1) Literally ‘narrow passage’ and ‘narrow work’.
These terms appear to have much the same meaning and they feature regularly in colliery accounts from the seventeenth century: 1693 Ro: Kendall straite worke 1y˝
strait board 2y˝, Farnley
1760 pd Jos. Cowburn for 10 yds of strait work 5s 0d, Tong Their precise significance is far from self-evident and neither term is well documented but Wright defines ‘strait work’ as ‘narrow roads driven in the coal to facilitate the winning in a mine’: his information came from a West Riding correspondent. The OED also has ‘strait work’ and quotes Gresley: ‘the system of getting coals by headings or narrow work’. The ‘headings’, which seem likely to be what were called ‘headways’ in The Compleat Collier, were not ‘wrought so wide as the other Works or Boards’ but from them the individual work-places branched off to either side. It is employed as a verb in the Farnley accounts: 1704 straitebord the Watergate, possibly a reference to cutting through for a drainage channel. The excavation of such passages was skilled work which gave the workman the same status as a ‘pickman’.