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English Coal Mining History at the NCMME

Caphouse colliery headgear
Caphouse colliery headgear
© National Coal Mining Museum for England (Photo: National Coal Mining Museum for England)
Since the development of deep mining people have not only needed to get in and out of the mine but have also needed a way to be able to lift the coal to the surface. In early methods of mining, coal and people were hauled up the shaft using more inefficient and unreliable methods such as water and horse power. The steam winding engine, powered by coal from the pit, was a quick and reliable means of bringing the coal-carrying tubs to the surface. Heavier loads could be taken in and out of the mine and deeper shafts could be used.

The headstocks at Caphouse, which support the winding wheels,are particularly important as they are partly constructed from wood. This type of construction was stopped in Britain after 1911, so their survival is historically significant.

Today coal winding is powered by electricity. Visitors to the museum can see both the working steam winding engine, no longer used to wind people up and down the shaft, and the electro-hydraulic winding engine which moves the cage up and down the shaft today.
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