Great Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on Mines.

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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I could not say that we have had very many cases, but
we know that it is a very easy matter to open a lamp.

30609. In spite of the screw lock ?— Yes.

30610. {Mr. Wm. Ahniham.) We wiU go back to the
question of timbering. The system of timbering in South
Wales generally is tluit the collier puts up his own timber
in the working place and in the road leading to the work-
ing place ? — That is so.

30611. Some classes of timber he is paid for, and other
classes he is not paid for ? — That is so. All the timber
put in the working place is not paid for, but included in
the tonnage rate ; the timber at the side of the roadway
for the protection of the roadway is generally paid for
separately by themselves, that is to say, so much for a
pair of timber and so much for what we call a road post.

30612. All of which is necessary to keep the roads in
repair ? — ^Yes.

30513. The rule is that the man has no right to put up
a pair of timber or road post when it is necessary without
consent ? — That is so.

30614. You know of a case that was taken into Court
because of a man putting up a pair of timber and the
overman striking it out, and a certain portion of the place
falling in T — That is what took place.

30616. Hence the opinion you hold, that it is necessary
that the man should be allowed to put timber up where he
thinks necessary, even if he is not to be paid for it ? —
Yes, and I think he should have full power to put up any
timber which he thinks is necessary above the regulation,
whether it is paid for or unpaid.

30616. Who is that determines the distance that these
timbers are to be put ? — Generally the manager.

30617. Even the distance of props in the face ? — Yes.

30618. The distance of sprags is determined by Special
Rules ?— Yes.

30619^ There is no znterierence with the right of men
to put these timbers up, even if they put them up oftener
than stipulated ? — ^No, not up to the present. We have
had no case where tiiey have interiered with the men in
the coal face.

30520. There are cases happening in all of the districts
on the roadways ? — Undoubtedly.

30621. What did you mean when you recommended
systematic timbering in one of the paragraphs of your
statement ? Will you explain what you mean by that ?
— ^My experience is tliis, H I may put it in this way : in
general cases we find tJoiat accidents and loss of life take
place where the top is considered to be safe and timber is not
required. Where the roof is brittle and soft we find that
the men are very careful, and the result is that no acci-
dents take place ; but immediately they get into a district
where it is supposed timbering can be dispensed with, the
tendency is to be a bit neglectful and careless, and the
result is that a stone or something breaks down quite un-
expectedly, because there is no timber there. If system-
atic timbering was adopted, and timbering put up in all
places, I think that would go at any rate some way towards
the prevention of accidents.

{Mr. Wm. Ahraham.) I think that is sufficiently clear.

{Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) I should like to know this, whether
the difficulty is that he is not allowed to put up timber,
or that he may not be paid for it ? What he wants
instructions for is not to put it up, but that he is going
to be paid for it.

{Mr. Wm. Ahraham.) That may be a portion of the case,
but if he puts it up he may be found fault with.

{Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) Supposing he puts it up, is not
the penalty, if he has done wrong, in not getting paid for
it ? It was put in the first instance that he was not allowed
to put the timber up even if it was wanted there for the
purpose of safety. I think the point is that he is in danger
of not being paid for it.

{Mr. Wm. Ahrdham.) He is found fault with if he puts
it up, whatever the necessity is in his opinion.

{Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) Is that so ?

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Mr. (Witness.) We have cases where men have asserted

D, W. Morgan their right to put up the timber.

20 NovTlOiy? 30522. And to be paid for it ? — Yes, and the official
^...'. has come round and knocked the timber out

(Chairman,) The official would knock the timber out
by way of saying that it was not required, and therefore
that he need not pay for it.

(Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) It is not whether he may put it up*
He may put it up and not get paid for it.

(Chairman.) It is in fact done to shew that it is un-

(Witness.) Yes, that is so.

(Mr. Wm, Abraham.) To try and shew that it is un-

(Chairman.) In this particular case it was not necessary
to shew that it was required.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Take it either way : there it is,

(Chairman). Naturally that prevents a man putting
up timber. He says '* I am not going to proceed witJi my
work and put up timber if I am not going to be paid.
Here is a dangerous place : I am not going to put up this
timber, because I am not sure what view the Manager
will take. I will wait tiU the Manager comes round."

