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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 159 of 177)
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37313. For that you would have a special schedule rate
in your price-list ? — Yes.

37314. If a man sets timber it is so much a bar ? — Yes.

37316. Many want 2b. plus the percentage ? — Yes*
Some managers say that the men set the bars when they
have nothing else to do, consequently they object and say
they are not necessary.

37316. They object to that on the ground of payment,
not on any other ground ? — Not on any other ground —
well, they say they are not needed, of course.

37317. When you referred to falls of roof I understood
you to say three deaths in one pit from falls of roof. You
do not mean the roof of the working place ? — Yes, not
in the face, but the roadway leading to the face.

37318. {Mr, Cunynghame,) I thought he meant the
roadways. — Not the haulage roads ; say what we term
the jig.

37319. (Mr, Enoch Edwards,) Is it his business to
timber his jig ? — Yes. That was the question, whether
the timber ought to have been set.

37320. That was setting timber where he would be
expected to be paid Is. 6cL or Is. 2d. for setting bars ?

37321. There is a rule which most pits have of paying
Is. 2d. plus a percentage for every 6 ft. bar ? — Yes.

37322. There is something of that sort as a general
rule T — ^Yes, there is a scale.

37323. In this case the timber was not set because they
would claim payment for it ? — Yes. He was told that the
timber was not needed there.

37324. That is the workman ? — ^Yes ; the fireman goes
round. The manager's instructions were that the fireman
must instract the man before he is allowed to set the
prop ; consequently the man would naturally not set the
timber until the fireman instructs him to do so. They say
they would not be paid for it, and consequently this bind
falls down for want of timber.

37326. Do you want to impress on this Commission that
plain fact, that a place in a jig, a roadway leading to a
place, requires timbering ? — ^I do,.

37326. And that they have refused to allow the man to
timber because they had to pay for it ? — Quite so. They
refuse to pay because they consider the timber is not

37327. As the result t^ree men were killed ? — Not
exactly. Two men were killed under this bind.

37328. In that particular case ? — Yes, quite so.

37329. That is rather a serious matter, if it is a mere
question of paying, to put up bars and it results in deaths ?

37330. You suggest ti^ ^IgyardJv policy results in the
death of a man or two r^jTes. The comer working on
the face ought to know '^tter than anyone else where a
prop or bar is required, *nd he ought not to wait tintil
instructed by another person that a bar is required. He
ought to be at liberty to set it.

(Mr. Cunynghame,) At the same time it would be
reasonable to prevent a man being paid for setting up
unnecessary timber and making a mere excuse to set up
timber in a useless way.

(Mr, Enoch Edwards,) Except this, the setting of timber,
except in very rare cases, is a work that is barely covered
by the amount of money paid.

(Mr, Cunynghame,) That would be a sufficient deterrent
against a man setting useless timber.

37331. (Mr. Enoch Edwards,) There is considerable
labour in preparing the timber itself and setting it in that
form. With regard to your travelling rules in North
Wales, you suggest travelling on the haulage roads should
be prohibited ? — Yes.

37332. That is so now while wagons are in motion ? —
Not generally.

37333. You do not refer to mechanical haulage 7 — Yes.

37334. Where you have mechanical haulage in a road
they do not allow men to travel while the journeys are
going ? — They do.

37336. In many places they are prohibited from travel*
ling whilst in motion, because they often come into trouble
then. The Commission has been pressed with the view
that there should be separate travelling roads. You
suggest that there should be a road sufficiently clear on
one side only ? — Yes.

37336. And that on the side where the manholes are ?

37337. It would depend upon the physical condition
of the roof ? — Yes.

37338. Are these haulage roads you are referring to
double roads ? — Not always.

37339. If it was a double road and there was a road by
the side, that would take a big span and require a strong
roof ? — Yes.

37340. In laying out collieries there is no reason they
should not be laid out with separate travelling roads ? —

37341. In such cases, a road could be made where the
roof would stand by the side of the haulage road ? — Yes.

37342. I understand your suggestion about lamps.
They are generally used in your Strict ? — Yes.

37343. You have no complaint to make about the
question of lamps ? — No ; no complaint at all.

37344. The court of enquiry you have already answered
the Chairman about. Have you much complaint about
the coroner's courts in North Wales T — No, we have no
room to complain.

