Blackett, William Cuthbert

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b. 18 November 1859 Durham, England
d. 13 June 1935 Durham, England
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English mine manager, expert in preventing mine explosions and inventor of a coal-face conveyor.
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After leaving Durham college of Physical Science and having been apprenticed in different mines, he received the certificate for colliery managers and subsequently, in 1887, was appointed Manager of all the mines of Charlaw and Sacriston collieries in Durham. He remained in this position for the rest of his working life.
Frequent explosions in mines led him to investigate the causes. He was among the first to recognize the role contributed by coal-dust on mine roads, pioneered the use of inert rock-or stone-dust to render the coal-dust harmless and was the originator of many technical terms on the subject. He contributed many papers on explosion and was appointed a member of many advisory committees on prevention measures. A liquid-air rescue apparatus, designed by him and patented in 1910, was installed in various parts of the country.
Blackett also developed various new devices in mining machinery. He patented a wire-rope socket which made use of a metal wedge; invented a rotary tippler driven by frictional contact instead of gearing and which stopped automatically; and he designed a revolving cylindrical coal-washer, which also gained interest among German mining engineers. His most important invention, the first successful coal-face conveyor, was patented in 1902. It was driven by compressed air and consisted of a trough running along the length of the race through which ran an endless scraper chain. Thus fillers cast the coal into the trough, and the scraper chain drew it to the main gate to be loaded into trams.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Knight of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. OBE. Honorary MSc University of Durham; Honorary LLD University of Birmingham. Honorary Member, Institution of Mining and Metallurgy. Honorary Member, American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers. Royal Humane Society Medal.
Further Reading
Transactions of the Institution of Mining Engineers (1934–5) 89:339–41.
Mining Association of Great Britain (ed.), 1924, Historical Review of Coal Mining London (describes early mechanical devices for the extraction of coal).
WK

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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