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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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difficult to me, differentiating between the Act, General
Rules, and Special Rules.

25867. At all events there is some rule in operation
to the effect you have stated 7 — Here is the Special
Rule in the Special Rules for Durham County, what
they call the West District. It says : " Each banksman
shall have control of the shaft top and each onsetter
of the shaft bottom, and shall not allow any person to
descend or ascend the pit without permission from the
proper authority ; he shall regulate, subject to any direc-
tions of the manager or under-manager, the order in which
persons shall enter and leave the cage, and see that the
authorised number only descend or ascend at one time,
and shall not allow any person to descend in a state of
intoxication, nor allow any intoxicating drink to be taken
down the pit, except by special permission.'*

25868. Under that rule it would be necessary during
the whole 24 hours, or when it was possible for any man
to have to go down, that there should be somebody on
top and somebody at the bottom 7 — Here is Rule 86 in
this Code, which says : " When persons are to descend
or ascend, the agreed signal shall be ffiven by the banks-
man or onsetter only, except where otherwise authorised ;
and when persons are descending or ascending, the banks-
man and onsetter shall remain m a position so as imme-
diately to signal the engineman in case of an accident."

25869. As regards keeps, you would be satisfied if that
Special Rule was carried into effect and if keeps were
made compulsory 7 — Yes.

22 a

Mr. W. B.

9 Jui^907.



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Mr. W. B.

9 Juiyri907.



25870. That Special Rule, you think, might be made a
General Rule ? — ^That is what we think and desire.

25871. For the whole of the United Kingdom ?— Yes.

25872. As regards hours, you say you ought to have
eight hours a day for winding, and you refer to the evidence
which Sir Lindsay Wood gave in 1897. What do you niean
by " told us " ? — That was something Sir Lindsay Wood
said at the Mining Institute in the North respecting the

25873. He was making an address to the Mining Institute
and said that in the course of his address in 1897 7 — Yes.
In Durham we have an arrangement for an eight hours'
shift — an eight-hours' day throughout the county for
winding. A provision of this kind made by the Govern-
ment would not afFect us much as a county, but as a
representative of the National Federation, I am urging
this with a view to bringing about an arrangement of
eight hours throughout the whole mining districts.

25874. In Durham you have eight hours ? — Yes.

25875. You do not complain as regards the length of
hours. You have no complaint to make as regards the
practice in Durham. You want that practice made
universal by Act of Parliament ? — Yes. We have in-
st^knoes, although they are few, in which men in Durham
have stood excessive hours because the management would
not otherwise provide for the man stopping 16 hours, two
shifts, if his partner was ilL He would not be prohibited
from staying 16 hours, and I have one or two instances in
my mind where accidents have occurred while men were
doing one of these longer terms than eight hours.

25876. That would be difficult to provide against. It
would be a reasonable thine if a man was ill that his mate
should take his place for the next shift. That would be
a good arrangement. How would you manage that?
— We think that there ought to be a provision of that

25877. In case of illness ? — ^In our arrangement with
the masters in Durham we have pledged ourselves thus,
that in the event of a man being ill, that two men shall
make up the deficiency by following in eight hours at
work and eight hours at home, but that is not strictly
adhered to. Sometimes two men, rather than do that,
stand 12 hours each, because the other method brings
them oftener from home to work and consumes part of
the time in coming and going.

25878. You think in Durham things are not what they
ought to be in regard to hours, and you ought to come to
some arrangement whereby under no circumstances should
any man be allowed to work for more than eight hours as
a winder ? — Yes.

25879. You think that should be enforced in all oases
of illness where possible, because a case might arise where
the next man could not do his shift through being suddenly
ill. The man who had completed his eight-hours' shift
would have to go on until somebody could be brought.
In a case of necessity you would allow that T — That is one
of the things that we urge upon our people : no matter
what the intervention was, as the winding-man holds the
gate, so to speak, of the highways of the mine, he must
not go and leave it, because he stops all means of getting
in and out.

