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While walking up Norfolk St to-day a smell hit my nose, it was a smell I have not smelt in Town for over sixty years, it was the unmistakeable smell of coal smoke coming out of the Brown Bears chimney, it really took me back to when I was a child, fantastic. Its a common smell in the villages in Ireland but in the towns and cities here no.

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Clean air acts were introduced in 1956 and 1968 to counteract the effects of smog in London caused by the burning of coal in factories

and domestic dwellings, believed to be the cause of hundreds of early deaths throughout the UK. The acts gave local authorities powers to control emissions of

Dark Smoke,Grit, Dust and fumes from industrial premises and to introduce smoke control areas in which emissions of smoke from domestic properties are banned. These acts and other associated acts were repealed and consolidated in 1993. It is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building or a furnace or

any fixed boiler if it is located within a designated smoke control area.

The smell of coal smoke brings back many memories and steam rally's are an attraction for me!

Its ironic that J.D.Leaders quote of 1891 appears below the topic of discussion.

Regards

KEN.

Happy new year everyone!

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Coal smoke has a totally different smell to Coke burning and you cant really see Coke smoke, I have no idea if the Coal fire is in the Landlords private rooms or if its in the bar, all I know is it WAS Coal smoke, why would ANYONE use a manufactured smell of Coal smoke.

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During the winter the engineers at the Shepherd Wheel have a fire going in the range (and very popular it is too!). They often burn coal, and it's notable the number of people who remark on the smell of the smoke, often having recognized it from quite a way off.

Also interesting is the number of children who call at the Wheel and have to be warned, as they've never seen an open fire in a grate. Classic was a little girl out on a walk with her family who called in. She was fascinated by the fire, and asked what was burning. We told her it was coal and some wood. She was carrying a large stick she'd found, and asked if her stick could go on the fire. We put it on and she ran off, but came back a few minutes later and asked if she could have her stick back now please. Where do you start...?

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hilldweller

During the nineteen fifties my father worked down the Nunnery and Handsworth pits as a coal hewer.

He used to have the concessionary coal allowance of a ton of coal delivered every so often.

This coal was what was known as "run of mine", which meant that it was the stuff that came up the shaft before it was washed and sorted.

In size it varied between lumps three feet long to fine coal dust which we referred to as "slack".

It also contained other materials such as lumps of stone, large amounts of iron pyrites stuck to the lumps of coal, and yards of shot firing wire.

The shot firing wire was iron wire wrapped with cotton to provide insulation.

On one dramatic occasion we found a detonator still attached to a length of wire. We might have needed a new cooking range if that hadn't been spotted.

I did notice that our chimney seemed to produce much more pungent smoke than our neighbours chimneys who were also burning normal coal.

This was probably due to the presence of the sulphur (sulfur) in the pyrites.

During the seventies we used to visit my wife's sister who lived in a mining village near Doncaster.

Coming out of their home on a cold damp winter's night I used to gag on the vile sulphurous atmosphere that hung over the entire village.

Perhaps their concessionary coal was also "run of mine".

HD

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Certain working museums like Shepherd Wheel and Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet e.t.c.are exempt from compliance with the clean air act but

public houses in Sheffield are not.

With regard to the little girl and where do you start? I suppose its all down to educating our children about our city's industrial heritage.

Everything in the world is advancing at a fair rate of knot's and our children have to keep up with it or get left behind, but I think it is equally

important to remind them of the City's past and what made it great, Coal and the industrial revolution, Steel and cutlery.

KEN.

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So was it coal or coke that was burning,

does the Brown Bear have a real open fire that burns coal,

or was the smell a man made odor?

Its the sulphur (or sulfur as it should be spelt now) that gives coal smoke its distinctive odour

However, as sulphur burns to produce sulphur dioxide, a toxic gas which is the main cause of acid rain and a variety of lung diseases coal is usually banned under clean air acts in favour of coke.

Coke has the sulphur content of coal removed during the coking process and therefore burns much cleaner and without the distinctive coal smell.

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The smell of coal smoke brings back many memories and steam rally's are an attraction for me!

Regards

KEN.

Happy new year everyone!

Pleased to hear that Ken, i am a keen steam rally man myself, having spent 15 years (1993 to 2008) on the committee of both Sheffield and ONCA steam rallies. Both of these rallies used to run with an allowance to the engine men of around 10 to 15 tons of coal per rally (although many brought their own coal). Our mainstay was Rossington cobbles, not the best coal for steaming but still costing, around the turn of the century, around £65 per ton, so making a rally fuel budget of around £800. not cheap!

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Clean air acts were introduced in 1956 and 1968 to counteract the effects of smog.

Regards

KEN.

Happy new year everyone!

We lived in the post war prefabs from 1957 to 1965 and they were coal fired for heating (otherwise all electric). We had a coalman come every week and stock up the recycled Anderson shelter coal bunker with coal, - not coke. The clean air act 1956 was invoked on these dwellings in 1965, - which coincidently coincided with their demolition following the aftermath of the infamous 1962 gale and the devastating effect this had on some of them. The new prefabs which replaced them (Vic Hallam / Finnegan) from 1966 were (coal) gas fired, - much cleaner, but even that was replaced with the even cleaner North Sea gas (natural gas) in 1972. We moved from the prefabs in 1965 to the 1930s corporation housing on the Arbourthorne which at that time were also coal fired, with the clean air act coming into force in 1968 and necessitating a change to coke, - although by that time many were switching to gas fired heating.

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Classic was a little girl out on a walk with her family who called in. She was fascinated by the fire, and asked what was burning. We told her it was coal and some wood. She was carrying a large stick she'd found, and asked if her stick could go on the fire. We put it on and she ran off, but came back a few minutes later and asked if she could have her stick back now please. Where do you start...?

