The Trapper

The three episodes in this drama explore the difficult life of a young ‘trapper’ called Jimmy Turton, working in the coal mines of the North East in the 1840s. Jimmy must cope with the constant possibility of an explosion or flooding in the mine...and the hours of living in complete darkness.

1. Jimmy's first day

Synopsis:

Jimmy Turton introduces himself. He’s twelve years old and he’s about to start his first day working in the mine as a ‘trapper’ - working alone in the pitch darkness, opening and closing trap doors to allow coal carts along the tunnel.

Jimmy is feeling anxious as he enters the ‘cage’ with his brother Benjamin and an older miner called William - he’s been in the mine often enough before, but not since his father died in an explosion about a year previously.

Jimmy tells us about his work as a trapper, but the episode ends on a sombre note with Jimmy imagining the explosion that killed his father.

Click here for a transcript of the episode (pdf).

2. Jimmy gets sick

Synopsis:

Jimmy has been working as a trapper for some months when he falls ill and must take some time away from the mine sick. His mother is anxious about how the loss of his earnings will affect the family. She arranges some herbal medicine for him.

Jimmy is so worried about not earning his wages that - in a fever - he wanders to the mine and somehow finds his way down the shaft. Then he is involved in one of the most common types of mining accident: being struck by one of the coal carts.

Jimmy’s injuries place an additional burden on the family and as soon as he is well enough he must go back down the mine.

Click here for a transcript of the episode (pdf).

3. Danger in the mine

Synopsis:

Jimmy is becoming accustomed to his life as a trapper. When he hears Benjamin and William approaching with a coal cart he opens his trap door as usual to let them through. Suddenly they hear a trickle of water - a very bad sign - and the shaft begins to flood.

They are unable to open the trap door so they have no option but to follow the water towards its source.

Jimmy and Benjamin struggle against the flood until they make it to the surface...where they learn that a sudden summer rainstorm has flooded the mine, drowning many miners including several children.

Click here for a transcript of the episode (pdf).

Resources

Download / print Teacher's Notes (pdf)
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1. Jimmy's first day - script to download / print (pdf)
document
2. Jimmy falls sick - script to download / print (pdf)
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3. Danger in the mine - script to download / print (pdf)
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