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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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great that it is causing discomfort it is also dangerous.

23863. In what way do you say it is dangerous 7 — We say
it is dangerous through going at the terrific speed they do.
Accidents are very liable to happen in the shaft.

23864. Do you remember what the three accidents were
which have been reported in the last ten years in the
Midland District, and what they were caused by 7 — ^I do
not know what they were caused by, but we wish to prevent
accidents. We do know that the accidents are not


J them,
• linav
11 getei
1 1 when

numerous, but we wish^ to prevent even those that do
take place in shafts. '^^

23865. You have no evidence to show, from any actual
accident happening, that the mere pace of a cage has
caused an accident, irrespective of over-winding 7 — ^No.

23866. Do you want to say something on the everloading
of cages when men are being raised or lowered 7 — We think
the law should be altered so that it is left to the discretion
or the judgment of the inspector for the district for the
time being instead of the manager.

23867. As to how the men should go down in the cage 7

23868. Would that not be a question on which the men
might very well appeal to the inspector 7 — Perhaps it
would : still, we think it ought to be put on a proper

23869. Have they not appealed to the inspector on that
question 7 — ^I think not.

23870. (Dr, HcUdane.) Is there not a maximum limit to
the number of men to each deck of the cage 7 — ^Yes, there
is a maximum, but it is left to the discretion of the manager,
and the result is that very often the maximum is placed
at such a number that it is practically impossible to jamb
the men on to the cage.

23871. (Chairman.) Is it not also the case that where
the management have suggested the maximum number,
the men very often of their own free will go up and down
in much greater numbers 7 — ^That may be so ; but even if
they wish to commit suicide you should have a right to
prevent it.

23872. You say that these Rules, as to the number of
men that might be taken up and down in cages, buckets,
and so on, should be subject to the sanction of the mines
inspector. Is that your suggestion 7 — ^Yes, it should be
left to the inspector to say what number of men should
be allowed to ride on certain cages in his district.

23873. That comes to very much the same thing ; the
management would probably suggest the number, and they
wotdd go to the inspector and say that that was the
number they suggested, and ask whether the inspector
agreed 7— Yes.

23874. What work are you doing now 7— Stall-man*

23875. You are yourself a stall-man at the present time 7
— Yes.

23876. You have practical experience with regard to
the withdrawing of the props 7 — Yes, every day.

23877. What mine are you employed at 7 — The Pleasley
Mine and the top hard seam.

23878. What other seams 7 — I have worked in the black
shale or the Silkstone seam, and the soft coal and the
Waterloo seam.

23879. Always in the same mine 7 — ^Not in the same
mine — in different parts of the county,

23880. Therefore you have very considerable knowledge
of the customs of Derbyshire mines 7 — Yes.

23881. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUi9.) What is the name of your
colliery7 — The Stanton Coal and Iron Company.

23882. With regard to the timbering, you think that an
inspector ought to prescribe the distances both at the face
and in the roadway 7 — We are not complaining about the
face at all, it is the roadways.

23883. The inspector doos not prescribe the distaaoes
at the face 7 — ^It is put in the Special Rules.

23884. The Special Rules say that the manager is to
prescribe the distances, not the inspector 7 — ^Yes.

23885. You are satisfied with that 7— Yes, we are
satisfied with that.

23886. Is not the face the more dangerous place, with
reference to the timbering, than the roadways 7 — I do not
know that it is much more dangerous than the roadways
immediately in the vicinity of the face.

23887. You are aware no doubt that there are a larger
number of accidents happening at the face, in consequence
of the timbering or the falls of roof and sides, than in road-
ways 7 — Yes.

23888. If you are satisfied with the system which enables
the manager to prescribe the distances at the face, why
should you not be satisfied that the manager should pre-
scribe the distances on the roadways 7 — For this reason*
at the face in our district the work is done by the stall-man.
Immediately we take the roof down after the ripping, as
stall-men and contractors getting coal, we have done with

Digitized by




Qur responsibility ; and after that time, the roadway is
aUowed to what we call "' gutter up *' ; the middle falls
out and the sides become dangerous. That is the reason
we think systematic timbering should be applied.

23889. That is not quite the point I am asking you about.
Systematic timbering means, as I understand, that what-
eyer the nature of the roof may be, props must be set at a
certain distance ? — Yes.

