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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 64 of 177)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 64 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

cates of service granted, and the candidates for certificates
at examinations have to produce medical evidences of
their fitness.

26595. Where it may involve a serious accident if a
man had a sudden attack of any sort, would you have any
precaution to find out periodically whether a man's
health was such that he could be fairly well trusted ? —
No, there is no periodical examination. I think there is a
good deal more reason for that than the examinations for
competency in other respects because it is a man's moral
and physical qualities more than anything else.

26596. You do not have anything in the nature of a
medical examination. A man may go on 30 years and
have developed some disease which may kill him suddenly,
and you know nothing about it. You do not, as a matter
of fact, try to detect anything of that kind ? — No, I agree.
I think it is a proper position that they should be periodi-
cally examined, at the same time we have never had any
accidents. That is one of the reasons I advanced to the

25 A

10 July, 1907



Digitized by




10 July, 1907



Minister for reBtricting the issue of those oertificates to
winding - engine drivers, that we have never had any

26697. (Mr. SmiUie.) We may take it that you disagree
with the Government, and yx)u say that the Government
were wrong in passing that law ? — That is hardly a fair way
to put it. I would much sooner take a certificate of
character or fitness from another manager than I would
take the certificate of the Government. The examiners
sit a few minutes, or it may be half a day, and how can
they know of a candidate's fitness for the position of an
engine-driver ?

26598. Do you apply the same opinion to oolUery
managers' certificates ? — ^No, that is a different thing.
Colliery managers' qualifications, to a great extent, can be
discovered by examination, but you can see that a winding
engine driver's fitness is a matter of moral and physical

26599. Have you any ideas of the views of engine drivers
and miners in New South Wales ? — Of course there is a
craze for certificates everywhere ; it tends to create an
exclusive caste, and there is no doubt as to what their
opinion would be.

26600. You consider it a craze only ? — Yes, I think it is
a craze. I have two winding-engine drivers who have been
performing their duties for about 18 years and under very
difficult conditions. The winding is very quick, and
they have never made one mistake, and I am absolutely
certain that if they were put through the examination most
assuredly they would be plucked. I have another voung
fellow, only about 21, who is absolutely incapable of
handlkig these winding engines and still he has a certificate,
and he has the higher status of the lot, and I would not give
him their duties to-morrow.

26601. Have you ever known colliery managers who were
good colliery managers, and who would have been plucked
U. they had sat for a certificate ? — Yes, I daresay.

26602. I suppose you are aware that some excellent men
when the Act came out got a service certificate who would
have been plucked at an examination ? — There would be
no necessity to be plucked if they got a service certificate.

26603. Who would have been, that is what you said
about your two engine- winders ? — I think that is very

26604. That did not prevent the passing of the Act
that made it compulsory for colliery managers to pass an
examination ? — The cases are hardly parallel. In the
one case it is mental ability and in the other case it is
ph3rsical ability.

26605. An engine- winder requires, under this Act, to
have a considerable knowledge of machinery ? — There is
a distinction as to the requirements of engine drivers in
the Metalliferous Act.

26606. I am dealing with the winding engineman ? —
There is a difference between the two. There is the
metalliferous mine and the coal mine. In the metalliferous
mines the men's lives are more or less dependent on other
men. Nearly every man is in charge of machinery because
there are little winches underground winding up staple

26607. It is more necessaiy that there should be some
care taken in the appointment of the men ? — Yes. I agree
that we did not raise any objection to it being confined to
engine- winding men.

26608. Has it limited your choice in any way to the
number of men ? — ^The Act has not been long enough in
operation to express any great opinion about it. Ex-
perience in the Transvaal from all accounts is rather
unfortunate. They have all certificates there and in no
part of the world are there more accidents in winding

26609. {Dr, Hdldane.) Are the engine drivers certificated
in the Transvaal ? — Yes, they are all, and it is a very
unfortunate state of affairs the number of accidents in
winding shafts.

26610. (Mr, SmiUie.) I suppose a man, who is other-
wise qualified, who has a good moral character and who
is a good engine, winder would be no worse supposing he
had a certificate ? — No.

