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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 79 of 177)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 79 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of the boilers as well as the winding-man, and that the
winding-man ought solely to look after the engine ? —
Certainly — and the same with the fireman.

28215. I understand that is not so now : you have the
men constantly doing firemen's duties as well as T^-inders'
duties ? — Only during the night shift. Where there is no
coal- winding during the night shift some of the winding-
enginemen are in charge of the boilers invariably, unless
there is some particular business going on that necessi-
tates his being kept in the engine-room.

28216. But you have never known any accident arise
from that circumstance of the man on the night shift
being always in charge of the boilers as well as of the
wincSng ? — No.

28217. Still, do you say it is a practice which ought to
be discontinued ? — Yes — very much so. The men are
complaining very bitterly against it. Men are waiting
at the pit bottom, ringing, knocking, and shouting, and
they cannot get up.

28218. There is that inconvenience : there is no acci-
dent, but very often the signals are not heard, and the
men cannot get up ? — Yes. There has been an accident
when a man got his leg broken in one case.

28219. (Mr, RaUliffe Ellis.) That is not a case where
they are winding coal during the night, ^ut it is where a
repairing shift is going on ? — The roadmen working night

28220. It is not the case of winding coal at all ? — No.

28221. {Chairman.) You say that owing to this system
which is universally prevalent, of a man on a night shift
being obliged to do stoking work as well as winding work,
it very often happens that men who are down the shaft
on repairing shifts are inconvenienced, and cannot get up
for some time 7 — Yes.

28222. {Mr. Batrliffe Ellis.) The complaint which you
make is that the last thing a man has to do in his winding
shift is to wind men up, and that you think ought to be
altered ? — Yes, to let the men on the day shift down and
to draw the night men up.

28223. That could be altered at present, could it not ?
Arrangements could be made by which the man could
go on a little earlier to wind the men down, so that that
should be his first job instead of his last job ? — ^Ycs, but
you see if there were three shifts the man would only be
on for his eight hours.

28224. But will you forget the eight -hours' point for
I the moment ; even with the present arrangement it
\ could be so managed that the first thing the man had to
I do would be to wind the men down ? — Yes.

28225. That could be arranged at present ; and you
think that would be an improvement ? — Yes. The great
improvement would be to put the eight hours into
operation ; that is oxa contention.

28226. But forgetting the eight hours for the moment,
and speaking only about the saf etv of the men, that could be
done now ; instead of it being the last thing the winding-
engineman had to do, it might be the first thing that he

had to do ? — ^Yes, but still the winding-enginemen cannot
fix their own hours ; it is for the manager to fix them.

28227. Still, if it was thought necessary by these men
to recommend that that should be done, in your own
experience as a winder when you find you have nothing
to do but to look after your engine, and so on, do you say
it is a very exhausting thing to have to wind the men
down after you have bo&n on duty all night ? — Yes.

28228. And you think that although happily there have
been very few accidents, yet it would be safer if such an
arrangement as that were made ? — I do think so.

28229. You said that the engineman in your oountieF^
were very well-trained men. Do you not think you might
extend that description to all the enginemen everywhere ?
— Well, I cannot say that.

28230. But you know that not only in your county, but
generally, accidents are very few indeed ? — ^Yes, they are.

28231. That is a very strong certificate for the com
petency of the engineman ? — ^Yes.

28232. Do you not think that is a better certificate than
you would get from the Home Office ? — No, I do not
think so.

28233. What would be the advantages in point of serfety
which it occurs to you would result from having Ilome
Office certificates ?— We would be better prepared ; we
should be certain that we had competent men. As you
know, they are in vogue in the Colonies.

28234. Do you think the men would be better than they
are now ? — I think they would. The men would have a
better chance in their lives, too, if they had certificates.

