block, two girders in the shape of a ‘T’. The cross of the ‘T’ is pivoted and should a hutch run away on an incline the girder is tripped by a wire and falls blocking the road. -see also Warwick.
Sawney, to lower full tubs down an inclined road or face using a rope or chain wrapped around a prop to act as a brake. (Mids.).
Scabbit parting, a rough parting or break in the roof. (Scot.).
Scabby roof, a rough sandstone roof to which the coal has a tendency to stick. The coal had then to be hacked down with the pick. (Scot.).
Scaffold, a wooden platform fixed accross a shaft. In the case of a permanently abandoned pit, where it is not filled up from the bottom, a scaffold was sometimes put in, a short distance from the top, above which the pit was filled up.
Scale, carbonaceous shale, or coal with intimately interlaminated shale; or shale with a film of coal. (Lancs.), (Yorks.).
Scale or Skail, a current of air that is purposely allowed to take a short cut to rejoin the main current. Often used in sections of the mine off the main ventilation current, or an air leakage finding its way back into the return airway thereby reducing the amount of air getting to the workings.
Scallop or Skelp, to pull down and hew the coal using only a pick. i.e. without kirving, nicking and wedging or bringing it down with powder. (N.East).
Scammed, sooty. (N.East).
Scamy or Scammy post, soft, jointy freestone in thin layers mixed with mica. (N.East).
Scares, thin layers of pyrites or spar inter-stratified in coal seams, or similar layers of coal found in sandstone or shale.
Scars, clinker. (N.East).
Scatter, a rumbling or falling noise in the shaft. (Yorks.).
Schaffler, a small Austrian made shot firer.
Sclit, slaty coal or coaly blaes, cf slate. (Scot.).
Scobbed, when a hutch was filled by using large flat pieces to block off the bottom and then filling on top of them.
Scoop, a barrel or a box used for winding coal in a shallow gin pit. (Yorks.).
Scotch, a wooden wedge used to brake vehicles; or a steel or iron rod often shaped like a shepherds crook placed in the spokes of tub wheels to brake them on an incline. (Lancs.) – see Locker; or a compressed air brake used to control the speed of mine cars; or a piece of stone or dirt. (S.Mids.); or the lower lift or section of a thick seam which was wedged up when driving a heading. (Leics.).
Scour, to drive a heading or roadway (a gob road or scouring) through the waste. (Mids.).
Scovens, forks for filling coal into tubs. (S.Staffs.).
Scowl a brow, to drive a heading or roadway by guesswork. (F.of D.).
Scraper, a tool with a flat turned up end made of wood, brass or copper and used for cleaning and stemming shotholes; or a scraper chain conveyor, a steel conveyor comprising chains and steel bars running in pans; or the man who clears away the cuttings while a coal cutter machine is working.
Scraper box loading, a method of transporting coal along a face in which a series of box-like structures moves to and fro gathering the coal and moving it to the gate end.
Scraper loader, a mechanical device for loading or packing broken material by which an open-ended bucket is drawn to and fro through the material using main and tail ropes. –see Slusher.
Screens, various types of mechanical apparatus used for sorting the coal into different sizes such as bars of iron various distances apart or metal plates with holes; or a cloth brattice or curtain hung across a roadway to direct the ventilation current. Also called ‘Traps’. (N.East).
Screen-trapper, a screen attendant. (N.East).
Screw, a small piece of chewing tobacco.
Scrin, irregular ironstone nodules. (Derbys.).
Scroll drum, a conical winding drum.
Sconcing, a method of ventilating part of the workings where the full force of the air current is used.
Scronge, loose and broken strata created by working underneath. (S.Wales).
Scrubbing, very thin layers of soft matter such as clay, sooty coal etc. (Leics.); or iron pyrites embedded in the coal. (Mids.).
Scud, inferior coal, often close to the top of a seam where it is left up to form the roof. (Yorks.); occasdionally seatearth.
Scuft, to throw dirt back.
Scuftings, -see Gummings.
Scufting shovel, a shovel with a flat blade used for cleaning up ‘gummings’.
Scutch or Scutch oot, to make a vertical cut down each side of a face prior to bringing down the coal by wedging or blasting. -see also Knicking, Kirving and Shearing. (Scot.).
Scutcheon, a piece of coal or blaes left in the roof. (Scot.).
Scuvin, fork used to load lump coal on the face to separate it from the slack. (S.Staffs.).
Sea coal or sea cole, originally coal gathered from the beaches of the North East coast. The term sea coal was used for coal mined inland to differentiate it from charcoal.
Seam, a bed of coal.
Searchers, the men who carry out the search for contraband when men are going into the mine at the beginning of a shift.
Seat or Seating, floor of a coal seam. (Lancs.).
Seatearth, the floor or ‘fireclay’ beneath the coal seam. Also known in Derbyshire as ‘sole’.
Second means of egress, the alternative roadways or route from the working areas of the mine that would be used if an emergency arose and the usual means of exit from the mine were blocked or impassable.
Second working, the partial or total extraction of coal pillars inbord and pillar mining.
Securite, an early flameless explosive composed of 80% ammonium nitrate, 17% dinitrobenzol and 3% ammonium oxalate. Invented by a German, Mr. Schoenewez. It was made from the bye-products of coke ovens and gas works. Said to be about four time as forcible as blasting powder. It was exploded by detonator and could not be exploded by ordinary concussions or blows, nor by a burning or a glowing body.
Seg, to bend down in the middle, to sag, as in roof bending. (N.East).
Seggar or Sagre, clay, fireclay, clunch or spavin.
Seizer, an ‘L’-shaped iron arrester device used at the bottom of an incline, mounted between the rails, to hold the chain whilst the empties are attached.
