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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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23106. Have you made any calculation as to what it
would cost P — No, but I am sure it would .be very incon*
siderable.

23107. You want to supply pipes in various parts of
the mine. At some of these collieries there are a
thousand men underground, and the workings are very
considerable P — Yes.

23108. Would you pipe the whole of these workings? —
The pipes could be taken in the main roadways and to a
suitable centre where the men could get at them.

23109. You have no idea of what the cost would be of
putting in and maintaining pipes and supplying water P
— ^I am always thinking of our own mines. I am under
a disadvantage.

23110. In your mines it would not be expensive P —
No.

23111. You could not say what the expense would be
in a large colliery ? — No.

23112. (Dr, Haldane.) Do you propose to take water
to the working face ? — No.

23113. Where do you propose to take it toP— To
lyes where the men are in the nabit of coming.



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Mr. James 23114. These are usuallj for the working face. They

Brown, might be a long way from the pit bottom ? — It would he

' a considerable distance from the pit bottom ; it would be

13 June 1907 to obviate the disadyantages of going there.

23115. Some of the suggestions we have had from the
previous witnesses seem to me rather to throw doubts on
the competency of the managers T — Yes.

23116. Do you think that the qualifications of
managers in Scotland, so far as your experience goes,
are insufficient ? — If I were an employer I would not
employ some of them, they have very little experience.

23117. You think that the qualifications of some of
them are insufficient ? — I do.

23118. Do you think that the examination does not
give sufficient guarantee of their competence ? — I do
not think so in every case.

23119. On this question of explosives you said that
the managers often did not know T — I have said they
did not know so well as a man who has been working 20
or 30 years might know.

23120. It is the business of a manager to know and
find out and get what evidence he can — ^Yes.

23121. A competent manager would do that 7 — Yes,
very likely he would.

23122. I suppose it means some managers have not
had sufficient practical experience of explosives, they do
not know enoush about them T — They mieht have
had their experience in a different mine to the one in
which they were working at that time, and there is a
very material difference in the mode of blasting coals.

23123. Do you know any mines where water is pro-
vided by the management by pipes P — No.

23124. Have you ever heard of such a thing ? — No.

23125. I only know one in Cornwall. So far as my
experience goes the miners always provide their own

idrmk — water or tea? — It is usual. It is very hot in
I deep workings.

I 23126. So would the water be through the pipe ?— It
I would not deteriorate so quickly as in an open can.

r 23127. I think it would more (juickly myself. How-
I ever, that is one difficulty. It is a simple solution of
the difficulty for the miner to take what he wants, and
I think it is the usual solution. It would not meet your
point unless the water was carried to the working face P
—To the lyes.

23128. That is near the working face.^ — Sometimes
they are a considerable distance off.

23129. Still, it would not meet your point to bring it
only to the bottom ? — I would like it fiuther in, because
thirsty men drink water very unsuitable for them.

23130. That is very bad, but I think they ought to
take sufficient water for the day with them, or have it
carried in. Have they any means of keeping the water
cool ; do men do anything to keep the water cool that
they take in? — Notning that I know of — ^they put a
little oatmeal in it.

23131. That will not keep it cool, they have no kind
of vessels that will keep the water cool by evaporation P
— No.

23132. They could do that usually in a colliery in the
same sort of way they do in Egypt. I want to know
about ventilation in your part. I do not think you have
said anything about that ? — ^No.

231 33. Do you think the ventilation is f airlysatisf actory
as a rule in Ayrshire P — I have heard many complaints. I
cannot complain of my own partictdar colliery — it is
fair.

23134. The collieiy you know best had a good deal of
gas in it ? — Yes, that pit at least.

23135. For that reason it would be necessary to haye
good ventilation ? — Yes.

23136. Have you heard complaints of black damp P —
I have worked in black damp.

23137. Do you find it unpleasant to work in P — I do,
surely.

23138. In what way ? — For one thing, nobody would
dare to say it was not inimical to health, and there was
always drowsiness if one worked where black damp was
near. It always knocked one off his feet.