25880. You say in conclusion : " We ask the Com-
mission to do something to prohibit single individuals
being sent into the mines alone to attend pumping engines
and electric motors, Ac, during week-ends and at night-
time when the pits are to be idle the next day " ? — Would
you pardon me if I refer to paragraph 5 respectmg signalling
men at the bottom.

25881. Certainly ? — That is a thing we, as winding
men, feel very much about. It is at week-ends and during
night turns. This is what took place at the bottom.
Wliat I complained of at the top before was largely
affecting the top. This is the bottom and we are subject
to men coming and giving us a signal that they want to
ride, whereas the Special Rules provide that they must
be seen into the cage by the attendant and signalled away :
but in practice in many places at week-ends and night
turns — I do not mean when pits are doing their full work —
a man comes to the shaft bottom and signals himself away.
After he signals, the enginemen have to think, " Will he
be in now ? " They have to give him time. When I was
an apprentice my old tutor said, " I will tell you what to
do^ount 12," and that was the time in which any man
could get into the cage. Of course I did not always
count 12, but one got so that we could metfcsure the time
somehow or other. It is not a safe practice. In Northum-
berland Bebside case I have referred to, the man was not


killed right out, but he told his brother-in-law that the
engineman was too sharp for him and caught him. I
remember another case, where, as the man was stooping
getting in, the slot that comes down to keep the tul^ in
position, got in behind the collar of his jacket and he was
held until the winding-man took the cage away, and he
was killed. We do not like such risks. It is a thing that
produces in us very much anxiety. Supposing we give a
person over time. If we waited too long I have known
instances where tJie man has thought, " I have not given
the right signal, I had better get out a^in." It is a very
dangerous thing. You must just give them the right
time to get in nicely and get away. If you hold the man,
the chances are he thinks, " I have not signalled right and
I will get out." We do think that the Government should
prohibit that.

25882. (Mr, Batdiffe Ellis.) Do you want the signal to
be in the engine-house ? — No : we want an attendant
the bottom to see that this man gets in, and signal the man

25883. (Chairman,) That would be necessary if it was
obligatory to have the keeps in position, so that they could
act. You must have somebody down below. That
would be necessary if it was obligatory to have ihe keeps
in acting order ? — That i \ so, excepting there are more
decks than one. You generally go on to the bottom, and
that does not need keeps except there are more decks, in
which case you lift the cage and put them back on to the

25884. There ought always to be somebody at the
bottom to S3e the men safely in ? — Yes.

25885. The keeps should be put in position and should
not te released until the man had got in ? — ^Tnat is so.

25886. Do you wish to say anything more on that
point ? — No.

25886a. Then we will go on. You do ot want single
individuals sent into mines alone ? — No. I do not think
that obtains to any very great extent, although it does
obtain. At the present moment, for instance, I have a
letter — I am not going to read the letter — where the
Secretary says, " What I mean is they want one man to
look after both pumps at the week-ends, and they will
be the whole time of the shift alone in the pit." That, we
think, ought not to be. At this particular job that I
instance there are two men, two engines 500 yards apart,
and through the week there is one man at each engine,
but at week-ends one man is sent down alone to attend
to those engines, and we think that no man ought to be
alone in a mine.

25887. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) With reference to your last
answer, it may be quite right, but why do you think that
a man ^hould not be alone in a mine ? — A very little
accident might disable him from getting out-bye to the
shaft. He might be scalded by nis engine ; a small
accident might keep him fastened where he was, until
somebody got conceraed about his not getting home,
and they would go and, perhaps, find the man unconscious,
or in some way incapacits,ted, or injured, and we think he
should have some company.

25888. That would mean that there must be another
man there doing noth'ng, but b3ing there in case anything
happened to the other man ?— I do not know that it would
mean a man. A boy would always be an efiicient mes-

25889. There may be two or three men in the pit, but
not sufficiently near to render assistance in case such a
thing as you suggest happened. Your idea is that where-
ever one is employed there must be a man or a boy ^ath
him to take a message if he is hurt ? — We do not ask for
this where there are other men in the pit. They may be
in other districts. We say there 'ought always to be more
than one man in the mine.