Self-acting incline, an inclined roadway down which coal was transported by means of a rope travelling around a pulley or a drum at the top of the incline. The weight of the loaded wagon was sufficient to draw up the empty ones attached to the other end of the rope on a second parallel track. –see also Jig.
Self advancing support, -see Powered supports.
Self rescuer, a self-contained small breathing device, worn on the belt of the miner, which, in the event of an explosion underground, when used by the miner, gives him a limited time to walk into an area of fresh air. The device is primarily a filter containing a compound (hopcolite) to absorb harmful carbon monoxide together with a mouth piece and nose clip.
Serve, gas, which issued regularly from a fault or break was said to ‘serve’. (N.East).
Set, a number or group of tubs on their way to the shaft. -see also Journey or Rake; or a group of colliers on a longwall face; or a column of pumps in a pumping shaft; or to fill a tub unfairly – see Set-out. The large coals were built up around the side of the tub leaving a hollow in the middle this was then covered over. Also to get the sides off and trim up a heading. (S.Staffs.); or to erect a prop; or the natural giving way of an unsupported roof. (N.East). If set square to the dip a prop is said to be ‘fully on the set’. (N.Staffs.).
Set coal, coal from nearby old workings, which had a hard dead nature. (Leics.).
Set-out, tubs or corves of coal deficient in weight or measure. (N.East).
Sett, a column of pumps in a pumping shaft; or an area of mines worked by a colliery company; or a length along the face of a stall, usually from 6 to 10ft; or setting up a dial to take a bearing or sight; or a sales yard for coal. In some areas several collieries would share the same sett.
Setting timber, to erect supports to control the roof, traditionally timber props, later steel and hydraulic props.
Settle boards or Saddle boards, the portion of the heapstead at the top of the shaft, and between it and the screens, covered with iron or metal sheets.
Setters, large pieces of coal. They were set or piled around the sides of the landsale cart and built up. The centre was then filled with the smaller coals. (N.East).
Shab or Top shab, a thin layer of dirty coal lying immediately above the coal seam. The shab would usually come down with the coal.
Shade or Shead, -see ‘Floor’. (N.Staffs.).
Shackle, a system used before rope capping. The shackle was a machined bar of iron. The long, flattened and shaped ends were riveted or collared onto the end of the winding rope. This was then turned back and the swelled end of the rope formed an eye by which it was then attached to the cage chains, or a short steel or wrought iron chain for coupling mine cars together.
Shaft, a vertical or steeply inclined excavation in limited width in relation to depth, made to provide access to underground workings. Usually circular but can be oblong, square or oval shaped.
Shaft bottom, -see Pit bottom.
Shaft guides, -see guides.
Shaft pillar, an area of coal left unworked around the shaft to protect the shaft and the buildings on the surface from the effects of subsidence.
Shaftsman, a man employed to work within the shaft on inspection and maintenance. –see Pit fettlers.
Shaft tunnels, levels or cruts driven from the shaft across the coal measures to intersect rearer seams. (N.Staffs.).
Shaker conveyor, -see Jigger.
Shank, a pit shaft. (Scot.); or to sink, as in a shaft (Scot.); or a shallow shaft underground. - see Staple.
Shanker, another term for a shaft sinker. (Scot.).
Sharp. Gas was said to be ‘sharp’ when it was at its most explosive.
Sharp stone, fine grained sandstone breaking into angular fragments.
Shear, to remove a web of coal with a shearer, (power loader or power shearer); or the slice of coal (strip) removed from the face in this process.
Shearer or Shearer loader, modern coal cutting and loading machine with rotating drum (or drums) fitted with picks that break the coal, and vanes that throw the coal on to the conveyor on which it travels along the face. A modern machine used to cut and load the coal on a longwall face.
Shearing, the vertical cuts made with the pick at each side of a block of coal after it had been undercut prior to wedging or firing it to bring it down. (Scot.); or the stripping of a longwall face with a shearing machine, or shearer.
Sheave, the pulley or drum on a self-acting incline; or the large wheels on top of the head gear over which the winding rope passed; also a grooved wheel used in place of a roller to guide or alter the direction of a rope.
Shed, a thin, smooth parting in the strata with both sides polished ( a shear plane or slip), or a very thin layer of coal.
Shell door, a temporary door, usually constructed from brattice cloth.
Shem, the main fissure or slip-line of a fault. (N.Staffs.).
Shet, the roof of the mine when it has collapsed. (S.Staffs.).
Sheth, to course the air to ventilate the workings. (N.East).
Sheth door, a ventilation door. (N.East).
Sheugh, a drainage channel cut in the floor of a roadway. Pronounced ‘shuch’; or a shaft of a coal pit. (Scot.).
Shift, a fault; or a period of work.
Shifter, a man who repaired and kept open the roadways, or an underground labourer on shift work, (N.East); or another name for the ‘bottomer’ or ‘runner on’, -see Wasteman.
Shifting-up, moving the trackway for the tubs closer to the face after a strip of coal has been removed. (N.Staffs.).
Shingley coal, very small coals, free from dust. (N.East).
Shirt it, to stop work at the end of the shift. (Mids.).
Shivery, easily broken up.
Shooting fast, blowing down coal with gunpowder without nicking the sides of the working place.
Shooting the gob, working out the pillars by blasting in the steep rearer seams. (N.Staffs.).
Shorn, to cut with a pick.
Short. Coal was said to be ‘short’ when it was friable and of a tender nature. (N.Staffs.).
Shortwall, a short coalface.
Shot fast, a section of coal that contains an unfired or fast shot.
Shotfirer, or shotlighter, a man qualified and appointed by the manager to use explosives underground.
Shotstick or Shotfiring pole, thin wooden pole used to ram explosives and clay into drill holes. Also called a ‘rammer’.
Shoulders, slices of coal taken off during the working of coal pillars in ‘rearers’ working. (N.Staffs.).
