Banner
Information and photographs submitted by subscribers are posted in good faith. If any copyright of anyone else's material is unintentionally breached, please email me


An extract from a news paper called "The Miner" (Nov. 1877) It gives an insight to the thoughts of Trade Unionists at that time.

There is a howl through the Press from the jackals of capital against Mr. Macdonald, myself, (Edward A. Rymer, Old Hill, Barnsley) and others for condemning the reckless slaying of our miners. But we cannot and shall not have those victims of ignorance and mismanagement to be blamed for their awful fate without raising our stern voice through the land against their murder.

The law emphatically declares that gas shall be diluted and rendered harmless, and the mine kept in a safe and proper condition under all circumstances. The lamp, the barometer, thermometer, and anemometer are the instruments to be kept in daily use by a staff of qualified managers and officials. And each mine is to be properly and periodically examined and be reported safe or otherwise.

Hydrogen gas is known to be one part carbon to four parts hydrogen and this is called carburetted hydrogen, or fire-damp of the most subtle kind.

Airways, stoppings, brattice, fans or furnaces have to be strictly in accordance with the wants of the mine and in compliance with law and rule, superintended by a certified manager in daily attendance.

Where this is not observed, and an explosion occurs, then I maintain that the manager is legally and morally culpable of wilful neglect, which calls for conviction and severe punishment by a criminal tribunal. If they employ ignorant, careless officials, and thereby delegate to them authority, the law still holds the manager responsible, and he cannot, and must not, shuffle away from his own wilful actions of lawbreaking.

If they suffer incompetent workman to misuse the lamp or use naked light or powder in a mine where gas lurks, the manager and not the workmen, are nevertheless guilty of defying the legal commands of the legislation.

All these things, however, are being done throughout the coal trade daily. Consequently, we hear a wail from the mine, and a dismal lamentation resounds throughout every corner of the world against colliery holocausts, economy, and official “cheap labour,” with reckless competition in the production and a race for money is bringing England into the withering clutches of mammon, inhumanity and injustice.

The miner is treated like a brute beast, used as a machine, and when his labour has glutted the market, he is told to, either pine on paupers’ wages, starve on wind, or if he chooses, seek relief at the Workhouse or by suicide. This is no mere phantom of agument but a reality, which I have had to suffer within the present year.

Thousands of honest sober miners have suffered this ordeal of pinching hunger, troubled brains and aching hearts during the reduction mania.

This too they have undergone while the employers have spent hundreds of thousands on luxuries and gambling at home and abroad.

Pit Terminology - Glossary

John Lumsdon