A Glossary of Mining Terms

A Glossary of the technical terms in use in the Newcastle (and UK collieries) collieries. 1841

This Glossary contains the chief portion of those mining terms to be current in the pits and alto the desigantions &c., of the boys whose duties are subsidiary to the employments of the putters, drivers and trappers, or who are variously occupied at the bank.

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Air-course - see the account of Ventilation.

After-damp - azotic-gas and choke-damp taking the place of the atmospheric air after an explosion of carburetted hydrogen gas has deranged the ventilation. This has been a frequent cause of death subsequently to the explosion itself.

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Backskin - A piece of thick leather worn by some putters as a protection to their backs.

Bank - the top of the pit.

Banksman - the man attending at bank to land the coals, men, and boys, &c.

Baff - week or Saturday: the first week or Saturday in a new fortnight and used in contradistinction to the pay-week or pay-Saturday.

Bait - the hasty refreshment taken during the working of the pits. Bat - light stroke, similar to pat.

Baulk - An interruption of the seams of coal.

Baste and bray - to beat or flog.

Board or bord - principal working-places, from four to five yards wide, holding one and sometimes two hewers.

Bond - the annual agreement of specifying the conditions upon which the parties are hired.

Band - a layer of slate or stotie interstratified in the seam of coal.

Brattice - term applied either to the main divisions of the shaft or to the partial slit dealing placed in the working-places to guide the current of air up to the face of the workings.

Brasses - layers of pyrites occurring in the coalseam.

Broken - the working of the pillars of coal, used in contradistinction to the working of the whole coal or mine.

Brakesman - the man managing the winding-engine.

Blash or blast - an explosion of firedamp.

Blower - a sudden discharge of inflammable gas from some chasm or fissure in the coal or stone.

By or bye - used in such phrases as 'far in by,' i.e. far into the pit.

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Caivil - a species of lot drawing or lottery, by which is decided the working-place of each individual.

Cage - the iron framework which contains the tub of coals in its passage and the men in their passage, through the shaft.

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.

Corf - (obviously the Dutch Korf) - a wicker-work basket 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.

Chalker-on - a boy who keeps an account of the work and who is usually also a craneman.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - Also known as COPD, an illness caused by obstruction of the flow of air in and out of the lungs, a leading cause of death amongst former miners as there is a recognised link between COPD and coal mine dust.

Craneman or crane-hoister - a boy of from 12 to 17 years of age, earning from 1s. 6d. to 3s. a-day (in 1841) for managing the crane by which the corves are transferred from the tram to the rolleys, and for 'chalking-on,' or keeping an account of the number, &c., transferred. See Flatman.

Creep - a peculiar rise of the floor of the mine, chiefly where tbe pillars yield, produced by the pressure of the superincumbent mass.

Cowp - to tumble over or upon, as 'the corf cowped on me.'

Curving - cutting into the whole coal, as the preparatory course to blasting or wedging it down.

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Driver or Rolley or Horse or Waggon Driver - drives the horses leading the coals from the crane to the shaft.

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.

Deputy, or Deputy Overman - a man who sets props, lays tramroads, places brattices in the boards and looks to the safety of the mine and the miners.

Doors - various kinds of doors in the pits used to direct the ventilation.

Downcast, and Downcast shaft - that shaft or division of it by which the fresh air descends into the mine.

Dyke - considerable natural interruption of the bed of coal, whereby it is either thrown down or up. It is sometimes locally denominated a 'trouble.'

Double working - consideration paid for having two hewers at work in one place.

Drill - a tool about 20 inches long, used in blasting, to prepare a place in the coal or stone for the charge of powder.

Davy - the common designation of the Davy-lamp by the miners.

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Flatman - see Craneman, a term nearly synonymous; the difference being that, where tubs are used for the conveyance of coals, no cranes are necessary; for they have not 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.

Foals - young putters.See Putter.

Foulness - inflammable air.

Foul coal - impure, from an admixture of slate, &c.

Furtherance - consideration to hewers to put coals, &c

Furnace, and Furnace-men - who attend to the furnace for ventilation.

Feeder - a flow of water.

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Gin - a horse-machine for driving coals.

