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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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be ordered 7 Do you know Section 45 of the Coal Mines
Regulation Act 7

(Chairman.) Would that be a satisfactory thing suppos-
ing that enquiry was put in force 7 Would it be a satis-
factory kind of enquiry, the enquiry such as that under
Section 45 7

(Witness, after perusing the Section.) The only thing
needed is to put this in force.

31156. (Chairman.) Your complaint is that the Home
Secretary did not act under Section 45 and order another
enquiry 7 — Yes.

31157. You think he ought to have ordered another
enquiry, and that that would have been better than a
prosecution 7 — ^Yes.

31158. The prosecution failed, and you think the en-
quiry might have done some good 7 — ^Yes.

31159-60. (iff. Cunynghame.) What result would the en-
quiry have arrived at 7 — I thin^L if an enquiry were held,
comp3tent parsons could be appointed to deal with the
question, and not leave it to magistrates without know-
ledge of mining to decide.

31161. (Chairman.) 1 understand the position of the
witness to be this : he thinks it was a mistake to order a
prosecution, and it would be better if the Home Office
had ordered an enquiry under Section 45 7>-That is what

31162. (Mr. Cunynjhame.) I should think we should
have been guilty of a grave dereliction of duty if we had
not ordered a prosecution. You think there should have
been no prosecution in that case 7 — ^Af ter the case had been
fully enquired into to decide whether a prosecution would
benefit or not.

31163. (Chairman.) You would have the enquiry under
Section 45 first, and according to the result of the enquiry
you think the Home Office ought or ought not to have
ordered a prosecution. You think the enquiry ought to
have taken place before the prosecution 7 — ^Yes.

31164. That is the point, as I understand it 7 — ^And when
the inspector goes with these cases before magistrates
and loses them, it discourages him.

31165-6. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) 1 think you agree with
Mr. Morgan with regard to the additional inspectors being
appoint^ 7 — I do. I should like to point out the difference
in the Weatem District of Glamorgan, or South Wales.
There are so many small collieries that it is almost im-

5039ible for the inspectors to do their duty properly,
know, because I live close to them, and they are away,
early in the morning and late at night, and there are so
many accidents ; they make enquiries at the collieries and
attend inquests, and it is impossible for them to perfcnrm
their duties pTop3rly. We have hundreds of small collieries
isolated in the hills, and it is very difficult to go there.
It is not the question of the number of men working at
the collieries, because we have collieries from 4 to 500,
and in our own di3tri3t we have collieries large and
small, and it takes as mu^h time to visit a small nearly as
a large one.

31167-8. When you said "hundreds of collieries** you
meant a large number of collieries in the hilly district 7 —
A large number.

31169. You agree with Mr. Watts Morgan with regard
to working-men inspectors 7 — ^Yes.

31170. Have you anything now to add to what he said
with regard to the necessity of them 7 — No, I have nothing
to add. I endorse what he has said.

what he said about

31171. Do you agree with him as to
emen*s duties 7 — Yes.


31172. The firemen's districts 7 — Yes. I could cite
many cases, but I should like to add one thing. We know
of firemen that are not able to write, and I have one in
my mind who, when he was making his rop3rt, could n^t
make th^ report himself, and the weighman or somebody
else w.'ote in lead and he had to follow, and that was the
way he was signing the books. The-e was a case the
other day when a fieman admitted before the coroner
that he could not write. I think some sort of examination
should take place before a' fireman is appointed.

31173. To prove whether he is competent or not 7 — Yes,
competent, and to have the approval, in my mind, of the
mines inspector before he commences his duties.

31174. You think, then, that in addition to the manager
having the right of appointing him, he should in a sense
appear before the m'nes inspector to satisfy the mines
inspector that he is qualified 7 — That he is qualified for
the post.

31175. One of the qualifications added to the other
practiced requirements would be that he is able to write
his own report 7^U9rtainly.

31176. Do you know mora than one case whei^e men
so appointed are not able to make their own reports 7 —
I know o! about four or five cases ; when accidents occur
things are disclosed, and then they are reduced to the
ran1». I want these men to be qualified before being

31177. (Chairman.) The managers of the mine do not
know that these people cannot write when they are
appointed. They would not knowingly appoint a fireman
who could not write. They find out by an accident
happening and an enquiry taking place 7— Yea

31178. How do these reports get before the managers 7
Somebody writes them for the firemen 7— Somebody
writes, and they follow with ink, with a pen.