37346. In case of death of any of your members, you
would attend the court ? — Generally.

37346. And put any question you like T — Yes.

37347. You have not any difficulty 7 — Not at all ; not
any at present.

37348. (Mr. SmiUie.) Your Special Rules provide that
an onlooker or fireman shall make an examination in the
morning, but it provides that it shall be made within
three hours before the commencement of each shift.
Yours is a fiery district where safety lamps are used
generally 7 — Safety lamps are used generally.

37349. Do you think three hours before persons go to
the face is a safe time to make an examination 7 — No,
it should be as near as possible to the time they commence

37360. Are you aware three hours is the longest period
that exists in any part of Great Britain 7 — I am not sure
if three hours are specified in our Special Rules.

37361. I am looking at your Special Rules, and No. 46
says : '* The fireman appointed for the purpose shall
within three hours before the commencement of each
shift, make the inspection required.'' Many things might
take place within three hours 7 — Yes.

37362. You think the time should be reasonable, one
hour, or an hour and a half 7 — One hour, I should suggest.

37363. One hour would be sufficient 7 — Yes.

Digitized by




^7364. Special Rule 63 is a new rule, and says : ** The
fireman shall see that the maximum distances between the
roof supports, as specified in the notice required by Special
Rule No. 2a, are not exceeded. He shall also see tnat a
sufficient supply of suitable timber is kept at or within
20 yards of every working place where mineral is being
worked." That puts the onus on the fireman or on-looker
to see that a supply of timber is kept within 20 yards
of the working place ? — I say it ought to, but it does not.

37355. Take Rule 111, where it puts the onus on the
miner to see that the wood is conveyed. *' The miner
shall secure the roof and sides of his own working place.'*
Does not that put the responsibility on him for securing
his working face and also his road-head where those
dangers arise you speak of ? — It is his duty to do so. but
they say the timber is not needed.

37356. If a miner did not secure what seemed to be a
dangerous part of the roof, he is li ble to be charged with
a breach of this rule ? — Yes.

37357. And if he does take precautions to put up bars,
the fireman may come in and say : *' You have no business
to put that up ; it was not required '* ? — Yes. " And I
will not pay you for it."

37358. And force him to take it out T— Yes. Only
last week I was at a colliery and the remark was
made unless the timbering was required the fireman should
strike it out.

37369. If the fireman knocked them out ? — If the

firemen consider that they are not necessary after the
collier had set them, they will knock them out. My
opinion is that the collier is entitled to secure his working
place. If he thinks a bar is wanted he ought to be able
to put it up.

37360. He is responsible under this rule for doing so ?

37361. If you think a set of timbers is required and you
put them, and the fireman knocks them out, you would
not think it was safe to work there, and you might run a
risk of losing your life ? — Yes.

37362. It is ridiculous to say the miner is to be respon-
sible for putting timber where he believes there is danger,
and that some other person who is not in that danger
is to say you are not to put them up. You want that
put right ? — Yes.

37363. Mr. Cunynghame wisely put it to you that it
would not do where miners are paid a fixed allowance of
Is. to let them put up indiscriminately whether required
or not what timber they liked, but, as a matter of fact,
in systematic timbering, that is done. It is provided
you must put up every 6 ft. ? — Yes, whether necessary
or not.

37364. Every 6 ft. ?— It varies ; 6 ft., 4 ft, and 6 ft.

37365. Whether required or not, no matter how strong
the roof is, you must under the systematic timbering rules
put up the timbering there ? — Yes.

37366. No fireman would dare to tell you you were not
to do it or take them out, because you were carrying out
the rules ? — Yes. I want the same rule on the roads.

37367. In many cases under systematic timbering,
timbering is put where there is no apparent reason for it,
only systematic timbering ? — Quite so.

37368. In these main roads and headings you think
that the miner should be entitled every 3 ft. at least
to put up his bar or some specified distance that is con-
sidered safe ? — Yes ; 4 ft.