(Mr, Baidiffe EUis.) He would not stop there.

(Chairman.) Do you want the matter cleared up any
more ?

(Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) No, I quite understand that

(Witness.) I should like to add, if you will allow me,
that we have a case that we have been investigating even
where the timber has been put up en these travelling
roads, where there is a very acute dispute in respect of
being drawn out by instructions of the officials afterwards,
where men complain that they are in danger of their
lives in dealing with their trams and walking backwards
and forwards over this roadway, which has been so treated.

30523. (Chairman.) These men took upon themselves
to put up timber because they thought it was wanted,
and the officials pulled it down to shew that it was not
wanted, and now the men declare that they are in danger
of their lives because of this pulling down ? — Yes, that
is so.

30524. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Is this not the case : that
before the Manager had the sole power of saying timber
should be put up without payment there was a complaint
against the men ? — Yes.

30525. Then since the Rule has been changed, and he
has the sole power, the complaint is that the distances
he allows them are too great T — Yes, that is so.

30526. And where the man needs to put up for his own
protection in his own road a road post or a pair of timber,
he is not allowed to put it up witnout the consent of the
Manager ? — ^Yes, that is the case.

30527. Again, it is sometimes the practice in several
places in a long road with a good piece of top apparently
that timber is not used ? — Yes.

30528. In those places during the last two years several
accidents have taken place from falls of stone from roof
or sides ? — Yes, I know of several accidents in my own
knowledge that have taken place on these travelling
roads when men are going in in the morning and coming
out at night

30529. We will come to that That is one of the reasons
I think that in that district we need smaller districts for
the firemen to examine and to travel over, or n^ore men
to do it ? — Yes, that is one of the reasons : I say so.

30530. I am taking our Rhondda Valleys. What,
generally, is the district allotted to firemen ? Is it easy
for them to accomplish the work to be done, or is there
a general complaint that they have too large a district,
and much too large a district ? — ^The general complaint
is that they are too large, and it is very very difficult to
work, especially so having regard to the other duties that
are thrown upon the men during the day.

130531. Have we had occasion to caU the attention of
the Mines Inspector to that more than once ? — Yes.
I 30532. And by his kind interference I think in one or
\ two cases matters have been improved ? — Yes.

30533. GeneraUy speaking, they remain the same ?—

30534. What are the duties of the firemen ? — Of course,
if we commence with the first work which thev do in the
morning, they arc supposed to examine all the working

places where men are employed during ihe day, and also
any places where the air is travelling into any district^
and they examine all the working places in all the road-

30535. Generally speaking, our collieries would be about
the largest collieries m any district in the country. You
understand they are large collieries as a rule. What
would be the size of the district ? What would be the
length of road a man would travel from the bottom of the
pit to the entrance of the district ? — Generally speaking,
it would be anything from half a mile to three-quarters
of a mile, taking the average, before he conunenoed to
come into his district

30536. What portion of the roadway would he have to
examine ? — By the Ck)al Mines Regulation Act he is sufl-
posed to examine every roadway. But supposing he
starts with his district^ he has 40, 50, or it may be 60
working places in the coal face. He is supposed to examine
all those working places, to examine every road that
leads into that working face, and it is a matter of impossi-
bility for any man to be able to do it within the allotted

30537. I think you said you can cite instances where
accidents have happened to men going in in the morning
and coming out before the shift really commences ? —
That is so. These places would be passed by the fireman.
The men would be coming to their work ready by seven
o'clock, have their lamps examined and see tihe fireman.
He would report on the state of their places, and they would
then walk towards their working places, and in the course
of walking towards those places they would meet with
these accidents.

30538. There is no doubt at all ; if it is necessary you
can cite instances ? — ^I have half-a-dozen now.

30530. (Chairman.) Accidents from falls of roof and
sides ? — Yes, taking place during the time the men are
walking to their working places in the morning.

