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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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31271. (Chairman.) That is another matter. Mr. Abra-
ham pointed out that you are talking about two different
things. First d all, you suggest that there should be a
gangway at tiie side sufficiently wide for a man to pass 7

31272. Another thing is about the manholes. With
regard to the manholes in this particular case of an engine
plane and there not being room for a man to pass between
tiie trucks and the side, that waa a case where under the
present law the manholes should be every 10 yards. You
do not suggest that that is too long 7 — As far as that goes,
in my opinion that could remain ; but in steep measures
I thiiuk tne manholes ought to be oftener — a great deal, too.

31273. (Sir Lindsay Wood,) You would rather have
sufficient room alongside the wagon-way and the wall for
the men to travel 1 — Yea, and manholes.

31274. Ordinary manholes, 10 yards apart 7>-Ye8.

31275. (Mr. BmUlie,) You say that the dip in some cases
18 18 inches to 2 feet 10 inches. That is practically the
edge of the workings 7— Yea*

31276. Ia it aafe in any oaae for a workman to travel on
a road of that kind while the trama are being run 7 — ^No,
it is not sale. One cannot aay that it is safe. There are
men constantly working aa road-men, timber-men and
repairera on these steep slants.

31277. Do the men travel these roads ? — ^They must
travel back^ ards and forwards in order to carry on the

31278. I do not mean those ^^ are engaged on tJbd road,
but do other men travel those I'^da 7 — ^xea.

31279. Are they allowed to travel thoae roada duxing
the time the trams may be drawn up 7 — Yes, they oome out
as soon as they have finished.

31280. Supposing a rope breaks in a case of that kind,
could any manhole save a person where the inclination
is very great. Would not the tubs go down almost as if
dropping them down a shaft 7 — ^Yes.

31281. A person has not time to go into a manhole in
a case of that kind 7 — ^No, not much.

31282. It is absolutely unsafe for persons to travel a
road of that kind during the time the trams are being
drawn up. Is not that so 7 — ^Yos.

31283. Consequently it would be necessary to have a
travelling road 7 — A travelling road would be better,

31284. If it is at the risk of men's lives every time thev
go up and down a road of this kind, would it not be well
t>o make a rule that persons should not travel a road of
that kind 7 — I did not understand that.

31285. If it is unsafe, and you say it is, would it not be
well to lay down a bye-law that workmen are not to be
allowed to travel a road of that kind, where the inclination
is great 7^ — For the sake of safety it would be good.

31286. This Commission is dealing with safety, and you
are here to give evidence as to what would be safe 7 — Yes.

(Sir Lindsay Wood,) You are asked whether it would
not be better to prohibit the men coming up and down
these inclines altogether. Would you add the words
" while the setts are running " 7

31287. (Mr. SmiUie,) I was going to put that. If there
is a place where there is no traveSing road distinct from
the haulage road, it could be laid down that persons were
not to be allowed to travel to and from work during the
time that the trams were nmning 7 — Yes, they could do
that ; and we have collieries where, after finishing winding
coal, they send cars down and the men come up on the

31288. They are brought up on the cars 7 — ^Yes.

31280. I think you put it here that in every ca^e there
should be room i^longaide a haulage road for men to stand
out of danger during the time they are travelling in the
event of the trams running away ? — ^Yes ; there is better
chance of escaping if they fail to reach a manhole.

31290. And the workmen should not be required to
travel those roads during the time the trams are running
up and down unless there is sufficient room 7 — ^Yea.

31291. In addition to that you would have manhojea
every 10 yarda at the furthest 7 — Every fiv^ yards.

31292. In a very steep gradient 7 — ^Yea.

31293. You would be in favour of having all manholes
in mines white-washed perhaps four times a year ? — ^Yea,
for them to be visible to the meA.

33294. At the present time that la not compulsory,
I think 7 — I am not sure. J have aeen them whitewaahed.

31295. Ia it done 7 — In our way 7

31296. Ia it done universally 7 — In the majority of oases.

31297. Is it a good precaution 7 — Yes.

31298. I could not really grasp the difference between
shackles and couplings. Will you let us know what
is meant by shackles in the case of a train of trams 7 —
I believe shackles " and " hitchings " are the same.
They connect the trams. We have short chains with
hooks in some places coupling the trams.

