The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #100552   Message #2019066
Posted By: Jean(eanjay)
07-Apr-07 - 10:23 AM
Thread Name: BS: Last pit pony dies
Subject: RE: BS: Last pit pony dies
The 1842 Report on Child Labour

There are instances, the report said, that children were taken to work in the coal mines as early as 4 years of age - and sometimes between 5 and 6 - while 8 to 9 was the ordinary age at which employment in the mines commenced.

A good proportion of persons employed in carrying on the work in mines were under 13 years of age: and a still larger proportion were aged between 13 and 18. In several districts female children began work in the mines at the same early ages as the males.

The miners lives depended upon the proper ventilation of air, and this depends on the trapdoors (Brattice) being kept shut after the trucks carrying coal had passed through them. The youngest children called 'trappers' had to perform this task. The report said while this was not hard work it was monotonous and painful to contemplate the dull, dungeon-like life, for the most part spent in solitude, in conditions of damp and darkness. They were allowed no light: but sometimes a good-natured collier would bestow a small piece of candle on them. These children had to work the same hours as the men.

At the Gnoll Colliery in 1842 the children were lowered down the shaft in a bucket. In 1837 at the Eaglebush Colliery children had the option of using a ladderway after a fatal accident when one boy fell out of the bucket.

At both collieries the coal was brought out of the workings to the main road in slides or sledges, drawn by boys aged 10 to 13, using a chain passing from a girdle or band round the waist and between the legs to a hook in the front of the sledge. The weight of these sledges, when loaded, was between 2 to 2½ cwt.

In the 1842 enquiry report, R. H. Franke, esq. one of the sub-commissioners wrote:

A brief description of the hard and dangerous conditions in which the children had to work. The female child had first to descend a nine ladder pit to the 1st rest, even to which a shaft is sunk. She then has to draw up the baskets or tubs of coal filled by the bearers: she then takes her 'creel' or basket shaped to conform to her back not unlike a cockle-shell flattened towards the neck , so as to allow lumps of coal to rest on the neck and shoulders. She then pursues her journey to the wall face or as it is called the room of work. She then lays down her basket, into which coal is rolled, and it is frequently more than one man can do to lift the burthen on her back. The tugs or straps are placed over the forehead and the body bent to a semi-circular form, in order to stiffen the arch.

Large lumps of coal are then placed on her neck and she commences her journey with her burthen to the pit bottom (shaft) first hanging her lamp to the cloth crossing her head. In this girl's case she has first to travel about 14 fathoms (84 ft) from wall face to the 1st ladder. which is 18 ft high; leaving the 1st ladder she proceeds along the main road, probably about 3ft 6in to 4ft 6in high, to the 2nd ladder, 18ft high, so to the 3rd and 4th ladders, till she reaches the pit bottom, where she casts her load, varying from 1 cwt to 1½ cwt, into the tub.

This one journey is deigned a 'rake'; the height ascended and the distance along the roads added together exceeds the height of St Paul's Cathedral; and it is not infrequently that the tugs break and the load falls on the children following. However incredible it may be, I have taken evidence that fathers have ruptured themselves from straining to lift loads on the children's backs

Fatal Accidents in Mines

In the year 1867, 1190 people perished in our 3192 collieries, which employed 333,116 workers: Of these:

286 were killed by explosions.

449 by rock falls

211 by other causes (156 in the shafts and 88 above ground)

This melancholy account gives no figures for the number of serious but non-fatal accidents which are not mentioned the official figures.