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Author Colliery Winding House
Matt_T

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 26/01/2016 12:02:57
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Hi wonder if you can help. We have been undertaking some archaeological excavations in the north-east, and uncovered the base of a colliery winding house - see rectified photo

https://www.flickr.com/photos/86466863@N04/24597834516/in/datetaken/

The shafts lie bottom right from the photo, out of shot. There were two, so I'm guessing one haulage, one pumping? The building seems divided roughly centrally on the NS axis, the west side seems to have accommodated a boiler and perhaps a beam engine (sitting on thickened wall), the right side perhaps the winding mechanism? There is a nice piece of dressed stonework which looks like it may have supported an axle (north of centre of right wall). Boiler looks like a replacement, as you would probably expect - bricks unfrogged and handmade. It is early 19th century - out of use by 1850s.

Can't really tell you where the site is but NE England (Newcastle) - we are still working there and there is a degree of confidentiality required, though of course gets fully published further down the line.

So don't ask me! Big Grin

Would be great to hear about comparable sites, and see other pictures
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davetidza

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 26/01/2016 12:56:53
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What an interesting structure.

In answer to your first question - Following the Hartley Colliery disaster of January 1862 (see Wikipedia) legislation ensured that all colliery workings had two means of egress. The aim was to ensure that fresh air went down one shaft, was circulated through the workings, and then exhausted up the other shaft (these are generally known as the downcast and the upcast shafts).

Looking at your ground plan it would seem that what you have here is a winding engine house. For this to be true the shaft would have to be in line with the winding drum.

We have excavated several engine houses here in the Peak District and the structure of winding engines is a far lesser known topic than the structure of beam pumping engines. At one of our sites we had a winding engine installed second hand around 1845 and we came to the conclusion that the winding drum was horizontal (which is something we have never seen illustrated).

The engine house probably did not contain a beam pumping engine because a) you do not have a heavy duty bob wall to balance the beam on and b) you would need a shaft equidistant from the cylinder to the bob-wall and from the bob-wall to the shaft in order to operate the pumps.

What I see from your photograph is a winding engine house. To the left is the boiler (which may be an egg-ended boiler) with a stoke hole at the lower end and a chimney base to the top. In the right hand side I would presume the winding engine would stand. However, I would expect it to be sat on plinths to support the engine, flywheel, and possibly, drum. The black marks on the floor are, to me, indicative, of grease spills from greasing the engine.

All this is based upon one photograph, so I might well be incorrect.

Cheers, Dave Williams
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Matt_T

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 26/01/2016 13:59:34
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Dave

that's great! thanks for the reply - has given me plenty to think about. I posted a long reply but my computer ate it Cursing - I'll see if it reappears or I'll try and write it again.
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Jim MacPherson

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 26/01/2016 14:11:55
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My machine has done that a couple of times, it's quite annoying. Perhaps go through the tedious process of highlight and copy next time before you post, it avoids me upsetting my hound with dark mutteringsAngry IP: 91.125.236.239
gNick

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 26/01/2016 15:34:15
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davetidza wrote:

we came to the conclusion that the winding drum was horizontal (which is something we have never seen illustrated).


Isn't it normal for a winding drum to be horizontal, or at least the axle of the drum? A vertical axis drum would require more significant structure to balance the load.

On a bit of a tangent, did winding gear usually have all the cable stored on the drum or did they use a separate storage winch?

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royfellows

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 26/01/2016 15:38:55
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Matt_T wrote:

Dave

that's great! thanks for the reply - has given me plenty to think about. I posted a long reply but my computer ate it Cursing - I'll see if it reappears or I'll try and write it again.


If you loose a posting on a forum use the back button or arrow on your browser to get it back

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davetidza

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 26/01/2016 15:51:15
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Isn't it normal for a winding drum to be horizontal, or at least the axle of the drum? A vertical axis drum would require more significant structure to balance the load.

On a bit of a tangent, did winding gear usually have all the cable stored on the drum or did they use a separate storage winch?


In the case I am talking about - it would appear that the drum was laid horizontal with a vertical shaft. See - 'High Rake Mine' Mining History 18:1/2 for details. We have no idea how this worked as there is nothing left but the footings and the engine house is at right-angles to the shaft. It also used flat rope. This is the only conceivable way it could have operated, but as I said - we know very little about the early winding engine compared to the beam pumping engine.
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AR

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 26/01/2016 20:47:53
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Don't forget Ecton, a very well-documented example of a drum operating on a vertical axis.

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simonrail

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 26/01/2016 22:50:49
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I'm not convinced this was a winding engine house. Certainly one half has contained an egg-ended boiler as indicated by the external fireplace, but the other half doesn't seem big enough for a winding engine. In addition, you would expect a strongly built house to support a vertical winder, or substantial foundation plinths for a horizontal engine. Neither appears the case from the illustration.