31299. They are connected with the draw-bars of the
tubs 7 — Yes. There is something by the side of the tram.

31300. You propose short couplings in addition to the
central couplings ? — Yes, in addition. Hhese are ooUierias
now who have chains at the side of the trams.

•31301. Which go the full length 7— Yes.

(Sir Lindsay Wood,) Side chains between each tub 7

31302. (Mr. Smillie.) Those side chains are, as it were,
additional couplings 7 — The journeys are not always aafe
when going down. I have noticed that on many trama
the chains arc slack and are apt to unhook, and the trama
run away. If there were a chain or something in the middle
and at the sides it would be better protected.

31303. What you want to provide for here ia not for
the breaking of the rope but for the breaking of the
couplings ? — Yes.

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31904. It lias been proposed that there might be either
a bottom chain going the whole length of the train or a top
ohidn over the top. Would it be suitable to have a top
chain, in your opinion, or are the tubs filled so high with
coal that H wovld not be possible to have one ? — I do not
think I would object to the top chain where the tub is not
buijt up with coal, or to a bottom chain. I prefer the chains
at ^e side.

31305. Do you mean a continuous chain or short chaih
from one tub to another ? — A short chain from one tub
to another.

31306. That is an additional coupling really ? — Yes. In
the district from where I come they are not filling large
coaL It is not the same as in the Rhondda VaUev, where
they work large coal tod the coal is built outside tlie tram.

31307. What is your objection to a top chain going the
whole length of the train ? — I think if they fill above the
tram it would tend to throw the coal do^vn and it
would make it more dangerous. I do not think it would
be as safe when men were travelling on top as underneath
or on the side.

91908. Is it usual at any of your collieries, or is it gene-
ral, icfT pony drivers to drive coals out fro<n the face to the
pit bottom ? — Yes, with the exception of steep places.

31309. Is that the class of rider you mean ?— No.

31310. Is this loading on the train of trams ? — Yes,
on the trams. There is no horse at all attached to it.

31311. Roads should be of sufficient height and width
to give room for him to ride without danger ? — Yes.

31312. There are cases when quite suddenly the roof
may be too low ? — Yes, we have instances of riders who
have been killed. There was no height at all. .

31313. They have been crushed between the trams ? —
Yes, between the trams and the roof.

31314. The same thing in some cases may apply to
pony drivers who sit on the trams ? — ^Yes.

31315. There is a tendency to prevent sitting on the
trams altogether, either in trains of trams or in a pony
driver's train. There is a feeling that they should not be
allowed to sit on them. Have you heard that put forward
by the managers or owners ? — Yes, they object to riding.

31316. Take the case of a pony driver ; where is the
safest place ? Is it safe for him to go between his horse
and the trams, or to walk behind his horse and the trams ?
Is that a saie position to be in 7 — ^No.

31317. If he is behind his trams altogether, can he
efifec^vely drive his hone from that distance if behind six
or seven trams 7 — ^No, unless there is sufficient room at
the side to pass.

31318. You know as a matter of fact that is not so ? —
I have seen plcM)es myself where if a tram goes off the rails
the haulier could not pass : he could not go on the top of
the trams, and could not pass by the side. He must
wait for somebody else to come ana raise the tram.

31319. If behind the train of trams, and the first tram
goes off the rails, he is bowerless. He cannot pass by the
side or the top 7 — No, he must wait till somebody comes
in Search of him,

31320. As a matter of fact the safest place is to sit on
the first tram, if the roof is high enough? — Yes, provided
there is sufficient height. You do not find that in col-
lieries, worse luck.

31321. You consider the low should lay down that
there should be sufficient height where it is necessary for
a person to ride on a tram 7 — ^That is my opinion.

31322. To remedy^any danger 7 — Or abolish the riding

31323. With regard to unskilled labour in mines, hate
you any unskilled labour in your mines 7 — Yes.

31324. Will you give us roughly the proportion. Is it
five per cent, of the men at present employed who are
unskilled workmen or ten per cent. 7 — ^We are in close
proximity to the agricultural district -where the tnajority
cotne from.