28235. Have you seen the Report which was issued by
a Safety Catch Commission in the Transvaal ? — ^No.

28236. They have certificates there ; you are aware of
that ?— Yes.


28237. This is a paragraph 138 on p. 25 of the Report :
" In 2J years out of a total number of 67 overwinds, 56
were due to the engine-drivers' neglect, and of this number
13 were caused through the engine-driver having his
reversing lever in the wrong direction. The majority of
these drivers were certificated, and there no question
arose as to the competency." ? — ^Yes. I do not say that
the certificate would make the men any better in thati
respect, because the best of men make mistakes, and even!
althou^ a man may be certificated, he may make a

28238. Then in x>oint of safety do you think the cer-
tificate would be any advantage ? I am not speaking
about the status of the engine-winder, but I am asking
you to confine your attention purely to the question of
safety ; do you think it would be an advantage ? — I do.

28239. You know the objection that I made before that
Committee in 1901 to this question of certificates ? — ^Yes,

28240. That it would tend to establish a particular class
who might control the access to the mine ? — I remember it.

28241. Would you be prepared, in case it should be
considered desirable, to reconunend the granting of cer-
tificates to do two things, first of all to have it provided
that the enginemen should be required to teach the persons
whom the manager of the mine sent to be taught ? — ^The
man whom the manager sent to learn to wind might not
be a man who could take to a winding engine. All men
are not adapted alike.

28242. Then who is to decide that, from your point of
view ? — I do not say that the recommendations of the
managers would always be the right ones. I think the
enginemen would be the proper parties to judge as to the

28243. I do not wish to misrepresent you ; I only want
to know exactly what your view is. Then your view is
that the engineman should decide whom he should
teach ? — ^I do not say that.

28244. How far do you go ? — You know that we have,
as most Associations have, rules to be governed by. We
say that these men should have a training. There have
been times when incompetent men have been taken into '
winding-engines and the result is that there have been
accidents. You know that obtains in Lancashire, do you
not ?

28245. I think you must excuse me from answering
questions. I want you to tell me this ; how far would
you go — would you say that the engine-winder is to decide
whether he should teach a man who is sent to him to be
taught or not ? Yow: rules provide that he must go as
far as that — that he must only teach people who are-

Digitized by






approved by the Association. I want your opinion with
regard to this ; in your view should the engine- winder
decide who he should teach ? — Well, yes.

28246. The second question that I want to ask you
upon this is, would you be in favour of a provision in any
Act of Parliament requiring that a certificated man only
should be allowed to wind, that the Home Secretary
might permit other people to wind under circumstances
when he thought it might be right to do so ? — ^Yes, I
oould not say that that would do any harm.

28247. With regard to safety catches there is no General
Rule at present. Do you think there ought to be a General
Rule for compulsorily providing safety catches ? — Yes.

28248. Are you not aware that there are two opinions
as to the desirability of safety catches ; some people think
that they might come into action when they were not
wanted, and cause mischief, and some people think — and
very clever men, too — that they had better depend on
the ropes than on safety catches ? — Yes, there are two
opinions respecting them. The sudden operation of the
safety catches in some instances, unless the ends of the
cages are of such a nature that they prevent the men from
falling off, might, or would, jerk them off the cage.

28249. Then they might come into operation when
they are not wanted to come into operation ? — Yes, that
might be so.

28250. Do you think, again, that they are suitable to
anything but wooden conductors ? — Yes, they can be
adapted to steel ropes.

28251. Do you think they can be so adapted safely ? —
I think so. I have seen sketches ^of them where it is
shown that they would grip.

28252. Are you judging merely from sketches — plans ? —

28253. Not from any actual experiment ? — ^No.

128254. Bearing in mind that there are these two opinions,
do you think still that it is desirable to make the use of
safety catches compulsory ? — I do not say so.
28255. You would not go so far as that ? — ^No.

28266. With reference to detaching hooks, that is pro-
vided for, or there must be a limitation of the speed at
present ? — Yes.

28257. You want something to prevent over- winding ? —

28258. But whether it is a detaching hook or some other
contrivance, if it is effective you do not mind which it is ?
— That is all we care about.

28259. Have you any experience of Bertram's patent ?

28260. They are in use at many Lancashire collieries,
and the effect is that if the speed is not reduced when
the cage arrives at a certain point in the pit, which is fixed,
the steam is shut off automatically, and the speed is
reduced ? — Yes.

