Black Country Living Museum

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Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

July, 2017

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Travelled with

On your own

Reasons for trip

The colliery area contains the surface buildings including the winding house and office as well as the reconstructed drift mine.

The Museum was built over the site of over forty small disused mine shafts. These employed between six and thirty men. The Racecourse Colliery has been recreated here with its mine office, winding house and engine, pit head frame and waste heap.

The brick built manager’s office and weigh bridge are at the front of the site. Usually one manager would be responsible for several small pits.

One of the manager’s jobs was to make sure plans were kept up to date. There are no safety lamps as the workings were shallow and volatile gases could escape. These were known as ‘naked lamp’ mines as the miners used tallow candles set in a lump of clay. At the start of each shift, a supervisor would take a safety lamp down and check the workings for gas.

The miner’s were lowered down the mine in a cage at the head frame. This also was used to bring coal up to the surface.

The pit head gear was driven by a steam engine in the winding house. This turned the wooden wheel in the outside of the building. A cable would have run to the top of the head frame and then down the shaft to raise and lower the cage. The steam engine was powered by a vertical boiler in an adjacent room. The boiler would originally have been fed with water pumped out of the mine. It is now fed by a small feed water pump which recycles water from a small reservoir.

Other small steam engines on display provided ventilation within the mine.

A replica Newcomen Steam Engine has been built on the site. These were once common to pump water out of the deeper mines. It is housed in a brick building from which a wooden beam projects through one wall. Inside the engine house, the boiler is encased in brick. Above is the piston. It’s movement controls the movement of the great beam which lifts water from the bottom of the mine shaft.

The underground mine experience has been created to show how miners worked coal seams in the Black Country in about 1850. The trip takes about 35 minutes with a guide into a recreated drift mine.

There are more pictures “here.”:


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