Work ter coalmines wasgoed both hard and dangerous. Coal seams varied ter thickness from eighteen inches ter Durham to about seven feet ter Yorkshire. Narrow seams meant the miners worked te very restrained spaces. Where possible, pit ponies were used to carry the coal. However, te narrow seams, women and children had the job of carrying the coal while crawling on their arms and knees. ",Children were chained, belted, harnessed like dogs te a go-cart, black, saturated with humid, and more than half-naked – crawling upon their mitts and feet, and dragging their intense geysers behind them – they present an appearance indescribably abominable and unnatural.", (1)

A drawing of a trapper (1842)

According to research carried out at the beginning of the 19th century displayed that children who worked ter the industry spent most of their life underground: ",Te 1800 the working day for puny boys began at Two a.m., when the caller-out came round. They were down the pit by three o’clock and did not terugwedstrijd until after eight at night. They spent the time minding a ingevolge. Spil pits went deeper, and underground workings became more extensive, it wasgoed significant to control the ventilating currents of air.", (Two)

Alexander Macdonald commenced working at Fresh Monkland, ter Lanarkshire, te 1835: ",I entered the mines at about eight years of age. The condition of the miner’s boy then wasgoed to be raised about 1 o’clock or Two o’clock te the morning if the distance wasgoed very far to travel, and at that time I had to travel a considerable distance, more than three miles. Wij remained at the mine until Five and 6 at night. It wasgoed an ironstone mine, very low, working about Legal inches, and te some instances not fairly so high. Then I moved to coal mines. There wij had low seams also, very low seams. There wasgoed no spoorlijn to draw upon, that is, tramways. Wij had leather belts for our shoulders. Wij had to keep dragging the coal with thesis ropes overheen our shoulders, sometimes round the middle with a chain inbetween our gams. Then there wasgoed always another behind pushing with his head.", (Trio)

A drawing of Ann Ambler and Will Dyson being drawn up a pit shaft ter Elland (1842)

Keir Hardie found work ter the puny mining village of Newarthill, working for ",twelve or fourteen hours a day",. Originally he worked spil a trapper. ",The work of a trapper wasgoed to open and close a ingevolge which kept the air supply for the dudes ter a given direction. It wasgoed an eerie job, all alone for ten long hours, with the underground muffle only disturbed by the breathing and whistling of the air spil it sought to escape through the joints of the doorheen.", (Four)

Thomas Burt began work spil a trapper boy te Haswell Colliery when he wasgoed ten years old. He worked te a team with his uncle, Thomas Weatherburn. ",He wasgoed a strong, skilful hewer. For many years he had bot an engine-man, and had bot tempted, or starved, into the coalmines that he might get higher pay. He worked with the stable stroke, the composure, and the effectiveness of a ideal machine. The hewer is paid by the ton. His earnings, therefore, depend partly upon his industry, strength, and skill, and partly upon his luck. Ter extreme cases, I have known two or three shillings a day difference inbetween one working-place and another",. (Five)

Problems of Child Labour

The children were often hammered for making mistakes. George Anderson wasgoed an orphan who worked spil the Gosforth Colliery. He wasgoed paid 4p a day for his work. ",Ter the night shift I go down at Four p.m. and come up about Four.30 te the morning. I’m often sleepy. I got my hammers (hammered) twice by being asleep. The putters (boys who treated the trams of coal) hit mij with their soam-sticks (wooden treats) and hurt mij and made mij sob because I did not open the doors for them. My voort is almost Two½, miles ter. The pit liberates (closes) at half past three and tho’ I run I am nigh an hour getting out.", (6)

A child carrying out the coal on turnpike stairs (1844)

Eric Hopkins, the author claims A Social History of the English Working Classes (1979) claims that the children working ter mines were very badly treated: ",Children were often hammered spil they were te other industries, but te the pits a good overeenkomst of cruelty might take place ter secret. It wasgoed also alleged that immorality wasgoed rife te some pits. Boys sometimes worked fairly naked alongside women who were commonly naked from the midbody up, so that (it wasgoed said) the women became debased and degraded.", (7)

