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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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the shaft — ^he could require it to be altered. If the coal-
owner did not agree, then he could go to arbitration, and the
higher authority (Caesar, you call him) would decide whether
there should be that number in the shaft or less. Do you
want to alter that ? — ^There is nothing besides the inspector
at the present time.

24270. Do you want anything more than that T— We
want the numbers limited. "V^lien we have a case in
dispute



123



24271. Wo have got to this point : you say whether it is
discussed by the men or the mspectors or the employers,
that there must be a Caasar to decide at the end. At the
present time you can have Caesar to decide, because the
inspector can give notice under the Act of Parliament, and if
the coal-owner will not comply with his requirements he can
go to arbitration and the arbitrator will decide what it is to
be. He will be your Caesar ?— But this is my point : we
have been lowering 20 men down our colliery and the
manager wants to get 10 more down to make 30 at a time,
but we think, from the men's side, that it is too many, and
that it is too dangerous. We are not experts, but we
•ay we do not think that ought to be done ; but whom are
we to appeal to at the present time — only the inspector.

24272. Yes, but the inspector, if he agrees with you — you
may not always be right— can give the coal-owner notice
at present under Section 42 of the Coal Mines Regulation
Act where there is any dangerous practice.

(Mr. Sfn%llie,\ No ; that is not a dangerous piactice.

{Mr. F. L. Davt6.) The Witness says it is.

{Witness.) It is not according to your own showing. It
is according to my showing, but it is not according to your
showing.

24273. {Mr. Batdifft EUis.) You say it is ?— And you
say it is not.



24274. If the inspector considers it a dangerous prac-
tice it is his duty to give notice to the coal-owner and require
him to stop it.

(Mr. SmiUit.) To stop winding T

24275. (Mr. Ratcliffe EUis.) To stop winding the number
they say is dangerous, and if not, the inspector can go to
arbitration, and whatever the arbitrator decides is the
law. What more do you want than that ?— We want
power to appeal.

24276. Do you want the power to say what it is to be T—
No.

24277. Why are you not satisfied with the present
arrangement ?— We do not wish to have the power to take
the sole control out of the managers' hands.

24278. Whv are you not satisfied with the present

arrangement Vhich enables the inspector ?— We are

afraid the numbers are going to increase.

24279. You do not answer my question : why are you
not satisfied with the present arrangement which enables
the inspector to do exactly what you want to do ?— No, he
perhaps will not do what we want him to do.

24280. He is entitled to do it ?— We think if the numbers
were fixed

24281. Very well, I cannot get any further than that
However, that is your view. Do you use lamps in your
oolhery?— Yes; but before you leave that particular
question I would like to have another word on the caffe
businees. There is another dangerous practice about
wmding men up and down the shafts. Where you have
two or three decks, we think the men ought to be loaded at »
one time. At the present moment at some collieries they |
do that. You have a false bottom. You are loading coal at L
some place on three decks or two. You are loading men f
on both at once. At some collieries you do not. You load
the top deck if men are ascending the colliery. The engine-
man has to ruse you up, and then you are loading your
bottom deck; the same coming out, descending. We
think the men ought to be all loaded at one time. This is
not an expensive piece of business. We think the men
ought to be able to get on three decks at one time, and go on
the journey without signalling for raising or lowering. We
think it ought not to be allowed.

24282. Is that all you wish to say on the shaft ? Inas-
much as there are ca^es where they put all the tubs in at
one time, there might be arrangements made so that they
put the men in ?— Yes, where they do not put all the tubs
on at one time. We say it ought to be arranged that the
men could be all put on at one time, even if they cannot put
the coal on. *^

24283. It would save time ?— Yes. That would be
another way of helping. One question will help the other
a little.

24284. Is there anything else you wish -to say ? - I do
not know whether my colleague has explained this, but we
thmk there ought to be some catchers when there is an over-
winding case. That is in operation at some collieries. I
have been thei-e when we have had men's legs broken when
there has been overwinding. In these particular cages the
sprmgs have acted each time, and if it is not on the case it
breaks the men's legs.

24285. Have you had experience with Bertram's patents?
—No ; I am speaking of practical experience.

24286. There is a contrivance which stops the engines if
the speed is not increased at a certain point in the pit ?— I
am speaking of overwinding.

