You can also check the Durham Mining Museum and Ian Winstanley's Site
I have also used 'A Pit Terminology - Glossary Used in Coal Mining' a publication compiled by William Stukeley Gresley, dated 1883 and given to me by Philip Wyles.
- DC - Downcast (Air moves down shaft)
- ems - earnings per manshift - overall (this is the average wage per shift)
- ebg - elsewhere below ground
- m.o.b - men on books
- ME - Mining Engineer
- O.m.s. - Output per manshift. Amount of saleable coal produced per man per shift.
- s/f - Surface manpower
- UC - Upcast Shaft (Air moves up shaft)
- u/g - Underground manpower
AB15 - Anderson Boyes steel rope hauled 15 inches high machine for undercutting coal at face lines. Similarly AB 12 being 12 inches high for thin seams
Abattib - (Leicestershire Coal Field) Walls or ranges of branch or rough wood
(cord-wood) placed crossways to keep the under-ground roads open for ventilation, etc.
Abtheilung - (Prussian). A fixed part' or district of a mine assigned to the care of a fire-man or deputy.
Acre - Unit of land standardised by Edward I, 40 rods x 4 rods, now 4,840 square yards
Acreage Rent - Royalty or rent paid by the lessee for working and disposing of minerals at the rate of so much per acre. Very frequently this rent is calculated at so much per foot thick of the seam or mine per acre, the measurements being taken on the slope or plane of the coal, etc., and at right angles to the dip.
Addit or footrill - Entrance to a mine, usually a drift which sloped from the surface down to a coal seam.
Addle - (North of England) To earn.
Addlings - (North of England) Earnings or wages.
Adit - An underground level to the surface from the level of the mine workings, or from part of the way down the shaft (Fig 1), generally used for drainage purposes.
Advance (1) - Method of working coal from pit bottom outwards to a boundary or predetermined distance
Advance (2) - The amount in inches or metres/cut on a face or in a heading.
Advanced Head - A roadway heading which is in front of the coal face line.
Advance Face - A face where the coal is extracted as the face and roadways advance, advancing away from the main roads. Opposite to retreat mining.
Adventurers - The original promoters or speculators in a search for coal, etc.
Aerial ropeway towers - System of dirt tipping using buckets traversing along a steel rope on towers.
Aerometers - The air pistons of a Struve ventilator.
Aerophore - The name given to an apparatus which will enable a man to enter places in mines filled with explosive or other deadly gases, work there with freedom, take with him a light, and remain for an indefinite time.
AFC or Panzer - An armoured flexible conveyor, used to transport coal off a face. Coal cutting machines were often mounted above the AFC. Hydraulic chocks were attached to the AFC. They could then be advanced using a ram. Also known as the panzer. Steel pans linked together with chains and bars
Aftercooler - Fan with cooling air set up near a return gate lip at a coalface to lower the working temperature.
Afterdamp - A mixture of lethal gases after an explosion, colourless, deadly, just one of the many hazards one encounters venturing underground.
Agent - One to whom the general laying out and supervision of the workings is entrusted by the owner or lessee. He may have a number of separate collieries under his care. The wages and contractor's prices are regulated by him. Any addition or alteration in the various departments connected both with the underground and surface works, machinery, etc., must generally be sanctioned by him. He is responsible to the owner as well as under the Coal Mines Regulation Act for the appointment of competent managers, enginewrights, deputies, surveyors, etc. See Viewer.
Agent Manager - Higher grade of Manager usually at a colliery producing + 500,000 tonnes/year.
Air (1) The current of atmospheric air circulating through and ventilating the workings of a mine.
Air (2) To ventilate any portion of the workings.
Airbagging - A flexible trunking used to conduct air from an auxiliary fan to where it was needed at the head of a driveage.
Airborne Dust Sampler - Taking samples of Airborne dust by thermal precipitator and/or P.R.U. Pumps.
Airbreaker - An alternative method using compressed air, instead of using explosives to break down the coal.
Air-Box - A rectangular wooden pipe or tube made in lengths of say 9 to 15 feet for ventilating a heading or a sinking pit.
Air-Course - Any underground roadway used for the special purpose of ventilation.
Air- Crossing - A bridge which carries one air-course over another. In collieries liable to heavy explosions, in order to prevent as far as possible the blast from destroying these air-crossings and deranging the ventilation, it is better to avoid the use of the ordinary timber or even masonry bridge, and to make an entirely isolated air-course several yards above the underneath road, and if a seam of coal be conveniently situated on which to construct it, it will not be an expensive plan. See Fig 2. (The dotted lines show the position on an ordinary crossing.)
Air doors - means of passing from intake to return
Air-End Way - Headways or levels driven in the coal seam parallel with a main level, chiefly for the purpose of ventilation or for the return air. They are connected with the main level by openings or thirls.
Air-Gates - (Midland Coal-field) Generally a return airway gate from a coalface (but could be an intake gate).
Air-Head - See Air-way.
Air leg - Compressed air boring machine, used mainly in hard rock
Air-Level - A level or air-way (return air-way) of former workings, made use of in subsequent deeper mining operations for ventilating purposes.
Air-Pit - A pit-shaft used expressly for ventilation.
Air-Slit - (Yorkshire) A short head (1) driven more or less at right angles to, and between other two heads or levels for ventilation purposes.
Air-Sollar - A brattice carried beneath the tram-rails in a heading 'a' see Fig. 3.
Air Split - A division of airflow into two or more separate air ways.
Air Stack - A stack or chimney built over a shaft for ventilation.
Air Way - Underground roadway or tunnel along which air passes.
Airless End - The extremity of a stall in long-wall workings in which there is no current of air, or circulation or ventilation, but which is kept sweet by diffusion, and by the ingress and egress of tubs, men, etc.
Airway Repairer - Maintaining airways in proper state of repair to ensure proper ventilation in pit.
Allowance (1) Refreshment in the shape of bread and cheese and beer supplied by the lessees or owners of a mine to surveyors who dial the workings periodically.
Allowance (2) Ale sometimes given to workmen on having to perform work under unusual conditions,
e. g. when they are wet through.
Allowance Coal - See Colliers' coals.
All-Ups - (Leicestershire Coal-field ) A mixture of every quality of coal, excepting fine slack, raised from one seam, and sold as such.
Alluvium - (Alluvion). A deposit of soils, sands, quartz drifts, clays, and auriferous gravels of recent formation left by a flood or flow, especially in a river valley and on
the slopes of hills in the (in some cases obliterated) lines of drainage, are called
Altogether-Coal - Large and small mixed.
Alum Shale - Earth containing the mineral alum, beds of which occasionally occur in the coal measures, sometimes as an underclay.
Anchor pan - End of panzer conveyor holding chain or rope, bolted or anchored
Anderton shearer - A floor-mounted cutter loader with generally a 24” x seam height fixed cutting drum, rope hauled named after the inventor Sir James Anderton a Director of the NCB Western Division. The machine cut one way and ploughed back the other way pushing the coal onto the face conveyor. Later variations were panzer mounted chain hauled machines and later panzer mounted ranging drum chainless machines using variations of teeth or racks or pins to haul the machine along the face to cut the coal.
Anemometer - An instrument for measuring the velocity of air in a mine roadway.
Angle bars - Supports at a ripping lip to support the strata safely.
Angle of Draw – is where the surface is being affected by workings underground some distance away.
Ankylostomiasis - is miners anemia or hook worm disease caused by working in warm temperatures, skin infection leading to small nematode worms in the intestine causing pallor shortness of breath on exerction.
Anthracite - A hard, clean, bright, smokeless, and very pure variety of coal, having a conchoidal fracture, and burning with little or no flame, but containing very great local heating properties. It is much esteemed for malting and steam raising. It frequently contains over 90 per cent, of carbon; some of the anthracites of Pembrokeshire contain as much as 94 per cent. This coal weighs from 85 to 99. 5 Ibs. per cubic foot. It has a bright black lustre.
Anticline - Domed hill underground usually with steep sides, also oil founding basal measures. As opposed to synclines which are basin shape.
Antitropal - Ventilation system where air goes to coal face against direction of coal flow.
Apparatus - North of England (Northumberland and Durham). The screening appliances upon the pit bank.
Apprentice Collier – One being trained in the art.
Arc Electric Light. – This species of electric lamp gives far more light for a given expenditure of power than the incandescent lamp; it is, however, not a safety-lamp at all. It is largely used on the surface for lighting up railway sidings and other works; it is also sometimes used for lighting up large excavations in the pit. The author, in 1883, visited the Mechernich Lead-mine, where a large underground excavation, 200 feet long, 60 feet high, and 70 feet wide, was lighted by two electric arc-lamps, which gave a splendid illumination, and enabled the workmen to examine the sides and roof for loose pieces.
(See also Electric Lamp)
Arch - Curved top and straight sided steel girders in 2 or 3 pieces that can be bolted together to form an arch shape.
Arching - Brickwork or stonework forming the roof of any underground roadway.
Arch Girder - Also referred to as rings, used to support roadways.
Arles Or Earles - North of England (Northumberland and Durham). Earnest money formerly allowed to colliers at the time of hiring them.
Arrestor - Device for stopping moving tubs
Ascensional Ventilation - The arrangement of the ventilating currents in such-wise that the heated air shall continuously rise until reaching the bottom of the upcast shaft. Particularly applicable to steep seams or rearers.
Ash-Ball - (Shropshire) Mixed small fragments of greenish clay, quartz etc.
Attle - North of England (Northumberland and Durham). To arrange or settle.
Ass stick - Short handled whip used to control asses, donkeys or ponies
Assistant Manager - Usually one in charge of development, progressed up from Undermanager.
Assistant Undermanager - Junior Undermanager, usually in charge of back shifts, Afters and Nights.
ATT - Area Tunnelling Team, specialists available to all pits for difficult or unusual jobs.
Auger - A large rotary drill used on a face machine. A screw device penetrates, and breaks the coal. The coal is then loaded and transported via the armoured flexible conveyor.
Auger-Nose Shell - A clearing tool used in boring for coal, etc. having an auger-shaped end.
Auxiliary fan - A fan used in conjunction with air ducting to increase the ventilation to a section of the mine, eg. a development heading or a face heading. Auxiliary fan either sucked the air out (which was replaced by fresher air), or blew air in.
Average Clause - One which, in granting leases of minerals (coal, ironstone, and clay in particular), provides that lessees may, during (say) every year of the term, make up any deficiency in the quantity of coal, etc., stipulated to be worked, so as to balance the dead or minimum rent.
Axial flow - Referring to type of ventilating fan
Award - Forest of Dean Coal-field. A grant or lease of certain minerals. See Gale.
Return to Top
Back (1) - A plane of cleavage in coal, etc., having frequently a smooth parting and some sooty coal included in it.
Back (2) - The inner end of a heading where work is going forward or is stopped.
Back (3) - Leicestershire Coal-field. To throw back into the gob or waste, the small slack, dirt, etc., made in holing.
Back (4) - Leicestershire Coal-field. To roll large coals out of a waste for loading into trams.
Backfill:– Mine waste or rock used to support the roof after coal removal.
Backing. A piece of timber laid across a drive near the roof, each end fitted into hitches cut in the rock, with slabs or laths placed between it and the roof.
Back Brusher - kept the roadways clear of rocks and debris as the colliers advanced the coal face.
Back Rip - An enlargement of a crushed gate and the setting of new supports.
Back Ripper - One employed to remove old supports, excavate and set new
Back Ripping - Road repairs when the gates were crushed, (parts of the top and sides were removed and either new rings were to be installed or the old rings were lifted). Maintenance where the floor had lifted and roadway height was restricted.
Back-Overman - A man who has the immediate inspection of the workings and workmen during the back-shift. He superintends the management of the pit from the time the overman leaves until four o'clock in the evening, when the pit is said to "loose" or stop work. In other words he is the foreman of the pit during the "back shift," or afternoon shift, in the absence of the overman.
Backs - Back of cut in coal face, or sticky coal difficult to break down.
Back shift - Usually the afternoon or night shift generally when not turning coal.
Backskin - A piece of thick leather worn by some putters as a protection to their backs.
BACM - British Association of Colliery Management Union.
Bacon slicer - Anderton shearer with 9”- 13” drum, normal drum size 24”-30”+ wide.
Baff week - Or pay-Saturday. When miners' were paid on a two weeks basis the baff week was the second week.
Bags - Paper or plastic bags to be filled with small ripping dirt etc to be used as packers or as crushing when placed below an arch leg in a gate to assist with lowering of the roof. Also wire mesh bags were used for the same purpose.
Bailiff - Foreman or overman.
Bait - the quick refreshment taken while working in the pits.
Balance rope - A rope joining bottoms of both cages to assist weight of empty cage or skip and also to steady them at speed in the shaft.
Band - a layer of slate or stotie interstratified in the seam of coal.
Band (2) - Many collieries had a Brass or Silver Prize band and competitions and concerts were held regularly.
Bandsman - Laborer (loader) working with a band of men.
Bandsman (2) - A member of the Prize Band playing an instrument.
Banjo - A double sized electrical cable.
Bank - the top of the pit.
Bank, benk, bink - Various terms for Coal face, where coal is extracted.
Bank head - Top of a plane road, from a dip to level.
Banksman or Banker - Person in charge of the shaft surface operations, loading or unloading the cage at the surface. He draws the full tubs from the cages at the surface and replaces them with empty ones; he also puts the full tubs to the weighing machine and onto the skreens upon which he teems the coals. It is also his duty to keep an account of the quantity of coals and stones drawn each day.
Bantle - A draw of men on a cage, a cage full of men descending or ascending a shaft.
Bar - A steel or wooden beam underpinned by props at coal face.
Barrel - Container fitted under a cage that could be used to raise water from a sump up the shaft to discharge at the surface. This was prior to pumps being used.
Barren ground - Stone in the fault between the parts of coal seam or erosion of seam.
Barrier (1) - Limit of working.
Barrier (2) - No road, danger.
Barrier (3) - Stone dust or water barrier in a gate.
Barrier (4) - An area of unworked coal left as a protection between 2 collieries or from water.
Barrowman - (Also known as Putter) A man who puts the tubs of coals from the working places to the cranes, flats, or stations, they were then taken by horses or machinery along the main or rolley-ways to the shaft. Before the application of tramways underground, coals used to be conveyed underground on sledges, and afterwards on barrows, whence the name.
Basket or Corf or Corve - H
Basket women - Hook on the tubs and are generally selected from widows of
colliers or those who may have met with an accident.
Basset - (basit) (edge) Outcrop of seam at surface.
Bastard top - Treacherous roof with slippy partings.
Bats (1) (Batt) - Poor quality coal or dirt band in a seam.
Bats (2) - Small bags containing water or stonedust hung in several rows in the roof of a roadway (not unlike bats roosting) that would collapse and jettison the contents when struck by the force blast from an explosion. The water or stonedust would fill the air like a curtain and prevent the flame from the explosion spreading.
Battleship - Large long lump of coal on put on the face conveyor and liable to create a blockage at the gate end when the face belt and maybe the gate belt would have to be stopped. Required the person at the gate end to have to smash the lump to handleable pieces. It was extra work for him and face workers did this on occasion for fun but would be berated or sacked from that panel by the chargeman or deputy if found out.
Baulk (1) - An interruption of the seams of coal.
Baulk (2) - A very large section and long wooden beam.
Beam - The projecting part of a chock at a coalface, extending forward.
Bearer (1) - A large girder e.g. 12” (0.30m) or more deep.
Bearer (2) - In the past a woman carrying coal in containers, usually in Scotland
Beat knee / elbow - Painful swelling / bursitis, due to ingress of small dust or pressing on
Bed (1) - A coal seam.
Bed (2) - Engine mounting
Bed (3) - Engine driver’s seat.
Bedding - The layers of strata laid down above and below a seam.
Bedding plane - The interface between two adjacent beds of sedimentary rock.
Beehive - Type of coke oven.
Beethoven - A shot-firing device which fired 1 to 100 shots.
Bell pit - Ancient method of mining coal at shallow depth, the excavation being shaped like a bell
Bell Wires - Two wires which covered the length of a haulage system, when they were held together it made a bell ring, the haulage driver knew by the number of rings which direction he had to go ( inbye or outbye).
Bellmen - Men who worked on the conveyor belts or rope haulage signalling system.
Belt (1) - A belt of leather round the waist with a chain that goes between the thighs connected to a corve, box or tub or sledge to allow it to be pulled or dragged along a roadway. Job given to boys pre 1860s.
Belt (2) - Conveyor, now made from PVC, used to be rubber based (until Creswell disaster 1950).
Belt Extension - Adding lengths of structure to a conveyor belt to make it longer as the coal face advances.
Belt Idler - A cylindrical roller which is mounted on a frame which supports and guides a conveyor belt.
Belt take-up - A pulley and roller mechanism that is used to apply tension to the conveyor belt.
Beltman - One patrolling conveyors, usually capable of doing minor repairs.
Belt road - down which the coal travelled.
Benchmark - Surveyor’s level mark of known value on the side of a roadway underground, sometimes inverted in the roof. Also mark on the surface as per Ordnance Survey.
Benching - Creating smaller access, initially when making a large excavation, requiring the work to be done from top downwards in layers if necessary.
Benk, Bink, Bank - Coal face or wall.
Bennett Catch Gear - A framework in the headgear above the shaft set so that if a cage was over wound and the capel released the cage would be safely held in the catches. Replaced the King safety hook.
Berm - Top of banking on waste tip.
Best (hards) (brights) - Choice pieces of coal that burnt well and long, picked out by hand on screens.
Between - Boy working between two asses pulling boxes, tubs etc.
Bevin – Having a Bevin meant an idle holiday.
Bevin Boys - During World War 2 Ernest Bevin introduced his scheme for the call-up of young men to the mines as a result of an acute shortage of experienced colliers.
Biat - A leather strap worn over the shoulders, a sort of harness used by miners to draw coals to the pit bottom.
Big Butty - In the early 1800s a man on contract in charge of producing all coal at a mine by employing men and boys on behalf of the owner.
Billy Fairplay - Early simple screening device to separate large coal and small coal.
Bind - Shale or mudstone above a coal seam.
Bing - A spoil tip (also called a spoil bank, boney pile, gob pile, batch, boney dump or pit heap) is a pile built of accumulated spoil – the overburden or other waste rock removed during coal and ore mining. These waste materials are typically composed of shale, as well as smaller quantities of carboniferous sandstone and various other residues. Spoil tips are not formed of slag, but in some areas they are referred to as slag heaps.
The term "spoil" is also used to refer to material removed when digging a foundation, tunnel, or other large excavation. Such material may be ordinary soil and rocks, or may be heavily contaminated with chemical waste, determining how it may be disposed of. Clean spoil may be used for land reclamation.
Spoil is distinct from tailings, which is the processed material that remains after the valuable components have been extracted from ore. (Information from Wikipedia)
Bink - Coal face or bank.
Bishop/Buttress pack - A waste stone pack build near gate end of a face to divert air and to
stop leakage into the goaf.
Bit - a piece attached to the end of a borer or drill rod, to drill holes.
Bitting - When small pieces of coal or dirt or dust keep dropping from the roof indicating a possible fissure or weight coming on or imminent roof fall.
Bituminous coal - A type of coal found in the most parts of the country. Most seams vary quite a lot in constituency. Some have dirt bands or more sulphur, some more chlorine. Some burn more easily than others. Some seams are very good for gas or raising steam or for coking whilst others are only used for coal-fired heating systems or power station fuel
Blackdamp - Term generally applied to carbon dioxide also known as Stythe.
Blacksmith's striker - is an assistant (frequently an apprentice), whose job it is to swing a large sledge hammer in heavy forging operations, as directed by the blacksmith. In practice, the blacksmith will hold the hot iron at the anvil (with tongs) in one hand, and indicate where the iron is to be struck by tapping it with a small hammer held in the other hand: the striker then delivers a heavy blow with the sledge hammer where indicated. During the 20th century and into the 21st century, this role has been increasingly obviated and automated through the use of trip hammers or reciprocating power hammers.
Black’s Device – is part of the winding engine brake.
Blade (1) - A pick for a shaft.
Blade (2) - The front of an Eimco shovel.
Blade (3) - The front of a bulldozer
Blade (4) - The base of a Euclid machine used for layering dirt on the tips
Blaes - mudstone or shale not containing much bituminous or carbonaceous matter, but generally sufficient to give a dark blue ('blae') colour.
Blend – is a mixture of various grades of coal for a particular use.
Blind end - Fast end of a coalface.
Blind pit, or bore - a shaft or bore drilled upwards or downwards from an underground position, and not reaching the surface of the ground.
Blind Pit (2) – Used as a ventilation shaft only with no access for manriders.
Blocking out - System of drivages to explore an area for future production.
Blower - a sudden discharge of inflammable gas from some chasm or fissure in the coal or stone.
Blue mark - Where coal dust has got into a cut of the skin down the pit and when healed shows as a blue mark under the skin forever miner’s tattoo.
Board or bord - principal working-places, from four to five yards wide, holding one and sometimes two hewers.
Bob hole – A small opening to an underground office in the pit bottom where Motties used to be handed out to the workmen or where they clocked on or off.
Bobbin - 4oz pellet of explosive.
Bo-bo - Large twin-axled underground loco, diesel or electric / battery.
Bobby’s hat or helmet - Extension put on top of a prop or chock leg when seam thickens.
Bolting - Roadway only supported by roof bolts and mesh.
Bolt Hole or Thirl - Short roadway driven to a counter roadway as a ventilation road.
