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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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them about the gas in the lamp room at the surface.

26908. What does he teach them underground ? —
About the system of haulage, the nature of the arches
and the roadways in general, the application of the Special
Rules, the system of timbering, the methods of working
longwall, double road, &c.

26909. He lectures underground ? — Not exactly lectures*
If we are going to Grermany .

26910. Will you please keep to Wales ?— The instruc-
tion is exactly the same. As soon as we get to the bottom
of the shaft we deal with the haulage, the arching, and
the rules with regard to safety. Then we go to the lamp
locking station or deal with the methods of haulage ; then
we go to the haulage engine room and describe the engines
and the nature of the power, whether compressed air,
electricity, or steam ; and from there we go to the working
face and deal with the character of the seam.

26911. Is this all done underground ? — Yes.

26912. With a party of 30 or 40 ?— No.

26913. I thought you said so ? — ^There would be two
or three men in charge if we had 30 students, and there
would be separate batches.

26914. Is that done during work time or on pay Satur-
day ? — Sometimes on pay Saturday, generally evenings ;
night shift when there is less danger.

26915. When the pit is not working ? — There would be
a few men working at the coal face, but there would be
plenty to explain the system of working.

26916. You said that you found some managers who
were more ignorant than others, and who were more
difficult to deal with in these matters ? — I think I said
less intelligent. I did not assume that they were ignorant.

{Sir Lindsay Wood.) Very well, I will take your word.

26917. {Mr. Smillie.) Did you say they could not be
more ignorant ? — I said that where I found the intelligence
was the greatest the readiness to assist the pupils was
also the greatest, and where the intelligence was less then
there was not so much interest taken in advancing the
pupils to pass the examinations.

26918. {Sir Lindsay Wood.) What authority do you
hold to communicate with the managers in this way ?
— In what way ?

26919. Do you make a personal application to the
manager or have you any authority from the County
Council of Glamorganshire ? — We have never at present
thought it necessary to get any authority. My applica-
tions are sufficient, I think, at present. We have
never found any difficulty. No one has asked me
by what authority I visit the mine. My visits are
welcome because I do my best to increase the intelligence
of the workmen, although it is necessary sometimes to
blame the officials. They have never asked me for any
authority, and they welcome my visits.

26920. You do not hold any authority from the Gla-
morgan County Council for this work ? — I do not under-
stand your question.

26921. I do not know what position you are in ? — The
Glamorgan County Council could not give me authority.

26922. You are a lecturer in mining of the Glamorgan
County Council ? — ^Yes.

26923. You are a paid official of theirs to carry out
certain instructions ? — Yes.

26924. To give lectures and so on ?— Yes.

26925. That would not authorise you to go to collieries ?
— ^No. There is no public body who would have authority
to empower me to visit a colliery in that way that I know of.

26926. I should have thought not ? — ^It is unnecessary.
The interest taken in the work is such as to make any
authority unnecessary.

26927. I thoufi'ht that you had some official position ? —
By which I could demand authority ?

26928. Yes? — It has not been necessary to demand
permission to enter, my visits are always welcome.

Mr. Henry


26929. Your position is to lecture on mining ?— I am
a director of Mining Instruction for the Glamorganshire
County Council. -

26930. I thought it was rather that of criticismg the ^^^"^^^^
working of the Mines Act at present ?— I beg your pardon. .
I criticise much, although I am a director of mining

26931. So I understand ?— Certainly, that is my duty.
If I am asked to lecture on the cause or prevention of
acoidente, whether the cause comes from the collier or the
Government inspector, I will point it out.

26932. I only want to know what is your position ? —
I am a free lance in that direction.

26933. You stated that examiners ought to examine the
percentage of gas at the end of a working place ?— Of each

And record the percentage of gas in it ? — ^Yes.

How can that be done ?— By an ordinary Clowes
nydj^ogen lamp.

That will not give you the percentage ?— It will
give us asoale bymeans of which we can read the percentage.
26937. You will not get much of a result from that ?—
I have made some tests and I am satisfied that it is much
better than the lamp we use at present. We cannot tell
the percentage by the ordmary lamp the firemen use now.
It IS more or less guess work.