23139. It did.J^— As a rule.

83140. Did it affect the burning of the lamps? —
Yes.



23141. Did it ever gire you a headache P — Yes, after a
day or two. I have vomited after it, too.

23142. Are you sure that was just black damp and not
gases from powder P — No, it was black damp.

23143. Or heating of the mine ? — ^Black damp was the
principal thing that caused it.

23144. Did it make you short of breath at the time
you were working P Did you ever notice that ? — ^I can-
not say I did personally, but I have heard men complain
it did.

23145. I mean, at the time of working, did it make
it necessary for you to take a deeper breath than
usual P — I suppose that would be usually the case among
black damp.

23146. That is the effect it had on me. Anyhow, yon
are of opinion that that ventilation is not altogether
satisfactory at present in some mines P — I am. la any
mine, indeed, you come to workine places where it is
very bad. That is, perhaps, driving a place to get
through for air. The men have to put up with very much.

23147. Chiefly black damp P— No.

23148. Fire dainpp — Simply lack of ventilation and
powder smoke, ^lack damp is usually confined to
workings that have been stooping for a time.

23149. Have you ever considered the question of the
desirability of providing means for changing pit clothes y
and washing at the pit head P — I have looked at it as an *'
ideal, which it is very desirable to be obtained.

23150. What is the feeling of the miners in your
district on that subject P Has it ever been consiclered P
— No ; I think the men ought to be educated up to it.

23151. You are of opinion that it is desirable P — ^Yes.

23152. Does it cause much inconvenience at home
when the men come home in their dirty pit clothes ? —
It causes a considerable amount of inconvenience which
varies according to the nature of the dwelling-house.

23153. Are there many one-roomed miners' houses
left in your district P — Yes.

23154. There are some? — 75 per cent, of them are
one-roomed, except the buildings that have gone up
lately.

23155. Would you estimate it at 75 per cent. P — In the
village of Annlxuik 75 per cent, oi them are single
dwemngs.

23156. {Mr. Smtllie.) That is the village you have
lived in? — Yes.

23157. (Dr. Haldane.) Who built those houses?—
They were built about 50 years ago by contract.

23158. Are there no other houses which are available ?
— Excepting a considerable distance out, but there are
very few. I should say that over an area of 5 miles
there are not two spare houses available outside the
colliery houses.

23159. You mean outside these one-roomed houses P —
Yes; in the village there are several at the ends of
blocks, but over 75 per cent, are single houses, or were
until quite i^ecently.

23160. That is to say, they are houses with one room
in them ? — Yes, kitchen or whatever you call it.

23161. I suppose it is a good big ixx>m, but there is no
means of dividing it up P — You could not very well
divide it up. There is a little change coming over them
— ^they have been built lately a little better.

23162. The pit clothes have to be dried in that room P
— Everything nas to be done there.

23163. Any washing has to be done there P — Now, in
my district wash-houses are provided outside, but until
12 years ago everything had to be done there.

23164. I mean when the man comes home ? — He must
wash there.

23165. That is the only place he has ?— Yes.

23166. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) First of all, with regard
to the question of explosives which Mr. Ellis has been
asldng you about. Generally Ayr8hii*e is not a gassy
coalfield? — No, but as they are going deeper it is
becoming so.

23167. You largely use naked lights ? — Yes.

23168. We have had it in evidence this week ?— That
is so usually in Ayrshire.

23169. When you were expressing yotir opinion to
Mr. Ellis on the question of explosives, and the work-



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men's right to ha^e some 6aj in the matter, had jou in
mind explosires used in pits where naked lights are
nsed ? — ^Tes.

23170. That is to say, it is a question in the opinion
of the men as to which type of explosive gets the best
coal P — Yes.

23171. It is only on those grounds ? — Yes.

23172. If you have a yery fiery mine and it is a
question of putting an explosiye in — one of the per-
mitted explosives — ^you do not suggest that the men
should have a right P — No, I had in mind wliere the
men were put to unnecessary expense where there was
no gas.

23173. The men of Ayrshire were never unreasonable
if it was going to incur greater risks to the men 7 — No.

23174. It is only where gunpowder may be used with
naked lights, and it is in these cases that you think the
men should have some voice in the matter P — Yes.