31179. (Mr. Wm. Ahrtiham.) This is one of the serious
complaints we have to mike where incompetent men are
appointed, is it not 7 — Yes.

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31180. {Ohairman.) The blame of that rests not so
ttuoh with the management, who do not know about it,
as with the persons who recommend these incompetent
firemen to the management. Who would they be ? — As
a rule from what I know, a large number of these fire-
m/on are appointed because they are friends of the
Biaaagers and overmen.

31181. The msbnagement does not know very often.
l%e under -managers do it without the knowledge of the
prinoipal manager ? — I do not know who appoints them,
but we can gather when a person is appointed whether he
is a friend of .t)ie officials or not.

31182. If you find out a case of that sort I should think
it was your duty to report it at once to the inspector of
mines, and that the inspector of mines ought to deal
severely, or see that the management dealt very severely,
with anybody who recommended a man who could not
write a report.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham,) In a small colliery a manager
would know his men.

(CJiairman.) I think the witness said the manager did
not know, and only found out very often by some accident
taking place.

( Witness.) The way we find them is when we are attending
the inquests.

(iff. SmiUie.) The witness meant when publicity was
given to it the person was reduced.

31183. {Chairman,) Very often the manager, the witness
•ays, does not know that this fireman was incapable of
writing the report. I want to know who is really respon-
sible for appointing a man who does not know how to
write, because he ought to be severely dealt with ? — It
depends on who has the power to appoint these men, the
wider-manager, the overman or manager.

31184. Whoever recommended a man to be appointed
as a fireman and knew that the fireman could not write
ought to be dealt with severely ? — ^We had a case the
other day.

31185. {Mr. Smillie.) Do you suggest that the manager
did not know ? — I do not doubt that. When the case was
iaveetigated — there was a fatal accident — in his evidence
he admitted that he could not write, and the mines inspec-
tor, Mr. Dyer Lewis, said " You will not act as a fireman

{Chairman.) All I can say is that it is the duty of some-
body to see into that. It ought to be a reason for taking
away a man's certificate, to dehberately appoint a man
as a fireman who did not know how to write.

31186. {Mr. Enoch Edioarda.) Following this particular
Question that you are asked, you suggest that you have
firemen who may be quaUfied otherwise, but who cannot
write T — ^Well, they are practical men.

31187. Of course ordinarily they would understand
their duties ? — Yes.

31188. Is this class of men you are referring to old
men ? — Yes, as a rule they are.

31189. Before the pre-historic School Board days ?—

31190. One can hardly conceive a man who cannot
write now, particularly in Wales, where your education
is so advanced ? — ^No.

31191. It would be rather a small number who cannot
write, after all ?— Well, I should think so.

31192. In your smaller pits you do come across men ?
— I have come across three or four cases in that way, and
in my opinion they ought to be able to read and write.

31193. (Chairman.) Are they old mming men ?—
Yes, elderly men.

31194. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) That would not happen
at your larger collieries ? — No, I do not think so.

31195. At the smaller places these men have acted for
years 7 — ^In the case I cited now there are about 80 or 90
workmen employed at the colliery.

31196. I gather from you that a number of these mines
you are referring to have no proper means of ventilation T

31197. Have you ever called the attention of the mines
mspector to it ? Have you, or any of your people, called
attention to it ? — I have been speaking personally to the
inspector about it, and he was telling me that he would
give his attention to them.

I 31198. Of course now the inspector would have some
power to enforce ventilation ? — Yes.

31199. And if your dis^^^^^ complained that certain
collieries were not ventilate"* he would attend to them?
— Yes, but in my opinion ^^^y ought to be compelled to
ventilate the mines with a luechanical contrivance, and
not depend on the wind.

31200. Natural ventilation^ you mean 7 — Yes.

31201'. Where you have natural ventilation is there
much blasting in the mines T — ^Yes.

31202. I suppoee sometimes they get the fumes away
from the men's working places ? — It is stagnant there
all day. •

31203. With regard to your observation about theee
bore-holes, I do not know whether I am rightly interpre-
ting you. We have bore-holes now ? — ^Yes.

