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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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finds that out Imnself, and has to go back, and lose his
time through being short of timber.

32069. When he gets to the face he finds that he has not
enough timber to go on with 7 — Yes, that is it.

32070. Will you tell the Conmiission what was the special
difficulty about timbering in these rules in Yorkshire T —
Before these rules came in we used to have a recognised
system of 6 ft. Of course setting timber was idways
required. There was always that provision. Now we
have it reduced from 6 ft. to 2 ft. 6 in., in instances, a prop
every 2 ft. 6 in., 4 ft, 4 ft. 6 in. ; very few 6 ft I do not
object to more timber being used, but we have not been
recompensed for the extra work.

32071. That was the new timbering rule. Was any
intimation given to the Yorkshire Miners' Association

, about those rules 7 — What was given was simply a notice
from the Home Secretary, as has been given, or it is hung
up on the pit hiU for a fortnight for any man to take
objection to. I would not give much for that

4 Dec. 1007

Was the Association consulted at all about the
price 7 — Not that I know of ; there was a strike in some
parts of Yorkshire over this rule.

32073. I thought you would have some knowledge
which would be information for this Commission. Was
the Miners' Association, as such, consulted about the special
timbering rules 7— Only in the ordinary way any new
rule is.

f 32074. You suggest to the Commission that there was a
wage question involved in these Timbering Rules 7— Yes.

I 32076. Tt was not that the men objected to setting any

j amount of timber for their own safetjr 7 — No, not at aU ;

j it was reducing their earning power by putting additional

I work on to them without any recompense.

32076. You had a contract to get so much ooal and set
timber at such a distance in such a way, and this interfered
with your contract 7 — That is so.

32077. In your judgment^ suprposing a notice had been
sent to the Yorkshire Association, would it have been
possible for your Association and the coal-owners to have
agreed to a general system 7 — I think it would, much
better than what is done at present There should be a
round-table conference as to any alteration in mining
rules, which ought to take place between the Society an^
the ooal-owners.

32078. You think you could have got Timbering Rules
tiirough to everybody's satisfaction without any stoppage
if you had been consulted about tho matter 7 — Yes, I do.

32079. What do you mean by the cages being stopped
in the shaft to collect men from various seams 7 Is that
lowering and raising men 7 — Yes, it is, and some serious
things are happening in Yorkshire, particularly with this,
and it is causing us to look at it some of us have been
cognisant of this danger for some time. Just now there was
a serious aooident at Barrow, and one before at Orgreaves,

and one before, smashing into the bottom, at Glass Mr, H. Smith

Houghton. We lost seven men at Barrow, and six injured.

My contention is this : I know I shall be told it is expensive,

for every seam there ought to be a shaft Once a man

starts from the pit bottom, there ought to be no gathering

and getting so many men at a seam, but they should

go straight through. At Barrow they picked up six men

and made those six into 17 at another seam. There was

a flatsheot with two hooks fixed in. This is an iron

door which falls down on the cage, with two hooks for the

purpose of men getting in.

32080. That is to fill the gap between the cage and the
side of the shaft 7 — Yes, when that falls it should hold
the cage and prevent it jfrom vibrating. This door was
never picked up, and hence when they started raising
the cage it caused it to tilt, and then it went into one
side and knocked it back to the other side. There were
no gates at the end of the cages, and the men tumbled
out A pit cage ought to start from that particular bottom
and go to the top, and if it wants to take more it should
come down and go to the top again. There should be
no stopping process.

32081. That would be practicabb to carry out. He
fills a load from the bottom of the shafts and the next cage
he takes two -thirds of the shaft, but he must take only
from that place. That is what you mean 7 — Yes.

32082. What is the distance between the hooking holes,
commonly 7 — From the bottom how far up do you go
before stopping 7 — I think about 76 yards, but I will not
say that I am correct as to the figures.

32083. Have you another one 7 — About 110, the next,
I think.

32084. You lower the men and take the men to all these
various stages night and morning 7 — Yes.

32085. You are objecting to having a part cage of men
from the bottom, another part at the next place, and
filling up at the next 7 — I am objecting to having any
resting place in the pit mouth. It is simply resting on a
rope at all times. There are no fallers for the cage to rest
on at any of the two mouths.

