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Book 8 - Winding


Winding Through The Ages

  1. TubThe first type of winding would have been from very shallow diggings at the outcrop or basset edge where the coal could not be lifted from the seam to the surface manually. Probably the next move was to haul the coal in a receptacle such as a basket or box just using pull-power probably by several people once the weight was too much for one person to haul.


  2. Because of the strain and going ever deeper a framework was erected over the mine shaft and a rope was suspended over a pulley wheel which then gave an easier way of raising the coal.


  3. The next idea then was to attach the hemp rope at the top of the shaft onto a windlass keeping the pulley wheel and then by turning the handle attached to a drum the coal could then be raised up the shaft by one person who could have been a woman assisting her husband or man who worked the coal and filled the receptacles to be raised.
  4. Obviously I can imagine that frequently there would have been slip ups whereby the person doing the wallowing would release the handle and the receptacle and its contents would fall back down the shaft probably onto the miner at the bottom who may well have received injuries, some severely and some fatal.
  5. A cog was then added to the side of the horizontal barrel and a ratchet attached to it so that if the person let go of the handle the ratchet would drop into the cog and lock the wallowing barrel and prevent the receptacle falling down the shaft.
  6. As shafts were sunk deeper a new method had to be found for raising the coal in baskets or corves (introduced from Germany in 1654). An elaborate large drum turning on a post allowed the rope that was wound round the large wooden drum several times to pass over the pulley wheel as before but now a horse or donkey could be driven round the outside of the shaft raising the receptacle in one direction and lowering it by driving the animal in the opposite direction. This was called a cog and drum system.

  7. The next improvement was the application of a simple steam raising engine and the rope was again wrapped round a drum several times and the rope fixed to a crank on the engine could raise or lower the coal in a variety of containers as before but using steam power not manpower. These were called gins (a corruption of engine) or whim gins.


  8. ChainFurther progress allowed larger horse power engines to be made to allow heavier and larger amounts of coal to be raised from deeper shafts to the surface. Hemp ropes had been stitched together to form flat ropes that were much stronger than a single hemp rope say 1 inch diameter. Cages were then installed in shafts and these were captivated by rigid wooden guides and later steel coiled conductor ropes kept vertical and steady be hanging heavy round cheese weights on the end in the pit shaft sump. The winding ropes were also gradually changed to lock coil steel ropes.

  9. Larger receptacles such as tubs with wheels running on rails could then be raised in the cage. These early tubs were generally planks of wood fastened to a steel or cast iron framework. These were later replaced by all steel tubs in the 1940s. Larger and larger tubs were built ranging from ¾ ton to 7 tons capacity mine cars being raised as before in steel cages.

  10. To allow a better payload to be raised from deeper and deeper shafts a container called a skip was attached to the rope and winding engine and raised or lowered in the shaft and commensurate with that the size of the winding engine was increased. Banks of Lancashire round ended boilers for example fuelled by coal and softened water to raise the steam for this operation had to be manned continually by stokers to maintain steam pressure to allow winding to be carried out.

  11. Lightweight skips of aluminium were then designed and installed allowing a greater payload to be raised from deeper shafts thereby increasing the efficiency and the output per wind.

  12. Further development was the installation of larger horsepower electric winding engines replacing the boilers and the stokers. Automation of the winders again increased the efficiency of shaft utilisation time because human intervention was removed.

  13. If it was feasible a surface drift or adit would be driven down to the pit bottom area and then all the output could be brought out of the pit on conveyors, not relying on cages or skips being wound up the shaft thereby releasing the shafts for just manriding and materials.