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Bevin Boy

by BBC Scotland

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20 October 2005

This Story was submitted to the People’s War site by Mairi Campbell of the BBC on behalf of Archie from Bridge of Wier and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions

It was just the luck of the draw - if your registration number ended in 0 or 9 you got sent to the pits. I was called up at the end of ’43 and was sent to Stanley in County Durham and worked in one of the Lord Lampton’s Pits. His pits were named after his daughters. I stayed with a landlady at the beginning but you had to give the landlady £2 each week for your keep. Since I only got paid £3.10 each week there wasn’t a lot left over. I eventually moved into a converted Nissen hut with some other lads. Before I was called up I worked in tannery where the money was better and at first the pit wages were confused because your tax was worked out on your previous salary not the mining salary, which in any case was less than the regular minors got paid. I got moved up to Stepps after a while till the end of the war and the money was better there — in Scotland if you were over 18 you got better wages as a miner but in England you had to wait till you were 21 before the wages improved. It was and experience, I suppose. Hard graft, but the people were great — really salt of the earth. You got used to the conditions, even when you were working in seams that were only 3 feet high — it was worse when the seams were only 18 inches high. There were never enough pit head baths though and you often came home dirty. Even after you washed, your eyelashes still looked like you had mascara on because of the ingrained black dust. You got 1500 weight of coal every three weeks free from the pit as a perk which made you very popular with the landlady. If you sold it back to the pit you got an extra 10 shillings on your wages.

I have some good memories from my time there — mainly because I married a girl from Durham — so being a Bevin Boy wasn’t all bad news.

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