Bonnet (1) - The top part of an oil lamp.
Bonnet (2) - Old term for a cover over the cage.
Bonnie end - Conveyor return end.
Booster fan - An underground ventilation fan used to increase the ventilation of a district or a seam.
Booster ‘conveyor’ - Another conveyor belt with separate motor installed underneath and touching an existing conveyor belt, assisting that conveyor to carry a bigger load.
Bond - the annual agreement of specifying the conditions upon which the parties are hired.
Bord - Road or working, usually associated with pillars, and called Juds and Jenkins etc.
Bore hole - A hole bored for blasting. A vertical or horizontal hole bored for the purpose of ascertaining the character of the strata, or for tapping old workings filled with water, or for drawing off methane gas.
Borer - A drilling machine or a person using the machine.
Boring - Act of drilling a hole in coal or strata.
Gas Emission Borer - Boring holes for the purpose of releasing gas from strata.
Bottom loader - Conveyor with coal loaded onto bottom endless belt on floor of coal face.
Bottomer - A miner employed to attend to the bottom of the shaft.
Bottoms - Bottom of seam, usually when sticky – not cut by machine jib.
Bougee – A soft fast drying type of cement pumped into fissures under high pressure, particularly in shaft sinking through water bearing strata.
Boundary - Planned limit to which the underground workings can go.
Bowk - Bucket or kibble in a shaft when sinking for raising sinking debris or men
Brakemen - A person employed to work the steam-engine, or winding engine used in raising the coal from the mine.
Brasses - layers of pyrites occurring in the coalseam
Brass knockers - Iron pyrite or fool’s gold, nodules of pyrite.
Brattice (1) - Originally a heavy hessian cloth curtain, now plastic, for ventilation
Brattice (2) - Originally wooden partitions either 2 or 4 in a shaft whereby fresh air went down one part and foul or return air returned up another and coal and men rode in another and pumps and pipes in another compartment
Break - Break in seam or break in a shot hole.
Breaking in - The start of digging out coal on a face line or stone etc in a development heading.
Break out - Basset (basit) edge of a coal seam appearing at the surface.
Breaker - Circuit breaker in electrical circuits.
Break line - The line that roughly follows the rear edges of coal pillars that are being mined. Where the roof is expected to break.
Breasting - Going round some bad work and re-establishing a face line.
Breccia - Natural concrete-type material at the base of the water-bearing measures preventing water flowing into the lower measures.
Bridge - Allowing access across a conveyor usually, or a stage loader at a face end.
Brights - Shiny coal, usually good quality.
Brobs - A term used in the Midlands for short props
Broken place - Easy work place with soft or loose coal.
Brow - Top of a rise or hill (Brew or broo in Lancashire).
Brush - to remove part of the roof or pavement by blasting or otherwise in order to heighten the roadway, hence brusher
Brusher - A person employed to cut or blast the roof or floor of a roadway to give more height OR a person who gets the mineral down by blasting in the working face after it has been "holed"
Brushing (1) - Dinting floor of roadway.
Brushing (2) - Sweeping out gas in the past - now illegal.
Bucket (1) - An Eimco shovel or loading machine.
Bucket (2) - Overhead rope hauled dirt tip system.
Buildas - The practice of paying a proportion of the wages in beer.
Bull bars or rails - Steel girders set at the gate end of a face under the ripping lip.
Bull chains - Thick chains to corners and middle edges of a cage from the safety hook, as extra safety measure to prevent the cage tipping if one of the corner chains broke.
Bull nose - Conveyor delivery roller jib end.
Bull week - Two weeks before Christmas when every effort is made to earn more money to be paid on the Friday before the holiday period.
Bump - Sometimes known as a weight break when the overhead strata breaks and collapses, particularly in the waste area. The noise and movement of the roof and supports can be quite frightening.
Buffers - Mechanical device in sump below loading level to cushion a cage if overwound.
Builders - Large pieces or dirt or coal used as outside walls when making a pack on the coal face in the gobbing or at a gateside.
Bunker (1) - A mechanical container, or a roadway used for stacking coal at peak production times to allow production to carry on at the face. The coal would be loaded out later when there was a lull in production.
Bunker (2) - A staple pit driven from one horizon to another, containing coal (and
dirt) and the run of mine material is delivered in at the top of the shaft, stored for a while then loaded out at the bottom.
Bunter (bed) - Water-bearing sandstone measures above the Carboniferous. Renamed Sherwood sandstone.
Buntin or bunton - wooden cross-stay, girder or beam in a shaft; a support for shaft slides
Burnside - A boring machine usually used to bore into old workings to detect water or gas.
Burying packs - Where a back ripping is close behind the advancing face. The dirt is dropped to the floor and the gateside pack is covered to prevent leakage of air and possible spontaneous combustion.
Butt (entry) - Roadway of a pair leading to room and pillar system (counter butt for return air).
Butties - these were contractors who drove the roadways in the mine. They agreed to a certain sum of money out of which wages and materials had to come. Usually an unpopular system with the men, who often believed the monies were not divided fairly.
Butterfly (1) - Flap platform on top of cage to allow shaftsmen to examine shaft sides closer.
Butterfly (2) - Device above cage or kibble attached to rope to help control side movement.
Buttock - Place where coal has been broken down / started or cut on coalface.
Buttocker - A miner who gets coal off at a "long-wall" face
Button - Conveyor on / off switch.
Button man - Conveyor attendant making sure that he stops the inbye conveyor when the outbye conveyor stops, ensuring no pile ups and also to clean up any spillage.
Buttress - Pack built in front of main pack near gate end.
Big Butty - In 1800s was a man in charge of setting on men, boys and females and getting coal for owner at an agreed price
Butty - An underground contractor in charge of operation underground his duty to supply districts with necessary supplies of supports he also paid the workmen’s wages for the coal produced -
The in between man with the coal owners and miners
Butty Gang - Men who as co-partners work a section of a mine.
By or Bye - Used in such phrases as 'far in by' but generally 'far inbye', ie far into the pit
Bye Pit - Upcast shaft or air shaft.
Bye Work - Generally meaning repair work etc done outbye of the coal face.
Bye Workman - Underground labourer or could be a man who may be skilled in several jobs and sent to make up a team.
Return to Top
Cable - Power cable usually armoured.
Cable belt - Conveyor belt with steel cable attached running on pulleys.
Cable handler - Man, or later a mechanical device to stop a pliable cable snagging on the AFC.
Cage ( or chair ) - A structure/container used to carry men and materials up and down the mine shaft.
Caivil or Cavil - lot drawing or a lottery to decided the working-place of each individual.
Calamites - Tree fossil in coal or strata with easily recognisable ‘stripes’.
Calcite - A mineral present in thin sections in breaks in coal or thicker at a fault plane.
Calling-course - the round of the 'caller' or man appointed to rouse the workpeople. At Killingworth, for example, from one o'clock a.m. to half-past one the caller calls the men to go to hew at two o'clock. From three o'clock a.m. to half-past three he calls the boys to begin work at four o'clock.
Cambered Girders - slightly curved steel roof girders set in roadways, but did not give side support, relying on the strata being strong and not friable.
Cams (Cambered) - Slightly curved girders set at roof level for gate support jabbed and wedged into a roadway side and not supported by legs.
Canary - Minimum of 2 birds were to be kept at the colliery for use in an emergency to detect carbon monoxide gas usually during a heating or fire or following an explosion. Generally there was an aviary with half a dozen or so usually supplied by a local breeder and they were well looked after and fed and watered by a member of the Safety staff. Canaries are easily bred and used to living in a cage unlike wild birds, however they only live three or four years like them. Canaries are good singers, constantly chirping and warbling. They were transported underground in a small wire cage (of various designs depending upon the area of the country or even pit by pit) by a Ventilation Officer or Safety Officer or Rescue Man. When gas was present they would detect the smallest amount as their hearbeart is 100 times faster than ours and would absorb the gas quicker into the bloodstream, then they would stop singing and become agitated. They would drop off their perch in a small percentage of carbon monoxide gas giving men an indication of the gas and allowing them to retreat to a fresh air base. Generally the bird would recover when given a whiff of oxygen from a bottle kept for such a purpose. They were made redundant and replaced by an electronic ‘sniffer’ canary in February 1996.
Canche of props - A pile of pit props in the gate ready for using at the coal face.
Cank - Usually a band of stone above a coal seam, with bind or mudstone above.
Cannel - Crackerjack, Candle, Jacks, Splinter, Parrot coal etc., slivers of coal that one can light easily, burns with blue flame. Cannel breaks with a conchoidal fracture. Can be used to manufacture petrol but not coke.
Cannel coal - crackles and spits when burnt on a fire.
Canvas door - Canvas or sacking hung across the roadway to divert the airflow and control ventilation.
Cap or capping (1) - Point where a winding rope is joined to a capel that is fixed to cage.
Cap (2) - Gas testing flame on an oil lamp, or percentage of gas.
Cap (3) - Disused shaft covering usually concrete.
Cap Lamp - A rechargeable, battery operated, light worn on a miner's safety helmet.
Cap lid - A piece of wood set over a prop at coal face knocked in tight to secure the prop.
Capel - A special hook for cages or rope joint for haulage work.
Cappers - Little square shaped pieces of wood, used either at the base or top of a prop.
Capsule - Usually a sausage shaped plastic container to contain water for use in shotfiring.
Carbide - A binary compond of carbon, especially calcium carbide, which is used in making acetylene gas.
Carbon dioxide - A true gas formed by the oxidation of carbon, occurring in exhaled air, in the products of decomposition of some types of explosives, and in the products of combustion of all carbonaceous matter.
Carbon monoxide - Carbon Monoxide (CO). Probably the most dangerous of the polluting gases of a mine atmosphere, it is formed by the incomplete combustion of carbon and occurs whenever carbonaceous, or bituminous substances burn.
Car - Large tub, mine car or manriding vehicle.
Carbon monoxide gas - Carbolic oxide (CO) given off from incomplete combustion.
Cartridge or Pellet or Bobbin - A charge of powder contained in a case.
Cinder Path - On The Cinder Path
Casting - Moving coal or dirt by shovel from one man to another.
Catch Gear - Framework in headgear to arrest a cage should an overwind occur.
Catch Knocker - Person employed to release the catch that holds the tubs back.
Catch Prop - Prop set temporarily for safety whilst other operations are carried out before a permanent support is set.
Catenary (1) - Accurate system of measuring by surveyors using a steel band in suspension between two points and a predetermined amount of strain attached to one end.
Catenary (2) - The gentle change of grade over a distance at the bottom of a steep cross-measures drift onto a level roadway for example.
Cathedral arch - Steeply pointed arches for special high work on split junctions.
Caulking - Inserting wood and other material into sides in shaft sinking to stop ingress of water from strata.
Caved in - Ground where the roof has fallen, or the sides which have collapsed.
Caving - Method of mining which allows the waste area, behind the advancing, face to collapse.
Chaff and chaop - Pony feed.
Chain (1) - Surveyors’ measure, 100 links of 7.92”, 66 feet, 22 yards, or approx 20m long.
Chain (2) - Coal cutting machine hauled by a chain.
Chain (3) - Very old device on an engine for assisting the winding rope.
Chain (4) - A length of 3 linked chains held together by wooden pegs and driven by a winding engine and was used in a shaft for winding men and coal.
Chain Conveyor - A conveyor which transports material along solid pans by the scraping action of flight bars (bars connected to the chain ).
Chainless - Refers to the cutter loader not using a chain – cog wheel or pin wheel system.
Chain man - Surveyors’ assistant.
Chair - Another name for a cage in a shaft.
Chaldron - Volume of coal equal to 25½ cwts or 36 bushels or sometimes 2000 lbs.
Chalker-on - A boy who keeps an account of the work and who is usually also a craneman.
Chancery - Court of the Lord Chancellor, records go back to 1199.
Chargeman - Person in charge of a team of men
Chargeman tunneller - Foreman in charge of men driving a tunnel
Charging station - Garage where loco batteries are charged up, give off hydrogen gas.
Charterman - Early name for contractor or Butty.
Charter master - Contractor for working a pit or part of a pit
Check line - A survey along a coalface line by the Surveyor's underground linesmen to check on the straightness of the face and bends caused by cutting the coal with a shearer or trepanner. The information would be relayed to the office so that the official on the district could be informed via the Undermanager as to what corrective action to take, if any.
Check or Motty - Brass tabs or motties with the miner's number. One motty given to the Banksman, who operated the signals, when you were getting into the cage to go underground and another when coming out of the pit. This served 2 purposes. No1 was for payment and No2 for safety, i.e. knowing who was underground and when they came out of the pit. When the 2 checks were on the peg, both could be seen at a glance because the first check was larger and the smaller one was on top. Generally at most collieries, to help differentiate, a round check or square one for example was given to the Banksman when going into the pit and an oblong one was kept by the person until returning to the surface. Many men had a clip on the battery where the check or 'mottie' was kept safely on their person until given back.
Check Viewer - A viewer employed by the leasor to see that the provisions of the lease are duly observed.
Check Weigher - Mottie or swipe card to register manpower underground and timekeeping.
The weigher employed by the workmen. The Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1877 gave the miners for the first time, the freedom to appoint checkweighers. It was a job given to a man who was literate and good at reckoning, usually a union man.
He was a man chosen by the miners union to check the weight of each tub of coal raised out of the mine on behalf of the workforce as against the amount registered by the person appointed by the Company. This was to make sure that the amount of coal sent out the pit would be paid for at the rate agreed in the contract and was not 'weighed light' as some unscrupulous companies did. Some companies made the miners produce coal at up to 3,000 pounds to the ton! Whereas there was 2,240 pounds to a ton. The company would argue that should the coal be wet it would weigh lighter when it had dried out. The weight for the empty tub would be deducted from the weight of the full tub giving the amount of coal. Note it was imperative that only coal was paid for and any dirt sent out was not. Prior to the National Coal Board from 1st January 1947 occasionally a tub was tipped over and examined and even if a small amount of dirt was found, that tub was confiscated.
My experience of the job was at Teversal Colliery in Nottinghamshire even into the late 1950s where coal was still worked on a contract system at each coal face until that face finished. The coal was undercut by machine, bored and fired and loaded onto a face conveyor by a collier using a shovel. The coal then transferred onto the gate conveyor and each tub was loaded from that conveyor at a loading point in that gate and then transported by rope haulage to the pit bottom and loaded onto the cage and wound up the shaft. Each tub would be marked by chalk giving the name or number of the stall or panel and 2 men, one for the men and one for the NCB sat in a cabin near to the top of the shaft and as each tub out of the cage rested on the weighing machine before going to the tippler and onto the screens where dirt was sorted from the coal these 2 men would independently register the amount in their designated book for each panel number and would compare and agree on the total produced at the shift end. When the modern coal cutting loading machines were introduced in the 1950s, such as the trepanner and Anderson shearer, both coal and dirt was loaded out into tubs or mine cars or skips and the job of checkweigher dispensed with.
Cheeking - Material taken off the side of a gate / crush, to widen it.
Cheese weight -Large flat round heavy steel ‘cheese’ weights weighing several tons tensioning shaft guide ropes in the sump.
Chew - A piece of pigtail chewing tobacco.
Chiller - Cooling unit or aftercooler to cool the ventilation air current.
Chock - Wooden block of wood, roughly 2 ft. long and 6 inches square. Used to support the roof of the coal face when stacked also steel chocks(which could be released by knocking a pin ) they were advanced as the face advanced, also walking face chocks (on mechanised faces which were attached to the steel face chain conveyor AFC and advanced with an hydraulic ram).
Choke damp - (or Stythe) Another name for Blackdamp. When the emission of carbonic gas is very strong and the ventilation inefficient, the whole space is frequently filled with 'stythe,' causing the extinction of the candles, and finally life itself.
Chocker - Man employed to build or dismantle wooden chocks in the hand filling era. In modern mining one of a team of face men moving hydraulic chocks forward as the face advanced.
Chlorine - Sometimes found in coal and forms hydrochloric acid when mixed with water.
Choaking - Or running in, when side of shaft falls in whilst sinking
Chock (1) - Chock nog Wooden timber pieces 3 ft long by 6” x 6” built up like a tower from floor to roof of a coal face or at a roadway junction to support girders.
Chock (2) - Steel movable face support with hydraulic operated legs... 2, 3, 4 , 5or 6 leg.
Chock (3) - Support either side at a roadway junction to support cross girders.
Chock block - Wedge shaped piece of wood to prevent runaways, or a piece of wood for a chock support.
Chock Shield - Large steel hybrid face support with lemniscate linkage to rear legs.
Chock track - Travelling road along a coal face beneath the support.
Chummings (chum'uns ) - Empty tubs.
Circular roadway - Arches set and joined in a vertical circle and usually infilled with concrete blocks etc with debris dropped into bottom to create a floor level at a predetermined height.
Cistern - Pumping lodge.
Clanny lamp - an oil safety lamp invented by Dr Clanny.
Clay (1) - Fireclay underneath the seam. Or Bricks of a soft clayey material broken down to tamp behind explosives in a shot-hole.
Clay (2) - Clay taken into a pit and covered the side of a roadway or back waste in an attempt to prevent heatings or fires caused by spontaneous combustion. In the past referred to as wax walls.
Cleaning up - Filling coal or stone from where it has fallen.
Clearer - Unskilled labourer who clears away the rubbish etc.
Cleavage or Cleat - Existing break in coal seams running North North West – South South East 152º approximately, same through the Coalfields.
Clinker - Usually lumpy waste product in ashes when burning coal or coke.
Clip - Mechanical device for attaching tubs or other vehicles to an endless haulage rope. Various named ones were - Star clip, short and long handled Smallman clips, Screw clip, Swan clip etc.
Clip Car - Manriding car that can be screwed and unscrewed from rope.
Clipping on - Manually fastening tubs to a haulage rope using a mechanical device
Clivy - Connector from rope to a link.
Cloaking - Usually vertical boards or timber stuffed behind the sinking rings in a shaft to support the sides of the shaft, particularly in loose ground.
Clod - Usually the dirt overlying the seam or a coal seam name.
Cloth or Clothing - A heavy Hessian cloth hung as a ventilation restriction (now PVC).
Clunch - Hard or soft seat earth or floor below a seam.
CO (carbon monoxide) - Gas produced by part burning, a highly dangerous gas (White damp).
CO2 - Gas produced by exhaling air etc (Blackdamp), can asphyxiate.
Coal bearers - Women or children who are employed to carry coals on their
belts on un-railed roads up and down steep braes, with burdens varying
from 0.75cwt to 3cwt.
Coal Carman - was a coal carter or dealer. He had a wagon and horse. He went to the mine, collected about a ton of coal and delivered it to houses, factories etc. He would often cover very large distances and might take a few days to deliver all his coal before returning to the mine for another load.
Coal Cleaning - A process which separates the coal from unwanted stone material, by utilizing the differences in their specific gravities. The unwanted material is generally heavier than coal and sinks. The separation of coal from heavier material, was done in a medium of S.G 1.4 or above. The Baum box system used water but in this case the separation was assisted with air pulsations, causing a jigging motion, so separating the heavier material from the lighter material. Walter Fowler. (Ex Plant Manager Haunchwood, Snibston and Baddesley Collieries. South Midlands Area)
Coal Cutter - Various types such as AB15 Undercutter, Plough, Meco Moore, Shearers, Trepanner, etc.
Coal Cutterman - Operating and/or flitting coal-cutting machine.
Coal Cutter Mover - Moving, spinning or turning cutting machine.
Coal Examiner - Sample collection and analysis supervisor (Thanks to Malc Bowler)
Coal Getter - A collier hewing coal from the face.
Coal Preparation Plant - The place on the surface of the mine where coal is cleaned and prepared for sale.
Coal Sampler - person employed to collect coal samples for scientific analysis (Thanks to Malc Bowler)
Coal Seam Fossils - Includes:- Alethopteris, Annularia, Carbonicola, Ctenodonta, Elonichtys, Fern Fronds, Lepidodendron, Lingula, Ovalis, Pecopteris, Pleurothallis, Sphenophyllum, Spiorobis, Stellata, Stigmaria, Strepsodus.
Coalface working - Movement of the coal due to strata pressure. Sometimes known as weighting, or weight coming on.
Coalface Training Instructor - Workman appointed under the National Coal Board Scheme of Training for Coalface Work to supervise and instruct more than one trainee at the face.
Coanda Air Curtain - Fan blowing air through tubes on a heading machine leaving an area mainly clear of dust for the opperator of the machine. Used in conjunction with exhaust air tubing.
Cobbles - Graded coals in coal preparation plant.
Coffering - is temporary brick work lining in shaft sinking with gap behind to be filled with concrete, resistant to moderate quantities of strata water.
Collet - A small metal circular weight dropped down a piano wire, by surveyors, to ensure that there was no fouling of the wire on the shaft side whilst doing a correlation of the underground workings in relation to the surface.
Collier (1) - Originally a ship transporting coal from North East to London.
Collier (2) - An experienced miner.Colliers stripped coal from the coal face, shovelled it onto a conveyor and advanced the line of the coal face. They set necessary supports, on either machine cut or hand-got faces; hewing coal by hand-got methods; engaged on stall work and responsible for taking forward rippings, etc., carrying out any operation in connection with a mechanised heading or longwall face; hewing coal with pneumatic picks; driving a close place or opening out on pick work in coal; developing headings in coal preparatory to opening out stalls; filling coal into trams in hand-filled and drawn system; filling coal on face. See also Power Loaders
Colliery an entire coal mining operation, including all infrastructures from offices to transport and it may include several pit (shafts) or drifts. Pit - an individual shaft.
