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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 53 of 177)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 53 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

top of the pit, but somewhere in the pit, and he suggested
in the fireman's chest. When you have finisho.l your work
where do you have your food — where do you Leep your
food 7 — At the entrance to the district.

25565. How far would that be from the working face
on an average 7 — Over a quarter of a mile.

25566. Do you agree with that suggestion, that these
bandages and stretchers should be kept there 7 — Yes, they
would be better there than at the top of the pit.

25567. They could be kept free from dust 7 — Yes, in
a box.

25563. To be able to be used at once if necessary 7 —
I might say this : I have taken a general interest in ambu-
lance work myself, and I have bandages in a box now for
my own individual use, but I think that ought to be
universally provided.

25569. Mr. Abraham asked you about the cleaning of the
roads. If there is any accident to a journey of trams, and
a lot of coal is turned out on to the road, that is cleared up
as soon as possible 7 — Yes, the traffic is generally impeded.
It has got to be cleared to allow the trams to pass.

25570. It is to your interest and the interest of the
management that the road should be kept clear 7 — Yes.

25571. So as to make the traffic coming out as smooth as
possible 7 — Yes.

25572. Can you tell us what would be the average wage
of a fireman in Monmouthshire 7 — Yes, £2 10s. per week.

25573. £10 per month 7— Yes.

25574. {Mr. Enoch Edtmrds.) Do they pay them
monthly 7 — Weekly, I get paid.

25575. {Mr. F. L. Davia.) I think they all pay weekly 7
— No, fortnightly in many collieries.

25576. {Mr. Smillie.) They reckon their wages by the
day 7 — Yes, 8s. 4d. a day.

25577. That is with the percentage on 7— That is the

25578. (iff. F. L. Davia.) Our firemen aire paid a
standard wage, without any reference to the percentage 7
— The only reference that applies in our case is this : When
the ConciUation Board award 55 per cent, we get 2s. 6d.
a week advance on that £2 10s.

25579. It has to get to a very high point before you get
anything 7 — Yes. At 60 per cent, we get another 2b. 6d.
a week.

25580. (Mr. SmiUie.) When miners' wages are coming
down, how is it then 7 Ss. 4d. is the present standard.
When they go up to 55 per cent above the standard yoii
get 2s. 6d. When they come down where do you lose 7
We do not go below the £2 10s.

25581. You do not go below the 8s. 4d. per shift 7— No.

25582. (Mr. Enoch Edtvards.) I understood you to say
that your collieries mostly commence drawing at seven
o'clock the morning 7 — Yes.



Digitized by




2^55S3^ W^t tiine do the men go do\m 7 — The pit opens
ati six/ "

25584. How long does it take to let them down ? — An
hour generally is taken up in putting men down.

25585. The men have to be there at six o'clock in the
morning ? — Yes.

25586. They oommence to come out at 4.45 ? — Yes.

25587. Does it take them the same time to come out 7 —
In the morning the pit is not engaged the whole hour. The
men do not come in very fast until 6.30. I know that the
men can be put down in a little over half-an-hour. If they
came to allow the engine driver to go on continuously they

25588. If they came at 6.30 they would be down by
seven o'clock 7 — Yes, or thereabout.

25589. And continues drawing coal till 4.45 7 — Yes.

25590. If they draw them out at the same rate they
would be all out by a quarter past five 7 — Yes, if the men
came continuously, which they generally do at night.

25591. Quarter past five to half past five 7 — Yes.

25592. How many hours do you call that a day 7 — That
is ten hours per day from Monday, but on Saturday they
finish at 2 p.m., and Mondays at 3 p.m.

25593. You say you have long days and short days.
You say if the men were all there Uiey would commence
at half- past six, and that you could let them down in half-
an-hour. Assume you work from 6.30 and get them all
out at a quarter pavst five, what do you call those hours 7 —
Ten and three-quarters.

{Mr, F. L. Davis.) They do not begin working till seven

25594. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) Have you any boys working
under 16 in the pit 7 — Yes, we have boys between 13 ana
18 working in some of the seams, and they must be 18
before they are allowed, in the thicker seams.

25595. Is it ever suggested you cannot keep them more
than 10 hours in one day 7 — The boys are sent out at the
end of 10 hours, or before 10 hours. If I see a boy in
late, I generally order him out at once, and out he goes, too.