31204. Bore-holes taken on a head and flank sides
when you are approaching water ? — ^Yes.

31205. I gather what you mean now is a person working
up to his own boundary T — ^Yes.

31206. And the coal belongs to another person in another
mine. That shall not be abandoned before he puts in the
bore-holes ? — Yes.

31207-8. That is different from the bore-holes we have
now ?— -Yes.

31209. You suggest that where they are going to aban-
don the work in the lower side they should be compelled
to leave bore-holes of such a depth ? — ^And plug them,
and when approaching from the lower side thev will be
safe by boring. Perluips they will strike the hole first
of all, before striking the water, and by having the plug
inside the water would not rush. That is my idea.

31210. I think the idea is so far as protecting the person
who gets the mine lowered and comes up to it in the case
of a pound of water. It would drain off gradually without
carrying with it a whole body of coal, as it has done in
some duasters T — ^Yes.

(Sir Lindsay Wood.) Is that exactly what he means 7
He says coal is on the inside, and then the water would
come in the inside. He said the bore-holes were put in
and plugged up.

31211. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) I am not following the
suggestion about plugging, but the bore-holes are bored
and left there ?— Yes, and plugged.

31212. I do not know what the plugging may involve
in it. If plugged they may go on with a piece of working
past it, and find it very thin, and the bore-holes would
not help very much. My idea is that when a colliery
is approaching its boundary, these bore-holes being there,
they tap the water out of the bore-holes long before they
take the barrier out ? — ^Yes.

31213. In answer to Mr. Ellis about checkweighers i
you suggest that in inspections by workmen they should • *
have power to appoint checkweighers as examiners ? — '
If we should succeed in getting additional inspectors,

it would be, in my opinion, better to do away with the J
workmen's examinations. ^

31214. That is, he should not be debarred by law from
being appointed ? — ^No. I was thinking that he was an
independent person, and that he could give a correct
report of the state of things underground.

31215. Have you had much experience of these work-
men's examinations ? — Yes. I have been examining
collieries myself.

31216. Of course you have made your report out ? —
Yes, a correct report.

31217. Have you ever felt diffident about this report ?

31218. That is to say, if there was something wrong in
the mine and you reported it» the manager might not
like it ? — I was condemned for giving a report of that
nature. That happened 25 or 29 years ago.

31219. I am pleased to think that many of these things
happened a good while ago, because I could tell you an
experience of that sort myself. The men have it in their
minds, if they report truthfully what they have seen, it is
hkely the under officials will not like it to be on record in
the office ?— Yes.

31220. You do not have much difficulty from the
general manager in those cases ? — No, not in many, but
the men do not take advantage of that provision in the
Act. They are afraid if they go round and report what
they have seen that they will be persecuted, and therefore
it is a dead letter as far as our collieries are concerned.

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' 31221. Could yon in a 'woxd tell us ezaotly what you
mean by theee inaoouiate plans. Is it the plan of the
adjoining property, or the plan of the colliery that is
working. What have you in your mind ? — All the col-
lieries. If one collieiY works beyond its distance and
does not insert it in tne plan, that would not be a correct

31222. If a colliery works beyond an agreed distance,
where there is a question of royalty involved, that would
be the reason for not putting it on the plan 7 — I do not

31223. Having stolen his neighbour's goods ? — ^Yes.

31224. You think in that case he would not put it on ?

(Chairman.) I will just call attention to the report oir
f^tbe Caradog Vale case, by Sir David Brynmor Jones.
/ He says, in the course of the Report in regard to the
I matter on page 10 : "I do not, upon the whole, feel that
I it would be just to cast any blame upon the present owners,
I Quinton, or Kingdon, in respect of the inaccuracy of
j the working plan," and he finishes up with this : * The
I trial at the Assizes attracted considerable and widespread
I attention and interest throughout the coalfield of South
/ Wales, and will, I believe, have a very salutary effect on
I those responsible for the safety of the persons employed
I in and about the mines situate in that important district."
I In Sir David Biynmor Jones' opinion, at all events, some
I good was done by this investigation, and he does not advise
any further legal proceedings against these men, although,
having been acquitted of manslaughter did not prevent
them from being prosecuted for an offence against the
Goal Mines Regulation Act, 1887. He says they might
have been prosecuted, but he does not advise it. It does
. not seem to be a very strong case to support your conten-
\ tion that tJiere ought to have been a further investiga-

31225. {Mr. Wm. AhraJiain.) It was strong enough to
lose a lot of lives ? — ^Yes.