Is it done at all in any mines ? — Yes.
Where ?-— Mountain Ash and Merthyr Vale.

26940. They measure the percentage of gas in the au-
every month ?— Yes, and if it can be done there it can be
does elsewhere.

26941. That is recorded in that book. That is not
necessarily by the Mines Act ?— No, but it is done in the
main return airway of Nixon's Mountain Ash colliery every

26942. You said that you had to give a lecture on some
pomt and that you sent out returns for information.
Were those returns sent to the colliery owner or to whom ?
—I do not think that you have understood my answer.
I was asked to give a series of lectures to colliery officials
on the cause and prevention of accidents, and the first thing
I did naturally was to satisfy myself as to what were really
the most prevalent causes. In order to satisfy myself
I sent out a series of questions, and I got them answered,
and I was convinced to a certain extent as to the causes.

26943. To whom were the returns sent ?— They were
sent through the Secretary of the Association to me.

26944. What association ?— The Colliery Examiners'
Association. The reason why 1 did that was this.

26945. What we call the Deputies' Association ?— Not
exactly your deputy. These are not the men looking after
the timbering.

{Mr. Smillie.) The deputies in Durham are the firemen.

26946. {Sir Lindsay Wood.) You mean the Firemen's
Association ?— I could not get at the men unless I got at
them through some Association. I would not know their
names for the whole coalfield, so I had to employ the
secretary to distribute the questions, otherwise I could
not get at the men.

26947. {Mr. SmiUie.) They were not got through the
owners or managers, but through the examiners and the
deputies ?— I have them here, perhaps you will understand
them better if you see them.

26948. {Sir Lindsay Wood.) I did not know whether
you got them from the owners themselves ?— No, that
would be unfair to the men, because they would not be
likely to give those particulars through their superiors.

26949. It is equally unfair to the colliery owners if you
get them through the men ? — ^No.

26950. Why not ?— We do not assume that the men
would be untruthful.

26951. Do you think that the owners would be untruth-
ful ?— I believe the men, if they had to send the report*
through the owners, would not give me all the information
that I wanted.

If you had the reports direct from the owners — ?
— I do not believe that they would give me all the informa-
tion that I wanted. I think that there would be a con-
siderable amount of information I wanted omitted.

26953. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That information you got
IB information open to the owners to criticise ? — ^es, hero
is the whole lot, but I had to promise the men that I

Digitized by




Mr. Henry


would keep the names myself, and only hand them to a
person in whom I had confidence. I think that explains
the position.

26954. {Sir Lind&ay Wood.) I was not certain whether
you got the returns from the workmen or from the owners ?
— I would not ask the owners ; I do not think I should get

26955. They are not returns published in the in8i>ectors'
Reports 7 — ^No, they are published in this (Producing hook)^
and open to the world to criticise.

26956. I do not know what you mean by this ? — I am
Sony; it is supposed to be very good.

26957. What is it ?— A series of lectures I delivered.

26958. (JHfr. Wm. Abraham.) May I put a question
to assist you ? The managers themselves actually take
the chair at your lectures ? — ^Yes, there is no friction in
that direction. I got the infcumation directly from the

26959. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) You said, in answer to
Mr. Abraham, that the firemen when making inspections
in the morning where the district was too big, were assisted
by the haulier ? — Yes, in some cases.

26960. By whose ai^thority does the haulier inspect ? —
I cannot really take upon myself to answer that
question directly, but I know that it is officially
known that the haulier does it. He is not appointed by
the fireman to do work for which he is responsible, but it
is done with the knowledge of the management.

26961. In the first place, who are the firemen appointed
by ? — By the manager.

26962. He is responsible for the appointment ? — Yes.

26963. And their fitness for the office ?— Yes.

26964 Does he give any authority to hauliers T —
The manager ?

26965. Yes ? — ^That is a question involving some doubt.

26966. Could anybody else give authority but the
manager ? — Not authority,

26967. How do these men come to inspect. How do
the hauliers come to inspect at all ? — The haulier would
be going down i)08sibly for a night shift, and instead of
doing straight some hauling work he would, for an hour
or less, do inspection work.

