Jump to content

Purpose of internal user coal wagons


Recommended Posts

What do I not understand about collieries that necessitates internal user wagons? On a basic level, coal comes out of the ground, goes in wagons, and goes to customers. But apparently sometimes it comes out of the ground, goes in wagons, gets transferred to different wagons, and then goes to the customer. There's obviously something I'm missing about how the colliery processes the coal, but what?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

It depended on the arrangement of the colliery or collieries as Stationmaster suggests.  For example Wheldale Colliery near Castleford had no washery so internal users were used to move the coal over an NCB line to the washery at the nearby Fryston colliery.  At the same colliery coal was moved from the screens to the landsale yard for coal going out via road and also to be tipped into barges on the nearby Aire and Calder Navigation.

 

Whilst spoil might be got rid of using internal tipper wagons, the type of wagon used would depend on the disposal arrangements. Lots of internal wagons were used for the sort of thing that a conveyor would now do.

 

Simon

Edited by 65179
  • Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

What specific examples do you have in mind?

 

No specific examples, but I would be interested in seeing specific examples. I've been seeing pictures of NCB internal wagons and was wondering what they were for, rather than just using BR wagons. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, garethashenden said:

 

No specific examples, but I would be interested in seeing specific examples. I've been seeing pictures of NCB internal wagons and was wondering what they were for, rather than just using BR wagons. 

They served various purposes. They were used to move waste from the screens to the tip, and coal from the screens to the stocking area and the land-sales yard. This latter was where concessionary coal was dispensed, and where local merchants collected their coal.

They were used instead of BR-owned wagons because BR levied something called 'demurrage' on any of its wagons retained for more than a certain period. Whilst it wasn't a large amount per wagon, it soon mounted up, especially if you had several tens of wagons on site,

Link to post
Share on other sites

Coals to landsale depots, certainly. Also coals to winding engine boiler houses (and pit baths if these were provided and had separate heating) as well as for locomotive use, and removing ash from same. 

 

Bear in mind also that coal isn't the only stuff that comes out of a hole in the ground - there can be a lot of stone, for instance when driving through to a new face, or through a geological discontinuity, which has to be shifted somewhere. There may also be stuff like fireclay which can be exploited (and quite a few collieries at one time had brickworks associated with them). Pits also used quite a lot of brick underground for various purposes (explosives stores, pony stabling etc). Shifting pitprops from store to the bankhead could be another use. And just moving general crud, like fines and dirt from the screens/washery. (Talking of crud, I don't know how pit pony 'waste' was handled - I assume it wasn't just left underground?)

 

And although you might not believe it, many collieries tried to keep the bankhead reasonably tidy, so all sorts of scrap, waste, small coals, timber offcuts, oily waste, etc etc might get chucked in a wagon to be taken to the tip. If you look at Edwardian period pictures, there is none of the general detritus that you see in pics of say the 1960s (but then labour was cheap, and it was work to give some of the many who were too badly injured to work underground).

  • Like 2
  • Informative/Useful 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, 65179 said:

It depended on the arrangement of the colliery or collieries as Stationmaster suggests.  For example Wheldale Colliery near Castleford had no washery so internal users were used to move the coal over an NCB line to the washery at the nearby Fryston colliery.  At the same colliery coal was moved from the screens to the landsale yard for coal going out via road and also to be tipped into barges on the nearby Aire and Calder Navigation.

 

Whilst spoil might be got rid of using internal tipper wagons, the type of wagon used would depend on the disposal arrangements. Lots of internal wagons were used for the sort of thing that a conveyor would now do.

 

Simon

Had to double check this wasn't one of my previous postings!!

Add to the list: transfer to adjacent coking plant ( Glasshoughton and Whitwood) and transfer of coal to stockpiles which balanced out the seasonal variations in demand. Pony poo was wound to the surface and taken in wagons to be dropped off for collection by local farmers. My late father used to recount how, once coal extraction was transferred to to Whitwood colliery, Dom Pedro  was retained as a ventilation / man riding shaft and the only product was the muck from the underground stables. Wagons of coal would be sent up the internal line to fuel  the boilers and office fire.

