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  • 1 year later...

hpw i knew all the people you have named in the accident about the coal cutter .i think i would know you if i ever see you as i was working under ground at the same time

Watcheor Lone Ranger,ye knaa nae body better than me!

A telt yi on a previous thread,a was a transport lad working wi John Dickinson,and John Wardlow,at High Pit,in 1960's,when yi were a belt lad!!

A can mind ya waistcoat yi wore doon thi pit,and ya pocket watch and chain!!

Then a was a Deputy in charge of ye and Bob Keeley,[deceased r.i.p. Bob...smashing marra and nybor...],doon the 3/4 at Bates,driving thi back-drift,and thi 1-in-2 drift up ti thi Beaumont seam .

As time went by, a came back inti thi NUM,and Ye went onto be a Deputy,in charge of me and me marra's!![role-reversal!]

Bill Allison...do you not remember me...a gud taaka!!...[no...not a gud taaka.... a gud conversationalist....is a better term!]

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Have a look here for the 1871 British Geological Survey of our local pits ... all the details of the different strata and where the coal seams are and the depth of everything. There's also data on how the pits relate to each other ... same seams, etc. You can zoom in and navigate across the chart to read the details.


Great document ,Symptoms,but what puzzles me is where they describe blue Whin,as "Hard Sandstone"!!

Blue Whin,is NOT any kind of sandstone at all!

[Obviously,education supposedly improves over time,and this is what they thought was correct at the time!]

Blue Whin is an igneous rock,forced up through the strata as molten rock during volcanic activity.Sandstone is a sedimentary rock,laid down as silt from the sea bed,all of this happened over 200 million years ago!

Reading documents is very interesting,but actually driving roadways,and winning out coalfaces 200 yards long,through fossilised mussel-beds,600 feet underground,and miles inland,away from the sea,and hitting a solid blue-Whin "dyke"...is another thing!!

You have solid proof of the igneous origin of the Whinstone Dyke,by the Cinder-Coal on either side of the Dyke,which usually,but not always,equalled the thickness of the Dyke itself.

If  a Dyke was 3 feet wide,then the Cinder-coal would usually be 3 feet wide,on either side of the Dyke.....a 6 feet wide Dyke had 6 feet Cinder-coal either side,and so on.

The Cinder-coal was a measure of how the fierce heat from the molten lava rock,forcing it's way up through the strata,actually burnt the adjacent coal seam,turning it to Cinders,but still under tremendous pressure,thereby retaining it's original form,in the strata.

I'm thinking the mistake would have been a clerking error,rather than ignorance,seeing as blue Whin,used on our roads,doesn't bear any resemblance to sandstone at all!!...and anybody seeing cinder -coal,in situ,would guess that something very hot has been going on here!

Go to FLICKR,[or Google] and type in.."High Pit Wilma's Photostream"..Bates Colliery,and my pics have a very good shot of a 36-feet thick Whin Dyke,in the 3/4 seam,where,had we been given the chance,[after 1984!] we would have reached a 5- foot -high coal seam,at the other side of the Dyke,where reserves of over 60 million tons of virgin clean low-sulpher coal still lies,untouched![thanks to wor maggie!][under the North Sea]

Lots of these documents have mistakes in them,such as the Durham mining museum's records of seams worked at Choppington High Pit,and dates

when they were worked,fatalities,and dates when they occurred,etc.

Again,to read them,knowing that you were there at the time,working in these seams,and  some of these fatalities taking place where you were working,

prompts you to read with reservation!

Besides me nit-picking for correctness only,these ancient documents are still fascinating,so what the hell!

An old neighbour of mine,about 20 years ago,showed me a small ledger book,that he had found,lying in the street,at West Terrace Stakeford.

I was amazed when I read it!

It was the clerk to Crofton Mill Colliery's accounts,for the costs of building all the pit's surface buildings!

"Pit Cage winding wheels-2 off- £2-13shillings and sixpence......" .....just an example out of my head,but pretty near the real thing,cos every item was costed,down to the handrails around the headgear,the boilers,the bricks for all the buildings...etc etc!!

John,or anybody else who might know Keith Corbett,son of the canny fella who showed me this book,[Jimmy Corbett..deceased..R.I.P Jimmy..]]if you ever see Keith,it might be a gud thing to ask whatever happened to it.

I had told Jimmy to take it to Woodhorn Museum,to have it scanned in,but he sadly passed away,and by then,I had moved away from that Terrace.