24287. I am talking of preventing overwinding ?— Any-
thing that wUl prevent it, I agree with. Where it is brooirht
up It IS a danger.

24288. It is in existence ?— We say if the springs faU to
act m an overwinding case, the cage would have to drop to
the pit top on the props. We think it would be a benefit if
there could be some springs which would not be interfered
with going up and only acting when coming down. It
would only act in oveiwinding. That is in operation at
some large collieries. These things can be brought about
and it wiU be a great saving. It is not only the men killed'
it is the men lamed. *

24289. (Mr. Enocft Edwrds.) They have these arrange-
ments at many collieries, and you would make them
compulsory ? — Yes.

24290. (Mr. Ratcliffe EUis.) I do not know whether he
would say that ; this may not be the best thing. I agree
that anything to prevent the effects of overwinding should
be used, but whether that is the best way is the question ?—
Yes,

17 A



Mr. WiUiam
Sewell.

26 June 1907



I

1 A



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124



MINUTES OF EVIDENCE I



Mr, WiWam

SewtU,



(Mr, Enoch Edwards,) The Witness says that the best
should be adopted.

26 Juno 1901 24291. (Chairman,) Have you anything more you wish to
— say ? — I have nothing more on the shaft accidents without

someone has some questions to ask me which I will answer
so far as I can.

24292. Is that all that you want to say about accidents
in general ? — ^No ; only I shall be prepared to answer
any practical question so far as 1 can.

24293. (Mr, Wm. Abraham,) With regard to your
suggestion to minimise the dangers at the various staging
of the shaft, you say that there should be an air drift driven
from one seam to another ? — ^That is so — a drift.

24294. I think you agree now with Mr. Ellis, that would
be an expense ? — Yes. •

24295. A great deal of that expense would be saved, in
your opinion, by the time that is now lost in waiting and
winding from the various mouths of the shaft ? — That
is so.

24296. (Mr, Ratdiffe Ellis,) Would the men have to go
down to the bottom or come up to the top mouthing ? —
Come up to the top mouthing — have a permanent landing.

24297. Would you get them down to the bottom of the
pit. There is no permanent landing except at the bottom ?
— ^The cost would not be as great as you anticipate.

24298. Say there is the bottom of the shaft and two
mouthings. You do not want to wind men from these
mouthings at all ? — ^No.

24299. You want to wind from the bottom ? — Yes.

24300. You would land them all at the bottom to begin
with ? — ^No. If I was going to sink a shaft to three seams of
coal

34301. I am talking of the shafts there now T — I should
not bring him to the bottom, I should bring him to the
permanent landing.

M302. Where is it except at the bottom ? — The stage has
been made.

S4303. Opposite the mouthing ?— Yes.

24304. Why cannot you alwavs do that ? — You cau
make it permanent there.

24305. Why cannot you always do that ? — ^I am not
prepared to answer that.

24306. Is it the top mouthing where you make the
permanent stage ? — ^No, near the middle mouthing.

24307. You land the men there who are to work at the
seams above and below ? — Yes.

24308. They would have to travel up ? — Yes, up and
down the incline.

24309. The longer the incline the less the gradient, and
the shorter the incline the more acute the gradient 7 — Yes.

24310. They would have t o travel to get to the bottom ?
—No, they would be landed in the middle when they get
off the shaft, but when out he would have to walk to his
ooal face just the same.

24311. Have you calculated what length of time the
travelling would occupy ? — ^No ; it would not take a great
deal of time.

24312. It would depend on the length. It would take
more time to get to his work ? — It would :ake very little
more time.

24313. You cannot form an opinion of the length of
time unless you have a plan before you 7 — If he was landed
at the bottom, he would have to walk to his ooal face just
the same. It would make very little difference in the
walking distance. You could not put a permanent landing
across. I mean, I should put the permanent landing here
which would be permanent and not be removed if I had a
pit sunk. If I was going to sink a new pit I should go U>
my middle coal and drive out my coal. That is the point
I should get at.

24314. {Mr. Wm, Abraham,) We have got so far, that
the extra cost would be greatly minimised by the time
saved in winding. That is your opinion when you get to
the method of doing this ? — Yes.

