Mining Machines

Coal Cutting

In the early days of using coal, loose coal would be gathered by hand where coal seams reach the Earth’s surface (outcrop). Hand tools such as picks were used to get the coal. As seams were mined underground, sharpened hand tools were the standard equipment and continued to be used in small mines until the 1950s.

For more information on the machines which were developed to cut the coal in the mines, follow the pdf. provided below by the National Coal Mining Museum for England:

Mine Machines


As coal seams are worked, or roadways driven, the working areas can be a long way from the shaft or the drift entrance to the mine. This means that workers, tools, machines and materials all need to be transported in and out, as well as the coal that has been mined.

The earliest mines would use horse or hand powered winches to send people and materials down, and to bring coal out. At this time, all transport underground would be manual – people would push and pull corves (large wicker baskets) on sled runners. Corves or sleds could be filled with tools and materials going in, and loaded with coal to come back out again. To learn how coal has been transported in and out the mines during the decades, follow the pdf. below which was provided by the National Coal Mining Museum:

Mine Machines Transport

Supporting the Roof

Miners could not work the coal seams without a method of supporting the roof (the rocks above). Roof falls were a very common cause of injury and death underground. In early mines, and right through the twentieth century in some areas, a technique called pillar-and-stall would leave pillars of coal in place to keep the roof up. These also helped to prevent surface subsidence.

For more information and example images of how miners kept the coal roofs stable, follow the pdf. below:, which was provided by the National Coal Mining Museum for England:

Mine machines: supporting the roof

For more information on our wonderful heritage partner, the National Coal Mining Museum for England, follow the link below: