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Haulage by Horses

A Text-Book of Coal-Mining by Herbert W Hughes - 1893          Thanks to Philip Wyles

This has been extracted from A Text-Book of Coal-Mining by Herbert W Hughes. This was published in 1893 by Charles Griffin and Company Limited of London.
Regards Phil

Haulage by Horses

Even where mechanical haulage is used on main roads, horses have to be employed to bring the produce from the working places. They are connected to the tubs, either through the medium of a pair of shafts, or a tail-chain joined to a stretch-bar, to which two side traces are attached. Each of these systems has its advantages. With downhill gradients a horse cannot hold back the load when connected to it by a chain, and, therefore, to prevent the tub running away and overtaking the horse, the wheels have to be “ lockered,” which is done by pushing a short bar of iron through the spokes, and preventing the wheels turning. This is very objectionable, especially on undulating gradients, and causes considerable wear and tear. Shafts are dangerous to horses, as they catch the timber and hamper movement, particularly so in narrow and heavily- timbered roads; they also prevent the horse getting out of the way of the moving train of tubs if the weight overpowers the animal. Up hill there is no difference between chains and shafts.

Feeding.—The chief item of cost in horse haulage is that due to feeding, as not only may an excessive charge be incurred, but the condition of the animals may be so reduced as to unfit them for performing the maximum amount of work. The problem is to keep them in the best condition at a minimum cost, which can easily be done by a proper selection and mixing of food. It may be stated that, however concentrated nutritious elements are obtained, small quantities never afford satisfaction, as hunger is not appeased until the stomach is filled, and, therefore, in addition to foods supplying waste of tissue (oats, beans, &c.), some bulkier body has to be given. This is the reason why hay and straw are found in the feed.

Some prefer to give hay in its uncut state, placing it in a rack where the horse may nibble at it as it prefers, whilst others cut it up with straw into the state of chaff and mix it with hard corn. The latter procedure seems best. Horses going out of the workings into the stable are hungry, and bolt their food. If the manger contains hard corn only, this being small in bulk, is rapidly consumed, passes into the stomach without being properly masticated, and the animal does not obtain the nourishment it should do. Hay is then attacked, and, being in its natural state, has to be pulled from the rack, pieces are dropped on the floor, trampled under foot and lost, thereby occasioning waste. On the other hand, if hay and straw be cut up and mixed with the hard corn, the manger contains an increased bulk; then, if the horse takes its food voraciously, the first pangs of hunger are soon appeased, the remainder is consumed in a leisurely manner, and the full benefits of the nutritious matter are obtained. In addition, waste is minimised with properly constructed mangers.

Regarded from the standpoint of cost compared with benefit, bran is quite out of place as a food. Its chief use is as an appetiser, and for its corrective and laxative properties. Sometimes it is given as a mash at week ends, when a horse has to stand in the stable all the next day, while others mix a small quantity with each feed. As it seems preferable to avoid extremes with such regular bodies as those of colliery horses, the latter course is generally adopted.

Respecting the different varieties and mixtures of hard corn, every one interested in the management of colliery horses should refer to a paper by Mr. C. Hunting, in which the constituents of various foods are fully described, and the whole question gone into. It was long considered that oats alone were sufficient. Mr. Hunting points out that this is correct to a certain extent, as they contain more proportionate quantities of nutritious elements, but for very hard work, such as underground horses have to do, the consumption of muscle is far in excess of the waste of any other tissue, and food containing a heavy proportion of nitrogenous or flesh-forming material must be given. If the choice were limited to one article, oats are superior, but an equal weight of a proper mixture of beans and maize gives better results than oats alone; better in a double sense, because not only is its flesh-forming capacity greater, but it is considerably cheaper. Peas are often used as a substitute for beans, as they run a little cheaper, but are very heating, and should only be used with care.

Mr. Hunting strongly advocates the use of a mixture of green food during a short time in the summer, but some discretion is required in its administration. Under no circumstances should it be sent down the pit when soaked with rain. It should not be allowed in-bye, where a tired horse may gorge itself when waiting at a siding.

A horse’s stomach is relatively small compared with its so that it cannot retain sufficient food to maintain the animal for long intervals. Mangers should therefore be established at the siding to which the horses travel, so that they can eat small quantities while waiting there.