26968. He is not a person appointed to do it ? — No.

26969. Who is responsible for engaging him in such
work ? — The fireman is appointed to do that work officially

. and the fireman makes the report.

26970. There is no authority to delegate that business
to a man who has never been appointed to such work ? —
That I cannot answer, but I know that it is done. Here
for instance, in my book I find ** Until lately did shot-
firing during a shift." "I see to all repairs and proper
supply of trams ; I am responsible for traffic generally."
*' I have a haulier to assist me in making the gas examina-

26971 Is that common in South Wales ? — No.

26972. You know that it is done ? — I know that it is

26973. {Mr. Raicliffe Ellis.) In that particular case you
mention ? — And in the others. This was a case I quoted.

{Mr. SnMie.) We had that evidence from an examiner
from South Wales last week, that an examiner sometimes
had another person with him and sometimes did part of the
examination, and he signed for the whole district.

{Mr. Ratcliffe EUis.) He called that man an assistcmt.
{Mr. SmiUie.) He calls this an assistant, too.
{Witness.) He is a haulier.

26974. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) What is a haulier's work ?
—To clear out the coal as it is filled, take in the timber
and empties.

26975. Does he drive a horse ? — Yes.

26976. He does not trim it himself ? — Not in the oases
I quote. He simply drives the horse.

26977. What is his wage, about ? — I cannot tell you.
I do not deal with the question of wages.

26978. He fetches the coal from the colliery face ? —

26979. You suggest that he has power to levy tax upon
the collier ? — I do not say that he levies tax generally,
but it is found occasionally thai he does get a tip. I do
not say that he levies a tax. Possibly it is a voluntary
contribution on the part of the collier, and not a levy.

26980. I understood that if he did not pay it he did not
get his trams ? — That is the indirect way of putting it :
where the tip is not given, the collier waits for his trams.

26981. He has the power to levy ? — Yes, if he chooses
to exercise it.

26982. If he does not pay he does not get trams or
timber 7 — We should not put it quite so broadly as that.
There are oases now where the tip not having l)een given
the timber also has not been supplied at the time it was

3. I have been in the world a few years, and I never
knew of such a thing. That is why I am putting this
phase to you. You suggest to us that in the aJl-important
question of timbering being in a man's working place, that
this haulier not having any tip will not take the timber ? —
I do not put it so strong as that.

{Mr. Smillie.) He would give the man the first timber.

{Mr. Baldiffe EUis.) It comes to the same thing.

26984. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) I understood you to say
that l*he collier having failed to pay the haulier his demands,
to pay this tip, you call it, 6d., Is., or 2b. 6d., the other
man takes his timber in preference ? — That is the point.

26985. The result is that the man does not get his
timber when he wants it ?— He does not get the first

26986. Does it follow that he is without timber ?— It
is necessary that he should have timber.

26987. Will it follow because the other man who has
given the tip has the timber, that the other man may bo
wanting timber and it is not there ? — It may occur.

26988. {Mr. SmiUie.) Did you not say that it was a
prolific cause of accidents ? — I put it forward as a cause of
accidents, but I do not think as a prolific cause of accidents.
Accidents will arise, and that possibly may become one
of the causes.

{Mr. Enoch Edwards.) I understood you to
suggest that if the man failed to pay his tip, the haulier
took oare he did not get his tubs or timber as regulariy
as the man who paid tips. If his timber is not taken to
him but to the other man who gives him a tip, it will
follow that this man at times wants timber and it is not
there ? — Yes. I quoted a case in Monmouthshire where
the examiner found a man had not a post, and he asked
the haulier why, and the haulier said he did not pay his
rent last week. Although you could not apply it to every
case, yet there is preference given to the man who pays
the tip.

26990. In answer to one of the Commissioners you said
that was in some cases with the knowledge of the
managers ? — I can hardly understand the manager of a
colliery not knowing the existence of the system.

26991. I think you put it that way, that it was with the
knowledge of the manager 7 — Of necessity.

26992. If it was done there it must have been known.
You refer to the Home Office examinationa for managers'
certificates ? — Yes.

26993. For convenience they are fixed in certain centres,
more for the convenience of the locality than anything
else ? — Yes, and to meet the local needs that those who
are anxious to become managers in South Wales should
sit at the examination at Cardiff or in South Wales.