30540. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) You suggest that the fire-
men have so much to do that they have no time to make
an examination of these roads 7 — Unless the danger is such
that it will force itself upon the sight and hearing of the
fireman during the time he is rapidly going through the
district, he cannot possibly find it out I grant you that
they are very careful with regard to the actual working
faces to see that there is no danger to be apprehended
from that source, but in walking the roadways they have
such a distance to travel, because they commence with the
working face here. No. 1 place, they come in over that
roadway, examine the '' face,'* go. to No. 2, examine that
working place, back again through No. 2 road, up through
No. 3, and the distance they travel in doing that examina-
tion precludes them from being able to devote the time
they should to the roadways.

30541. There is a way of passing through the faces
without going backwards and forwards through the roads T
— ^That is so.

30542. And the opinion is that a good deal of examination
is limited to the faces only, at the expense of not examining
the roadways ? — That opinion does prevail, and to some
extent it must be so having regard to the distance the men
have to travel.

30543. That points to the necessity for having the
districts smaller ? — Yes.

30544. Or to having more men T — Yes : I do not like
the idea of more men, if I may be allowed to explain what
I mean. We do not want to have the firemen's duties
done by deputy.

30546. I will come to that, because that has been given
as a reason not to appoint more efficient men, but a greater
number of firemen who can be aided in the first instance
in the morning by another class of men, master hauliers
or something like that ? — ^That is so.

30546. Have we in the district some collieries where
the examination in the morning is done by that class of
men, and not by the fireman himself ? — ^Yes : we find
that there is a good deal of complaint arising amongst the
men in consequence of that.

30547. That is to say, done in order to assist the fireman?
— ^Yes, because the district is too large and he cannot do it

30548. So that he, during the day, takes charge of a
district in which there are a number of places he did not
see in the first instance ? — That is so.

•Digitized by




' 30549. Come on : let us have it out ? — ^I was just
going to say there was one case brought to our knowledge
some time ago, very lately, where three m3n were examin-
ing the dis&iot in the morning, one fireman and two
deputies. Then the fireman would take charge of the
whole of that district after he had seen the men to their
work in the morning.

30550. In the next examination he himself would have
to examine the whole district T^That is so.

30551. In addition to that he has to supervise the putting
up of timber ? — ^Yes.

30552. Has he something else to do ?— Taking the time
of the men generally, and in some cases he has to look
after ventilation in the shape of putting up brattice doors,
and so forth, look after the full coal, look after the output
of coal generally in his district, which takes up a very
great amount of his time.

•^ 30553. In a number of places during certain hours of

traffic Mr.


the day the fireman becomes a kind of
manager P — ^Tes, tbat is so.

30554. He looks after the supply of trams, and so forth ? 20 Nov. 1907
— ^Yes. — '^

30555. In your opinion that kind of work ought to be
taken from hun : he ought not to be obliged to do that ?—
I think it would be a great improvement if the fireman's
duty was entirely confined to ventilation, and to looking
after the safety of the m^n under his charge, travelling
the roadways for the purpose of seeing that everything
was being done properly as it should be done, in order to
safeguard the lives and limbs of the workmen.

30556. What number of hours do these men work as a
rule. We are in the Bhondda Valley now ? — ^I am sorry
to say that in a large number of cases they are very exces-
sive hours, 13 and 14 hours are very general. They start-
at half -past three to four o'clock in the morning, and they
are not free from the pit till five or half-past at night.
Perhaps I should say there has been some change.


Thursday, 2\st November, 1907.

Sir Lindsay Wood, Bart.
H. H. S. OtTNYNQHABnB, Bsq., aB.
Wm. Abbaham, Esq., m.p. (Rhondda).
Enoch Edwabds, Esq., m.p.

Prbsbnt :

Lord MoNKSWBLL (Chairman),

Thomas Ratcuftb Ellis, Esq.
John Scott Haldanb, Esq., f.b.s.
Bobbbt Smillie, Esq.

S. W. Harris, Esq. (Secretary).

Mr. David Watts Moroan, recalled and further examined.