Colliery Electrician - Competent electrician qualified by experience or training and/or apprenticeship, engaged at a colliery on the installation, examination, testing, maintenance and repair of the colliery's electrical apparatus.
Colliery Electro-Mechanic - Competent electrician and competent fitter qualified by experience or training and/or apprenticeship, engaged at a colliery on the combined duties of installation, examination, testing, maintenance and repair of the colliery's electrical and mechanical apparatus.
Colliery Fitter - Competent fitter qualified by experience or training and/or apprenticeship, engaged at a colliery on the installation, examination, testing, maintenance and repair of the colliery's mechanical apparatus.
Colliery Overman - A senior Overman in charge of a shift, reporting direct to an Undermanager.
Colzalene - was the commercial name for the fuel used in Davey lamps / Clanny lamps
Combination (1) - In the NE meaning development work.
Combination (2) - In the past the combination of miners forming a union.
Command supervisor - Modern name for Deputy (2000s)
Compo – Compensation payment usually for an accident
Compressor Attendant - In charge of inbye portable compressor at the face.
Conductor (1) - One of several weighted steel ropes to contain the cage in the shaft.
Conductor (2) - A person in charge of manrider to ring signals.
Conglomerate - Alluvial deposits. No working was to approach within a prescribed distance of such known or assumed areas.
Connies - Hard coal tops.
Continuous miner - A machine that constantly extracts coal while it loads it.
Contraband - Anything that could not be taken down a mine incase it sparked off an explosion e.g. cigars, cigarettes, any pipe or other contrivance for smoking. Any match or mechanical lighter and includes batteries, alcohol, drugs etc.
Contract - Agreement usually between men and Manager for a job of work.
Contractor - One agreeing with an Official to do a job for a pre-determined fee. In modern times it related to a workman employed by an outside firm.
Conveyor Plough Attendant - Cleaning out spillage ploughed off the return belt where open type structures are used; cleaning out the tension-end of face bolt and putting the coal back onto the belt.
Conveyor Erector - One of a team on a longwall machine-cut hand-filled panel who moved the conveyor forward from one track to another as the face advanced by breaking it up, moving into the new track and re-assembling it. Known also as Erectors.
Cooling tower - Wooden structure where exhaust steam from boilers was dispersed.
Copyhold - Copy of Lord of the Manor’s mineral area title deed.
Corporal - An experienced haulage worker in charge of operations.
Correlation - Precise survey by Surveyors to connect underground workings with the surface.
Corporal - Man in charge of a certain district under the deputy.
Corve, Corf - Strong osier baskets for drawing the coal and containing from 4 to 7 cwt. It is made of strong hazel-rods from half to one inch in diameter. They were used to drag or convey the coal from the hewers to the bank.
The corves were made and kept in repair by contractors, named Corvers, who were paid by the score of coals drawn, according to the circumstances of the colliery as to depth, wetness, upcast, downcast,etc., sixpence to one shilling per score, or from 1d. to 2d. per ton.
Corvers - those who made the corves.
COSA - Clerical Officers Staffs Association union affiliated to NUM or UDM.
Cotter - Steel pin dropped into loop hole on tub and the horse / pony hauling gear.
Coupler - A boy who coupled or connected, by means of coupling chains, the tubs of coal in order to form a set or train.
Cousie – a self-acting incline on which one or more full descending hutches pull up a corresponding number of empties- cousie-wheel - the drum or pulley on a self-acting incline.
Cover - Amount of strata overlying the seam to the surface.
Cover boards - Boards app 3ft x 6 inches x 1 inch set around the periphery of arches.
Cowl - Steel curved cover over the shearer cutting head to divert cut coal onto the AFC.
Cracker jack - Cannel coal that splits and spits when burnt in a fire.
Cracket - A miner used a cracket to rest his head and/or shoulders on when working lying down. They were made from spare bits of wood found lying around, such as bits of pit props.
Cradle - Used on machines as part of a ring setting device, the arch part of a girder is placed in the cradle and a machine lifts it into position.
Cranemen - A lad 16 or 18 years of age, earning from 1s. 6d. to 3s. a-day (in 1841) whose business it was to hoist the corves of coals on to the rolleys with the crane. On the introduction of tubs and flats, younger lads of 15 or 16 years of age were used, they were named flat-lads. The crane-man or flat-lad proportions the work, or "places the work," he told the barrow-men where to go for coals, and the quantity he has to take from each place.
Crawley - A short chain conveyor connecting face conveyor with road belt conveyor.
Creep (1) - Action of the AFC ( armoured flexible conveyor) moving towards one end of the face.
Creep (2) - Action of soft floor bubbling up in a roadway, restricting height.
Creeper - powered chain drive laid between rails, with blocks to engage axles of mine cars- usually used to advance cars at loader or in pit bottom.
Crescent Cutter - An early coal cutting machine with a large wheel to undercut the coal.
Crib (1) - Framework in a shaft.
Crib (2) - Layers of wood as a roof support, usually rectangular.
Cross gate - Usually a gate driven between one gate and another, but when longwall radiating advancing stall working was practiced a gate was driven at an angle left or right from the main gate and a butty-run stall worked either side of it and all the coal from that working was transported down it in tubs or trams, usually ganged by a pony.
Cross-measure drift - A roadway driven level or at an angle between two seams.
Crush - Gate distortion.
Crusher - Device situated in the conveyor run for breaking big lumps of coal or dirt.
Crut - An underground incline.
Crutter - A man who drives cruts or stone drifts.
Crystals - Spread on floor to dampen the dust (e.g. sodium chloride).
Cuckoo shot - Illegal shot fired to break down the roof in a goaf where gas may be present.
Cuddie - A weight mounted on wheels; a loaded bogie, used to counter-balance the hutch on a cuddie brae.
Cuddie brae - an inclined roadway, worked in the same manner as a self-acting incline, the cuddie serving as a drag on the full hutch running down.
Cundie - the unfilled space between the pack walls after the coal has been removed, in steep long-wall workings, a narrow roadway without rails, down which mineral is rolled to be loaded into hutches at the bottom; a small roadway or aircourse
Cupola - Dome at top of furnace shaft with chimney. Welsh Quakers brought the idea to the Midlands and other Coalfields.
Curtain - Wire mesh shotfiring shield hung in a roadway to protect against ricochets.
Cushion fire - Gap left between explosive and ramming to give larger pieces of coal.
Cut (1) - A movement forward of the face line.
Cut (2) - The gap made at the base of a coal seam in order to work the coal.
Cutter man - A man driving a coal cutter.
Cutter nog - Wedge shaped block of wood or steel wedge driven into the undercut to support the coal before getting and loading out the coal proceeds.
Curving - cutting into the whole coal, as the preparatory course to blasting or wedging it down.
Cycle - System of coaling or production: such as cutting, loading, packing, ripping.
Cyclothem - Succession of strata from one seam to next – seatearth, seam, shale, sand, seam.
Return to Top
D Gate - Delivery or Loader gate.
Dam - Plug of brick/concrete constructed in gate or roadway to hold back water.
Damp - Name given to various dangerous gases, from the German word damph meaning gas.
Damped - Gassed by Blackdamp or Carbon Dioxide.
Dan - A low sided or flat topped wagon (or mine car), used for supplies.
Dancing Betty - Vertical tensioning device for a haulage rope.
Danny - Open flat tram with vertical steel side bars.
Dataler - Underground workman paid by the day, able to work alone on roads outbye of a coal face responsible for repair work and the general upkeep of the roadways
Davy Lamp - invented by Humphry Davy in 1816. It was purely a mesh gauze surrounding an oil flame that allowed methane gas to enter the lamp and set light but not allow the flame to escape back into the gaseous atmosphere. Although a safe lamp to work with it gave a very poor light, possibly leading to nystagmus. Almost simultaneously a similar lamp was designed by George Stephenson.
Day Eye - Another name for an adit or surface drift entrance to a small mine.
Day man - One employed on various jobs and paid by the day at the rate for the job.
Dead rope - On a haulage system where the endless rope running between the rail track is used for hauling vehicles the return part of the rope running in the side of the gate in the opposite direction back to the engine and not used, is called the dead rope.
Demarcation - Point underground where 2 collieries are joined by a tunnel say so the jurisdiction changes from one Manager to another.
Demarcation (2) – This was a surface plan showing the total surface area for which the manager of the mine was responsible, signed by the Area Director.
Deputy - they go to work two hours before the hewers. Each deputy, during the absence of the back-overman, is responsible for the management of the district of the pit over which he is appointed. Their work also includes that of supporting the roof with props or wood, removing props from old workings, changing the air currents when necessary, and clearing away any sudden eruption of gas or fall of stone that might impede the work of the hewer, or in delegating these duties to others.
Deputy's District – An area of workings designated underground for which he was responsible.
Deputy's Kist - Wooden chest used by the Deputy to store tools, also a meeting place.
Deputy's Stick – Carried by Deputies and other Management staff as a sign of authority and generally used as a rough guide to measure between props etc. to conform with support rules.
|Det or Detonator - A small cylindrical tube with 2 wires attached, used for igniting or detonating the explosive in a bore hole.
|Detector - A gas indicator, hung at the coal face, e.g. a Ringrose battery lamp, with red bulb at top that flashes alerting men when firedamp gas is present.
|Development - Roadway drivages made to prepare a new coalface or area for future work
|Development Work - Work to expand the mine reserves rather than the extraction of coal. An example of development work is the driving of roadways.
|Dial - Survey instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles and bearings.
Diallers - Surveyors or underground linesmen carrying out surveys of the workings.
Dick or a "Scotch" - was a piece of wood, triangular in shape across it's width and about two feet in length. The scotch had to be placed under the back wheel of the leading tub in order to lock it, the set would continue to run towards the pit bottom, but at an ever decreasing speed and the trick was to bring it gently to a stop before it came to rest at the back of other vehicles waiting to be wound up the shaft. It was important that you got this right, if you let the set in too quickly or you lost control you could could derail one or more of the "coalers" (Tub full of coal, dotters if full of dirt) or a tub could be pushed into the shaft.
|Dilute Gas - Lower the concentration of any hazardous gas by the addition of fresh air.
|Dint - Excavation of floor below seam, or to remove floor lift.
|Dinter (1) - Machine, bucket type, or revolving drum type machine used to excavate dirt.
|Dinter (2) - Man employed to excavate floor dirt by various means, e.g. pick and shovel.
|Dinting - Excavating into the strata.
|Dip - Place where the seam drops down.The angle of a coal seam relative to the horizontal.
|Dipper - A fault throwing the coal or strata downwards in direction of travel.
|Dips - A roadway driven steeply to the dip in a seam. Sometimes named e.g. South Dips.
|Direct (haulage) - Single rope haulage, self weight downhill, hauled back by engine.
|Director - Person in charge of a Company or all collieries in a NCB/Br Coal Area.
|Dirt - Waste, bats in seam, Suttonian slang ‘dot’, ‘dotty coal’ (Geologist see).|
|Dirt Emptier - Labourer employed on pit bank or tip.
|Discharge station - Place where pumped firedamp gas released, 2% reducing.
|Dispatch and receive - Runs of material in vehicles sent without personnel along a gate.
|District - Name such as East Side, Far end, Parkhall or panel number – 1s, 404s, etc.
|Dobbie props - were hydraulic and made by Dobsons. Widely used with special bars before the advent of chocks.
|Docket - Wage slip or motty presented at wages office on Friday to collect pay.
|Docket day - Thursday when the dockets were issued in readiness for Friday pay day.
Dog belt - A harness type belt worn round the waist with a chain attachment used by boys to haul vehicles underground.
Dog chain - Chain connecting 2 tubs or part of harness device for haul
|Dog collar - Leather strap worn round the neck to carry flame lamp when crawling in low seam.
|Dog kennel - Shaped steel cover at gate end to protect AFC motor.
|Dog nails (Spikes) - Large headed, thick mild steel nails for fastening rails to wooden sleepers.
|Dogger - Generally a young boy who coupled tubs together with link chain and hooks.
|Doggie - was a man responsible for a section of the mine
Dogging on - The act of coupling tubs together with a short chain with a hook at each end.
Doggy or Doggie - Person employed to assist a shotfirer by moving the necessary equipment from one place to another as required.
|Dolly - Hydraulic prop. First introduced 1946 at Ramcroft colliery at Heath.
Donkey Engine - Usually a small hp direct rope engine.
Door trapper - Usually a boy opening and closing ventilation doors whilst vehicles passed through.
Donkey work - Work that used to be carried out by donkeys. Term used today for doing heavy work.
Dook - an inclined roadway
Dook headman - Man engaged at the top of an incline roadway.
|Dook runner - A miner who sends waggons up an inclined roadway and travels with them.
|Door - Ventilation restriction. Usually in pairs or threes so that one door is always closed.
|Dosco - A heading machine made at Tuxford, Notts such as a Mark I, Mk II, Mark IIB, Mark III bigger and heavier, capable of cutting harder strata.
|Double-decker - Two-way manriding conveyor.
|Double-ender - Machine that can cut and load both ways.
|Dowel rod / forepole - Rods of wood or steel put in holes bored in bad ground (captivated usually with resin).
|Downbore - Borehole drilled into floor to release gas or continued down to prove coal seams.
Downcast Shaft - Shaft which carries fresh air from the surface down to the mine workings.
|Dowty A hand operated hydraulic prop.
|Drag - A short length of girder hooked on to back of dans or tubs when going up inclines, to prevent runaways.
|Drag (2) - Steel bar hung in coupling hole at the back of a tub to prevent it running away.
|Dragger (timber) - Person employed to get material to coal face up a gate without rails or trams.
|Drainage - The act of draining water or methane gas from the area above or below the waste.
Draw (1) - A cage of men or tubs in a shaft.
Draw (2) - The angle of subsidence to the surface.
Draw (3) - To pull or drag along a vehicle.
|Draw bar - A device for fastening to a tub for hauling by a pony e.g.
Drawer - A waggoner or person who pushes underground tubs.
Drawer off - A collier employed to recover supports such as props and bars from the waste area behind the face.
|Drift (1) - A gate road driven from one seam to another.
Drift (2) - Occasionally used in regard to a gate going off line or a panzer creeping or moving downhill.
Drifter - Man generally employed in stone headings or cross-measures drifts on development work.
|Drift mine - A tunnel leading from the surface to the coal in lieu of a shaft.
|Drifter - Miner employed in driving in rock other than coal.
|Drill - a tool about 20 inches long, used in blasting, to prepare a place in the coal or stone for the charge of powder.
|Driller - One who operates a hand held drill or operates a drill rig used for exploration etc.
|Drivage - A new gate road being driven or excavated in solid ground or (goaf - where the coal seam has been worked previously).
|Driver - The person in charge of a pit pony. Also known as Rolley, Horse or Waggon Driver
|Driver on Branches - a person who drives and manages a horse on the branches of the railway, from near the top of the pit to a station where steam-power, &c., is employed to convey the coals.
|Drivers - A boy employed to drive the horses on the main road underground. He was usually 14 or 15 years of age.
|Drop chair - Lift in pit bottom or surface for lowering tubs to a bottom or lower level.
Drum / wheel - Shearer drum on coal face cutter loader machine.
Dry Cleaner - On a coal preparation plant where the coal is separated from dirt but no liquid medium is used.
|Duck-billed loader - Gathering arm machine for loading out coal in a heading.
Dudley - Metal, now plastic container for carrying water, 2 pints to 8 pints capacity.
|Dumper - Large truck conveying dirt to the tip.
|Dumpling or dick - Large wedge shaped lump of wood placed between rails to prevent runaway tubs or vehicles.
|Dunn, Duns, Cat dirt or Tow - Usually dirt at the bottom of a coal seam, a fusible clay type material, with bituman, liable to create combustion. Another name is Tow or Cat Dirt.
Dust - Airborne, also refers to coal dust on chest, Pneumoconiosis (silicosis for rock dust). Particles of dust less than 5 micron in size can pass into the lungs and block up the air sacs eventually causing breathing difficulties.
Dust Suppression - Various sprays etc situated on machines and transfer points etc to dampen dust.
Dust Suppression Officer - One in charge of all dust suppression equipment and advises on ways of combatting dust throughout the mine.
|Dyke or Sill- intrusion of hard volcanic rock difficult to work through. If close to a seam turns the coal to coke
Return to Top
Early riders - Men wet through; union men and others allowed up the pit early for meetings etc.
EBG - (elsewhere below ground). Men employed underground other than on the coal face.
EDM - Electronic distance measurer used by Surveyors in lieu of a steel tape for accurate measurements.
Egress - Going out of a confined place underground to the pit shaft.
Egress plan - Produced by the Surveyor. The plan shows every accessible roadway that could be travelled back to the pit bottom from every inbye district and a copy was kept in the covered accommodation at the pit head for all to refer to.
Egress roadways - Periodically the men on each district should have been taken outbye by an official on a different route to what they normally travelled to and from their job, so that they would become familiarised with other roadways to the pit bottom in the event of an emergency.
Eimco - Mechanical shovel, usually with caterpillar tracks.
Electric Lamps. – Many portable electric lamps have been made; one by Swan (see Fig. 370). The electricity is supplied from a secondary battery, and the lamp will burn all day, giving a light of about half a candle; it weighs about 6 pounds. None of the numerous varieties of portable electric safety-lamps are yet in general use. There are, however, a great many fixed incandescent lamps used underground. These lamps are essentially safetylamps, as the air is entirely excluded unless the lamp should be broken. If the lamp were broken in an explosive mixture it would cause an explosion, but this is an improbable contingency. These lamps are now used to a considerable extent for lighting the pit porches, underground engine-houses, and, in some cases, engine-planes for long distances underground. The only practical danger in their use arises, not from the lamp, but from the conductors which convey the current; should these be too near each other, the current might pass between them and set fire to the timber; or should there be an explosive mixture, and the wire was severed, there would be a spark at the moment of severance, which would cause an explosion. These dangers may be reduced to a minimum by covering the conductors thickly with insulating material, and placing the positive and negative conductors at opposite sides of the road whenever practicable. Where the lamps are placed "in parallel," only a low voltage can be used, say 100 volts, and there is not much danger of the insulation being destroyed. If, however, the lamps are placed "in series," then a very high voltage may be employed, with a proportionate increase of risks. (See also Arc Electric Lamp)
Electrical Engineer - Qualified engineer appointed to organise and oversee all electrical work carried out at the mine.
Competent Electrician qualified by experience, training and/or apprenticeship, engaged on the installation, maintenance, repair and testing of electrical equipment, apparatus and machinery.
Electrician's Help - Semi-skilled electrical worker engaged on minor repairs and maintenance of electrical equipment and appliances under the supervision of a fully qualified Electrician.
Elephant's tab - Large-sized hand shovel, shaped as such. Size 10 is ordinary shape square end.
Ell (1) - An old measure, variable around the length from the elbow to the tip of the fingers. Approximate length 27 inches to 54 inches.
Ell (2) - Name of a coal seam.
Emergency Organisation - A system to be put into operation in the event of a serious incident, e.g. underground fire etc. A pre arranged committee and personnel are organised to carry out previously designated duties should there be an emergency
Emergency Refuge - See also Safe haven below. A metal container erected underground containing emergency equipment, food and water where men could shelter awaiting rescue should they be trapped and unable to get out of their workplace due to a fall for example. Emergency Organisation A system to be put into operation in the event of a serious incident,
e.g. underground fire, explosion, men trapped as above etc. A pre arranged committee and personnel are organised to carry out previously designated duties should there be an emergency.
Emergency Tanks - Large tanks situated underground to contain drinking water in case of emergency. Began as a wartime measure in the 1940s under ARP (air raid precautions).
Emergency Winder Base - A concreted area with deep seated steel hooks and rings where an emergency winder used by the Rescue Brigade could be anchored to allow a small cage or bucket to be lowered down the shaft in an emergency. Small wheels positioned in the headgear for the rope were offset to the side to bypass the cages to allow this operation to be accomplished.
End coals or End on - At 90º to face coals or bord or end on to the cleat of the coal.
Endless - Haulage system with endless rope driven by an engine, running on ground rollers or roof rollers and used to transport vehicles such as tubs and jotties, containing coal, supplies or men by fastening the vehicles to the rope by clips.
Engine - Usually means winding equipment or steel rope haulage motor.
Engine pit - Haulage engine at surface or pumping shaft with beam engine.
Engine tenter - Engine man.
Enginewright - Was the person in charge on the surface and underground for all mechanical aspects. After 1967 the term became Mechanical Engineer.
Erectors - A team of men who install conveyors or re-erect a conveyor in a new track on a coalface.
Eruption - Can be irruption of gas, oil and water and hydro carbons and is sudden, when the strata or coal bursts out not unlike an explosion. This can cause floor heave as well as displacing roadway or face supports.
Exam (2) - Deputy examining a district.
Exam (3) - Gas testing and hearing test for Deputy's certificate.
Exam (4) - Manager's, Undermanager's or Surveyor's examination to obtain MQB certificate.
Exam (ination) (1) - Visual shaft examination by shaftsmen, once per 24 hours.
Explosion - Can be an explosion of firedamp gas or coal dust, or hydrogen gas given off when charging batteries for underground locos.
Extender - One of a team employed to move up the conveyor return ends
Extension (1) - Extra piece put in an arch or girder, either bolted or welded.
Extension (2) - Stilt at base of an arched girder to counteract floor lift.
