BEFORE mechanisation and conveyor belts were introduced to underground coal mines, coal was shovelled by hand into skips, which were moved by
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Staff Reporter

Taken more than 100 years ago, the photograph offers a glimpse into a mining town and its workers, using the bare essentials in equipment and tools to ply their trade.

The Pelaw Main Colliery, near Singleton in the Hunter Valley, operated between 1901 and 1961 and took coal from the Homeville seam, which lies beneath the rich and well-mined Greta seam.

Along with neighbouring mines, including Stanford Methyr colliery, the new mine led to the rapid rise in population of Kurri Kurri, which became one of New South Wales’ larger towns by 1911 with nearly 6000 people.

The mine extracted coal using the bord and pillar system and used pit-horses to move skips to and from the bords and working faces to the haulage ropes.

The horses came to the surface at the end of their shift and were generally well looked after by their "wheeler" masters.

Wheelers with pit ponies at Pelaw Main Colliery near Kurri in the Hunter Valley, post 1901.

Courtesy NSW Department of Primary Industries Minerals Division Image Library.

Click on the picture to enlarge