Show, the pale blue "top," or flame that appears above the ordinary flame of a candle when it is burning in an atmosphcre mixed with fire-damp.
Shunt back, a table or platform incorporated in the tub or mine car track with a hinge at one end and a power cylinder at the other. The tub or mine car runs onto the platform, the power cylinder raises one end and the tub runs off in the opposite direction.
Shut or Shutt, the crushed and broken roof above a seam of coal; or another term for old workings. (S.Staffs.).
Shuts, another name for the keps. (Scot.).
Shuttle car, a vehicle used to transfer coal from a continuous miner to the conveyor belt.
Shuttles, natural cracks running at right angles to the dip in the strata; or cleavages (or cleats) in the coal. (Lancs.).
Siddle, the inclination of a coal seam. (N.East).
Side abutment, -see Abutment.
Side basset, where the dip of the seam crosses a roadway. (S.Staffs.).
Side laning, in ‘square work’, widening of a drivage by taking slices of coal off the solid, i.e. ‘breasting forward the rib’. (S.Staffs.).
Side of work, a panel or working area of coal in ‘Square Work’ (S.Staffs.).
Side-over, short roadway driven at right angles to, and bisecting a ‘jenkin’ in bord and pillar working. (N.East).
Side wavers, the loose sides of a drift or roadway that would, if unsupported, soon fall. They generally occur when a crush is taking place.
Siltstone, a rock intermediate between a shale and a sandstone, also known as ‘stone-bind’, ‘rock-bind’, or ‘clift-cwar’.
Simon-strings, septarian cracks in ironstone concretions.
Simultaneous decking, -see Decking.
Singing coal, a seam of coal, which makes a hissing sound as it gives off gas.
Singing lamp, a type of early safety lamp which when there was gas present in the atmosphere made a sound or note which rose in pitch the greater the amount of gas present.
Singles, a small size grade of coal, generally around 1 inch in dimensions.
Single stall, a semi-longwall method of working coal where short faces, 10-15 yards in length are developed on advance, to a predetermined boundary, leaving ribs or thin pillars of coal for support between adjacent faces. On reaching the boundary a drivage is made through the rib, which is extracted on retreat. A haulage road is carried on one side only with an airway on the other side of the face. On retreating, the men from a given face work out the adjacent rib. –see also Double stall.
Single unit, term applied to a longwall face having one conveyor along the face that delivers the coal at the gate end at one end of the face, as opposed to a ‘double unit’ that has two conveyors carrying the coal in opposite directions and delivering it to a loader or conveyor gate end at or near the middle of the unit. This gate usually served as the intake airway.
Sink, a pit or shaft. (Scot.); or the sump or water lodgement at the base of the pumping shaft; or to sink, i.e. to excavate a pit or shaft from the surface to the coal seams; or to bore, or put down a borehole.
Sinkers, the men employed in sinking shafts.
Sinking bucket, -see Hoppit, Kibble and Bowk.
Sinking drum, cast iron tubbing used in sandy or water bearing ground as a type of shield. The ground is mucked out inside the tubbing, which is allowed then to sink under its own weight. Earlier, square wooden frames were used, afterwards replaced by round masonry drums, then thin sheet iron cylinders.
Sinks, depressions at the surface due to subsidence.
Sit, the collapse of pillars, coal, or roof supports after the coal has been undercut, or the collapse of pillars due to the action of crush; or a depression in the ground on the surface due to subsidence. (Scot.). -see also Sinks; or a coalface or buttock, which fails to fall or break up when the spraggs are knocked clear but merely cracks off and hangs until it is pulled over. (Mids.).
Skep, a coal tram or box. (S.Staffs.). -see also Skip.
Skelp, to split or break off. (N.East).
Skerry, thin bed, or group of thin beds, of compact, fine-grained sandstone interstratified with red marls (Keuper, Triassic).
Skid plates, plates and pans for channelling coal down a steep coalface. The coal travelled under gravity.
Skip, a basket for raising coal in a shaft. A creel. (Scot.); or a large steel box-like container used for raising coal in the shaft. Sometimes pronounced ‘skep’.
Skirtings or skutches, small roadways re-driven through roof falls along the sides of pillars to re-establish ventilation.
Skirting, a working place formed by taking a slice (lift) off a pillar alongside a ‘wall’.
Skirting Jenkin, the first slice taken from the side of a pillar of coal, also known as the ‘first judd’ or ‘first lift’.
Skitter, small pieces of dirt or coal falling from the roof, often giving warning of an imminent fall. (Scot.).
Skutch, a scotch for slowing down tubs. (Mids.).
Slab-bar, a plank of timber used as a temporary support when holing in the top of a seam with a weak roof. (N.Staffs.).
Slab posts, barriers, formed from posts and cross pieces, erected on the waste side in steep seam working to the dip to protect the face men from coal falling debris from inside the waste. (N.Staffs.).
Slabs, -see Lagging and Runners (N.Staffs.).
Slack or Sleck, very small pieces of coal, or coal almost in a powder or coal-dust state, having small pieces of coal mixed with it. Size is generally less than 1 inch down to dust.
Sladder, an iron or wooden lined chute, often used in inclined workings. (N.Staffs.).
Slag, a thin band of coal mixed with lime and iron pyrites. (N.East); or colliery waste.
Slant, a roadway following the dip or an inclined roadway.
Slant or Slaunt, the main haulage road. (Lancs.).
Slat and Slatting, the coal that is removed at the front of the holing to make room for the shoulders of the holer and thus permit him to deepen the holing. (N.Staffs.).
Slatyband, a fissile ironstone consisting of alternating clayband and blackband laminae. (Scot.).
Slaty blaes, firm and fissile shale and mudstone. (Scot.).
Slaty stone, cross-bedded flags or stone bind, breaking up into thin laminae.
