Hood Family and Coal Mining

Coalmining - Some Early Methods Used in the East of Scotland



The methods more commonly associated with coalmining in the past, like the pithead winding gear, cages of men being lowered down, and pit ponies pulling wooden hutches of coal below ground, really only started to appear in the latter half of the 19th century. Before this most methods relied on hard physical labour with the minimum of equipment or machinery.

Particularly in the east of Scotland, most of the work taking the coal above ground from the coalface was usually done by women and children.

Bringing Coal to the Surface

More detailed explanations of these methods is given separately:

  • Bearers - the use of women and children carrying the loads of coal on their backs from the coalface.
  • Putting - wooden hutches or carts filled with coal, pulled by women and children attached to the cart with a harness.
  • Stair or Ladder Pits - a series of ladders used by coalbearers to climb to the surface carrying their loads of coal on their backs.
  • Horse Gins - A horse driven winding machine used to raise coal in tubs or baskets.
  • Others methods of raising coal such as inclined planes were used to a very small extent.
Coal Bearing
Coal Bearer
putting in coal mine
Stair Pit
Bearer ascending up turnpike stair
Horse Gin
Horse Gin


Coal Mining Methods

'Pillar and Stoop' was the method used for a long time until in the 19th century, the modern longwall method became widespread.

  • Pillar and Stoop - coal was removed in a grid like way leaving large pillars of coal untouched to support the roof of the seam.
  • Longwall - All coal is extracted along a coalface while the roof is supported by wooden pit-props. As the coal face advanced the props are removed and the roof crushes down gradually.


© 2012   A Russell