25890. Would not the reason you have given apply
also if there are six men in the pit in different districts
entirely away from each other ? They would not go
and look and see if an accident had happened to a man.
He would have no means of communicating with them ? —
That would obtain there as well.

25891. If your suggestion is carried out, it must mean
with each man down a mine during the night — this ia
between shifts — there must be a man or a boy for the sole
purpose of taking a message if anything happens ? — It is
a serious matter for a man if employed in an out of the way
district and he is scalded or injured, and he is helpless
until accidentally somebody finds him out.

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25892. I want to know whether or not you seriously
suggest in all cases of that kind there must be somebody
for the sole purpose of taking a message in case he should
be hurt ? — We think, for the man's safety, that there
should be a provision of that kind.

25893. You thought a man before, but you think a
boy might be sufficient ? — Did I say a man ?

25894. I may be mistaken, but I understood you to
say a man 7 — '^ We ask the Commission to do something
to prohibit single individuals being sent into the mines
alone to attend pumping engines and electric motors."
That is what we desire.

25895. I should be slad of some assistance as to how
the Commission is to do that. Somebody must go down.
It is not preventing the man going down T — ^No.

25896. Your only remedy is for the purpose of taking
a message that this man is hurt, that there should be a
second person with him ? — It would not be an extraordinary
claim upon the employers.

25897. I want to know what you suggest. It may not
be a large claim. That is what you suggest ? — We suggest
that where a man is employed tending an engine or an
electric motor, that there should be someone that can
run away in the event of an accident or injury, or whatever
it may be, and communicate it to somebody.

25898. Is not that really what it comes to ? You
sugs;est that there should be some person there with no
work to do except to wait on the chance of this man meeting
with an accident, to communicate it to someboily ? —
Well, yes.

25899. Do you find the number of accidents to these
single men very large ? — As I said before, this does not
obtain to any large extent. I do not know, probably,
that I could get more than a dozen cases in Durham. I
do not know that I could, but so long as it is possible we
think that something should be done to prohibit it.

25900. {Mr, BcOcUffe Mis,) 1 do not quite understand
what these keeps are. When a cage gets to the top of the
pit there is a lever drawn, and these are drawn out from
underneath and hold the cage steady? — Yes.

25901. What is it you want beyond that ? — Nothing.

25902. You want these keeps to be always put into
action when the cage is at rest, that it should hang loose
in the shaft ? — In ordinary coal drawing in ordinary
working with men, as the cage comes past, the keeps are
weight^ to position and the cage puts them by until
the decks pass, the cage then comes back on to the keeps.
There is a portion of the 24 hours in which there is not,
probably, much done, and they do not have an attendant,
and they fasten the keeps back and the cages go up with
men, and there is nothing to steady while the men are
getting in and out.

25903. They do not have an attendant. There is a
banksman, purely ? — In some places there is no banksman.

25904^J^obody on the pit, and the men get in them-
selves ? - Yes.

25905. You want, when men are wound up and down,
that there should be an attendant to see that these keeps
are working, and that the cage hangs on the keeps and
does not hang loose in the shaft ? — ^That i^so.

25906. The banksman is required to be there by the
A"t, or your rules. All you really want is your rules
carried out. *' Each banksman shall have control of the
shaft top, and each onsetter of the shaft bottom, and shall
not allow any person to descend or ascend the pit without
p>rmis=?ion from the proper authority " ? — That is it, the
proper authority. *

25907. He has to be there. I should have thought it
meant the banksman must be there on the top and the on-
petter at the bottom, to see that they come in properly ? —
We believe the practice in some places is a contravention
of what is intended by the Act.

25908. It ought to be put as a General Rule, as his Lord-
ship has said. With regard to the hours for the general
winders, you have in Durham eight hours ? — Yes.

