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Bearland ventilation flue

Bearland flue was built in 1860 to remove foul and poisonous gases from the mines below.  This method of mine ventilation was frequently used in the Welsh collieries up to the 1880s.

 

The ventilation of underground mines was and still is a significant safety concern for miners.  Poor ventilation of the mines causes exposure to noxious gases, heat and dust.   

 

The general manager of the WSMR mines, Morgan Morgans, came from the Black Vein Colliery at Risca in South Wales where explosions caused by open candles igniting fire damp (pockets of flammable gas) had killed many miners until safer practices were introduced following the Coal Mines act of 1850.  

 

At the Brendon Hill iron ore mines fire damp was not a problem and miners worked by open candle light.   

 

 

Close up of the firebox of Bearland Ventilation Flue in February 2008
Close up of the firebox of Bearland Ventilation Flue in February 2008
A miner’s candle holder
A miner's candle holder

 

Morgans decided that productivity would be improved if smoke and fumes from the rock blasting could be cleared more quickly. 

He had the flue built near the portal of adit 1  as he hoped that the adit would  eventually extend for more than half a mile into the hillside towards Gupworthy mine  and therefore require better ventilation. 

 

The new technology of mechanical ventilation fans that eventually replaced this method was in the process of being introduced in the 1860s in the collieries in South Wales. 

How did it work?

 

From the base of the ca 5.6m circular stone chimney a ventilation duct of about 30 sq cm went down an air shaft (now visible as a depression in the ground) a few metres to the north, and at the bottom, turned along the roof to the working face of the long adit that was driven into the hillside. 

 

A coal fire was lit on the firebars at the bottom of the chimney stack, and the rising hot air from the fire drew foul air through the duct out of the pit and fresh air into the adit  from outside. 

 

Once the fire drew well, the fire door was closed to make sure that the combustion air was only drawn from underground.    

 

When by 1864 no iron ore had been found in the Bearland Wood adit, the flue was abandoned.   

 

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Bearland Wood flue diagram
Go to Ralegh's Cross adit by the light of a candle
Ralegh's Cross adit by the light of a candle