2(5994. You do not suggest that a man who has secured
a first-class certificate at any of those centres would be
incompetent to manage a colliery in fc?outh Wales ? — No ;
but I suggest that he should pass the examination intended
for his own district.

26995. We were told last week that an English manager
had gone to one of your collieries in Monmouthshire, and
the first thing he did was to change the shift from 12
hours to eight. That has not been a bad thing for Wales 7
— I do not know that. That was not Monmouthshire ;
it was Glamorganshire.

26996. That was not altogether a bad thing for Wales 7
— I do not know whether the manager changed the shift
time or the agent.

269J7. They put it suice they got this manager there.
I am only putting their own case. You rather suggested
that a man failing to pass at Cardiff or Swansea went to
Manchester because the examination was less stiff than
at those places 7 — I know that he passed in Manchester,
having failed at Cardiff.

26998. Supposing he could have had another examina-
tion at Cardiff at the same time as he went to Manchester,

Digitized by




do you think that he would have passed at Cardiff ? — I
should not like to say that.

26999. May it not be possible in some one subject that
the man was very weak, and by some means he gets to
know that is the cause of his failure ? — That is what we

27000. In two or three months there is another examina-
tion, and if he had an opportunity of going to Cardiff,
having improved himself, he might pass there ? — We have
som^i of tiie published questions, and we see from the
standard of requirements that possibly the second in some
districts is as hard as the first in others.

27001. You suggest that the mining engineers should not
receive premiums from pupils ? — Not that, quite. I
suggest that a mining engineer who receives a premium
from a pupil should not be the examiner of that pupil.

27002. There are three examiners ? — Yes.

27003. If there were one of them who received a premium
from a pupil, what effect do you think that would have
upon the other two ? — I would not like to say, because I
do not know who the other two would be ; but I would make
it impossible for the man to be an examiner, to begin with.

27004. Does this happen in Wales ? — That one of the
examiners receives premiums from pupils ?

27005. Yes ? — ^Yes, and I believe that it happens

27006. You think it does ?— I think it does.

27007. You have no proof that it does elsewhere ? — I
would not like to speak except for my own district.

27008. Most of us are mixed up with these Boards.
Mr. Smillie is on the Board in Scotland, and I am on the
Board in Staffordshire, and I do not remember this question
beinp^ before us. You made reference to a meeting that
was held where all the discussion was carried on in Welsh,
and the Assistant Inspector understood the Welsh and the
Chief Inspector did not ? — ^Yes.

27009. Did they carry it all on in Welsh because the
Chief Inspector did not understand it? — No; for the same
reason that I have to lecture in Welsh occasionally.

27010. I have been mixed up with Welsh people a good
bit, but I always understand that there is no Welsh talked.
— You have not been to Gwaen-cae-Gurwen, Ystalyfera,
Ystradgynlais or Cwmtwrch.

27011. It is hardly a case of Welsh for the Welsh ?— No.
I believe in Wales for the best.

27012. Am I correct when I say all the demonstrations
so far as the Miners' Federation is concerned are conducted
in English ? — ^The best test is this : a member of the
Cardiff University College staff, who had to collect sub-
scriptions for^the building of our new Mining School, was
very greatly annoyed and vexed because he could not
make the people understand what he wanted when he
begged them to subscribe.

27013. I quite believe that ? — If you want to convert a
Welshman you must speak to him in Welsh

27014-6. It is awkward if you are collecting subscrip-
tions ? He may not understand English in that case. I
do not understand Welsh, but I address meetings in
Wales ? — You only go to the biggest places ; the smaller
men go to the smaller ones. You have not been to
Cwmtwrch or Ystradgynlais or Gwaen-cae-Gurwen. ' ~:j

27016. Some of these people who address your people
do not know Welsh themselves? Some of them do not,
but in this particular case the men speak Welsh. They
speak about " Bwmel." The inspector would not know
what it was, and it came up repeatedly.