I haven't seen Keith for a few years now,but this book is always in my mind,it was so precious,that if I see him,I will be asking him myself,what happened to it.[it was dated on the days when the pit was being actually built,in the 1800's]

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Symptoms,hindsight is a wonderful thing,and aam just thinking noo......

..seeing as we are still trying ti find oot the origin of the universe,and our own solar system,who's ti say what exactly Magma is composed of!

The molten rock from within the centre of the earth,whatever it is,will be vastly different,i would imagine,to that which reaches the outflow of a volcano in action.

On it's way to the surface of the earth's mantle,it will be picking up all sorts of rubbish as it forces the strata apart on it's journey.

If the Earth WAS composed of dust from an exploding dying star then that original dust might have been sandstone,with a lot of Silica content.

The heat build-up in the Earth's central cavity,would cook the silica and the stone to form a glass-like material...but that doesn't explain how all the minerals such as Gold, Silver,all the other precious metals etc,came to be in the boiling pot!

Mining was,in some respects,for those interested in geology,like myself,a real education,and eye-opener,especially when you blasted 250 pounds of 

Polar Ajax explosives in 100 drill-holes,9 feet deep,in a Whin dyke,and smelt rotten eggs,[a deadly fatal gas known as Hydrogen Sulphide..."H2S"],

for a short while.

Then,when the reek from the shots has thinned out enough to go into the workings to examine your "shots"[the results of what you had just blasted out],

it was a real exciting sight to see a cavity,lined out with beautiful crystals,shining like diamonds!![knowing you were the the first person in the history of the universe to see this amazing sight!]

Of course,some of my marra's,whose only thoughts were what time the club opened,["club"=working men 's club],and what the top "Hoosey" prize was,

[Hoosey="Housey"...a lotto game where 100 numbers were randomly called out,and the winner would be the first have a full house of 15 numbers on a card],thought I was stupid,when I used to tell them this was a historical occasion!

I have driven roadways through soft sandbanks,blue shale packed with fossilised mussels,iron balls,which knocked tungsten-carbide drilling bits  tips off,as if they were toffee,Caterinarses,[fossilised tree trunks which have actually petrified in situ...i.e.still vertical.and deadly to the unsuspecting miner...

..whin dykes,slip-faults..where the  coal seam is actually displaced by several feet due to earthquake activity millions of years ago....

...washouts,where the coal seam disappears altogether,due to rivers forming valleys after the ice -age and taking out vast measures of the strata with them......eh!..yi bugga,theor a gaan agyen,fo'gettin ti stop.....!

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Heres a pic for HPW.

The Choppington High Pit. Do you know anyone ?

John Million on the left,Leighton Bush bottom centre,a think it's Bart Dawson on the right,a recognise them all,John,they seemed like old men,when aa was just 16 yrs aad,but noo they look like younger blokes!!...cos aam an aad git noo![70-just turned...]

I worked with Billy Bush,Leighton's Son,he was a real nice lad to work with,as were 99.9999 per cent of the men at the pit,cos there were whole families

inter-married and related in one way or another.Billy was a timber-leader when aa was on transport work,and Leighton was on coal-filling.

Old Ned Cushing,the Training officer,said to me,on the way inbye,on me first day doon high pit,"Aye ,Wilma,it's a canny little family pit this,a think ye'll enjoy working with aal thi lads"..!

Whey a DID!! ...it wasn't the lads that aa hated...it was THI PIT!! ...it was just a wet stinking rough tetty pit...dangerous in every way.

When a went ti Bedlington A pit,me and me marra's couldn't believe hoo different it was!!....still a dangerous hole in thi grund,but a DRY one,wi bits o' damp patches here and there!

John Million's Sister-in-law,and Nephew,are very good friends of My Wife and mesell'

There was some queer nick-names at thi High Pit,John,amaong them was "Aad Salt",[a relative of yours..John..and canny and quiet as hell!],his Son "Harper","Daa-Daa,".."Fingers"..[so-named because of missing fingers due to a mining accident years ago!],"Big Toss","Blonco","Limpet"[ a big strong Polish fella..like an Ox!],"Maverick",.."Fly-by-night"..[a pidgeon fancier who aal thi lads used ti tek thi mick by saying his pidgeons were thi only ones in aal the duckets,who had tar on their feet...!],"Thi Newt"[a little canny fella who had the wettest stretch of coal on thi face for thi whole quaata!]...

