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Whitby Jet Mining

There were several techniques used in the procurement of rough Whitby Jet. The first was to beach comb pieces that had washed off the cliffs naturally, but with demand for the material growing, more productive methods were required.

One such technique was called dressing, whereby a man would be lowered down the cliffs using a rope, in order to reach the otherwise inaccessible jet seams running along the cliff sides. There was also blasting with dynamite, although this approach was seldom used because of the potential damage it could cause to the jet, as well as the sheer risk to the workers.

The vast majority of jet sourced in the 19th century was obtained by mining. The process usually began by digging into the cliffs and hillsides in likely spots and if the area turned out to be productive, a mine would be dug.

It was unusual for more than six people to work at any one excavation site. Once begun, a complex maze would be carved out, like a rabbit warren, sometimes reaching hundreds of feet in length, until the mine was completely exhausted of its jet or the shale became too tough to work; the point known as the face.


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