Some collieries, Wheldale in particular, accumulated an amazing collection of oddball wagons which to my great regret, I never quite got round to photographing. Fortunately, others did and are easily located via Google image search. This is a great excuse for wagon fans to indulge their passion.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The basic process was:

 

1. Out of the ground (run of mine)

2. Washed

3. Screened (sorted for size)

4. To customer, either directly from screens in BR wagons or to landsale in NCB wagons.

 

If all those were on the same  site, close to each other and connected via conveyors or tubs, then the main use for internal users was between screens and landsale. But washers especially became increasingly centralised with run of mine coal being tripped in from several shafts. Look at Weymss, Waterside or Lambton Hetton & Joicey for examples. 

 

Increasingly as time went on surface railways and internal users were replaced by underground conveyors, the ideal was coal brought up next to the washer with rapid loading bunkers for HAAs fed directly from the washer. West Side Washery at Woolley near Barnsley was planned to take coal from , I think, 10 local pits and South Side at Grimethorpe a similar number. 

Edited by Wheatley
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

An example would be Maesteg, where several pits supplied coal to a shared washery.  There was a large NCB railway system of several miles route length, including a section of the Port Talbot Railway.  Coal was transferred from the pit heads, where it was graded, to the washery, in internal user wagons.  Another was the well known Mountain Ash system, where coal from pitheads was transferred similarly to a washery, but also to the Abercwmboi 'Phurnacite' smokeless fuel plant, which was anything but smokeless!  Again, internal user wagons were used, and they were a feature of Coking plants as well.  Back in the 60s and 70s, NCB internal users were usually 7-plank XPO with 3-link couplings bought second hand from BR, a viable use for them on layouts of that period.  The few sites than made it into the 80s used secondhand steel 16ton minerals.

 

Even smaller pits where everything was grouped around the pithead might have a few internal users for moving materials and equipment around the site, or even for loco coal if the pit's own product was not suitable or too valuable to thrown into fireboxes, anthracite for example.

Edited by The Johnster
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, doilum said:

Some collieries, Wheldale in particular, accumulated an amazing collection of oddball wagons which to my great regret, I never quite got round to photographing. Fortunately, others did and are easily located via Google image search. This is a great excuse for wagon fans to indulge their passion.

 

Sadly before my time. I wasn't allowed to pop over the Pennines to wander around collieries at the age of 7 for some reason, but what's not to love about this sort of thing (Auchlander's photostream on Flickr):

 

Wheldale 1

 

Wheldale 2 Wheldale 3

Simon

  • Like 8
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, 65179 said:

 

Sadly before my time. I wasn't allowed to pop over the Pennines to wander around collieries at the age of 7 for some reason, but what's not to love about this sort of thing (Auchlander's photostream on Flickr):

 

Wheldale 1

 

Wheldale 2 Wheldale 3

Simon

This was the transfer run to the washer at Fryston about a mile to the east. Coal for the basin would be in 7 plank end door wagons whilst waste was taken in side tippers across the river using the BR metals by local agreement uñder the control of the signal box.

  • Like 1
  • Informative/Useful 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

We've been mostly thinking here, I suppose, about internal user mineral wagons. But your pit may also need other types - flat or single plank for moving lumps of machinery around, special wagons for shifting winding ropes (both for shafts, and for surface inclines - the latter might include wagons equipped to 'pay out' new winding cables: I think there are pics in Colin Mountford/IRS 'Private Railways of County Durham', and vans - for various things that need to be dry (cement, for example). And also, if your colliery employs ponies, something to move the 'choppy' - the Lambton system had a 'choppy store' inbye Bunker Hill, and I think used vans to move this to the various pits for the ponies. A large system like Lambton would also have vans etc for tools/equipment, analogous to Engineer Dept vehicles on the 'big railway'.