23890. At the face the manager prescribes the maximum
distance 7 — Yes.


If you had the same regulation to apply to the
why should not the manager also prescribe the


distance ? — ^That would be all right, provided systematic
timbering was compulsory.

23892. I am dealing with the inspectors. You would
leave it to the manager to prescribe the distance 7 — ^No,
I think the inspector should be consulted in this case.

23893. You say the arrangement is perfectly satisfactory
at the face where he is not consulted. Why should not
the same safety be secured on the roadways without
consulting the inspector 7 — ^In the first place I do not know
that the inspector was not consulted at the time the Special
Rules were framed.

23894. The Rtdes do not provide for his being consulted ;
it is the manager 7 — ^I thii^ that the rules ought to be
applied by the inspector and left to his discretion.

23895. In respect of this timbering 7 — Yes.

23896. If that is so, would you then relieve the manager
from his responsibility 7 — ^Yes, if he carried out the instruc-
tions of the inspector. .

. 23897. Do you think the inspectors would undertake a
responsibility of that sort 7 — ^I do not know that. I
■appose if it became law they would have to undertake

' the responsibility.

23898. However, that is your view; that for the timber-
ing both at the face and in the roadways the inspector
should prescribe the distances at which the props should be
put 7 — ^Yes.

23899. Why are you not satisfied with the state of
things at the face now 7 — ^We are satisfied with the state
of things at the face.

23900. Why do you wish to bring the inspector in for
that 7— We do not want to bring hSi in, only we say we
are of opinion — or we do not know of any other opinion —
that the inspectors were consulted when the Rules were
framed, therefore we think they should be left the dis-
cretion in saying the tnATimiifn that timbers shall be
applied in the gates.

23901. You have no statistics as to the number of acci-
dents that happen from falls of roof and sides in your
roadways 7 — No.

23902. Are there many 7— Yes.

23903. When was the last 7— They are continually
happening ; and the unfortunate part of the business in
getting to know the statistics is that they are not all
returned to the Government.

23904. When was the last you know of in the roadways ?
— ^Not more than a fortnight ago.

. 23905. In your district you have a very good record, as
you know, no doubt, as to accidents from falls of roof and
odes?— Yes.

23906. You think it might be improved 7— We think
that we should be able to get at the lK)ttom of the thing a
good deal better if it was made compulsory to report all,
which I suppose is going to be done.

23907. That is another question ; but matters, good
as they are, you think would be improved upon if this
suggestion ctf yours was carried out 7 — Yes.

23908. With respect to the haulage roads ; what is the
width generally now on your horse-haulage roads 7 — The
widths vary from 9 ft. to 12 ft. when they are packed out,
but during the course of time the packs are pushed in.
Falls of roof continually occur in the roadway, and instead
of the dirt being moved completely away, it is packed up
at the side, and therefore the roads become so contracted
that it is practicc^y impossible for a lad to get by the sides
of the trams.

23909. To start with they are nght 7 — Yes.

23910. What width are they now generally 7— Not
more than 3 ft 6 in. or 4 ft. in width in some places.

23911. That is because you say the stuff coming down
has not been taken out, but is packed along the road 7 —
Yes, and the result of the weight pushing the packs until
closing them in.

23912. You think so far as the horse-haulage roads are
concerned, there should be room made on one side— or do
you say both 7 — On one side.

23913. For a sufficient passage 7 — ^Yes.

23914. There is not now 7 — No, there is not now.

23915. Is that generally so throughout the different
seams of the colliery 7 — It applies to a good many mines.
Of course there are some roadways where there is room,
but there are others where there is no room for a lad to pass

23916. Are you speaking now entirely in reference to
the Stanton colliery 7 — Speaking entirely of that district ;
as I say, at some there is room and at some there is no room.

23917. That room might be given without doing any-
thing more than removing the debris which is coming down,
and is now packed up at the aides 7 — Yes.