25596. Do you take care that he goes down last in the
morning 7 — Yes.

25597. I was wondering what the regulation was, because
it seems to me possibly boys may be in the pit infringing the
10 hours a day 7 — Generally in Monmouthshire Qiey are
very strict about the hours of the boys.

25598. I put it to you if these are the hours as you
suggest, it is a reasonable asvsumption that they go from
a quarter past six to a quarter past five in the afternoon 7
-^The boys, you mean ?

25599. In the pits, the men and the boys ? — Yes.

25600. li an effort was not made, a boy might go in at a
quarter past six and come out at a quarter past five 7 — He
has to be up by then.

25601. If he stays that length of time he is over 10 hours 7
— Yes, and he is liable then to be brought up before the
management for not acting in compliance witli the Act.

25602. You mean that the management is liable to be
brought up 7 — Yes, and the man who employs the boy, if
he does not let him go.

25603. I understand the society you represent consider
that eight hours a day is long enough 7 — Yes.

25604. You are great beUevers in the Miners Eight
Hours Bill 7— Yes.

25605. Mr. Abraham asked you about the question of
dealing with gas. You said if gas was discovered during the
working shift, if not great, you diluted it 7 — Yes.

25606. What do you mean by ** diluted it " 7— Mix pure
air with it to make it harmless. You clear it, broadly

25607. You said if it was not great. How do you
measure it 7 — Our experience will tell us as to the quantity.
Suppose there was a httle cavity and a Uttle gas in that, we
would have to report that, but it is possible to dilute that
in a very few yards from the point of issue.

25608. You said if there is a small quantity you get it
out 7 — Yes, by erecting a piece of brattice, or something.

25609. You have no special means of measuring the
amount of it 7 — No, our lamp would not register that,

25610. Examiners are aware that a very small quantity
of gas would be more mischievous where you have pure

ventilation 7 — Yes ; I think they are generally aware Hr. J.ohn

of that.

256 1 1 . Would that be reported in the report book 7 — Yes.
All gas found has to \^ reported.

25612. You were asked a question as to your particular
districts. What would be the area of your district that
you cover in these 12 hours — how many miles do you have
to walk 7 — I do not know about miles, but the number of
working places is between 40 and 50.

25613. When you said you go down to make your first
examination at 3.30, and that you finished at a certain
time, how long does it take you to get round the first
examination 7 — From two to tjwo and a half hours.

25614. Of course you are going along leisurely, inspecting
and examining 7 — Yes — not very leisurely though.

25615. You would not get round if you did 7 — In some
districts they are very far in.

25618. Would you travel two miles an hour 7 — No,
hardly that.

2^19. You would not dp two miles an hour 7 — No.

25620. Is that what you mean by going leisurely 7 —

25621. Do you give yourself time to examine the roof
and sides 7 — Yes. We tjould not do two miles an hour
very leisurely underground, very often in a crouching
position. In a seam a yard or four feet high you could not
go very leisurely.

25622. Is the examination very laborious work 7 — It ii^
very tedious work.

25623. It is too tedious to continue it for 12 hoois 7
— Yes. The sight must become dim long before 12 hours
have elapsed, and the man's brain is not«80 alert as it
should be or could be otherwise.

25624. I observe that you think that the fireman or
examiner in your position should hold some certificate of
competency 7 — Yes.

25625. Not necessarily the same examination as a
second-class certificate 7 — ^No.

25626. Ordinarily throughout the country you find that a
manager has a higher technical knowledge, as he must have
in these days ; but the second class is somewhat easy, the
examination is not so stiff ; but still it is of a practical kind,
and for the fireman you want a practical application of his
experience and -observation 7 — Yes.

25627. You would create a new class of certificate 7 —
Yes, and they should have the preference. I do not
believe myself that any man should be engaged after a
certain time unless he holds a certificate of this kind.

25628. What class of men are the firemen in Monmouth-
shire usually selected from — ^the roadmen, or haulers, or
timbermen 7 — Colliers and timbermen generally.

25629. Of what age do they select them 7 — ^From about
24 on. I commenced as an examiner at 24.

25630. What were you prior to that ; were yDu cutting
coal 7 — ^I was cutting coal, and I had been a timberman as
well for a few years.

