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Biggest & Best.

Big Geordie is officially known as a BE 1550W ( a walking dragline excavator.

Geordie is powered by electricity and weighs 3,000 tonnes.

With its jib fully extended straight up it reaches a height of almost 260 feet.

It moves at a speed of two metres a minute on giant pontoon feet that lift the body of the machine off the ground before lowering it a few feet ahead.

Big Geordie came to Northumberland in 1969 where it began work on the Radar opencast site at Widdrington, near Morpeth.

Its job was to scrape earth from above coal seams, but it did not dig out coal. That work was done by smaller, more manoeuvrable machines in the hole dug by Big Geordie.

It was once Western Europe's biggest muckshifter.

The dragline excavator had a bucket big enough for three cars to park inside or gouge out 100 tonnes of earth with one bite, but was controlled by a lone operator, with the help of two banksmen, carrying out maintenance and guidance duties.

The Ace of Spades, which replaced Big Geordie in 1993, is 1,000 tonnes heavier, but had a bucket the same size.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 11, 2004
Words:194
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