24315. You would have it done in order to minimise the
danger to life and limb arising now from this present
system of winding ? — That is the object I huye in view.

24316. Your idea is that the safety catches which have
proved so useful in some coDieries should be made com-
pulsory at all ? — Yes, as regards overwinding.



24317. Do you understand that the chief purpose of
safety catches is to prevent overwinding 7 — It is to prevent
the mischief after the overwinding. It would not prevent
the overwinding, but it would prevent the cage dropping
any distance after the overwinding.

24318. There is something in 3rottr evidence with regard
to stalls which I do not quite understand. You caU^a
place in longwall working a stall 7 — Yea.

24319. You may have 10 or 12 men working in that
face 7 — Yes.

24320. I think you said you may have three what you
call stall -men. You call those men practical hewers,
practif'xl men who have the responsibility of seeing that
that place is worked safely 7 — I call the men stall-men who
sign on a colliery, and he is the man they set it for, a
stall-man, a tram -man or a day man. A man signs the
book as a competent stall-man, and the management send
that man where they like.

24321. The other name of that man would be a practical
hewer 7 — Yes.

24322. They would have a kind of labourer or helper
working with them 7 — Yes.

24323. Each of these hewers are capable timberers 7 —
Yes, they are supposed to be when they are signed on.
They sign them on as hewers or stall-men. They are signed
on as stall-men and they take the responsibility the same
as any other stall-man.

24324. Are they responsible for the timbering of that
stall 7— That is so.

24325. Are they responsible for drawing out the timber ?
— ^That is so.

24326. Is there anybody supervising 7 — Only the deputy
as he comes through. If he thinks the timber is not
satisfactory he will tell the man to set more, or if they
have a system, and the man is not carrying out that system,
he wUl report him.

24327. What do the deputies do generally 7— They have
various districts in various collieries. In some collieriea
the deputy will have a bigger district than others. In
some large collieries he will have a big district to examine
once during his shift. He may have another responsible
man under him who will go round the next time and fire
shots.

(Chairman) We are going to have two deputies here
after lunch who will explain the system.

(Mr, Wm, AbraJuim,) Very well.

24328. (Mr, Smillie,) That is a different county 7—
Different counties have different systems.

(Mr, Wm. Abraham,) Are there any men coming to give
us a general description 7

24329. (Chairman.) They are coming from Northum-
berland and Durham 7 — The general working of the
district is the longwall system.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) We are very interested in the
question of timbering. We consider the question of timber-
ing to be one of the most important questions, and I
should like to know what is the general system of timbering,
and who does it, and who is responsible for doing it.

24330. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) The last witness covered
all this 7 — A stall-man is responsible for setting all the
timber and withdrawing it. He is responsible for hk
working face from the lip of his gate end right to the end
of his stall.

24331. The deputy supervises whether he does his work
properly or not 7 — That is exactly it.

24332. The deputy also examines the places for gaa T
— ^Yes.

24333. Or any other dangers 7— Yes.

24334. Within your knowledge, are they able to do thai
to the satisfaction of the body of men 7 — I should Bay
they are as a rule. I have had no complaints to make
with regard to that.

24335. Have you had any complaint as to the size of the
district they have to supervise 7 — No.

24336. Have you any complaints as to the hours they
are working 7 — No.

24337. (Mr, F. L. Davis.) Is the pit which you are
working in, which you have been describing with the
different mouthings, typical of most of the mines in your
district 7 — No there is a lot of them. There is one com-



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pany, I believe it is the Graamore Company, which haa
some on exactly the same footing. There are some others
of that character, but it is not the general average.

24338. Yet it is more exceptional than general to wind
from two or three different levels 7 — Yes, it is not the
gencaral thing.

24339. {Mr, Enoch Edwards.) Both you and your
colleague have called attention to shaft accidents. You
have had a rather serious one lately ? — ^Yes, we have had
two rather serious accidents lately, one at Shirebrook and
the other at Orgreave, which is close to where I come firom
— close to Sheffield — and lives were lost in both cases.

24340. I understood you to say you had not known any
accidents by the men getting on the cage ? — ^No, not falling
down the pit. I have only known the Orgreave accident
where this two-mouth business is on, where an accident
occurred as I have described.

