Children in the Mines
First hand account
Mr Franks gives the case of William Woods, aged fourteen, who was a coal hewer in the east of Scotland:
"I have been three years below; I hew the coal and draw it to the pit bottom. Was obliged to go, as father could work no longer; he is upwards of sixty. I gang at three in the morning, and return about six, it is no very good work, and the sore labour makes me feel very ill and fatigued; it injures my breath. We have no regular meal-times; food is not safe in the pit. The lads and lassies take oat-pieces and bread below; we drink the water sometimes; get other food at home, sometimes broth, potatoes, and herrings..."
Descending the pit
Mr Symons, in his description of the Yorkshire coal-field says:
"That man must have strong nerves who for the first time descends a deep shaft, probably much deeper than St Paul's Cathedral is high, without some degree of uncomfortable sensation. To a young child it is often cruelly frightful. It is difficult to describe the impression of dark confinement and damp discomfort conveyed by a colliery, at first sight. The springs which generally ooze through the best-cased shafts, trickle down its sides, and keep up a perpetual drizzle below. The chamber or area at the bottom of the shaft is almost always sloppy and muddy, and the escape from it consists in a labyrinth of black passages, often not above four feet square, and seldom exceeding five by six."
RARE-RB 942 8 TYN - A Treatise on the Ventilation of Coal Mines - illustration opposite page 32