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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 41 of 177)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 41 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

able to save the timber 7 — In some cases he knows per-
fectly well it wiU be buried,

24015. You say that is not general, but in som > cases it is
so 7 — It happens continually in our working experience.

24016. What do you suggest should be done 7 You say
the stall-man shoula have some voice in the matter as to
whether it should be drawn or not 7 — ^Yes. I say when a
stall-man can give satisfactory evidence that it is unsafe
to draw that timber, it should be left to** his discretion
to let it stop.


24017. And the manager or deputy have no word in it at
all 7— No. _

24018. (Mr. Raldiffe EUia.) You have no Special Rule 30 June 1907
about the withdrawing of timber at all, have you 7— No. —

24019. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) Have you ever heard of any
accident arising because there was a gate at the end of the
cage, and the men not being able to jump out 7 — ^No.

24020. I believe there was a case where an accident did
happen because of that 7 — ^I do not know of it.

24021. As to this jerky action of the cage, in consequence
of turning the steam against the engine, do you say that is a
thing which is happening constantly, or is it an occasional
thing 7 — ^Itis happening constantly.

24022. If it does, does it not put a great strain both on
the rope and on the engine 7 — ^Yes, we believe so.

24023. Is that not, in your opinion, against the interest
of the management 7 — ^Perhaps it is.

24024. I cannot help thinking you must be exaggerating
it a little 7 — ^No, I have not come here to exaggerate ; 1
have come here to give my practical experience.

24025. I cannot imderstand any manager, in his own
interests, allowing that state of things to happen where
there is a constant jerk like that on the rope 7 — The jerk is
not such as the bull chains, for instance, getting slack, but it
is the reducing tiie speed and then going off again.

24026. {Dr. Haldane.) Can you see whether there is a
jerk on the drum 7 The drum is not jerking, is it 7 — ^I do
not know. I have not been in the engine-house ; I am on

24027. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) It is the cage that is
jerking 7 — Yes.

24028. Is that not because the rope is like a piece of
elastic, and it gets a little longer and a little shorter 7 — ^I do
not think so. I do not think it is a case of expanding the
rope. i

24029. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) I should have thought^ if it is
as you describe it, the managers would soon find out it was
not to their interest to wind in that way, because it seems to
me there would be severe strain on the engine and the rope 7
— Well, it is so.

24030. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) It perhaps does not jerk
the manager when he is going down 7 — Perhaps that is it.

24031. {Dr. Haldane.) You notice the jerking just as the
cage is starting at the bottom 7 — ^No, it is not that, it is
simply in the second half of the winding. They simply
take you up, on some of the modem cages, as if you were
going to heaven.

24032. I thought you said the jerk was just at the start 7
— ^It is simply in the second half of the winding.

24033. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) They start you like starting a
train, do they not, with scarcely any feelingof movement,
and then increase the speed quickly 7~-Tes, and very

24034. But without any jerk to start with 7— Yes. If
you stand against any of the engine-houses with these
powerful modem engines, you wiU observe that when they
get within a short distance of the top the engine simply
begins to give a cough with the steam being turned gainst
it. In my opinion, tiiat is what takes place.

24035. {Mr. SmilUe,) That is done when they are winding
coal just the same as when they are winding men 7 — Yes.

24036. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) I was going to ask you this
question : do you think that this takes place in the same
way when winding coat as when winding men 7 — ^Yes, I
have no doubt it does, and perhaps more so.

24037. I do not quite understand it, I am sure. If it is
constantly going on there must be a tremendous strain both
on the rope and on the engine 7 — ^There is just this in it,
when they are winding coid there is perhaps from two to
three tons of coal on &e front cage, and on the end cage
there is only the empty load, and the result is when it gets
towards the top that coal helps to have a steadying effect
upon it — ^whereas winding men it is not so heavy.

24038. You suggest that the inspector should state the
number of men to be taken in eckch cage in his district 7

24039. Would that not be putting some new responsi-
bility on the inspector 7 — Yes.

24040. Which he has not got at present 7 — It would do sa

24041. Do you think he would like that 7— Well, I do
not suppose he is different from anyone else ; he does not

Digitized by




Mr. WaUer

26 June 1907

like more work put upon him, but even if he did not like
it» as I say, if it was passed into law he would be obliged
to do it

fl 24042. I do not mean that the inspectors would object
to the work, but object to having the responsibility, and
in that way taking the responsibility of! the manager ? —
I do not see that he would take the responsibility off the
manager of the mine, if he gave instructions for a certain
number to be taken at a certain colliery. The responsibility
of the manager would remain just the same, to see that not
more than that number went.

