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Rates of pay at Byker Pit

MGM·Lion 21 Mar 10 - 09:12 AM
Mr Happy 21 Mar 10 - 09:19 AM
MGM·Lion 21 Mar 10 - 09:25 AM
Leadfingers 21 Mar 10 - 10:43 AM
Michael 21 Mar 10 - 05:29 PM
GUEST,oggie 21 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM
Dave MacKenzie 21 Mar 10 - 06:29 PM
Gurney 21 Mar 10 - 11:25 PM
Effsee 22 Mar 10 - 12:04 AM
MGM·Lion 22 Mar 10 - 12:56 AM
Gurney 22 Mar 10 - 02:22 AM
MGM·Lion 22 Mar 10 - 03:45 AM
s&r 22 Mar 10 - 04:28 AM
gnomad 22 Mar 10 - 06:59 AM
GUEST 22 Mar 10 - 09:08 AM
Paul Burke 22 Mar 10 - 05:22 PM
alex s 23 Mar 10 - 06:52 AM
alex s 23 Mar 10 - 06:56 AM
A Wandering Minstrel 23 Mar 10 - 08:33 AM
GUEST,Ian 25 Mar 10 - 02:05 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Mar 10 - 12:39 PM
Wolfhound person 27 Mar 10 - 04:31 AM
MGM·Lion 16 Feb 12 - 06:14 PM
Geoff the Duck 16 Feb 12 - 06:16 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 16 Feb 12 - 07:07 PM
MGM·Lion 16 Feb 12 - 11:40 PM
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Subject: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 09:12 AM

The poor coal-cutter gets one-and threepence
The Deputy gets half-a-crown
The Overman gets four-and-sixpence
Just for riding up and down
   Byker Hill and Walker Shore
   Collier Lads for evermore...

Would these rates have been per-hour; or per-½-day; or per-day; or what?

And where, precisely, would the Overman have ridden up and down in a coal-pit?


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: Mr Happy
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 09:19 AM

In the version I'm familiar with, the rates are a little different,thus:

The poor coal-cutter gets a shilling
The Deputy gets half-a-crown
The Overman gets five-and-sixpence
Just for riding up and down
   Byker Hill and Walker Shore
   Collier Lads for evermore...


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 09:25 AM

Thanks, Mr Happy ~ mine is, I think, the Young Tradition's version. However, my original questions still stand.


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 10:43 AM

Not sure about the rates , but I think the overman was riding up and down in the cage , seeing the shifts on and off


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: Michael
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 05:29 PM

An overman was an underground foreman, as in NACODS - National Association of Colliery Overmen Deputies and Shotfirers - Deputies were senior underground managers.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: GUEST,oggie
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM

Colliers were paid piecework, ie by the ton cut or at set rates for other jobs eg shoring.

Hence in "The Banks of the Dee" the old miner complains of being laid off because he can no longer "cut" at the pace of the younger miners.

Likewise in "Jowl and Listen" the advice is to listen to the coalface to work out where it will split easier because you'll earn more.

Both songs should be in DT.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 06:29 PM

This what Bert Lloyd sang:

The poor coal-cutter gets two shillin',
The deputy gets half-a-crown,
And the overman gets five-and-sixpence
Just for ridin' up and down.


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: Gurney
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 11:25 PM

2/-, 2/6d, and 5/6d is what I used to sing, but I can't remember where I got it from. I always assumed the overman rode a train.
Some of those pits spread for miles underground, and an diesel locomotive with 'minecars' instead of 'tubs' was the norm in bigger pits in the 60s. They carried men at shift-end, sometimes.
Pits got bigger until they became unwieldy, and then another pair of shafts was sunk and the original pit closed.
'Pit' is something of a misnomer, as it suggests an open-cast type mine operation. Most European mines are fully underground, serviced by shafts.


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: Effsee
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 12:04 AM

No Gurney, I don't think pit referred to open-cast at all.
The pit was the hole in the ground, and I'm of the opinion that the figures stated were weekly wages.


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 12:56 AM

"Pit" was certainly the Northern equivalent of "Mine", with no suggestion of opencast ~ hence the local locution "Pitman" for "Coalminer" ~~ think of MacColl's song "Schooldays Over", where the North-East of England worker is a "Pitman", the Midlander a "Collier" [where the mine would have been a "Colliery"], and the Welshman a "Miner"; or of the song of "The Devil and the Pitman's Wife".