25909. In some places they have a good deal longer ?—
Yes, I believe they have.

25910. In Lancashire they have longer than that ? — Yes.

25911. One of your ryles for the engineman is that he
shall have " responsible charge of the engines, boilers, and
the whole of the machinery with its appendages in and
about the mine, and all erections on the surface." I see
that is not the engineman ; that is the engineer. Has he
to do anything except winding ? Has he to clean his
engine ?— Yes, very often, and grathing. ^^, , ,

26912. When does he do that T— Generally at week- Mr. W. B.
ends. Cleaning and grathing is done at week-ends after Charlton.
we have drawn the week's output of coals and the week^s _ -. ; — ; ^^„
work k over. 9 July^l907.

25913. During the eight hours is he winding aU that
time 7 — Yes, winding all that time, either men or coals.
We say he winds 10 nours, coals and men, and men with
casual work for 14 hours.

25914. How is this eight hours you speak of T There
are 10 hours occupied in winding coals and men ? — Yes.

25915. Do you change the winding engineer ? — Yes,
because after this is done, the Shafts, according to this
regulation, are to be examined. Men come in and they
examine the shafts, doing repairs, etc. Then laige timber
that cannot be sent in the cages is sent down on the cage
tops. Ordinarily we have the inspectors and three shaft
men. Then timber goes down ; then there is a shift of
what we call the shift men, who may come in, and other
men to keep the pit in order. We have frequently men
changing during the night. It is continuous. The men
are there continuously from six in the morning till six
the next morning doing something.

25916. You have three enginemen, and they take eight
hours shift each 7 — Yes.

25917. They change the shift : it does not matter what
is going on, whether coal, men, or timber is going down, the
men change at a certain hour 7 — Yes.

25918. If the relief man does not come, does he go on? —
Yes, he continues. We know that.

25919. You recognise that 7 — We recognise that he
could not go and leave the engine.

25920. You think that arrangement is satisfactory.
What if the second man did not happen to come 7 — In that
ciroumstance the man would communicate with the
manager or the engineer, as the case may be, intimating
that ' My partner has not come in ; kindly have me
relieved after four hours from now." If I was at the engine
and my partner did not come in I would intimate to the
engineer, " I am willing to stop four hours ; kindly arrange
for my being relieved at the end of four hours," and thus
we would make up the middleman's time by that arrange-

25921. You do not bring in a relief man other than
those regularly engaged at winding that engine 7 — There
are some places where they have relief men, but it is not

25922. It is not usual in Durham 7 — No.

25923. You must make arrangements with the men who
usually wind, but you cannot bring an outsider to take
charge of the engine 7 — No.

26924. Do you think that would be preferable to having
a man working 16 hours — two shifts 7 — Calling a relief
man 7

26925. Yea.— Yes, it would be. As I said before, we
have an arrangement if one of the three men does not come
in, then the other two must fill the time in.

25926. They divide it 7— Yes.

26927. (Mr. Wm, Abraham,) That is in cases of emer-
gency 7 — Yes.

25928. {Mr, Raicliffe EUia,) With regard to the quaUfying
certificate, you are an engine- winder, I believe 7 — Yes.

26929. You did not have a certificate 7 — No.

26930. Are you any the worse for it 7 — I should think I
am worse. If I had been able to get a certificate from the
Grovemment at that time I think I would have had a better
start than I got.

26931. The qualifications of an engine- winder, some of
them at any rate, you can hardly ascertain by an examina-
tion by the Home Office — nerve steadiness 7 — That is so.

25932. You would have to find out in some other way 7
— Yes.

26933. Experience 7— Yes.

25934. A Home Office examination would be merely as
to the knowledge of the engine 7 — Yes.

26935. How would you ascertain that he was satis -
factory as to what I should say are the more important
qualifications, the natural physical qualifications 7 — We
think it could be ascertained in two grades ; for instance,
a man would satisfy the Home Office that he was a fit
and proper person to be taught to undertake to learn the
duties, and then, after he had demonstrated his fitness by

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Mr, W, B.

9 JutyTl^O?.


practical work to the manager and to the men, a report of
this kind would be submitt^, and farther examination by
the Department before he got his certificate of competency.