27017. I was at an inquest, and the witness insisted on
giving evidence in Welsh, but I was thoroughly satisfied
that he knew English, and could talk English, because I
had a chat ^ith him afterwards ; but perhaps having the
Welsh interpreted to him gave him more time to feel his
feet ? — Perhaps he was anxious to make you comfortable,
and show his respect for you.

27018. I was not cross-examining him ? — ^This Con-
ference was carried on in Welsh because the men more
frequently use the language at Gwaen-cae-Gurwen.
Ystalyfera, Ystradgynlais and Cwmtwrch. I have to
address the men in Welsh sometimes, because they under-
stand me better in that language.

27019. You are quite at home with it ?— No, I prefer
English ; it is difficult to talk about carburetted hydrogen
in Welsh.

27020. {Mr, Wm. Abraham.) If you address a meeting
in the Rhondda are there not thousands who would under-

stand you better in Welsh than in English ? — Yes, in
Treherbert, and other places.

27021. (Mr. Smillie.) I understood you to say that the
Conference at which the chief inspector did not understand
the Welsh was really a conference of miners' delegates ? —
Yes, miners' representatives. There were, I think, five
of them present.

27022. Were there any who did not understand English ?
— They understood English, but they were more conversant
with the Welsh. They spoke Welsh in the mine, and at
home, and they went to Welsh chapels, and when they
wanted to discuss such things as the preparation of squibs
and shot-firing, they were more at home in Welsh, and
made a special appeal to have the conference conducted
in that language.

27023. It was the local officials and not the general
officials ? — The Western Division, the anthracite district,
the Swansea Valley.

27024. What further examination do you propose that a
candidate for a mine manager's certificate who might pass
in Manchester should undergo before he became a manager
in Wftles ? Would it be a viva voce examination ? — I
would have one general examinc^ion.

27025. For the whole country ? — Yes, and one examina-
tion suitable to local needs.

27026. What kind of an examination would you have ?
— A viva voce, or an examination on paper of the methods
of working — the methods of working aaopted only in the
particular district, or peculiar to that district.

27027. Would your suggestion with regard to inspectors,
that an inspector having a knowledge of the Welsh language
should be preferred, also refer to a colliery manager ? —
Yes, because when a Welsh colliery manager gets angry
he invariably speaks in -Welsh.

27028. There are localisms in every district, practically ?
— Yes.

27029. In Scotland we use terms which are absolutely
different from what they are in the North of England, or
the Midlands, or in Wales. A colliery manager, who might
be a cood colliery manager in Wales, it may be suggested,
would not be employed in Scotland until he had gone
through an examination on those local terms. Would
you ffo that length ? — No. A man may be successful in
the North of England, and be transferr^ to South Wales
and be successful ; or he may be a successful manager
in Scotland, and be transferred to the South of Wales and
be a successful manager for many reasons. I would not
consider it necessary to examine that man, but at the
start, when the man sits for the examination qualifying
him to become a manager in South Wales, I think he
should know the Sx)ecial Rules and aU subjects relating to
that district.

27030. There have been a number of ver7 successful
Englishmen and Scotsmen who went to South Wales ? —
Yes, and a number of successful Welshmen who have gone

27031. Who have been successful when they have gone
north ? — Yes.

Mr. Henry

10 July, 1907

27032. We have a mines insp
Welsh ? — ^Yes, they speak Eng]

ctor there who can speak
ih and Welsh.

27033. At leasts so Mr. Abraham tells me — I do not
know myself. I am particularly interested in the question
of instruction of children in the mining districts. I under-
stood you to say that the children under 14 still attending
school were taken to the mines and down the mines ? —
Thej are taken to the mines as school children and taken
down the mines immediately they become members of the
evening continuation school.

27034. They may be employed underground at that
age, so far as age is concerned ? — Yes.

27036. You do not take them underground ? — Direct
from the school ?

27036. So long as attending day school under 14 years
of age ?— No, we take thom to the colliery and to the
lamp-room and so on. From the evening continuation
school, where we have an expert as teacher, we take them

27037. It is a very great concern to me that children
should get some knowledge, even during their elementary
training, of mining, and the nature of gases and other
things. Is there any general instruction given in the
schools in Wales in that direction ? Is it a part of the
curriculum of the school or provided for in the time-table ?

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 68 of 177)