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: Gurney
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 02:22 AM

Well, guys, when I were a lad.... I were a collier. Dragged up in Nuneaton. That town is on a considerable fault line, which gave access to a number of useful minerals. Several kinds of clay, granite and other roadstone, and coal. The earlier coal mines were drift mines, just tunnels into the side of the fault. When I was there, I worked at Haunchwood Colliery, or 'the tunnel' as it was locally known. It was a under a railway tunnel.
The other minerals were worked open-cast, leaving pits. Clay-pits, gravel-pits.
That's why it always sounds incongruous to me, calling a mine a pit.
You don't catch many fish in a mine.
And yes, we called mines 'pits.' Colloquially. But we didn't call the workers pitmen, but miners. And despite MacColl, nor did I ever notice anyone calling them colliers. Maybe it just escaped my notice.
I like the song, though.


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 03:45 AM

Nuneaton is West Midlands (Warwickshire). I think MacColl's were Nottinghamshire collieries, which is more East Midlands. "Pitman", as I say, is more of a NE {Newcastle, Durham & thereabouts} sort of usage. The great Tommy Armstrong of Tyneside, 1848-1919, a Durham miner of late C19-earlyC20, who wrote The Durham Lockout, Durham Gaol, The Row Between The Cages, &c, was known as 'The Pitman Poet'.


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: s&r
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 04:28 AM

The local miner's pub in Nottingham where I used to live was called the "Collier's Arms"

Rates of pay varied over the years. This quote from Hansard is from 1930 and refers to the 1912 regulations

"In 1912, at the end of a six weeks' strike, the Liberal Government of that day passed the Minimum Wage Bill, which established in every district in the country a joint board for the purpose of fixing minimum wages for underground workers.

The condition of the mining industry prior to that strike was such that when the first award was given in the coalfields of Yorkshire, the 6s. 9d. per day minimum for the highest paid underground worker meant that thousands had to have 2s. and 3s. added to make their wages up to 6s. 9d. per day. In 1912 the 6s. 9d. per day was considered by many miners to be a very big advance in miners' conditions, but since that time the minimum wage in Yorkshire has been altered from 6s. 9d. to 6s. 9d. plus 32 per cent. Now we have the position that 8s. 9d., 9s. 3d. and 9s. 7d. has been fixed as the minimum wage for colliers in three districts in South Yorkshire. I do not think anyone in this House who understands mining conditions would say that that is an extravagant wage for men who work underground, and for those who are not colliers the minimum is in the region of 1s. or 1s. 6d. per shift less than the figures which I have quoted.

One part of this Bill endeavours to establish definite minimum figures for underground workers for piecework and day work. Another part of the Bill extends the provisions of the Act of 1912 to surface men and also to the coalfield of Kent which was excluded from the operation of the Act of 1912."

The figures given are daily rates (more accurately wages per shift)


Stu


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: gnomad
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 06:59 AM

Is it known when the song was written? This would help give an indication of pay rates.

Walker pit lasted until 1920 from before 1765, so 150+ years of different pay rates.

Byker had at least six pits (Restoration, Farewell, Nightingale, St Anthony's, Delight, and Lawson's Main) I have no dates for the last two, but the others started pre 1769. I don't know when the Byker pits closed, but would guess that you are again looking at about 150 years of variations.

If you are interested in industrial history the Durham Mining Museum Website is an interesting one, and includes a searchable index if you had relatives who may get a mention in their archive.


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 09:08 AM

The overman gets the preferential rate as his job is to manage the tallies. Miners going on shift travel down in the cage with the overman and give their tallies to him as they leave the cage to go into the workings. When they come out again at the end of the shift they collect their tally back again and the overman can't take the cage to the surface till all his tallies have been reclaimed. He is therefore an early form of 'elf' & safety officer and had to be able to count. I think the rates given are daily.


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: Paul Burke
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 05:22 PM

My Grandad (a PIT electrician from about 1906 to about 1933, Agecroft, Pendleton, Clifton collieries close to el Gnomo's adobe) used to sing:

I'm a collier by my trade
I can use a pick and spade,
I can shove a little wagon up a brow*.
When I get to the top
I can drink a bottle of pop,
And that's what a navvy couldn't do!

The rates look like daily wages: I'd guess from the first third of the 19th century.