{Chairman.) A lot of lives were lost, no doubt.

31226. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) You believe there ought
to be a "thorough examination of shackles, couplings,
etc., and to have them annealed at least eveiy six weeks."
Will you explain that ? — ^That is my opinion.

31227. Will you kindly explain it ? — ^There is some sort
of examination ; they say that they examined the shackles,
but I have attended four or five enquiries where men
have been kiUed owing to the snapping of the shackles.
In order to detect any defect that there may be in a shackle
or a coupling, in my opinion, it ought to be thrown into
a furnace once every six weeks. It would improve the
quality of the shackle and show the defects.

31228. The shackle is the chain that hooks two trams
together ? — ^Yes, the coupling.

31229. {Mr. Smittie.) See to the couplings, you mean ?

31230. {Mr. Wm. AbraJtam.) You think so, and it is
the opinion of some engineers, is it not ? — Yes.

31231. That there is a way of finding out a defect in
these shackles if they were annealed ? — Yes.

31232. Other couplings you would have placed on the
side of the tram ? — Yes.

31233. So that if the shackle broke these couplings
would keep the journey together ? — ^Yes. Perhaps it
would be better to explain that we have got a large number
of collieries which are steep, the gradient about 22 inches
in the yard, and the strain when going up is great.

31234. You know cases, doubtless, where in your
opinion and in the opinion of a fellow workman the extra
couplings in use have been of assistance to the shackles,
and although the shackle broke the trams could not run
away ? — ^Yes, and in the Inspector's Report for last year
he recommends them.

31235. {Sir Lindsay Wood.) Do you confine these
remarks to where the seams are steep, or practically on
a level ? — Where they are steep.

{Mr. Wm. Abraham.) It is with these collieries he is

{Sir Lindsay Wood.) He made a rather general remark.

{Wiiness.) The danger on the flat would not be so much,
but when the gradient is great and when the couplings
break, there is a danger of persons being killed.

31236. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) There would not be any
danger in a shackle breaking on the flat ? — ^No.

31237. The real danger is on the slope T— Yes. Mr.

31238. Take Trimaaran ; if these couplings had been in W,E.Morgan
use with the shackle the probability is that accident 21 Nov. 1907
would not have happened ? — I agree. — '-

31239. That is a case within the knowledge of us all
here ? — ^Yes.

31240. Could you add other cases in your own district 7
— ^Yes. There was a case at Pencoed Colliery, and I
remember a discussion with the manager and the inspector
at the time. The inspector was condemning the shackle
and suggesting that there ought to be better protection
in these places where the gradient is great — short couplings
in addition would materially reduce accidents.

31241. So that the inspector of the district agreed with
your view and our view in this matter ? — Yes. I suggested
another thing ; when the men are going backward and
forward down these planes there ought to be a chain
underneath in addition to the coupling. There is a
danger for the rope to go imder the wheels, and add to
the danger, unless you can have something to attach the
rope or the chain underneath to the coupling and keep it
under the trams or under the car.

31242. Keeping it from trailing on the ground T — ^Yee.

31243-5. Those suggestions of yours you are conscien-
tiously of opinion would reduce the accidents from oars
running away ? — ^Yes, materially. By the report of the
inspector for last year there were 90 cases where persons
had been injured in haulage by trams, and so forth.

31246. The district now under Mr. Dyer Lewis ?— Yes.
And it is a serious question.

31247-8. You are of the same opinion as Mr, Watts
Morgan with regard to giving the same facility to workmen
to express themselves as to the owner when Special Rules
are made. Then you suggest as an improvement in the
system of timbering that cogs should be used ? — ^Yes. I
Imow collieries where there is a good roof, rock top, and
they are working on the longwall system, whore there is not
sufficient rubbish to pack up the gob. They are only
standing posts, and when the top begins to work it is very
dangerous, but if they had stood cogs in addition to
packing, it would support the top and make it lass
dangerous for the men.