24043. You would have him take upon himself the
responsibility of fixing for each colliery how many should
be wound ? — ^Yes.

24044. (Mr, Enoch Edwards.) They need only fix it once T
^That is all.

24045. (Mr. SmiUie.) In addition to your practical
experience, do you hold a certificate of competency ? — ^Yee.

24046. I believe you hold a second class manager's
certificate ?— Yee«

24047. Have you, during your experience underground,
ever seen a Government Inspector making an inspection
of the mine ? — Yes.

24048. How often do you remember that having taken
place 7 — Not very often. You come in connection with
him seldom, but very often he is in a district when you are
not there. I have not seen a Government Inspector for
a long time, but it has not been because he has not been
round the district, but because I have not happened to
be present when he^wps^making the examination.

24049. If a Government inspector in making his examina-
tion found any paii; of the mine unsafe — a bad stone
hanging, for instance, and instinct ed the manager to put
that right, do you think that would be taking the responsi-
bilitjr off the manager ? — No, I do not think it would.
I thmk if he ordered it tc be put right, it would be the duty
of the manager to put it right.

24060. Do you not think it would be the duty of the
inspector that he should instruct the manager to put it
right ? — Yes.

24061. But you do not think that would be taking the
responsibility off the manager 7 — No.

24062. In the same way if he attended to the gateways
and roadways, as ^ou have explained, that would not be
taking the responsibility off the manager 7 — No : only he
would have to give orders that those instructions should
be carried out.

24063. At the present time there is no systematic timber-
ing of the gateways and roadways 7 — No.

24064. And, as a consequenoe, there are continuous
falls taking piaoe near the working face 7 — ^Yes.

24066. What is the nature of the roof 7— We have what
we call a rock roof, which is a strong roof, and we have a
binding roof, which is a tender roof : and the binding roof
has a tendency to slip itself up into a narrow gutter.

24066. And there is no timbering done in that part 7 —
In some oases there is not.

24067. They simply depend upon it getting up into the
gutter and stopping there 7 — ^Yes.

24068. The sides siinply meeting and binding one another
in 7— Yes.

24069. In the meantime most of that debris is thrown
to^the side 7 — Yes.

24060. And that^is what blocks up the sides of the
road 7— Yes.

l^ 24061. I suppose there are many minor accidents which
take place that are not reported to the Mines Inspector 7
— ^Yes, many.^

24062. What you suggest is that there should be suffi-
cient room in the sides of the roads or travelling, not only
in horse roads, but where the men convey their tubs by
hand 7— Yes.

24063. Have you known any accidents arising on those
roads 7 — Ihere is one accident reported, I believe, in 1906
or 1906, illustrative of that, where the man was tramming
his tub, and the roadway was so low he could not look up,
and he ran into the man in front of him. Supposing there
were two or three like that following one another, and the
first man's tub gets off the road, or becomes stopped, then
I do think the road should be of sufficient widUi to allow
him to get out of the way, and prevent his being crushed.

24064. That is a fairly common cause of accident where
tramming is done in that way 7 — ^Yes.

24065. Or even where horse hdolapre is*done,^younhink
the roads should be that width ? — Yes.

24066. I suppose the only place for the pony driver is
between the pony and the tram 7 — Yes : but although that
is the natural place, owing to the state of the roads being
rough, with coals falling off the trams, it becomes a very
dangerous place for the lad to walk between the shafts or the
limmers — as we call them in Derbyshire — and the tub.

24067. And very often he has not room to walk in any
other place but in the middle of the roadway 7 — ^Yes.

24068. Now the trailer which you speak of, being attached
to the last tub, or train of tubs going up a hill, would not
be suitable while that train of tubs was going down the
hiU 7— No.

24069. Conssquently some other appliance would requirer
to be fixed to the tubs in going down a steep incline in order
that if a breakage of a coupling or draw-bar took place
part of the train might not run away 7 — Yes.

