School trip 1913 style: –
Monday, February 24th, being Half Term holiday, a party, consisting of the members of Form VI. and most of the Staff, with their friends, visited Tilmanstone Colliery. The visit had been arranged beforehand by Mr. Whitehouse and Mr. Schofield. The visitors took train to Shepherds well, arriving there a little after ten o’clock. The East Kent Light Railway train was waiting in a siding, and exclamations of surprise were heard on all sides. People do not generally expect to find such comfortable carriages on a three-mile railway line at “little, out-of-the-wag places” like Shepherdswell. The padded saloon compartments, with curtained windows, were very comfortable, although the train jolted a little when at last it did start, after a long wait, during which a derailed truck was again put on the line. During the journey to Tilmanstone the permanent railway, now in course of construction, was continually in sight. On arrival at Tilmanstone the party took a first look down the pit. The first glimpse did not inspire much confidence. A wide, circular well, with brick sides, hidden in darkness within a few yards of the top, with three ropes disappearing into the blackness did not look very inviting. The middle rope then began to move upwards at a terrific speed, and a cage, containing one man, appeared at the top, was lifted a little above the top level, the doors of the pit closed down, and the cage rested on the platform. After this first look, the visitors proceeded towards the winding house, in which the huge drum which hauls up the cage and hoppit revolves. The drum is twenty feet in diameter, and is driven by a large engine, with a huge cylinder, a long thick connecting rod and a huge crank, the engine being two thousand horsepower. The over-winding gear was next inspected. This gear prevents the cage being wound up into the headgear and puts the brake on if the hoppit travels too fast down or up the pit. A move was then made towards the boilers, and the peculiarities of each boiler explained. After watching the boilers for a little while, the visitors went towards the powerhouse, and then made ready to descend the pit. Oilskins were donned, and the cage was soon filled. The men at the pit-mouth seemed to rush up into the sky, and brick walls appeared, which followed the men. A blaze of light rushed up towards the cage, passed it, and then rushed away again at an equal speed. The pit bottom was soon reached, and the pump-house entered. In the pump-house several dynamos were working the pumps, the water bubbled under the floor, and it was explained that if the pumps stopped for an instant the pump-house would be flooded. The party again climbed into the cage and went up to the surface, the small speck of daylight above becoming larger and larger until finally the cage rested on the platform at the top. It was suggested that the sensation of ascending the pit must be very like that of flying. The sightseers then walked over to Elvington, the model “miners’ village.” Dinner was taken in the Workmen’s Institute. After reaching Tilmanstone again, a tired but satisfied party climbed into the saloon carriage and were taken to Shepherdswell Station. W. H. F.
Dover Grammar School archives. Pharos (school magazine) No.12, April 1913, Vol. 5