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MR Chuffer

Pre-grouping cross-Pennine coal traffic - Yorks<>Lancs?

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In developing my knowledge of traffic patterns in the early decades of the 20th century, I can't help but notice that many mineral traffic workings photographed on trans-Pennine routes are loaded wagons from Yorkshire to destinations west/Lancashire with empties in the opposite direction. This seems especially true on the East Lancashire line, Blackburn, Accrington, Rose Grove/Burnley and then on to either Todmorden or Skipton, why?

 

There seems to have been plenty of coal in the Lancashire coalfields as a whole, was consumption there greater than they could produce for, or did Yorkshire coal have specific properties making it suitable for certain industrial processes?

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Ooops, didn't know I was posting this in Preservation and don't know how to move it, soz!

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7 minutes ago, MR Chuffer said:

Ooops, didn't know I was posting this in Preservation and don't know how to move it, soz!

 

Now moved; someone from Yorkshire will be along soon to say why their coal was better. ;)

 

I'd say, generally, that there was a greater amount of coal on the east of the hills and greater consumption on the west.

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It is also important to remember that not all coal is the same.

 

Coal comes in many grades - for example coking coal, household coal, steam coal, anthracite etc..  It could well be that Yorkshire coal (a lot of which was steam coal) was more appropriate for Lancashire's industrial needs than the local products.

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15 minutes ago, AY Mod said:

 

Now moved; someone from Yorkshire will be along soon to say why their coal was better. ;)

 

I'd say, generally, that there was a greater amount of coal on the east of the hills and greater consumption on the west.

Coal is a varied product. The burning characteristics varied not only from pit to pit but also from seam to seam. I am not an expert in this field but, pre grouping, there was a huge demand for "steam coal" not only from industry but also from shipping. Whilst much of Yorkshire's exports went from Goole, coal that was westward bound might go through Lancashire.

Please keep us informed of your findings.

Edited by doilum
Predictive text error

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Because Yorkshire coal is proper honest coal unlike that Lancashire coal....

 

The actual answer...

 

From my knowledge Yorkshire and Lancashire coal is largely the same bituminous coal good for producing coke and coal gas.

 

The likely reasons I can see is 

 

1. Volume - Yorkshire producing more coal than it can burn whereas Lancashire is running a deficit.

2. Export - while most Yorkshire coal was sent via Goole it stands to reason that Lancashire ports would also be used - perhaps destined for the Americas?

3. Geography - Despite the ancient rivalry (cheating Lancastrian b....) The two countries are joined at the hip.

 

Most people think of the Pennines as the major geographical obstacles in the region however most river Valleys run east-west and tend to be narrow and steep and therefore harder to take goods North-South.

 

I have seen images of PO coal wagons from the Lancashire coal field in areas of Yorkshire such as Skipton for example this is because it is just as easy to send a Wagon from North Lancashire as it would be from South Yorkshire.

 

Hope this helps

 

Edited by Aire Head
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@doilumYes, that's my assumption, reading about the different mines that sprung up in Lancashire in the 19th century (in order to have appropriate PO wagons on my layout), there is often commentary about the coal "quality" discovered.

 

Supporting this, I recently bought an excellent book "Rails to Ripley" by Howard Sprenger, about the Midland Railway branch network commenced from Little Eaton just north of Derby - where I used to live - to the complex of lines in and around Ripley, Butterley, Langley Mill, etc. And whilst its an excellent book in terms of content, narrative and photos, there is a highly informative table of Mines in the Area from 1896 - 24+, location, owner, number of workers, minerals worked and seam and type of coal.

 

For example, Britain Colliery at Butterley Park, where the Midland Railway Centre is now, had 144 workers below ground and 32 above, mined Household and Manufacturing Coal from Deep Soft and Tupton seams (?!). And the book diverts off into the complex mining arrangements and shipping patterns based on where the market was for the coal mined from a particular pit.

 

Can't recommend this book highly enough for those interested in the Midland Railway, branch lines or traffic patterns, or all 3.

Edited by MR Chuffer
Reference previous poster I was replying to

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14 minutes ago, MR Chuffer said:

Yes, that's my assumption, reading about the different mines that sprung up in Lancashire in the 19th century (in order to have appropriate PO wagons on my layout), there is often commentary about the coal "quality" discovered.

 

Supporting this, I recently bought an excellent book "Rails to Ripley" by Howard Sprenger, about the Midland Railway branch network commenced from Little Eaton just north of Derby - where I used to live - to the complex of lines in and around Ripley, Butterley, Langley Mill, etc. And whilst its an excellent book in terms of content, narrative and photos, there is a highly informative table of Mines in the Area from 1896 - 24+, location, owner, number of workers, minerals worked and seam and type of coal.

