7mm Pit Props for Graig Wen Colliery.

Discussion in 'WR Action' started by davey4270, 20 November 2020.

  1. davey4270

    davey4270 Western Thunderer

    9BDE224E-4B94-406A-8504-09C39E9DBFB3.jpeg Today at Graig Wen Colliery a load of pit props has arrived from a new supplier. J & O Gibbon Ltd. of Talywaun are hoping these samples will secure them the contract with the colliery. Our foreman chats with 1147’s crew amongst some of the girls from the local leisure.
    Peter Cross likes this.
  2. daifly

    daifly Western Thunderer

    Shouldn’t they still have the bark on them? They look a bit thick too for the 1:12 - 1” diameter per 1 ft of prop. I only remember seeing them loaded on end, never horizontally. Dave
    davey4270 and Dog Star like this.
  3. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    Yes, possibly and No, definitely - with/without bark probably depends on the source of the timber that is supplied by the Gibbon brothers.

    I recall reading in something written by Adrian Marks that timber could not be imported into the UK with bark as that offered home to undesirable insect life. Props from timber grown in this country could have bark.

    Were J & O Gibbon the suppliers of pit props to the colliery at Ynysybwl Fsch?

    regards, Graham
    davey4270 likes this.
  4. daifly

    daifly Western Thunderer

    I suspect that Adrian may have been mistaken. I've just been looking at a large number of photos of pit props arriving at Welsh ports from Scandinavia, Canada etc and all are bark-on. However, depending on the length of the props and the type of wagon used, some timber was loaded and transported horizontally.
    Old miners referred to 'Jaspers' - large flying beetles - often found among Russian props. They were so big that they could open your OXO tin lunch box and steal your grub. Two Jaspers could alledgedly derail a (empty) dram!
    7mmMick and davey4270 like this.
  5. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    I may be wrong (usually am!) but I suggest that the import of timber with bark on ended when we got Dutch Elm Disease.

    This has a particular resonance. Our first home was opposite a park with a stand of mature elms alongside the road. I'll guess a date in the mid '70s when they started to die and were all felled. Even worse they were cut into short lengths and burnt. As the heartwood is not affected those logs should have been usable, should they not? At the time, and even now, I remember the situation as quite tragic. I understand that the disease came in trees from Canada and has nothing to do with Holland.

    Please note - all this is from memory. I suppose I could go on to Wiki and collect the latest opinions, but I won't. Doubtless there's a forestry specialist on here who can give us chapter and verse.

    With apologies for the diversion, Davey.

    davey4270 likes this.
  6. davey4270

    davey4270 Western Thunderer

    Pit props were cut to 7, 8, and 9ft lengths, and cut to shorter lengths underground.
  7. davey4270

    davey4270 Western Thunderer

  8. davey4270

    davey4270 Western Thunderer

    Mmm, sounds like a trick played on apprentices! As an apprentice with BP Llandarcy I was sent all around the refinery looking for the key to the Nullah. That's another story.
    Isambarduk likes this.
  9. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    Having been wound up regularly as an undergrad engineer in the company of far more worldly-wise final year apprentices at the shipyard, I finally got my revenge when I convinced my oppo that we had the wrong spanners for the job. We were in the gods of an engine room up several stories of scaffolding, installing some pipeline or other at the time. “But we’ve got shifters” (adjustable spanners) says he. “Ah yes but these are metric, and the nuts are imperial”. And off he went, ladder after ladder...

    it was a joy to see his happy smiling face looking up at me from about fifty feet down when the penny dropped.
    AJC likes this.
  10. Osgood

    Osgood Western Thunderer

    Peter Cross, simond, 7mmMick and 7 others like this.
  11. Alan

    Alan Western Thunderer

    Absolutely amazing photo. Until one sees photos like those above you don't realise how many pit props were constantly needed.
    simond likes this.
  12. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    yes, and reflect that they've been down there the thick end of a century, and in some places they're holding the ground up...
  13. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    Some years ago I visited the National Mining Museum at Wakefield. It includes a trip down to an abandoned working seam in the "cage" . The tunnels remain as they were left after the final day of working. It was a modern mine to the extent that there were conveyers to move the cut coal from the working face, although some coal was still extracted from narrow seams by miners laying on their sides with a pickaxe! I've always felt that if we woosy southerners had understood more about the truth of the hardships involved in mining we'd have been a lot more sympathetic at the time of the miners' strike. Excuse the diversion.....

