A black wall represents the coalface and divides the space between the ‘wild’ spoil heap and the ‘tamed’ garden.
Coal pillars represent the miners; a lift cage symbolises the miners’ daily descent to the mine workings. Black opaque pillars represent the future.
Longwall mining is a form of underground coal mining where a long wall of coal is mined in a single slice.
The basic idea of longwall mining was developed in England in the late 17th century. Miners would undercut the coal along the width of the coal face, removing coal as it fell, and using wooden props to control the fall of the roof behind the face. This was known as the Shropshire method of mining. While the technology has changed considerably, the basic idea remains the same, to remove essentially all of the coal from a broad coal face and allow the roof and overlying rock to collapse into the void behind, while maintaining a safe working space along the face for the miners.
Starting around 1900, mechanization was applied to this method. By 1940, some referred to longwall mining as “the conveyor method” of mining, after the most prominent piece of machinery involved. Unlike earlier longwall mining, the use of a conveyor belt parallel to the coal face forced the face to be developed along a straight line. The only other machinery used was an electric cutter to undercut the coal face and electric drills for blasting to drop the face. Once dropped, manual labor was used to load coal onto the conveyor parallel to the face and to place wooden roof props to control the fall of the roof.