23918. That is, taking the stuff out of the pit or taking
it into the stalls 7 — Yes, into the stalls.

23919. Where mechanical haulage is used« then yon
prefer a gangway, apparently, to this room at the sides ?
— Yes.

23920. It is only when the tubs pass each other that 1 1
that gangway would be wanted 7 — ^That is all. I •

23921. What is the width of your mechanical haulage
road now 7 — 8 ft.

23922. Is that 8 ft. maintained 7— Yes.

23923. What width do you say it ought to be 7— At
least 10 ft.

23924. If you had the passage alongside of 2ft., you
could get it with your present 8 ft. 7 — ^I do not think so.
Our trams are a httle over a yard wide and there has to
be a space allowed at either side because it is not possible
to get the road perfectly straight and free from abutments.
You cannot gauge an xmderground roadway to an inch.

23925. In order to make the 8 ft. roads into 10 ft. roads
what work would have to be done 7 — ^They would have to
be made and kept wider from the start. They are packed
out properly at the starts but they are allowed to get

23926. When originally made they were 10 ft. 7— Yes
— some 12 ft. or 14 ft. wide.

23927. And they have become contraoted until you
think they are too narrow now 7 — ^Yes.

23928. Now as to the different kinds of clips and sbaokles.
You want something which will stand the strain better
than what you have got now 7 — ^That is not it alone ; we
want something that is not so dangerous during the opera-
tion of clipping the tubs on to the rope.

23929. What appliances have you now 7 — ^We use the
Fisher clip.

23930. So far as standing the strain is concerned, do
you have many breakages with those 7— No.

23931. So far as the one-is concerned which you use, it
is satisfactory 7 — ^Well, sometimes there are breakages, of

23932. You prefer No. 1* oHp because it is more easily
applied 7— Yes.

23933. No. 2t is used, and so far as standing the strain
18 concerned, it is satisfactory 7— Yes.

23934. But it is not so easily apjplied 7— It is easily
applied, but it is more dangerous during the operation of
appUcation for the simple reason yon will see that the
hook is hooked into the drawbar of the tram, and the
result is the lad, when bending down in this way, before the
tram, has not more than 15 inches of the whole length of
that clip ; and if the rope is rather low for the clip to be
applied properly he has to hold the rope up with his toe
to get it into the exact position, whcih you see, in the
grooves ; and the result is that the moment he puts the
loose box down the tram is going at full speed. We
consider that it should be made in such a form that the
lad could stand away from the front of the tub, and be in
a more uprig^ht position, and therefore have a better ohaaee
of getting away.

23935. Is there any disadvantage in having a trailer at
the end of each gang 7 — ^I do not think sa

Mr. WaU€r

26 Jiuel907


♦ See Figs. 1 and 2, page 118.

t See FigB. 8 and 4, page 113.

16 a

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MINUTES OP evidence:



23936. It is not wanted on the level ? — ^No.

23937. It is wanted on the Mil T— Yes.
B. In case of breakage there is a sort of dutch ?-


23939. You see no reason why that should not be always
applied when going up the incline ? — ^If they were all on
the rope, much the same as ours. In some places it is
practically flat and in other places it rises. When the run
of trams is connected to the rope I do think the back-stay
ought to be put on and kept there until it has ended the

23940. As to the gates on the sides of the cages, do I
understand you to say you want them on the two sides
of the cage 7 — On both ends.

23941. The ends are protected at present ?— No, it is
the ends we want them on.

23942. The sides are protected ?— Yes.

> 23943. When you put the tubs into the cage at the
bottom or took them out, what would you do with the
gates ? — ^The gates should be made as folding gates. You
can see very suitable gates for the purpose on the lifts
at hotels. The gate I mean is a gate which folds
up into a space not more than 6 inches in width, and
not more than about If inches in breadth, and it can
be easily pushed back on each side of the cage.

23944 There is not much time lost m getting the tubs
in and out on the top of the pit ? — ^That is so.

23945. Is the gate which you suggest made of iron T—

23946. Is it collapsible?— Yes.

23947. Who is to move it on one side ?^In the case of
winding coal it would not be necessary to have the gates
aorosB at alL

23948. Then it would not interfere with the opera-
tion T— No.

23949. But when you are winding men you think the
gates should be closed ?— Yes.

23950. You have seen something up here which might be
fastened to a cage 7 — It simply collapses up. It is a lattice-
work gate, and it folds up into a very small compass.

23952. Do you not think that that would get knocked
about rather 7 — ^I do not think it would. It could be
easily pushed back to the side of the cage and left there
during the operation of winding coal, and when they
wanted to wind men it could be unfolded and brought
across the cage.