24070. Do you know of anything which would tend to
prevent that 7 — Yes. Tn our collieries in some cases they
put two clips on, one behind th? run and the other in front ;
but where there is a steep gradient they have lashing
chains, which, being of iron, thrown over the top of the
trams from the commencement to the end, if there is a
break the tub lifts up and gets off the road, and so it
prevents any running away.

24071. You would not cere whether that lashing chain
was under or over the two tubs so long as it attached the
whole train together 7 — Quite so.

24072. With regard to gates on cages, have you known
of men jumping off or jumping into a cage when it is just
going away from the bottom 7 — I have not known them
jump, hut I have experience of one case, because I once
had ths necessity myself of jumping off.

24073. If there were the gates which you speak of, then
when the cage was loaded up with men those gates would
be shut, and no person could attempt to jump on the cage
when going away 7 — ^That is so.

24074. You think it would tend to greater safety 7 — '

24075. (Dr. Haldane.) If the gate had been there you
could not have jumped in the case you refer to 7 — No.

24076. Was it necessary for your safety to jump off 7^
Yes, at that time it was necessary, and the reason was this :
it was a small coUiery with only one cage, and I got on at the
surface to go down, and instead of the man lowering me
down he to^k me up. At that time and at that coUiery
there was no detaching hook attached, and no provision
made for preventing over- winding, and the result was I
jumped off the cage, and the cage went simply over the

24077. [Mr. Smillie.) If the gate had been on there
you would have been over the wheel as well 7 — Yes.

24078. There is a danger either way 7 — ^Yes, there is a
danger either way ; but I believe a gate, considering the
spe^ of raising and lowenng at modem collieries, would
prevent accidents, although I admit we have not many
accidents of that nature to-day.

24079. (Dr. Haldane.) You would have also to consider
the possibility of the cage going down into the sump, I
suppose, at the other end 7 — No, it cannot go into the
sump, for the simple reason that there are strong baulks
put across to prevent it. It lands on the soUd l^ttom.

24080. Or going violently against the baulks 7 — Yes.

24081. (Mr. SmiUie.) Those baulks close when the caoQ
has gone up 7^Ye6, there is a prevision of that sort made
to prevent people at the pit top falling down the shaft when
the cage is running. At the present time at the end of the
cage when men are being raised or lowered there is simply
a bar on each side of the cage, and a chain.

24082. I am now dealing with the method of preventing
the cage going down the shaft. You propose having two
props dose to the bottom of the cage, so that the cage would
be set back 7 — Yes.

24083. And those would automatically allow the cage
to go up, and then dose, and prevent the oago going back 7

24084. We call them shuts, but you call them props.
There would not be much expense in having those fixed
at any coilieiy 7 — No : we have them at work to-day at
one al the largest collieries in the Derbyshire Miners'
Association — that is, the Warsop Main CoUiery, oi the
Staveley Company.

Digitized by




24086. (Mr, Ratdiffe EUis.) The accident that happened
to you when you had tc jump out would not have been
prevented by any arrangement that I can see, because it
£b the case of a man starting the engine the wrong way, and
it is not the case of a cage coming up and not stopping in
time ? — That is so.

24086. That could be prevented by an automatic
arrangement ? — ^Yes, an automatic arrangement atteiched
to the engine.

24087. It would not have helped you in your cose ? — 'No.

24088. {Mr. SmiUie.) With regard to fast winding, is it
not the case that sometimes in lowering men they may
be dropped 30 or 40 feet, almost as if the rope had not hold
of them at all ? — ^Yes, it seems to have that effect when you
are starting from the top.

24089. Does it not very seriously affect ultimately the
nervous system of the workman ? — Yes.

24090. And the men are strongly opposed to being dealt
with in that way T — ^Yes.

24091. Have you yourself on some occasions felt almost
as if the rope had broken ? — Yes, I have thought we were
off to heaven.

24092. Do you really mean by your evidence that in
addition to re$nilating the number of men to be on one
deck so that there would be sufficient comfortable space
for them, you would also prevent a large number of men
being on the x^age at the same time T — Yes, and for this
reason ; if we are to look forward to a curtailment of hours,
then we may have a great increase in the number of men being
lowered, and greater anxiety to get the men down and also
.(getting them out. I do think that a legal limit ought to
be made to the number of men to be in any one ahait at
once. In our colliery it continually takes place in the
morning that when one shaft is beihg drawn in and the
other taken out, there are 36 men in the shaft at once. I do
think that is quite plenty in a shaft at any one time.

