All the talk of dust reminds me of the mid 40s, behind my grandparents shop was their coal yard, coal was rationed and each customer had to be registered. Each Saturday my grandfather used to sweep all the coal dust into a pile usually a couple of buckets full. To this he added a little cement and just enough water to bond it all together while he formed balls with it ,about the size of snow balls. When set these supplemented the coal ration. The problem was grandfather was not  very careful when he swept up the dust and it often contained small stones, he was also heavy handed at times with the cement. It certainly livened up an evening by the fire listening to the radio, the stones got hot ,there would be a bang and hot bits of coal stones and cement would fly out of the fire. Grandma eventually got grandfather to have a spark guard for the front of the fire, a local handy man made it in exchange for 40 Woodbines and half a dozen new laid eggs. It was still hair raising when the fire exploded and half  of it flew out of the grate

17 Responses

  1. VegVamp says:

    :lol: :lol: :lol: That is priceless Tony. Enterprising man your Granda, if a little dangerous. :rake:

  2. cilla says:

    Briliant Tony. Life was so interesting in those days and I love the bartering system. :yes:

  3. gertie says:

    Oh dear, nice one Granddad :yahoo: :lol:

  4. gibbon says:

    at that time Tony you cold biy a mold for the job very cheep, you put the wet mix in and there was a handle you pushed down to squese the water out ,it did a good job because could ues them the same day, they called the finished thing a brickett, at night you banked the fire up with the sinders from the day befor, and tealeaves stopted it burning through,

  5. dandlyon says:

    I believe you could buy the brickets ready made Cliff ,but after having 20 ton of coal on the coal yard and weighing it up for customers there was always a pile of dust and bits of coal. My grandfather would never buy anything he could make or get by bartering , his favourite expression “A fool and his money are easily parted”

    • gibbon says:

      yes thoes were the days when people eaked out with a bag of logs and if you could get oak it was a lot hoter than the coal we got thoes days, we haad a siding by us and the crew of the engins would chuch us kids lumps of coal out in the winter, they knew what a problem it was ,

      • gibbon says:

        by the way Tony, what you bought were not brickets they were round and there was too much cement in them and you got no heat out of them, they called them nibets, the brickets you made were the shape of a bricks but a quater of the size.

  6. Veggiepatch says:

    That’s such a funny memory, it didn’t half make me giggle! I remember the coalman with his Waggon and huge bags of coal in Hessian sacks, that was when I spent holidays with my grandfather in his miners cottage in south wales. My father’s family are all Welsh, us kids used to play on the slang heaps come home black then hot baths in tin tub in front of fire with family all watching. Pajamas warming in the fire oven for us before we ran like bat out a hell into bed before the cold hit us. Thick ice on inside of bedroom Windows. Gosh it wet n half fun though!

  7. gertie says:

    I loved the smell of the coal dust as the coalman tipped the stuff through the coal hole into the cellar, down where I was waiting and watching, and when we occasionally had anthracite there were big, glossy lumps in amongst the dustier bits…lovely stuff… fascinated me. :unsure:

  8. dandlyon says:

    Happy memories VP that stay with us for ever, grandpa used to weigh our coal and the customers took it away in one of our metal barrows. It was a standing joke that my grandpa could weigh snuff on those coal scales

  9. Yewbarrow says:

    We still have an open fire and love it, and at home sometimes the coal used to come in enormous lumps and I had the job of smashing it up smaller, sometimes you got the impression of leaves and things inbetween the bits of coal and shiny bits which looked like gold – well to a child they did

  10. roly says:

    reading this brought back memories when I used to go for ride with my uncle tom who was a coalman for a local coal merchant

    as Tony said they had to fill and weigh those thick hessian sacks on load them on the lorry he used to wear if I remember a leather apron on his back

    in those days he had to carry the bags of coal up garden paths round the back tip them into coal sheds

    he drove a 7 tonne Bedford petrol lorry very basic in todays terms of vehicle and he had to fit snow chains when it snowed they delivered coal in all weathers come rain come shine

    also sometimes he would deliver coke in tall bags the coal round covered quite an area delivering to most of the local villages and even on the outskirts of Northampton that was 12 miles away

    I can also remember after the days deliveries he had to cash up counting all the coppers and silver and some notes on the kitchen table before taking the lorry and the days taking back to the office

    when the coal business closed he ended his working life as a loader at an engineering factory but he did
    suffer with back troubles know doubt from carrying those heavy wet coal bags

    I don’t know if you can still get coal slack these days from the coal merchant as I had thought about making my own brickets for our greenhouses going to look into this thanks for reminding me :good:

    Gibb I can remember my Dad telling me when he worked on the railway the train drivers would tip of lumps of coal for there fires as they had small cast iron stoves in there work huts by the railway track alas all huts have long disappeared :-)

    • gibbon says:

      a few years ago Roly I used fo fish what we called the inland sea (the strech of water betwen holy island and anglesey )were the water came under the rail for holyhead, and used a lovely brick railway hut had a bench down one wall, very handy, now after what you have said I doubt you will belive the next bit, but in the fiftys we had a coal woman. a realy good looking young blond, she would have made page 3 in the daily mirra, she did the round on her own, drove the wagon and carried the sacks of coal, the last I saw of her she had packed it in and was driving a doubledecker bus, I dont usualy tell that tail it makes the wemen all snoote. :lol:

  11. roly says:

    your comments remind me of the woman we had on the coal round when the coal business was sold my uncle had left by then the new owners had a woman going round with the two coalmen collecting the money only not caring the bags of coal and I have to say she probably wasn’t as good looking as your coal lady by what your saying

    she didn’t last that long as the business changed hands again and lasted about 7 years before finally closing down

    we bought some coal last year in plastic bags at the grand cost of £200 but thanks to our friends giving us plenty of wood we haven’t used 1 bag since buying it

    when we bought it black gold come to mind

    also Gibb did you know they used to have cast iron stoves in the signal boxed and the old guards or brake vans as they where called

    I love our old wood/coal burning stove in the greenhouse when its cold outside but inside the stove is lovely and warm the wife and me sitting round the stove with a cup of tea and a sandwich having break from seeding or potting instead of going in the house

    the only thing is the wife doesn’t like long tea breaks slave driver or what :lol:

    • gibbon says:

      she could have been like my wife was .I wont SO AND SO THERE AND DOWN HEAR I WANT. I liked it better when she stayed in the house :lol:
      a local coall yard from them days is still going, he only has a couple of small lorries now and he fills the bags from a hoper which he fills with his diger, but all the buildings around him pay him their rend there is 3 garages my mates is one of them there is a chap that builds canal barges so that will give you an idear how big the buildings are, but he still delivers coal in the old way only not as much :lol: yes she realy was an atractive girl and only slight, for either job she did I would expect an amoson, the coal bags on her back were nearly as big as her but nothing seamed to bother her,

Leave a Reply