Jane Peacock Watson, a coal-bearer from Westelijk Linton wasgoed interviewed at the age of forty. She began work spil a child and wasgoed coerced to make hier children work underground. ",I have wrought ter the bowels of the earth 33 years and have bot married 23 years, and had nine children. Six are alive, three died of typhus a few years since and I have had two dead born. They were so from the oppressive work. A vast of women have dead children. I have always bot obliged to work below till coerced to go huis to bear the bairn (child). Wij comeback spil soon spil wij are able, never longer than Ten or 12 days, many less if they are needed. It is only pony work, and ruins the women. It crushes the haunches, leans their ankles, and makes them old women at 40. Women so soon get feeble that they are coerced to take the little ones down (the mine) to relieve them, even children of six years of age do much to relieve the burthen",. (8)

Children’s Employment Commission

A serious accident ter 1838 at Huskar Colliery te Silkstone, exposed the extent of child labour te the mines. A stream overflowed into the ventilation drift after violent thunderstorms causing the death of 26 children (11 ladies aged from 8 to 16 and 15 boys inbetween 9 and 12 years of age). The story of the accident appeared ter London newspapers and Queen Victoria waterput pressure on hier prime minister, Lord Melbourne, to hold an enquiry into the working conditions te Britain&rsquo,s factories and mines. (9)

The investigation wasgoed chaired by Anthony Ashley-Cooper (Lord Ashley) and overheen the next duo of years interviewed a large number of people working te Britain’s factories and mines. This included eight-year-old Sarah Gooder: ",I’m a trapper te the Gawber pit. It does not tire mij, but I have to trapje without a light and I’m panicked. I go at four and sometimes half past three te the morning, and come out at five and half past (te the afternoon).. I never go to sleep. Sometimes I sing when I’ve light, but not te the dark, I dare not sing then. I don’t like being te the pit. I would like to be at schoolgebouw far better than ter the pit.", (Ten)

Where possible, wagons carrying coal, were drawn by horses, and driven by children. However, ter low and narrow underground passages, women were used to pull carts utter of coal: Betty Harris, worked ter a pit ter Little Bolton te Lancashire: ",I have a vuilnisbelt round my mid-body, and a chain passing inbetween my gams, and I go on my forearms and feet. I have drawn till I have had the skin off mij, the stortplaats and chain is worse when wij are te the family way.", Ann Eggley wasgoed employed at Thorpe’s Colliery: ",The work is far hard for mij. Sometimes when wij get huis at night wij have not power to wash ourselves. Father said last night it wasgoed both a shame and disgrace for chicks to work spil wij do, but there is nothing else for us to do.", (11)

A drawing of a youthful lady pulling a cart of coal (1842)

Financial circumstances meant that women continued to do this work while they were pregnant. Betty Wardle explained how she had worked te a pit since she wasgoed six years old. One of hier children wasgoed born while she wasgoed underground. ",I had a child born te the pits, and I brought it up the pit-shaft te my skirt.", When the interviewer questioned the truth of this statement, she replied: ",Ay, that I am, it wasgoed born the day after I wasgoed married, that makes mij to know.", (12)

Isabel Wilson wasgoed 38 years old when she talent evidence to the Children’s Employment Commission: ",When women have children. they are compelled to take them down early. I have bot married Nineteen years and have had Ten bairns (children), seven are te life. I wasgoed a carrier of coals, which caused mij to miscarry five times from the strains, and wasgoed ill after each. My last child wasgoed born on Saturday morning, and I wasgoed at work on the Friday night.", (13)

