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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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the pit-head which of course the enginemen know nothing
of, and to make an engineman satisfied and to know what
is going on down the shaft, naturally the banksman would
tell him through the pipe ; for instance, with regard to
myself personally, the banksman would tell me perhaps .
" There is such and such a pipe with a long pull, and so
and so, going down; now be careful in going through
the collar-board," and so forth — ^I mean that by the speaking
tube he could explain that to the engineman on duty.

28780. You mean that when any special weight, or
anything of that kind, was being put on the cage, that
he would have to guide lus engine specially for, it would
be convenient that he should have a speaking-tube 7 —
Quite so.

28781. {Mr, Wm. Abraham,) What is the number of
men in vour Association who are working eight hours a
day 7 — t have not gone into those figures.

28782. But approximately — is it the great majority of
them 7 — Yes ; I may say there are only about 60 of our
men who are working 12 hours.

28783. Are you of opinion that so many of the employers
already conceding the eight hours is a great argument in
favour of their all being compelled to do it 7 — ^Yes.

28781. If I understand you rightly, you think it would
be necessary to have some standard indicator — one
indicator instead of the numbers of indicators that there
are at present 7 — ^Yes, that is my point.

28785. You think it would be safer 7 — Yes ; and every
engineman would know then exactly what he had to con-
tend with.

28786. That, in order to enable the engineman to know
distinctly and exactly what he has to do, one standard
indicator would be a great help 7 — Quite so.

28787. With regard to the speaking-tube I think, as you
said, there are a great many things going on at the top of
the colliery, there is a great deal of shouting going on, and
consequently there is a danger of one man shouting some-
thing which you may take it is a communication with you,
and that would lead to some danger 7 — ^That is so.

28788. Do you think the speaking-tube would be an
improvement upon present conditions 7 — ^Yes, it would.

28789. And that improvement would increase the
amount of safety 7 — Yes.

28790. Not so much because you can trace any direct
accident happening, but it is more as a means of preventing
the possibility of such a thing 7 — That is so.

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28791. {Mr. RatcUffe EUis.) With reference to the
sanitary oonditions of the engine-house, what is the filth
which you say should be removed ? — ^Take for instance,
the oil and dust coming from the rope ; that would be
left sometimes to heap up under the drum. That, with
water and steam possibly running against it, would cause
it to smell sometimes.

28702. But whoso duty is it now to remove that ? —
Of course that is an arrangement between the surface
manager who gets some of his labourers, I suppose, to
take it out.

28793. Yes, but who does it now as a matter of fact T
Is it the enginoman's duty to do it ? — ^No.

28794. But who does it ? — When you were working as
an engineman who did it in your engine-house? — A labourer
at the pit-head, or those who were working outside with the

28795. They are sent to dear this away ? — ^Yes.

28796. And the engine-house is cleaned from time to
time, is it not ? — Yes — ^whitewashed.

28797. Is there any serious complaint about this matter ?
— No, not much, but I understand the Commission is to
prevent accidents, and I thought it was well to mention it.

28798. You want to put all m ?— Yes.

28799. There is no very serious complaint about it ? —

28800. With regard to the exits which you have men-
tioned, do you advocate two exits or two doors, or what
is it you want exactly in the engine-house ? — Yes, I do
advocate that.

28801. But why ?— Mr. Hopkins did not go so far as
I would go on that point. I would refer to the case of
Clydaoh Vale ; that occurred in 1900, and this pipe which
he has just told you of burst opposite and prevented them
going out through the door that was going into the engine-

28802. That is one case that you know of in which a
man was prevented from getting in, or somebody was pre-
vented getting out, because a pipe burst just opposite the
door ? — Yes.

28803. That is the only one, is it not?— Well, I
thought if it was prevented there it would not happen
again, and it would meet that danger.

28804. Do you think that is really a sufficiently clear
source of danger to require that two doors should be put
into an engine-house, one to go in by and one to come out
by ? — ^It would meet that which I have j\ist stated to you.

