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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 39 of 177)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 39 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

a dereliction of duty on your part — but it was taking
a risk that you ought not to have taken ? — Yes.

23764. In order to save a few shillings ? — Yes, it may
be only Is.

Digitized by




23765. In order to save 1b. you took the risk P — Yes,
that is just it.

23766. Mr. Ellis suggested that it would be hard on
the maoagement in su^ a case as thai where a man, to
save a comparatively small sum of money to his own
pocket, takes a nsk he ought not to have taken and the
management should he put to any expense through a
man having acted in that way. UTiis is the way Mr.
Ellis puts it. That the management did give the men
warning it was their duty, and that they were paid on
the assumption that thev did knock off a sufficient
number of hours from theur work to sufficiently timber
the roof. That is the contract between you and the
management P — Yes.

23767. On the other hand, human nature being what
it is, it is rather like leading a man into temptation I
should say P — Yes.

23768. If yon accept that view thut where a man is
put in a position where his safety may conflict with his
monetary interest, it appears to me that one must go
further than one does in the matter of supervision of the
nj^ii. Sureh^ we now do protect men against their care-
lessness ? — Yes.

23769. For instance, in shot-firing there is no doubt
the rules are made to protect men against their careless-
nesB ? — Yes.

23770. To some extent those rules may put a certain
amount of small expense on to the management. I am
inclined to take the view thajb it might be advisable, and
that it is not such a great hardship on the management
that they should be put to some expense with the view
of placing the men in a position in which they shall not
be exposed to 9. certain amount of temptation, because,
although it may be true succumbing to the temptation
is a culpable thing, still, by puttmg them into that
temptation, human pature being what it is, every now
and again they will succumb to the temptation, and that
will mean an accident. What I put before you is this.
It might be said that there is this difference between
shot-firing and timbering, that the man that neglected
to pat up timbering endangers his own life, whereas in
shot-firing he endangers the lives of other people P

83771. In this way I would aJ«o put it that a man's
life is not merely his own concern, it Lb the oonoem of
his wife and family as weU 7 — Yes..

23772. Therefore I think that there is a very fair
analogy between the cajse of a man who, by the system
in vogue, is led into the temptation of not taking as
much cai*e of his life as he ought to by want of timber- .
ing and the analogy of a man who by putting in a I
careless shot endangers not odIj his own life but the *
lives of others. I would rather suggest that it
might be the duty of those who are commissioned to
look after the safety of the miners to see as far as
possible that the syi^m of working is such that a man
shall not be led into temptation. That is rather the
point of view I should look at it from. I do not
know whether Ifir. Ellis would like to say anything
about that.

{Mr, EatcUffe Ellis). I sliould differ from that.

23773. {Chairman.) I suppose you say that the whole
system should be to some extent altered, and the con-
tract between the men and the management should be
different from what it is at present as regards timber-
ing. We will not take into consideration day wages or
piecework. The contract at present is that the man
riim8<3lf is responsible for the timbering P — Yes.

23774. He is paid on the supposition that a eertain
amount of time is taken up with timbering.

{Mr. Ratdijje ElUa.) Whatever is necessary.

23775. {Chairman.) That form of contract encourages
a man to take certain risks which besought not to take.
That is your argument, that the form of contract
encourages you to take certain risks which otherwise
you would not take P — Yes.

23776. Therefore the better plan would be to alter the
contract between yourself and the management, and to
say that the management should be responsible for the
timbering, and you only for the hewing, and that being
the case you would be willing to enter into another
airangement with the mine-owners with a view to find-
ing out what would be a fair wage for the hewing P —

Mr. WaUam
13 Jun« 1907



Wedm^day, 26th June, 1907,


Lord MovKswELL {Ciairtitan).

Wm. Absaham, Esq., M.P. (Bhondda).
F. L. Davis, Esq.
SxrocH Edwarps, Esq., tf .p.
Thomas Batoliffb Ellis, Esq.

John Scott Haldane, Esq., p.e.s.
Robert Smillie, Esq.

S. W. Habeis, Esq. {Secretary).

Mr. Waltbb Mabbiott, called and examined.