This reminds me very much of a Little Britain sketch, where the guy in the wheelchair (played by Matt Lucas) wants his "stuff" (all his prized posessions) burnt. His minder and carer (played by David Walliams) tells him repeatedly that once burnt they will be gone and he will never be able to get them back. Each time Matt Lucas says "yeah, I know" as though he understands. When his stuff is burnt the first thing he says after is "Want my stuff back". As Bayleaf says, - where do you start?

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In size it varied between lumps three feet long to fine coal dust which we referred to as "slack".

HD

I remember having "Nutty Slack" delivered sometimes HD (perhaps when that's all they had, or maybe all we could afford) It was a mixture of dust and small lumps up to about golf ball size I think.

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There's something about a coal fire, just to sit in front of a coal fire in a darkened room and to watch the gas escaping from the lumps of coal and igniting, flames flickering, smoke billowing up and looking for shapes or faces in the glow of the fire. When I was a child on the Manor all the homes had a Yorkshire Range, or something similar, my Mother used it to boil vegetables on the open fire, the joint and meat in the oven and the kettle was always ready for boiling to make tea. Once a week it was Black-Leaded and given a good clean, the a wave of Tiled fireplaces swept over the Manor and these fantastic Ranges were ripped out and scrapped, something that everybody regretted after a few years but by then it was to late. We had a regular coal delivery plus "Eggs" which looked like some binding agent and coal dust pressed in a mould and came out shaped similar to an egg but it burnt and that was the main thing. Every morning the ashes of the previous days fire was riddled and coal that had more or less turned to coke was saved and put on the new fire, the ashes and dust was either scattered on the garden or put in the Dustbin hence the name "Dustbin". Memories you cant beat `em.

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What a brilliant description tozzin, I was brought up on Longley, and your description fits perfectly. Our house had a more 'modern' version of a range that didn't need blackleading, but otherwise it was spot on. It too was ripped out eventually and replaced with a tiled fireplace and gas fire.The only thing you didn't mention was unheated bedrooms, so on particularly cold nights the metal shelves from the oven would be wrapped in newspaper and put in bed to warm it up.

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Instead of putting the cold ashes in the dustbin my dad used to spread them on a small section of the garden and dig them in. This area of garden soon became the most fertile piece of soil in the whole garden with its improved texture, drainage and mineral content.

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I remember the coal fires on't Hackenthorpe, dad holding up a sheet of newspaper to draw the fire when he was trying to start it, I watched as it turned brown then caught fire with dad trying frantically to stuff it onto the fireback. Grandad used to make fire starters by rolling a knitting needle tightly in newspaper, then sliding it out and bending the paper tubes into triangle shapes and twisting the ends together. It was like a substitute for kindling when they had none.

We are still allowed to burn fossil fuels here because we live in the rurals. We, like many people have wood burners, you don't see many open fires anymore because of their inefficiency although some pubs still have them.

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I remember the coal fires on't Hackenthorpe, dad holding up a sheet of newspaper to draw the fire when he was trying to start it, I watched as it turned brown then caught fire with dad trying frantically to stuff it onto the fireback. Grandad used to make fire starters by rolling a knitting needle tightly in newspaper, then sliding it out and bending the paper tubes into triangle shapes and twisting the ends together. It was like a substitute for kindling when they had none.

We are still allowed to burn fossil fuels here because we live in the rurals. We, like many people have wood burners, you don't see many open fires anymore because of their inefficiency although some pubs still have them.

Does that come under the heading of 'We made our own entertainment in them days'? ;-)

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hilldweller

I remember having "Nutty Slack" delivered sometimes HD (perhaps when that's all they had, or maybe all we could afford) It was a mixture of dust and small lumps up to about golf ball size I think.

I remember that one one occasion during the early fifties, my father's allocation of concessionary coal came as a ton of "briquettes".

There was a national coal shortage and even the blokes who dug coal out of the ground had to suffer.

My father nearly went incandescent when he saw the pile in the cellar.

They were made from coal "slack" mixed with cement and wet moulded into small egg shapes.

They were very economical, mainly because it was almost impossible to set them on fire.

The amount of wooden kindling needed to get the fire going made you wonder if it would be better to forget about the briquettes and just burn wood.

They burnt to a very fine cement dust that clogged the grate and went everywhere.

Whenever a popular ballard came on the wireless we used to sing our own words to it.

"Don't throw briquettes at me" :)

HD

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What a brilliant description tozzin, I was brought up on Longley, and your description fits perfectly. Our house had a more 'modern' version of a range that didn't need blackleading, but otherwise it was spot on.

The front room fireplace/range in my granddad's house at Southey was a sort of pinkish cream colour I think. Cast iron, smallish and with an oven at the side.They used to put the stone hot-water-bottles in the oven to warm up at night. They had a gas cooker in the kitchen but I don't know if there was originally a range in the kitchen or not.

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Cream sounds right. We had a double gas ring in the kitchen, and a gas boiler for the washing (and baths if the fire wasn't lit so no hot water from the back boiler) which was connected to a gas tap in the wall by a rubber tube.

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Whenever a popular ballard came on the wireless we used to sing our own words to it.

"Don't throw briquettes at me" :)

HD

Would that be the 1964 song by The Searchers "Don't throw your love away" Hilldweller?

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I think this is from Oklahoma, "People Will Say Were in Love"

That's the one tozzin, the line being "Don't throw bouquets at me".

Dave's obviously too young to remember...

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hilldweller

I think this is from Oklahoma, "People Will Say Were in Love"

Got it in one tozzin, the Searchers would have been wearing short trousers in the early fifties. :unsure:

HD

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