"The Sylvester was a simple ratchet and lever device used in coal mines from 1911. It could be dangerous if used improperly and was banned by the National Coal Board in 1978.
The painting shows a miner using a Sylvester to draw a prop support allowing the roof and overlying rock to collapse into the void behind, called the goaf, while other miners can be seen making packs similar to dry stone walling filled with smaller stone waste. This would act as a roof support when the timber props were drawn and recovered therefore maintaining a safe working space along the length of the coal face." - Bob Olley
Robert Olley Artwork ©