32086. Are the coal measures fiat 7— Fairly flat

32087. That is rather a sharp grade. They lower this
coal to the bottom level 7 — They lower coal down to this
bottom and fetch all coal from the bottom seam with
the winding engines to the surface.

32088. Could they not treat the men similarly, rather
than run this risk 7 — It is a hydraulic appliance they lower
the coal with, and a clutch brake.

32089. {Mr, Batdiffe ElUa.) Do they bring it to the
mouth and take it to the bottom and bring it all up 7 —
They lower it down.

(Mr. Enoch Edroards,) There is no difficulty with the
coal ; it is with the men.

32090. (Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) Would the men get out less
quickly 7 — It is^jnot a question of quickness ; it is a question
of safety.

(Mr. Enoch Edwards.) The witness suggests the danger
in raising would be less if the cage filled at one point rather
than fillmg at so many.

32091. (iff. Baidiffe EUis.) Would not the men object
to that 7 — ^No. In this instance the accident happened
to roadmen. It was a gathering up. They put seven on
at the bottom landing, and made them into 17 at the
next landing, and so the thing happens.

(Mr. Baidiffe EUis.) It occurs to me the men would get
out more quickly.

32092. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) You say it is a dangerous
process, aiid you think that the attention of the Com-
mission should be called to it With regard to the question
of travelling roads what do you mean by travelling roads
for workmen in and out 7 — ^What I mean is on the haulage
roads and the jinny gates more particularly than the
ordinary gates, where accidents happen in Yorkshire,
because you have manholes at each side and endless rope
continually running about one yard cmd six &om the floor,
and tubs fastened on this rope at intervals of about
8 yards apart

32093. Interrupting 3^u for a moment, can you tell me
the reason for having one manhole on one side and_one
manh(de on the other 7 — ^There are several reasons,
of all, perhaps, for cheapness. The next thing
because men travel in on one road side and
other side to try to keep out of the way of the tuba.


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320M. Yon suggest men may travel down on one side
and up on the other, and tiiat the manholes should be
on the side he is travelling 7 — ^Yes.

32095. Is there any physical difficulty in making these
manholes ? — ^I do not think there is at all one side, but if
we are going to prevent these accidents — ^a very serious
accident happened last week at Allerton Byewater Colliery,
where a man was travelling up a jinny gate — a single road
at the bottom and a double road at tiie middle, and he
was travelling to his working place and the run was off
the road, and he was not stopped from travelling : and he
was not able to get to the manhole before he was caught
and killed by the jinny setting o0 again.

32096. (Mr. Raldiffe EUts.) Did they break away ?—
No, they had been off. If it had been a separate traveUing
road he would not have come into contact with them and
he might have been living now. He was only 27 years

32097. {Mr, Enoch Edwards.) You have a single road up
to the middle, and then a pass-by, so that there are no
physical difficulties existing. They could make the whole
road a double road 7 — ^There is no room at either side for
a man to sta^ dei^r.

32098. Is it customary for men to travel up and down 7
— ^A notice says at the bottom that while the jinnies are
running the men shall not travel, but the man at the
bottom says " You can go up : we do not know how long
we shall be getting the run on again."

32099. You suggest that a separate travelling road
should be made in all these main haulage roads 7 — Yes ;
as tubs are continually running on these roads.

32100. Would it be convenient to make that road
alongside your haulage road 7 — Yes, it would. I have
anower idea as well. You generally make them either
intake or outlet When men have to travel you keep
it in better condition than if used for an air road pure
and simple.

32101. If the return airway was used as a travelling
road it would be better kept if traversed by the men than
it would as an air road purely 7 — Yes. Then there is
another difficulty, the large amount of dust on these
haulage roads uirough the men and ponies travelling
together. It is dmply a blinding process. What has
interested me for some time has beeoi to find out what has
been the cause of so many bronchial complaints, and
doctors tell me that it is so much dust. There is so
much dust mhaled in the mine.

32102. Yon suggest that there should be separate
traveUing roads 7— I do. There would be more safety
and less dust to contend with, and you could sprinkle them
with water more systematically.