24341. You have no cases 90 yards from the bottom
where they make a permanent stop and work with a greater
or lesser stop ? — There are some of that sort in I>erb3r8hire.

24342. You get a permanent stop ? — ^Yes, and so regu-
lated that it wiU stop at that place.

24343. There is no difficulty from a man's brake going
off ?— No.

24344. He could not go over it ? — ^No, I do not recom-
mend that, although it is safer than the other.

24345. There is more permanency about it ? — Yes.

24346. You are more permanently fixed and fenced
round to obviate accidents T — Yes.

24347. When you suggest that there should be a less
number of men in the cage, have you fully considered
what it means ? — It will mean longer going up and down.

24348. Your colleague's strong point was that they
should go at a less speed 7 — ^That is so.

24349. You refer to the fact that the mines are getting
deeper ? — Yes, and the fast running.

24350. If you get deeper mines you want less speed and
less people in ? — We shall be longer going down, but it is
a question of safety with us.

24351. It is a question that has to be faced after all 7 —
Quite right ; it will take a longer time to do it ; there is
no doubt about that.

24352. I understood you to say that there are places
where there are 40 men 7 — I understand that is so at
Hickleton Main.

24353. There are some places where they work double
shifts 7— Yes.

24354. Your people fear if an accident did happen 7

— That it would be as bad as a ship going down.

24355. It would be a very serious accident 7 — Yes.

24356. Mr. Ellis said to you why not limit the number of
men in a pit if you do so in a shaft. That was hardly what
you meant. If a rope broke there is no chance for a man
in a shaft 7 — No.

24357. If there is a cage coming up it is the same there 7
—Yes.

24358. (Dr. Haldane.) With regard to your opinion
that the number of men in the cage should be limited, I
should Uke to understand your point of view. If a man
has to go down a mine every day there is a certain risk,
and it will be the same risk whether he goes in a cage with
a great many people beside him or only with a few men 7
—No.

24359. Each person wiU undergo the same risk 7 — No,
he has the risk, but still he has not such a large number.

24360. If there is an accident more men will be killed 7
— ^That is so.

24361. If there are many in the shaft 7— Yes.

24362. There will be fewer accidents because the cage
has to go down fewer times 7 — That is so, but the engine-
man will not lose his control so much with a smaller load
as he will with a big load. When he gets near the bottom
with high speed engines and big loads on he has to use
more care, and if he exhibits the least loss of memory you
are into the bottom.

24363. I cannot understand that. It seems to me that
wiD be as apt to happen with a small load as a big load 7
— His load will not be so heavy against him.



24364. It makes very little difference to the weight of ^r.WtUmm
material in the cage. I should think he would have been Seweu.
less apt to make a mistake, because he is always accustomed 2^ j^^^^ ^^f^

to winding heavy cages of coal 7 — I do not think so ; we

who ride up and down every day know what we have to

go through. We know when the big loads are on and the
little ones. We know when the cage begins to be jerked
from practical experience.

24365. That is a different question ; it may be desirable
to limit the speed at which men are wound, but I do not
see your point exactly in limiting the number of men in
the cage. You would not propose to limit the number of
men in a ship because of the danger of shipwreck ; you
have referred to that 7— We suggest limiting the number.

24366. Would you put a limit to the size of liners going
across the Atlantic 7 — ^I am not dealing with liners on the
Altontic ; I am dealing with men in Uie cage^

24367. If a liner goes down there would be a fearful loss
of life 7— Yes, and there will be a fearful lose of life here if
a os^ goes down with 40 men.

24368. In the case of a liner we all know it is safer to go
in big ships. On the whole there will be fewer lives lost in
the big ship 7 — ^There is a difference between being on the
ocean in a big ship and in a small boat. There is a great
deal of difference between a cage going down a shaft and
a liner going down at sea. There is the sea to knock about,
but there is not in this particular instance.

24369. I am bound to say from my own experience
of small cages and shafts, and so on, that I have always
felt the risk was very much greater than in large ones 7 —
You have not had quite as much experience as I have
riding up and down.

24370. I believe I have ridden in a greater variety 7 —
You may have, but yours were only casual visits.

24371. But I have made casual visits to a great many
curious small shafts particularly 7 — ^They wiU bestow a
good deal of attention upon you perhapa.

