Working conditions in mines

  • Trappers as young as four years old sat all day in the dark, opening the doors for the coal trucks to pass through.
  • Young putters pushed tubs and children as young as six carried coal for the hewers. Women hurriers pulled tubs with a chain that went around their middles and between their legs.
  • Hewers cut the coal with pickaxes in seams only 18 inches high.
  • Wages were so low that there were stories of pregnant women giving birth down the pit one day and being back at work the next.
  • There were stories of brutal discipline measures. Miners were paid by the tub and if their tub was underweight, they were not paid. There were fierce fines, and some miners ended a week's work owing the money to the mine owner.
  • Accidents such as roof falls, explosions, shaft accidents and drowning were frequent.
  • If a man joined a trade union, he was not only sacked but also blacklisted by all the mine owners in the area so he became unemployable. Many employees were required to sign the Document promising they would not join a union.
  • In some mines, especially in Scotland, a miner had to sign the Bond before he was given a job, in which he promised not to leave for another job.