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Technical | Above-ground  >  Coal preparation

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During the lifetime of the colliery, coal preparation, i.e. the separation of rock and dirt from the coal and the sorting of the coal according to size, was done using two different processes.

 During the 19th and a good part of the early 20th centuries, coal in the form large lumps of “round coal”, as it was known, was the product most desired, especially for house-coal and much of the coal raised from the Top Hard seam was in this form. The larger lumps were hand loaded into tubs on the face and the miners were obliged to use forks to load the hand sized ones in order to avoid sending out small stuff and slack. As a result, very little dirt or rock came to the surface - much of it having already  been separated by the colliers at the coal face where it was used to form packs to support the roof.  What did surface was separated by hand on the screens - a job usually done by older and disabled miners and, in some areas, by women - with the large coal hand being picked and the remainder separated into different sizes mechanically.

When it became necessary to work the thinner seams containg more dirt, it was no longer practicable to perform manually separation on the coal face. The amount of dirt raised with the coal inevitably increased whilst the proportion of smaller coal also increasing. In order to perform efficient separation on this kind of output it became necessary to install a washery plant to supplement the screens, the larger coal still being handled on the screens and the smaller stuff being washed.

A seperate larger washery plant with facilities for separating finer coal was constructed in 1939 and, with the increasing use of power loading machinery on the coal face and the disappearance of the market for larger coal in both the domestic and steam raising markets in the 1960s, the screens were discontinued and all the output was then dealt with by the washer.

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