    The reason for this addition is that there were no wooden pit props. As a modern mine all were hydraulic. I expressed surprise to our guide, an ex miner, as I felt they were a hugely expensive bit of gear to be left in place once a seam was worked out. He said, entirely matter-of-factly that, once a seam was finished there was a team who would remove them, working backwards, for re-use elsewhere. So I asked the obvious question about what then kept the roof up while they were working. He said that the roof simply fell in behind them as the props were removed.


    Alan likes this.
  14. michl080

    michl080 Western Thunderer

    In older mines the wood props were rotting away causing the same effect in the mines and an unwanted effect at the surface. If you would switch off all pumps, the whole Ruhr valley would become a huge lake. The whole region has no natural drainage river left.

    oldravendale likes this.
  15. markjj

    markjj Western Thunderer

    Where I work next to an old pit. We have huge settling ponds where they pump rusty water out of the mines then filter the water so it can go back into the rivers.
    If they turn the pumps off it would fill all the local rivers and streams with poisonous water.
    I guess there must be tons of old iron down there still as very little got brought up.
    They still have the pit headgear in place but it's no longer useable.
    It stinks of rotten eggs in the hot weather....
    Not my photo its borrowed from the Canmore site for reference.
    Peter Cross and michl080 like this.
  16. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    That's rather sad, isn't it? All that rusty old gear could have been brought to the surface and scrapped responsibly, but it was "too expensive" to do so. The pit is now flooded to such an extent that we couldn't get down there to recover the stuff even if we now wanted to. I'll bet there'll be a good lacing of heavy metals and hydraulic fluid in there as well.

    No wonder our kids are so upset with us.

    michl080 and simond like this.
  17. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    I suspect that the ongoing costs of treating the effluent may well eventually reach and exceed the cost of extracting the machinery in the first place. Indeed, it might well be cheaper overall to bite the bullet and dig the stuff out now, than to keep applying sticking plasters for ever.

    Trouble is, nobody will want to fund such an operation, indeed, in the current circumstances, perhaps nobody can afford to, so the can will continue to be kicked down the road.

    Without getting political, it’s a fundamental weakness of poorly-regulated capitalism.

    michl080 and Alan like this.
  18. markjj

    markjj Western Thunderer

    It's very sad and I believe something that's happening at a lot of old mines unfortunately.
    Here they are still clearing a lot of old mining legacy we still have a fair few Bings (slag heaps) some of which are slowly working their way into new roads and motorways.
    Everyone blames political parties one in particular for the mines demise but today it isnt about politics it's about saving our planet ;) some would say otherwise.
    On another note the site where I work has a lot of railway history. The big sheds in that photo were workshops for fixing the mine cars and a lot of other associated NCB railway repairs including steam engines. Unfortunately they were very short lived. There are a few groups around here restoring the old mine locos. We even have our own mini Barry island at a local scrap yard the owner wont sell the locos though they are just sitting there rusting away :(
    michl080 likes this.
  19. Osgood

    Osgood Western Thunderer

    Isn't that leachate discolouration coming from mineral absorption into the groundwater filling the mine workings, rather than from rotting machinery?
  20. markjj

    markjj Western Thunderer

    The people who look after the site say it's a combination of the acidic coal remains reacting with the ironworks left underground. A lot of the main tunnels were full of ironworks and a lot of corrugated iron as well.
    michl080 and Osgood like this.