 

Unless your model is wedded to a particular prototype, almost anything goes, I would suggest - even a modest colliery would have the wood and metal working skills to build any superstructure onto a second-hand chassis, and quite a few could have run up a chassis itself, probably only buying in wheelsets and other major forgings and castings, possibly second hand. So your wagons don't need to be identifiably 'ex big railway', and if you are stuck with a kit or RTR that is just SO wrong, well there's your answer - the 'A' Pit joiner's shop rebuilt it! Simples, and unchallengeable! (For example, if you look at Lambton rolling stock, while some of it, especially open wagons, is known to be second-hand from the NER, albeit in some instances 'changed, terribly changed' as you would expect after several decades of ad-hoc repairs, there is other stuff, including locomotives, that has an 'NER flavour' but was actually built at Philadelphia more or less from scratch or with key parts bought in. Just like us - we 'scratch-build' but buy in the wheelsets and the chimney castings!).

 

I wish I had more than the vaguest memory of my great grandfather and grandfather, who were successive Chief Engineers on the Lambton Hetton and Joicey. Their duties ranged widely and in fact the 'railway' aspect was probably not their main focus most of the time - underground electrification, mechanisation, coal conveyors, power generation etc would be the big ticket items (and back in the day, Philadelphia was also engineering support for Lambton's collier fleet) - and my grandfather ended his career partly responsible for planning the Hawthorn combined mine: a lot of underground transport, and if you are familiar with the South Hetton system up above, you'll know why! But as 1:1 train sets go, the Lambton system wasn't bad.

 

 

 

Thank you, Doilum, for the note on pony poo logistics - I had always wondered, but was too polite to ask!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Paul Bartlett's site has several galleries of photos of Internal User wagons at different locations. There are some fascinating shots of rebuilt vehicles; how about a former steel-bodied hopper, where the steel plates have been replaced by planks, supported by the original steel frames?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Fat Controller said:

Paul Bartlett's site has several galleries of photos of Internal User wagons at different locations. There are some fascinating shots of rebuilt vehicles; how about a former steel-bodied hopper, where the steel plates have been replaced by planks, supported by the original steel frames?

https://paulbartlett.zenfolio.com/internaluser and various ones for individual works. 

 

Paul

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, lanchester said:

We've been mostly thinking here, I suppose, about internal user mineral wagons. But your pit may also need other types - flat or single plank for moving lumps of machinery around, special wagons for shifting winding ropes (both for shafts, and for surface inclines - the latter might include wagons equipped to 'pay out' new winding cables: I think there are pics in Colin Mountford/IRS 'Private Railways of County Durham', and vans - for various things that need to be dry (cement, for example). And also, if your colliery employs ponies, something to move the 'choppy' - the Lambton system had a 'choppy store' inbye Bunker Hill, and I think used vans to move this to the various pits for the ponies. A large system like Lambton would also have vans etc for tools/equipment, analogous to Engineer Dept vehicles on the 'big railway'.

 

Unless your model is wedded to a particular prototype, almost anything goes, I would suggest - even a modest colliery would have the wood and metal working skills to build any superstructure onto a second-hand chassis, and quite a few could have run up a chassis itself, probably only buying in wheelsets and other major forgings and castings, possibly second hand. So your wagons don't need to be identifiably 'ex big railway', and if you are stuck with a kit or RTR that is just SO wrong, well there's your answer - the 'A' Pit joiner's shop rebuilt it! Simples, and unchallengeable! (For example, if you look at Lambton rolling stock, while some of it, especially open wagons, is known to be second-hand from the NER, albeit in some instances 'changed, terribly changed' as you would expect after several decades of ad-hoc repairs, there is other stuff, including locomotives, that has an 'NER flavour' but was actually built at Philadelphia more or less from scratch or with key parts bought in. Just like us - we 'scratch-build' but buy in the wheelsets and the chimney castings!).