...."Boo-Boo"..[one of thi pit Managers who came from Durham..].."Wilma"...[Me!].."Baggy"[screens charge-hand],"Split-pin"..[a very thin Government inspector who was a regular visitor to thi pit due to thi high accident rate!].."Aad Sol"..[button-man at thi 4th North buttons],a cud gaan on and on,but it's aalriddy reached thi point of monotony,for some folks.....maybe....[a hope not,cos this is aal historical noo!] 

Great ti see a photo of thi High Pit Lads on here John,thanks for posting it!

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  • 6 months later...

HPW your post 16th Sept 2014 about the ledger found in West Terrace may have a simple explanation.

It could have belonged to Steven Martin and been thrown out when he died.

Steven lived in West Terrace Stakeford I believe.

He was an expert on The Great Northern Coalfield and I think would have spent a lifetime collecting items or ledgers that could easily have been thrown out.

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  • 1 month later...

Maggie,I never thought of that!

You are probably spot-on about what families throw out after a bereavement has subsided.

When Ashington pit closed in 1987,I became a re-trained furniture/cabinet/maker.

As workshops closed I didn't sit on the dole,long,[days...never mind weeks!!]

I got on at the  Wansbeck Council Depot,for a few weeks here and there,relief work.

One time I was on one of the litter-picking teams for a few weeks,and this day we were at the tip,over at Ashington,just past the old Workshops,to tip our wagon.

While we were waiting our turn to tip,I was standing not far from the bulldozer,watching it flatten out all the refuse from the other lorries.

It was a breezy day,and out of one of the lorries,came a load of old photographs and newspapers.

Well,they were blowing about,and this great big dozer was practically running my toes over as I tried to rescue some of the pics.

I only managed to get one pic,and it was an old black-and-white one,of a Lorry,with the occupants barely in view,it was so old.On the side of the lorry was the company name.......? and? DODDS,BEDLINGTON!

They were in Bedlington for donkey's years,and I remember the lorries as a child.

Wonder if any of the family are still with us?

This pic might have been taken in the late 1940's early '50's

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Forgot to say thanks Maggie,for your kind comments,I love sharing my experiences,as much as I enjoy hearing about other people's.

Talking about Whin,["Blue-Whin..i.e.],when our Sons were just little bairns,we were on a touring caravan weekend,just over at Bellingham.

One day we walked along the embankment of the  old railway track,[then a lovely grassy walkway].

As usual,I was talking about how we blasted out through solid Whinstone Dykes,after picking pieces of Whin ballast up.

My oldest Son [who was about 11years old..around 1979..]],was always interested in my stories.

I explained to him about the smells of gases released from the stone after it was fired down,and we proceeded to try and break smaller bits of the Whin ballast,by hitting them with larger pieces.

We succeeded a few times,probably because the small bits were fractured to start with.

The interesting thing was,even after lying out on a rail track,in the fresh air,for God know many years,the same pungent rotten-egg smell could be detected!! [H2s-Hydrogen Sulphide..a deadly gas...but safe in the open air.!]

Next time you are out walking,bring a small bit of road ballast home and crack it with a hammer..[with safety goggles and totally wrapped up around the face and neck...fine pieces fly off like red hot bullets!!],and see if you find the same thing.

That gas was trapped in the stone,about 200 million years ago,when the Whin was molten Lava from an erupting volcano!!

Fascinating stuff man!!

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HPW, I remember Dodds, or T Dodds tranport named after the owner Tom Dodds. He lived at 5 Cambo Avenue. My Mum used to clean for Tom's wife Kath. His son was called Tom also, so he may still be around. Tom senior used to favour AEC trucks and I distinctly remember his 1950's Mammoth Major. 

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Hi Orlof!

Thanks for that info.

I will post the pic if I come across it in my albums.

What puzzled me was why anyone would want to throw out old family photographs!

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Luvly bit o' workmanship, Maggie!

...but you got me beat.....[hope I shouldn't be ashamed for saying that!......].....where is it from?

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... and we've led a very sheltered life above ground HPW. That's why your stories from underground are so interesting for us. Experiences and knowledge are best when shared. You'll find Bilbao on the North coast of Spain - I Think. Yes, just checked and it's exactly where it was last time i visited.

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Heh heh..thanks Canny Lass!

We live and learn every day don't we.

It's funny ye knaa,but underground,ye had ti learn the geography of a pit,noo it was hard enough when ye were just a laddie of 15,and new to aal the mining terminology,and you would think it would get easier as you went from pit to pit,over the years,but it got harder,cos pits got bigger and bigger,all

with different terms,and different methods of working.

