A Miner's Candlestick

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A Miner's Candlestick

This candlestick belonged to Robert King 1837-1918, a Kingswood coalminer who first went down the mine aged seven "in a bucket, sitting on a miner's lap". Because of the narrowness of the Kingswood seams, boys were often preferred to men.The Kingswood mines were not generally thought to be "fiery" - i.e. there was little fire damp and fatalities were more likely through roof falls, breaking ropes or flooding. (see "Killed in a Coalpit" - D.P. Lindegaard.) The miners worked by candlelight - and often preferred it, even after the introduction of the Safety Lamp. The candlestick is shown in a drawing "Moments of Mercy", 1833, of five boys trapped in Lodge Pit for six days and nights and rescued alive. Four of the boys have candlesticks in their hats, the other in his hand. The implement, made by the pit blacksmith, is a masterpiece of utilitarian design and is symbolic of an isolated, self sufficient, hard existence, endured by many, including some of my own ancestors, for hundreds of years. It was a way of life already in decline in Robert King's time and now largely forgotten. My candlestick was given to me 30 years ago by Robert King's grandson, Bert Gay, born in Kingswood in 1908

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Kingswood, Bristol


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