 

I wish I had more than the vaguest memory of my great grandfather and grandfather, who were successive Chief Engineers on the Lambton Hetton and Joicey. Their duties ranged widely and in fact the 'railway' aspect was probably not their main focus most of the time - underground electrification, mechanisation, coal conveyors, power generation etc would be the big ticket items (and back in the day, Philadelphia was also engineering support for Lambton's collier fleet) - and my grandfather ended his career partly responsible for planning the Hawthorn combined mine: a lot of underground transport, and if you are familiar with the South Hetton system up above, you'll know why! But as 1:1 train sets go, the Lambton system wasn't bad.

 

 

 

Thank you, Doilum, for the note on pony poo logistics - I had always wondered, but was too polite to ask!

From local evidence: when a flat bed was required it was done by cutting down a damaged mineral wagon. Likewise, I have seen examples of "vans" which are clearly conversions of 7 plank solid end wagons. There is clear photographic evidence of main line 16 tonners being "borrowed" for internal use. It is possible that these were wagons that arrived in a main line train with an issue such as a hot axlebox or broken brakes/springs and " forgotten" about by BR. A quick visit to the pit workshop would see them fit for internal use.

The provision for pit ponies is one that interests me. Having daughters with a dozen or so, I have a good idea about the quantities of fodder, bedding and manure involved, yet have never seen photographs of wagons or storage facilities.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Internal wagons would still need repair at a main works so may be seen on the mainline.

1) A image of an EM1 Woodhead BoBo at Sheffield Victoria with ex-works NCB 16T steel mineral wagons

2) I recall a photograph of a Class 47 passing through Doncaster Station,  just behind the loco is  a "Skip" wagon with inside axle boxes. Probably NCB, possibly en route from a repairer, possibly Charles Roberts of  Wakefield?

Of this style:

 

https://PaulBartlett.zenfolio.com/internaluser/e3a8f2976

 

I cannot find the original image but I think it was a post on RMWEB

Edited by Pandora
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Pandora said:

Internal wagons would still need repair at a main works so may be seen on the mainline.

1) A image of an EM1 Woodhead BoBo at Sheffield Victoria with ex-works NCB 16T steel mineral wagons

2) I recall a photograph of a Class 47 passing through Doncaster Station,  just behind the loco is  a "Skip" wagon with inside axle boxes. Probably NCB, possibly en route from a repairer, possibly Charles Roberts of  Wakefield?

Of this style:

 

https://PaulBartlett.zenfolio.com/internaluser/e3a8f2976

 

I cannot find the original image but I think it was a post on RMWEB

Would love to see this photo. There was a slightly longer version of the skip wagon built for the sewage works under the Tinsley viaduct in Sheffield that was approved for mainline running  but the more common short wagon was prohibited. That said there were a significant number from the Durham area relocated in the Castleford area. Not sure how they were delivered.

My own pet theory is that the skip wagons were built using wheels and buffers recycled from condemned PO wagons.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

When wagons were finally beyond redemption, they would be 'repurposed' by the miners. We lived in a former pit village in the Tyne Valley; our hen cree incorporated large chunks of a former UI wagon, whilst others were to found edging leek trenches, and as parts of pigeon lofts. We carried on the tradition- our new hen cree incoporated much of the roof of Low Fell Post Office, the rest being used to build a garage.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Fat Controller said:

When wagons were finally beyond redemption, they would be 'repurposed' by the miners. We lived in a former pit village in the Tyne Valley; our hen cree incorporated large chunks of a former UI wagon, whilst others were to found edging leek trenches, and as parts of pigeon lofts. We carried on the tradition- our new hen cree incoporated much of the roof of Low Fell Post Office, the rest being used to build a garage.

The removable boards in the doorway of my grañdfathers coal house still had the remains of wagon numbers painted on them.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

In the North East, didn't the archaic chaldron wagon survive very late in internal use too? I'd be intrigued to know just how late. 

Edited by PatB
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Tim V said:

Or dumped!

Marine 6-4-82 OM1 228-009.jpg

The overturned wagon to the far left may have broken  main frame timbers,   preserved railways have scrapped wooden framed wagons due to such rot,  the wagons simply collapse under strain. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.