25936. Do you propose, before a man begins to learn his
business, that he must have a certificate from the Home
Office that he is a fit and proper person to be taught ? —

25937. A preliminary examination ? — Yes ; that is what
we think.

25938. That is not part of your Bill T — Yes, I think so.

25939. Your Bill was that persons should have a certifi-
cate, but after he was supposed to be competent, a certifi-
cate to say that he was competent, not a preliminary
certificate before he began to serve his apprenticeship ?— I
think tlie Bill seemed to regard winding as being a point to
be reached by a first-class certificate. A man who had not
a first-class certificate could only take jobs of less im-
portance than winding, and that in the first grade a man
would come to such proficiency that he could take charge
for instance, of the fan and the pumping engine, and the

25940. I think if we look at the Bill it provided that no
person should be entitled to work a winding engine who had
not got a first-class certificate. That was the principle of
the Bill ?— Yes.

25941. It would be an offence, punishable ?—Ye8.

25942. Therefore the effect of that would be, whatever
happened, as you say, the winding man holds the gate,
and the gate would be held by a certificated winding-man,
and no other person could obtain access to the mines or
bring anybody out of them ? — No.

25943. In order to obtain a certificate you agree that
the apprentice must be taught his business 7 — Yes.

25944. The facilities which are afforded for teaching him
his business would very largely depend upon whether he
got a certificate or not. If the facilities were easy, if a
man could learn his business without any difficulty, there
would be more certificated men than if a man was restricted
in learning his business. Supposing your Association
claimed the right to say, " We shall not teach anybody
except the persons we decide upon,*' your Association
would hold the gate ? — Yes.

25945. You did not quite answer his Lordship^s question
as to whether you claimed that you should have the right.
You said you could not call to mind an instance when you
had refused a nominee of the manager, but do you claim the
right to refuse a parson nominated by the manager ?—
^ unfit person.

25946. Fit or unfit, do you claim the right to say that
you and you alone shall say who shall be taught ? — ^That is
governed by this: The 24th Rule makes the proper
discharge of the work incumbent upon the person in charge
of the winding engine. Our position is this : if the manage-
ment force the man who has charge of the winding engme
to teach another, and the teaching of that other embar-
rasses the man, hinders the man from efficiently managing
his work, then that is an undue interference with the
winder, and if he happened to bear the consequences of
that interference and liability, we claim on these grounds
that we shall have an assurance that the least possible
embarrassment shall take place in the event of teaching

25947. I should like to go further than that, and know
whether your Association claims the right to refuse to teach
a person of whom it does not approve ? — Well, yes, we seek
to claim that right.

25948. I want to read you a few rules ; no doubt you are
acquainted with them. First of all, take your own rule :
" Any person wishing to become a member of this Associa-
tion, to be taught the art of winding, must obtain the con-
sent of some competent financial member or members,
who will undertake to teach him, and be proposed and
seconded by two financial members at least one month
previous to his admission." You mean that in its fullest
sense your Assoication are to control the persons who are
to be taught to wind ; therefore your Association would
control the persons who would have certificates ? — Yes.

25949. And your Association therefore would control the
gates ? — No, I beg your pardon. What we are asking the
Gfovernment to do is to remove these restrictions from the
authority of our Association and to enforce them them-
selves, and then that would cease to be so. Through what
we have done we have a more efficient staff of men than
we would have if these regulations were not in force, and
we do not want them to rest there : we want the Govern-
ment to determine on some other code than our rules and
enforce them.

25950. Supposing the Government said : " We will
nominate persons entirely outside the Enginewinders'
Association to be taught," your rules would not allow you
to do that ? — We would have to make our rules to fit.

25951. I think you are the General Secretary of the
Association ? — Yes.

25952. In the St. Helens Association of Colliery Engine-
men, Rule 10 says : " A member who teaches anyone the
business of an engineman, unless he is his son or brother, or
the 9on of another member of the Association, will be fined
not more than forty shillings." In die Cumberland
Enginemen*s Friendly and Protective Association, Rule 9
says : " No member may allow a non-member (except his

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 56 of 177)