26611. Provided he had the other qualifications. Nerve
18 one of the chief qualifications necessary ? — Yes.

26612. Did I understand you to correctly state to Mr.
Ellis that the persons going from Great Britain to New
South Wales and wishing to sit for a certificate do not
have to ratisfy the Board but the examiners. I understand
you are chairman of the Board ? — Yes.

26613. Do you say they do not satisfy the Board as to
their qualifications for sitting, but^ that they satisfy the
examiners 7 — In the same way as the other candidates.
We lay down rules for the exa^nination, and the Board
formulate these rules and the examiners satisfy themselves
as to the testimonials of the different candidates.

26614. The system is here before they are allowed to
present themselves to the examiners they must satisfy
the Board through the secretary that they have had the
qualifications. A person presenting himself from New
South Wales for examination here would, in the first
place, require to satisfy the Board, not the examiners ? —
Of course the testimonials are sent in to the secretary of
the Board, but these are dealt with by examiners, and the
examiners report to the Board.

26615. It is possible that candidates outside of New
South Wales might get the length of the examiners, and
might be objected to there. Tnat is not possible in this
country ? — After all, the Board is not any more fit to
investigate the qualifications of candidates than the

26616. I wanted to make sure whether that was your
method ? — Yes.

(Mr. Batcliffe Ellis.) The question as to whether a man
is qualified to sit does not depend upon his ability to pass
an examination : it depends upon having complied with
certain regulations made by the Board, ^eref ore I think
it is rather for the Board to say whether a man is qualified
to sit or not : whether he is qualified to pass the examina-
tion is for the examiners.

(Mr. SmiUie.) He may be qualified to pass, but the
examiners might prevent him sitting ?

(Wi^eaa.) Yes.

26617. In our case the Board does that ?— Yes.

26618. There is five years practical experience required
before a candidate can sit in this country ? — Yes.

26619. As Mr. Ellis pointed out in^our rules a three
years' apprenticeship to a mining engineer may be sub-
stituted ? — ^That is the same in some of your districts.

26620. This is how it was at one time.

26621. (Mr. Batcliffe EUis.) In the northern counties
they have something of the sort ? — I think in more than
one. When we formulated these rules we had nearly all
the rules for examination before Mb. 1 am positive that
is so.

(Mr. SmiUie.) Is there any seiious grievance on

the part of colliery managers in New South Wales that they
are not permitted to come to this country : that the
certificates are not accepted here ? — Yes, there is, and
there is a great deal of feeUng : it is a question of status.
We accept the Imperial certificates without question,
and if we have men as capable as they are here, and the
experience to be gained is as varied, why should our cer-
tificates not be accepted ? They are gained at an exam-
ination which, we submit, is in all respects similar to the
examinations in the British coalfields.

26623. Is the coal trade of New South Wales developing
rapidly ? — Yes.

26624. Is the supply of colliery managers passed by
your own examiners sufficient to meet the demand ? — I
should say that it is more than sufficient to meet the demand.
It does not at all follow as in British coalfields that every
candidate who passes will obtain positions.

26625. (Mr. Enoch Edtvards.) Or that he will get a
position when he has passed ? — Yes, that is so.

26626. (Mr. Batcliffe Ellis.) Are the Special Rules
similar ? — In some cases a great deal more elaborate : in
my own colliery we have about 260 of them.

26627. (Dr.Haldane.) Can you tell me whether there
is a separate examination in New Zealand for colliery
managers' certificates ? — I think so.

26628. It will be well to settle this question in allparts
of the Empire while we are at it, if it can be done ? — Every
application would have to be taken on its own merits,
because it is obvious that except New South Wales and
probably New Zealand there is no other State in the
Commonwealth that is entitled to ask for it on its merits.
We could not, for instance, ask that applications from the
whole of Australia should be granted.

26629. I do not know anything about Canada ; it is
an important part of the Empire ? — I do not know sufficient
of Canada to say.