28805. Yes, it would meet that particular case. Was
this particular engine-house, which you are speaking of »
on the ground floor ? — ^Yes, on a level

28806. Was there a window in the place ? — Yes.

28807. Did the man get out of the window ? — ^No.

28808. Why not ?— He could not, unless he broke the
window, of course, and that would be an iron frame. In
that case the mechanical engineer was killed: he was
scalded, and it caused his death.

28809. That is one case in which a man could not get
out. Was he scalded because he could not get out ? — Yes.

28810. The pipe burst opposite the door, did it not ?

28811. Why did he want to go out ? Was he not safe
in any part of the engine-house ? — ^No.

28812. It was filled with steam ?— Yes, and that is
where the mechanical engineer was scalded to death.

28813. Have you any complaints to make about the
•construction of engines other than those you have already
made ?— ^No.

28814. Subject to the few suggestions which you have
made, you have no complaint to make about the engines ?

28815. You have said you approve of the answers given
by the last witness to the questions with reference to
the eight hours ?— Yes.

28816. And you approve of the answers that he gave
to me ? Is there anything you wish to add to that ? I
do not wish to go through all the story with you. — Quite
so ; then I agree with that.

28817. You agree with what he said in answer to me ?

— Y«8.

28818. {Mr. SmiUk,) With r^ard to the brakes, that
is a very important question. The Act provides for
what are called "adequate brakes "?— Yes.

28819. You are aware that practically the first General
Rule of the Act provides for what is called adequate
ventilation under ground ? — ^Yes.

28820. And that there is a difEerence of opinion at
the present time as to the meaning of " adequate " so
far as ventilation is concerned ? — Yes.

28821. It does not come before you as an engine- winder
in the same way, perhaps, as it does to the miners, but
you are aware that that exists ?— Quite so.

28822. I think the sam? difference of opinion
exists at the present time between the enffine-winders
and the management probably as to what adequate "
really means ? — ^That is so.

28823. At many collieries, as has been pointed out by
Mr. Rowarth, there is * ' hanging on " at mid shaft, it
may be, at two or three different landings in the shaft ?
— ^Yes.

28824. Where there is or there may be in some cases
double deck cages in which four tubs may be hung on at
mid-shaft, that is a very considerable weight ? — Yes.

28825. And it would require a very strong brake to
hold the cage there unless the engine-winder himself was
using the steam to hold it ?— That is so.

28826. Is it your opinion that the brake power should
be sufficiently strong, if applied, to hold the cage at any
part of the shaft ?— Yes.

28827. Is it possible to define that in clearer terms
than by the word * ' adequate " ? — Of course if one knew
exactly what * ' adequate " was, it would meet that re-
quirement, but our question in looking at it is whether
that is clear. Of course we cannot make out what is the
definition of the word " adequate."

28828. The Chairman to-day mentioned the fact that
in Germany the Commission had seen certain engines
and methods of working. I may mention that we have seen
their brake power applied by steam which held the engine
absolutely at any point that the engine-winder wished
it to be held. Would that be called ' ' adequate " brake
power ? "—Yes, if it held it.

28829. Speaking now as an engine-winder yourself,
do you think there would be any real difficulty in applying
to existing engines in this country adequate brake power
that would hold the cages at any part where the engine-
winder wished them to be held ? — ^No, I do not see any
difficulty : they could do that to make it hold. Of course
the construction possibly might have to be altered in some

28830 But it is not an insuperable difficulty ? — No.

28831. It is a matter of a little expense ? — Quite so,

28832. I suppose your opinion is that the expense of
a few pounds, or even £100, should not stand between
us and safety ? — Quite so.

28833. Can you conceive of accidents arising through
no fault of the engine-winder, but because of the want
of adequate brake power where tubs are hung on at mid-
shaft and the cage gives way ? — ^No. I could not speak
of any case now of an accident that would occur through
inadequacy of the brake power.