30557. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) With regard to the long
hours worked by firemen, their numerous duties, and so
forth, is there a change of policy gradually taking place
now ? — ^Yes. At some of our largest colHeries they have
initiated a new method altogether, and I am very pleased
to say that at the Lewis Merthyr Collieries and the Cam-
brian Collieries, as we call them, they have full^ adopted
the system now of an all round eight-hours shift for the

30558. It has been in existence for some time at Lewis
Merthyr Collieries, has it not ? — Yes.

h 30559. With what results 7 — Very beneficial results so

' far as the safety of the men is concerned. It has had a

material effect upon the number of accidents taking place.

30560. (Chaifman.) Have you statistics to show that ?
^-No, I have not statistics to show it.

30561. It would be more satisfactory if we could have
-statistics to show that the eight-hours shift had been
instrumental in reducing the death rate from accidents
— ^That information could be supplied.

30562. (Mr. Wm, Abraham.) You remember that one of
the firemen said that only one fatal accident has occurred
«inoe that system has been in force ? — That is so.

30563. In your opinion, a general adoption of that
-system would immensely reduce accidents in mines ? —
'There is no doubt about that at alL

30564. Are you able to give any reason for it, in your
opinion ? — The men are now fully emplo3red at the actual
working places in the coal face, and they do not go from
their district at alL

30565. (Chairman.) Then there is another reason be-
sides the eight-hours shift that the safety of the miners is
increased, in vour opinion ; the other reason being that
the firemen only attend to duties in connection with safety,
-•and not to other duties ? — That is so.

30566. (Mr, Wm. Abraham.) So that they are enabled
to make, if I am correctly informed, an inspection in
addition to the inspection ordinarily made in other col-
lieries ? — Yes.

30567. And they are making that inspection when they
are going down fresh from the surface ? — That is so.

30568. So that in that case l^ere has not been any place
which has been left for a long period without being
thoroughly inspected by the fireman ? — It would be j
inspected withm the course of a couple of hours or sq
each time.

30569. And that, in your opinion, has created bene-
ficial results ? — ^That is so.

30570. I think you have expressed dissatisfaction with
Government inspection 7 — Yes.

30571. In what direction 7 — The area to be covered
by the inspectors at the present time is so large that they
cannot possibly give the time to it, so that it becomes, as
I will call it, a kind of inspection by sample : there is
only a part of the mine, and a very small one at that,
being examined at the time.

30572. In your opinion, that is inadequate and very
unsatisfactory 7 — Very unsatisfactory. I should like to
say this to the credit of the present inspectorate
that they are doing their work exceedingly- well, but thev
have not got the time to devote to the inspection which
they should devote to it. We have a number of cases
where we have had to call the attention of the inspectors
to matters, the men not being quite satisfied with the coni-
dition of the mine ; we have called attention to the number
of accidents taking place, and we have called upon them
from time to time, until they have all their work cut out
to deal with the work in the way in which they are doing
at the present time, which does not deal fairly with the

30573. That is to say, briefly, there is too much work
for them to be able to ao 7 — It is out of any reason.


21 No^l907

Digitized by



MINUTES or evidence;

Mr, 30674. You spoke aboui another class of inspectors in

D.W Morgan addition to tlie two classes we have now. What qnali-

— fication would you give them ? — I should like to see the

^IL practical side, so far as is possible, being adopted in the

election of working-men inspectors.

(30575. I think yon state that the workmen now are not
carrying out General Rule 38 with regard to the men's
inspection ?— Yes, I do.
30676. Do you think that as a rule those inspections
are satisfactory ?— Far from it.

30677. Are they more extensive than those made by
the inspectors ? — ^Yes. When they are made, of coune,
the whole of the mine is examined from end to end.

30678. In what mpect do you say they are far from
being satisfactory ? — ^The men are not in an independent
position so as to be able to make a tarue report of what is
in the mine ; I mean, they are to a very large extent, of
course, dependent upon the goodwill of the officials of the
ooUiery, and because of their not being independent, they
are inmost oases not able to give a correct and true report
of what is contained in the mine.