26630. Supposing the manager of an English metalli-
ferous mine goes to Australia, he must pass an examination

Digitized by





before he is allowed to manage an AuBtralian mine : is
that not 80 ? — I cannot speak with any confidence about
metalliferous mines, because I confine myself to coal

26631. There is no official English certificate, and that
is one of the questions referred to the Commission ? — It
would have to be reciprocal, of course, I should say. The
conditions are reversed in metalliferous mines, because
metalliferous mining is a much more important industry
there than here, but of course in regard to coal mining it
is out of all proportion greater here.

26632. They do insist upon an official certificate for the
manager of a metalliferous mine in Australia ? — Yes.

26633. There is no certificate in England ? — ^It is a
very small industry here.

26634. It is very unfortunate for people who go out
there from here ? — Yes.

26635. Are there any arrangements in your collieries for
the men washing at the pit-head before they go home ? —
None. I do not know whether we could make such
arrangement, because water is sometimes a great con-
bideration with us.

26636. Even enough to wash with ? — Yes, we cannot
get enough to drink sometimes.

26637. The point you have raised about the difference
between colza oil and mineial oil is a very important one.
Do you think it is desirable to have experiments to get that
matter settled ? — I think so ; I attach very great im-
portance to this point ; I think we ought to have some
reliable standard which you can go upon.

26638. Do you mean also a maximum standard for fire-
damp permissible in parts of a mine that are in work. I
mean where the men are working ? — Yes.

26639. You think that is desirable ?— I think that it
is highly desirable, because it is a matter of difference of
opinion at present ; it ought not to be a difference of
opinion at all, there ought to be an official standard.

26640. Are you much troubled with black damp in your
collieries ? — Yes, in some of the collieries. With efficient
ventilation in some of the mines it is scarcely noticeable.
We have a very curious composite gas in my o'wn colliery ;
it may be the only instance known where carbonic oxide
is given off naturally from the coal. There is the curious
circumstance of firemen searching on the roof and also
on the floor for firedamp ; that seems inconsistent, but it
is a fact. The gas is a composition in many places of
carbonic oxide, carbonic acid gas and firedamp, and you
very often find it on the floor, and it shows that charac-
teristic blue cap on the floor just the same as on the top.

26641. You would have it sometimes on the floor and
not on the top ? — ^We have it both.

26642. That might be because the gas was equally
mixed. Can you have it on the floor and at the same time
the air clear above ? — As a rule where we have it on the
floor it is clear on the top, but we certainly have carbonic
oxide given off naturally from the coal, and not from any
combustion of powder or coal.

26643. Does that carbonic oxide cause much practical Mr, D. A, W,
inconvenience T — No, I am inclined to think that scientists Robertson,
are a little out with respect to the perc«[itage that a man

may work in. 10 July, 190T

26644. How do you mean " a little out " ? — I consider
in the early days, before we had our second shaft down,
that frequentlv there was in the air a much higher per-
centage of carbonic oxide than our scientists declare it is
possible for a man to work in.

26645. How do you know it* was there ? — We know it
was there; we had it analysed. I reported it to the
Department of Mines and they all laughed me to scorn
at the idea of carbonic oxide being given off naturally, but
I had it analysed at considerable cost, and by a chemist
from the Department of Mines, and the former was con-

26646. I know the circumstances ; there is some there.
I think to substantiate your statement that it is possible
to work in a larger percentage would require very good
evidence, and it is very difficult to get exact anabases
where carbonic oxide is present. Are you aware that the
best re-agont for carbonic oxide is oneself or an an^nal T

26647. Do you consider that carbonic oxide is given off
from the coal without any heating whatsoever in your
mine '—Yes ; it is not so general now. It was more in
the vicinity of a shaft and near to an enormous dieet of
dolorite horizontal, but we do meet with it all over the
mine, but not generally.

26648. The men are affected by it ?— The ventilation
is usually so vigorous — we have 400,000 cubic feet.

26649. Not generally, but occasionally T — Of course we
can soon demonstrate it by cutting off the air for a little ;
you will soon realise that you have carbonic oxide to
deal with.

26650. Does that air give you a headache T— Yes, all
the characteristics.

26651. Does it make you weak in the legs ? — Yes ; it
is certainly rather remarkable to see our firemen
searching for firedamp on the fioor.