Cost of Feeding.—At a colliery where the horses are on an average 15 hands high and 80 in number, the cost of feeding during the years 1885-1892 has varied from a maximum of 12.25s. per horse per week to a minimum of 8.66s., the average for the whole of the time being 10s. 2.891d. Two samples of feed are:-

Cost and Life of Horses.—Figures relating to the purchase of horses at the same colliery for a period of thirteen years give the average cost of each one as £21 4s. The average life for the same period practically amounts to about eight years, but the percentage of deaths from accidents to horses employed being rather large—6.198—during the last six years, the life may better be taken at nine years, which is the figure given by Mr. Hunting in the paper already referred to, where the life of horses, on an average at twelve collieries, amounted to that length of time. Mr. Hunting gives the average number of deaths in each year for twenty-one years: horses, 4.70; ponies, 3.08 per cent.

Cost of Corn Cutting and Ostlers.—At the colliery under notice, the feeds are all prepared and mixed at bank by two men, and the cost per horse per week equals 5.296d. Two men are employed cleaning and attending the horses down the pit, both on the day and night shifts, and during the daytime one of the men goes round the different parts of the pit and sees that the horses are supplied with corn and water, while the other cleans out stables, &c. The cost per horse per week is 1s. 9.513d.

Shoeing.—With pit horses rough shoeing is done, old scrap iron being used up in many cases, but against this has to be set the trouble and time the blacksmith is put to in going into the workings, often a considerable distance, when a horse casts a shoe. The average charge may be taken as 6d. per horse per week.

In two most interesting papers by Mr. J. A. Longden the following directions are given, Never pare the sole or frog, and only cut enough of the horn off at the lower end of the hoof to allow the shoe to bed properly; above all, reduce the weight of the shoe to the lowest possible point, and do not employ “calkins” on either heels or toes. Three nails on the outside and two on the inside are quite enough for the fore-feet, and they should never be placed near the heels. He gives the cost of shoeing ponies at Clay Cross and Blackwell Collieries, Derbyshire, at 3.23d. per horse per week.

Taking the average of many years, the total cost incurred for each horse per week is as follows:-

Arrangement of Stables.—Pure water and plenty of ventilation are essential. The stables at Lye Cross Pit are shown in Figs. 214 and 215. Each horse has a stall 7ft long by 6ft wide, and a corn manger made with specially shaped bricks, 4ft wide. A water bosh is placed between each two stalls, and a 2in main pipe with down branch pipes that delivers water to each bosh, which has a hole and plug in the bottom to allow of easy emptying.

The stables at Eppleton Pit are most elaborate. Each pony stands in a distinct arch, 5ft 6in wide by 6ft long, the brickwork between each stall being 18in thick. A passage is provided behind the mangers with communications to each stall, through which the horse's food is introduced, thereby not only facilitating the work, but removing all source of danger to the attendant through the kicking of the horses. The floors are laid with blocks cast out of furnace slag, on such an inclination that sock readily drains away, a gutter for this purpose being placed in the centre of each stall, which in its turn passes into the main channel running ' down into the central arch, out of which the stalls branch on either side. The mangers are also constructed of specially shaped bricks. Water troughs are not provided in each stall, but a large one is placed in the main arch near the entrance. The ponies drink on their entry to, and exit from the stables.

Cost of Horse Haulage.—Given a considerable output and long life, there can be no doubt of the economy of mechanical haulage, but the saving is not so apparent if limited quantities are dealt with. At small collieries, the capital outlay with interest and upkeep is so large and the quantity dealt with so small, that horse haulage compares most favourably with mechanical means, especially where the gradients are in favour of the load. An instance of this is given by Mr. H. F. Bulman where the cost of leading 4407 tons an average distance of 1870 yds was 4.7d. per ton, or 4.4d. per ton per mile.

Upon the relationship of gradient to load the success or otherwise of horse haulage entirely depends. On level roads, or where the inclination is slightly out-bye, the amount of useful work performed by a horse is in strange contrast to that where the conditions are reversed, and the gradient is against the load. Lye Gross Pit supplies a very good instance of this. One stage measures 125 yds long, the first 35 yds being practically level, the remaining 90 rise out-bye at an inclination of 1 in 12. Two horses are employed to haul coal this distance, each one making 42 journeys a day, a total distance travelled of 5.96 miles. The load of coals taken each time is one ton; the useful effect of each horse for this stage is, therefore, one ton led 2.98 miles—i.e., half the distance travelled. The stage immediately succeeding the foregoing one is 200 yds long, and practically level. One horse serves this distance, making 21 journeys per day, travelling 4.77 miles. The load of coal is 4 tons, so that the useful effect is 4 tons led 2.38 miles, or 9.52 tons led 1 mile. A better illustration is afforded by another stage, where a horse makes 38 journeys per day, travels 4.75 miles, the load of each full set being 7 tons. The useful effect is therefore 7 tons led 2.37 miles, or 16.59 tons led 1 mile. At this pit, when the average distance each ton was led by horses was 480.3 yds, the cost per ton was 4.195d., equal to a cost per ton per mile of 15.37d.; when the average distance was 774.7 yds the cost per ton per mile was 11.25d.