Slap, small coal or slack. (Som.).
Slar, to slide or slip. (N.Staffs.).
Slate coal, a hard, dull variety of coal similar to cannel but without the shine. –see also Lignite.
Sleck, -see Slack. (N.Staffs.).
Sledge, flat wooden vehicle for carrying coal, the first used; prior to this coal was carried on peoples’ backs.
Sleeper hole, a depression in the roadway, sometimes deep and filled with water, between the sleepers of the rail track.
Slew, a basin or natural swillie in a coal seam. (Derbys.); or a bend in the coalface.
Slickenside, the smooth polished surfaces of a fault or joint.
Slicks, smooth partings in the strata.
Slide, a fault.
Slides, upright rails of wood or metal fixed in a shaft for the purpose of guiding the cages. –see also Guides.
Sliding deals or Striking deals, deals placed diagonally from the balk placed across the top of a sinking pit to guide the tubs on to the pit top.
Sliding spears, -see Spears.
Slines, Slymes or Slynes, smooth partings, slips or joints in the coal, or potholes in the roof. (Mids.).
Slip, fractures traversing, often, the full thickness of the coal seam, quite distinct from cleat, inclined at about 25 to 45 degrees to the vertical. There is little displacement along these slips though they exhibit some evidence of movement under pressure Face slips and back slips are those that strike parallel to a particular working face, and dip from the roof towards the direction of advance or towards the waste respectively. End slips are at right angles to these and oblique slips are intermediate in direction. This feature is common in South Wales and Kent but is seldom of importance in other UK coalfields. -see also ‘Thing’.
Slip bedding, another term meaning slumped bedding.
Slip Dyke, -see Fault.
Slipper or Slipper-lock, a lock fitted under the wheels of a tub. (Lancs.).
Slippers, metal shoes fastened on to the cage that run along the cage guides fixed in the shaft.
Slippy, a term applied to partings in coal or roof meaning the same as ‘easy’.
Slippy backs, vertical planes of cleavage, occurring every four or five inches in a coal seam. (N.East).
Slips, joints or laminations in the strata; the term is also used to denote very inferior, dirty coal. (N.Staffs.).
Slit, a short heading connecting two main headings.
Slitter, a pick. Also called a ‘Pike’ or ‘Mandril’.
Slobs, planks of wood used to line arch girders. (S.Staffs.).
Slobbin, board supports used behind timber or rings. (N.Staffs.). –see Slobs
Sloom or Sloome, wetted fireclay. i.e. soft seatearth.
Slope brae, a brae without a haulage system down which the hutches had to be man-handled. (Scot.).
Slope dook, a dook driven at less than right angles to the main level rather than following the full dip of the coal seam. (Scot.).
Slope heading, a heading driven at an angle rather than following the full rise of the coal seam. (Scots.).
Slot, to hole or under-cut the coal. (Yorks.).
Slotters, cannel like shale in the Aldwalton Stone Seam, (Yorks.).
Slotting, -see Nicking.
Slotting coal, the lowest division of the Barnsley Seam in which undercutting was often done.(Yorks.).
Slottings, coal produced while under-cutting. (Yorks.).
Sludgers, a cylindrical boring tool with a clack near the bottom, used when a borehole is so wet that the borings would, unless retained by a clack or some such device, be washed out of the cylinder in being drawn to the surface. The sludger was also useful in boring through a seam of coal, in bringing up samples of coal when cut by the chisel.
Slum, Slums or Slumbs, a black slippy indurated clay. (N.Staffs.); or a soft clayey or shaley seam of coal. (N.Staffs.).
Slusher, a scraper-type bucket used for filling the waste with dirt, a scraper loader.
Slyne, another word for ‘cleat’ or the main cleat. –see Cleat.
Slype, a sled used for drawing coal from the workings to the haulage road. The slype was still in use after the introduction of the hutch for drawing coal in steep inclined coal seams. (Scots.).
Small mines, another name for Licensed Mines.
Smallman clip, a haulage clip used for clipping tubs to the rope haulage, ‘Smallman’ was the trade name of the manufacturer.
Smalls or Washed smalls, small coal, gravel size or smaller, (12.5mm to zero).
Smart fire, a severe but small explosion. (N.East).
Smart-money, sums paid to those unable to work as a result of a colliery accident. (N.East).
Smiddy coal, small coals that gave off little smoke and were of a low sulphur content, used by the smith in the forge.
Smift, a primitive fuse made from a sliver of paper or wood, the wick of a candle or cotton which had been dipped in melted sulphur. The smift would be attached to the end of a train of gunpowder by using a piece of clay or candle grease. This gave the collier time to retire before the main charge exploded.
Smithems or Smythems, fine slack, or clay or shale forming a parting in a coal seam, also called ‘smudge’. (Mids.).
Smits, worthless earthy coal. (Yorks.).
Smokey pit, an upcast shaft where furnace ventilation was in use. (Mids.).
Smooth heads, the polished surface of a fault. (Yorks.).
Smooths, more or less vertical planes of cleavage in the coal. (S.Wales).
Smush, inferior coal met with at faults : also those thin layers, so common in coal seams, of black, soft, silky or fibrous material resembling charcoal and often called ‘mother of coal’ or ‘mineral charcoal’. (N.Staffs.).
Smut, dark earth, the result of coal weathering, often the only trace of a coal seam at outcrop. Also found where coal has been stacked and exposed to the weather; or soft powdery or friable coal or highly carbonaceous shale. (Lancs.).
Smuth, a very inferior coal.
Snab, the brow of a steep road. A short and steep section on an incline. (Scots.).
Snake, to move a armoured flexible conveyor (AFC) forward, section by section, without dismantling, by the use of power operated rams.