 

For example, Britain Colliery at Butterley Park, where the Midland Railway Centre is now, had 144 workers below ground and 32 above, mined Household and Manufacturing Coal from Deep Soft and Tupton seams (?!). And the book diverts off into the complex mining arrangements and shipping patterns based on where the market was for the coal mined from a particular pit.

 

Can't recommend this book highly enough for those interested in the Midland Railway, branch lines or traffic patterns, or all 3.

 

I'm not sure which area exactly you are modelling but I'm assuming it's Lancashire side?

 

There did used to be a coal train which went loaded from Colne to Harrogate.

 

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@Aire Head Yes, around the Burnley-Colne-Skipton area. I got the book "Railways around East Lancashire" by C Richard Wilby the other day, pages 16, 19, 49 and 57 all show east/Yorkshire bound mineral empties in the early to mid- twentieth century in 72 pages, and not one going the other way, which is what prompted my question.

 

There is another sought after book, "Towards Lancashire - the Midlands Railway's Skipton - Colne Extension" by Donald Binns which I would be keen to get my hands on because the synopsis talks of traffic patterns and freight workings from the Midland perspective out of Skipton towards Colne, but the price is eye watering at the moment for what I believe is an informative and rare book.

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And perhaps I ought to invest less time and money on Lancashire colliery and merchant PO wagons and up the numbers on Yorkshire ones, is what I'm thinking.. There again, one can never have too many PO wagons, if they are right for the period.

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I lot of coal from Yorkshire coalfields was suitable for power stations and shipping hence the loaded out and unloaded back. I believe that a lot of the coal in the Manchester area was best used for domestic purposes, but I'm not at all certain why.  

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I can't remember where I saw the details of the Colne Harrogate Working to be honest.

 

As for Lancashire wagon on Yorkshire I have an image here from the 1943 Steeton Rail Crash where an down express crashed into a goods train shunting at Steeton.

 

One of the parts of shattered rolling stock is clearly a PO wagon from Wigan.

Screenshot_20200114-144848~2.png

Edited by Aire Head
Correcting errors

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Coal doesn't always have to travel on block workings aswell so it's quite possible for PO to crop up in Wagonload traffic aswell.

 

Agree with saying you can never have enough POs! although on my case it's the trusty rusty 16T Mineral!

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1 hour ago, PenrithBeacon said:

I lot of coal from Yorkshire coalfields was suitable for power stations and shipping hence the loaded out and unloaded back. I believe that a lot of the coal in the Manchester area was best used for domestic purposes, but I'm not at all certain why.  

My (Yorkshire biased) school boy geography of the 1960s portrayed the Lancashire coal seams as shallower and approaching exhaustion. The first generation of deep mines lacked direct access to main railway lines and would have supplied the local domestic and industrial market. The second generation, sunk in the 1880s, were located alongside the main routes and, from day one were looking at long distance markets. Most of the Pits east of Wakefield and those in South Yorkshire are in this group many surviving into the 1980s. As I understand it, the Hull & Barnsley and the Woodhead routes were constructed for this traffic. There are some good (posed) photos of dozens of newly delivered wagons at Briggs of Whitwood and Prince of Wales Pontefract.

Edited by doilum
Predictive text error
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3 hours ago, Aire Head said:

I can't remember where I saw the details of the Colne Harrogate Working to be honest.

 

As for Lancashire wagon on Yorkshire I have an image here from the 1943 Steeton Rail Crash where an down express crashed into a goods train shunting at Steeton.

 

One of the parts of shattered rolling stock is clearly a PO wagon from Wigan.

Screenshot_20200114-144848~2.png

 

Don't be misled by this – PO wagons were pooled on the outbreak of war so in 1943 could turn up anywhere in the country.

 

 

 

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I would also say that quite a few of the mines in Lancashire (and North Cheshire) were cheek by jowl with factories and mills they supplied. A couple I'm thinking of are Chamber Colliery in Hollins, Oldham, which seems to have been closely surrounded by housing, and Bradford Colliery, near to the site of the Present Etihad Stadium.

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Since no one else has bothered to do any home work, and since I and dolium gave some pretty good clues, I have looked at the coal quality from the Lancashire coal fields - having previously done the same for the South Yorkshire for a different question.

 

Lancashire coal was gassy ( prone to giving off volatile and potentially explosive gases).  It was ideal for coke production much of which was carried out in pre-grouping times in local gas works, where the volatile gases were collected and sold as town gas and the coke sold on to industries that demanded it.

 

Yorkshire coal was as previously stated often classed as steam coal - ideal for steam raising in power stations (not that common pre-WW1) or in industrial boilers for powering mills and locomotives.

 

So there you have it.  Yorkshire coal to Lancashire to power the cotton mills and Lancashire coal to Yorkshire to feed to town gas works.