26652. You think that they sometimes would get it on
the floor when they cannot get it on the roof ?— 5 do not
think it ; I am sure of it.

26653. You are sure they would sometimes find it on
the floor when it is not to be seen above ? — Quite sure.

26654. Do you know whether that is ordinary firedamp T
— ^Yes, ordinary firedamp mixed with carbonic oxide and

26655. Is there no question of it being a heavier gas
like petroleum vapour, or anything of that sort, which is
naturally heavier ? — No, it has been analysed.

26656. It is very difficult to make a mixture of firedamp
and blackdamp which will be heavier than the air and
yet show a cap ? — It is there. I shall be very pleased to
demonstrate it to anyone.

26657. It is a very interesting thing ? — Yes. j

Mr. Henry Davies, called and examined.

Statement of Witness.

26658. (1) I am the Director of Mining Instruction for
the Glamorganshire County Council and Secretary of
the South Wales and Monmouthshire Mining Education

I arrange schemes of instruction, deliver lectures,
and conduct parties of mining students " touring "
various coalfields. I have had 15 years* practical
experience of mines at home and abroad, and have
inspected mining schools in England, Germany, Belgium
and America.

I advocate a system whereby lads in mining districts
intended for work in the coal mines should be taught
something bearing upon their occupation for the re-
mainder of their lives before they leave school, e.^.,
lessons on the following subjects are given in the
Glamorgan primary schools to lads about leaving for
the colUeries: —

Coal, and how it is formed.

Coal mines gases, and how they become dangerous.

The safety lamp and how to use it.

How a collieiy is ventilated.

How the coal is worked in a mine.

Rules framed for the colliers' safety.

In order to make the instructions real and effective,
the school inspectors have been instructed to grant
certificates to the lads who attend a full course of lessons
and give evidence that they have benefited thereby.

I recommendp too, that eveiy plan practicable should
be adopted to continue the education of the lads after
they have commenced their work at the mines, so that
they may be instructed in rules framed for their safety
and that they may be induced to take an intelligent
interest in their surroundings and duties. This may
best be done by evening continuation schools and
technical classes.

Mr. Henry

Digitized by




Mr, Henry

10 July. 1907

(2) The system adopted under the Glamorganshire
County Council is the following:—

As there are many young miners anxious to continue
their education from the point they reached in the
primary schools, who are insufficiently prepared in the
rudimentary work for admission to the technical classes,
a special preparatory class in mining has been arranged
for evening continuation schools. The syllabus for
this stage includes instruction in the following subjects : —
(a) English grammar and composition.
(6) Mathematics — arithmetic, mensuration and

(c) Elementary drawing — freehand, model and

{d) Elementary science of mining.
While, in order to arouse the interest of the student,
t may often be necessary to approach a subject from
the standpoint of the miner, yet there must not be any
slavidi narrowness of treatment in this respect ; gener-
ally the instruction in the preparatory subjects should
be such as would be useful to any industrial student and,
in fact, in many cases, the classes will be attended not
only by those engaged in mining, but by others also
engaged in such occupations as building, engineering, &c.

(3) This is a complete course, specially arranged to
meet the requirements of those : (a) Who are desirous of
securing certificates of competency of the first or second
class under the Home Office ; (b) who are candidates for
the mining or engineering scholarships offered by the
Committee ; or (c) those who are anxious to become
really efficient in the science of mining. The course is
divided into four stages as follows : —

FiBST Stage (First Year) :
(a) Practical mathematics.
(6) Mining. _ .

(c) Mechanics and heat. -, ^

(d) Geology.

Second Stage (Second Year) :
(a) Practical mathematics.
(h) Mining.

(c) Mechanical drawing.
{d) Mine surveying.

Third Stage (Third Year) :

(a) Practical mathematia<3. '

(b) Mining.

(c) Applied mechanics.

(d) Electricity and magnetism.

FoirRTH Stage (Fourth Year) :

(a) Mining.

(b) Mine surveying.

(c) Heat and the steam engine.

