Miner's Wife

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"It's not until they talk about it that you suddenly realise what conditions they did work in."


"My husband had been a miner, but had come out, and we went to London to live because he was a convinced that if we stayed around here, that he would end up back in the colliery. But I couldn't settle in London, so we came back home, and we both found work.

But I was out one Saturday evening with my husband, and he was talking to an old workmate, and they happened to say about the conditions they were working in.

Now my husband wasn't a tall man, but he was thick-set, and they worked in what they called the 'two-foot-eight'. I just thought it was just the name of the face that they worked in. But it worked out that they had to go through a very low tunnel affair for him to get to the workface, and he'd been the biggest of the team that worked that face. He had to go in first, and then he had to be the last out, because if he had got stuck in the tunnel, the others wouldn't have had a chance of getting out.

Another thing I didn't understand was that he used to take the soles of my slippers for his knees, so I just assumed that at some time or other he was working on his knees. I didn't realise that he'd spent the whole seven hours that he was at the face working on his knees, because the height was actually two foot eight.

As I say, it's not until they talk about it that you suddenly realise what conditions they did work in."

By: Lilian Hobbs
Published: 2008

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