24093. Are you aware that there may be shafts in which
72 men may be in it at one time descending, and 72
aaoending ? — ^I am not aware of that.

24094. If, at the passing- way, the cages came in contact*
a disaster perhaps quite as serious as an explosion might
take place ? — ^Yes

24095. And on those grounds you would prefer to limit
the number of men to be in the shaft at one
time ? — ^Yes, or the cage.

24096. The enginedriver being human, some serious
aocidents might take place which would cause disaster ?
-—Quite so.

124097. Are you in favour of deputies and firemen holding
a certificate of competency ? — ^Yes, I think they should all
pass an examination, and be able to secure a certificate of

24098. So far as the safety of the workmen is concerned,
do you think they are the most important men in the
colliery ? — ^Yes, I do, because they are continually coming
in contact with the new conditions that open up at the
varying workings of the coal face.

24099. Have you any experience of what is called stoop
and room work ? — ^No.

24100. Your experience is longwall ? — ^Yes, longwall.

24101. Can you tell us the reason why the deputies
insist upon taking out all the timber although they know
it will be lost, or that some of it will be lost T Is it in
order to get the roof down ? — ^No. I believe the instruc-
tion is received from the manager that all timber must be
dra^vn ; and when they know from their own experience
that it is impossible to recover the timber they say it must
be taken from under the roof, and therefore placed out of
sight of the manager.

24102. You say that process is dangerous ? — ^Yes.

24103. Is it the person who takes it out who runs ttie
risk, or the person instructing him ? — ^The person that
takes it out is running the risk.

24104. And another man instructs the stallman that he
must take out that timber, although he recognises there is
considerable danger in taking it out ? — ^He knows in his
own mind it is impossible to recover it.

24105. And there is great danger in taking it out?
— Yes.

24107. What would be the result if the stallman refused Mr. Walter
to obey orders and refused to take out the props which he • -^^aTioO.
believed to be dangerous ?— Well, in most cases he would im rSIT i qo7
have to submit to a fine for leaving them up. ^ JOM j v«i/

24108. And disobeying orders ? — Yes.

24109. (Chairman.) What sort of certificate do you
su^eest the fireman should have ? Do vou suer^est he
should have the present second-class certificate, the same
as you have?— Well, I think it would be a very good
thing : but it is perhaps not necessary to j^o quite so far
as a sec<^nd-class certificate with a deputy ; still I think
it should b3 such a certificate as would i-equire a I'eal
practical man to pass an exammation to secure it.

24110. You Riiqeeat there should be a special fireman's
examina^.'*on, and not the present second-class certificate
examination ? — ^Yes.

24111. (Mr. natdiife Ellis.) Yon would consider that
the man who haH the present second-class certificate would
be qualified 7— Yes.

24112. (Mr. f^mime.) Providim? he had the praotica!
experience t— Well, T presume he would have the practical
experience before he secured it.

24113. (Dr. Haldane.) Whom do you think should be
fe8pon<rible for seeincr that the timberinq; of the roads is
carried out ?— I think thst the instructions ought to be
given, and the maximum fixed by the inspector, and then
the responsibility falls on the management to see that it
is carried out

V t?*.^^^ ^*^ y^^ ^^^ °^® ^^*'* ^^"^h »Te the responm-
buities of the deputies with retrard to timbering T Do
they see that the face is timbered in accordance with the
rules existinqr in the colliery T— Yes, that is their duty :
and also if they see that the systematic rule which is laid
down does not annly, then to give instmotions for timber
to be set which will secure the roof.

241 1.*?. You think they should be immediately respon-
sible for the timbering of the roads T— Yea, under the

24116. The deputies are at present reeponsible for the

safety of these roads, are they not T—Yes. ^ "^^ Tl i^'^ u ^

24117. You think they do notlaet sufficient timber Just
now 7 — I do.

24118. You think they are two economical with the
timber 7 — ^That is it.

24119. Can vou tell me whether a deputy is ev^r paid

a lower waore than a hewer at the face, in your district T

Yes, I have no doubt they are, especial^ the contractors
— the contracting coal-getters.