Extraction (1) - Amount of coal produced at a coal face, also height of coal extracted.
Extraction (2) - The process of mining and removal of coal or stone(rock) from a mine.
Eye - Pit bottom or shaft.
Eye frame - Girders or brickwork and baulks built to hold up the shaft brickwork in the pit bottom.
Return to Top
Face - Coal face where coal is cut and loaded i.e. where production is done.
Face coals - Coal worked along the line of cleavage, allowing long or large pieces of coal to be got. However working can be dangerous as long pieces or slines of coal can fall.
Face Haulage Man - Haulage by pony or mechanical means at the face.
Face legs - A line of props set near to the advancing coal face.
Fall - A mass of roof, rock or coal, which has fallen in any part of a mine.
Fall of roof - at the coal face is where the immediate strata above the area where the man is working on the coal face falls down. Usually it is very heavy stone or mudstone/siltstone etc that is immediately above the coal seam and even though props and bars are set under it sometimes that is not sufficient to stop a fall happening
Fan (1) - For air in development headings, either forcing or exhausting.
Fan (2) - Main surface exhausting fan ventilating the mine.
Fan (3) - booster fan underground.
Fan Evasée – is the large orifice where the return air from underground is exhausted into the air by the main ventilation fan.
Fang - Wood or metal pipe used to convey fresh air to the workings in a mine.
Fanman - In charge of ventilating fan at the face.
Fast end - Dead end or blind end or cul-de-sac of a coalface.
Fathom - Unit of length, 6 feet, used for depths of shafts or seams.
Fault - A slip or strata displacement. Break in the continuity of a coal seam
Feather edge - Where a new roadway dips down in line under the same roadway.
Feeder (1) - A machine that feeds coal onto a conveyor belt evenly.
Feeder (2) - flow of water into a working.
Feeder gate - Supply gate to coal face.
FIDO - Face information data on line direct from coalface to surface by computer.
Filler (1) - A miner at the coal face with a shovel, he could be filling corves with coal, corves being strong osier baskets in which the coals were conveyed.
Filler (2) - He could be shovelling coal onto conveyors, often working in very difficult places often lying on their sides in a space with the roof only 20-22 inches from the floor.
'Fire!' - A warning cry shouted before exploding a shot by Shotfirer or Deputy.
Fire basket - A basket of fire hung in a shaft to create rising air before fans were in use.
Fire clay - Clay strata excavated along with the coal and used for making bricks etc.
Fire the Gas - This is where a build up of Methane gas or Firedamp below the explosive range of + 5% was ignited by a candle and the resulting flame was called Wildfire.
Firedamp - Methane gas, CH4, lighter than air, burns with a blue flame, explosive range 5 to 15%, most violent at 9.4%. Cannot burn above 15% because of insufficient oxygen in the air. Smallest amount detected on a testing flame of an oil lamp is 1¼% when all machinery to be switched off and at 2% all men to be withdrawn to a place of safety.
Fire Officer - One in charge of all fire fighting equipment both surface and underground and responsible for upkeep and all pipe lines and hydrants etc.
Fish Plate (1) - A steel plate with holes and bolts to join rails.
Fish Plate (2) - similarly to join sections of arches (and wraparounds).
Fishtails - Edges of a washout where coal disappears, fans out, rock replaces the coal.
Fissure - An extensive crack, break, or fracture in the rocks.
Fitter - One employed by the Mechanical Engineer to erect, install or build machines etc and maintain and repair equipment.
Flame lamp - Hand held gas detector, with re-lighter facility for officials.
Flameproof Equipment - Equipment which must withstand, without distortion or damage, with a large safety factor the most violent internal explosion possible with a methane/air mixture.
Flamper - Can refer to soft top or a thickness of dirt or bind above a seam up to a parting.
Flank panel or face - A longwall coal face worked generally at right angles from a gate of a previously worked panel or district.
Flanker - A shot bored and fired sideways into the coal in line with the face.
Flap line (1) - A line flapped using a length of thick string on the roof, in chalk or stonedust, along a handfilled coal face at the end of the coaling shift to determine the line of the next row of props to be set and to keep the face line straight. This was a job generally carried out by the Chargeman and a helper. This generally resulted in some overtime pay.
Flap line (2) - a line flapped on the roof or arches in gates by survey linesmen prior to chalking or whitewashing them for direction line.
Flap line (3) - Similarly a line flapped on the side of gates on a gradient - known as a grade line for the headers to follow.
Flat - Tram with no sides.
Flat tops - Straight girders or straight-topped arches, square work.
Flat-Lad - Also known as Craneman. A lad 16 or 18 years of age, earning from 1s. 6d. to 3s. a-day (in 1841) whose business it was to hoist the corves of coals on to the rolleys with the crane. On the introduction of tubs and flats, younger lads of 15 or 16 years of age were used, they were named flat-lads. The crane-man or flat-lad proportions the work, or "places the work," he told the barrow-men where to go for coals, and the quantity he has to take from each place.
Flatman - a term similar to or in place of Craneman; the difference being that, where tubs are used for the conveyance of coals, no cranes are necessary because they do not need to be hoisted on to the rolleys, as in the ease of corves they are merely linked together at the flat or level by the flatmen.
Fleet angle - The angle from the winding drum to the pit headstock wheels or sheaves.
Flight - Part of a panzer conveyor pulled along by the chain driven by a motor.
Flitters or erectors - Team of men who dismantle conveyors and rebuild them in a different track on the coal face.
Flitting (1) - Dismantling the face conveyor from a track and erecting it again in another track nearer to the coal face.
Flitting (2) - Moving a machine from one working area to another.
Floor Heave - The floor of a mine lifting as a result of high ground stresses.
Floor lift or blow - Upheaval in gate usually requiring removing, heave or lift or creep.
Flush (ing) - Usually roof material from waste running through chock into travelling track.
Fly (1) (cut) - A correction cut to straighten face line.
Fly (2) - A prop flirting out due to adverse pressure.
Flyer - Quick knock off, job done earlier than expected.
Foal - A lad not strong enough to put (push from behind) alone, but able to do so with the assistance of a little boy, who performs his part by pulling the tub by a couple of ropes or traces attached thereto, called soams. The little boy is called a foal. Also see Putter
Foot blocks - Square blocks of thick wood used to spread the load of the base of an arch.
Footrill or Addit - Entrance to a mine, usually a drift which sloped from the surface down to a coal seam.
Fore poling - The setting of wooden or steel rods in boreholes above a face or lip in bad ground to try to prevent the roof falling.
Foreign coal - Coal from another mine or source is tipped into a surface bunker to be mixed with the coal produced (as a sweetener).
Fork or hambone - A clip used to attach tubs to the endless rope. Knocking off the fork releases the set of full tubs on a landing outbye.
Fossil fuel - Any naturally occurring fuel of an organic nature, such as coal, crude oil and natural gas.
Foul coal - impure, from an admixture of slate etc.
Foulness - inflammable air.
Founder or Foundation - First shaft sunk to work a seam.
Four x four - 4" (or 100mm) H section girder. Other sizes e.g. 6"x 8" (152 x 200mm), 8"x10" (200 x 250mm) etc.
Four yarders - A set of steel rails 4 yards long.
Fourteen pounder - Large hammer weighing 14lb for breaking large lumps of stone etc.
Freezing Process - is accomplished by drilling a circle of bore holes containing ice around the outside of a sinking shaft through water bearing strata by the François Cementation Co. (later Cementation Co.)
Friable - Usually coal or roof showing a tendency to break easily into small pieces.
Froth Flotation Plant (On the washery part of the coal preporation plant) - Is a reagent in water causing fine bubbles and froth causing pieces of coal to be put into suspension and moved along, whereas dirt being heavier than coal falls to the bottom of the container and is collected and discarded.
FSV - Free steered vehicle, not connected to cables - large rubber-tyred diesel loader.
Full round - A round of shots or delay detonator shots.
Furnace - Used instead of fan for ventilation.
Furnace pit - Shaft with furnace usually in pit bottom to create airflow, with dumb drift.
Furnaceman - who attend to the ventilating furnace.
Furnishings (shaft) - Usually refers to the various pipes and cables etc in a shaft.
Return to Top
Gaffer - Usually any Official from an Overman up, usually manager. (Oversman in Scotland).
Gaiters (1) - Strong plastic leg covers over the calves to prevent injury.
Gaiters (2) - Plastic covers around the legs of face chocks to prevent corrosion.
Gallery - A horizontal or a nearly horizontal underground roadway.
Galloway Driver - was the man who drove the pit ponies, a special small breed known as Galloways, because of where they were bred in Scotland. They are now believed to be extinct.
Gang rider - Person riding upon, and in charge of a train of underground waggons
Ganger - Usually a boy with a horse who took empty tubs and timber to the stalls and returned full tubs to the pit bottom or marshalling area. Sometimes an older man unable to work on the face.
Gangers - Frequently younger lads waiting their turn to go onto the coal face. They were underground pony-drivers, moving tubs of coal or waste, empty tubs, and work materials to the required area.
Ganging - The act of transporting materials or coal by tram or tub.
Garland - A gutter round the shaft walling collecting water running down the shaft and delivering it to the pit bottom by down pipes.
Gas cap - A lowered flame on a lamp showing methane gas percentage if present.
Gate end - Usually coal face lip inbye, but also could refer to outbye end of gate.
Gate end box - An electric panel used to control and distribute power to face machinery.
Gate end loader - Loading point for tubs inbye from shaft, outbye from face.
Gate Line - A line chalked or painted on the arches or girders or a set of clips extended by the Surveyor's underground linesmen in every gate and heading periodically on the bearing set out.
Gate or gait - Underground roadway.
Gate side pack - A wall of stone or waste from gate ripping debris built at the side of the roadway for support.
Gates - Roadways leading to a face.
Gaumers - Conveyor chute receiving section from one conveyor to another.
Gear - Once referred to the harness used by horses or ponies to pull tubs.
Gees - Coal / dirt band in some seams.
General Manager - In charge of company, or a large mine + 1,000,000 tonnes/year.
General Worker - Performing work of a general character other than highly skilled work.
Geologist - Previously to 1967 Surveyors carried out general geological duties such as examining seam sections, and monitoring boreholes being drilled both surface and underground and borehole cores, faults etc. Since that date only qualified BSc graduates were appointed to the position.
Getter outer - Pit bottom onsetter sending full tubs up the pit. Another man got the empties in.
Getting coal - Extraction of coal at the coal face (by any means).
Gin - Usually a cog and rung system with horses (eg Eckington up to 1940s).
Gin ring - The circle traced by a horse turning a gin for the winding gear at a coal pit.
Gin-Drivers - boys who were employed to drive the horses in the gin or engine used in raising coals from pits of moderate depth.
Ginny carriage - Small tub / jotty for conveying materials on a rail track.
Gin-rope - a rope for letting engine-weights down the engine-pit for charging buckets, etc. The Jack-gin belongs to the engine shaft.
Girders - Straight or arched steel roof supports.
Glebe - Land assigned to an incumbent of a Parish as part of his benefice and endowment of the church and an amount of royalty per ton to be paid for working any coal below such lands.
Gloster getter - Coal cutting-loading machine 1950s.
Goaf, gob or gobbing - is the void left behind the coal face after the coal has been extracted.
This is where subsidence starts when the strata above the void breaks and collapses and eventually the surface lowers. Methods to prevent severe subsidence have been tried....in modern times by power stowing dirt produced by ripping the access gates (roadways) to the coal face and packing the dirt tight into the void. However this method was only done when the dirt was easily crushed and able to be blown through pipes or pushed by mechanical means into the Goaf. The modern system is to let the Goaf collapse and by strategically planning the coal face areas leave pillars of support between panels (coal faces) to lessen the subsidence.
Strip packing was the previous system and that was where packs of gate strata were built at the side of the gate roads to the face and at distances throughout the face line behind the coal face such as 3 yards of pack or walling, then a 3 yards gap of Goaf void, then another pack, another void and so on from one access gate road to another.
Gob - (2) - Waste. The area behind the face chocks where the coal had been removed.
Gob gate - A gate driven in coal in which to pack waste stone material
Gob legs - A line of props set behind the conveyor track on the coal face.
Gob stink - Smell from an underground heating (paraffin), 'once smelt never forgotten'
Gobbin cap - Round leather skull cap worn whilst holing dirt out from under the coal seam.
Goggles and Nose-Clips
Goliath - A conveyor motor size.
Grade 1 – A man classified fit to work underground.
Grade 2 – a man classified only fit for surface work.
Grade Line - A line painted on side of roadway on the planned gradient, rising, dipping or level as a guide for the workmen to follow.
Grade pan - A face panzer section rising at the gate end to deliver onto a stage loader at 90º.
Gravimetric - A machine for sampling the amount of airborne dust.
Greaser (1) - A boy who greased the tub axles at bank.
Greaser (2) - A machine which automatically greases the axles of tubs or mine cars etc as they pass over it.
Guard (1) - Metal fence round an engine etc.
Guard (2) - Paddy / manrider guard who operates signals for moving or stopping.
Guide rope - Steel rope in shaft to keep cage in line.
Gullet - a fissure in the strata, generally containing either water or inflammable air.
Gummer (1) - Cleaning out cuttings, cleaning up gummings, cleaning up holings. and inserting gibs or nogs.
Gummer (2) - Mechanical device that cleaned the gummings out of the undercut made by the face machine.
Gummings - The slack / dirt produced by coal cutter picks in undercut of seam.
Guss and Crook - Belt with chain passing between the legs for pulling boxes, corves or trams in the past. Last used in the 1940s in the Somerset Coalfield.
Gypsy - a miner who has travelled round and worked in a number of collieries.
Gyro theodolite - Very precise instrument used by Surveyors for checking the precise direction of north for surface / underground correlation.
Main Gate - The intake airway which was the conveyor belt road down which the coal travelled
Return to Top
Hack - a heavy kind of pick for breaking stone.
Hade - The dip angle of the fault.
Half head system - Half of gate is cut by face machine and half by ripping by machine or blown down.
Half on or Hawn - Line of coal at 45º to face coals.
Halfbar also Split-bar - Basically a long prop split down the middle, used with props as roof supports.
Half-marrow - Young Putter or foal
Hambones - A device used to attach and pull tubs.
Hames - An obscure name for a horse's limmers.
Hammers - blows, as 'he paid me my hammers,' i.e. beat me.
Hand got - Coal worked by pick and shovel basically. Generally coals blasted down at the face by explosive and loaded onto a conveyor by a collier using a shovel.
Hand Filling - Usually as above where a machine is used to undercut the coal seam but the machine is not used to load the coal onto a conveyor, that is done by hand.
Hand holing/holing out - Cutting out the base of a seam by a hand pick or mauler, or maundrel.
Hand putter - A miner who pushed mine waggons.
Hand tramming - The act of pushing or pulling tubs by hand instead of by haulage rope or loco.
Hanger-On - Person in the pit bottom who used to fasten the corve onto the winding rope, later men who put the full tubs in and take the empty tubs out of the cage at the shaft bottom, or at any other landing or stopping place. They are usually paid by the score or ton, their average wages amounting (1849) to about 4s. per day of twelve hours.
Hanging on - Putting tubs on rope or chair (from corves in past).
Hardground man - Miner employed in driving in rock other than coal.
Hards - Very hard coal, difficult to cut out by hand using a pick.
Hardstop - A type of soft quick drying mortar material, for sealing off a stopping.
Harness (1) - Equipment for putting on a pony.
Harness (2) - Safety gear and chains for men working in shafts.
Haulage Boy, (1) aged 13 to 18 usually employed lashing or clipping and un-clipping tubs on an engine driven (moving) haulage rope on main roads or pit bottom area.
Haulage boy (2) could also be one say 15 years plus employed getting tubs or jotties of supplies to a face and empties back in panel gates by engine driven haulage rope, or ganging same by a pony. The age of starting work was 13 from 1880s up to 1913, then 14 from 1930s to 1948, 15 up to 1960s, thereafter 16 plus.
Haulage boy (3) generally a young boy 13 to 15 assisting an experienced person doing the above jobs (description sometimes varied pit by pit).
Headgear/headstocks - Steel construction over shaft holding pulley wheels now; used to be pitch pine.
Head or heading - A development drivage in coal or stone.
Header - One doing the work of driving a tunnel etc.
Headings - Roadways which are being developed, moving forward to open up new faces.
Headsman - A lad not strong enough to put (push from behind) alone, but able to do so with the assistance of a little boy, who performs helped by pulling the tub using a couple of ropes or traces called soams. The little boy was called a foal. He sometimes assisted the headsman by pushing the tub beside him. When the boys were of the same age or strength they were equally paid and called half-marrows.
Headstocks - The framework holding the winding wheel over the shaft.
Headways - a pair of narrow drifts, 2 yards wide, driven into the whole coal and constituting an intake and outlet for the air.
Health Monitoring - System set up to monitor the operation of gearboxes and motors to prevent major failings and breakdowns.
Heapstead - Platform at the shaft mouth elevated above ground level to allow coals to be tipped over screens or onto a conveyor to washery.
Heating - Fire in waste caused by spontaneous combustion (spon com).
Heavy gang or Humping staff - Team of men specialized in transporting heavy or difficult loads in the pit.
Helper-Up - A lad employed to assist the barrow-man or putter out of a dip or incline.
Hewer - Coal face worker who works or digs coal. He cuts and loosens the coal with a pick, referred to as ragging in some pits. He could be aged from 21 to 70. Back in 1849, as part of his wages, which averaged 3s. 9d. to 4s. 3d. per day for 8 hours working, 4 or 5 days a week, he was given a house with two or three rooms, according to the number in his family, and a garden, also a fother (a cart-load) of small coals each fortnight, for which he paid sixpence.
1890s The hewer was the coal-digger. The seam he worked could be so low that he could hardly creep into it on hands and knees, or high enough for him to stand upright. He was the responsible workman who loosens the coal from the bed. The hewers were divided into "fore-shift" and "back-shift" men. The former usually worked from four in the morning till ten, and the latter from ten till four. Each man worked one week in the fore-shift and one week in the back-shift, alternately. Every man in the fore-shift marked "3" on his door. This was the sign for the "caller" to wake him at that hour. When roused by that important functionary he got up and dressed in his pit clothes, which consisted of a loose jacket, vest, and knee breeches, all made of thick white flannel; long stockings, strong shoes, and a close fitting, thick leather cap. He then took a piece of bread and water, or a cup of tea, but never a full meal. Many prefer to go to work fasting. He would take a tin bottle full of cold water or tea, a piece of bread, which was called his 'bait', his Davy lamp, and "baccy-box." At the pit he got into the cage, and was lowered to the bottom of the shaft, where he lit his lamp and proceeded "in by," to a previously arranged place to meet the deputy. This official examined each man's lamp, and, if found safe, returned it locked. Each man then found from the deputy that his place was right and proceeded onwards to his cavel (lot drawing or a lottery to decided the working-place of each individual). He then went to his place of work with his picks in one hand, and his lamp in the other. He would travel like this a distance varying from 100 to 600 yards. Sometimes the roof under which he had to pass was not more than three feet high. To progress in this space he kept his feet wide apart and his body bent at right angles to his hips. His head was held well down, and his face looked straight ahead. On arrival at his place of work he undressed and began by hewing out about fifteen inches of the lower part of the coal. He thus undermined it, and the process was called kirving. The same was done up the sides. This was called nicking. The coal thus hewn was called small coal, and that remaining between the kirve and the nicks was the jud or top, which was either displaced by driving in wedges, or was blasted down with gunpowder. It then became the roundy. The hewer filled his tubs, and continued thus alternately hewing and filling.
Higgler - Old name for coal merchant 1800s
Hitch - a considerable interruption of the bed of coal.
Hitcher - Miner putting waggons into the cage, later the Chief attendant at the pit bottom.
HMI - Inspector of mines and quarries.
Hod boy - He conveyed coal to mine waggons in the working place.
Hog's back - Hump or roll in the floor of a seam, likened to a hog's back.
Hoggers - Footless stockings worn over the boot tops and tongue.
Holed - Breaking through into another working, holed through.
Holer - person employed to undercut the base of a coal-seam to assist the hewer to bring down the coal; these jobs could sometimes be combined.
Elsewhere, "Holer" - Describes a person engaged in drilling holes for shotfiring explosives for the purpose of loosening rock or coal. Another alternative is someone engaged in driving small, narrow tunnels between roadways, presumably as part of a mine ventilation plan.
Holing (1) - a general term for a narrow passage between two headways, or two board. The term appears to be sometimes used as synonymous with driving.
Holing (2) - Cutting out by pick a gap below the base of the coal seam.
Hollows - Ancient name for goaf, i.e. where coal has already been worked.
Hollybanks - Generally straight or shallow topped arches (made at local firm Hollybank at Tuxford, Nottinghamshire).
Homotropal - Ventilation system going outbye from face to pit bottom with flow of coal.
Hooker On - Attaching or detaching tubs to or from haulage rope at the face by lashing chains, clips, shackles, etc.
Hooking on - Fastening tubs to rope, lashing; or hanging corve to shaft rope in the past.
Horseback - Bump in a seam floor.
Horse engine - Very early type of winding apparatus using horses to raise the coal.
Horse fettler - Another name for a horse keeper also known as an Ostler
Horse Gin - A device where a horse walked round and round in a circular path and operated a drum with a rope for winding coal up a shaft.
Horse hole - Entrance into a shaft where horses were netted and lowered down.
Horseheads - Girders in brackets pushed forward at a ripping lip for safety.