Not only is the useful effect reduced by adverse gradients, but the lives of the horses are considerably shortened; in a short space of time they become worthless, and the cost of up-keep is a serious matter. A little consideration will explain the reason why gradients have such influence in haulage on rails, far more so than in surface work with ordinary carts. With well lubricated bearings and wheels on rails, the resistance to motion is slight, and a horse easily moves heavy loads under favourable circumstances. Down-hill gradients are therefore favourable to a good performance of useful effect, but where the inclination is against the load, the small resistance is against large weights being moved, as the load has a greater tendency to run back than if the surface on which it rolls was rough like an ordinary road. In the former case, the friction is so small that the horse has practically to contend with the full weight of the load divided by the gradient, while in the latter, the greater friction reduces the strain. Mechanical haulage therefore becomes a necessity with heavy gradients, as even where these are in favour of the load, the strain of returning the empties becomes so great that the advantage gained with the load is nullified.

The next extract is from is from Coal Mining by I C F Statham. This was published in 1951 by English Universities Press Ltd of London.

Horse and Pony Haulage

In the past the pit pony played an important part in underground haulage, but in recent years the use of mechanical methods of transport has led to a great reduction in the number of pit ponies employed underground. Thus, whilst in 1913 there were 67,748 ponies at work in British mines and some 64,000 in 1922, the number had been reduced to just over 19,000 in 1949. Ponies are used mostly for subsidiary haulage, to take tubs to and from the working places to the nearby sidings or passbyes. They are also employed to a limited extent for transport of men and materials. They are not used for long distances or on steep gradients and as with tramming or putting the gradients are generally arranged to involve a minimum of effort. The ponies are attached to the tubs either by chains or some form of limber or shafts (Fig. 221), and are driven by youths. Contrary to the opinions held, and often vociferously expressed by certain ill-informed persons, pit ponies are well cared for, and enjoy amenities denied to many of their kind working on the surface. They are well fed, well housed, well groomed, and regarded as friends of the miner, and rare cases of ill-treatment are frowned upon and peremptorily dealt with.

A special schedule to the Coal Mines Act, 1911, as amended by the Coal Mines (Horses) Regulations, 1949, is devoted to their employment, care and treatment. Amongst the requirements laid down therein mention may be made of the facts that blind horses or ponies may not be employed below ground, and all ponies so employed must be not less than four years old and must be examined by a qualified veterinary surgeon at least once a year as to their fitness for work. They must be housed in stables, properly constructed and equipped, ventilated by fresh air and kept in a sanitary condition, and must be under the care of competent horsekeepers (ostlers), of whom there shall be one for each fifteen ponies. Medicines, ointments, etc., must be provided, and no pony is allowed to go to work if in an unfit condition. Every pony and its harness must be examined on return to the stables, and every case of sickness, injury or ill-treatment must be reported jn a book kept for the purpose, which also includes a daily record of the condition of all ponies, together with their times of work and the names of the drivers. The working period must not exceed 48 hours or 7 shifts in one week and provision is made for the humane disposal of any horse found to be permanently unfit for work. Finally, special pony or horse inspectors, appointed under the Act, make frequent inspections to ensure compliance with these requirements.

The most inhumane form of underground haulage must be the use of children to haul corves, willow baskets with wooden runners. If they were pulled up an incline, it would be on the belt. The belt would be round the waist, with a chain passing through the legs on to the corve. The puller would be around 10 years old and a younger child pushing. This gave rise to the phrase pony and foal haulage, the pony pulling and the foal pushing.

There used to be a hazel grove near the entrance to Shipley Cricket Club. It probably supplied the Shipley Pits with corve making material. If it is still there then I doubt if many people are aware of the reason for being there. When I was in short trousers that was the place to collect hazel/cob nuts. Probably the nuts were used at Shipley Hall along with the sweet chestnuts. Conkers came from the small copse that runs along side the boundary wall.