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Loads of Coal and British Mining 94

langcliffe

Well-known member
Does anyone have a copy of British Mining No. 94 "Coal: A Chronology for Britain", to hand, please? I am analysing some Barmaster accounts from the beginning of the 19th Century, in which duty is being paid on a "load" of coal. According to the table of contents for the Memoir, page 15 has a section on "The Weights and Measures Used for Coal", but the version on the web doesn't include that page. Would someone be kind enough to have a look at their copy and see if there is some form of definition for a "load"?

Or if someone knows the answer anyway...
 

AR

Well-known member
Barmasters accounts for coal? Barmote law only applies to lead ore, though I have seen occasional mention of other minerals having duty paid on them when the owner of the lead mineral rights also had the other minerals and the Barmaster was acting as mineral agent for those too.
As far as lead goes, load is a measure of volume - one load is made up of nine dishes, and a dish holds about 65 pints liquid volume, IIRC. The measuring dishes used were calibrated from a standard using seed or grain so I'm told, the late Jim Rieuwerts regaled me with the story of the time the Barmote jury decided to give it a try after the post-court dinner using rapeseed and the famous Wirksworth "brazen dish". As the dinner had involved a significant liquid component, shall we say, things got a bit messy....
 

langcliffe

Well-known member
Thank you for your reply. These particular Barmaster accounts are for the Hebden Liberty, which was not governed by Barmote law. The mineral rights were owned by the Trust Lords of the Manor, the manorial rights having been sold to the tenants together with their freehold in 1680. The Trust Lords employed a Barmaster to look after the management and administration of the mineral rights. The accounts I am currently looking at are for the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the duties of the Barmaster included the granting of leases, and the collection of revenues.

Hebden neighbours the Grassington Liberty, which had been subject to Barmoot Law until about 1774, and some of the customs of Barmoot law seemed to have been adopted, such as the granting of meers, and their marking with meerstones.

Leases were granted by the Hebden Barmaster for lead mining and coal mining for up to 21 years. Duty was paid by weight for the smelted lead, and by the load for the coal. One man was typically extracting about three loads of coal per day, so I suspect that a load was probably the amount that could be carried in a specified container by either a man or a beast. But it would be nice to be sure.
 

AR

Well-known member
At a best guess, I think a load in the context of your records will be about a ton, which is what one horse could reasonably expected to pull in a cart.
 

langcliffe

Well-known member
At a best guess, I think a load in the context of your records will be about a ton, which is what one horse could reasonably expected to pull in a cart.

Thanks. Carts were impractical at this location, though, and the coal seams were too thin for one man to extract three tons in a day.
 

pwhole

Well-known member
Perhaps a load in that context may have been a specified number of 'whiskets'? Or whatever the local name for them was - a man-sized bucket/drag tray. There's the remains of one in Sheffield Museum recovered from Odin Mine by Frank Brindley. I seem to remember it's essentially a wooden rucksack with leather straps. Admittedly there'd be a lot more value in one full of lead.
 

langcliffe

Well-known member
Perhaps a load in that context may have been a specified number of 'whiskets'? Or whatever the local name for them was - a man-sized bucket/drag tray. There's the remains of one in Sheffield Museum recovered from Odin Mine by Frank Brindley. I seem to remember it's essentially a wooden rucksack with leather straps. Admittedly there'd be a lot more value in one full of lead.

Thank you. That does seem to make sense in the context.
 

AR

Well-known member
If the area being mined for coal wasn't accessible to carts then pack ponies would have been needed to transport it out, at least to somewhere that it could be transferred to a cart. In that case, a load may have been something like 16 stone (or multiple thereof), which was the usual carried weight for a pack pony in the North Pennines orefield (two lead pigs of eight stone apiece, or two sacks of ore of similar weight).
Thinking about what pwhole said about whiskets, it's possible that the coal was loaded into a container at the face that could be taken out and hung onto a pack saddle.
 

moorebooks

Active member
Does anyone have a copy of British Mining No. 94 "Coal: A Chronology for Britain", to hand, please? I am analysing some Barmaster accounts from the beginning of the 19th Century, in which duty is being paid on a "load" of coal. According to the table of contents for the Memoir, page 15 has a section on "The Weights and Measures Used for Coal", but the version on the web doesn't include that page. Would someone be kind enough to have a look at their copy and see if there is some form of definition for a "load"?