Horse-keeper - (Ostler ) attends to the horses in the pit.
Horseshoe arches - Arches shaped as such set in certain conditions to counteract side crush.
Hugger - Hanging, hard un-fissured coal near a fault.
Hurdle Cloth - A hessian cloth or PVC sheet erected in a roadway to deflect air to remove or dilute the percentage of gas to acceptable levels.
Hurrier, also sometimes called a Coal Drawer or Coal Thruster - was a child or woman employed by a collier to transport the coal that they had mined. Women would normally get the children to help them because of the difficulty of carrying the coal. Common particularly in the early 19th century, the hurrier pulled a corf (baskets or small wagons) full of coal along roadways as small as 16 inches in height. They would often work 12 hour shifts, making several runs down to the coal face and back to the surface again. Some children came from the workhouses and were apprenticed to the colliers. Adults could not easily do the job because of the size of the roadways, which were limited on the grounds of cost and structural integrity. Hurriers were equipped with a "gurl" belt – a leather belt with a swivel chain linked to the corf. They were also given candles as it was too expensive to light the whole mine.
Hutch - receptacle in which coals are conveyed from the face, formerly a type of basket, now a box-like wheeled truck.
Hutch pin - a miner’s tally put on a hutch to indicate the hewer who filled it.
Hutch pinning - to substitute dishonestly one’s own tally for another’s on a more fully loaded hutch.
Hutch road - line of rails on which hutches run.
Hydraulic - Of or pertaining to fluids in motion.
Hydraulic Chock - Used on faces to control the strata and to push the AFC over (using a ram) after the coal is extracted.The ram is then used to pull the chock forward using the AFC. as an anchor.
Hydraulic Hose - A common hose used to work rams and chocks etc.
Hydro carbons - A sudden unexpected dangerous outburst of gas and oil (and water) on a coal face or heading.
Hydrogen Sulphide - A gas popularly known as 'stinkdamp' from its characteristic repulsive smell of rotten eggs. Extremely dangerous as 0.1% can kill if breathed in for only a few seconds
Hydroproof - A blasting powder for use under water- i.e. in the flooded bottom of a dipping head end.
Hydrox Filler - Removing the firing head, cleaning shells after firing and re-charging the shells under the supervision of the Shotfirer and/or Deputy and keeping records.
Hygrometer - An instrument for measuring relative humidity.
Return to Top
Idler - Conveyor roller, as well as the obvious.
IFS -Immediate face support, where support is quickly advanced behind the machine as it cuts coal along the face line.
In gate - Roadway leading from the pit bottom to a coalface.
Inbye - The direction along a roadway towards the face or workings thus going away from the pit bottom to work.
Incendive sparking - Rock which when cut causes sparking that could explode gas if present.
Incentive bonus - Contract made between management and men to increase production.
Incline man - Person attending to work on an inclined plane.
Incrop - Where a coal seam 'outcrops' underground against newer or later laid down rocks or strata.
Inrush - Striking a body of water or material that can flow when wet.
Inset - An access to a seam part way down the shaft.
Inspector - Person (Her Majesty's Inspector) appointed by the Government to ensure good working practices are followed and regulations relating to mining operations are being observed. Also workmens inspectors ( men appointed by the workers to ensure the same ).
Inspector (1850s.) - A man employed at the surface to attend to the cleaning and skreening of the coals. His wages were usually 3s. per day, or 18s. per week, with his house and firing free.
An underground inspector was required to attend to the working of the coals, and to see that proper pains were taken to make them large and good. He was also required to attend to the straight driving or holing and used compass marks for the purpose.
Back Over Inspector - The Man, performed the above duties if the colliery did not have a lot of fire-damp, and his time was not engaged in attending to the safety of the mine. The wages of an inspector were 21s. or 22s. per week, with house and firing free. (1850s)
Intrusion - in a coal seam can be igneous rock or shale or sand stone replacing the coal. Also known as a Dyke (Basalt).
Intake - Fresh air roadway leading to a coal face.
Interaction - A working face affecting or being affected by another working below or above.
Intergrown - Mixed coal and dirt at base of a seam, usually poor quality and not saleable.
Inundation - Another name for inrush of water.
Return to Top
Jack catches - Mechanical catches on cage to stop tubs falling off in transit or device in pit bottom where tubs are arrested and then allowed to move forward when the catches are released by the operator
Jack-roll - a hand-windlass.
Jacks - Poor coal within the seam, could be another name for cannel coal.
Jazz - A steep gate to a coalface or a district name, e.g. 66s Jazz.
Jazz rails - A pair of rails that are crooked, used as a safety device and would throw speeding tubs off to the side.
Jenny gate - A gate driven as a companion roadway.
Jig (1) - Mechanical conveyor with eccentric cam moving coal along.
Jig (2) - Stone head on a steep slope, sometimes operating main and tail haulage system.
Jigger - Miner who attended the brake of a self-acting incline or jig.
Jigger pick - Compressed air hand-held tool used to break lumps of rock or coal into manageable pieces. Also called a Windy pick.
Jotty - A small-sided open-ended tub, usually wooden sides.
Joy loader - Mechanical Loading machine with gathering arms and feed conveyor behind.
Jubilee (1) - Side tipping wagon for dirt tip waste.
Jubilee (2) - Adjustable circular metal band that can be tightened to join two pipes together for example.
Judd and Jenkin - The block of coal cut by the hewer at the face ready to be got down.
Jumbo - A very thick wooden prop, up to about ½ m dia.
Jumbo cable - Thick electrical cable, 6,000v +.
Jump up - Where the coal or strata is thrown higher at a fault plane in direction of travel.
Jumper - A sharp ended round bar or ringer for breaking down coal.
Junction - 2, 3 or 4 way split of a roadway.
Return to Top
Keeker - an inspector of the hewers, wailers etc.
Keeps - the apparatus at the top of the shaft for retaining the cage till the loaded tub is exchanged for the empty one.
Keps - Device for resting cage at pit bank, now not used.
Kerf - Undercut of coal or fast end corner of a coal face.
Kettle - cylindrical or barrel-shaped vessel of wood or iron, used to raise and lower materials and men during the sinking of a pit.
Key - Usually refers to shotfiring key to turn in the portable device to explode a charge.
Kibble - A large bucket on the end of the winding rope usually used in shaft sinking.
Kind of Coal - The initial letters attached to the word "Coal" indicate the kind of coal produced, e.g:— C - Coking; G - Gas; H - Household; M - Manufacturing; S - Steam.
King (to) - The act of the cage being held in the headgear. John King inventor.
King plate - Hole position in headgear to arrest cage safely if an overwind occurs, (bell).
King's Patent safety winding device
Kist - Wooden chest used by the Deputy to store tools, also a meeting place.
Knocker - Lad who took (knocked off ) the clip off the tubs as they reached their destination.
Knocking off (1) - End of shift or job.
Knocking off (2) - The act of taking a clip hauling tubs off the haulage rope.
Koepe - System of winding, ground mounted or tower, friction / multi rope winding.
Return to Top
L bars or lip support - Steel supports for safety at a ripping lip.
Labourer - Usually un-skilled man assisting or doing menial task jobs, either surface or underground.
Ladder system (1) - Where 2 roadways are driven parallel with regular crosscuts.
Ladder system (2) - this was the progression for mining personnel from junior positions to senior positions.
Lagging - Boards or metal sheets placed behind steel arches.
Laid-out - tubs of coals forfeited by the hewer as having an excess of stones or slates.
Lamming - Dirt in a coal seam that could be extracted and loaded out separately or gobbed.
Lamp man - One who maintained the electric and oil lamps in the lamp room or lamp cabin.
Lamp Keeper - who has charge of the Davies
Landing - Can be an inset or a platform in a shaft or at top or bottom of shaft.
Laser (beam) - Light beam set up by Surveyor for direction and grade in a roadway.
Lashing Chains - Chains used on a moving endless rope haulage i.e. attached to a vehicle, thrown over an over tub haulage rope and tightened in order to haul tubs / vehicles.
Lashing on - Throwing a measured length of chain attached to the draw bar on a tub over a moving overhead haulage rope several times forming a 'knot' that tightens allowing the rope to haul the tub or run of tubs.
Last draw - Last cage ride at the beginning of the shift before the shaft only available for coaling or sending in materials.
Last man button - Switch in pit bottom where the onsetter can signal himself out of the mine whilst safely inside the cage.
Lay of rope - The twist in strands of steel ropes – Laing's lay e.g.
Leaf - A layer of strata or coal.
Leakage Ventilation – Air short circuiting from the general air stream from intake to return.
Layering – This is where methane gas, lighter than air, is found in the roof of a slightly dipping road way creeping against the weak airstream.
Lease - Area of coal leased from an owner of the coal in the past, usually started and finished at one of the old Quarter days – 25th March or Lady Day, Midsummer or 24th June, Michaelmas or 29th September and very occasionally 25th December or Christmas. Now a lease for a parcel of coal either underground or opencast is obtained from the Coal Authority in Mansfield, Notts.
Leg - The lower part of steel arch road support- a pair of legs and a crown form a "ring" (on 3 section rings or arch girders).
Legs (1) - Wooden supports under ends of girders or steel side supports of arches.
Legs (2) - Surveyor's tripod.
Lepidodendron - Fossil leaf in coal seam or strata.
Level (1) - Gate driven fairly flat (on strike) as opposed to steep dip or rise.
Level (2) - A surveying instrument used to determine difference in height from one point to another.
Lid - A piece of hard wood (cap lid) set over a prop at the face - (foot pad under a prop).
Limmers or Limbers - Contraption for pony harness to allow tubs to be hauled.
Linesman - Surveyor's underground assistant, taking measurements, laying up centre lines, face lines etc and assisting on surveys of workings.
Lion - A conveyor motor size.
Lip or Rip Gate - road at the coal face end, where there is stone above the coal seam to be blown down creating height for gate supports to be set.
Lipe or lype - a small intrusion or irregularity in the joints of a coal-seam.
Liquefaction – The process of converting coal into a synthetic fuel, similar in nature to crude oil and/or refined products, such as petrol.
List - Batty coal.
Little Demon - Small shot firing battery for detonating single shots.
Load haul dump truck - Large truck conveying dirt to the tip.
Loader - One loading coal etc into a tub or onto a conveyor.
Loader gate - A roadway where coal or dirt is transported by conveyor or other means.
Loader or Loaderman - Filled tubs, trains or minecars at loading point
Loading - The act of filling coal etc into tubs or onto a conveyor.
Loading point - Place where conveyor loads coal into tubs/mine cars.
Lock out (1) - Action of coal owners in the past refusing men work.
Lock out (2) - A safety device on a machine etc to prevent it being accidentally started.
Locker (1) - Pit Head Baths container for clean and dirty clothes.
Locker (2) - Handle of steel or wood for arresting tub wheels.
Lockering - The act of placing a locker in the wheel of a tub to restrict movement
Lockers - A short wood or steel device which was inserted into the tub wheel, this locked the wheel and friction between the wheel and the tub track caused the tub and any others coupled to it, to come to a standstill.
Loco road - is always in the main intake.
Lodge (1) - Pump house / roadway or excavation or tank built to contain water.
Lodge (2) - Union branch.
Lofco - Mechanical device catching tub axles for raising tubs up or down a slope.
Lommy - Soft dirt above a seam.
Longwall - A coal face worked on a fair distance between gates.
Longwall Power Loader Operator, and Assistant - Men who on the production shift move along the face with the power loading machine. Their jobs include operating the controls of the machine, setting or withdrawing supports or trimming the face or breaking up coal. They also advance the conveyor or rubbing rail and set supports immediately behind the conveyor or rubbing rail.
Longway - was where the coal face continually extended and expanded from the shaft bottom and ever increasingly the face got longer and longer and the fresh air current entered the face at one end and exited as foul air at the other end with a continual increase in gasses, particularly Methane, which became dangerous and was sometimes in the explosive range. If the air stream was sluggish a build up of Blackdamp or Carbon Dioxide gas could accumulate as well as.
Loop - Tension device for a conveyor belt.
Loose all - Time when men were let up the pit at end of shift, 6 bells or knocks sounded.
Loose it - was used to high light the end of shift... ie I'll see you in the showers at loose it. Or call in the office at loose it. Thanks to Darren Haines
Loose Place - Place where coal is easily worked.
Low landing - Bottom deck at surface.
Lowerer - Miner who lowered waggons down an inclined plane.
Lowside - The dip side of a coalface as opposed to topside.
Return to Top
Machine man - A trained and experienced driver of a face coal cutting machine.
A Magnetic Meridian for underground surveys was established at the Silver Hill pit in 1870. The sketch on Bob Bradley's page shows the difference between true North (vertical) and magnetic North (to North West). The position of the needle pointing to magnetic north varies by about 8 minutes of arc each year and was to the west at this time moving east. Sometimes it is not absolutely clear whether allowance has been made for the difference on some of the very old plans. (See also Mining Dial)
Main and Tail - Haulage system, a set of fulls (tubs) running downhill pull a set of empties uphill on the other track.
Main fan - A mechanical ventilator installed at the surface; operates by either exhausting or blowing to induce airflow throughout the mine.
Main Gate - The airway which was the conveyor belt road down which the coal travelled, see also mother gate.
Main Gate Face Entry - Access point to the face from the main roadway, Mother Gate.
Main Intake - Supplying fresh air from the downcast shaft to a working area
Main Return - Roadway carrying the foul air back to the upcast shaft
Main Road - Gate road usually from pit bottom leading to coal cutting district.
Main Seam - Name of a thick seam of coal in South Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
Maintenance Man Mechanical Appliances - Engaged on minor repairs and maintenance of mechanical appliances.
Manager - Overall in charge of a mine on behalf of a company.
Manchester Gate - Safety device to stop runners or runaway tubs, originating from North West Area in Lancashire.
Manhole - Refuge hole between legs or rings, dimensions should be 3ft.by 4ft. by 6ft. and they should be whitewashed and numbered. Distance apart depended on the type of roadway and gradients, usually 10 yards or 20 yards. They provided a safe place in case of runaway tubs etc.
Manker - Warwick girder safety device to prevent tubs running away.
Manometer - An instrument which measures the pressure difference between roadways.
Market Man - Collier who has not got a regular job and fills in anywhere where a man is short.
Marrer - Mate or person working with another (from NE).
Marrow - A partner or Mate.
Master-Shifter - The person in charge of the shifters.
Master sinker - in charge of all operations whilst sinking was being done.
Master-Wasteman - The person who has charge of the wastemen.
Matilda - An in-between part of the chain conveyor from a ripping machine to loading onto a conveyor. Moves about separately...waltzing Matilda.
Materials or Supports Economy - Person in charge of loading and delivering equipment and supplies to the shaft top in readiness for underground use.
Maundrel - A small shafted pick for hand-holing out under coal, slight curved blade.
McLane tip - Conical waste tip, where the dirt is hauled up an incline and tipped over the top.
Mechanic - Member of the Mechanical engineering staff.
Meco self contained breathing apparatus - one using liquid air, 'Aerophor' and one using compressed oxygen contained in cylinders, 'Meco'. In the "Meco,' apparatus the oxygen feed is fixed at 2.3 litres per minute. The small apparatus cylinders are charged with 300 litres at a pressure of 120 atmospheres.
Meco-Moore - Cutter-loader 1940s to late 1960s, developed from AB 15 coal cutter and having several cutting jibs e.g. over, under and rear. the coal falling onto a small cross conveyor and onto the face conveyor.
The Meco-Moore - The Machine That Will Revolutionise The Mining Industry - Phil Wyles
Medical Centre - Under the control of a State Registered Nurse, able to attend to minor injuries etc. She would have a qualified Ambulance Brigade Attendant on the backshifts and one who could travel underground to replenish or position ambulance stations at strategic points.
Meeting Station - Point where Deputy meets his men on district before they proceed inbye to the face or job of work.
Mega - An electrician's testing meter.
Meshing - Wire mesh rolled out behind cutting machine to prevent roof falling held up by the chock beams. Also later, plastic-type meshing for assisting roof bolting or gate side support.
Metal Man - Person who takes the roof down to give more height.
Metal Mickey - Slang name for recording device for winding engines (after 1973 Markham disaster).
Methane - CH4 or firedamp gas, from 5%-15%, explosive mixture, most violent at 9.4%. Will not burn above 15% due to lack of oxygen. Lighter than air.
Methane Ddrainage - A system where holes are bored up or down into the strata above or below a coal seam but generally over the waste to capture methane gas and through a series of steel pipes either exhaust it safely into the general body of the mine air underground at a maximum of 2% or as at Shirebrook and other pits it is piped up the shaft and utilized in boilers to produce hot water for the pithead baths.
Methane Monitor - An instrument that is used to measure the amount of methane present in the mine atmosphere.
Middle Set - Temporary prop set along a coal face between the gob leg and face leg.
Middle sets (2) Temporary wooden supports set under damaged arches or girders in a gate.
Mine Car - A large steel tub, from 3 tonnes – 7 tonnes capacity.
Mine Driver – Part of a team which created roadways to the line of the coal face. Mine drivers would drill holes in the rock and use explosives to blow it down.
Mine Gases - Mine Gases. During the normal working of coal seams it is necessary to pass through the workings a sufficient quantity of air to keep the atmosphere properly conditioned for breathing, because of the fact that firedamp is slowly exuded by the coal and surrounding strata, and carbon dioxide gas is formed by oxidation of the coal and timber and by the breathing of men and animals. The latter processes remove oxygen from the mine atmosphere and thereby tend to bring the percentage below the normal 21%.
Mini-hydrack - Boring machine on a frame that could be tilted at various angles up or down to drill firedamp drainage holes in the roof or floor.
Mining Dial - Bob Bradley
MINOS - Mining information on screen (computer).
Misfire - The complete or partial failure of a blasting charge.
Moleskins - Colliers’ trousers, hardwearing, (replaced by denim, now a set of orange coloured overalls worn).
Mono - Generally referring to a type of pump used to force water through a pipe.
Morphia - A pain killing injection given after certain serious accidents. Could only be given by selected trained first aid men who were certified competent for this purpose
Mother Gate (1) - Loader or main conveyor road on a panel.
Mother Gate (2) - Main roadway ( usually an air intake roadway ).
Motty, Mottee or Mottie - Token, small brass or alloy tally, also checks, with identification numbers relating to a miner. The miner would give it to the Banksman when entering the pit and he would hand it back on returning to the surface. It was used for time keeping and also as a safety record.
Motty or Peg Board - Where a specific number of motties or pegs are found at the entrance to headings etc where man power is restricted. As one goes into that place, a motty or peg is put on the board denoting how many men are in that heading, usually 9, or in cases allowable by the HM Inspector other numbers of men with designated tasks. If a person or visitor wants or needs to go into that place another person has to come out to keep the maximum number correct.
Mouth - Shaft top or adit entrance at the surface.
Muck (1) - Dirt in the coal seam or at the base of a coal seam.
Muck (2) - Dirt produced from underground tipped at the surface, (muck hill or dirt tip).
Mudstone - Generally soft bind or strata overlying a coal seam.
Mueseller - Flame safety lamp invented by a Belgian mining engineer.
Mule haulage - Mechanical rope haulage device for pushing tubs by their axles.
Multi-shot - A series of explosives detonated at the same time.
Mussel bed (cockleshell) - Band of fossil shellfish overlying Low Main (Tupton) seam.
Return to Top
NACODS - National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers.
Naked light mine - Where illumination is by open light, candle, oil lamp, carbide lamp etc.
Natural Ventilation - Ventilation which is provided without the assistance of fans or furnaces.
Nesh roof - Poor friable strata above a coal seam.
Net - used for letting down and drawing up horses.
Neuropteris - Fossil leaf of a plant.
Nick (nick her up ) - Undercut the seam.
Nicking (1) - Making marks on a piece of wood to count the number of tubs etc.
Nicking (2) - vertical cuttings in the coal preparatory to blasting etc.
Night Gaffer - Used to be an Overman, nights regular in charge, later Assistant Undermanager.
Nitrogen - A gas occurring to the extent of 79% in the atmosphere. It is colourless, odourless and tasteless. It plays no part in the metabolic processes of the body. It is slightly lighter than air, is non-flammable and does not support life or combustion.
It liquifies at -196C, and is colourless in the liquid form. It is separated from liquid air, during the process of manufacture of liquid oxygen and is used as an agitator in some types of fire extinguishers, in the synthetic production of some explosives and fertilizers, and as a cooling agent in the manufacture of liquid hydrogen.
NMA - National Miner's Association.
NMIU - Nottinghamshire Miners Industrial Union 1920s-1930s.
Nog (chock nog) - Piece of pine wood approx 6 inches square x 3 feet long.
Noper or nopper - Hammer at one end and short pick at the other end for use with rail laying or setting props.
Norm - A task worked out by method study for each job of work.
Nose bag - Receptacle containing feed hung over a horse's or pony's neck.
NUM - National Union of Mineworkers from 1944 on when all local unions united.
Nuts - Size of saleable pieces of coal, similarly for others such as cobbles etc.
Return to Top
Ochrey - Inrush or inundation of water (e.g. Clay Cross, or Molyneux colliery near Teversal).
Off The Road - A tub or tram, or any vehicle which comes off the rails.
Oil lamp - Hand held flame lamp with bonnet and glass window, used for illumination and for detecting gases, either firedamp where a gas cap is observed on a lowered flame or blackdamp where the flame could be extinguished due to lack of oxygen in the air.
Oiler - One employed to oil the pulleys for haulage ropes or steam winding engines.
