Once coal had reached the surface, it was the practice to pass it over screens to sieve it into different grades, ranging from large lumps to dust. In the 19th and early 20th centuries there were three main grades, namely, Coal, Burgy (variations, Borgy and Burgie) and Slack. Material that passed over the first screen, with the largest mesh size, was sold as Coal, also known as Round Coal, Household Coal, &c. This was the best coal and it was the most expensive. Material that passed over the second screen, with the smallest mesh size, was sold as Burgy, which was small coal mainly used to fire furnaces and kilns. This coal was sold at a lower price. Material that passed through the second screen was sold as Slack and this was a mixture of small pieces of coal, coal dust and dirt. This was the cheapest coal and it was typically used to fire boilers for steam raising purposes to drive steam engines. Cotton mills would be the principal consumers of slack.
A load of coal was equivalent to 4 tons 16 hundredweight or 4.8 tons.
Round Coal per load, 6s 8d or 1s 4¾ per ton. Burgy Coal per load, 5s 8d or 1s 21/6d per ton. Driving Levels, per yard, Bottom Coal 3s 0d, Tops 10d. Driving Brows, 9ft to 10ft wide, 5s 0d per yard, laying rails in brow, 1s 0d per yard. Driving Back Brows, 4s 0d per yard. Driving Down Hill, 6d per yard extra
Round Coal per load, 7s 9d or 1s 7¾ per ton. Burgy Coal per load, 5s 3d or 1s 11/8d per ton. Driving Levels per yard, 3s 6d. Driving Brows, 9ft to 10ft wide, 5s 0d per yard, laying rails in brow, 1s 0d per yard. Driving Back Brows, 4s 0d per yard. Driving Down Hill, 6d per yard extra.
PRICES PAID IN BOTH MINES
Jigging, 3d per load. Jigging and Taking-off, 6d per load for first length, and 3d per load extra per every length afterwards, in Levels beyond Back Brow. Backening 3d per load for a pillar over 14 yards, and 6d per load over 21 yards, and 6d per load if one pillar is backened through another.
'Jigging' refers to underground inclined planes, known as brows or jigs. 'Taking-off' refers to full coal tubs being detached from the haulage rope and empty tubs being attached to it. This work was done by a Hooker-on. The word 'pillar' refers to pillars of coal that were left supporting the roof as the coal face advanced.
Jenneying, 6d per load for first length and 3d per load extra for every length afterwards. Winching up brow 1d per load per yard. Pulling up rails 1d per yard as pillars are brought back to be paid for every 50 yards and in other places when finished pulled up by the day. Setting brow couples or bars, 2s 0d per pair. Setting round couples, 1s 0d per pair.
A Jenney/Jenny/Ginny was a winch, powered by a stationery steam engine, used to haul coal tubs but the distinction between jenneying and winching in the above context is unclear. The length of a 'length' is unknown. The remainder of this section seems to be concerned with the removal of rails from galleries prior to pillars of coal left supporting the roof being removed to allow the roof to collapse. It was this that caused mining subsidence on the surface.
Waggoning over length, 6d per load extra 250yds, and 6d extra for every 100 yards afterwards. Cutting one fast side, half-price. Lurking proper, half-price, but as per agreement (when only taking loose coal) between the workmen affected and the underlooker; and in case of difference, the matter to be referred to the manager and a representative of the Federation.
The phrase 'lurking proper' might refer to miners who were temporarily waiting to commence hewing coal again while some other essential work was being done. In this case they would be paid a reduced amount for their waiting time. An 'underlooker' supervised underground workings and was responsible directly to the undermanager.
Setting props under 5ft in length, 2d each; over 5ft, 3d each Filling ordinary tubs of dirt 3d per tub. Emptying, 2d per tub. Setting chocks, 1s 0d each. Drawing chocks, 1s 0d each. Repairing roads, &c, paid by the day. Walling in Levels, 1s 0d per yard. Drawing props, 1d each. Stone chocks to be paid by day wage.
The final section concerns the setting of pit props and their removal. Props were usually mounted on wooden blocks and wooden wedges were driven in between the top of the prop and the roof. 'Repairing roads' refers to the maintenance of the haulage galleries. As the coal was taken away any stone available was built into dry stone walls or packs. Typically, these ranged from 6 to 20 feet wide and they were arranged in parallel lines at right-angles to the advancing coal face. This was referred to as 'walling in levels'. 'Filling tubs with dirt' refers to the practice of removing unusable waste from the mine altogether. It was this dirt that produced the once familiar slag heaps in coal-mining areas. The miners were paid less for this work as it was a waste product and hence it was kept to a minimum. A 'dataller' was a casual workman paid by the day and in this instance they would be employed to repair roads and do stone chocking work.
District percentage to be added to the above list. Signed on behalf of the Colliery Co. by Wm. Ollerenshaw, Manager. On behalf of the Miners' Federation and workmen by Thomas Ashton, Jesse Butler, John Lloyd, Richard Cowcill. November 1899.
Acknowledgement and thanks are due to A Etchells.