Or if someone knows the answer anyway...
I have scanned the page for you

Mike
 

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AR

Well-known member
That page tends to confirm what I was thinking - that "load" as a measure has specificity to both place and mineral. Fine if you have a recorded definition, as we see with the Tyneside coal trade or Peak District lead mining, but a bit more awkward when dealing with sketchier records where everyone concerned knew how much was in a load and had no reason to write down what it was! What we need in this case is to find a lawsuit with the accusation of short measure...
 

Roger W

Well-known member
"I was born one morning when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number 9 coal
And the straw boss said, "Well, a-bless my soul"

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store."

Sorry, I couldn't resist that.
 

shotlighter

Active member
"I was born one morning when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number 9 coal
And the straw boss said, "Well, a-bless my soul"

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store."

Sorry, I couldn't resist that.
I know that song referred to mining in the US but a similar system operated here, the Truck or Tommy system. You were paid at the company owned beer house, in tokens only usable there or in the company shop. The slum that you lived in was owned by the colliery & if you were injured or killed at work (common!), your family were evicted, to make way for someone still capable of work. Slavery in all but name & in a country that had supposedly abolished the practice.
 

Llanigraham

New member
The Tommy Note:

You boatsmen and colliers all, Come listen to my ditty,
I'll sing you a song before its long, It is both new and pretty;
It is concerning Tommy shops, And the High field* ruffian
He pays you with a tommy note, You must have that or nothing.

Fal de riddle ral.

With the colliers I begin, How they pay each other,
Nothing have they but a tommy note, From one week to the other,
On Saturday when a week's work is done, And to receive their money,
The high field devil has learned a trick, To pay them off with tommy.

Fal de riddle ral.

The boatsmen now I bring in, That sails from high fields to Runcan*;
The boatsmen and their wives, They curse him at the junction.
And all belonging to the branch, That know the art of boating,
Wishing the tiller down his throat, It would be a means to choak him.

Fal de riddle ral.

When they have done their runcan voyage, And go to receive their money,
One half stops for hay and corn, The other half for tommy,
Then to the tommy shops we go, To fetch our week's provision,
Their oatmeal, sugar, salt and soap, Short weight and little measure.

Fal de riddle ral.

Saying if we had money instead of this, Provision we could have plenty,
The profit they get out of us, Is nine shillings out of twenty,
Then we jump on board the boat, And the children look so funny,
The voyage we so cheerful go, Till we have eat all our tommy.

Fal de riddle ral.

There is one amongst the rest, That knows the art of boating,
He vows and swears a wife he'll have, So long he has gone a courting,
He vows he will married be, Come listen to my joke sir,
And when the parson's done his work, I will pay him with a tommy note, sir.

Fal de riddle ral.

Now we have finished our voyage, The children look so funny,
For here at Runcan we do lie, And have eat all our tommy,
Come gear the horse and clear the line, And jump on board the boat, sir,
Both night and day we'll stear our way, For another tommy note, sir

Fal de riddle ral.
 

AR

Well-known member
I've just got hold of a paper from "Staffordshire Studies" concerning the coal mines north of Leek, and there was some discussion in that of measures, including a load.
 

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langcliffe

Well-known member
I've just got hold of a paper from "Staffordshire Studies" concerning the coal mines north of Leek, and there was some discussion in that of measures, including a load.
Thank you for that - very interesting. In this particular case, tubs weren't used, most of the levels being only about a metre high. I suspect that the loads in Hebden were more akin to the 'corves' mentioned in the paper. This is the rather scanty story of coal mining in Hebden I have just finished for my local history website.
 
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