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  1. #1
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    Default coal ash labourer

    I've just come across a "coal ash labourer". Anyone any ideas of what he would have done?

    Coal ash is obviously the residue left from buring coal, but I wonder what this chap would have done with it. He was in Ramsgate, so not in an industrial area.

  2. #2
    Jan1954
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    Hello Davran,

    I did a search with the words "coal ash labourer" in this site and it brought up a couple of hits. Click on search at the left of the page:

    http://www.victorianlondon.org/

    A lot of reading is involved but it seems to refer to dockside labourers in one part.

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    Could coal ash refer to the powdered coal rather than lumps? I wonder if they were responsible for the clean up of 'slack'? At present, coal ash refers to the mineral content in coal (ie the rock as opposed to the carbon-based material), which is washed out as part of clean coal technology. Not sure if this relates though . I am interested to find out what the job of coal ash labourer is, as I am a mining engineer at a coal mine .

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    Thanks for the link, Jan, but I couldn't find anything specifically relating to coal ash.

    Bunty, I doubt it was anything to do with mining. Ramsgate is a small sea port with a hinterland of farmland. There were no mines in the immediate vicinity, though there were several within a 20-mile radius - now all closed down.

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    Hi Davran,

    What year was this?

    Could it be that he was the forerunner to what (in my day ) was called a dustman, who collected the ashes from open fires? (in modern times referred to as 'refuse collectors' ?)

    Regards Helen

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    It was 1861. I had considered someone who collected ash from open fires, but I think most people used to chuck the ashes down the garden or maybe used them in the privy. And why specifically coal ash? I believe wood ash was used in soap making at one time, but I don't know about coal ash.

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    Just found this website:

    http://www.ukqaa.org.uk/AboutAsh1.html

    Seems like coal ash can be used in concrete/building blocks, but would this have been the case in 1861?

    Oh dear, I'm off at a tangent again! This chappy was nothing at all to do with my own family and there I am finding out about his job!

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    Yes, a dustman sounds like a possible job. Fly ash from coal wasn't used in concrete until the 1930s though. It may have been used in some other product though. Perhaps brick making?

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    Not sure when the 'job' was done , but could the 'coal ash' be the residue of ANTHRACITE' which was used to cut down on the 'pea-soupers' we experienced in the waely 1950's?

    Colin

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    Did he, I wonder, clean the ash from some sort of coal-fired boiler? And dust was considered very valuable if my memory serves me well - it's a long time since I've read Our Mutual Friend with Mr Boffin and his dust heaps.

    Colin

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