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First thing to say about the exhibition is that although it was clearly designed for experts and specialists and people trying to sell their hardware, expertise and services, your ordinary pit moggy would still find much of it fascinating.

Key papers of interest were the ones dealing with the extension of the Madrid Underground, (they also had the best free stuff at the exhibition, the bush hats went like hot cakes, well I got four of them.)

British studies of interest included Kings Cross Station redevelopment, and the repairs to Conisbrough Tunnel, Cadeby.

In the actual tunnelling papers the case history "design and construction of a tunnel above abandoned mine workings, Roughcastle Tunnel, Falkirk Scotland" is quite fascinating. Many issues present themselves when looking at civil engineering tunnelling through old mine workings. Recently the centre of Glasgow had a similar project working through 900M of ancient Scottish pits. We did try and involve Scotland NUM to get some joint project going with the Scottish Mining Museum to see what we could record, photograph and salvage of this unique mining history, but no one replied. It cant surely be just us, who thinks this stuff should be properly recorded if not sections preserved?

Obviously the section dealing with Safety & Risk Management was of acute interest . The exhibition dealing with gas monitoring drew a lengthy discussion between me and the exhibitors about the new high tech plastic boxes as against more traditional forms of detection such as the lamp, and even despite our opposition to vivisection, the canary.

The papers on Underground Space Design although obviously American Business jargon was also an interesting area. We discovered some amazing safety techniques used in the construction of concrete for tunnel linings. Like materials in the concrete which evaporate when hot as in a fire, cooling the fire and stopping the spread. Quite amazing.

The exhibition itself, was sort of mixed, there should have been far more of the actual equipment on show, including the big heading machines and buckets etc.

The Webster Bucket

These stands were largely illustrated by models and pictures, one of which a Dutch mining project demonstrated an amazing tunnelling machine. Working for the construction of an underground system, the machine cuts out the full profile of the tunnel in one shot.

So what? You might ask didn't the channel tunnel do the same? Well yes, except that was through chalk, this is working through sand! The sand is actually taken into the machine and mixed with a substance to become the solid walling of the tunnel as it goes along. Something like the principle of a worm eating its way forward and digesting the muck on route. Fascinating.

Dosco Road Header
The Dosco exhibitors, apart from expressing disappointment that the two new heading machines ordered for Hatfield’s plan to get into the Barnsley, were now not going. Were amazed at my descriptions of driving the early boom rippers in the 70’s.

Mk2 Dosco
Especially when I explained these were not on tracks, but were supposed to slide forward projected by a system of hydraulic rams and a giant mushroom which pushed into the roof the become an anchor, except actually usually pushed the arches up another six feet. I cheered them up when I told them the machines might yet be needed if Mr Budge gets his way.

The Cementation stall brought re-encounters with former veterans of the Doncaster coalfield and NCB as did NATM stand.

The roof bolting pavillion seen animated discussion between myself and the salesmen about roof bolting as a sole means of support, and the disaster in Notts. (we say) was caused from sole reliance on roof bolts, plus skin to skin operations. I also complained about the lack of technology to ensure that when the womat bits a bit hard, it doesn't snap your arm off as the machine spins wildly and the rod stands still. Hmm still working on that one it seems.

Certainly a good day oot, loads of pens and lighters and canny crack. They should think more of general public interest in mining and perhaps consider displaying more of the mine machines, after all they did have the business end of the new Spanish metro train on display so a few road headers and Websters wouldn't have been too difficult, come to think of it with the ongoing construction on the underground they could have probably driven there.

Thanks to NATM for the tickets.

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