32103. Where it is not physicaUy possible to make a
separate travelling road do you suggest that there should
be more n^nholes 7 — ^I suggest that the roads should be
made wider, and that you should have a travelling road
at the side.

32104. Would there be a difficulty in keeping up the
roof in a place so wide 7 — No : you would get your bars
crossed and put an extra prop, which would serve as a

32105. You think, in your opinion as a practical working
miner, that it could be done 7 — ^Yes.

32106. As far as you can see you could do it in York*
shire 7 — ^Yes.

32107. What do you wish to tell the Commission about
machines 7 — ^What I want to say is this : we are not
opposed to machinery — ^I do not care how easy they make
work — ^but bv using machinerv you cannot hear anything
clearly, which is a great disadvantage to a man in a pit.
He can hear a roof breaking, as a rule, when he is
working by hand, but if you have a machine cutting
there is as much noise as if you were hitting a hammer
on an anvil in a blacksmith's shop. If possible there is
more where there is a conveyor used, because you fill
coal into an article 2 ft. wide of sheet iron. 20 men at
a face of about 100 to 150 yards in length. You cannot
hear the roof at all, and there is a certain amount of
danger when you cannot use your ears to advantage
while these machines and conveyors are working.

32108. In the face of that danger what do you suggest
to us 7 — ^As soon as there is room made, when there is
plenty of coal filled out for a yard, or whatever distance
you Uce, a bar shall be set I want it so that a man shall
be safe, but I do not want to go to the extreme a|id say
4 ft. or 4 ft. 6 in. The bars set in machine faces let over
on top of the coal do not look as safe as a bar with a leg

under each end. I t)unk ^ &)an ought to be engaged in
doing nothing else but timbering, Iwcause when men are
filling with conveyors they are fining at a rate, and they
are not supposed to stop to set tSntor until the conveyor
stops, and the danger of noise ought to be enquired into.

32109. You suggest as the coal is taken oat and the
ground is cleared and a new roof made, it is impossible to
ascertain with the noise, so that you would muce doubly
sure by setting a bar as you go on 7 — ^Yes.

32110. Is there any difficulty in doing that 7— No,
except this: employers point out it may necessitate
stopping the conveyers somewhat more often ; that
difficulty can be got over by using a longer bar, and having
special m»^n to set timber.

32111. It need not interfere with it^ but in a new roof
you would have the satisfaction of covering it with a pew
bar 7 — Yes.

32112. You raise thp question of smaU <>^ being put
in the goaf 7 — ^Yes.

32113. What is the objection to that 7 Are you afraid
of goaf fires and spontaneous combustion 7 — ^That is what
we are afraid of, because it is small stuff that is cut by *
the machine, smaller than that cut with a pick. The
majority of our machines cut coal 5 ft under which is <
thrown into the goaf. The goaf is completely filled with I
that small stuff. It is small coal, as sm^ as it is possible
to grind it, and there is bound to be a certain amount
of da.nger from dust

32114. Is there much dirt mixed with it 7 - Not very
much. In our Silkstone seams there is hardly any dirt

32115. Apart from Denaby have you had much goaf
fires in Yorkshire 7 — ^We have had little ones, apart from
Denaby, burst out There has been nothing particularly
serious, but I think that prevention is bettor than onre.
We think this thing may prove much more serious in the
future than we anticipate at present with this large amount
of small stuff being put into ^e goaf.

32116. It is small slack— smudge 7— It is smaU ooaL

32117. It is fairly dean 7— Yes-

32118. You do not hole in the dirt at all t — Yon hxv
to skim the bottom sometimeSi

32119. This small dust yon think will be a sonroe of
danger: in your opinion yon will get spontaneous com-
bustion : that is your view 7 — ^Yes.

32120. What do you mean br^ altering the prosent
system of investigating mine accidents 7 As a practical
pitman I would rather prefer that you should put your
view of this question before us. I tnink it is better that
you should do so 7 — We have a provision for ocvoner's
inquests and I have had some funny experiences wiUi
regard to coroner's inquests. They are not all bad* but
Bome of them have funny ideas.