23777. (Chairman.) I understand you attend here on
behalf of the Derbyshire Miners Association ? — Yes,

23778. Please tell us what are the objects of the Assooia-
tioQ, and how many members it has 7 — ^Tbe objects are, to a
great extent, to secure benefit for its members, the members
numbering 33,200 odd.

23779. He objects are to do the best you can in their
intersBts t— Their interests, and securing the safety of the
mUMCS that they represent.

23780. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) The rules, I suppose, set
out the objects 7 — Yes, they do, and I will send you a copy.

23781. {Chairman.) With regard to the prevention of
accidents from f aUs of roof and sides, you thmk they could
be prevented, first, by adopting systematic timbering in
gateway and roadways which are in close pro:pmity to
tbei(working| face, and are, therefore, not thoroughly
settled 7— Yes.

23782. What do you mean by systematic timbering 7-— I JL-^

By systematic timbering I mean setting timbers at a certain
specified distance, whether the roof is hard or soft.

23783. Who is to specify the distance 7— The manager.

23784. Would you leave it entirely to the manager to
specify the distance ?^To the manager a^d the inspector
of the district,

23785. Do you suggest the manager and inspector of the 11
district should consult with the men, or not f — 1 do not l\
think they should.

23786. You think the manager and the inspector of the
district should settle the maximum distance between the
props 7 — ^Yes.

23787 In regard to the particular kind of roof that they
have to sa^aguard 7 — Yes."


26 June 1907

Digitized by




Mr, Walter

26 June 1907

23788. In the same mine you might have a different
maximum distance for different classes of mining 7 — ^Yes.
I may say we have a systematic timbering along the face.

23789. I do not know whether these Special Rules apply
everywhere, but I think they do apply t any rate to the
mines that are looked after by your Association, and for a
long time it has been the practice to say that a maximum
must be settled 7 — Yes ; that applies to our Association
but only along the coal face, the working face. This
B3r8tematic timbering which we propose is in the gateways
and the roadways leading from the working face.

23790. Your complaint is that there is no Special Rule
as to systematic timbering in the gates 7 — ^Yes.

23791. Would you be content if the Special Rules which
are now in force with regard to the working f loes were put
in force in regard to the gatewa3r8 as well 7 — ^That would
content us.

23792. That is, that the manager shall keep posted up a
notice specifying the maximum distances 7 — After con-
sultation with the inspector.

23793. Would you suggest that the rules should be
strengthened by bringing in the mines inspector as weU as
the manager 7 — Yes.

23794. You would say that the manager, in order to
specify the maximum (ustanoe, should consult with the
mines inspector 7 — ^Yes.

23795. And should the mines inspector be able, in oaae
of disagreement, to fix a maximum distance himself, over
the head of the general manager 7 — Yes, I think he should.

:3796. You think he should be the supreme person to
decide 7 — Yes. *

23797. Both with regard to the working faces and the
roadways 7 — Of course, the working faces are settled to a
great extent.

23798. Between the manager and the inspector 7 — ^And
the men. The manager posts up the notice of the maxi-
mum distance between the props, and that has to be carried
out, whether the roof is ham or soft. I am not aware that
there has ever been any dispute, after the manager has
posted the notice, with regard to the men carrying it out.

' 23799. The present system of Special Rules with regard
to the working faces works quite satisfactorily 7 — ^Yes, on
the working faces:

23800. And all you desire is that the same Special Rules
should apply to tne roadways as well, and that is all 7 —

23801. You think that safety might be increased by
leaving more to the discretion of the stallman as to what
timber it is very dangerous to withdraw from the wastes or
gob 7 — Yes.

23802. Will yon explain your views as to that 7— Well,
this is actually what takos place : the stallman is selected
for his practical knowledge and his qualification for looking
after the safety of the mine so far as setting timber is con-
cerned, but when it comes to the withdrawal of the timbers
from the gobs there is no discretion allowed to the work-
man, the timber must come out. We have oases where
the manager or the deputy knows it is practically impossible
to recover that timber, but it must be cut, and allow the
roof to fall. We contend that that is an unnecessary

23803. How do you mean that it must be cut or with-
drawn 7 — ^There are certain cases where the roof is so
heavy that when you take the props out by any means
the roof falls and inmiediately.burBttf down. The stones are
so large that it is impossible to withdraw the timber, and
the result is that the prop has to be buried eventually.
But we must take it from under the roof : we must out it
out, although the management knows it is going to be
buried immediately that we take the weight off.