31325. Your area has been a rapidly developing coal-
field for some years 7 — Yes, and it will in future. It has
been so in the past.

31326. You have had a large influx of unskilled labour
iBto the mines 7 — ^Yes.

31327. I think you have already said you consider it a
source of danger to themselves and other workmen 7 —

81328. Is there any care taken to ascertain whether Mr,

they have been previously employed in the mine before W,E,Morgan

they are engaged 7— No ; these men are taken on because

they are cheap labour. I know of instances where *^ ^oy. 1907
these men are taken on thinking of course they will work
cheaper than skilled workmen.

31329. Is it a general rule in your district that no person
is to be employed or go underground without the consent
of the general manager or the under-manager. Must he
know before any person who Is employed goes underground?
— I believe so, or the man who employs him ; but the
rule differs at some collieries. The over-men have power
to engage them, and at other collieries the firemen have
power, and in those oases the manager wouki not know.

31330. Have contractors power to engage men and take
them down 7 — Yes.

31331. Do you mean to say without the manager having
any knowledge of it, contractors may employ them 7 Is
there any such thing as a contractor employing 10 or 15 or
20 men 7 — There was a case not long ago in our district
where there were about eight working under a contractor,
and he employed them directly.

31332. Do you know whether or not he had the consent
of the manager to employ men 7 — I do not know that.

31333. He might employ unskilled persons and take
them down 7 — ^Yes.

31334. The employment of unskilled persons, unless it
is at the face to work alone, is not a breach of the Coal Mines
Regulation Act. You are aware of that, of course 7 —

31335. Those men may be employed at very dangerous
work, although not working at the coal face 7 — Yes.

31336. They may be employed removing rubbish and
stowing it in vacant places 7 — ^Yes. If they are not ex-
perienced men they are sent to these abandoned places,
and if they do not have the experience of practical men,
sometimes they interfere with a post and bring down a
fall, while a man who knew the conditions would not.

31337. In the Welsh fiery mines the abandoned places
where they stow rubbish may be sometimes the most dan-
gerous parts of the whole mine 7 — Yes.

31338. In addition to firedamp which may be there,
the nature of the roof may be very dangerous 7 — Yes.

31339. You think it unsafe to employ an unskilled
person with no previous experience of mining to do work
of that kind 7 — I do, unless he is not working by himself.

31340. Under the supervision of a skilled person, you
mean 7 — Yes.

31341. Who would be responsible for his safety, of
course 7 — ^Yes.

31342. I daresay you are not able off-hand to give any
figures, but you believe that more than the average number
of accidents have taken place to unskilled workmen 7 —
Yes, although I cannot prove that by figures.

31343. (Sir Lindsay Wood.) "Improvement in the mode
of signalling, in particular in narrow and steep places.''
What do you refer to there 7 — ^My experience about two
or three months ago was this : I went into the coUieiy and
the slant was dipping about 20 in. The trams were
rubbing both sides, and there was no height at all. We
were riding in the trams, and the trams went off the rail.
The man in charge had to draw the wire before he could
stop. I was in one of the trams, and I was thinking at the
time that there ought to be a better system of signalling
than that, because if the trams had gone on and
knocked double timbers out probabfy all of us would have
been killed. If there were electrical signalling at the
colliery it would be easy to touch the wire and the
engine would stop at once.

31344. Was this an engine plane 7 — Yes, and there was
no room for any of us to jump out of the tmm.

31345. Was this an engine plane ? — Yes.

31346. Worked by a steam engine 7 — ^Yes.

31347. Are the men allowed to ride in the tubs on these
steep gradient^ 7 — ^From what I gather, the men were
descending and ascending in the trams, and no cars pro-
vided, and naturally, if the weight was at the end of the
tram, it was raising the front part of it.

31348. Are men permitted by the colliery manager to
ride in the tubs 7 — ^Yes. He allowed me and others to

(Mr, Wm. Abraham,) That is the way they go in and oul
You had better answer it direct, ' * Yes.*'

41 ▲

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Mr. 3134d. {Sir Lindsay Wood,) I only want yes or no.

