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Previously to the introduction of the Davy lamp, the hewers at fiery collieries had to work almost in the dark, for in those days there was nothing better than the flint and steel mills 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.

As may be readily imagined the light which a machine of this description would afford, would only be of the feeblest kind.

Right is a photo of the Spedding wheel, named after its inventor. It was used in the Felling disaster 1812 to recover the bodies of the victims as it was thought to be safer than candles.

It was strapped to the users shoulders, and was reported when used at Felling colliery "the sparks dropped to the floor as dull red, like drops of blood" (Due to shortage of oxygen.) A boy would usually operate this.


Pit Terminology - Glossary