Robert Hugh Franks, investigated the problem te Scotland. He interviewed 11 year-old, Janet Jizzing: ",I carry the large onaardig of coal from the wall face to the pit bottom, and the petite chunks called chows te a creel. The weight is usually a hundredweight. I do not know how many pounds there are ter a hundredweight but it is some weight to carry. It takes three journeys to pack a bath of Four cwt. The distance varies spil the work is not always on the same wall, sometimes 150 fathoms, whiles 250 fathoms. The roof is very low and I have to arch my back and gams and the water comes frequently up to the calves of my gams. I have no liking for the work, father makes mij like it. I never got hurt, but often am obliged to scramble out of the pit when bad air wasgoed ter.", (14)

Thomas Wilson, the possessor of three collieries ter the Barnsley area blamed the miners for the problem. ",The employment of females of any age te and about the mines is most objectionable, and I should rejoice to see it waterput an end to, but te the present feeling of the colliers, no individual would succeed te stopping it ter a neighbourhood where it prevailed, because the guys would instantaneously go to those pits where their daughters would be employed. The only way effectually to waterput an end to this and other evils te the present colliery system is to elevate the minds of the studs, and the only means to attain this is to combine sound moral and religious training and industrial habits with a system of intellectual culture much more flawless than can at present be obtained by them.",

Wilson warned against the idea that the government should pass legislation to protect thesis women: ",I object on general principles to government interference ter the conduct of any trade, and I am pleased that te mines it would be productive of the greatest injury and injustice. The kunst of mining is not so ideally understood spil to admit of the way te which a colliery shall be conducted being dictated by any person, however experienced, with such certainty spil would warrant an interference with the management of private business. I should also most decidedly object to placing collieries under the present provisions of the Factory Act with respect to the education of children employed therein.", (15)

Drawing of Janet Jizzing, aged eleven (1844)

Edward Potter, the manager of the South Heaton Colliery, claimed that he came under good pressure from miners to employ their children: ",Of the children ter the pits wij have none under the age of eight, and only three so youthful. Wij are permanently beset by parents coming making application to take children under that age, and they are very anxious, and very dissatisfied if wij do not take the children. there have bot cases ter times of brisk trade, when the parents have threatened to leave the colliery, and go elsewhere if wij did not obey.", (16)

Mines and Collieries Act

The Children’s Employment Commission published its very first report on mines and collieries ter 1842. The report caused a sensation when details appeared ter newspapers. Ivy Pinchbeck pointed out: ",A broader rente wasgoed secured for the Report by the woodcuts, since they captured the imagination of many who might not have bot tempted to read an ordinary Blue Book. Almost more than by their intense labour, Victorian England wasgoed shocked and horrified by accounts of the naked state of some of the workers.", (17)

The majority of people ter Britain were unaware that women and children were employed spil miners. However, almost three-quarters of the petitions to Parliament were against the proposed regulation of child labour. Spil many spil 86 vanaf cent of petitions came from the technologically backward districts where higher levels of child labour existed and employer’s feared that the switch of law would lead to lower profits. (Eighteen)

Michael Lavalette pointed out: ",Managers and owners ter backward coal districts voiced a strong wish to proceed the employment of youthfull children. A further clue to varying attitudes at district level towards children’s employment lies ter the structure of petitioning overheen the legislation. Inbetween May and August 1842, 160 petitions concerning the Bill were introduced to the House of Lords. Of thesis, 105 petitions originated te the Westelijk Railing of Yorkshire and only two emerged from the technology advanced coalfields of Northumberland and Durham.", (Nineteen)

Within a week of the report being published Lord Ashley talent notice of the Mines and Collieries Bill that he intended to take through Parliament. He wrote ter his diary: ",The government cannot, if they would reject the bill of which I have given notice, to exclude females and children from the coal-pits – the feeling te my favour has become fairly enthusiastic, the press on all sides is working most intensively.", (20)

Ashley introduced his Bill te a long eloquent speech. ",Their labour. is wasteful and ruinous to themselves and their families. They know nothing that they ought to know, they are rendered unfit for the duties of women by overwork, and become utterly demoralized. Te the masculine the moral effects of the system are very sad, but ter the female they are infinitely worse, not alone upon themselves, but upon their families, upon society, and, I may add, upon the country itself. It is bad enough if you omkoopbaar the woman, you poison the waters of life at the very fountain.", (21)