W.E.Morffon You think that there should be better signalling along the

engine plane ?— There should be better roads and better

21 Nov. 1907 signalling. There was no chance to get out of the tram
there. It was rubbing both sides, and I swore I would not
go down a colliery again.

31350. Is that the usual state of the engine planes in
South Wales ? — ^No ; there are some collieries in good
condition. I have been in many, and could not suggest
any improvement.

31351. These are exceptional ? — Exceptional.

n 31 352. Then you refer to the plans. Is that done
through inefficient men, or is it done wilfully ? — Wilfully.
They knew very well that they were working other mines'

31353. What is the object of their doing it wilfully ? —
They would not be called on to pay royalties. An
economical point of view, I think.

31354. Would it be economical to work somebody else's
coal ? — Yes.

31355. How is it economical ? — They would not pay
royalties, and the colliery would last longer. In the case
I mentioned they had been working nine years, and the
life of the colliery would be nine years more.

31 350. In that case did they pay any royalty for the
coal they had worked wrongf uUy ? — No.

31357. How do you know ''^-fiecause I read it in tli«
paper. The case was on.

(Mr. Wm, Abrah4im.) The cas© was tried by a law court.

31358. (Sir Lindsay Wood.) That was a purely criminal
act. It is an allegation of criminality. Is that common
in South Wales ? — It actually occurrei

31359. Is it common 7 — No, it is not common ; bat
after all, if men would go and work that piece of coal it
may be the means of perhaps 100 men losing their lives.

31360. The wrong was in the theft of the coal ?
— That is the reason why I was suggesting that power
should be given to the inspector to pay an occasional visit,
and order a person to make a survey.

31361. You suggest that the inspector should be com-
pelled to make plans wherever he considers that there it
theft going on ?— ^No, I do not look upon the question
from that standpoint. I look upon the question from the
point of view of safety to the men.

31362. Where is the danger ? — It does not matter to
me whether he paid royalties or not.

31363. Where does the danger come in ? Why was
it unsafe 7 — If it is not marked on the plan that the coal
has been worked, it would appear to everybody wh«
would work in that direction that the place is solid.

31364. It might be 7 — And if they were working to the
dip that place may be full of water.


Wednesday^ \ih December^ 1907.

PBESBiirr :


F. L. Davis, Esq.

Enoch Edwabds, Esq., h.p.

Lord MoNKSWBLL (CAairman).

Thomas Ratcliffb Ellis, Esq.
RoBBBT Smillib, Esq.

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

Air. John Gtjbst, called and examined.

Mr.J. CrU€$t.

4 Dec. 1907.

31365. (Chairman.) I understand you attend here on
behalf of the Yorkshire Miners' Association ? — Yes.

31366. I suppose you have been deputed by the York-
shire Miners' Association to give evidence, and you have
talked over the matter with them ? — I have not.

31367. Then can you tell us for certain that the evidence
which you will give is evidence that will commend itself
to the Association ? How far do you speak on behalf of
the Association, if you have not talked the matter over
with them ? — I am representing the Association here.

31368. No doubt your Association is always discussing
these questions ? — That is so.

31369. You have been deputed by them to give evidence,
but you have not had any special instructions from them ?
— That is so.

31370. They held no meeting before you came here to
give evidence ? — We have had no special meeting. Of
course these matters crop up in our business meetings from
time to time.

31371. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) Do you mean at your
Executive meetings ? — At our Council and Executive
meetings these matters are matters of discussion.

31372. (Chairman.) But you have had no special
Executive meeting to discuss the question of the evidence
which you are going to give here ? — No.

31373. You say that as regards Government inspection
you think the number of inspectors is inadequate, and
that they are totally unable to efficiently inspect the
mines under their charge, and that a very large proportion
of their time is taken up in visiting places where accidents
have occurred ? — That is so.

31374. You say that on such occasions only the scene
of the accident is visited, and on no occasion will the time
at the disposal of the inspector allow of a thorough ex-
amination of the mine ? — Yes.

31376. What is your view as to' a mine inspection ; how ■
much inspection ao you consider is desirable 7 — I should I
consider an inspection of a mine was an adequate inspection
when the mine was inspected as a whole.