23804. I do not understand how there can be any
" must " about it 7— Well, it is so.

23805. (Mr. Batclifft EUis.) This is withdrawing the
timber after you leave the face 7 — ^Yes. It is in the waste.

23806. Why do you want it to remain 7 — Becanse in
certain cases it is too dangerous to withdraw it.

23807. {Chairman.) You think in some cases it is so
dangerous to withdraw the props that they should be left
where they sre, in the waste 7 — Yes

23808. An there not any means of withdrawing the
props which prevents the withdrawal being dangerous 7 —

23809. {Mr. BateUffe EUis.) Have you not a gablook
and chain for the purpose of withdrawing it 7 — Yw.

23810. (Chairman.} You mean the mere process of with-
drawing is dan^ erous 7 — Yes.

23811. And as it cannot be withiriwu without being
dangerous it should be left alone 7 — Yes, we contend it
should be left alone.

23812. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) You are pleading rather
that the men in change should have some discretion 7 —

23813. {Chairman) I understand that there is a par'
tibular man whose duty it is to use this gablock and chain
in withdrawing the props 7 — ^Yes, the sta&man.

23814. Does he do anything else besides that 7— Yes, he
has to do the work of coal getting.

23815. He is deputed to look after the props as weQ as to
get the coal 7 — ^Yes.

23816. He is not in any position of authority 7 — ^No ; ha
is an ordinary collier, the principal man in charge of the

23817. {Mr. F, L. Davis.) Every collier is in that posi-
tion, is he not 7-^Not every collier. There are, perhaps,
two contractors or stallmen in charge of two or three others,
and, in some cases, more-^t depends upon the length of the
stall and the speed the company want it to proceed at. In
some oases there wiU not be more than two or three men
besides the contractor, and in other eases there will be 12 or
14 men.

-I think
id ought I /
r to pass K
engthof I

23818. {Chairman.) How many of the 12 or 14
would have authority to withdraw the props 7 — ^Two.

23819. There are always two in such cases 7 — ^Yes.

23820. What do you say with regard to the prevention of
accidents on haulage roads 7 — I think you divide your
evidence into two parts, viz., where the haulage is done bv
horse, and where it is done by endless ropes. First of all,
what do you say with regard to horse haulage 7 — I think
that wherever the haulage is done by horses the road (
to be of suffioieat width U> allow the lad or the driver tc ^
freely along at least one side of the tubs the whole length of '
that road.

23821. Have you known any cases where the road is of
sufficient width and where it has been blocked up, except,
of course,, at the entrance to the manhole, in such a way
that it would be difficult for a man to walk along 7 — ^Yes,
any number.

23822. It is necessary by law that the manholes should be
kept free 7 — Yes.

23823. You say whether it is necessary by law or not, it is v
not the case that the side path is always kept dear the
whole length of it 7 — ^Yes, and we think it ought to be com-
pulsory that the whole length of the road shall be of suf-
ficient width to allow the driver to pass by the tubs.

23824. And that the whole of that path at the side, which
must be of sufficient width, should also be kept. clear, so
that any man could at once step off from the middle of the
road to the side without any obstruction, if he saw any-
thing coming 7 — Yes.

23825. That, you say, is not the case 7— Yes.

23826. Even where it is of sufficient width there are
often such obstructions by the side that the man could not
step off into safety at once 7 — Yes.

23827. You think that should be remedied 7—1 do.

23828. First of all you want the road to be of sufficient
width to allow a pathway on one side ; and, in consequence,
you want a rule that that path should be kept dear 7 — Yea.

23829. Have you any other suggestions to make with
regard to horse haulage 7 — ^No. ^

23830. Now what do you say where the haulage is done .
by endless ropes 7 — ^Where the haulage is done by endless
ropes we want a system of clipping or attaching the trams to
the rope that is safe to be taken off and put on. We have
systems that we do not consider safe. I have brought you
drawing here of two different kinds of clips, both in
use in our immediate district, one of which we consider a
fairly safe clip, and the other we think is a dangerous clip.