23175. Have you had much experience of the men
being fined for a breach of the rules ? — Yes. Do you
mean taken to court P

23176. No, fined in the colliery office P — There were
one or two within a year or two, but they are largely
taken to court now. We have no system of local
fining.

23177. I maytake it that harmonises with the views
of the men P— x es.

23178. They deprecate fines in the colliery office ? —
Yes.

23179. It is not practised mucl^ in Ayrshire ? — I do
not think so ; it is not in my own particular district.

23180. In your judgment would it be wise to abolish
it altogether P— I think it would.

23181. Do you think that discipline should be
maintained by taking men to the court where the charge
could be made rather by fining in the colliery office P —
Yes.

23182. {Chairman.) On the question of explosives
I think we understand the position. The explosives you
were talking about are used in naked-light collieries P —
Yes; may I explain this. I have seen bobbinite
introduced where gunpowder could have been used
because of the perfect safety of the mine. That is what
I am thinking about.

23183. Still, the responsibility remains on the manager.
The men and the manager may differ as to whether or
not one explosive may be cheaper and may be a little
more dangerous than another, but if anythinghappens
the responsibility is always on the manager P— -x es.

23184. It is not on the workmaji. He should have a
good deal to say with re^rd to what explosires should
be used. Do you not thmk so P — Yes, but still I think
there ought to be consultation where a mine is perfectly
safe, in any event.

23185. We know that naked- light collieries are much
safer than safety-lamp collieries. I think Mr. SmiUie
has told us that you cannot always be certain because a
colliery is worked with naked liafhts that you will never
get an outbreak of gasP — ^Neither you can, especially
with stooping places ; it may come at any time.

23186. I do not think it comes under this inquiry, but
this occurs to one with regard to these one-roomed
houses you speak about. Is there any public authority
that takes any note of overcrowdinc P — I never
heard of any steps being taken by any auttiorities. Of
course there are authorities we might apply to : we might
apply to the County Council, or the County Medical
Inspector, but I have never known of anytlung being
done in that way.

23187. The houses which are beiog built now are
better P — They are all two-roomed houses.

23188. {Mr. Smillie.) What population has the village
of Annbank P— 1,200 to 1,300.

23189. Would there be six wash-baths in that village
— ^places where the men could wash P — There is not one.

23190. You do not think there is one in that village P
— ^I am sure there is not one, except it is a portable one.

23191. There is no opportunity of a miner getting
washed all over his body unless he does it in his house P
— Or goes to the river.

23192. Dr. Haldane said that the single apartment
was pretty large ; 14 ft. square is the largest, I think P—
Not much over that — ^perhaps a little; they are two-
bedded rooms.



23193. They are 14 ft. sauare, and there are, say, two
beds 6 ft. long each and 4 ft. wide P — Yes.

23194. That is taken off 14 ft. of space P— Yes.

23195. It is not an imcommon thing to have a man
and his wife and five children in one of those single
apartments ? — That is very common.

23196. It is not an uncommon thing for a man and
his two sons and his wife and other little ones to be even
in a single apartment P — I have known of cases, but our
employer there tries to obviate that as much as possible
— ^that is to say, he takes regard to the number of the
family, and tries to give double houses to the men.

23197. (Dr. Haldane.) Is there a coimty Medical
Officer of Health.^— Yes, Dr. Macdonald.

23198. {Mr. SmiUie.) Supposing attention was called
to the fact that a family of seven persons, man and wife
and five children, were living in a single apartment, and
the medical officer visited there, he would not find
fault P He has no right or power to find fault P — I do
not think so.

23199. It is a common thing for families of that kind
to be in single apartments P — Yes, it is a common
thing.

23200. The manager or the owner endeavours to
arrange, when the family comes to be working young
men, to give them the double ends as we call uiem P —
Yes, and they go further than that where the lease of
the estate allows it, and they give him extra rooms.
The owner cannot do everything, because he has not the
room to do it.

23201. On the question of baths there is not a strong
feeling among the miners just now, but you say that
they snould to educated up to it P — Yes.