28261. What do you think of that ?— I have not had
~ any experience with respect to those ; I have only had

experience of the detaching hooks — Calow's patent, and
King's patent.

28262. Of course, manifestly it would be better to stop
the engine, would it not ; there would be no over-winding
if the engine was stopped ? — It would be impossible to
over-wind if the engine was stopped.

28263. Then if you have that vizor, and if the speed
is not reduced at a certain point and there is danger in that
event happening, if the steam is automatically shut off
there can be no over-winding 7 — ^Yes. It is a very good

28264. What you think is that there should be the best
provision made against over- winding ? — ^Yes.

28266. But whether by detaching hooks or by vizor,
you do not mind : you would not object to any system 7 —
Either by detaching hooks or by the system you are alluding

28266. Now in the case of the person attending the
engine-house during the day, of course when the coal
winding shift is going on none of these difficulties that
you suggest arise 7—5^^0.

28267. The man is in the engine-house all the time
winding, and the banksman is there, and very generally
there is a signal from the banksman to the engine-house,
is there not 7 — ^Yes.

B. You want that made general 7— Yes.

28269. In the night, when the repairing shift is on and
not the coal- winding shift, is it safety or convenience that
you want to provide for 7 — ^It is safety.

28270. If the man is not in the engine-house at the time,
there is no winding. In some cases it may be that he is
not there and therefore cannot hear the signal from the
banksman, and the people are kept at the bottom of the
pit, but they are not in danger 7 — ^But people are going
up and down continually at many collieries during the

28271. Not when the engine- winder is not at the engine 7
— ^No. He is somewhere else doing some other work.

28272. Then who is winding 7— Nobody.

28273. How can they then go up and down the pit 7 —
They have to wait until he comes back.

28274. That is what I mean, that it may be an incon-
venience to them, but it does not affect the safety 7 — Do
you mean the safety of the men do^n the mine 7

28275. Yes, the absence of the engine-winder from the
house at the time when there is a banksman signalling and
the men are wanting to come up. I can understand the
point of inconvenience, but does it affect their safety 7 —
We have had people lamed and with their legs broken,
waiting at the pit bottom for an hour or an hour and a

28276. In cases where there has been an accident to a
man there has been delay in having the man pulled up 7 —
Yes, and in cases where the horse-keeper has wanted to
come up, or other people — the deputies.

28277. How many cases can you mention in which there
has been an accident and in which a man has had to wait
for an hour before he oould be drawn up 7 — ^I could not
quote the number, but there are a good many in the
collieries in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire wnere there
is only one winder on duty for 14 hours on the night shift.

28278. But I am on this point of the winder not being
on duty at the engine-house at the time the men want to
come up the pit, and I want to know how that affects the
safety of the men. You have given me the case of a man
having met with an accident and there having be3n delay
in bringing him up : that delay might be injurious,
probably 7 — Yes.

28279. But assuming that men have not met with
accidents down the pit, how does this delay in bringing
them up affect their safety 7 — I cannot say that there is
anything unsafe there.

28280. {Chairman.) Except in the case of an accident 7
— Except in the case of an accident.

28281. (Mr, Ratcliffe EUis.) You have made the sug-
gestion that there should be both a foot brake and a hand
brake 7 — Both a foot brake and a steam brake. \

28282. Have you any other suggestion to make as to
the engine itself, for the purpose of increasing the safety
of the mine 7 — ^No.

28283. Have you ever seen cases where the rope is not
wound on a drum, but there is a single rope, one going
down and the other coming up 7 — Yes.

28284. Do you approve of that method 7 — I should like
to understand you fully.

28285. I mean that the rope does not coil itself on a
drum, but there is only one rope, which is attached to the
descending cage and tne other end of the rope is attached
to the ascending cage, and it just winds round the wheel.

28286. (Mr. SmiUie.) Round a friction wheel 7— No.