23831. Can you pomt to any statistics of accidents to
show that one is safe and the other dangerous 7 — I cannot
point to statistics, but I know accidents are continuously
happening at our own colliery.

23832. You say they are happening continnally where
one kind of clip is employed, and not where another Irind
of clip is employed 7 — ^Yes.

23833. {Mr. F. L. Dofvis.) Is this a dip between each
tram 7 — No, it is between the trams, or the run of trams,
and the ropes.



Digitized by




Mr. WalUr




Fig. 1

Fig. 3.





28834.£(lfr.'/Sfmtttie.)}Itltakee the' place of a bogey 7—

[J23S35J^(Chainnan.) Yon put in liie, drawmg^n^Ep
which you consider to be safe ? — ^Tes ; the Smallman clip
(Figs. 1 and 2) is what I consider safe, and the Fisher clip
(Figs. 3 and 4) is what I consider dangerous. I think
where haulage is done by endless ropes, which practically
means having a double road or a road for the empties and
a road for &e full ones, that the roads ought to be of
sufficient distance apart to allow a person to stand between
the trams. There are many accidents happening through
people being crushed between the two trams passing up
and down.

23830. Tou would not consider it sufficient that a man
should be able to step aside when he sees trams coming,
but you say where there is a considerable number of trams
coming in different directions along the same road the
gangway between the trams ought to be wide enough to
enable a man to stand there in safety T — ^Yes, and for this
reason: at these junctions where ike trams are clipped
or coupled on to the rope, at the moment that the olipper-on
or the boy is attaching the full or empty tubs to the ropes,
whichever it may be, there is perhaps a run of trams
coming down on the opposite road, and there is no room
for him to stand between, and if he steps from before the
trams he is clipping on he more than likely steps before
the trams conung in the opposite direction, and therefore
gets run over. We think the roadway ought to be of
sufficient width at those points that the clipper-on can
stand between the two runs of tubs safely.

23837. If you had a gangway between the two lines of
trams it would not be necessary to have another path on the
other side—or do you think there should be a path on each
side, and a gangway in the middle 7 — ^It applies to two
different roads.

23838. You would not want a pathway on the side of
each as well as a gangway in the middle 7 — ^No.

23839. The gangway in the middle would take the place
of the path at the side 7 — ^Yes.

23840. What do you say about accidents arising from
trams running away in consequence of getting ropes or
chains broken 7 — I think there should be backstays or
drags used to every run of tubs.

23841. Would you say that the manager shouid have
no option in the matter, and that whenever a full load is
drawn you should have that arrangement 7 — Yes.

23842. You say it should be compulsory in every case 7

Fig. 4

23843. It should not be left to the management to decide 7

23844. Have you anything else to say about haulage
accidents 7 — No.

23845. With regard to shaft accidents ; first of all to deal
with the question of preventing men from falling or being
thrown off the cage whilst descending or ascending, what
do you say with respect to that 7 — We believe that wherever
a cage is used for lowering or raising persons there should
be a door across the whole width to prevent persons being
thrown out of or falling £rom the cage. At present at many
of our collieries we lutve simply a bar put across, which
simply drops in a slot, and the result is very often tiiat the
men riding up and down put their hands on that, and if
anything happened in the shaft it is more than probable
that their hands would go up, and the bar would go off.
But if nothing takes place, then the bar is at least a yaid
from the bottom of the cage, the cage bottom is composed
of steel or iron plates, and if the cage gets into an inclined
position it is very liable to throw the men off. We contend
that such a terrible thing as a shaft accident takes away
the presence of mind of the man for the time being, and
even if he had hold of the side rods provided, it is more
than probable that the jerk of the acciaent woukL cause him
to take his hand off that rod, and he would be shot down
the pit shaft, which happened in the '* Shkebrook " case
not long ago. We contend that wherever a cage is used
for lowering or raising persons there should be a gate
across to prevent men falUng or being thrown off*