23202. Do you think it would be in the interests of
health that they should be clean and be able to wash
at the pit P — Surely it woidd.

23203. It cannot be good for their health to have two
or three suits of pit clothes drying roimd the fire where
the people are breathing the fumes P — It cannot.

23204. That is the case where there are two even in
the kitchen P — Yes.

23205. Do you think that it would not be a great
expense to jpro vide dr^ng and bathing accommodation
at the pits P — I think it would not.

23206. Do you think the miners would



Mr. Jamea
Brown.

13 ^111^1907



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object if they were required to pay a small tax even to
assist it being done ? — I do not think they would.

23207. Do you think it would be such an alteration
that the miners' wives would universally thank Parlia*
ment if it were passed into law ^ — ^I thini they certainly
would.

23208. They are the greatest sufferers P— Yes.

23209. {Chairman.) With regard to these baths, how
many baths do you tnink would be necessary P In some
pits where there are many men, a shift would consist
possibly of hundreds of men coming very quickly after
one another P — Yes.

23210. 200 or 300 perhaps P— Yes.

23211. How would you provide bathing accommoda-
tion for 200 or 300 men at once, or within a reasonable
time P — You could provide a sufficient number of baths.

23212. That would mean you must have as many as
200 baths in some pits P — It might mean that, but the
sanitary authorities might be the ones to say the number
of baths.

{Chairman.) Providing 200 baths would be rather a
considerable business at the pit mouth, or anywhere
close.

{Dr. Haldane.) What are wanted are shower baths. It
is done with shifts of over 1,000 men. I have seen it at
various mines.

. 23213. {Chairman.) There must be 1,000 separate
baths P— No.

{Dr. Haldane.) They go into the place as they come
up in the cages, and they are done in a very short time.
Warm water is always running.

{Chairman.) How many would be in a cage — 16 P

{Mr. Smillie.) 4 to 16.

{Chairman.) How quickly do the cages come up P

{Dr. Haldane.) There are a lot of men in the place at
one time.

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Mr. James
Brc/wn

13JiiMl907



. iCliairman.) Is there any serious complauit where
IjCKK) men go through the baths one after another of
their having to wait a long time P

(Dr. HcUdane.) * No, they have very little waiting.
Each man is actually under the shower for a Terj short
time.

(Chairman.) Directly he is out he goes and dries else-
where ?

(Dr. Haldane.) He comes out and gets his clothes.

23214. (Chairman.) With regard to the qualifications o{
nianaeers, you say you think it is insufficient. I mean
that tne examination is insufficient. Have you any
suggestion to make as to the examination P Do vou
thmk that it ought to be a more practical examma-
tion P — I did not say that qualifications of all managers
was insufficient. I said that some were.

23215. You said that the qualification of managers
was insufficient P — Some only.

23216. A man may become a manager without having
sufficient qualifications P — I said that some managers, in
my opinion, were not qualified as they ought to l^.



23217-20. That is to say, a man is capable of becoming a
manager, and does become a manager, although, in your
opinion, he is not competent to TOCome a manager P —
X es.

23221. We have it in evidence that a man has been
considered to comply with the requisition as to pnu^tical
experience if he has worked as a surveyor P—-Tes.

23222. You think that would be wrong P— -I do.

23223. You consider that the statutory qualiScation
for a manager before he can sit for an examination ought
to be made stricter, and that the five years' experience
which is required should be a practical experience under-
ground P — Yes.

23224-5. And that he should have been underground
himself, that his occupation must have taken him under-
ground for a large portion of that five years P — I say so.
1 understood that was the practice in Scotland just now.

23226. Is there anvthing more you would like to say
to the Commission P — No, except on the question of
managers. I think that a manager ought to have more
practical experience, but a man might have 20 years'
experience, and be able to take a certificate, and not be
a very competent manager after alL



Mr. William Adambon, called and examined.



Mr. Wmiam
Adamson,



I



23227. (Mr. SmiUie.) You are Assistant Secretajy of
the Fife and Kinross Miners' Association P — Yes.

