Coaling wasn’t the cleanest or most pleasant of processes, as shown by the words of E.E.K Lowndes and pictures featured in the Illustrated London News. The arduous and dirty nature of coaling was one of the reasons cited for the adoption of oil fuelled vessels in the early twentieth century.
From A Ship in Dock Coaling by E.E.K. Lowndes
‘...a ship in dock coaling is not the pleasantest place imaginable... From eight in the morning until ten at night, working by electric light, a procession of wagons loaded with coal went slowly by. As they stopped, strong natives, begrimed with coal-dust, each seized a bag and emptied it into the ship. Canvas was put up and port-holes closed; but the coal dust penetrated everywhere.’
Coaling was dusty and physically demanding
British Sailors wash in the sea after coaling