Gin-rope - a rope for letting engine~weights down the engine-pit for charging buckets, &c. The Jack-gin belongs to the engine shaft.

Goaf - those parts of the mine where all the coal has been extracted and where the roof has fallen in.

Gullet - a fissure in the strata, generally containing either water or inflammable air.

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Half marrows - young putters. See Putter.

Hewer - the man who extracts the coal. An able-bodied hewer may get about six tons coals a day.

Helper-up - the boy who assists the putters where the inclination is great.

Headways - a pair of narrow drifts, 2 yards wide, driven into the whole coal and constituting an intake and outlet for the air.

Hitch - a considerable interruption of the bed of coal.

Hack - a heavy kind of pick for breaking stone.

Hammers - blows, as 'he paid me my hammers,' i.e. beat me.

Horse-keeper - attends to the horses in the pit.

Holing - a general term for a narrow passage between two headways, or two board. The term appears to be sometimes used as synonymous with driving.

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Jack-roll - a hand-windlass.

Judd and Jenkin - The block of coal cut by the hewer at the face ready to be got fdown.

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Keeker - inspects the hewers to see that they work the coal to advantage, &c.

Keeps - the apparatus at the top of the shaft for retaining the cage till the loaded tub is exchanged for the empty one.

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Lamp-keeper - trims the common oil lamps but principally has the charge and busines of the Davy lamps.

Laid-out - tubs of coals forfeited by the hewer as having an excess of stones or slates.

Limmers - the shaft-like projections of the rolley on which the drivers sit.

Lowe - a pit-candle; of which there are 45 to the pound. Generally, a flame or light.

Lining - subterraneous surveying.

Loose - to stop or finish; as the pit looses, the boys loose.

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Marrow - companion or equal in every respect; as 'me and my marrow, i.e. me and my mate. Also, fellow, as 'you'll ne'er find his marrow.'

Metal stone - clay-stone and shale.

Meta-rig - the old workings after a creep, where the thill is forced up by the pressure of the superincumbent and surrounding masses. These metal-rigs have sometimes to be cut through.

Mistress - a small wooden hand-box open on one side only, holding the candle or lowe of the pit boy.

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Nuts - coals passing through the screen-bars from which the dust is removed.

Net - used for letting down and drawing up horses.

Nicking - vertical cuttings in the coal preparatory to blasting &c.

Nives or Nieves - the fist.

Nief - the fist.

Double-nief - the clenched fist.

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Onsetter - the man who is stationed at the bottom of the shaft to hook and unhook the corves and tub of coals, &c Where tubs are used he has commonly an assistant boy of from 12 to 15 years of age, who is paid from 1s. 3d. to 2s. a-day. (1841)

Overman - the third in rank of the officers of the mine. He has the constant charge of everything underground places the workpeople, examines the ventilation, and keeps an account of all proceedings underground. Two or more are appointed in the most extensive concerns, there being one to each pit. A 'back-overman' is an inferior overman.

Outstroke - a privilege permitting coals to be brought from one property and drawn to the surface at another

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Putter - a generic term for the boys who push the trams of coals from the workings to the crane. The term putter comprises the specific distinctions of 'headsman,' 'half marrow,' and 'foal.' The distinction between the labour of the last two is, that a half-marrow goes at each end of the tram alternately with the other half-marrow, while a foal always precedes the tram.

Pick - The tool of the hewer for excavating his coal.

Peck - the coal peck contains 4.5 gallons and 8 pecks make 1 bole, and 24 boles 1 chaidron.

Pick-carrier - carries the hewer's picks from the top of the corf upon which they are placed to the shop to be repaired.

Post - sand stone.

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Rapper - a signal hammer at the top of the pit communicating with the bottom.

Vanilla Circus Ltd

Reek - Smoke; as 'powder-reek.'

Renk - h'e gradation of price for the putters, adjusted by admeasurement every fortnight or oftener.

Rolley - the waggons for transporting the tub or corves of coals from the crane to the shaft. They usually hold each two or three tubs, and are 7 feet 6 inches long at Killingworth.

Rolley-ways - the-prineipal 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.

Riding - ascending the shaft.

Round - Coals are large coals.

