Coal Wagon Display

Just up the road from the miniature railway is a coal tub wagon mounted on display in the centre of a flower bed!

We thought that a word or two by way of explanation as to how it got there and why we went to all the trouble would be of interest....

Coal Tub from Falstone Mine on display on Westwood Side

A Word of Explanation

On the the wagon there is a plaque that says the following...

 

Falstone Coal Tub

This narrow gauge railway wagon is typical of the small four wheel tubss used to transport coal from coalface to mine surface, often by hand, sometimes by horse or small locomotive, along roughly laid track.

It was rescued in a derelict state from Falstone Mine near Kielder Water in Northumberland and restored by members of Churwell Environmental Volunteers.

It has been donated to the people of Churwell as a reminder of the significance of coal mining in this area from the late 18th to mid 19th centuries.

It stands also as a memorial to the local people whose livelihoods depended on the hewing of coal - the primary power source of the Industrial Revolution.

(Our thanks to the Welsh Highland Heritage Rly., Porthmadog, for the donation of track, MSS Ltd of Morley for preparation & surface treatment of some metal parts and The Sign Group of Morley, for this sign.)

Restoration

At Falstone Mine

The coal tub was 'rescued' in a advanced state of dereliction from Falstone mine in Northumberland, at the edge of Kielder Water.

It was the creation of the reservoir in 1982 that brought mining to an end at Falstone due to flooding, the workings being mostly below the new water level.

The mine's present owner has let a number of these redundant tubs go for restoration & display - his only request being for a charitable donation.

The wagon was loaded and transported to Churwell so that work could begin on stripping it down to it's component parts and seeing what could be saved.

Although most of the metal parts were reusable (except for some bolts which had to be cut or ground away for disassembly), unfortunately the wooden chassis was past saving.

A State of Neglect

This picture shows the general condition before dismantling.

Rusty metal, rotten wood, dirt & grease - just the sort of challenge to whet the appetite!

All the important dimensions were taken before sripping down so that any replacement components could be made to the original shape & size.

The metal parts were all cleaned and painted and a new chassis constructed.

At this stage all the running gear & the drawbar could be reattached to form a 'rolling chassis'.

New Chassis

Next came the main tub. This was of course, where the coal was placed in order to transport it out of the mine and taken for grading. Inside is an iron loop that the miner would use to hold his 'tally' so that the load could be identified and allocated to him and no other miner by mistake!

As a result of a hard working life and later exposure to the elements, the metal had corroded to the extent that holes and splits had developed and there wasn't a lot holding it together. However, with perserverance, hard work, a lot of glass fibre and body filler, the tub was repaired sufficiently for display, if not for further use.

Finally, lots of black metal paint was applied to ward of the worst of the Yorkshire weather.

On Display at Last

The result of our restoration work was then mounted on a short length of 2' gauge track and 'beautified' with some horticulture.

So next time you're about, don't just drive or walk past, stop and take a look. Perhaps spare a thought for those local people who toiled underground nearby, for many hours at a time, in the dangerous occupation of 'winning the coal'.