Snap or Snapping, a meal taken underground by the miner. -see Bait; or a small pointed pick used on the screens for chipping brasses, stone or band from large coal. (N.East).
Snap clip, a clamp used to connect tubs to an endless haulage rope.
Snaps, a type of haulage clip. (Mids.).
Snap-time or Snapping time, the name given to the break for food underground.
Snap tin, the container for a persons snap.
Snatch, a small chimney about 6 to 8ft high used to ventilate a small mine by means of a single shaft. (S.Staffs.).
Sneck, a junction between two lengths of rails underground (Lancs.); or points at the crossings of a hutch road. (Scot.); or another name for the keps. (Scot.); or an air-way along the side of the gob between the solid coal and a pack wall. (Yorks.).
Snibble, a bar of wood or iron pushed through the spokes of a hutch or wagon to act as a break. (Scot.).
Snicket, -see Snigget.
Snig, to man-handle materials along a roadway. (N.Staffs.).
Snigget or snicket, a short connecting roadway.
Snut, one hour overtime. (S.Staffs.).
Soames or Soams, the straps or harness used by drawers, often women and children, when drawing tubs, generally a pair of cords about 3 feet in length used by foals and halfmarrows for pulling the trams. (N.East).
Soapstone, fine unlaminated shale (claystone), smooth to the touch. (Lancs.).
Soapy blaes, smooth fine grained bind.
Sods, the clay beneath a coal seam. (Leics.).
Soft air. When the ventilation current was almost at a standstill it was said to be ‘soft air’. (Scot.).
Soft coal, coal full of slips and joints which was friable and easily worked.
Softs, coal which is easily worked. (Mids.).
Soldering coal, caking coal; coal which on being heated has the property of fusing together. (N.Staffs.).
Sole, -see Seatearth. (Derbys.).
Soles, pieces of timber placed under props to prevent them from sinking into the soft floor when they come under pressure. Also called ‘sole pieces’.
Solid, unworked coal.
Solid packing, -see Pack.
Solid tubbing or Curbs, circular solid wood tubbing made up of segments of wood 6-8 inched square of oak or elm with joints lined with endways-slit deal.
Solid working, -see First working.
Sollade, a term used by the Somerset miner to mean ‘gently’.
Soof,- see Sough.
Soot, -see Smut. (Lancs.).
Sooty coal, dull, danty, soft coal often found near a fault.
Sos, to sink into the floor under great pressure from weight. (S.Staffs.).
Sough or Soof, pronounced ‘suff’; a water level for draining a mine. (Lancs.); or a wooden trough or channel used for draining water. -see also Adit.
Sounding, tapping the roof to test it for safety, also called ‘to chap’ or ‘knock’. –see also Jowl.
Sow back, a ridge in the roof or the floor of a mine. (Scot.).
Span, a length of timber set against the roof for support with the ends let into holes cut in the rock or coal, therefore doing away with the need to set any props. (Som.).
Span beam, a long wooden beam that supported the top axle pivot of a gin drum.
Spares, wooden wedges driven up behind the backing deals, to produce side pressure and tighten the whole shaft support structure. -see also Baff-ends.
Spare face, a face kept in reserve in case of production shortfalls in other parts of the colliery.
Sparky, a large electric hand lamp introduced into the mines about 1910. The lamp was heavy and cumbersome and was replaced by the electric cap lamp. (Scots.).
Spavin, clunch or the under-clay beneath the coal seam. (Yorks.).
Spears or Sliding spears, the ridged guide rails for the cage. (Leics.), (N.East); or wooden rods used to suspend pumps in the shaft during sinking. A Spear is also a wooden pumping rod.
Spear wedges, long vertical tapered wedges, usually of pitch pine, driven down between the rock and the back of tubbing at the joints and centres of the segments to assist in centralising.
Sperm or Spurn, a knob of coal left in under the holing. (N.Staffs.).
Spiles, -see Piles. Spile wedges are half wedges driven into the packing behind a wedging crib after it has received as many full-sized wedges as can be driven in.
Spill plates, metal plates on the side of face conveyors to stop coal spillage.
Spiral drum, -see Scroll drum.
Spires, a dull, hard, slaty coal that was hard to work, breaking into vertical columns or spires.(Leics.).
Spirey coal, dull, finely banded coal, sometimes breaking into vertical columns. (Yorks.).
Splash line, straight line painted or chalked on the roof of a roadway or the face to aid in aligning machinery.
Splint coal, hard grey coal with a slatey structure and uneven cross-fracture that burns away to a powdery ash without caking, similar to cannel. Sometimes called ‘splent’ coal. Suitable for blast furnaces. (Scot.); and utilised in steam engines. (N.East).
Split, a room or end driven through a pillar. (Scot.); or a division of the ventilating current; or the gradual development of a dirt band in a seam that increases in thickness, ‘splitting’ the seam apart and making it unworkable.
Split bar, -see Half bar.
Spoil, stone, shale, bad coal, dirt and any other rubbish sent out of the mine; or a stratum of mixed coal and dirt.
Spoil heap or Spoil bank, the colliery waste tip. Also called a ‘tip’, ‘waste tip’, ‘waste heap’, dirt tip’, ‘dirt heap’, ‘pit heap’, ‘pit tip’, ‘spoil heap’ or a ‘bing’ in Scotland.
Spontaneous Combustion or Spon Com, - see Heatings, Aaso known as ‘breeding fire’ in South Staffordshire.
Spout, a short heading in the Thick Coal connecting the main road with the air road. (S.Staffs.).
Spout road, a cundie, a roadway so steep that the coal could slide down it from the upper workings to the main haulage road to be loaded into hutches. (Scot.).
Sprag, a support placed in the undercut part of a seam and in front of the coal to support it. -see Nogs; or a wedge placed under the wheel of a tub; or a short piece of wood or iron put between the spokes of the wheel of a tub to stop it from moving or to slow its progress when going down an incline. Pronounced ‘spreg’ in Somerset.