31249. If there is anything we have missed, now is your
time to say it. We are reluctant to keep you all day , but do
not leave" anything important ? — ^There is one important
thing I want to mention with regard to manholes. In steep
measures I would suggest that the manholes should l)e
made oftener than is provided in the rules. When they
are working on the slant, and if a journey of trams .
follow and you are climbing up a place dipping 18 or 20 \
inches, it is a matter of impossibility to reach the manhole \
unless there is plenty of room alongside the road.

31250. Your complaint is this : where coal is brought
up by surface haulage, the roads in some cases are narrow ?
— Yes, that is one complaint.

31251. There is no room for the men to shelter, and the
manholes are not frequent enough ? — ^Yes.

31252. There, again, could you give some instances Y —
A man was killed about 12 months ago.

31253. We only want one iostance ? — ^He was running
in front of the journey, and the journey killed him because
there was not sufficient room between the side and the
trams ; he was crushed. If he had only gone a yard
further he would have been on the surface.

31254. There was not room for a man between the tram
and the side ? — No.

31255. {Sir Lindsay Wood.) How far were the manholes
apart at that place ? — I do not remember how often they
were at that colliery.

31256. {Mr. SmiUie.) Was it an engine plane ?■— Yes.

31257. {Sir Lindsay Wood.) You are aware if there is \
not room alongside the side of the line to travel, the man- ,
holes must be 10 yards apart, and not 20 yards 7 — Every
20 yards I believe, on an engine plane.

31258. {Chairman.) It is 10 yards in the Act of Par-
liament ? — And 50 yards on levels.

31259. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) What is it ?— 10 yards
apart, and in steep measures the distance should be less.

{Mr. SmiUie.) We were dealing with this yesterday.
{Chairman.) Rule 14 says " or if there is not room for
a person to stand between the side of a tub and the sids


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Mr. \\ o{ the plane then (iinleaa the tabs are moved by an endless
If . J?. Jlfor^a* I ofaain ox rope) at intexvato of not more than 10 yards."

oi vr iQn4 1 Why should that be so ?

(Mr, 8m%U%e,) If moved by an endless oham or rope,

20 yards is sufficient.

(Chairman,) I suppose it is because it goes more slowly.
(Sir Liiukay Wood,) Yes, about a mile and a half per

31260. (Mr, SmiUie.) It was a tail rope you were
relerring to ? — ^Yes.

^1261. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) In this case you are citing
now how far would the man be on the road ?— He started
out when the journey was coming, and he thought he
could manage to go out to the surface before the journey,
and was caught between the journey and the wall.

31262. How far behind him was the next manhole.
Could he have turned in there ?— Yes, I daresay he could.

31263. How far behind him T— About 20 or 25 yards.

31264. That ia the point. That is the cause of your com-
plaint, tliat there was no manhole fox him to turn in within
20 yards of ihe mouth of the drift, or 26 yards aa you say ?
— ^My point in regard to that case is this. The man had
gone beyond Uie numhole, thinking he could succeed in
getting outw If there had been sufficient width between
the road and the aide he would not have been kUled.

31265. That is another thing. You are now advocating
sufficient room for the man to go to the side ? — ^Yes.

31266. The original point is, you want the manholes
to be oftener when there is no room ? — ^Yes.

31267. My point is this. We want to know, if you can
tell us, how many yards had that man passed the nearest
manhole to the surface 7 — ^I do not remember ; I am not
in a position to say, although I attended the enquiry.

31268. Were there 10 T— Yes.

31269. Were there 15 7— Yes, more ihan 15.

31270. Were there 20 7

(Sir Lind9ay Wood,) He says he does not remember.

(Chairman,) In that case the law was not complied with.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That may be so.

(Chairman,) If that is so, the suggestion ia that the law
has not been carried out, not that it requires alteration.
I understand you to say you think that there ought to be
more numerous manholes than there are now. This par-
ticular case does not bear out the contention^ because
there ought to be manholes every 10 yards according to
Rule 14, and if not the law has not been complied with.
He could not possibly be more than five yards from a
manhole if the rules had been carried into effect.

(Witness.) What X want to point out is this, whether
it is not possible to have improvement in these steep
measures. A man cannot move quickly when the gradient

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