28287. (Mr. Ratcliffe Ellis.) You have not seen that 7—
Do you mean those conical drums 7

28288. No, not a drum at all 7— No, I have not seen

28289. Then you have no other suggestion to make as
to the engine 7 — ^No.

28290. Do you say anything about the rope 7— No.

28291. Have you no suggestion to make by way of
improvement as to the examination or the testing 7 — ^No,
we have nothing to complain of in our district in that

28292. (Chairman.) Have you never had an accident |
from the breaking of a rope, that you remember 7 — No : f
they very rarely occur in our district — very rarely indeed, v

28293. (Mr. Smillie.) You say you are in favour of
certificates of competency being granted to all engine-
winders 7 — Yes.

28294. And to firemen, too, I think 7— Yes.


Mr. S. W,

6 No^l907.




Digitized by




Mr. S. W.


6 No^l907,

By " firemen " do you mean boilermen and

K By

T— Y<


28296. In answer to Mr. Ellis yon said yon had no objec-
tion to putting the power into the hands of the Home
Secretary (even in the event of a law being laid down that
winders must hold oertiEoates) in an emergency to allow
men who did not hold certificates, to wind. You say you
have no objection to that ? — ^Yes.

28297. Supposing it were the law that engine-winders
must hold certificates of competency, you only claim that
in the interest of the safety of the miners ? — That is all.

28298. Supposing a strike of engine-winders took place
about some question, do you then give up any thought
that you might have for the safety of the miners ? — No,
I do not give it up.

28299. You say you would allow the Home Secretary
in an event of that kind to permit a non-certificated winder
to wind ? — I suppose the Home Secretary would see that
they were competent men without their being certificated.

28300. But if it is in the interests of the safety of the
miners really that enginemen should have certificates, why
should they allow the lives of the men to be in the hanck
of uncertificated men T Do you not think the enginemen
would be in favour of putting it into the power of the
Home Secretary to allow an uncertificated man to wind ? —
No, I do not think they would

28301. Do you not think the minors would decline to
allow a thing of that kind ? — ^I think they would object
to it.

28302. Do you think the engine-winders would not be
prepared to allow it to be put into the hands of the Home
Secretary to have power to do that ? — ^Yes.

28303. Do you think that the engine- winders would be
inclined to consent to a provision being put into the Act
allowmg the Home Secretary to permit imcertificated
engine-winders to wind in the case of there being a strike
of the certificated engine-winders ? — No. As to that, I
think my answer to Mr. Ellis did not refer to allowing
permanent engagements.

28304. I know what Mr. Ellis meant, but I think you
do not ? — I do not think it should be allowed except in case
of emergency.

^ 28305. Yes, in ca«e of emergency. Supposing 5,000

certificated engine-winders were either lock^-out or on

I strike, you would not be in favour of the Home Secretary

I having a power of that kind in that case ?— I should not.

28306. {Mr. Baidiffe EUia,) Would you add to your
answer the reason why you would not be in favour of it
in that case ? — My meaning was in case of emergency if
there was no certificated man there, that the manager
should be empowered to send a competent man.

28307. But I should like you to give your reason for
the answer which you gave to Mr. SmiUie that you would
not, under the conditions which he suggested, be in favour
of an exemption? — ^We would abrogate our rights by so
doing aa Trade Unionists.

28308. (Ghairman,) What you mean is that if for the
moment it was necessary, owing to the sudden illness,
we will say, of an engineman, that someone else should
be employed, and that there was an uncertificated man
to employ instead of him, then the manager of the mine
would be empowered to send someone else to do his work
for him who was competent ? — Yes, that is my meaning.

88309. {Mr. SmiUie,) You would have no objection at
all in the case of emergency arising at the colliery, where
a certificated engine- winder could not be found for the
time being, to a clause being put into the Act saying that
a competent person who was uncertificated should be
allowed to wind ? — ^I should have no objection to that.
28310. But you would draw the line at 4,000 or 6,000
; uncertificated persons being allowed to wind ?— Yes.
^ 28311. Is that because it would increase the danger ?
\ —Yes, it would increase the danger, too.

28312. We may take it that if you are correct in your
contention that it would increase the safety of the lives
of miners to have certificated winders at all the engine-
houses, you think it would increase the danger if at any
time non-certificated engine- winders were put in charge ?
— I do ; that is my meaning.