37369. You believe that would lead to greater safety 7
— There is no doubt about it. I have no doubt in my

37370. Have you any fault to find with your present
class of firemen ? — Yes.

37371. Are they the best class of men ? — ^No, I am
sorry to say not. I have been expecting that question.
I believe that deputies or firemen should go under
an examination. They ought to' have some third-class
oertifioate or a second-class certificate.

37372. They should hold a certificate to prove their Mr, E
competency for that work ? — Yes. I am sorry to say now Hughea,
several of our remen are such, because they are well

in with the official of the colliery. 5 Feb., 1908.

37373. Several firemen are »such through favour T —
Yes, there is no doubt about it, we should have the
most experienced men for this position. I believe
firemen ought to be of such experience that they are
capable to instruct the collier where and how a prop or
a pair of timber or a sprag ought to be set. It is not so
now, the best men will not have a deputy's job. The
colliers are far better paid than the firemen.

37374. (Mr, Enoch Edwards,) It is a question of wages,
largely ? — Yes, I think it is wrong. If these men were
well paid you would have the best men in the position of

37375. {Mr. Smillie,) If there was an examination to
prove a person was competent for the work, there would
be no dearth of firemen. You would still be able to get
plenty of skilled persons to do the work ? — Yes.

37376. It would not mean any great difference in wages
either in order to secure good men, I mean on the staff of
a colliery it would not mean much, supposing 20 or 30 men
were paid an extra Is. a day for extra competency or
skill ?— No.

37377. It would not mean the ruin of the colliery or
stopping it ? — ^No.

37378. Rule 111 (6) is a new rule which Ia3r8 down that
'* The miner shall take a sufficient supply of timber to his
working place, or within 20 yards thereof, ready for use,
from the place where he or his filler gets his empty tub."
Is it a common custom for the wor men to draw their own
material ? — In one or two collieries I beUeve it is. They
take their materials as near as they can to the face, but
generally the timber is supplied within the specified
distance, that is 20 yards or so. There is, I believe, a
colliery or two — I have heard the complaint — where they
have to take their material in.

37379. In that case they are responsible for taking it
from the place where they take the empty tub from ? — Yes.

37380. You put a serious aspect where a number of
men were required to go home for want of a proper supply
of timber after they had worked in a dangerous place.
They went home because there was no timber. Under
the Mines Act and Special Rules they are bound to with-
draw from a place if there is not a supply of timber ? —
Yes. Our experience is that once a man is down a mine
and commences to work he does not believe in leaving
without earning a day*s wage.

37381. It is a breach for firemen to allow men to go in
if there is no timber. May I suggest to you a cure for this
kind of thing. Supposing the workmen come down the
mine in the morning and proceed to the lamp station
and are told that the place is all ready, and they go into
the working face and find no timber, and it would be
risking their life to work, if the manager was held respon-
sible tor the day s wages when they went home that
would cure the evil largely ? — I . think it would.

37382. Do you not think it fair if the workmen are sent
home through the fault of the management from not
having a supply of timber, that they should be entitled
to be indemnified ? — I do tiiink so.

• 37383. If they were so indemnified do you think there
would be many cases of workmen going home through
want of timber ? — I do not think so.

37384. Not so many as now ? — No.

37385. You can imagine some case arising from a lack
of timbering where it had been ordered but had not come
in, but a want of timbering at the face does not arise from
a want of timber at the surface ? — No.

37386. But because some person responsible has not
done his duty T — Yes,

37387. By holding the employer responsible for paying
the wages it would not happen so often ? — I think it would

{Mr. Cunynghame.) That would be an ingenious fining
system brought in.


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[ 474 j







Regulations of the Durham County Colliery Enginemen's and Boiler-Minders'
Associations relating to Apprentices.



Appeal for legislation, drafted by Mr. Thomas Watson, and approved by
the National Federation of Enginemen's and Boilermen's Protective
AssociationB of Great Britain.



Coal Mines Regulation Bill, promoted by the Miners' Federation


Digitized by






(Handed in by Mr, W, B. Ohmlton-r^ee Question ^819.)

Regulations of the Durham County Colliery Engiuemen's. aucl Boiler-Miuders

Associations relating to Apprentices.