32121. We know that most of them are kwyecs and
doctors 7 — One man considers that before you oan go as
a Society, or on behalf of the workmen, you must get a
petition signed by all the workmen at this pit You have
1,000 workmen in some pits, and to stand there with a
petition and get it signea by every man every time there
is a fatal accident, I think is a bit absurd.

32122. (CAotrman.) It is only a ma}ority that is req^nired.
501 men would be enough if there are 1,000 men m the
pit 7 — Yes, but it would be difficult to get 501. Another
point is this : we find a difficulty in this wav. Son^etimes
they ask vou to put a Question, but you nave to ^ut it
through the coroner, and you cannot get from a witness
through the coroner what you would get from the witness
by cross-examination yourself as a practical man. I think
you see what I paean. We say we ought to have some
locvs standi, and be able to examine and aross-exunine
the witnesses.

32123. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) Have yon had muoh
difficulty in Yorkshire about this ? — Not as muoh as in
some counties, but a fair amount in Yorkshire.

32124. All your coroners do not take that view, that
you should have a petition 7 — No, there is only one.

32125. You are often in court on cases because you b&ve
so many accidents 7 — Yes, we are often in court

3. With the majority of your coroners, you do not
experience any difficulty 7 — Except that we have to put
our questions through him instead of cross-examining.
It is necessary to cross-examine a witness when you put
questions to try to get farther evidence. That is what we
object to, somewhat.

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32127. {Chairman,) The ooroner always puts your
queetions, I undaretand you to say — Yes, but he perhaps
would not put them in the typical way I should like to
put them to the man to get my answer.

32128. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) You want to feel that the
law should be such that you or ai^ of your friends may
go and represent your Society 7 — ll^at is so.

32129. I want to know what are your views with regard
^ to an examination for certificates for managers and under-
• managers ? — The rule says that they shall have five yearo'

/ experience — mine experience, the rule says — before a man

/ sits for a first-class certificate.

32130. He shall have those vears of practical experience
at a mine ; it does not say that he shall be a collier ? —
What we find happening in Yorkshire to-day is this :
young men who could not show any practical experience
so far as workmanship is concerned, are put there and get
a oertifioate. They are popping up and down the pit,
and being a kind of office-boy, and they call that their
five years' experience, but what we say is that a man should
have five years at the coal face and get practical experience
in order to qualify.

32131. It would still be necessary that the pitman
with his knoMedge of the face should have the theoretical
knowledge to get tiie certificate 7 — I do not want to debar
him from that, but I want him to have some practical
experience. I do not mind his having a good know-
ledge of theory.

32132. Your practical man to be a manager must have
been a collier 7 — 1 think that ought to be one of the

32133. Supposing he had walked about the mine,
measured the mine, taken tests of ventilation in a mine,
been in an outer pit for ^ve or six years, you would not,
call that practical experience ? — No, X think I could walk
up and down a mine for 20 years, and I should not, apart
from theory, know much about it.

32134. Whatever special qualifications he may have>
Whatever expert kno'Wledge he may have, you suggest in
these certificates that he should have some experience
as a collier at the coal face ? — I do. I think that should
be one of the conditions.

32135. You apply that to managers ? — Yes, and under-

32136. {Mr. Ratdiffe EUia.) And inspectors, I suppose,
too 7 — And inspectors, too.

32137. That would mean the whole of the management
of the mines in this country, and the inspection of these
mines must be by persons selected from the working
face 7 — It does not necessarily follow.

32138. Workhig at the face, then 7— It does not follow.
He may have ordinary ability as a practical workman,
but he would have to get his theoretical knowledge also,
and then he would be suitable.

32139. Whatever knowledge he had, he could not get
it unless he worked at the face 7 — Then he would have
to be appointed by the owners after that.

32140. {Mr. Enoch Ed/wards.) Your position is that
he must have practical knowledge as a pitman ; but you
admit that ke must have sufficient technical knowledge
of all these questions to entitle him to take his first-class
certificate 7 — Yes, that is so.