Oncostman - Workman not paid by the day.
1 2 3 Inspector - A person who is an experienced and practical miner of several years, employed to visit all workplaces on behalf of the men and report by writing their findings to the Colliery Manager with a copy forwarded to the Mines Inspector
On The Cinder Path
Oncost - charges for labour and maintenance additional to the payments to the colliers and their bearers for the actual production of coal
Oncostman - a time-worker
Onsetter - known as the pit-bottomer. Person in charge of loading and unloading the cage underground, at the bottom of the shaft, underground equivalent to Banksman. He signals to the banksman and winding engineman when the cage is loaded with men or mine cars and ready to move. Where tubs are used he usually had a boy of from 12 to 15 years of age, to help him. The boy was paid from 1s. 3d. to 2s. a-day in 1841.
Opencast - Working coal seams at the surface after removing the overburden.
Ostler - Horsekeeper in charge of all the animals.
Outburst - A dangerous situation with excess methane gas or water from coal or floor.
Outbye - The direction along a roadway away from the working face, towards the pit bottom.
Outcrop - Where coal is showing at the surface, Basset edge.
Overcast - An airway built over the top of another airway. Required to separate intake and return airways in some areas. Where one road passes over another.
Overlap (1) - The rope on the winder that goes over the top of the winding drum.
Overlap (2) - System of ventilation where air from one fan is passed through another.
Overlays - Plans of old or current workings made on transparent material for seams within 40 yards or 37 metres above or below a working seam.
Overlooker - (Also known as Overman) Underground foreman subordinate to the manager.
Overman - (Also known as Overlooker) The third in rank of the officers of the mine, in charge of safe operations in a section of the mine. He visits the workings every morning, receives the reports from the deputies, makes observations on the air currents, and general management of the underground work. He also ensures efficient production at the coal face, organises repairs and deploys the miners. He is the underground foreman subordinate to the manager.
Over rope - This is where a haulage rope is above the tubs and guided by pulley wheels and the tubs are are coupled onto the rope using a lashing chain.
Overwind - Where the cage is wound too far at pit top and is held in headgear by safety device, e.g. King’s Patent, Ormerod hook or later Bennett’s catchgear. Sometimes great damage can be done to the engine house or headgear if the safety device works and releases the winding rope to continue flailing round.
Owner - One who owns the mine or lease.
Oxygen - Oxygen is a colourless, tasteless, and odourless gas, it is slightly heavier than air.
Oxygen - Liquid Oxygen
Return to Top
Pack - Roof support made of stone. Large stones at the front, built up like a dry stone wall.
Packer (1) - One deployed to build the pack walls and fill behind with debris.
Packer (2) - A big piece of stone to use in the pack wall.
Packing - Act of building a pack wall and filling a void.
Packhole - Void at coal face to stow dirt either or both sides of the gate from the ripping lip.
Pad - Wood piece under a prop.
Pads - Knee pads or elbow pads for protection.
Paddy - The vehicles ( either rope driven or diesel ) that carry men along the roadways, also battery and FSVs (free steered vehicles).
Paddy driver - One operating a rope driven or loco manrider.
Paddy guard - One employed to operate signals on a manriding train and to control the seating arrangements of the men.
Palm tree junction - A tall split junction constructed with some arches splaying out at the top likened to a palm tree.
Pan (1) - Part of a panzer / crawley / stage loader through which the chain was guided, many pans were coupled together to make up the required length.
Pan (2) - Bottom tray of a gate conveyor.
Pan line - Line of AFC (armoured face conveyor) on the coalface.
Pan turner - One of a team employed to move the face conveyor over into a new track. Also called an Erector.
Panel (1) - A block area of coal worked or working.
Panel (2) - Face number or district name to identify it, e.g. 2s panel, 33s panel, 100s ‘A’ etc.
Panel (3) - An electrical switch gear unit.
Pantechnicon - Framework supporting electrical gear over a conveyor near to coal face.
Panzer - A Chain conveyor, Armoured flexible conveyor , AFC.
Papers - Generally referring to authorization certificates for various jobs.
Parcel - An area of land in acres denoted by boundaries marked on a plan.
Parrot Coal - a term for gas coal, often but not always restricted to an inferior quality. This name has probably been derived from the crackling noise made by this type of coal in burning.
Parting (1) - A rail junction ("points" in railway parlance) or splitting of two roadways.
Parting (2) - Usually where a gap occurs between different layers of rock above a coal seam as it is extracted.
Parting (3) - Different layers in a coal seam where it is easy to break in to.
Passport - An identity card indicating the training skills and qualifications and experience of outside contractors' employees.
Pattern - The layout of shot holes to be drilled for explosives to be used.
Pavement - the layer immediately underlying a coal or other workable seam.
Pea Blossom - Sulphur gas
Peat - Partially decayed vegetable matter found in swamps and bogs, one of the earliest stages of coal formation. Used as fuel or for horticulture.
Peggy or Nipsey - Game played with pieces of wood, striking a small piece with a stick – general during strike periods e.g. 1926.
Peg board - For motties or checks, situated at the single entrance to a heading to control the number of men.
Peg out - Peg out underground survey on the surface.
Penitent or "Fireman" - A man wrapped in wet sacking crawled into the area where gas was suspected and with a lighted candle on a long pole raised it into the roof and hopefully set fire to the gas without it exploding.
Penobel - Blasting gelignite or "powder" (PE- permitted explosive, Nobel)
Perch or pole - Measurement equal to a rod (Measurement of 16½ feet or 5½ yards.)
Peter - When chains were used to carry miners up and down the shaft the Peter was a piece of timber to steady and balance the chain and to prevent it running over the headstock wheel when it gets to the top of the shaft.
Pick - A hand tool, used by hewers, for loosening coal etc., also machine picks, attached to a drum or chain to cut coal or stone.
Picks - Replaceable steel cutting edges fastened into cutter jib or drum.
Piece - Lunch, snap, bread, bait etc. Various names used throughout the Coalfields.
Pig tail (1) - Curled end of a coupler or drag or clip.
Pig tail (2) - Twist or screw of chewing tobacco.
Pikeman - Workman using a pick
Pikrose - Haulage engine, various horsepower sizes
Pillar (1) - An unworked pillar of support for neighbouring panels.
Pillar (2) - An unworked pillar of coal left to prevent subsidence to surface features such as Churches, motorways, railways, town centres etc
Pillar (3) - Shaft pillar, the size of which was calculated from various factors such as depth of seam, dip of strata etc left to prevent damage to the shafts from working the coal seams
Pillar edge - The external line of the above pillar.
Pillar and Stall - Method of working coal in squares, juds and jenkins.
Pillar work - Where a panel is worked, a panel width is left and another panel worked and so on generally to protect surface works from subsidence.
Pinch - A portion of snuff.
Pinch Bar - A long round, thin steel bar ( approximately 5ft.) used for lifting or prising items or materials.
Pinger - Extra quarter hour overtime
Pinner - Wooden wedge used to tighten up girders etc or lid for a prop.
Pin wheel - Chainless haulage system for a shearer.
Pipeman - Maintaining and extending pipe ranges at the face; dismantling and erecting in new position compressed air and/or water pipes at the face.
Pit - an individual shaft – Colliery an entire coal mining operation, including all infrastructures from offices to transport and it may include several pit (shafts) or drifts.
Pit-bottomer - (Also known as an Onsetter) Person in charge of loading and unloading the cage underground, at the bottom of the shaft, underground equivalent to Banksman. He signals to the banksman and winding engineman when the cage is loaded with men or mine cars and ready to move. Where tubs are used he usually had a boy of from 12 to 15 years of age, to help him. The boy was paid from 1s. 3d. to 2s. a-day in 1841.
Pit Brow (broo) Lassies - Women screen workers, mainly in West Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumberland (last two 1963).
Pit eye - Pit bottom of shaft.
Pit rags - Miners’ clothing as in the past any old clothing would do for working in.
Pit top - Surface.
Pit top (2) area around the top of the shaft.
Plane road - Long sloping main road for tub haulage.
Plane Runner - person employed to ensure that the tub system was operating efficiently and the roadways were clear of spillage etc, whereas a 'Corporal' was overall in charge and oversaw the system and the personnel involved. Called a Plane man also.
Planks - Usually a prop cut down the middle, lengthwise from top to bottom ( 6ft. planks mainly ). used as a roof support.
Plate (1) - Steel sheet placed on floor, ripping dropped on to it, making it easy to shovel.
Plate (2) - A steel sheet on the floor where tubs can be spun from a set of rails from one direction to another set of rails in another direction, usually at right angles...spin plate.
Plough (1) - A rope hauled toothed device taking a thin slice of coal app 6 inches or 0.15m on a coal face.
Plough (2) - A device usually attached to a shearer or trepanner for pushing cut coal onto a panzer conveyor.
Pneumoconiosis - A chronic disease of the lungs arising from breathing in coal dust.
Pocket (1) - Pocket of gas. Gas found in a crevice or high part of a gate road.
Pocket (2) - Skip pocket, a storage area near shaft side in pit bottom. Skips are loaded from it.
Points - A junction in the tub track where tubs could be switched from one track to another.
Pony - Pit pony, horse, mule, ass or donkey. From a tiny Shetland pony to a large horse.
Pony driver - Or ganger, a person in charge of a pony used for ganging supplies to the face or ganging tubs of coal from the face.
Pony loco - Short based steep-seam battery-loco with rubber tyres for shunting/hauling.
Pony putter - Driver of a pony drawing a mine waggon.
Popper - A short or extra hole drilled and fired to trim off or break up large lumps.
Pork Pie Roller – A vertical fixed roller for guiding a haulage rope around bends.
Post - An old name for a pillar of coal left for protection of surface building or shaft etc.
Post and stall - Where small faces are worked off a main gate and a similar width of coal is left between the small faces or rooms.
Pot hole - Usually large inverted dish-like slippery roof (tortoise shape).
Pouch - Small bag carried on ones belt to carry small items / tools etc.
Powder - Explosive, 2oz, 4oz, 8oz, or unit charge of higher weight in lbs.
Powder bag - Bag usually made from old belting to carry explosives.
Powder monkey - Usually one carrying a bag of explosives or assisting shotfirer for extra pay.
Power Loader Man - Directly engaged during coal getting operations on a coal face operated by a power loading machine (other than a remotely operated longwall face) Also see Collier, similar work but by hand
Power Stower - Building packs at coal face by means of power stowing equipment.
Pre-shift inspection - The deputy tests for gas, and examines a district to make sure it is safe before workmen arrive.
Prep shift - Where a team of men prepare the face for coal turning.
Pre-start - Warning sound or klaxon horn before starting a machine or armoured face conveyor.
Pricker (spiker) - A tool for making a hole in explosive to insert the detonator.
Production Manager - (1) In charge of a group of pits, superior to the Manager, (similar to Agent).
Production Manager - (2) After take over by UK Coal a title given to the Undermanager position.
Props - Wooden or hydraulic supports holding up the roof.
Proto - Breathing Apparatus
Prop Bobby - Person to go round faces counting props re lost ones (fine a team for loss).
Prop free front - The predetermined distance from the last support to the coal face agreed by an Inspector and not to be exceeded e.g. 6’ 6” (2m).
Pull - Refers to the amount of material extracted or brought down by shotfiring.
Pulley - A roller for deflecting or supporting a rope.
Pulley Greaser or Oiler - One employed to make sure that pulley wheels were operating properly and kept lubricated and clean.
Pulley wheels - Wheels or sheaves in the headgear or headstocks, diverting the winding rope from the winding engine down the shaft.
Pull lift - Hand operated device for lifting equipment using a chain.
Pull wire - Manual signalling device for conveyors etc.
Pummel (end) - Where an electric cable enters a motor.
Pumper - Male or female child who descends into the deepest part of the mine to pump rising water to the level of the engine pump in order to keep the men's rooms of work dry. They frequently work up to their waists in water or in such cramped situations as to be nearly covered. The work is severe and continuous; they are relieved every 6 hours and rest for twelve.
Pump man - A man employed to operate a water pump and maintain it.
Pumps - Various kinds from Savery Fire Engine, Newcomen, Bucket, Rag, Ram Pumps to Suction, Three Throw, Mackley, etc.
Puncheon - Old name for Wooden Prop.
Punching - The act of setting the said Wooden Props as supports.
Pushover - Act of moving the AFC nearer to face by hydraulic rams.
Putt - A cart or vehicle in which coal is put to take to pit bottom.
Putter (1) - Boys or girls worked as 'putters,' dragging or pulling loaded coal carts, weighing up to 10 cwt to the surface.
Putter (2) - A small haulage engine with single rope hauling one way.
Return to Top
Quick release - A metal device with 2 wedges and locking pins built part way up a temporary wooden support built of chock nogs. Knocking out the pins with a large hammer causes the chock nogs to collapse and enables them to be used again.
Quicky - Short shift, usually to attend a meeting for example.
Quota - System devised in late 1920s and 1930s to sell coal fairly by Company.
Quarter - Extra quarter of an hour for overtime.
Return to Top
Race - A channel where the panzer chain runs.
Rack Gearing - take a rack off, 'take it easy', rack up a cutter – 'increase speed'.
Raft of tubs - A run or several tubs coupled together.
Rafter coal - Coal left up unworked to form a good roof.
Ragging up - Finishing the job and dressing to return to pit bottom at end of shift.
Raise drill - Drilling machine, which when drilled down with say a 9" dia bit and holed through into a roadway or chamber below, a large dia bit say 60" is raised or drilled up excavating a large hole and the debris falls to the bottom roadway to be loaded out.
Rake - Body of ore, such as ironstone.
Ram (1) - A device for pushing the panzer conveyor over.
Ram (2) - 3 throw ram pump for example moving water.
Ram's head - Hand-held boring machine.
Ramble - loose stone lying above the top of the coal.
Rammel - is a term for rubbish or waste.
Rammer - A wooden rod for tamping an explosive in a shot hole.
Ramming - Material, usually clay tamped into an explosive charged hole.
Ramp - A wooden platform at a higher level than the rest of the roadway.
Ramper - Turn pike road.
Ranging drum - Shearer with a drum that can be lifted and lowered whilst cutting to different heights.
Rank - Rank of coal re coking properties 700, 800 etc (coal survey), anthracite being the highest rank.
Rap - Bell signal to an machinery operator ( winding engineman, haulage driver etc. ) 3 raps to the winder meant men were about to travel the shaft.
Rattlejack - Cannel coal.
Redman - Chewing tobacco, imported from USA, used for centuries by Indians.
Redsman - Man employed to clear debris or rubbish from the workings in a coal mine
Re-entry - Going back into an old working which has been abandoned.
Reg 10 man - Un-qualified assistant mechanic or electrician.
Regular days - One who always worked on the day shift e.g. 6.30am to 2pm.
Regular nights - One who always works on the night shift e.g. 10pm to 6am.
Regulator and Regulator Doors - Constructions which controls the air flow in a roadway, it balances the quantity of air reaching faces etc. and prevents the ventilation from short circuiting.
Regulator (1) - A door with a wedge or opening, regulating air flow, slide to release pressure.
Regulator (2) - In late 1920s / 30s person appointed by the government to regulate output of colliery companies.
Re-lighter - Oil lamp with personal re-lighting device, usually used by officials.
Re-lighter station - A closed container underground that is flameproof, where an underground worker's lamp could be re-lit by a person trained in such a task.
Repairer - One employed to do various jobs, mainly on roadways, to make sure the tracks are clear of rubble and to make sure the supports are in order.
Rescue and Firefighting - Plan prepared and updated by Surveyor for use by Rescue team for use in an emergency (updated copy kept at Rescue Station for instruction purposes). This plan shows the aircoursing round the workings and all doors etc, water pipes, valves and hydrants, underground fire station containing hoses, sand, buckets, extinguishers etc and ambulance tubes containing stretchers and bandages and other equipment such as splints etc.
Rescue Man -Volunteer Colliery miner or regular Rescue Brigade man at Rescue Station. Used to have to retire at 45 years of age but now can continue if passed as A1 fit at each yearly medical examination.
Resin - A chemical material that is inserted into drill holes, it quickly sets very hard, it is used for roof bolting and anchoring head drives etc.
Respirable Dust - Coal dust particles, 1 to 5 microns are the most harmful.
Rest day - Individually chosen day off, requested and approved officially 'beforehand'.
Retarder - Device for arresting tubs.
Retreat - To work coal from the boundary back towards the pit bottom, or to work a face back from a predetermined position arrived at by driving roadways out and coupling up and working the coal back to another predetermined position.
Retreat Face - The roadways are developed to the boundary then the coal is extracted from the inbye end and retreats outbye. Retreating back towards the main roads.
Return - Roadway along which the air travels from the face and out of the mine.
Return (1) - A foul air road to pit bottom.
Return (2) - Pulley wheel on rope haulage, conveyor return end.
Return (3) - An official form to fill in at periodic intervals, e.g. daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
Return Air - Air or ventilation that has passed through the workings.
Return Airway - A roadway along which air returns from the working face(s).
RH25 etc - A roadheader.
Rib - The side walls of the roadway.
Rib or rib side - The fast end or side of a face.
Ricket gate - Gate with channel for water to run naturally to a sump hole to be pumped out.
Ridder - Person who rakes or rids coal down a steep working.
Riddor - Reporting of injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences.
Ride - Ascend or descend the shaft in the cage, or travel to and from work on manriding cars or conveyors.
Rider (1) - Attendant on an inclined plane.
Rider (2) - Where another seam of coal is close or lies on top of a coal seam.
Rider (3) - Name of a coal seam.
Riders - Men congregating to ride, at top or bottom of the shaft.
Rifler - A named portion of the Top Hard coal seam.
Rigid guides - Wooden or steel shaft guides instead of free hanging steel ropes.
Ring - An arch, 2, 3 or 4 pieces joined together with fish plates and nuts and bolts.
Ringer - Pinner or large straight Crow bar.
Ringrose - (1930s onwards) A large battery lamp with 2 bulbs, one plain and one red for detecting methane gas, the red light would flash when one and a quarter percent of methane or more was detected. Usually hung at a place of work to inform workmen of gas. Theoretically all electrical equipment was to be switched off then and the amount of gas detected was to be checked by an official and should the percentage increase to 2 percent then all men were to be withdrawn to a safe area designated by an official.
Rings - Steel arches supporting the roof.
Ripper - One of a team employed to extract the gate profile material and set gate supports.
Rippers - Men who remove the rock above the coal seam and set rings (arches) as the face advances.
Ripping - Dirt or rock taken from above a seam to form height in a gate or roadway.
Ripping Lip - As the face was lower than the roadway, the extra height was called the rip. Obviously one at each end of the face. Shots were fired to bring rip down. Modern day ripping is done by machine.
Riving and Chewing - Tearing and pulling.
Risk Assessment - A plan showing possible dangers in the mine such as water logged areas, sites of underground heatings, bore holes and gas outbursts, etc. Reviewed periodically, at least once every year.
Road - Main thorouoghfare connecting shaft to the faces.
Road (1) - Passage, gate or airway.
Road (2) - Tramway, tub track etc.
Roadlayer - Person who installs the tub track, grading floor, sleepers etc.
Roadsman - mine official responsible for the making and maintenance of haulage roads
Roadways - Snickets - cross cuts, slant gates, material turn outs, bob holes, were all minor connecting roadways.
Robbing - Working of coal on retreat between existing pillar and stall or room and pillar work.
Rock bolt or roof bolt - Tensioned rod or rope anchored in a drilled hole into strata to increase the inherent strength of the bed or beds of strata.
Rockman - Slate getter - a skilled workman who excavates or "gets" the blocks of rock, which are split and dressed into slates.
Rod - Measurement of 16½ feet or 5½ yards.
Roll - A disturbance in a coal seam usually in the floor.
Roller Turn - where a roadway is on a bend and several floor rollers are set on the same radius and captivate the haulage rope to prevent it rising or cutting across the inside of the bend.
Rolley - Coal truck.
Rolley way - Haulage road.
Rolley-Way Man - A man whose business it was to attend to the rolley-way and keep it in order. It was also his duty to see that no time was lost in getting the full waggons to the shaft and the empty ones in-bye again.
Rolley-ways - the-principal horse-roads extending into distant parts of the mine and made sufficiently high for an ordinary horse, by cutting away the roof or floor if necessary. Some of these rolley-ways are two miles long they are kept in repair by the rolley-way man.
Rood - Measurement ¼ of an acre.
Roof - The top of a coal seam or gate road.
Roof Bolt - A steel rod used to support the roof, along with wire meshing, by securing it in a hole drilled into the roof.
Roof bolted roadway - A roadway driven with the only visible means of support being roof bolts and bars and sometimes mesh (to roof and sides).
Roof Bolter - Responsible for boring holes and inserting and adjusting special bolts to bind the strata. (See above)
Roof bolting - was a system where a 10 feet long hole was drilled into the roof using a Wombat machine. Epoxy resin capsules were then inserted into the hole, followed by a ten foot threaded rod the roof bolt, and the whole lot was spun mixing the resin. When the resin went off the roof was supported, in theory. Fine with good strata, it was just lethal here.
Roof Support - Anything used to support roof. Examples of roof supports are roof bolts, arches, powered supports, wood chocks, timber or hydraulic props.
Room (and pillar) - Small area of coal, single entry, worked leaving pillars either side.
Rope - Haulage or winding rope, steel Laings lay etc, hemp rope 6" x 2" e.g.
Rope man - A man employed to maintain and extend, splice or install haulage ropes.