Sprays, the pit head baths. (Scot.); or water jets used to suppress dust when cutting coal, or stone and shale, with machines. Also used over the delivery end of a conveyor belt.
Spunney or Spunney brow, a haulage incline or ‘jinney’. (Lancs.).
Spur or Spurring, a pillar of uncut coal left in place to support the coalface when holing or undercutting. The spur would be hacked out to allow the main body of coal to fall. (Scot.).
Spurns, when kirving, cutting a groove down each side of a block of coal, the hewer would leave in place small ties, called spurns, connecting the block of coal to the main body of coal. This would insure against any sideways movement, when he began under-cutting the coal. (S.Staffs.).
Square sets, straight girders used at road junctions to support the roof.
Square work, a system of working by cutting the district into square blocks or pillars, i.e. pillar and stall working; or an old system of working the Staffordshire Thick Coal that consists of initially driving two roads from a pair of levels in the lower portion of the seam followed by simultaneously getting down the top coal and the extraction of square areas of coal, resulting in what was called a ‘side of work’.
Squat Lads! Before the advent of the safety lamp and adequate ventilation, flare ups of gas and explosions were quite common. The cry ‘Squat lads!’ would send the men diving to the floor in the hope that the blast and flame would pass over them.
Squeeze, the forcing down and fracturing of the roof strata above the workings. Less severe than crush.
Squib, -see Straw fuse.
Stable , an area forming a buttock cut in advance at each end of a longwall face to allow certain types of conveyor mounted cutting machines to enter prior to commencing their next run. Also called the ‘stable hole’.
Stable elimination, any system of working at the end of a longwall face that obviates the need for stables.
Stable hole, -see Stable.
Stablemen, a team of usually four men who bored, fired and filled the coal to keep the stable hole in advance of the coalface.
Stack, a pack built of wooden chocks, the inside filled with dirt. See also Chock; or a measure of coal used from the 17th into the 19th century e.g. 1758, at South Normanton, fifteen 'acres' of coal were leased to Goodere Fletcher at a 'royalty' of 1s•6d (7½p) per stack. The stack measured 74in. long, 46in. high and 57in. wide.
Stacker, a butty employed on the surface by the coal-getters to empty the boxes or tubs and grade the coal. (Leics.).
Stack out, to dam off or close up the entrance to the waste by building a wall of stone or coal. (Mids.).
Staffordshire Ripping, an old term used in the Midlands for baiting or dinting.
Stag, short for ‘Nystagmus’.
Stage loader, a short chain conveyor at the end of the face, loading onto the gate conveyor.
Staith, the place where coals are shipped by a spout or machine into wagons, a place where coal is loaded at the river side. (N.East).
Stair or Steer, highly inclined beds are said to be very ‘stair’ or ‘steer’. -see Rearers. (N.Staffs.).
Stair pit, a pit or shaft in which there was a built-in stairway or ladders. Used as a secondary or escape pit. Also known as a ladder pit. Staker, a sprag. The name was also used for a ‘bull prop’. (Mids.). Also called a ‘stell prop’.
Stall, a wide working-place in coal; or a workplace at the coal face, also known as a ‘bord’ or a ‘wicket’, usually driven at right angles to the cleat. Also a length of a working face in which a number of men are engaged, who join together into a team for the purpose of payment of wages.
Stallage boards, a platform suspended in front of the rip to support men when drilling shot holes and setting arches. (N.East).
Stamp, a hole made with a pick point in the coal in which a wedge is fixed or driven with the maul.
Stamping, refers to the letting of the ends of posts into the strata by first excavating a small hole. (N.Staffs.).
Stanch air, a term used in Somerset for chokedamp.
Stanchion, a large prop used to support the roof in the Thick Coal. -see also Puncheon. (S.Staffs.).
Standage, a section of old, or excavated, workings on the dip side of the engine pit, built as a reservoir for mine water whenever the pumping engine was stood idle; or a place set apart for holding accumulations of water in the pit until pumped out. (N.East). –see Sump.
Standard, -see Stool.
Standing bobby, a shot that blew out the stemming without moving the coal or stone. Also known as a ‘fast shot’ or ‘blow out’. (N.East).
Standing fire, where the solid coal has become ignited, and the only means of extinguishing it is by barring it off with air tight stoppings or dams.
Standing set, when sinking a shaft with pumps, when the sinking set has become of sufficient length, the top standing set is placed in a cistern which stands on a strong oak bunton or iron girder set across the pit, and pumps to the bank the water delivered into it by the sinking set continued downwards with the sinking.
Stank, a water-tight or air-tight stopping or dam. (Mids.).
Stanking, to stop off a gob fire by excluding air from it, usually by means of air tight stoppings or injection of cement-like materials.
Staple, Staple pit or Staple shaft, a shaft that does not communicate with the surface, usually sunk or bored between two seams or major horizons in the same mine. Also known as a ‘blind pit’ or a ‘drop staple’ –see also Jacky Pit.
Stapping, bringing down the coal face using wedges. (Scot.).
Star clip, a device used to attach tubs or trams to an endless haulage system. Similar to a Smallman clip but the movement of the wedges is produced by rotating a wheel or star carrying threaded blocks. Also called a ‘wheel clip’.
Static haulage chain, a stationary chain situated on a longwall face along which a power loader hauls itself.
Stay, an extra wooden bar placed below the roof bar, between the two posts of a support set, to counteract side pressure. (N.Staffs.).
Steam jet, a mode of ventilation invented by Mr. Goldsworthy Gurney, and first applied to the ventilation of collieries by Mr. T. E. Forster, in 1848, by which an air current was produced by the escape of high pressure steam through small orifices; the mode of action being similar to that of the blast pipe in a locomotive engine. (N.East).