23953. Are there many accidents happening from men
falling out T — ^No.

23954. Do you think there is a source of danger there ? —

23956. And speaking with your friends about it you
think it is a danger against which you would like to be
protected ?— Yes.

23956. What speed do you think should be the limit in
winding men? — As I have said, I am not here to give
expert evidence.

23957. It is very difficult to say what speed you are going
at, is it not ?— Yes, when you are going up a pit shaft

23958. You think after the passing place the weight of
the rope, and so on, accelerates the speed of the cage, and
when they require to stop it causes the cage to jerk very
much ?— -I do not think the weight of the rope is causing
it altogether ; it does assist because it is a balance against
the engine ; but, in our opinion, the cause of the jerking
is because the speed is so great, and in order to make
it possible to stop at the top the steam has to be turned
against the engine in the second part of the winding, and
that causes the cage to jump.

23959. Is there any greater danger in being wound fast
than there is in being wound slow 7 — ^I shoiSid say there
ia a greater chance of the conductors breaking, where they
are wood, and also the slides giving way.

23960. You do not find that often takes place ?~Wa
do not get statistics to show when a cage does get out of
the conductors. Such cases are not reported.

23961. Have you yourself known of such a case ? —
Yes, but not when I have been in the cage. It ocean
in the case of coal winding continually.]

23962. However, your view is that that is because of
the^tpeed 7— Yes.

You think that there should be a limit to the
speed when men are being wound, but you are not pre-
pared to say what that limit should be ?— -Quite so.

23964. Again, you think that the inspector should
approve the number of men who should be wound up and
down 7 — ^I do.

23965. What is the maximum now that you know of ? —
The maximum number at our colliery is 18 at one shaft
and 16 at the other.

23966. It is more than that in some cases, I believe 7 —
Yes, I believe it is,

23967. Do you think that is too many 7 — ^Yes, for the
size of the cage. Our cage where they are winding 16 at
a time is over-crowded ; and if they happen to be big men
a man's back is not in a very comfortable position* when
they put the bar on it after the last man.

23968. Everybody is anxious to get down, and more
anxious to get up ? — ^I grant that.

23969. There is difficulty sometimes in keeping order,
especially in coming up the pit 7 — ^Yes.

23970. At any rate, you think a maximum number should
be prescribed by the inspector 7 — ^Yes.

23971. {Dr, Haldane.) Is that number 16 in each deok ?
— ^No, we only wind men on one deck.

23972. {Mr. Enoch Edwarda,) Ho w long ha ve you worked
at the pits 7 — ^I have worked in the pits since I was 13 yean
of age and I am 41 years of age now.

23973. Has all your experience been in Derbyihive t —

23974. You have not worked in the ffusy aeoans ?— Yes,
I have worked in the Silkstone seam in I^erbyBbire.

23975. With reference to tiie over-crowding of men in
the cage, you suggest that that is a matter which should
be left to the inspector 7 — ^Yes. ^

23976. Do you mean the inspector should issue some
sort of order 7 — ^I mean the inroeotor knows the size of the
cage, and it shoidd be left to him to say what number of
men should ride on the cage in that coUiery.

23977. He should fix a number 7— Yes.

23978. You do not suggest he should be there to see
it carried out 7 — ^No, he should make a rule.

23979. At your pit you draw 16 at a time 7—18.

23980. Is there proper capacity on both decks to carry
18 7 — 16 is at one shaft and 18 at the other.

23981. They are all on one deck 7— Yes.

23982. Have you double deck cages 7 — ^Yes.

23983. They do not use both decks at the same time ? —
No one rides on the top deck.

23984. There again, that is different from what takes
place in many parts of the country, because at some places
no one rides on the bottom deck 7 — ^That is so, I know.

23985. You think with 18 it is over-crowded 7— No, I
think that the 16 cage is less than the 18 cage, and there-
fore I think the 16 men on that particular cage are more
over-crowded than the men are even on the 18 cage.

23986. (Dr. Haldane.) Why do the men not ride on the
top deck 7 — ^Well, it has never been the role at the colliery.

23987. {Mr. Enoch Edtoards.) At some they ride on all
decks. I saw, myself, at one place, 32 men going down and
32 coming up against them 7 — ^Yes, and there will be a
" ship-wreck " if ever a cage accident happens.