Ropemen - Men who repair and maintain rope haulages.
Round - Several shots or multi-shot detonators and explosive fired at the same time.
Royalty - Amount of money received by the owner of the coal lease, usually so much per ton extracted.
Rubbing rope - Rope down shaft between cages to prevent them catching when passing at speed.
'Rubic chute' - Slang name for complicated arrangement within a chute where coal or dirt is transferred onto another conveyor from one direction or from another direction or both together, loaded out for storage then loaded back through at off peak times.
Run - A set of tubs on a rope haulage or diesel/battery loco hauled.
Runaway - Usually meant that a tub was running down a gradient out of control.
Run In pit - Shaft where men and materials were wound.
Run of mine - Output brought up to the surface before being washed or screened.
Runner (1) - Pusher of mine waggons.
Runner (2) - Runaway tub or tram.
Runner (3) - Pit bottom tea / message man for gaffer (Undermanager).
Runner in - Person who put waggons into the cage at the bottom of the pit.
Runners - Girders supported generally at right angles by bearing girders at a junction.
Running in (1) - The act of allowing several empty tubs to run loose into a gate.
Running in (2) - Where loose material flows from roof leaving large cavities.
Return to Top
Saddles - cast-iron fittings confining the tram and tub on the rolley.
Safe haven - Underground muster station.. an emergency steel shelter with food and water capable of supporting a number of men for up to 48 hours.
Safety Engineer - Person holding a First Class Certificate of Competency (Manager's Certificate). All safety personnel would report to him.
Safety Officer - In charge of safety checks and notices etc at the colliery. Usually this job was carried out by an ex Deputy.
Safety lamp - See Davy lamp (Also Clanny, Ceag, Mueseler, Oldham, Wolf lamps)
Saleable - Amount of coal sold (coal, including dirt and moisture).
Salvage - Act of recovering tackle from an old district or roadway.
Sandstone - A sedimentary rock consisting of quartz sand and iron oxide or calcium carbonate. Very hard rock, layered or current bedded.
Sattle board - A movable decking pushed out at top of shaft to receive a corve or Corf or box.
Sausage - A capsule of resin used in roof bolting.
Schaffler - A small shot firer, made in Austria
Scissors - The crossing in the tub tracks.
Score - Amount of coal produced at that time in the shift, number skips or tubs wound.
Scorpion - The curved delivery end of a chain conveyor on a ripping machine as it delivers onto a gate conveyor or into a tub.
Scotch or Dick - was a piece of wood, triangular in shape across it's width and about two feet in length. The scotch had to be placed under the back wheel of the leading tub in order to lock it, the set would continue to run towards the pit bottom, but at an ever decreasing speed and the trick was to bring it gently to a stop before it came to rest at the back of other vehicles waiting to be wound up the shaft. It was important that you got this right, if you let the set in too quickly or you lost control you could could derail one or more of the "coalers" (Tub full of coal, dotters if full of dirt) or a tub could be pushed into the shaft.
Scour or scouring - A roadway driven in the waste or old works, scufting out.
Scraper (1) - Device for cleaning up or detecting breaks in shothole.
Scraper (2) - Dirt tip spreading / loading machine.
Scraper (3) - Device on conveyor for scraping fines and sludge off the bottom of the belt.
Scree - an arrangement of parallel bars arranged on a slope over which coal is passed at a pithead to remove dross.
Scree-man - the worker in charge of the riddling of the coal at a pit-head.
Screen (1) - A device with different size holes in plates for sorting coal into various sized pieces and grades.
Screen (2) - In early 1900s a fork used instead of a shovel for loading coal – no small coal sent out of the pit. Men penalised for doing so.
Screen or Traps - for screening coals, consist of bars of iron.
Screeners - those who took the small coal from beneath a screen of iron, over which the coals, as they came from the hewers, were poured into the waggons or carts. They removed stones, slates, brasses, etc.
Screens - Pit head where coal is sorted from dirt before washing or loading out.
Screenhand - General Labourer on the screening plant.
Screen-trapper - an attendant at the screens.
Screw - Usually meant a piece of pigtail chewing tobacco, often offered to a colleague.
Screw Clip - Box or Fisher clip for hauling tubs. The clip is screwed down onto the haulage rope.
Screw Prop - Steel prop with top part spiralled and when turned by a handle caused the prop to be tightened up to the roof.
Scroll - Angle of picks on a cutting drum to assist in loading coal onto a face conveyor.
Sea Coal (1) - Coal shipped down the coast from NE by collier boat.
Sea Coal (2) - Coal found on the beach left after high tide.
Search - Refers to searching men for contraband items.
Seatearth - The material on which a coal seam is laid down on generally containing fossilised plant rootlets of the trees or vegetation that created the coal seam.
Second Working - This is where it is possible to economically and safely extract more coal from a seam that has been worked previously.
Second Means of Egress - The alternative roadways from the working areas of the mine which would be used if an emergency arose.
Self Acting Haulage System - Full wagons or tubs ran down an incline hauling empty tubs up. Main-and-Tail.
Self Rescuer - A stainless steel canister, about the size of a small tea caddy, carried on the belt at all times. When the red lever on top was pulled, you could pull out a small respirator with a mouth piece, noseclip and webbing straps to hold it in place. It contained an air cooler, smoke and dust filters, and most importantly, a substance called Hopcalite, which converts carbon MONOXIDE into carbon DIOXIDE (that extra atom of oxygen makes all the difference!). They're supposed to last for an hour.....it also contained a bypass valve- Miners were told that if they had to be sick they were to do it into the mouthpiece and not remove the self rescuer
Send for ‘toss - In the 19th and 20th Centuries meant that the cart was need to transport a severely injured or ‘usually dead’ man or boy to hospital or home. The usual statement when taking a body home was to say to the widow ‘We’ve brought him home missus’.
Sentry - Safety person posted at extreme edge of danger position when shotfiring, usually wearing a red cover over his cap lamp to denote to anyone approaching the area that firing was in progress and to stop that person passing into the danger zone.
Setting Timber - Erecting supports to control the roof, traditionally timber props, later steel and hydraulic props.( See image under Planks).
Shackler - Person who couples waggons.
Shaft - Vertical hole which connects the surface with the underground workings. Fresh air enters the mine by the Down Shaft, circulated the workings and came out via the up Shaft.
Shaft (1) - The constructed hole sunk from the surface to the seam or pit bottom.
Shaft (2) - Hand-held pick.
Shaft Dry Lined - The bricks or stones to the circumference of the shaft were loosely laid.
Shaft exams - The shafts, sump and headgear at a mine have to be examined for safety reasons at least once per 24 hours. Shaftsmen as listed would ride on the top of the cage and would be lowered or raised at a very slow speed to be able to examine the shaft walls, cables, pipes, winding rope, guide ropes or rigid guides for signs of wear or damage or failure. Anything out of order would have to be put right before shaft winding could continue.
Shaft Limed - The bricks or stones to the circumference of the shaft were set in lime mortar.
Shaft sinking - The act of sinking a shaft and if sinking 2 shafts one shaft is always sunk a few metres in front of the other to prevent interaction when firing shots.
Shaftman - Shaft sinker.
Shaftsman - Examiner, blacksmith, joiner, engineer, bricklayer – person working in a shaft on 6 hour shift, because of the intricate and dangerous work.
Shaker (pan) - A metal eccentric crank motion conveyor to move coal downhill.
Shanker - makes sure that the mine shaft is properly supported. Looks after the smooth running of the cage up and down the shaft and manages the transport of unusual loads.
Sharpener - A man employed on pit top to sharpen collier’s picks etc.
Shear (1) - Generally meaning where movement of the strata has created a crack or displacement of the strata but not causing a fault or slip as noted above.
Shear (2) - The act of cutting the coal face with a shearer cutter-loader machine.
Shearer - Machine used to cut coal on a longwall face. Revolving drum cutter-loader, 1955 on.
Sheave - Winding wheel at headgear where the rope hauls the cage up and down the shaft.
Shield (1) - A metal frame to shelter behind when firing shots.
Shield (2) - Very large face support, with lemniscate action on legs, usually 4 or 2 leg chocks.
Shield (3) - Safety tunnel moved forward in cut ground, Brunel, London clays and tried in pits in 1980s but not very successful.
Shift - The part of any day worked. for example, Early, Mid, Days, Afters, Extenders, Twilights, Nights, Cutting, Week-end etc..
Shift Manager - Senior overman in charge of the mine on the back shifts.
Shifters - men who repaired the horse-ways and other passages in the mine, and kept them free from obstructions.
Shoe - A metal clamp device for guiding a cage in a shaft or a face machine to AFC.
Shonkey - Pit shaft with only one cage and a counterbalance weight.
Shop - Workshop on surface for a craftsman e.g. Blacksmiths, Welders, Joiners, Fitters, Electricians etc.
Shot - An explosive action or shotfiring.
Shot wire - Thin plastic covered wire attached to a detonator.
Shotfirer - A qualified person in charge of explosives, who detonates shots or explosives. ‘Shotty’.
Shotfiring cable - Cable coupled to shot wire and battery, min 20 yards long for single shot in coal, 50 yards for 6 shots. In headings can be + 250 yards (m) long.
Shotfiring curtain - Metal chain mail erected to prevent pieces of coal or dirt projecting beyond it to protect persons behind it.
Shotfiring shield - Transportable metal shield used by the shotfirer to protect him whilst firing shots.
Shotstick Shot-firing pole. - Thin wooden pole used to ram the explosives and clay into the drill holes. Later known as a
shot-firing stick or a rammer.
Shot wire - Thin plastic covered wire attached to a detonator.
Shuffle - Action of cutting at a gate end to prepare for cutting back the other way along the face line.
Shunter - Person sorting and moving wagons on the surface.
Shunting pole - Long wooden pole with a pig tail hook used to couple or un-couple wagons. Also used to put across brake handle to put on or release the brake on a wagon or to keep easing the brake on and off controlling the speed of the wagons on a gradient.
Shuttle car - An electrically or diesel driven , free-steered vehicle or car car / transporter for coal usually filled by a Joy loader.
Sigilaria - Type of fossilised fern found in the formation of coal.
Silkstone - Seam name from Yorkshire, alternative name for Blackshale in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
Siltstone - fairly hard abrasive strata overlying a seam classified between a mudstone and sandstone.
Single entry - where a single roadway is driven to its planned length in coal and a small face is headed out say 10 metres long. Chocks and a face machine and panzer installed and then that small face is retreated back using that gate. Ventilation is effected by an exhausting fan at the gate end and the air tubing is salvaged and moved outbye with the conveyor and other equipment. A pillar of coal would be left and a similar face worked and so on. This system was used in subsidence sensitive areas.
Single point suspension - Where a cable is hung freely down a shaft from framework at the top without being supported by cleats hammered into the shaft side.
Single shot - Usually a 4oz pellet of explosive fired from a minimum distance of 20 yards away.
Sinker (1) - Man in a team excavating a shaft. Master sinker in charge.
Sinker (2) - A shot of explosive in the bottom of a sinking shaft.
Sinking pit - pit or shaft in the process of being sunk.
Sixteen/seventeens - 16/17 x 12 ft, 3 piece arch size in feet; others 14 x 10, 11 x 9, 10 x 8s, 2 piece.
Skinning - Setting smaller arches inside usually distorted larger arches to form a smooth gate way, assisting the ventilation and safety.
Skip - Large container for raising coal and dirt up a shaft.
Skip pockets - Large containers situated at the shaft side in the pit bottom where coal is held having been delivered by conveyor. When a skip was being filled in the pit bottom another skip was being emptied at the surface.
Skull cap - Soft cap with clip for lamp used by colliers before helmets 1957.
Sky bolt - Large steel bolt with a circular handle supported in solid or rock roof to use to lift heavy tackle etc.
Slack - Very small pieces coal.
Slack bobby - Person employed to tour stalls to catch men using shovels to load out slack instead of using forks (screens) to load out larger pieces of coal.
Slant or slit - A gate driven at an angle to the main gate.
Sledge or sled - Ancient wooden device for hauling coal.
Sleeper - Usually made of wood for fastening rails to.
Sleeving - Setting smaller arches inside larger distorted arches similar to skinning above.
Slickensides - Very shiny slippy smooth-sided rock material which falls easily, very dangerous.
Sline - A longish piece of coal, from face coals generally needing to be broken down into smaller pieces to allow the coal to be loaded out into tubs or onto a conveyor.
Slinger - One of a team of men coupling chains etc to lower large items under a cage.
Slinging - The act of lowering large items down the shaft, not in a cage but under it.
Slip - A break in the strata, not necessarily displacing the seam, or maybe by only a few inches or millimeters.
Sloom - Soft dirt under a seam of coal.
Slusher - A mechanical device with a bucket and rope hauled by an engine for moving dirt.
Slusher Operator - Operating mechanical slusher for loading dirt or ripping; scouring drifting gobs or coal heading.
Small Leader - A lad employed to put small coals to a stowboard.
Smallman (Swan clip) - Clip for fastening tubs to a rope, pulling action. Long or small handle.
Small Mine - A private mine employing a maximum of 30 men underground, under license from NCB/British Coal, now Coal Authority
Smalls (small coal) - Pieces of coal, gravel size or smaller.
Smasher - Person employed in breaking up waste rock.
Smoke (1) - Shotfiring fumes.
Smoke (2) - Glass tube containing a chemical which when broken open produces a smoke-like haze to watch and check the direction of airflow where the air current is sluggish or undetectable by normal means.
Smoke (3) - Using tobacco in cigarettes, pipes or cigars, now illegal to use underground since early 1920s or in certain surface areas since 1980s.
Smoke (4) - The haze or smoke from an underground heating or open fire.
Snake - The act of pushing over the armoured face conveyor behind cutter, or cable.
Snaker - Man employed to operate the chocks to push the AFC over to the coal face after the machine has cut past. (cable handler).
Snap - Sandwiches etc. taken to eat part way through the shift. Usually carried in a special 'snap' tin.
Snap ticket - Arranged by an official so that sandwiches and a drink from the canteen is sent down the pit to men who were asked to do overtime.
Snap time - 20 minutes meal break part way through a shift. Usually all machines and conveyors stopped. Sometimes that period used for maintenance or cleaning up.
Snap tin - Metal container, one end square, other end rounded, to contain food. The tin could be slipped onto one’s belt and the rounded end would not dig into your leg where a square end would do.
Snap/clip - A clamp used to connect tubs to endless haulage rope.
Snibble - bar of wood or iron used as a brake or drag on a waggon or hutch in mining.
Snicket - A small short gate between 2 others or at a face fast end to ventilate that area.
Snicket / Snicket Gate- A short connection road.
Sole or Stool a Seam - Is accessing the seam from a drift heading. To reach the base of a coal seam by driving a drift.
Solid - Roadway driven in new ground, or roadway where the roof has tumbled in and blocked the roadway or face line.
Solid (2) - Where the roof has tumbled and blocked the roadway or face line.
Sough (Suff) - Ancient small roadway driven in or just beneath a seam collecting water to allow working to the rise side to be carried out in relative dryness and delivered into a watercourse to the dip side.
Sounding - Knocking the roof to see whether it is strong and safe to work under. See also jowl.
Spacer - Piece of metal of fixed length for rail gauge.
Spad, (spud out) - A metal spike used by surveyors for lining in gates and action of setting the spads.
Spall (ing) - Coal dropping off the coal face, piling up causing problems.
Spears - Pitch pine wood baulks to guide the cage in pit bottom or at pit top at loading level.
Spedding Flint Wheel - A flint and steel mill to illuminate places where candles could not be burned. The flint was so arranged as to catch the steel wheel that kept up a continual flight of sparks as long as the wheel was kept turned. It was strapped to the users shoulders, and usually operated by a boy
Spencer Union - George Alfred Spencer MP for Broxtowe from 1918 to 1929 and a union official formed a breakaway union in 1926 called the Nottinghamshire Miners' Industrial Union (NMIU) in opposition to the Nottinghamshire Miners Association (NMA) which was affiliated to the Miners' Federation of Great Britain (MFGB). It was to last 11 years and then amalgamated with the NMA with George Spencer as President.
Sphenopteris - Fossil plant leaf.
Spill plate - Side plate on a panzer to stop coal spillage into walking / crawling track
Spillage - Coal or dirt that has fallen off a conveyor belt or tub.
Spin plate - A flat piece of steel app 4 ft sq to turn or spin tubs to go in a different direction.
Spine road - Major development roadway.
Spiral - Angle the picks are set at on drum to load coal, or part of vertical bunker.
Spires - Coal / dirt band in some coal seams.
Splice - Joining of an endless rope or join a conveyor belt.
Splicer - One who can join steel ropes by intertwining – a rope man.
Splint - coarse grey coal, adapted for steam-engines.
Splinter coal - Cannel coal.
Split or split bar (1) - Wooden prop split in two, used as a beam with props under.
Split (2) - Where the coal seam has a band of dirt in it that gradually increases in thickness.
Split Drum – A Winding Engine drum that had 2 parts allowing winding from 2 different levels in a shaft.
Split shift - Where men work on certain jobs at starting and finishing times between normal working times as laid down.
Spoil - Waste material, Slag heap or dirt tip.
Spot or spotter - A gaffer’s or Surveyor’s lamp with a bright spotlight able to shine a bright light for quite a distance.
Sprag - A wooden or steel device for holding up coals to prevent falling.
Springboard - A spragged wooden plank to slow down tubs by rubbing on moving tub axles.
Sprocket - The toothed drive wheel of a face panzer.
Spud or spad - Can refer to a Surveyor’s mark underground (as above).
Square (1) - To complete the square i.e. to extract the coal face a distance as far as the width of the coal face, sometimes giving extreme weighting conditions.
Square (2) - Face line to be at right angles with the gate.
Squeezers - A device usually in pit bottom to arrest tubs and release them in ones or twos etc.
Squib - An old type of fuse for an explosive. In the past made up by the collier himself.
Stable hole - Excavation usually at gate end of coal face to enable a cutting machine to be turned or moved over for cutting in the opposite direction, or partway along a face line excavated temporarily for machine maintenance.
Stage loader - A short chain conveyor which transfers the coal from the panzer (AFC) to the conveyor belt.
Staith - Place where coal is loaded at the river side often by a spout or by a machine for lowering the waggons.
Staker (1) - A large piece of coal or rock getting fast whilst travelling on a conveyor belt.
Staker (2) - Length of rail used on a coal face jammed between roof and floor acting as an anchor for an AB 15 or other coal cutter haulage rope
Stall (1) - A portion of the coalface run by a Butty.
Stall (2) - Extraction in pillar and stall work.
Stall (3) - Pony compartment in the stables.
Stall (4) - The act of a conveyor for example stopping under extreme or over-loading.
Stallage boards - A platform suspended in front of rip to support men when drilling shot holes and setting arches.
Stallman - Sub-contractor in charge of a "stall" or working place.
Stanchions - Or Staunchions. Upright girders usually set at a roadway junction to support bearing girders.
Stand pipe - End of a methane drainage borehole where gas is drained from the strata.
Stang - A shorter length of wood than a stanger with a square end, tapered on one side to stick under tub wheels to stop or slow them down.
Stanger - A large wooden stake some 2m long used by a man to arrest moving tubs by jabbing the large taper shaped end under the front tub wheels.
Staple pit - A shaft underground down the pit, from one horizon to another.
Staple shaft - An underground shaft connecting 2 or more levels of mine but not reaching surface
Star Clip - A device used to attach tubs or trams to an endless haulage system by hammering it closed/open.
The bottom of if opens out like a double sleeve then it is lowered either side of a steel rope either moving or static after fastening the hook into the hole in the draw bar of a tub. The 'star' is hit with the steel bar by hand and moves round until it is tight and it grips the rope and pulls the tub or run of tubs along. Once tightened it will not slip even pulling tubs up a very steep hill. When it is safe to do so, on the level and with lockers in the wheels the reverse of course is to hit the star in the opposite direction to loosen the grip fully then it is lifted off the rope and generally hung on the side of the tub until required again.
Staul - Old spelling, for where coal was mined in blocks.
Stave - A surveyor’s levelling staff.
Staver - A senior person in charge of a mine superior to a Butty.
Steam (1) - Coal seam quality used for raising steam in boilers.
Steam (2) - Pressure built up in a winding engine.
Steel checker - Man employed to check number of props and bars on a coal face.
Steel Supports Straightener - Straightening steel props and bars with straightening machine at the face.
Stemming - Material such as clay for ramming into shot hole to prevent explosive blowing out.
Stemming - Used to plug a drill hole after charges had been set, plugs of moulded sand- "Coreplugs"- were used, clay was also used.
Step faulting - Series of faults all jumping up or dropping down the same way.
Steward - Old name for person in charge underground.
Stick - Stick carried by Management and Deputies used as a measure to check prop spacing etc.
Sticky backs - Coal on the face at the back of the cut that is difficult to chop down.
Stigmaria - Fossilised rootlets found at the base of some coal seams.
Stinkdamp - Sulphuretted hydrogen gas, with smell of rotten eggs, sense of smell destroyed and 0.1% is lethal after a few seconds.
Stint - Length of a collier’s work on a coal face, (Darg in Scotland).
Stock - Amount of full tubs in pit bottom or heap of coal on surface.
Stockyard - Designated area to store arches, girders, chocks, props etc
Stonedust - Crushed limestone (calcium carbonate). The ignition of naturally occurring methane gas is serious enough, but if this propagated a coal dust explosion then the consequences could be devastating throughout the mine. To help reduce the risk of this happening stone dust was introduced, the idea being that it would provide a concentration of suspended dust particles in the path of the flame of an explosion, it was hoped that this would reduce temperatures and arrest an explosion. Stone dusting became compulsory on the 1st January 1921.
