Author Topic: Moving Welsh Steam Coal from Cardiff to the world in the 19'th century  (Read 118 times)

Randi

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From jantac:

I'm a Masters student at Swansea, my dissertation is on the logistics of moving Welsh Steam Coal from Cardiff (& Swansea & Newport) to the world in the 19 Century, given that it was mainly moved by sailing vessels (early steam ships would burn their cargo trying to deliver it!). How do you make sure that Valparaiso, Royal Navy's Pacific base, always has enough coal for its steam warships to 'rule the waves' & the merchant navy's steamship can trade to India and beyond?

I have lots of questions arising from the shipping data that I have that folk out there may be able to offer an opinion, or even an answer.

If you haven't already guessed, I'm new to this chatroom stuff.

Since Cardiff was mainly for exporting coal with minimal importing, most vessels, sail of steam, arrived in ballast (otherwise the lightweight vessels would bob about and be unsteerable). The ballast would have to be emptied before loading coal could begin. What was typically used as ballast? Was the ballast saleable? Or did the vessel have to pay to get rid of it? The first of many, many questions.

dorbel

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Re: Moving Welsh Steam Coal from Cardiff to the world in the 19'th century
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2017, 06:34:28 pm »
Coal was exported in sailing ships for a long time. The switch to steamers to deliver it was mainly, as with every other cargo, because steamers just became more and more efficient. However the matter of ballast, particularly with the coastal trade played a large part. All vessels require it when empty and for the sailing ships that meant shingle, that had to be purchased, loaded and shovelled out at the far end. Steamers however, with an engine to run pumps, could fill ballast tanks with water and pump it all out at journey's end, which is still the case today of course. Also, steamers make their journey on an even keel, whereas a sailing vessel has to be able to lie over in most winds. Clearly in that case a ballast that can move about is not ideal!

Randi

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Re: Moving Welsh Steam Coal from Cardiff to the world in the 19'th century
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2017, 07:06:47 pm »
Thanks!

jantac

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Ballast
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2017, 11:11:02 am »
Hello to the world,

I had a response about ballast, with a suggestion that shingle was used. Sailing folk are practical people, I have difficulty getting my head around the practicalities of a vessel arriving in ballast requiring an expensive army of chaps with shovels in the hold loading loose shingle into containers to be hoisted onto the quayside. Presumably, whatever was used as ballast would have been in some form of container (baskets or whatever) and it was the containers which would have been moved. Also, in a sailing vessel moved hither and yon by the wind and the sea, a loose ballast presented the danger of movement that could aggravate the motion of a vessel.

The turnaround time at Cardiff was quite efficient, in many cases arriving and emptying of cargo or ballast, ready to load either the same day or the next. My database of 20,000 Cardiff shipping movements (so far!) has dates of arrival, 'entered out' (ie cleared to load for export and destination) and 'customs cleared' (ie tonnage of cargo loaded & ready to sail), doesn't seem to give much time for a labour intensive removal of ballast. 

Outgoing cargoes of loose coal would have been loaded onto a vessel directly from railway coal wagons hoisted up and the coal tipped down chutes into the holds. The coal made stable on board by dockyard 'trimmers' employed for that purpose (NOT members of the ship's crew).

Cardiff imported little, most vessels (steam or sail) arrived in ballast with a skeleton crew. Before departing a vessel would have recruited a full crew locally.

Am I explaining this properly?

Any ideas or knowledge on the processing of solid ballast?

Regards to all,

JANTAC8

AvastMH

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Re: Moving Welsh Steam Coal from Cardiff to the world in the 19'th century
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2017, 01:45:39 pm »
I've got one question but it's about the coal, jantac. If the coal gets hot as it shoots into the hold thanks to good old friction, is that one thing that might start the infamous fires that 'spontaneously' occured in those holds please? The latest story about that problem being the fire that was working its way through the coal in the Titanic (can I risk a joke by saying that cooling it down by the use of an iceberg didn't seem to help... ::) :-\ ).

How much information can you access about the stevadors that winched cargo to and fro, I wonder? Did they have a union who could shed some light on the swapping of goods speeds?

 :)