23846. The protection you suggest is a gate at the side
of the cage 7 — Yes.

23847. How do you deal with the matter of preventing
cages from falling down the shaft in the case of over-
winding 7 — ^Well, it is not to prevent cases of over-winding,
but it is to prevent the men from falling down the shaft
again after they have been over-wound. What we think
should take pla.ce is this : it ought to be made compulsory
that there should be a set of props fixed up in the headgear^
not more than two feet away from the bottom of the cage,
when the King's Patent, as we call it, or the detaching hook
goes through the King's Patent^— because when over-winding
takes place it is very probable that the cage is going at a
terrific speed, the chains are slack, and the weight of the
cage gives the falling back a terrible force, which is Untile
to break the King's Patent, or allow the cage to go back on
to the props at the surface. We contend i props were put
on the headgear which were constantly in, as soon as the
cage went through the props would shoot in in a case of
over-winding, ai^ catch it before it has got the terrific
force it has in falling to the surface.





Digitized by




Mr. WdUer r 23848. Your suggestion is that if the cage gets otgt-

^ ' MarrioU. wound those props would immediately, by some mechanioal

— loAPT contrivance, prevent the cage falling down any great

26 Ju4)t IWI <]istanoe ? — No, not by any mechanioal contrivance, but

they should be permanently fixed up in the headgear, not

more than two feet away &om the bottom of the cage.

23849. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ettis.) It is to prevent the cage
going down the pit T — ^Yes.

23850. {Chairman.) Some contrivance by which, at all
events, if the cage is over- wound, it should be only able to
fall back a very small distance ? — ^Yes.

23861. There are other contrivances which automatically
decrease the speed of a cage in the case of over- winding —
that when it gets to a certain height the speed is automat-
ically slackened, and the over- winding can be prevented ?
— ^I have read about them, but I have never seen them in
use. We are of opinion that if it is posmbie to secure such
an arrangement it ought to be compulsorily applied at
every colliery.

23862. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) You think it would be better
to prevent over-winding than to minimise the mischief of
over-winding ? — Yes.

23853. (Chairman.) You know yourself of a fairly good
contrivance to minimise the effect of over-winding, but
you have no personal experience of the other kind of
machine ? — No.

23854. So that you cannot express any opinion as to the
efficacy of the machinery which prevents over-winding,
but if it could be done you think that would be the best
means of dealing with the matter ? — ^Yes.

^ £3855. Have you anything to say about reducing speed
when winding men up and down ? — ^Yes, I can speak of
that from practical experience. In our modem coUieries
to-day they wind men at such a terrific speed, when the
cage starts from the bottom during the mrst half of the
winding, that it requires a man with very good knees to
stand the terrific pressure applied. Then after they pass
what we call the meeting place, or the centre of the shaft,
the speed should begin to be reduced.

T 23866. Rule 26 of the General Rules is : " If in any mine
the winding apparatus is not provided with some automatic
contrivance to prevent over-winding, then the cage, when
men are being raised, shaU not be wound up at a speed
exceeding thiee miles an hour after the cage has reached
a point in the shaft to be fixed by the Special Rules.*'
You say that in all cases there should be some rule prevent-
ing cages from going beyond a certain speed wmle men
are being wound up 7 — ^What we find from practical ex-
perience is this : during the first half of the winding they
gain a terrific speed, and the result is that during the second
half of the winding they appear, from what we can judge
as practical men, to have to turn the steam against the
engine on purpose to stop, for the simple reason that they
have the great weight of the rope going down pulling against
consequently in the second halt the cage proceeds
very jerky manner. We think you would be able to
expert evidence to say what speed should be allowed
they are winding men.

23867. Your Association has no opinion to give as to
the limit of speed T — ^They have no expert evidence.

23858. They want expert evidence taken on that matter ?

23859. So as to prevent the unpleasant jerks which might
be harmful to the men ? — Yes.

23860. You complain of the jerks 7 — Yes.

23861. But even then during the first half the men are
in a very uncomfortable position 7 — Yes, in a very uncom-
fortable position. It is a very anxious time for the men
when they are being wound up and down the pit shafts, and
we think the speed should be such as to reduce the danger
to a TniTiimiim when winding the men.

23862. I thought your suggestion was that it might be
so uncomfortable to the men as to injure their health, or
do their muscles some harm 7 — That is not what we complain
of altogether ; but we suggest that when the speed is so

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 39 of 177)