25631. Do these firemen's wages represent the average
wage of a collier 7 Are you stiU paid as the collier, or
better paid 7 — ^I think it is a very fair comparison with the
wages they are paid to-day.

25632. Do you get full time if the pit is off work 7 — ^We
get full time when the pit is not at work, because we have
to be at the pit.

25633. You are paid a fixed weekly wage 7 — ^Ycs, 8s. 4d.
per shift.

25634. If your pits were reduced to three days a week
they would continue to pay the examiners for six days 7 —

25635. {Mr. Smillie.) What is the time fixed by the
Special Rule in Monmouthshire that the examination must,
be made before the men sta,rt work 7 — ^Two and a-half hours,

25636. Are the coal-getters bound to be in at the working
face at six o'clock in the morning 7 — ^No, they start to g[o
dow^ at six o'clock. The pit is open to allow persons to
descend after six o'clock.

25637. Are they bound to be in at seven o'clock in the
morning 7 — ^Yes.

25638. Not before that 7— No.

25639. Therefore the examination of your first working
place that you reach in the morning ought be three ana

21 ▲

Bees FoweU.
27 June 1907

Digitized by




Mr. John
Bees PoweU.

27 June 1907

a-lialf hours before the workman reaches that working
place ? — ^Yes, it might be.

25640. I understand that in Wales generally you have
what is known as sudden outbursts of gas ? — Yes.

25641. And a very considerable accumulation of gas
might take place within, that three and a-half hours ? — ^Yes.

25642. Some other danger, unseen by the examiner in his
round, might be there when the workman goes in in the
morning 7 — A place can suddenly squeeze.

25643. The longer period that elapses before the
examiner makes the examination and the men going in, the
more danger there is of a thing of that kind ? — ^Yes.

25644. If the examiners' districts were less than they are
now he would nor require to start such a long time before
the workmen ? — ^No, it could be reduced, perhaps, to two
hours or less.

25645. The reason the examination must start at half-
past three at the present time is to enable the examiner to
coyer his district and get out to his point to see the work-
men ? — ^Yes.

25646. Your working there is longwall ? — ^Yes, all long-
wall where I am. It is generally in South Wales.

25647. Does the examiner, from the time he leaves his
station and reaches the fifrst working place, go along and
make his examination along the working faces only 7 — ^No,
he has to examine all the roadways as well as face.

25648. As a matter of fact, does he traverse all the road-
ways out and in which men may have to travel or traffic
may have to go on 7 — ^He must do that according to rule.

26649. It is not exactly what he must do according to
rule ; I want to know what he does exactly according to
the size of his district. You have fifty working places ?
— ^Yes, 4S I have now.

25650. What is the width of them, 17 yards 7— Thirteen

25651. Does that include the road head 7 — That is the
working place.

25652. The full working place is 13 yards 7— Yes.

25653. You have 48 times that width to traverse in a
straight line 7 — ^Yes.

25664. Providing they are in a straight line 7 — ^They are
blocked sometimes.

25655. The probability is that there will be 48 roads
leading into those 48 pUces 7 — Yes.

25656. The examiner's duty really would be to come out
and go in the next road in all those 48 places 7 — Yes.

25657. If he came out No. 1 roadway and went in No. 2
roadway he would require to come up the full length of that
working face 7 — ^Yes.

25658. Gk) down the working face, come back again, come
down that road and in that rcNswi 7 — Yes.

25659. Is that usually done 7— Yes.

25660. That can be accomplished in a careful examina-
tion made in two and a-half hours 7 — ^Yes, I should
think so.

25661. I suppose in your examination the place in which
you must really take the greatest care is the road head —
what is called the road head, where the miner fills his tube 7

25662. Is there any ripping done 7 Is your work suffi-
ciently high to make it unnecessary to do ripping of the
roads 7 — ^We rip in some seams and out bottom in the

25663. You do top ripping 7— Yes.

25664. The most dangerous part, as far as gas is con-
cerned, is at the end of the ripping 7— Yes.

25665. That requires to be carefully examined 7 — Yes.

25666. You did not make it clear whether or not your
lads generally did get out at the end of 10 hours. Mr.
Edwards put that to you. As far as you are concerned, if
you find them in the mine at the end of 10 hours you order
them out 7— -Yes.