28834. Is it not the case that at the present time, some-
times when tubs are hung at mid-shaft, the cage does
really give way ? — Yes.

28835. That must be for want of adequate brake power
at the present time ? — ^Well, I will just give you a case at
Llwynypia, the Glamorgan Coal Company, where steam
was cut off from the engine, and there were two men in
the shaft ; they were about the centre of the shaft, and
steam was shut off from the boilers, and then, of course,
that brake power was not enough, because steam was
shut off, and down went the cage and an accident
occurred. Now our suggestion is that a Whitmore brake
would meet all that difficulty.

28836. Mr. Rowarth's position is that the brake should
be strong enough to hold the cage at any part ? — Yes.

28837. And that in addition to that, the steam power
in the hands of the engine- winder should be an additional
precaution to hold it ? — Yes.


6 No^'l907

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6 No^l907.

28838. In the esse which you have mentioned just
now, had the steam not been cut off the engine-winder
would have had his steam to hold the cage in position,
but when his steam was cut off his brake power was not
sufficient to hold it in position ? — Quite so.

28839. And therefore an accident took place ?— Yes.

28840. But I do not think you have quite caught my
other point. It is this: in hanging on in mid-shaft — is
that the Welsh term ? — ^No — holding the cage, you may
say, mid-way or in the middle of the shaft.

28841. I want to get to your terms : there are so many
different terms for hanging on at pit-bottom, and so
on ; I mean hanging on at mid-shaft ; two or four tubs,
if it is a double-deck cage, may be himg on there. The
existing brakes may not be strong enough, even when
fully applied, to hold the cage there T — Quite so.

28842. The engine-winder, in addition to that, has to
provide steam to hold his cage there ? — ^Yes.

28843. If his steam were cut off at the boiler, as you

mentioned just now, then his existing brake — his foot
brake— could not hold it T — Quite so.

28844. What you really want is that by an adequate^
brake he should have the power to apply a brake to hold
the cage in the shaft with any weight that is on the cage ?

28846. You ccumot conceive accidents arising from
want of that power, you say ? — No, not at present.

28846. Can you not conceive that accidents could arise
from that want of brake power ? — It is possible that
they could.

28847. It is possible that they could, but you do not
know of any accident occurring through it ? — I do not
know of any accident occurring through that which you
have just referred to.

28848. And generally you agree with the other wit-^
nesses as to the necessity for all safety appliances being
provided ? — ^That is my sole object — the safety of the
men that go under my hands.


Thursday y 7th November, 1907.


Lord MoNKSWELL (Chairman),

Wm. Abraham, Esq., h.f. (Rhondda).
H. H. 8. CuwYNGHAMB, Esq., c.b.
Thomas Ratcliffe Elus, Esq.

John Scott Haldane, Esq., f.b.8.
Robert 8milue, Esq.

S. W. Harris, Esq. (Secretary/.




Mr. Joseph Toyn, called and examined.

7 Nov., 1907

28857. (Chairman.) 1 understand you are the Agent
and President of the Cleveland Miners' and Quarrymen's
Association ? — ^Yes.

28858. You wish to-day to give us your views, not with
regard to the coal mines in your district, but as to the
ironstone mines, which are unckr the Coal Mines Regulation
Act ? — ^Tes. There are Special Rules for each district,
of which I have a copy here.

28859. I understand that in the first place you desire
to call attention to Rule 33 ? — Yes, that is as to deputies.

28860. Are your Special Rules the Cleveland code of
Special Rules ? — Yes.

28861. Special Rule No. 33 is headed: "Deputies:"
" In the absence of the Overman and the Back-Overman,
each deputy shall have the charge of the portion of the
mine assigned to him. He shall, at the end of each day's
work, ascertain that all men and bovs are out of the dis-
trict under his charge ; but should it be necessary for
any of them to remain he shall ascertain that they are
left in charge of a responsible person : also that all un-
necessary lights are extinguished, the main and tramway
doors closed, and that the ventilation is going its proper
course.*' That is the rule which you desire to call attention
to? — Yes, more especially as to the appointment of deputies.