(d) Electric lighting and the transmission

of power. <j

Efforts are made to establish preparatory, or first-stage
cksses wherever there is a populous mining village.
Second-stage or advanced classes are fewer in number,
and opened only at suitably equipped centres. The
former classes are generally conducted by local teachers,
who may be enga^^ at the collieries or primary schools
during the day, and the latter by members of the Com-
mittee's travelling staff of teachers.

(4) A short course of special lectures has been arranged
for officials and miners who, for various reasons, are not
members of the Committee's evening classes. This
course bears directly upon the cause and prevention of
colliery accidents. Popular lectures are also delixored
under the auspices of the Miners' Federation Lodges.

(6) The tours are at present arranged as follows : —
For students in Stage 2 : The South Wales Coal-

For students in Stage 3 : An English or Scotch

For students in Stage 4 : A continental coalfield.

Twenty-five scholarships are awarded in each of
Stages 2 and 3 and 20 in Stage 4.

The scholarships are awarded on the results of exami-
nations, which are held by the Committee, in three of
the subjects forming the mining course. Oiily students
making at least ^ class attendances (or with the
manager's certificate proving the student to have been
engaged on the night shift, 15 attendances) in classes for
the above subjects, and presenting themselves for the
. Board of Education Examination in Mining (Stages 2, 3
or 4) are eligible to compete. . 6- ,

The quality of the student's homework (as presented
on exercise books) is taken into consideration when the
scholarships are awarded. Teachers are expected to
make two reports during the session, showing the marks
possible for, and secured by all students in their classes.

The value of these scholarships is as follows : For conti-
nental tour, £8 ; for English or Scotch coalfield, £4 ;
for South Wales coalfield, £3.

A limited number of these scholarships are awarded to
teachers of evening technical classes, taking at least two
of the subjects forming the mining course, and teachers of
evening continuation schools who have taught the
preparatory course in mining at their schools.

One-half the amount of the scholarship awarded will
be paid the student when he enters upon the tour, and
the remainder on receipt of a satisfactory report on the
collieries, &c., visited, provided that the report be
received within one month of the return of the party.
If the report be not received within one month, one-half
of the scholarship will be forfeited.

The privileges of these scholarships may be enjoyed by
students only once in each stage.

The continental tour occupies at least eight days ;
English or Scotch tour, about six days; and South
Wales tour, six days ; each commences early in July.

The special summer course of instruction in mining
and correlated subjects, arranged for students qualified
for instruction in the higher parts of the mining course,
is held in August or September.

(6) During the session 1905-6 no less than 28,000
pupils attended the Glamorgan evening classes.

In mining technical classes, of which there were 76,
1,730 students were enrolled ; in the 33 mathematics
classes, 800 ; 52 ambulance classes, 1,381, and 25 engi-
neering classes, 527.

(7) During the last few years I have taken considerable
interest in the duties and hours of colliery firemen
(examiners), and would strongly urge upon the Com-
missioners the desirability of recommending that arrange-
ments be made whereby these officials should pay
greater attention to the actual supervision of the miners
when at work. 1 believe that more thorough and
effective supervision would quickly effect a reduction in
the number of accidents ; and, further, think that a
" shift " of 12 hours and upwards for these men is too
long. I beg to hand in copies of some returns I have
secured as to the duties and hours of colliery firemen.

I further believe that these officials should pass a
Government examination to prove their competency
before being appointed to so important an office.

(8) Ventilation. — I would recommend that returns be
made of the quantity of air passing through a mine once
every 14 days, and that a record be kept of the air-
current as shown by such measurement ; also of the
percentage of gas present in the air-current at the last
working place in a " split " when the air measurements
are taken ; and that such records be always available
for examination by the Government inspectors.

(9) Traffic on Main Roads. — It is advisable, too, that
haulage should be stopped on main roads and engine
planes at the beginning or end of a shift, when workmen
are passing to or from their work, unless special pro-
vision be made for the safety of the men.

(10) Cdliera as Hauliers. — I would recommend that
f pecial provision be made to prevent accidents to colliers
who are called upon to take the places of absent hauliers ;

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 64 of 177)