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1 hour ago, Andy Hayter said:

Since no one else has bothered to do any home work, and since I and dolium gave some pretty good clues, I have looked at the coal quality from the Lancashire coal fields - having previously done the same for the South Yorkshire for a different question.

 

Lancashire coal was gassy ( prone to giving off volatile and potentially explosive gases).  It was ideal for coke production much of which was carried out in pre-grouping times in local gas works, where the volatile gases were collected and sold as town gas and the coke sold on to industries that demanded it.

 

Yorkshire coal was as previously stated often classed as steam coal - ideal for steam raising in power stations (not that common pre-WW1) or in industrial boilers for powering mills and locomotives.

 

So there you have it.  Yorkshire coal to Lancashire to power the cotton mills and Lancashire coal to Yorkshire to feed to town gas works.

I was just going to type that i think the Colne to Harrogate coal might be for the Gas Works, think you have hit the mail on the head Andy!

Cheers

James

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1 hour ago, Andy Hayter said:

Since no one else has bothered to do any home work, and since I and dolium gave some pretty good clues, I have looked at the coal quality from the Lancashire coal fields - having previously done the same for the South Yorkshire for a different question.

 

Lancashire coal was gassy ( prone to giving off volatile and potentially explosive gases).  It was ideal for coke production much of which was carried out in pre-grouping times in local gas works, where the volatile gases were collected and sold as town gas and the coke sold on to industries that demanded it.

 

Yorkshire coal was as previously stated often classed as steam coal - ideal for steam raising in power stations (not that common pre-WW1) or in industrial boilers for powering mills and locomotives.

 

So there you have it.  Yorkshire coal to Lancashire to power the cotton mills and Lancashire coal to Yorkshire to feed to town gas works.

Makes a lot of sense. Wigan seems to have been coal central, not least judging by the number of commercially available OO gauge PO wagons. Memo to self, acquire more Yorkshire PO wagons for travelling through East Lancashire.

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The NCB coal rank map attached shows that the coal in the South Lancashire and Manchester coalfields is much the same as that in Yorkshire - it just is a rather smaller area.  (Note that the map shows the general product of the area - coal ranks vary from seam to seam in the same area, generally being slightly higher (i.e. lower number) for lower seams.  Main products of both are coking/gas coals, general purpose coal and high volatile steam coals.  The Burnley area of the Lancashire Coalfield produced high quality coking coal, as did Durham - both would have exported it to steelworks around the country (Durham coking coal was extensively exported over Stainmore pass to Workington).

Also attached is the explanation of what the coal ranks mean.

Coalfields map.jpg

NCB coal ranks.jpg

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Excellent information, but just when I thought I was clear - Lancashire coking and household coal, Yorkshire predominately steam coal - this blows that apart.

 

So back to the original question, why are there (that I have seen) so many empty mineral trains returning to Yorkshire from Lancashire?

 

But at the end of the day, this is my railway, my world and I'll stick with the coking and household coal versus the Yorkshire steam coal, unless someone can enlighten me further....

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4 minutes ago, MR Chuffer said:

Excellent information, but just when I thought I was clear - Lancashire coking and household coal, Yorkshire predominately steam coal - this blows that apart.

 

So back to the original question, why are there (that I have seen) so many empty mineral trains returning to Yorkshire from Lancashire?

 

But at the end of the day, this is my railway, my world and I'll stick with the coking and household coal versus the Yorkshire steam coal, unless someone can enlighten me further....

 

I'd say it was a combination of all of the suggestions made to be honest.

 

I guess it depends whereabouts in Lancashire you set your layout?

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Don't get too hung up by eastglosmog's post.  It is based on NCB data as of 1974 and is only in part relevant to pre-grouping.  The Yorkshire coking coal levels were in the deeper seems and therefore to a point the later ones to be developed - many post WW1.  In comparison Lancashire coking coal was closer to the surface and developed at an earlier time.

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26 minutes ago, Andy Hayter said:

Don't get too hung up by eastglosmog's post.  It is based on NCB data as of 1974 and is only in part relevant to pre-grouping.  The Yorkshire coking coal levels were in the deeper seems and therefore to a point the later ones to be developed - many post WW1.  In comparison Lancashire coking coal was closer to the surface and developed at an earlier time.

Suit yourself, but I have just checked in a 1909 book of  analyses of coal and coke and of the 30 collieries in Yorkshire for which analyses are given only 1 gives coking coal as a pat of their output.  In Lancashre the figures are 26 collieries of which 2 give coking coal as a major part of their output and 1 gives it as part of t=its output.  All those 3 are in the Burnley coalfield.  As the NCB tables indicate, you can get coke from gas coal it just is not as good as the high quality stuff.

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