/ 28313. {Mr, Ratcliffe EUia,) H I might, interpose a
question, I should ask you this : when you say it would
abrogate your rights as Trade Unionists, to put it in
plain English you mean it would prevent you imposing
upon the colliery owner whatever terms you might think
fit. That i» the plain English ol it, is it not T— No.

28314. (Mr, SmiUie.-) You are atTAI'e tttU at the present
time managers in charge of ooUiatiQB must hold certifi-
cates of competency ? — Yes.

28315. You have never heard it suggested that in the
event of a dispute between colliery managers and colliery
owners the Home Secretary should have the power to put
the mines of the country in charge of uncertificated men 7
— ^No, I do not think that would be done.

28316. And you do not think that the mana^ors are
anxious to continue the certificates in order to plsMe them
in the iwsition of dictating terms to the employers ? — ^No.

28317. But in the interests of the safety of underground
workers, you think the engine-winders should have cer-
tificates ?— That is so.

28318. Mr. Ellis put a question to you suggesting; that
you might, by arrangement with the managers, obviate
the dangers which you say arise from engine-winders
at the end of their shirts lowering the men in the morning ?

28319. You said that if an engine-winder coming on
a day's shift came an hour or an hour-and-a-half sooner;
then he would be fresh, and he oould lower the day shift ?

28320. You stated that that wsa quite true and that
that could be so 7 — ^That oould be so.

28321. But in a colliery where there are two shifts
supposing an engine-winder started at five o'clock instead
of seven o'clock in the morning, and lowered the day
shift when he was fresh, would he not have to raise that
same shift when he was not fresh 7 — Exactly.

28322. And it would not obviate that at all where
there were two shifts in a mine 7 — ^That is so ; and there
are many collieries where there are two shifts

28323. Even in the instance which Mr. Ellis gave, that
a man may be fresh when he is lowering that shift ; he
would also have to raise that shift at the end of his time,
and the same danger would arise in that case 7 — ^Yes,

28324. {Chairman.) Could not the shifta be arran^
in such a way that the man who lowered at thebeginnmg
of the shifts should be allowed to go off just before the
men were required to come out of the pit, and then that
the next man should raise the men who were in the pit
and lower the men on the next shift at the beginning
of his work. He might perform the two operations
in the begiiming of his shift ; the first operation would be
to take up the men at the beginning of his shift, and the
second operation would be to send the men down for the
next shift 7 — ^I do not know whether that could be

28325. {Mr. SmiWe.) I can see perfectly well that the
objection of the engine-winders is that a night-shift man
is on for 14 hours, and naturally you agree that an engine-
winder may not be in the best condition for lowering men
under those circumstances 7 — Yes.

28326. Mr. Ellis says that instead of that, the day-
shift winder might come on earlier in the morning and
relieve the night-shift winder, and that he would be able
to lower that shift of men when he was fresh, but then
that shift of men would come up again during his shift 7

28327. H an engine-winder's eight-hours' day were
enforced, then at the end of that man's shift he would be
going off at the conolusbn of that eight hours, and a
man would come on fresh at the beginning of the next
shift 7— Yes.

28328. The usual thing is to have an eight-and-a-half
hours or a nine hours' shift, and the men who are lowered
by the engine-winder in the morning come up again before
that engine-winder's shift is finished — unless he is on an
eight hours' shift 7 — That is so.

• 28329. {Chairman.) Would it not rather go to this,
that it might be a convenient thing that whatever shift
there was imderground, the same length of shift should
also be imposed upon the enginemen, so that if it was
an eight-and-a-half hours' shift the enginemen should also
have an eight-and-a-half hours' shift, or if it was a 10
hours* shift, as it is in some caaes in South Wales, that the
enginemen should have a 10 hours' shift. In that wi^
you might make it certain that a man always did the
greater part of his work when he was fresh and beginning
the shift. Would it not be desirable that a man's shift
should begin and end at very much the same time as the
colliers' shift begin and end 7 — Well, different conditions
exist at different collieries : some collieries work, as
Mr. SmiUie has said, about eight-and-a-half hours or niae

Digitized by



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 79 of 177)