COAL FACTS & FANCIES
On the continent, chimneys are traditionally swept from top to bottom, whereas in England they are swept from bottom to top.
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The 'colliers' - seagoing barges from Newcastle - were the first commercial steam-powered vessels to use the Thames. Until then barges had sails.
There is no mention of coal in the Domesday Book of 1085, yet the Romans were using coal in Britain 1000 years before.
From the 12th to 16th centuries, there was a strongly held belief that coal was a form of vegetation and actually 'grew'.
In what book would you find this quotation? "There was once a man who, not being able to find any other fault with his coal, complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it!"  (Click here for the answer)
At the great exhibition of 1851, the most prominent item on display was the gigantic lump of coal close to the entrance.
The oldest type of coal is anthracite, formed up to 400 million years ago! Lignite is the youngest at under a mere million years. . .
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Coal is found on every continent from the Arctic to the Antarctic, yet it was formed in temperate and subtropical conditions.
Carrying a small lump of coal for luck is a long held superstition - particularly by sailors and burglars!
In the 19th century coal was used as a material to make buttons, spoons, plates, dishes, snuff boxes, inkwells, candlesticks - and even statues and church floors.
In theatre superstition, standing on stage and throwing a piece of coal into the gallery is meant to ensure a successful future for a new theatre.
Finding a piece of coal on the ground is supposed to be lucky. Pick it up, spit on it and throw it over your left shoulder as you make a wish.
"To haul over the coals" means to severely reprimand and was punishment once applied to heretics.
A coalfish is a member of the cod family. It has a dusky colouring with a green back.
One reason chimney sweeps are considered lucky is that when king George II's horses bolted, a small sooty figure was the only person to step from the crowd and stop them.
The world record for non-stop bag carrying is held by a Birmingham man who carried 50.8kg (111 lbs) of household coal 34 miles in 12 hours 45 minutes in 1986.
A box of coal and a plate of salt should be the first items taken into an empty house before moving in the furniture.
Mark Twain's "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"