Sea coal washes up onto beaches either naturally as the sea erodes coal beds on the sea floor but on some north east beaches it is a remnant of coastal collieries along coast.
The collieries dumped huge amounts of mining waste, including some coal into the sea via a rope and pulley system.
When the tides and conditions are right the coal is sometimes deposited on the beach at high tide and remains as the tide drops.
Once collected it is left until it is almost dry before it is put into cones normally made from old newspapers or magazines. The tops are twisted to prevent spillage and when burned it produces a long lasting ‘hot’ flame that leaves little in the way of ash.
Collecting sea coal has long been a traditionally activity throughout history with evidence of the trade going back to the 7th century.
Some sea coalers used horse and carts or ‘coal bikes’ to move bags of coal from the beach. Since the closure of the coal mines there is less and less sea coal washing up along the north east coastline but occasionally when the tide and weather conditions are right deposits can still be found.
But be quick. Because as quickly as it can appear the coal can be taken away by the sea as the tide ebbs and flows.
Images (c) Ian Forsyth / Getty Images
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