Rongs - circular excavations in the shaft in which is collected the water trickling down the sides.

Rits - vertical cuttings in the shaft for receiving boxes to convey the water from the rings.

Ramble - loose stone lying above the top of the coal.

Rub - to beat or bray.

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Saddles - cast-iron fittings confining the tram and tub on the rolley.

Splint - coarse grey coal, adapted for steam-engines.

Screen or Traps - for screening coals, consist of bars of iron, various distances apart in different colleries.

Screen-trapper - an attendant at the above-described screens.

Shift - one set of men or boys, or the usual number of consecutive hours for which one set work; e.g.. 'day shift, night shift, single, double, treble shift; an 8-hour or a 12-hour shift.'

Shifter - an underground labourer, who labours in 'shift-work,' that is, in assisting the wasteman, &c.

Singin-hinnie - a rich kneaded cake indispensable in a pitman's family; so called from the singing noise it emits while baking on the girdle.

Smart-money - sums paid to those workpeople who are detained from work by colliery accidents.

Soams - a pair if cords from 2 feet 9 inches to 3 feet in length, used by foals and half marrows for pulling the trams.

Staple - a small shaft generally sometimes sunk under ground for various purposes.

Sliding-spears - extend from top to bottom of the shaft for guiding the cages.

Sump - the bottom of the shaft connected with the standage.

Standage - a place set apart £or holding accumulations of water in the pit until pumped out by the engine.

Stythe - the choke-damp. When the emission of carbonic gas is very strong and the ventilation inefficient, the whole space is frequently filled with 'stythe,' to the extinction of the candles, and the final extinction of life itself.

Set-out - tubs or corves of coals are set out from deficient weight or measure.

Stentings - narrow passages driven at right angles to the winning headways, at distances of from 20 to 40 yards, for the purpose of ventilation.

Stoppings - obstacles of brick or stone to force and alter the ventilating current.

Staith - the place where the coals are shipped by a spout or by a machine for lowering the waggons.

Switches, or Sidings - passing places in the subterranean railways attended by switch keepers.

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Tentale - the tennage-rent upon coals drawn.

Thurst - see Goaf.

Token-hanger - a boy of from 9 to 12 years old, who is paid 1s. or 1s. 2d per day for arranging the tokens attached to each corf to indicate the hewer of its contents.

Tram - a small carriage, in length 3 feet 10 inches, on which the putters, who are thence sometimes called trams, put their coals.

Trapper - a boy who is stationed at a door for guiding the air, to open it when any coal. carriages or people have to pass through it and to close it after them, so as to keep the mine properly ventilated.

Trouble - any natural interruption to the stratification or natural position of the coal.

Thill - the floor or sole of the mine.

Tubs - square vessels of wood or iron for the carriage of the coals. Sometimes all fast and sometimes with a door at the end for the discharge of the coals.

Trimmer - 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.

Toom, or Tume - empty; as 'the tume corf.'

Tne - to fatigue or chafe; as 'the putting sore toed me' or 'I was sore tued a hewing.'

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Upcast-shaft - the shaft, or division of it, up which the returnair escapes after ventilating the mine. It may be considered as a species of chimney.

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Viewer - the agent, manager, and head of the colliery establishment, who in his absence deputes his authority to the under-viewer.

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Waggons - see Rollies.

Way-cleaner - a boy who clears the dust, &c. from the rails along which the putters push the trams with two pieces of rope or hay - such boys are usually of from 11 to 15 years of age and earn from ls. 3d. to 2s. 6d. a day. (1841)

Wasteman - a man who travels all the wastes or old workings, clears away falls of stone and attends especially to obstructions of the ventilation. The shifter is his assistant.

Wailer - a boy employed to take out the slates and foul coal at the pit heap.

Whiles - sometimes.

Whole-mine - the whole coal, in contradistinction to the broken or pillar coal.

Winning the coal - is synonymous with sinking to it.

Work, or Waark - to ache; 'head-work headache.

Wood and Water Leaders - boys of from 11 to 15 years old, who carry props and wood to the various parts of the pit in which they are required. They also remove water from the horseways and other parts of the pit and assist the deputies. Their wages vary from 1s. 3d. to 2s. a day. (1841)

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