You would expect an alignment with one or both shafts for a winder.

Winding drums with a vertical axle were a rarity. Didn't Wheal Owles have such an arrangement?

As for the two shafts it would be interesting to know if one had any traces of a chimney for furnace ventilation.

Looks like an interesting site - please keep us posted.


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Quizsmith

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 27/01/2016 19:06:28
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Matt_T wrote:

Hi wonder if you can help. We have been undertaking some archaeological excavations in the north-east, and uncovered the base of a colliery winding house - see rectified photo

https://www.flickr.com/photos/86466863@N04/24597834516/in/datetaken/

The shafts lie bottom right from the photo, out of shot. There were two, so I'm guessing one haulage, one pumping? The building seems divided roughly centrally on the NS axis, the west side seems to have accommodated a boiler and perhaps a beam engine (sitting on thickened wall), the right side perhaps the winding mechanism? There is a nice piece of dressed stonework which looks like it may have supported an axle (north of centre of right wall). Boiler looks like a replacement, as you would probably expect - bricks unfrogged and handmade. It is early 19th century - out of use by 1850s.

Can't really tell you where the site is but NE England (Newcastle) - we are still working there and there is a degree of confidentiality required, though of course gets fully published further down the line.

So don't ask me! Big Grin

Would be great to hear about comparable sites, and see other pictures


I have done a bit of investigation over the years into Saltom Pit (Whitehaven). When I last visited, 2000ish, the remaining winding house was still standing to nearly roof level. I know that this area has suffered badly from both sea and other coastal erosion and access is now limited. Perhaps another member can assist on the current state of this. However , as I remember, the layout of the building was similar (Not Identical) to what you have uncovered. I may have some photos from the past but some did get passed on to relevant groups will have a look. Look up 'Saltom Pit Coal Colliery' on this site as some photos exist there. Also
http://www.colourfulcoast.org.uk/saltom/submarine_city/articles/winding_engine/index.html?sid=ce6a3c02922a3b5e2af6ac74c8208d27
this is a National Trust bit about the winding engine.
I hope that this helps you with your dig and ongoing research.
By the way you have asked at Beamish?
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simonrail

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 27/01/2016 20:52:44
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The plan of both Beamish and Saltom Pits is similar because both contained a single-cylinder vertical winding engine, and are vaguely similar to Matt's example because of being square in plan. However, neither had a boiler inside; the boiler plant was external and larger in both cases. In addition Saltom engine house is divided down the middle by a stone wall which supported one end of the drum axle; at Beamish this is supported by a massive wooden A-frame.

Matt's site is described as having a possible bearing position low-down on the outer wall which is unlikely to be found with a vertical winding house.


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Buckhill

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 27/01/2016 23:03:16
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Saltom winder drum was not directly above the engine as at Beamish. It was in the open fronted eastern half of the house, offset from
the engine in the enclosed western half.

The NT site should be used with caution, a lot of misleading statements and sloppy errors, e.g. it was Peile, not Piele, who deepened the shaft - by 60 fathoms, not feet. And the (vertical) Ravenhill engine bore no resemblance whatever to the twin horizontal Bever Dorlings at Haig.Smartass
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Albert Hall

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 27/01/2016 23:23:11
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A few obvious points which may help

1. Plot the shaft positions against the engine house, use right angles only and this will help identify winding drum location(s)

2. Use these right angled "vectors" to identify potential winding drum locations ( and excavate to verify) looking for axle and bearing mounting points

3. A bob wall is likely to have some reinforcing, excavate at base as they can be quite well recessed

4. A boiler is likely to have flues around and beneath it, if there aren't any you should question your boiler location theory

5. Shaft depth ( if known) will help indicate length and thickness of rope and thefore drum capacity

6. Desk research into the operators and dating of the pit will indicate the likely technologies in use, particularly if you compare with other local pits.nthis will help develop your ideas. I assume you plugged into the excellent NIEMME and various local experts such as Les Turnbill and Alan Clothier??

I am sure you will have thought of all of these already

Good Luck

Steve Grudgings



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Matt_T

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 28/01/2016 10:14:02
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Hi I've added the (rather redacted) map extract from the tithe map, showing the only depiction of it (arrowed red). The blue arrow is the shaft position, the shaft stays depicted through all subsequent OS map editions but the building is gone. This is why I was assuming it was the winding engine house.

The tricky part about plotting the shaft positions is that the area is now under housing (or at least the shafts are buried)! However, the positions are known and surveyed, so should be easy enough to resurrect. My on-site recollections show the shaft(s) to be at 90 degrees to the right side of the building (as you look at it in the photo). I think (again need to check the records) that I have the shaft depth somewhere. I'll try and look it up.

