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One of the biggest enemies of the coal miner is water. The earliest method of clearing water was to scoop it out by bucket and haul it to the surface. Another method was to dig a drainage tunnel, called a ‘gutter’, from the lowest point of the workings to an adjoining valley. Up to the 1820s drainage tunnels were still being used in the Silverdale area. Gutters had also been constructed at Boyles Hall, Sneyd, Chatterley, Harecastle, Madeley and Longton.

By the 1800s the steam pump engine, of the Newcomen and the later Watt type, were increasingly being used to pump the water. This led to much deeper working being possible. Indeed, by the 1830s a depth of 2,000ft was reached at Apedale, near Chesterton. At this time it was the deepest mine in Britain. In later years electric motor pumps were used.

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The 'Goliath' pump

Drainage pump
The "Goliath" pump
Drainage pump