Stonedust barriers - (see stonedust above)....a number of loose boards erected on platforms supported across a roadway above head height. Loose stonedust was piled on top of the boards. A specific number of shelves containing stonedust were erected in the main gate of the panel. Certain distances were laid down. A light barrier was to be maintained within say 130m of the coal face and a heavy barrier containing more shelves say up to 250m from the face. A new system using hanging bags of water (nicknamed bats) from supports has replaced some of the barriers. Should an explosion arise the idea was that the shock wave would knock the barriers down upset the shelves and the stonedust would blanket the roadway thereby cutting off flames from the explosion.
Stone Dusting - Operation of spreading stone dust.
Stone man - Worker who deals with stone or rock, ( not coal). Usually referring to a man regularly doing development work in stone drivages.
Stone duster - Man employed to spread stone dust along and all over a gate road.
Stoop - A broad pillar of coal or any other mineral left in to support the roof of a working.
Stoop and room - A system of working a seam by a network of galleries, separated by broad pillars or stoops.
Stopping - A brick or breeze block or plaster wall which seals off old roadways and redirects the ventilation air flow.
Stores - Building to house equipment ordered and on stock for ready use when authorised by Management staff.
Storekeeper - Person in charge of all equipment delivered to the colliery, documented and distributed to the various departments as and when required.
Stowing - Loading debris in a gate by hand or mechanical means.
Strand - A chain fixed to flight on a panzer or armoured face conveyor (AFC).
Strap - Bar laced at right angles over other bars.
Strappers Girls also worked as ‘strappers’ and were ‘harnessed over the shoulders and back with a strong leather girth’ with an iron hook chained to the coal cart. The Putters and Strappers all had to struggle up through deep mud, over rough ground and up steep slopes.
Strike (1) - Where workmen withdraw their labour.
Strike (2) - The line of the coal that is level.
Strike (3) is generally at right angles to the full dip of the seam.
Striker (1) - One who withdraws his labour and refuses to work.
Striker (2) - A blacksmith’s helper.
Striker (3) - A relighting device for an oil or flame lamp.
Strip (1) - Make ready for work by removing some working clothes or get undressed to bathe.
Strip (2) - One pass or cut along the coalface by a coal cutter, or one push over of the AFC.
Strip (3) - Extract all the coal along an old face goaf extraction with a new coal face end.
Strip mining - Refers to opencast mining.
Strut - A piece of solid wood or length of steel of predetermined length between arches to equalize the spacing.
Stuffing box - Device enclosing a drill rod at a borehole face to prevent inrush of water or gas when boring into an area containing same.
Stythe - also known as Blackdamp.
Subsidence - The sinking, or collapse, of the rock and soil layers due to the extraction of a coal. Surface features and buildings may be affected.
Sulphur - Found in coal and when mixed with water forms sulphuric acid.
Sump - The bottom of a shaft, or any other place in a mine, that is used as a collecting point for drainage water.
Sump boards - A wooden cover over the sump at the bottom running on / off level in the pit bottom to prevent anyone or anything dropping down to the bottom of the shaft.
Sump hole - Hole where water is collected ready for pumping.
Sumper (1) - Can be a shot fired in a sinking shaft, sometimes under water.
Sumper (2) - A cutting machine on a coalface
Supervising Workman - Workman appointed under the National Coal Board Scheme of Training for Coalface Work to supervise and instruct one trainee at the face.
Supplies - Materials such as roadway or face supports, could be props and bars and other equipment needed to enable the coal face or heading to advance.
Supply and Wood Boys – this was a boy’s first job underground, transporting materials to different parts of the pit. Using a mono rail or a rope haulage system they supported the continued advance of the coalface and the roadways.
Supply gate - The majority of the face supplies are transported via this roadway. Also known as the return or tail gate.
Supports Checker - Checking supplies of supports to face; checking supplies and recovery of supports; checking bars and coal props on a face to avoid loss.
Supports Recovery Checker - Checking and directing the recovery of supports.
Surface Superintendent - Staff person in overall control of all operations on the surface, loading, unloading supplies, coal preparation and dispatch, dirt tips etc.
Surveyor - A person qualified by examination appointed under the M&Q Act 1954 reponsible for all plans and surveys of the workings etc at a mine and responsible to the owner or manager for informing him of any old workings etc and any material that may flow when wet within the boundaries of the mine. Prior to Coal Mines Act 1911 was not required to be qualified by examination.
Swally - A depression in the roadway. In a wet roadway water collects here, known as swilley in some pits
Swan neck (1) - Conveyor / rollers in a swilley.
Swan neck (2) - An extension welded at right angles on an arch crown usually supported by a girder.
Sweating - Condensation formed around the site of a heating. (a sign to look for)
Sweetdamp - Another name for carbon monoxide gas.
Sweetener - Good quality coal from another source mixed with other coal to improve the grade.
Swilley - Steep sided dip or basin shape affecting a seam or roadway.
Swipe card - Replaced motty system for time keeping and underground location.
Switch (1) - An electrical voltage regulator/supply or a normal on/off power switch.
Switch (2) - Rail junction or points.
Switch Keeper - person who attends the switches or passing places on the underground railways.
Switch, Valve, Pump and Telephone Operator - Employed in connection with power loading in all the following activities; operating set of switches for face conveyors, loaders and other underground machinery; controlling water pressure valves; topping-up hydraulic fluid in booster pumps, as necessary; receiving, transmitting and taking action on the telephone or Tannoy system messages; communicating with both surface and power loading teams.
Switches - A bank of electrical panels.
Sylvester or Nanny - A safety device with ratchet and chain for pulling out props safely or pulling a heavy load.
Syncline - Steep valley underground, as opposed to anticline being a hill.
Return to Top
Tadger - A large electric drill used for drilling shotholes and holes for roof bolts etc.
Tail gate -Supply road or ventilation road. Top gate or bottom gate at right angles where coal is on a dip in a developing face or roadway.
Tail rope - On a haulage system called Main and Tail, where full tubs run down a grade by gravity on the main rope and haul empty tubs up the slope on the tail rope.
Taj - A pick blade with a sharp point at one end for cutting into the coal face and a small axe head at the other end for chopping wood.
Take - The area contained within the boundaries or limits of a mine.
Taker off - Person who unhooked waggons at self-acting inclines.
Tandem Point - where one conveyor transfers coal onto another conveyor in line.
Tank engine - Coal fired steam shunting engine on surface
Tannoy - Communication system throughout the pit.
Tea bottle - Metal bottle for cold tea drink, later termed dudley for water.
Tell tale - A system whereby any roof movement can be detected by inserting a device consisting of coloured tubes with markers fastened to wires into a borehole drilled upwards into the overlying strata in the roof of a gate or roadway.
Tentale - the tennage rent upon coals drawn
Tenter - This term appears mainly in the north of England or in Scotland. In this context a Tenter is someone who is in charge of machinery, usually in a factory. The word is closely related to the word "tend" so he is someone who "tends, or looks after" the engine.
Terrier - Inventory of possessions...landed property or church inventory.
Testing flame - A lowered flame on an oil lamp that can detect any methane gas in the airstream.
Theodolite - Accurate instrument used by Surveyors for underground and surface surveys.
Thill - the floor of the mine.
Thirl or thurl - A joining of roadways, usually from opposite directions, hole thro'(old name thyrel).
Thirty lb (30lbders) - Rails at 30 lb weight per foot; (50 lb etc, - 120lb being Railtrack).
Thurlings (thirlings) - Passages for ventilation or haulage, conveyors etc.
Thurst - see Goaf
Tiger - Conveyor motor size.
Tilting deck - A sliding mechanism on the cage to allow large or long material to be loaded on a cage at a steep angle. Alternative to slinging long girders etc beneath the cage.
Timber - Any face or roof support generally – to timber up. However notably wood.
Timber Cutter - Preparing timber for cog making; cutting props the length required on conveyor face.
Timber Dragger - Man / boy employed to drag materials to the face up a bad gate where it is too low for trams or tubs to pass or a gate with no rails laid.
Timber drawer - Person whose work is to remove timber props.
Timber Gate - Roadway where the supplies are taken to the coal face (Supply gate).
Timberer - Setting or changing supports on face; timbering in front of or behind coal cutter.
Tin - Container for wages, collected by Butty, and then shared out among team
Tins - corrugated iron sheets used for lining/covering roadway behind arches to protect roadway side.
“Tint Tint Tin” – A Butty’s excuse for stating that the amount of money expected to be paid was less than anticipated.
Tip - Waste material piled up on the surface. Since the Aberfan disaster in the 1960s all tips now have to have the dirt spread and laid down in thin layers and compacted by machine for stability.
Tippler - coal would come up the shaft in tubs, the coal would then be emptied onto a wide belt by means of a tippler, hand operated originally then semi automated. The track gradient was such that the full tubs ran by gravity to the tippler, they were then emptied into the railway wagons below, then the empty tubs gravitated back to the shaft. More Information
Tirfor - Hand operated device for pulling or dragging equipment using a steel rope.
Titan - Huge ripping machine up to 70 tonnes, for driving tunnels, 1m diameter cutting head.
Token hanger - a boy of from 9 to 12 years old, who was paid 1s. or 1s. 2d per day for arranging the tokens attached to each corf to inform the hewer of its contents.
Tokens or Motties - Small brass disks, with identification numbers relating to a workman.
Tommy - Provisions given to a workman instead of money.
Tommy shop - Set up by colliery owners to sell goods (usually substandard and inflated prices) to workmen.
Top Coal - A few inches of coal left to form a good roof, poor roof above.
Top deck - The upper deck on a cage for men, materials or coal.
Top loader - Conveyor with coal loaded on top belt.
Tops - Top part of a coal seam or some coal left up to create a good roof.
Topside - The rise side of a coalface, as opposed to the dip side.
Tracker - Preparing tracks for coal cutting machine; preparing face for coal cutting operations; cleaning up the cutter tracks in front of coal cutter.
Trailing Cable - A heavily insulated electrical cable used to bring power to an electrically operated machine.
Trainee - New entrant to the industry undergoing a period of training or a man learning another job being taught by an experienced man.
Training Officer - One appointed by law to sign on and oversee the training of all new entrants and re-entrants and issue all certificates relevant to various jobs where a person has passed proficiency tests after a period of training. To issue and record all contract workers from outside firms and check their work records and issue permits to work.
Tram - A sort of flat tub or carriage, about 3 feet 10 inches long, on which the putters, who are thence sometimes called trams, put their coals.
Tram - Low-sided vehicle for transporting materials.
Trammer - Works as an assistant miner. They fill and haul the tubs, and bring materials to support and equip the mine workings
Tramming - Manoeuvring vehicles by hand.
Transfer Point - Usually at a loader gate junction where one conveyor transfers coal onto another conveyor that could be at right angles.
Trappers - They were as young as four years old began work in the pits as 'trappers’ sitting all day in the dark, opening and closing the trap doors to ventilate sections of the pit.
Tray - The metal base of a conveyor structure.
Tree - to provide with supporting timbers or props, as the roof of a coal working.
Trepanner - A split auger, or side wheel cutter loader for producing larger coals.
Trepan-shearer - Hybrid machine with an auger and a drum giving some large and small coals.
Trimmer (1) - a person who spreads the coals in the waggons or carriages in which the coals are conveyed along a railway from the top of the pit to the staith.
Trimmer (2) - Can be an extra shot to bring down 'a stubborn edge'.
Trolley - Electric overhead-wire loco (Gedling), or a vehicle for haulage.
Trouble - Fault or intrusion, bad work etc.
Trough fault - Where the seam drops down and after a while is thrown up again.
Truck - The setting up of Tommy shops requiring workmen to have to purchase their goods from them.
Truckle - Wheel or roller or bed on wheels.
Trunk belt - Main conveyor belt receiving coal from districts inbye leading to shaft area.
Trunk road - A main road in a mine.
Tub - A wooden or steel container with 4 wheels to hold coal or dirt, ¼, ½ to 1 ton +.
Tub thumper - Man who repairs tubs and other rolling stock in a surface shop.
Tubbing - Wood, steel or cast iron lining for shafts in water-bearing strata.
Tub - a hutch, small truck or wagon into which the cut coal is filled, a measure of coal of varying capacity
Tunnel (1) - Ripping tunnel at a lip to protect stage loader or conveyor and cables.
Tunnel (2) - Another name for an underground roadway or drift.
Tunnel (3) - To tunnel, that is to drive a tunnel or roadway.
Turn out - Rail points splitting off to left or right of main direction.
Turnpike - In the past a surface roadway where a fee had to be paid for passing along it.
Turret - A high placed horizontal cutting wheel on a trepanner in a thick seam.
Twilights - Evening shift, usually starting around 6pm and ending after midnight.
Twin strand - Double chain on an AFC' (or Twin midboard) hauling flights.
Two hundred 'hoss' - Large 200hp haulage engine for hauling tubs (e.g. Teversal / Butcherwood).
Two Systems of Rescue Brigades
Two Systems of Rescue Brigades
Return to Top
UDM - Union of Democratic Mineworkers, after 1984 following a major strike. A union set up by moderates in opposition to NUM (National Union of Mineworkers)
Undercast - Where one road goes under another road without a direct connection.
Underclay - The floor under a coal seam usually containing fosiliferous remains of roots.
Undercut - To cut below the coal face by a mining machine, a coal cutter, see pom pom.
Underground shift manager - New title for Colliery Overman after 2001.
Underlap - The rope on the winder that goes under the winding drum.
Underlooker - a man employed to supervise the underground workings of a mine. He was responsible directly to the manager or the owner.
Undermanager - A person having responsibilities defined by law. An undermanager is usually the person in charge of underground mining operations, often a coal seam and is next in authority to a manager or deputy manager.
Undermanager - Gaffer in charge of all underground operations.
Underviewer - Old name in 1800s (e.g. Sutton, Brierley Hill 1874) for such as above.
Under rope- Haulage rope than runs along the roadway floor and is suspended in parts by metal rollers.
Union box - Refers to surface office used by Secretary / President of workers' union.
Unit - Panel or district number; or colliery unit in a NCB Area.
Upbore - To bore a hole upwards to prove coal seams or strata.
Upcast Shaft - Shaft through which air returns to the surface after ventilating the mine workings, for coal winding and returned air.
Upsink - To drive a shaft upwards from one level to another.
Upthrow - A fault where the seam jumps up forward in direction of advance.
Return to Top
Vend - Ratio of coal and dirt, also means sale of coal.
Ventilation - The supply of fresh air to all parts of the mine workings, and the removal of return air from the mine.
Ventilation Fans – Sirocco, Davidsons, Waddle, Walker Indestructible, Guibal, Struve Ventilator and others.
Ventilation tubing - Bagging (canvas), then steel tubing and then lightweight PVC
Ventilation or air bagging - referred to the method of ventilating a working place whereby the air was driven using a forcing fan through collapsible hessian or plastic tubing or if it was an exhausting fan using coiled or rigid uPVC or steel tubing.
Vessel - The oil container at the base of a flame lamp.
Vibration white finger - Causes fingers to go dead after constant use of boring machine or jigger pick.
Viewer - Old term - Person employed to oversee several mines (Surveyor or Agent). The manager of a colliery; one who has the charge of all underground, and generally of all surface, arrangements.
Return to Top
Waff - to direct a current of air at, to fan
Waffler - A swan neck jib cutter developed from AB 15 coal cutter.
Wagon lowerer - A man employed to control wagons on the gradient by brake or scotch under the surface screens to be filled with coal (or dirt).
Wagon Repairer - A man employed to repair wooden railway trucks, sooner than send them to a firm to be repaired.
Waggonway corporal - Man in charge of waggonway under the deputy
Wailers - boys employed to pick out slate, pyrites, and other foul admixtures from the coal.
Wall (1) - Could mean a coal face.
Wall (2) - Could be a pack.
Wall (3) - On the wall meant that a man who had no regular job would wait in the pit bottom until a job was found for him by an official.
Wallings - Coal face workings.
Wallower - A person using a hand winch to haul up a shaft or slope.
Wallowing - Before soughs, water collected in the well of a sump shaft and was removed in a primitive way with a device similar to an old mangle with a bucket and rope, a task known as " Wallowing"
Want - The area between the seam at both sides of a fault hade.
Warwick girder - Safety device in the form of a counterbalanced girder hinged to roof of roadway on incline, with lower end pointing uphill- intended to stop runaways. Also known as a Manker in Nottinghamshire
Washout - Where the coal has been washed away and replaced by stone.
Waste - The area behind the coal face where the coal has been extracted.
Waste tip - Area on the surface where all dirt and colliery discard is tipped.
Wasteman - Generally old men, who are employed in building pillars for the support of the roof in the waste, and in keeping the airways open and in good order. The shifter is his assistant.
Water Gauge - Instrument that measures differential pressures in inches of water.
Water Infusion Man - Responsible for apparatus and infusion of water at face.
Water Leader - boys who remove water from the horse-ways and other places and assist the deputies. In 1841 their wages varied from 1s. 3d. to 2s. a day.
Water money - Allowance paid for working in water.
Wax wall - Old term for clay pack to guard against spon com (spontaneous combustion), later sand packs for same.
Way - Underground rails.
Way Cleaner - who cleans the rails of the mine from time to time, removing obstructions of coal-dust, etc. using two pieces of rope or hay. These boys were usually aged 11 to 15 years and earned from ls. 3d. to 2s. 6d. a day in 1841.
Wayleave - Contract between parties to allow access and / or services to cross one's land
Web - Cut of coal on a coal face either by machine and hand loaded onto a conveyor or by a Power Loader machine.
Wedge (1) - Wooden wedges to loosen the coal instead of blasting.
Wedge (2) - Tappered wood or steel piece inserted into the undercut of the coal seam before being blasted or cut down.
Weetabix - Lightweight straw and cement blocks for building walls and stoppings.
Weighman - a person who weighs coal extracted from a mine, especially in mines where miners are paid according to the weight of the coal they dig.
Weight (or Weighting) - Extra downward force of the roof strata or sides underground.
Weight break (1) - A fracture of the strata showing a line of weakness.
Weight break (2) - The sudden lowering of the roof at the coal face with a frightening crashing sound.
Wet bulb - A thermometer kept wet by muslin dipped in a water vessel as opposed to dry bulb, The difference between the two temperatures denotes the humidity.
Wet drum - Cutting drum of shearer with inbuilt water sprays to suppress dust.
Wet over - Water running in from overhead above a seam.
Wet under -Water underfoot.
Wheel (1) - Winding wheel or sheave.
Wheel (2) - Return wheel of a rope haulage.
Wheel (3) - The cutting drum on shearer cutter loader.
Wheel hole - Excavation in the floor of a roadway to accommodate a rope return wheel pulley.
Wheelman - Responsible for boring holes in floor, moving forward wheels, inserting and adjusting bolts, and securing wheels in new position at each end of a plough face.
Whim gin - Early horse driven winding apparatus for raising coal out of a shaft.
Whin sill - A geological expression for an intrusion of hard volcanic lava that is difficult to work through and sometimes burns the coal away.
Whitedamp - Another name for Carbon monoxide gas / air mixture (CO).
Wildfire - An early name for ignited firedamp or methane gas below the explosive range.
Wimsey or whymsey - Small horse power winding engine (or whimsey) in first days of steam.
Wind Road - Airway or roadway where the ventilation passes towards the coal face.
Winder (1) - Winding engine engine that raises or lowers the cages or skips in a shaft.
Winder (2) - Winding engine man operating the winder.
Winding (1) - Small snicket gate to ventilate a long fast end of a face (pronounced winn-ding).
Winding (2) - The act of hauling the cages or skips up and down the shaft.
Windroad boy - Boy who works in wind roads.
Windy pick - Hand held compressed air jigger pick.
Winning - The act of extracting the coal or colliery name e.g. 'A' Winning, Esh Winning.
Winsey or Winse - is a horizontal wheel round the diameter of which is a rope which went over a pulley and down the shaft. The wheel was driven by a horse and the purpose was to raise and lower men and materials down the shaft.
Winze or staple - Small underground shaft from one seam to another.
Wood Leader - who carry props to parts of the mine where they are needed.
Working - An area where the coal is being mined or extracted.
Working Plan - Plan made by the Surveyor showing all workings in the mine in a particular seam. A separate plan is required for each seam worked and also another overlay plan showing all firedamp (methane) drainage boreholes. All to be kept up to date within 3 months or 100m of the workings true position.
WPIS - Weekly Paid Industrial Staff workman, Supervisor or Chargeman.
Wrap round - A measured spacer or strut set between arch supports in gate, knocked round arch with hammer to secure same in position.
Wrought - The amount or area of coal worked.
Return to Top
Yard - Pit top and surrounds (as well as the name for a coal seam).
Yards - Measurement of coal face to calculate payments.
Yard man - Usually a labourer who could do a variety of surface jobs.
Yard Stick – Carried by Deputies and other Management staff as a sign of authority and generally used as a rough guide to measure between props etc. to conform with support rules.
Yield (1) - Amount a prop / chock lowers.
Yield (2) - Amount of coal got out of the coal seam or from one cut of the coal face.
Return to Top
Z system - A method of working a coal face, loader gate on retreat, air gate on advance.
Zebedee - A large coiled electrical cable (nickname from TV cartoon Magic Roundabout).