SxofnoN 1. — ^Any person wishing to beoome a n^mbei
of this Association, to be taught tke art of winding, miitt
obtain the consent of some conipetent financial n^ember or
members who will undertake to teach him, and be proposed
and seconded by two financial members at least one month
previous to his admission ; he must have served at least
miee years in the capacity of some kindred employment
as firing, boiler-minding, or attending engines, and be of
good moral character, sfteady habits, and possessed of good
ability. Having first obtained the consent of the manage-
ment of the colSery, he shall be subject to an examination
by the Committee of the Lodge in which he is proposed,
after such examination, if he be found to possess the above
qualifications, the Lodge Committee shall make out a
report to the above effect, signed by each member of the
Lodge Committee, and stamped with the Lodge stamp.
The Lodge Secretary shall transmit the same to the General
Secretary, who ah&U fey the same before the Executive
Committee for their approval, and if approved, the General
Secretary shall make out a certificate, duly signed by the
Executive Committee, and stamped with the Association
stamp, and return the same to the Lodge Seoretai7,5.who
shall admit the person as a member.

SsonoN 2. — The learning fee o| apprentices shall be five
pounds, to be paid into the geneiul fund, thjree pounds to
be paid before the coioiiiencement ol learning, and the
vemainder to be paid in two instalments of one pound each
within three months alter being admitted a m^ember.

The fee for member's sons to be two pounds ten shillings,
to be paid into the general fund, twenty shillings before
oommenmg to learn, and the remainder to be paid in two
instalments of fifteen shillings each, within three months
alter being adn;utted a member.

After he obtains his oertificate from the Executive
Council, and signed by the resident manager or engineer
by whom he is employed, he will then be at liberty to learn.

Any apprentice paying the stifiulated sum according
to rule as fearning fee to be taught the art of winding shall
be at liberty to receive inotructiona from any memb^ who
ia working a ooUiexy en^^.

SBonoN 3. — Any member incompetent to wind who has
been three years in the Association, desiring to be instructed
to a state of oompetency, shall pay the sum of two pounds
ten shillings to the Association, provided he has the stipu-
lated time in preliminary training, viz., three years. Any
member who has not the specified time in preliminary
training as per Section 1 of this rule, or who has not been
a member of this Association for a period of six years,
shall pay the learning fee of five pounds.

Section 4. — (a) Any person who has had the necessary
preliminary training as per Section 1 of this rule wishing
to learn the duties of underground hauling or bank hauling
or any other class where tuition is imperative (except
winding) >mufit pay a fee of two pounds ten shillings.
Having learned such duties, and wishing to learn to wind,
within three years after having paid his first fee, must pay
a further fee of two pounds ten shillings ; but if over three
years from the time of paying his first fee of two pounds
ten shiUings, then he must pay a fee of one pound five
shillings ; members' sons will be charged half fees.

(6) Any member wishing to learn the duties of hauUng
or any other class of engines where tuition is imperative,
who has not paid an apprentice fee, but who has been a
member of this Association for a period of tiiree years, and
has had the stipulated time in preliminary training, as per
Section 1 of this rule, shall pay a fee of one pound five
shillings. Any member who has not the stipulated time
in preUminary training, and who has not been a member
of this Association for a period of six years, shall pay a fee
of two pounds ten shillings.

(c) Any member wighi»g to learn the dotiea of winding
after paying the fees and otheiwise eomplyibg wi^ th#
terms specified in this eectioii, ahaU pi^ a further fee o|
one pound five shillinga ; members' soda half feeSi

Any apprentice having received instructions for twelve
montns and found to be competent, the enginemen whom
he is under, and the manager or engineer, shall sign a
certificate of competence, prepared t>y the General Secre-
tary, and stamped with the Association stamp, which shaU
enable hjm to procure a situation as colliery engineman.

Should any prejudice or iU-feeluig arise against an^f
apprentice l^ the men he is under, or any men^ber of the
Association, his case shall be submitted to the Local
Committee or Executive Committee, who shall investigate
the same, and give their award as they may determine.