32141. {Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) You said that the inspector
ought to have backbone, that is to sav you explained it,
he must be able to hold his own with the management ? —

32142. He must be equal in qualification. He ought to
know as much as the manager 7 — Yes.

32143. If your view was carried out, and there could
be neither inspector nor manager who was not selected
from the workmen, then they would be all alike, if a man
must have five years at the working face. TTiat is your
view I understand, before he can qualify either to be
manager, sub-manager or inspector he biust have five
years at the working face. It means you must select
all these men from men who have worked at the working
face. That is the meaning of what you say 7 — Yes.

32144. Would you go so far as that 7;— I should go to
practical experience. I do not think I quite follow what
you say. You do select them largely, but you do not
select officials now. A manager has not the control he
ought to have with the practical experience, because he
has to appeal to an agent who, in many instances, knows
noHiing about a mine, before he can carry out any reforms
for safety which entails any expense.

4 Doc. 1907.

32145. If this is your view, all managers, sub-managers Mr. B. Smith
and inspectors of mines must qualify themselves by
five years at tha working face 7 — I think he oug^t to
have ^VG years.

32146. However theoretical he may be, and however
able he may be, and however scientific he may be, unless
he ha6 had five years* experience at the working face you
consider that he should not be able to qualify as an inspector
or a manager or a sub-manager 7 — If he was not practical
he would laok something.

32147. That is your view, whatever qualification he
has unless he has been five years at the working face
as a collier, he should not be selected as a manager, a
sub-manager or an inspector 7 — When I say a ** collier,"
I mean at the coal face. A man is not considered qualified
to work by himself until he has been two years at the coal

32148. It does not say two years 7— As a collier.

32149. Do you go as far as this, that there should be
no inspector appointed, that there should be no manager
appointed, no sub-inspector appointed, however scientific
his attainments may be» and whatever experience he
has had down the pit, unless he has had five years' actual
working at the working place 7 — I do.

32150. Then I do not think it is much use my asking
you any further questions about that^ because we do not
agree upon that subject The Act of Parliament requires
now before a man is given a oertifioate that he must have
practical experience 7 — Yes.

32151. You say that is not enough and that it must go
further and say *' practical experience as a workman at
the face " 7— Yes.

32152. You must know many colliery managers in
Yorkshire who have never worked at the coal face 7 —

32153. Are there none you know who are qualified for
the duties they have to perform 7 — There are some, but
if it is a question of giving the names

32154. No, I do not want you to give me their names.
— There are some who are theoretical and scientific.

32155. I should not ask you to give names because that
would be invidious, but amongst the various colliery
managers in Yorkshire there are many distinguished men,
are there not, who have never worked at the coal face.
Do you say that none of those men are qualified to manage
a mine 7 — Not in my opinion, from a practical standpoint.
Of course we have some good managers in Yorkshire that
have certificates from the coal face.

32156. tn your opinion these men are not qualified to
do the work, because they have not worked at the cofd
face 7 — Because they have not had the practical experience
at the coal face.

32157. You mean by that working at the coal face 7 —

32158. You think that there ought to be five years at
^he coal face 7 — I do.

32159. Under General Rule 38 you made these examina-
tions at the colliery at which you were checkwoighman 7 —
Yes, and other collieries, too.

32160. Had you made bad reports before 7 — Yes.

32161. But still you were allowed to go on making them 7
— Yes.

32162. You do not know any other reason that stopped

r>u than this bad report which you have suggested 7 —
do. I think that I was examining too carefu^, and the
people did not like the idea of it.

32163. You said you had made bad reports, but still
you went on examining 7 — Yes.

32164. Does it not occur to you that there might be
some other reason 7—1 do not know that it does. Why
I was stopped in my opinion was this : I only give it as
an opinion, that they found out I was debarred by the
wording of Rule 38 as a checkweighman, but I think the
reason was that I went and inspected the pits too
minutely for them.

32165. You had made bad reports before, but you were
allowed to go on examining 7— Yes, I made bad reporta
both against the men and deputies before as an Inspector
under Rule 38.

32166. And still you were not interfered with but were
allowed to go on 7 — Yes, that is so.

32167. The object of that rule, so far as one knows, I
suggest to you in this, that where the men in the mine

44 a

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Mr. H. Smith suspect there is some danger they want to be assured

* — '- — that it is safe, or, if it exists, it is removed. Do you not

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