25667. Do you mean if you find them at the working
face 7— Yes.

25668. How far might that be from the pit bottom 7 —
In our case it is half a mile.

25669. Would you order a lad a little past 13 to leave the
working place by himself and proceed to the pit bottom 7 —
I always tell the butty if there is a ^oung lad like that to

go with Mm. X appeal to his common senae to comply with
the Act, and see that the boy is taken safely to the pit
bottom, and that the man should accompany him.

25670. Do you always find that the South Wales minei
whom you appeal to has common sense 7 — ^Yes, I think so.

26671. Sufficient common-sense 7— It is only in a few
cases we have to complain about those lads being in.

25672. Does not this moan in every case where a lad is
working with a grown-up person at the coal face that the
grown-up person as well as that lad must be out of the pit
within 10 hours 7 — ^They have to be out by 5.40, to allow
shotting to commence. There is a Special Rule at our

25673. That is far more than 10 hours 7— Yes, they work
10 hours, as a rule, coal getting, but they have until 5.40 to
get out of the pit.

25674. {Mr. Wm. Ahrc^m.) Did you say work 10 hours
at coal getting 7 — ^That is on four days of the week, and
then they work seven hours on Saturday and eight on

25675. {Mr. SmiUie.) You know that the lads shall not
be underground more than 10 hours 7 — ^Yes.

25676. Is it not a fact that some of your lads are not out
of your pit within the 10 hours? — ^In very few cases. I have
had cases in my experience as an examiner where I have had
to reprimand men for not sending them out, and they have
had to appear before the management.

25677. What is the proportion of lads under 16 to 100
men in your colliery. L» it 10 per cent 7 — ^I should say it is
a little more.

25678. Are those lads engaged chiefly at the coal face 7
— ^Yes, with the men getting coal and filling the tubs.

25679. Almost invariably those lads are out within 10
hours 7 — ^Yee.

25680. It means that the man with whom they are
working must also be out within the 10 hours. Is that so 7
— ^Yes. Supposing you and I were working together in
adjoining places, if you had a lad working with you and I
had a lad working with me, perhaps I could not leave my
place immediately, but I would send my boy with you.

25681. That would be all right if one man took two or
three lads. Is that the method by which it is secured 7 —
Yes, very often the man goes with the boy. They generally
get enough work within the 10 hours, and they are generally
gone. 'Diere are a few cases where we have had to com-

25682. You complain that the lads are not amenable to
discipline. How often have you found them on the road
where they should not be and ordered them to go to their
working fa^e 7 — ^That is in the morning.

25683. Sometimes their father, or the men with whom
they may be employed, tell you that you have no business
witn that 7 — ^I have had that told me before now.

25684. That is not generally so 7— No.

25685. Some person says that to you 7— Yes.

25686. Do you think that the officials should have some
power to enforce their position in a case of that kind 7 —

{Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) You have a Special Rule by which a
person is liable to be brought before the magistrates.

25687. {Mr. SmiUie.) They are really under your orders
at the present time 7 — ^Yes ; there is nothing in the rules
stating to that effect.

25088. You are an official of the mine, really 7— Yes.

25689. The lads and the workmen from your district in
the meantime are under your charge 7 — Yes.

25690. And they should be amenable to your orders,
really 7 — Yes, that is it.

25691. You find sometimes that they are not amenable
to your orders, and some impertinent person will say you
have no business 7 — ^Not myself only. Of course I have
heard this mentioned many times to my colleagues.

25692. They seem to feel that the deputies have no right
to order them away 7 — Yes.

25693. You think that interferes, to some extent, with
the discipline of the mine 7 — Yes,

25694. Have you any foreign workmen employed in the
mines in Monmouthshire, so far as you know 7 — No.

25695. Do you think that the discipline of the mine in
which you are employed would be better carried out if the

Digitized by



Workmen at tbe coalface did not linderstand the English or
the Welsh language 7 — ^In Monmouthshire there are not
many Webhmen engaged.

25606. They are mostly English T— Yes.

25697. English-speaking ? — ^English-speaking Welshmen,
as you might term them.

25638. Supposing 100 men in the 48 places you have
under your charge did not understand English or Welsh
and you did not understand pigeon Russian, or whatever
they speak, and Russians were employed, do your think
that would tend to safety cind discipline in the mine 7 —
No, I do not.

25699. Supposing a workman you advised in the morning
as to the condition of the place could not understand you,
do you think that that district would be considerably
safer than it is at the present time 7 — ^No, it would not be
so safe.