31376. You mean when every working place of the l
mine was inspected, and all haulage roads and every part I
of the mine ? — I consider that is desirable.

31377. How often do you think it desirable that that
should be done in the course of the year in each mine ;
would you say twice a year was sufficient, or once a year,
or would it depend upon cireumstances ? — I take it that
would depend to a certain extent upon the cireumstances
of the mine. At all events, I should say not less than
twice a year.

31378. You think that every mine ought to be thoroughly \/yl
inspected at least twice a year ? — Yes.

31379. I suppose if every mine ought to be inspected
at least twice a year, there are some mines where there are
difficulties in working, or where there have been accidents,
which ought to be inspected oftener than twice a year ? —

31380. How many inspectors do you think you would
require, say, in your district to inspect every mine in the
district at least twice a year, and some mines oftener 7 —
I take it that we should want at least 10 further inspectors.

31381. Ten for your district ?— Yes.

31382. At present you have three 7 — That is so.

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31383. So that you would \f ant at least three times as
many more. How would you distribute the inspectorate ;
would you have your district cut up into several districts,
or would you have a headv inspector over the whole district,
and more assistants 7 — I should be in favour of the ground
being split up into districts, under the supervision of the
head inspector.

31384. You would have the inspectorate district as large
as it is at present, and you would have it divided up into
perhaps nine or ten sub-districts, and at the head of each
sub-district there would be a sub-inspector ? — That is so.

31386. Then what about the second-class inspectors
whose appointment you recommend. Would they have
a district, or would they be under the inspector of the
district ? — My idea with reference to the sub-inspectors
was that these, as I should term them, working-men
inspectors should act under the direction of the chief
inspector, and have a separate district allocated to them.

31386. — ^Then would you have three separate grades
of inspectors, or only two grades ? Would you do away
with the present grade of assistant inspector and keep the
chief inspector of the district as he is now, and give him
working-men assistants only ? — I should see no objection
to it being split into three districts under the supervision
of the present three inspectors.

31387. That is a different story from your first story.
Then which do you prefer — that your district snould con-
tinue one district and that you should have a head inspector
over the whole district, or would you prefer it to be split
up into three districts, and that the head inspector should
only have a third of the district to look after, and the
assistant inspectors should have the other two-thirds 7
In that case you would make the assistant inspector, as
I understand, of equal authority with the inspector,
because each would be supreme in his own district 7 —
I see no difficulty in the inspector being head of the dis-
trict, and that there should be three sub-districts under
the charge of the assistant inspectors, and then the work-
ing-men inspectors under those.

31388. Do I understand you to mean that the district
shoidd remain as it is, one district, that at the head of the
whole district there should be an inspector, and that there
should be two or three assistant inspectors who would
work under the head inspector, but who should only go
into a part of the district — ^that tlie district should be
mapped out into two or three sub-districts, and that each
assistant inspector should have a sub-district assigned to
him, but that he should be under the chief inspector of
the whole district 7 — ^Yes.


9. Then we have got four. First of all we have
the chief ii^pector, and now we have three assistant in-
spectors—that is four. Then you would have, in addition
to that, at least six working-men inspectors in your district,
I suppose ^ — Yes.

31390. What would you pay them 7>-We have not
gone into the question of the pa3rment of these inspectors.
They would be in the employ of the Grovemment, 1 take it,
and the Government would pay them.

33391. What would you suggest the Government should
pay them — ^£3 or £4 a week 7 Is that the sort of wage
that you would consider a desirable wage for men of that
class, doing that work 7 — I should think that they ought
to have a wage adequate to the work that they have to do,
but the question of wage is not a point which we have
gone into, or which I have thought about. I take it that
at all events they would require a wage equivalent to, say,
that of an under-manager in a colliery.

31392. In fact the wages would be such as to attract
the very best workmen to undertake the duties 7 — That
is so.

31393. And I suppose they would be appointed Uke
the otJier inspectors, for life ; they would not have to go
back again to the pit, and they would not be inspectors
appointed for a term of years 7 — I should say they would
be appointed for such time as they gave satisfaction.

31394. The same as the other inspectors. You say that
\ there ought to be a qualifying examination. What is

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