Steel tree, a steel prop. (Scot.).
Steel or Steel mill, a hand-held device, used before the invention of the safety lamp, for producing sparks for lighting underground, which included a revolving steel-rimmed wheel against which flint was pressed. Invented by Spedding of Whitehaven about 1730. Also known as a ‘Flint mill’.
Stell, to underpin the roof or to set an anchor prop, a stell prop, e.g.. for a conveyor belt or a coal cutting machine etc.
Stemmer, an iron bar or copper rod used to ram clay into a shot hole, or to stem the hole, to make it water-tight; or a wooden rod used by the shotfirer for inserting the explosive cartridges and stemming materials in the shot holes.
Stemming or Ramming, the act of packing a shot hole behind the explosive charge; or the material used to plug a drill hole after blasting charges had been set. Material includes clay or moulded plugs of sand called ‘coreplugs’.
Stent, -see Stint.
Stenting, a temporary ventilation crossgate between two headings. (N.East).
Stenton, a roadway driven between two coal headings.
Stenton wall, the pillar of coal between two winning headways. (N.East).
Stepped longwall, a longwall system with each working place along the face being in advance of the next one to it. Known as ‘step banks’ in S.Wales and ‘stepping’ in the N.East.
Sterlie, the drum or pulley on a self-acting incline. (Scot.).
Steriles, -see Dirt.
Stey, steep, highly inclined. (Scot.).
Sticking coal or sticky coal, the coal that remains stuck to the roof or floor after the main body of the seam had been blasted or picked away. Also called ‘sticky tops’.
Stiffener, a door for regulating the ventilation. (S.Wales).
Stifle, noxious gas resulting from an underground fire, stink damp. (Scot.).
Stilling, the walling of a shaft within the tubbing from the rockhead to the surface. (N.East).
Stinkdamp, the gaseous products of spontaneous combustion, including carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide. In coalmines hydrogen sulphide is produced by the bacterial decay of animal or vegetable matter containing sulphur, from pyrites(, iron sulphide), from the exhausts of diesel engines or from the use of explosives containing sulphur.
Stinking coal, an impure type of coal that burns with a strong sulphurous smell.
Stimple, small timbers used as packing above and behind the main supporting timbers. (S.Wales), or a short wooden prop. (Som.).
Stint, the amount of work to be undertaken by one man in a shift, or a collier’s task defined in terms of length of face to be hewed and loaded in the shift by a single filler or a filler and his assistant. Also called a ‘length’.
Stip and thirl, an old name for the stoop and room method of connecting two workings.
Strip packing, -see Pack.
Stobb and feathers, a long narrow steel wedge, the stobb, was driven between two other wedges already inserted in the shot hole, the feathers. This method of bringing down the coal was usually used in fiery mines where it was dangerous to use explosives. A system used throughout the British coalfields under various other names such as ‘Fox wedge’, ‘Stook and coil’, ‘Stook and feather’ and ‘Plug and feather’.
Stocking dirt, stiff clay or soil that requires picks for its excavation. (N.Staffs.).
Stocking end, the far end of a heading, a short distance from which there is a depression or lum in the seam filled with water causing the ventilation to be cut of from the back. (Lancs.); or a name given to the ‘Geordie’ safety lamp. (Leics.).
Stomp, to set a prop or sprag with one end let into a hole cut in the floor or roof to receive it. (Mids.); or a wooden plug fixed in the roof from which the surveyors’ lines are hung.
Stone, a general term used for any rock other than coal.
Stone bind, sandy shale, (intermediate between ‘bind’ and ‘rock’).
Stone clunch or stone spavin, hard seatearth.
Stone coal, an early term for mineral coal as opposed to charcoal. -see Sea coal; or anthracite in S.Wales. Also other varieties of hard coal. A term applied to impure coal approaching carbonaceous shale in Yorks.
Stone drift, a drift in stone from seam to seam, perhaps driven through a fault. Also called a ‘crut’ or ‘hard heading’.
Stonedust, powdered limestone used in stone dust barriers, or as a general dilutant to coal dust. Periodically roadways would be liberally dusted with stonedust (stonedusting) to dilute the build up of coal dust and make it less of a hazard should there be an explosion.
Stone dust barriers, elevated platforms in the roof of the gate, some distance from the face, piled with stone dust (powdered limestone). In the event of an explosion on the face, these would fall, distributing a cloud of stone dust into the air preventing the propagation of a coal dust explosion.
Stone head, -see Rockhead.
Stoneman, -see Drifter.
Stone spavin, a stone bind or sandstone with rootlets, (Yorks.).
Stone tubbing, stone walling backfilled with cement to form a waterproof lining to a shaft. –see also Tubbing.
Stook, a small block or pillar of coal left to support the headways course during the taking of a jud or lift in pillar working.
Stool or Standard, the connecting piece between adjacent pans on a face conveyor.
Stoop, a pillar of coal or stone; or to extract a pillar. -see also Rance and Pillar; or a large prop or ‘puncheon’. (Mids.).
Stooping, working the pillars. (Scot.).
Stoop and Room, a pillar and stall method of working, -see also Pillar and stall.
Stoop and Thirl, an old name used in Scotland for the stoop and room method of working.
Stopper, a stopping. (S.Staffs.).
Stopping, a solid wall built from timber, stone, bricks, blocks or puddled clay across a roadway or entrance to old workings to restrict access of air into the waste to prevent spontaneous combustion and to prevent water and/or gas entering the mine workings, or to alter the ventilation current.
Stops, -see Blocks.
Stow, to pack rubbish away underground rather than incur the expense of hauling it out of the pit.
Stow bords, roadways in which rubbish or other debris can be stored.
Stowces or Stowses, a small windlass, sometimes called a ‘drawing stowces’.