25700. It would not be so safe 7 — ^If a man could not
understand what I told him I do not think it would be
as safe.

25701. I am putting the question to you not from the
point of view of your district, because you have not many
foreigners, but it has been said that foreign workmen, who
do not understand the language, are more amenable to
discipline than our own British workmen. I want to have
your opinion.

{Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) More amenable than the Scotch.

25702. (Mr, Smillie,) I find some of the Welsh people
are not amenable, because they have refused to accept
the advice of our friend. Who do you think should be
most concerned-:-! am asking you this as a miner of long
experience — ^in the drafting of Special Rules for the safety
of the men underground. Should not the workmen whose
Uves are at stake be chiefly concerned in the drafting of
Special Rules for the safety of the men underground 7 —
They should be on that Board.

257§3. And next to them probably the examiners who
have to carry out those Special Rules and look after the
safety of the men 7 — Yes.

25704. May I take it, in your opinion, and in the opinion
of the firemen of Monmouthshire and South Wales, that
the firemen from the safety point of view are the most
important class of workmen 7 — ^Yes.

25705. You think even to a greater extent than the
manager who may not visit the mine more than once a day
or once a week. You think that the firemen are more
important even than the manager, so far as safety is con-
cerned 7 — I think they hold the most important position

25706. Do you think, so far as the safety of the workmen
at the face is concerned, that they should be consulted in
the drafting of the Special Rules 7— Yes.

25707. And that the firemen also should be consulted 7

25708. If Mr. Ellis ia correct that hia proposal is the best,
that the employer should, in the first place, initiate or
propose rules to go before the Home Office to which the
workmen or any person could object and ultimately go to
arbitration — ^if that were admitted would the workmen not
have as good a right to initiate and propose rules to the
Home Office without the employer having the right to
object 7 — ^Yes, the workmen should have every facility,
and every other branch, to oppose any rule that they did
not think well enough of.

25709. There are three methods with regard to these
Special Rules. There is the method suggested by you,
that the employer, the mines inspector, and the workmen,
through their representatives, and the deputies should
jointly hold a conference and come to some special safety

(Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) Try to.

25710. (Mr. StnUlie.) Yes, endeavour to come to' what, in
their opinion, was the best rule for safety. If they failed

then some other rule would have to be made. Another
method is for the employer, after having fully inquired
into the matter, to propose rules and send them to the
Home Office, and if the Home Office approves they could
be sent back and anyone would have a right to object.
The third method is the workmen, whose Uves are con-
cerned, should initiate and propose rules, send them to
the Hom6 Office, and the employer could object. These
are the three methods. Your idea is that a joint conference
in. the first pl8wje, would be the best method 7 — ^Yes, it would
save a' lot of delay.

25711. Do you think, if Special Rules were adopted by
a joint conference, that they would be more likely to be
observed and carried out than if forced practically upon
the workmen against their will 7 — Yes.

25712. Do you think it would be an advantage if the
lads attending public schools in South Wales luul some
instruction on mining, and the nature of gases, and the
danger by which the lives of miners were attended under-
ground 7 — ^Yes.

25713. The probability is that 80 or 90 per cent, of the
lads attending the schools in the mining districts will
become miners 7 — ^Yes.

25714. Do you think it would be an advantage if the
lads had some training as to the dangers with w^ch they
would be. surrounded in the mines 7 — ^I may tell you in
Glamorganshire that course is adopted, but it is not uni-

25715. Do you think that that would be an advantage
to the lads 7 — I should make it universal in every mining

25716. Do you think it would tend to greater safety and
discipline underground 7 — ^Yea.

25717. If they had some knowledge of the dangers by
which they would be surrounded 7 — Yes.

25718. (Mr. Batdiffe Ellis.) You would make it obli-
gatory. Is that on the parents of the boys 7 — It is down
in the code in Glamorganshire.

25719. You would have it part of the code in public
elementary schools 7 — ^Yes, in every mining district, I
should thmk.

25720. (Chairman.) You have in your mine 10 examiners
and two deputies. I thought you explained that a deputy
was merely a person who took a fireman's duty when the
fireman was away, but you seem to have two permanent
deputies. What do those do 7 — ^Those deputies I men-
tioned here work a part of the shift and help, as it were,

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 53 of 177)