23228. You have had a considerable number of years'
practical experience as an imderground worker T —
27 years.

23229. In practically all classes of mining work P —
Yes.

23230. You understand fully mining so far as Fife is
concerned P — Yes.

23231. Mining is extending very rapidly in Fife? —
Yes.

23232. There are likely to be greater developments in
the future P — Yes.

23233. You have nearly 20,000 persons employed in
and about the mines ?— Fully 20,000.

23234. The developments which are takine place now
are chiefly in strata which are lower-lying tnan it has
been usual to work in the past P — Yes.

23235. You are going deeper for the coal P — Yes, very
much.

23236. Some of the new collieries give off a consider-
able quantity of gas P — Yes.

23237. You were comparatively free up to recent
years ? — Up to within a few years.

23238. We may take it from you that the develop-
ment of those new collieries under what may be looked
upon as more dangerous circumstances will require
greater care than may have been used in the past P— i es.

23239. And wider experience, so far as the manage-
ment of the mine is concerned P — Yes.

23240. Because of new dangers P — And I think, in fact,
the whole of the officials.

23241. Do you think there may have been men holding
the very important position of firemen in the collieries
in Fife in the past who would not be qualified to hold
the same position under the newer conditions unless
they had some previous experience P — I think there are
men now.

23242. Holding the position of firemen P — Yes, in
Fif eehire — who would not be suitable for holding that
position in some of the mines that have been developed
latdy.

23243. How long is it since you left the pit P — ^Four
years.

23244. You were working up to fotu* years ago P
—Yes.

23245. Do you know whether or not the present
system of inspection by Government inspectors is con-
sidered effective so far as the thorough examination of
the mine is concerned P — I do not think it is at aU
adequate.

23246. Have you seen any general inspections of the
mine in which you were employed carried out during
your 27 years' experience P— I only b9,w the CK)vemme?it



inspectors twice underground during my 27 years
experience, and they had oeen sent for specially on both
occasions.

23247. Because of a complaint P — Because of a com-
plaint as to the state of the ventilation.

23248. You do not complain that they do not pay
attention to any complaints made P — No.

23249. They are very attentive but they do not
perhaps make a thorough examination of all the mines
under their charge ? — ^In my opinion it is absolutely
impossible for the number of men at present.

23250. It is not done now we may take it P — No.

23251. Do you think that there should be a thorough
examination of the mines made periodically P —
Decidedly.

23252. Would you say once every three or four
months would be sufficient ? — I should say it should be
done at least twice every year.

23253. That is a thorough examination of each mine?
—Yes.

23254. In addition to that, there should be surprise,
visits made where the inspector has any reason to b^eve
that the Coal Mines Regulation Act is not being carried
out P— Yes.

23255. Are you aware that that would make a con-
siderable addition to the number of inspectors P — Yes.

23256. Are you favourable to the creation of a new
class of assistant inspectors, or would you merely
increase the number of the present class of inspectors P
— I think that in making any additional appointments it
would tend to greater efficiency in inspection if more
regard was had to practical experience.

23257. At the face or underground P — In all classes of
underground work.

23258. Practical experience should be one of the
qualifications necessary P — Yes.

23259. Would you propose, in setting up a class of
inspectors, that one of the auaJifications for holding
certificates should be that they had been practic^
men P — Yes.



Would they be a lower paid class of inspectors,
or would you make them the same class as the present
assistants P — I think I would make them the same class
as the present assistants.

23261. Would you increase the present number of
chief inspectors or make their district smaller ? Are
not their districts pretty wide at the present time P — I
think the one for the East of Scotland covers 23
counties.

23262. If he is doing very much examination he must
be a considerable time on his journey to and from the
places P — Yes.

23263. Do you think that it would be better if the
districts were smaller and there were a chief for each of
the district! ?—Ye^.



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23264. I suppose Fife would be large enough to be
coYered by a chief and some assistants to do it in the
way you want it to be done P — If done in the way I would
suggest there would be one GoTemment inspector for
every 10,000 persons employed, which would mean that
we should have at least two inspectors resident in
Fifeshire.

23265. Do you think if there were two inspectors
resident in Fifeshire, responsible for the examination of
the Fife collieries, that it would be physically possible
for them, supposing they devoted their whole time to it,



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