There is no further floor - we have only the foundations of the walls sitting on the clay (which is what you see in the photos). I suspect the floor was robbed/reused, or was timber. I take your point about the necessity for strong walls to hold the winding drum, and can't really answer that - the only visible difference is on the wall to the right which seems to suggest some sort of fixing point.

I think the boiler to the left is possible - I accept that the whole of the left side could have been occupied by an egg-ended boiler, with the chimney in the top-left corner, and the boiler set on the brick piers. I was wondering if it was a haystack boiler in the bottom left corner, but perhaps not. Probably not enough room.

I have some info/accounts of the colliery - I'll need to mull over when I can put this on - might need to check before I do so. Client confidentiality is a minefield and a straitjacket! Which makes it sound like a suicide vest....Wink

I will look at Saltom pit - I know that area well, and have done bits of work around Saltom Pit/Haig Colliery. Beamish also! Don't live too far from there. And Ecton and High Rake Mine, thanks.
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Matt_T

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 28/01/2016 10:14:45
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Forgot the link, sorry

https://www.flickr.com/photos/86466863@N04/24297856339/in/datetaken/
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simonrail

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 28/01/2016 10:29:17
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I will the Right Honourable and Learned Member to my previous reply where I stated that the Beamish vertical winder has its drum partly supported by a massive wooden A frame, which does the same job as the dividing wall at Saltom. At Beamish the drum is positioned in the southern half of the building but the engine is in the northern half and not directly below the drum.

My concern about Matt's house is that it contains an obvious boiler setting but so far the rest is conjecture. Perhaps it was intended to contain a second boiler when the pit expanded enough to warrant it. Apart from a thickened portion of wall which may have supported a low down bearing there appears little evidence of other uses.

Unfortunately we're not given further evidence of the location and the wider picture such as exact location of shafts or any route of wagonway, which could be helpful.

As rightly pointed out a useful clue is the alignment to a shaft, although sometimes that may be misleading as a winding house could be located at any angle to its shaft especially in later years with modernisation e.g. Elemore Colliery.

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Buckhill

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 28/01/2016 16:04:22
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simonrail wrote:

I will the Right Honourable and Learned Member to my previous reply where I stated that the Beamish vertical winder has its drum partly supported by a massive wooden A frame, which does the same job as the dividing wall at Saltom. At Beamish the drum is positioned in the southern half of the building but the engine is in the northern half and not directly below the drum.

My concern about Matt's house is that it contains an obvious boiler setting but so far the rest is conjecture. Perhaps it was intended to contain a second boiler when the pit expanded enough to warrant it. Apart from a thickened portion of wall which may have supported a low down bearing there appears little evidence of other uses.

Unfortunately we're not given further evidence of the location and the wider picture such as exact location of shafts or any route of wagonway, which could be helpful.

As rightly pointed out a useful clue is the alignment to a shaft, although sometimes that may be misleading as a winding house could be located at any angle to its shaft especially in later years with modernisation e.g. Elemore Colliery.


OopsApologies for the poor grammar - I meant to say that at Beamish as at Saltom the drum was not above the engine.Flowers

I agree with you that the building looks strange for a winder house - the drum would have to be either over, or partly over, the engine, - the map just posted suggests the shaft being slightly more toward that side of the building(?), or over the boiler - not a satisfactory arrangement. The engine house at Duke (Whitehaven) was contemporary with Saltom, but was narrower and had the drum and engine in the same room - no outside compartment - but, again, a separate boiler house.
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Matt_T

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 28/01/2016 16:27:15
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Coal seams were between 80m and 330m below ground level.

Happy for it not to be a winding house! I agree it seems a bit cramped to have both the winder and boiler in the same building, so a 'pure' boiler house is an option.

I'll try and cobble a plan together showing its relationship to the shafts, and waggonways etc - might have to be a Frankenstein mix of maps.

This is all great stuff and really helpful, many thanks.

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Matt_T

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 28/01/2016 16:50:20
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/86466863@N04/24375852220/in/datetaken/

This is a (VERY) rough drawing based on a few survey lines etc. Positions of the shafts in red, conjectural waggonway in green (though may have run up to N shaft - it was completely gone by the 1st Edn OS mapping). Not sure on shaft width.

Dimensions of the building could be useful - 8.9m NS by 6.6m EW - not sure what that is in old money. Shaft is 6m from building. Probably worth mentioning that the shaft could be further to the west than shown - it is a single point only, not sure where the surveyor stuck his pole!
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Matt_T

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Colliery Winding House
Posted: 28/01/2016 16:57:03
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Also, and just because I thought of it just now looking at the photo plan - the bottom wall is different immediately right of the boiler base, there seems to be a void/opening, and the wall is clearly thinner there. IP: 86.156.169.83
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