When I started Bedlington A pit,in 1965,after the Choppington High Pit closed,I was sent to the High Main Seam,which was worked Bord and Pillar.

I was lost![not just me,but all my Marra's who were transferred there at the same time]

It was like a rabbit warren!...if you went to the Harvey Seam for a week,[longwall faces-total extraction],then you went back up to the High Main.....

it was like starting all over again!

Bord and Pillar involved driving two main roads,60 yards apart,with intersecting roads being driven every 60 yards,["Bords"].

This meant leaving 60 yard square "Pillars" of solid coal in place,to preserve the integrity of the strata and prevent[ ha ha!!] mining subsidence at

the surface,when mining underneath property.[there were dozens of such roadways over a vast area]

I digress,all I meant to say was how geography plays it's part underground,as well as up-aheight!!

You had to learn where places were and how to get there....and more important.....how to get out!![especially in an emergency!]

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Aye,canny lass,there was one secret for survival...the air flow!

O.k. in a mine with good ventilation,throw a handful of dust up,and watch it's direction of movement......[depending whether you are in a main road,or a tailgate roadway.!!]

In a Mothergate,[or Main intake roadway],following the the air-flow will take you further into the mine.

In a Tailgate,[or"Back-road"...or "Narrow Bord"...etc],it will take you out of the mine...not in a straight line,may I add!!

You would work your way out by taking numerous left and right turns on the way...a bit like going from Central station to the Hancock Museum.....via Chinatown etc.....!

Now!!,in a mine with non-existent ventilation,like Choppington High Pit,the theory collapses!

Whenever the barometer fell sharply the whole pit used to be "Styphed-oot",completely filled with deadly gases,which would normally be kept in check by high barometer states.[pushed back into the "Goaf"...or waste areas where coal had been extracted.]

The old-timers used ti say.."Whenever that wind comes from a certain direction...we knaa she's ganna be styphed oot.."

Us new kids listened and found it to be true.

Until 1971,when I went on to the Mine Deputy's course,at Ashington Technical College,[as it was then],and did lessons in mining science and physics.

It's great what a little bit of education does for the brain!!

I found out then,that it didn't matter a chut,which direction the wind came from!!....it was the dramatic fall in atmospheric pressure which gassed the mine out![ a fall in air pressure causes a rise in gas pressure..allowing it to percolate into the general body of the air flow]

Sometimes it was only old workings which were full of styth..[a mixture of mainly CO2 ...Carbon Dioxide,Nitrogen,maybe a bit or a lot of Methane,and

gases like H2S ....Hydrogen Sulphide...absolutely deadly lethal even in small quantities..!]

Sometimes the whole pit was full,and gases coming up the shaft [the downcast shaft!]cos the ventilation was so feeble..and it was like that from birth to death of the pit...never changed!

It was cheaper to send the whole workforce home on full day's pay,now and then,than to install a more powerfull ventilation fan!

I'm talking 1965 -6 closure of the pit.

Now at Bates,where the Plessey seam workings reached more than 12,000 metres inbye,under the North Sea,they installed huge booster fans halfway

inbye,[about 6 miles in],in the main roadway.

As you approached them,the noise became so loud,and of a particular frequency,it made you feel like vomiting,and it wasn't only me that felt this way,lots of other lads told me the same story about themselves,as they passed through the air-lock doors at the side of the fan enclosure.

Those workings had direction signs put up at every directional change of the roadways,whether they were intake or return airways,for visitors,but mainly for Emergency Rescue workers if ever needed.

To be fair to the old N.C.B.,they were the best employers in the country,they kept jobs for those who were regarded as having mental health problems.

,such as conveyor belt transfer points,with simple but very important responsibilities,the odd ones who fell foul of the law and did prison sentences for theft,etc,they came back to their jobs,with a lot of ribbing and  serious warnings from marra's to keep their nose clean or else!!....ye knaa wat a mean,

lots of other employers wouldn't give these people half a chance in life even back in those days!

You are right,Canny Lass,about it being a colourless world,it was a black and grey,and rusty world!!

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One thing I forgot to say,Canny Lass,was,if your cap-lamp went out,and you were in total blackness,and I mean totally devoid of any light at all,you would hang onto your pony's collar,irrespective of where you were,either intake or return,and tell him to "hauld-up"..[meaning 'go'],and he would take you straight outbye to the stables![.....left left...right...left ...right.......he knew it all!]

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