23988. You think that should be brought to the notice of
the Government inspector, and he should fix it 7 — ^Yes. .

23989. As to systematic timbering, I understand you to
say that part of the contractor's contract ia that he should
do the timbering at the face 7 — Yes.

23990. And then when he leaves it is no longer his
obligation but the company's obligation 7 — ^Yes.

23991. Did I understand you to say that the roads when
originally made were from 9 to 12 ft. wide 7— Yes, 9 to 12 ft

j; 23992. Did you tell Mr. Ellis, in answer to his question,
that they are only now about 3 ft. wide 7— Yes, 3 ft.
6 ins. to 4 ft.

23993. How long a period does it take to squeeze the
roads up into that small compass 7 — ^It is not a matter of
squeezing up ; it is a matter of packing the falling roofs and
the sides. Of course, the squeezing process assists in con-"
tracting the roads, but whenever a fall of roof ocoursp in«

Digitized by




stead of the dirt being removed and stowed away some-
where, it is stowed up at the sides, if there is room for the
tram to go past.

23994. They could keep the main road much wider 7 —

23995. You suggest that if the road was left by you when
finished, 9 to 12 ft., there is ample room for the men to form
a foot road outside the tramway ? — Yes.

23996. So that it is not so much a question of making the
road as keeping it 7 — ^That is it.

23997. These mines, which you refer to, are mostly fiat 7 —
They rise about one in twelve— they are practically flat
mines — but some parts of our collieries rise more tiian mat

23998. As to the speed of winding, I imderstand you to
say that your experience is that there is too much steam
put on to start with, and they run too quickly after they
come to the halfway junction 7 — Yes. g^

23999. Have they ever explained to you the object of
running so quickly 7 — I suppose it is to get the men out as
quickly as they can.

24000. If your view is taken of it I suppose it will take
much longer both in letting men in and letting them out 7 —

24001. Is there not sufficient time allowed to get the
number in or out 7 — At night there is any amount of time,
and, of course, that does not apply then ; but in the morn-
ing we find we have workmen's trains running in, and if the
train happens to be late, and there is a large number of men
ooming later than they ought to do at the pit top, the
result is that they go down quicker than usuaL

24002. The difficulty I understand you to suggest all
along is, when you are coming up the pit 7 — ^Yes.

24003. How does it apply when you are going down the
pit 7— It applies in the same way.

24004. As an experienced collier, you say a man is
rather more sensitive when being lowered aown in the
morning 7 — He is glad to get up at night.

24006. The effect on the men of letting them down too
quickly would be more serious than win&ig them up too
quickly 7 — ^Yes, I have no doubt it would. »*l '^ ^

24006. However, you think that is done sometimes be-
cause these trains are late 7 — ^Yes.

24007. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) You told Mr. Ellis you thought
the inspector ought to fix the distances in the gatewa}^ and
roads 7>-Yes. ••• •• p».y •'♦.-•iv^m

24008. And, I think, you also said that the stallman
ought to have some voice in drawing out the timber 7 —
Yes. ^\

24009. Supposing that to take place, what would happen 7
— ^I have no doubt, in some cases, some of the timber would
be left

24010. You say he should have some voice in it ; but
supposing he and the manager disagreed as to whether that
timber should be left or drawn out, who is to decide be-
tween them 7 — I do not know who is to decide Uien. But I
say this, that no man knows better the nature of the roof
than the man actually working in it ; and he knows when
timber is impossible to be got out. Even when it is taken
away from the roof the roof faUs and buries it, and it has to
stop after all the danger has been run.

2401 1. Do you suggest where that applies that managers
will insist upon having that timber drawn out, although
they know it is bound to be buried and cannot be made use
of afterwards 7 — I would not say the manager, but the
instractions which apparently come down to the deputies
and assistant-deputiee are, that aU timber must be drawn —
and the timber has to be drawn, and is drawn, or otherwise
if not drawn, it is simply cut away from the roof, and
the roof falls and buries it.

24012. You do not suggest it is nearly always buried 7 —
No ; I suggest in certain cases it is buried.

24013. Occasionally it is buried 7— Yes.

24014. The deputy teUs you, in his opinion, you must
take it out ; he thinks it will not be buried, and he will be

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 40 of 177)