* pronounced to rhyme with 'do'.


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: alex s
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 06:52 AM

I had cousins on Tyneside both "down the pit" and "on the open cast" - there was always a distinction.
My grandad was a collier but also had a second job from time to time at Byker cinema - the price of admission was a (clean) jam jar!


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: alex s
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 06:56 AM

Forgot to mention - the Ashington/Bedlington area dialect was known as "pitmatic", as in "Ye'll nivvor unnerstand him - he's reel pitmatic" (don't forget the glottal stops)


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 08:33 AM

Just realised my cookie had crumbled :) The GUEST above was me.


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: GUEST,Ian
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 02:05 PM

When I worked down the pit, in 1980 I recall the coal face / heading rate, (basic pay) was £150.00 per week (five shifts, without bonus or overtime.) This top rate was called power loading agreement or PLA. With overtime & bonus, you could make a good living by most people's view of a good living.

Obviously, things had moved on since Byker Hill was written!

Just to clarify an overman. the overman was the management person responsible for an area, say a coal face, for production. The deputy was the management person responsible for safety of the team.

I was an electrician, so my mates thought we were responsible for sleeping.....

Pit meant deep mine as far as we were concerned. Mind you, terms change over a short distance. For instance, when I was an apprentice at college and area workshops, we were told the "trains" were called paddys. At my pit, we called them... eerrr trains.

This was Yorkshire / Nottinghamshire border area.


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 12:39 PM

A couple of late observations occur:

Some idea of value of sums specified might be gleaned from the fact that we learn from 1st line that beer at the time cost 2d a pint ~ taking the gill mentioned to be the North of England ½-pint rather than the Southern ¼. The ability to afford a drink, I find it interesting to note, made the purchaser a man of sufficient standing to entitle him to call for the next tune from the piper.

Moreover, I fear I have, I suppose, misnamed the thread, as the singer works, we find out from the trousers·&·pit-shirt verse, in Walker Pit, not in any of the Byker ones. But no matter; the rates were presumably similar, so no need for Joe or a Clone to alter the title at this time of day...

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Rates of pay at Byker Pit
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 04:31 AM

Our neighbours, nearly all of whom have been pitmen at some stage, and some of whom worked in a deep pit (Ellington) until it closed 3 years ago refer to them as "pits" and themselves as pitmen. It is possible to tell their origins from their accents - those who came north from Ashington speak pitmatic, those originated north of here speak rural Northumbrian. The collision of the two is almost impenetrable, sounds wonderful and gives weight to the argument that Northumbrian is actually a separate language, a developed form of Angle.

In the 1820s a set of Northumbrian pipes in the then new keyed form, cost 7 pounds. This would (just) have been affordable to a specialist pitman, such as a sinker, or maybe a top rate hewer, who worked through the Napoleonic wars when there was an acute labour shortage. There are records showing that local coal owners had to offer large sums to prevent the men leaving for the army at this time.

Of course he would have to limit his "gills" to afford them, but some did.

Just some random thoughts
Paws


    Threads combined. Messages below are from a new thread.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: Wage rates at Byker Pit
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 06:14 PM

"The poor coal-cutter gets one-and-threepence,
The deputy gets half-a-crown;
The overman gets four-and-sixpence
Just for riding up and down"

Sometimes the cutter only gets 1/-, or the overman gets 5/6; but these variants do not affect the gravamen of my query, which is -

For how much work were these rates paid?: i.e. are these hourly, or daily, or weekly rates? Precisely how long would each have had to work to earn the sum specified? I presume, from the form of the stanza, that these represent a rate for an equal time in each case.

Anyone know?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Wage rates at Byker Pit
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 06:16 PM

I seem to recall that somebody asked precisely the same question about 10 years ago. A forum search may turn it up...
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Wage rates at Byker Pit
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 07:07 PM

Indeed, Michael asked the same question in 2010: Rates of pay at Byker Pit.

The most useful post in that thread was probably this one: s&r post on the 1912 wage bill. It was pointed out further down the thread that a lot would depend on when the song was written.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Wage rates at Byker Pit
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 11:40 PM

Funny ~ not the first time I have repeated a question: my memory not what it was, I fear. Sorry about that - but I did try to search & nothing came up [mods et al NB!]

Thanks for replies. /day or /shift seems to be the answer.

~M~


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