30579. That b a serious statement. Do you think that
is truly so ? — I can cite an instance in my own case where
I was taken back the second time to see the condition of
a mine which we had condemned upon our first inspection*
and I Imow of other instances where workmen have been
dealt with ; and althoiJ^h we cannot exactly prove that
it is the result of their having made reports, it is very
peculiar that the men are shifted away from the colliery —
disnussed for some other offence.

30680. (Chairman.) I should like to quite understand
what your complaint is with regard to your own report.
You say that you were told to look at the mine again with
a view of modifying jrour report ? — ^Yes.

30681. Did you modify your report ? — No.

30682. Then what happened ?— The report stood as
it was ; nothing happened in my case. Perhaps it would
be best for me to relate the incident to you.

30683. Yes ? — ^I was one of two who were going round
the mine, and we made a report, and the fireman called
in question the report ; and l daresay when he got it that
afternoon, or sometime during the day, the manager called
the fireman's attention to the report.

30684. It was the fireman who complained of the report ?

30686. And then the manager said that you had better
look at the mine again, and say whether your report was
correct or not T — ^No. This happened on the following day.
The following morning when I went to my work I was
asked to go and see this place the second time by the

30686. (Mr, Cunynghame,) What did your report say
was wrong ? — ^The return airway of the district was blocked
and had not been attended to, and we made a note in the
repert that the airway was not in a proper condition.

30687. (Chairman.) I suppose that was reflecting on
the fireman, whose duty it was to see that the airways were
all right ? — ^That is so.

30688. And the fireman who was implicated then ob-
jected to the report, and said it was an unfair report ? —
He asked me to go the following morning to see this place,
and to make another report upon the condition of the
return airway.

30680. You did so, and you stuck to your former report,
and nothing happened ? — We did not make a second report.
We went to the place to see that it had been done, and we
f orund that people had been engaged that night.

30690. You mean engaged in putting it right ? — En-
gaged in putting it right.

30691. But you still stuck to your report that it was
wrong at the time you made the report ?— We allowed the
report to stand.

30692. You did not modify your report in any way,
and that report still stood ? — Yes.

30693. What was the nature of the obstruction ?—
The place had been allowed to gradually close, and a fall
had taken place there, with the result that there was a
stoppage of ah*.

30694. That fall was removed, and then the air went
round as usual ?— Yes ; that was, of course, remedied by
the rubbish being removed from the road.

30696. (Mr. Wm. Abrt^m.) Was it a reoent fall ?—
No, it had been of some standing.

(Mr, Ratdiffe EUis,) Of coiU^^ the return airway could
not have been long blocked ?

30696. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) I think we are bound to
get into this, although it is unpleasant to do so. Is it not
within your knowledge that in many instances msn are
asked to go the sec<md time to inspect places before making
their reports on the books ? — ^Yes.

30697. (Chairman.) That is to say, that if the manage-
mont see the report and have reason to suppose, or imagine
they have reason to suppose, that the report is unduly
unfavourable to the condition of the mine, they ask you
to go again and verify what you have said ? — Yes, that
is the case.

30698. Do you know of any instance in which a man
has been dismissed, or in which anything has happoned
to him because he has stuck to his former report and re-
fused to modify it ?

30599. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That is not exactly clear,
if I may say so. Has not your attention baen called to
cases where men, having gone round the first day, made
a verbal report, and were asked to go down the second day
before they put a report on the books ? — Yes, we have
had such cases.

30600. But the question is this: is the report on the
second day what it was on the first ? — No, because in that
case it had been modified on the second inspection.

30601. (Chairman.) The point is that, although there
was something wrong with the mine and the report said
there was something wrong one day, before the next day
what was wrong hiMi been put right again, and the con*
sequence was that the first report, which said that some-
thing was wrong with the mme, never saw the light at
all ? — ^That is the case. It is quite a common matter, if
I may be allowed to put it in my own way, that when the
inspection by workmen is taking place there is a good
deal of canning of brattice cloth, and all that kind of

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 100 of 177)