24120. Do vou think the wages of a deputy are suflioient
considerinsr the responsibility placed upon him 7 I will
put it in this way : do you think that the waares of the
deputies are sufficient to attract the most capable men to
the post 7 — ^I do not.

24121. Do you think it would be conducive to safety if
they were paid higher wages than they are at present 7—
Yes, I believe it possible in many oases for a man oontraot
coal-getting, or what we call a stallman, to get better
wages than the deputy is paid by the day. Of course, if
a contractor, he has a certain amount of risk to run whether
he gets the money or not. ,

24122. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) What would the fireman's v J
wages be, do you think 7 — ^I think the head deputy's is ^
7s. fid. a shift now. y

24123. (Mr. F. L. Daxna.) Does that mean six shifts a V
week 7— Yes.

24124. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) That would be something
like what a day wage amounts to now 7 — ^It is about the
same as our day wage now.

24125. (Dr. Haldane.) There is nothing extra 7— Na

24126. There is no inducement to a properly qualified
man to apply for the post of fireman 7 — ^That is so. There
is just this in it — ^he has practically a staoding wage, bat
at our hard coal collieries with the times we are having
now, that does not make so much difference.

24127. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) At other times it would
make a difference 7 — ^Not at our collieries, but at several
of the collieries I have no doubt it would.

24106. Your evidence is that the steJlman being an
experienced man at the face should have a voice in saying
whether certain props should be drawn or not 7 — ^Yea.

24128. In Derbyshire in the summer time the housecoal
collieries are working sometimes only two or three days a
week 7— That is so.

Digitized by




Mr. Walier f 24120. (Mr. SmiUit,) Is the deputy or firemaa working
Marriott, moet of the time ? — ^In Bome oases I do not think the
— lonw deputy goes when the colliery is standing.

26 June 1907

24130. (Dr. Hcddane,) Have yon ever oonsidered the
question whether it is desirable to provide at the pithead
means for washing and ohanging eloths ? — ^Tes, it is a very
necessary tlung, and to prove that I believe in that, I for
over two years took a dry pair of trousers and singlet and
flannel belt to change when I have done, and for over eight
years I have taken a dry sin^et and belt to put on when
I have done my work. I believe those provisions should
be made.

24131. Where did you leave those things ? — ^I took them
into the stalL

24132. You put the clean ones on when you started to
go home ? — ^Yes.

24133. Still, you could not, of course, wash yourself, but
you just put them on anyhow ? — ^Yes.

24134. Does it cause much inconvenience at home for a
man to come into the house all dirty and covered with
ooaldust ? — ^Yes, many of our colliers' houses are veiy
small, and it does cause great inconvenience, as there is
no provision made for a man to have a complete bath.

24135. It is very inconvenient in every way for them
to come home black and dirty, I suppose ?— Yes.

24136. Are you acquainted in any way with the
provisionB which are made in many mines for washing at
the surface and the changing of clothes 7 — ^No.

24137. You have not considered how it could best be
done in England 7 — ^Yes, I believe myself that there might
be baths and wash-houses provided at the collieries for
the men, and also places for their clothes to be dried which
there is at the present time in sinking — for instance, where
the work is very wet, the company will provide a cabin on
the bank and a place for the men to have their clothes

24138. That is a small thing, and will only hold a few
men 7 — Yes, that is so.

24130. Are these men employed in sinking often Ck>mish
men ? — ^No, coal-pit sinkers.

24140. Are you aware in metalliferous mines that it is
the general custom to supply what they call a place for
washing and drying 7 — I believe that is so.

24141. I thought these men employed in sinking were
accustomed to that sort of thing r — No, the men sinking
our coal-pits I am speaking about.

24142. They are not coUiers at aU ; they are specially
employed in sinking 7 — ^No, not altogether ; some of them
are, but they follow occupations besides sinking ; many
of them, when they have sunk a colUery and get to the coal,
find that the colliery expect them to receive some of the
great benefits from it, and they stop at it.

24143. Do you know in your district any cases where
a miner's family is in a one-roomed house 7 — No.

24144. You have never heard of such a thing in your
district 7 — No.

24145. {Chairman,) Is there anything else you would

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 41 of 177)