Any member or members violative this rule shall, for
the first offence, be fined five pounds ; for the second,
ten pounds ; and for the third expelled tiiie Association.


lUgUiUred Ofj^ : 2€w Wxstxbjbt Hnx^ Dubhah.
DaU 190 .


This is to Cebtift that we have examined ^ report

and application of the Branch of

this AsaocioHcm, for to fee

tauffMtheArtof -|f^^^'} and find thesam to UsaHa-


Signed^ Committee.




Mamagei^M or Mnginear't Signaiwe


This Cbbtdtigatb of Cohpstbhtct is onrxN to. akt
Mxmbsb who has bbsn wvvjt Iksibuctiok Twelyi


This is to Cxbtift Iftcrf Mr,

a Financial Member of this AsaooiiMiion, i» now a oompeteni
HavUng-many ') and has been legally instructed under our
BnakesmoM > care.

Date 190 .

EKGmxMEN WHOM Lbabnt Uin>XB.

Signed, Besidence.




Manag^*s or Engineer's Signature

(AssoGiATioisr's Staicp.)

61 A

Digitized by






Appeal for legislation, drafted by Mr. Thomas Watson, and approved by the
National' Federation of Enginemen's and Boilermen's Protective Associations

of Great Britain.

(Ha)ided in by Mr. T, WaUon — nee QucMioii 2614-3.)

Your assistance and support are earnestly solicited in
favour of the following amendments to the Mines Regula-
tion Acts, which all men deserving of their country's
reputation must admit are of the most vital importance,
as additional safeguards, to prevent those deplorable pit
accidents which from time to time thrill with horror and
apprehension the mind of those who have to descend into
the bowels of the earth for a livelihood. Such amendments
have been discussed and approved of by the National
Enginemen*8 Protective Association, the Trades Union
Congress, and the Miners' Federation of Great Britain.
The latter have generouslv inserted them in their Mines
Act Amendment Bill, ana should, in consequence, meet
with impartial consideration at the hands of our Country's
law-makers, and merit a place upon the Statute Book the
first convenient opportunity.

Appended to each clause you have a few out of an
abundance of reasons justifying the enactment of such

1st. — ^That there be added to General Rule 24, of Mines
Act, 1887, after the words below ground in the mine : —

" And no such person to be employed for more
than eight hours in any twenty -four hours"
" Our claims for an Eight -Hours' I>»y are fully justified
owing to the tedious and fatiguing nature of our work,
such as being confined in a close and stifling atmosphere,
with nerves strung to the highest possible tension by clatter
and confusion of signals, the rumbling of machinery, which
has to be manipulated by us with the greatest possible
precision and judgment, with variable loads and steam
pressure, always expected to get the best possible results
out of machinery, necessitating a high rate of speed, which
makes it all the more difficult to control, and finally, at
the close of these long and exciting days, each engineman
has from 300 to 600 men and boys to wind up, necessi-
tating extra caution and judgment at the very time the
enginemen are exhausted and weary by the tedious nature
and long hours of their occupation ; and should receive
Parliamentary attention at once, as a vast majority of
fatal accidents attributed to engine-winders' oversight
have occurred at l^e latter end of the long and unreasonable
turns enginemen have to work ; which coroners' juries
investigating such fatalities can most emphatically affirm."
2nd. — That there be a General Rule inserted in the
Mines Act Amendment Bill : —

" To enforce Catches or Kepts to be put under
the cage while men are getting in and out, and that
there be a banksman in attendance during the whole
time the men are ascending or descending,**
" These, we are fully persuaded, are very desirable
safeguards, as the engineman could not lower the cage
(even if he received a false signal) whilst men were getting
in and out of the cage. These features were embodied in
the 120th and 128th Special Rules, but were rendered
ineffective by the authority given to managers by the
12l8t Special Rule of the Mines Regulation Act, 1887,
which, for the sake of economy, is often abused by officials,
at great risk to life and limb. In some instances catches
are so constructed that the engineman has to remove them
from under the cage from the engine-room. This is also
a dangerous practice, bscause if the engineman received
a false signal he would take the catches from under the cage
and start the engine, fully impressed that all was right,
probably at the sacrifice of someone's life, which, un-
fortunately, has frequently been the case, in addition to

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 159 of 177)