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As more and more coal was needed, mines were made deeper and became more dangerous. In 1780, one pit shaft at Wallsend was about 183m deep and would have been about 3m to 4m wide. At the beginning of the shift (the day's work) the workers would reach the bottom of the shaft by hanging on to the heavy metal chain used to bring the corves of coal up to the surface. At the end of the shift, covered in dust and exhausted by maybe 12 hours of very hard work, they were pulled back up in the same way. Before steam engines the chain was hauled up by teams of horses.
From the shaft, the miners burrowed into the coal seam with pick and shovel, using thick wooden props to hold the roof in place.
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