Stowing, the action of stowing or packing away mine waste and rubble into the space that has been created by removing the coal. The benefits were two-fold, the pack helped to support the roadways which ran through the gob, and the saving in on-costs in not having to transport the waste out of the mine.
Straight coal. a room or stall excavated in the Thick Coal having solid coal on three sides. (S.Staffs.).
Straight ends and walls, a method of working similar to board and pillar.
Straights, drivages along the strike. (S.Wales ).
Straightwork or Strait work, terms used for narrow work.
Strait, a narrow stall, room or roadway in the solid coal.
Strap, a length of timber placed against the roof, supported by a prop at each end; or a length of corrugated steel used for supporting the roof, supported by two trees or held in place by roofbolts; or old iron rails put up between the coal face and the first row of props in longwall stalls to support a bad roof. (Mids.).
Strata bolts, -see Roof bolts.
Straw fuse, a straw filled with powder to act as a fuse for igniting a blasting charge. If paper was used it was called a ‘paper squib’, ‘squib’or ‘Germans’.
Streak, Streek or Streatch, all terms used in Scotland for the strike of a coal seam.
Street timbering, the setting of additional posts, sprags and longitudinal bars to reinforce the prop and bar supports in a roadway. Also called ‘double timbering’.
Stret or Stretch places, a term used for straight work. (N.Staffs.); or meaning solid, close or compact, e.g. gobbed stret, packed stret. (Mids.).
Stretcher, a prop or a sprag set in a horizontal or near horizontal position.
Strike, to meet with or hit a fault; or the line at right angle to the dip of the measures, a level course.
Strike face, a face advancing in the direction of the line of strike.
Striking, originally the withdrawing of timber roof supports from the waste. The name was carried on to cover the work of the men who moved forward the hydraulic roof supports on a machine loaded face; or the digging up of the floor of a roadway to make more headroom. (Som.).
Stringing deals, -see Cribs.
Strip, to load and clear the coal from a longwall face after it has been cut and fired, or the slice of coal taken off a coal face by a shearer; or to get coal alongside a fault, barrier, hollow etc. (Mids.).
Strip mining. -See Opencast.
Strip packing, building pack walls of limited width at intervals in the waste at right angles to the face in an attempt to reduce subsidence at the surface.
Strum, the length of the face. (Scot.).
Strut, a wooden board, prop or steel tube placed between steel arched roof supports to keep them at an even distance apart and stop sideways movement.
Stubbin, the digging up of the floor to mine the fireclay or to make more headroom along the roadways. (Lancs.) -see also Dinting, Beating up and Pavement brushing.
Stubbs, - see Hubbs. Stud, the last few yards of a pillar to be stripped out. (Lancs.).
Stugg, to break down the coal using only a pick. (Scot.).
Stumping, a type of pillar and stall working. (Lancs.).
Stythe, an old term for afterdamp or chokedamp.
Subsidence, the lowering of the surface as a result of the extraction of coal. Sulphur, a common expression among old miners for fire-damp. (N.East).
Sump or Sumph, a lodgement for accumulating water in a mine prior to pumping it to the surface, usually at the base of a shaft; or that part of the shaft below the lowest landing, the bottom of the shaft. –see also Back end.
Sump in, to break into the solid coal with a cutter jib prior to cutting along the face. Also called ‘to jib in’.
Sumpers, shotholes drilled, usually inclined, in the centre of the shaft during sinking. Also called ‘sumping holes’.
Sumping drum, a shearer drum fitted with additional picks on its face side to enable it to be advanced into the coal to the required depth of web.
Supplies, anything such as rings, timber, stonedust, lagging boards, chock wood, props etc. needed in the mine.
Supply gate, the roadway at the opposite end of a longwall face to the Main gate. Used for taking supplies to the face, it is also usually the return airway. -see also Return gate and Tailgate.
Surface break, a break in the ground at the surface caused by subsidence.
Surface drift, a drift or inclined tunnel starting at the surface and usually connecting with the existing mineworkings. Surface drifts were equipped with conveyors to convey the coal directly out of the mine, thus bypassing the shafts.
Surfeit, the pressure exercised by pent up gas of any kind easing itself off with some force, frequently affecting the roof, sides, or floor of the seam. (N.East).
Swad, a thin layer of stone or inferior coal at the base of a coal seam. (N.East).
Swallow, a ridge in the roof or floor of a mine. (Scot.).
Swally, Swilley, Swelly or Swilly, a short dip in the coal seam, or in a roadway, often associated with the thickening out of the seam over a limited area.
Sweep plates or Swapes, curved plates for laying barrow-way round a turn. (N.East).
Swelling, -see ‘Roll’. (N.Staffs.).
Swint or Swinting, a tunnel driven at an angle off the main road. (Lancs.).
Switches or Sidings, passing places in the underground rail transport system attended by switch-keepers. (N.East). A switch can also be a rail junction or points. Switches can also refer to a bank of electrical panels.
Switch-keepers, see Switches.
Swom stuff, an old term for alluvial deposits met within the coal measure.
Sword capel, a special capel attaced to the end of a winding rope and secured to the winding drum by bolts.
Sylvester, a hand operated turfer for removing props from the waste and moving other objects, consisting of a notched bar and lever operated ratchet, with chains attached at each end. During the late nineteenth century the commonest type of a fatal mine accident was a roof collapse caused by knocking out the pit props with a sledgehammer. In order to try and counter this problem, Walter Sylvester, who worked for a colliery in North Staffordshire, invented a ratcheted pulling device, which could be attached to the pit props by a long chain and used to haul them out without any danger to the operator. It could also be used for pulling trucks and other heavy items, and tightening-up cables. It was patented in 1895; known locally as a "Walter" it soon became widely used in mining and other industries as the "Sylvester".
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