24372. I am making no objection to your limiting the 1
speed, but I do not see your point in limiting the number
of men in the shaft. It seems to me it may be safer on the
whole to wind carefully with a large number of men in ^
the shaft than to wind fast, at the ordinary speed, with a
small number on each journey 7 — I am afraid you are
looking at cost a little bit, and at the time it would take
to lower the men down.



24373. That is the difficulty of your position, I think 7
— ^I will take it you are all anxious to minimise accidents.

24374. Yes. Do you not think that a manager will take
much greater care if he know that if there is an accident
there will be perhaps 20 or 30 men killed 7 — I am not
prepared to say a disrespectful word against a manager.
I believe a manager will exercise all that lies in his power.

24375. Do you not think that he will take extra care
if he knows that an accident would be a very serious thing 7
— ^I take it that managers are the same as miners, they are
tempted to go over the mark : I am afraid they are.

24376. Taking it on an average, do you not think they
would be more careful with large numbers of men in the
shaft at a time 7 Have you ever considered the desirability
of providing arrangements for washing at the pit head 7
—No.

24377. And changing clothes 7— No.

24378. You have not considered that yourself 7 — No.
Do you mean the German system 7

24379. Yes 7— No, we have not.

24380. Have you anything to say about the question of
sanitation in mines 7 Have you anything to sivv with
regard to the provision of sanitary conveniences 7 Do you
think that there is any necessity for it 7 — ^I do not think there
is in our mines. Oiurs are well ventilated. There may be
in some fiery mines. I hare not considered it. There may
be need to consider it in some deep, hot, fiery mines, but
I think in our mines there is no necessity.

24381. There is no mess or nuisance down the pit 7 — ^None
whatever.

24382.

24383.
district 7-
possesses

24384.

nuisance,
with the
that sort



J



Can the men use the goaf 7— Yes.
So that in that way there is no trouble in your
— ^lliere is no trouble. Our seam unfortunately
a great deal of dirt.

There is plenty of dust to bury it in 7— That
if there is any, occurs chiefly on the haulage roads
boys. I do not think that there is anything of
in our mines.



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126



MINUTES OF EVIDENCE



26 June 1907



Mr. William 24386. (Mr. SmiUie,) Supposing it was the custom in a
Sewell. colliery to allow 20 men to ride on a cage at the same time,
and by law it was limited to 10 — you have not suggested
any number, but that is what you mean to prevent it going
beyond a certain number ? — Yes.

/ 24386. In that case, instead of having to run 20 cages
you would have to run 40 ? — ^That is so.

24387. So that you would have 40 risks instead of
20 ?— That is so.

24388. Dr. Haldane*s point is that the risk ultimately
would be the same ? — ^Yes, only it would not be so great
if one went wrong.

24389. You would have two risks against one 7 — Yes.

24390. Is it the custom in your county supposing a
father and four sons were in the pit bottom at the same
time to allow those five to travel in the same cage ? — ^Yes,
there is nothing to stop them. I have five sons working in



>^



the mine, and two come up with me every day. I have
seen five of us on the cage at once.

24391. If anything went wrong the whole family is
wiped out. It would be a very nioe custom if you did
something to prevent that takmg place. Do you know
any case in Derbyshire where the fireman has anything
at all to do with the regulation of the output, or has to
see to the output going out, or exercise any supervision
over the output ? — ^Yes, it depends a little upon what
district he has. If he has a small district — ^he has in our
colliery — ^he has to look after the output. There are what
we call " corporals," or " doggies," they are sometimes
termed, who are responsible for getting the stuff out. He
is solely responsible for the safety of the road but he has a
certain amount of responsibility on him for getting the ooal
out of that particular district.

24392. If the district is small, in addition to looking
after ventilation and timbering, he has to look after the
output ? — ^He has to look after getting the ooal out.



Mr. Jakss Clabk, called and examined.



Mr. Jamet
Clark.




'^ 24393. (Chairman.) Do you represent the Durham
Deputies Mutual Aid Association ? — ^Yes.

24394. Have you been a deputy yourself ? — ^I have been
a deputy about 25 years or over.

24395. Are you still working as a deputy ? — Yes.

24396. What does your Association i^present ? Does



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 43 of 177)