Two days zometeen he wrote ter his diary: ",On the 7th, I brought forward my motility – the success has bot wonderful, yes, indeed wonderful – for two hours the House listened so attentively you might have heard a speld druppel, violated only by noisy and repeated marks of approbation – at the close a dozen members at least followed ter succession to give mij praise, and express their sense of the holy cause. Many guys, I hear shed tears.", (22)

Charles Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, an proprietor of several collieries, led the opposition te the House of Lords. He introduced a petition waterput forward by the Yorkshire Coal-Owners Association: ",With respect to the age at which masculines should be admitted into mines, the members of this association have unanimously agreed to fix it at eight years. Te the skinny coal mines it is more especially requisite that boys, varying te age from eight to fourteen, should be employed, spil the underground roads could not be made of sufficient height for taller persons without incurring an outlay so fine spil to render the working of such mines unprofitable",. Londonderry proclaimed that some seams of coal required the employment of children, and certain pits, which could not afford to pay studs’s wages voorwaarde either employ children or close down. (23)

The measure wasgoed passed by the House of Lords on 5th July, 1842. However, it wasgoed amended to enhanced the lowest age of the boys who could work underground from Ten to 13. Spil a result of this legislation all females were banned from working ter the collieries. However, only one inspector wasgoed appointed for the entire country and so colliery owners continued to employ women and children te mines. The inspector straks admitted that he would only enforce the regulations where a child had bot killed te the underground accident. Even then, the fines imposed would often fall ",not upon the colliery possessor, but upon the father or the guardian of the boy",. (24)

Te 1850 the Commissioner of Mines, Hugh Seymour Tremenheere, estimated that ",200 women and chicks were still working ter collieries te South Wales, many of whom were only eleven or twelve years of age",. (25) The government therefore enhanced the number of inspectors. However, Lord Ashley admitted that underground inspection wasgoed ",altogether unlikely, and, indeed, if it were possible it would not be safe. I for one, should be very loath to go down the shaft for the purpose of doing some act that wasgoed likely to be distasteful to the colliers below",. (26) Te his report of 1854, Tremenheere, reported ",two instances where persons attempted inspection of their own accord, were maltreated, and very almost lost their lives.", (27)

(Source 15) Mother and daughter coalminers te Manchester (1890)

Another difficulty wasgoed that parish records of baptisms did not contain a record of birth dates, ",This posed yam-sized problems for the inspectors who were frequently introduced with unofficial and often falsified forms of evidence by parents. Some suggested the examination of children’s teeth spil a guide to the ages of applicants, whereas others urged the use of statistical evidence of average heights. Nothing could prevent the frequent practice of parents fraudulently presenting older siblings te order to obtain certificates for their junior offspring.", (28)

Peter Kirby, the author of Child Labour te Britain, 1750-1870 (2003), has pointed out that many mine owners stopped employing youthfull children, not because it wasgoed illegal, but because they were considered to be inefficient. ",Te the complicated ventilation systems of larger pits, youthful and inexperienced ‘trappers’ were often held responsible for causing explosions by leaving open their ventilation doors, and the exclusion of the very youthfull children from elaborate ventilation systems, where it wasgoed applied, had a tangible effect te reducing accidents from explosions.",

He then goes onto argue that ",ter less advanced colliery districts, where pits were puny or where haulage ter narrow seams wasgoed necessary and request for child workers relatively higher, colliery owners were afforded virtual immunity from inspection and prosecution under the Act.", Ter other words, ",the Mines Act tended to be applied only where it wasgoed ter the interests of colliery owners",. (29)

It wasgoed not until 1872 that the age of boys who could work te the coalmines wasgoed raised to 12 and eventually to 13 te 1903. Even so, there is a good overeenkomst of evidence to demonstrate that colliery owners continued to employ children illegally for many years afterwards. (30)

12 year-old John Davies at work ter the Rhondda (1909)

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