28862. What have you to say with regard to the ap-
/ pointment of deputies ? — We say that there should be
I a practical examination in order to see that a man is com-
I petent to be a deputy.

' 28863. What sort of examination do you suggest ? —
That he should be examined as to his knowledge of the
nature of roof, as to sounding, and as to whether there is
any presence of gas.

28864. Who should conduct this examination ? — ^That
is the question. We would suggest that at each mine
there should be two practical miners appointed by the men
along with the manager and his under-manager.

28865. You would have four people to form a sort of
committee to examine a man before ne is permitted to act
as deputy ? — ^Yes — either four or any other number. We
are not particular about that, only that there should be
someone on each side, and that they should be able to test
the man to see that he was fit to take the position.

28866. The principal expert knowledge that he would
have to possess would be knowlcxlge of ventilation : his
particular duty is to look after the ventilation ? — ^There
is more knowledge required in regard to the nature of the
roofs and timbering : so many accidents happen through
roofs coming down.

28867. Exactly. But this Special Rule 33 apparently
does not deal with timbering and the roofs and sides.
You see this rule merelv deals, apparently, with the super-
vision of ventilation oy the deputy, and says nothing
about timbering. Is there any rule to show how far the
deputy is at present responsible for the timbering ?—
That rule points out also that in the absence of the over-
man the deputy is responsible for the district.

28868. He is in charge of the portion of the mme assigned
to him ?— Yes ; and we think that before a deputy is taken
to be competent to do that, he ought to show Ins fitness.
Our point is that men are doing that kind of work and
are appointed now who are not competent.

28869. Whom do you call the " back-overman " ? Is
he the deputy overman ? — The back-overman, as he is
called, is an official of the mine.

Digitized by




28870. He is the next official to the overman ? — ^Yes.

28871. You have the manager, the under-manager or
the overman, and perhaps sometimes the under-manager
is called the " overman " ?— They are not included in
that rule. They are very often called " deputies," and
really they practically are, because in the absence of the
overman they have charge of the district. But these
m^n whom we want to deal with are really the working
deputies who have the charge of the timbering.

28872. The back- overman is a mines' official, who
1 I probably has an under-manager's certificate ? — ^Yes.

28873. Do you know whether he must have an under-
manager's certificate 7 — ^Yes, I believe so.

28874. 8o that you say that a deputy should have
qualifications of somewhat the same nature as the over-
man has at present ? — Of that nature — ^to show that he
is a practical m%n.

28875. Have you anything to say with regard to the
deputy's inspection of ventilation ? There JB nothing
in your statement about ventilation, but do you wish to
say anything with regard to that ? - Only that he should
have ^owledge when gas is pr^ent. Of course it is the
under •m'vnager's business to get rid of the gas, but the
deputy should be able to prove when gas is there.

28876. The number of accidents in the ironstone mines
compares very unfavourably with the number of accidents
in the coal mines in your own district, the Durham dis-
trict ? — ^Yes.

2^77. But the statistics of accidents appears to be
even more unfavourable in the ironstone mines above
gi*ound than they are below ground. That, I suppose,
you have nothing to do with ? — ^We do not complain about
that here.

28878. In fact it is not your business, I suppose. You
do not represent above-ground workers, do you ? — Yes,
we represent the above-ground workers as well, but we
are not speaking about them to-day.

28879. It is rather a remikrkable thing that in the coal
mines the above-ground accidents are just about a half
a person in 1,000, and in the ironstone mines the above-
ground accidents are very nearly two in 1,000 ? — ^Yes.
It is a different character of work — heavier work.

28880. It is 0*66 in coal mines, and 1*940 in ironstone
mines ? — ^Yes.

28881. How do you account for that ? — ^I think we have
more inclines, and it is rather harder and more difficult
work than the work is about the coal mines on the surface.

28882. At all events, you have no suggestion to make
as regards work on the surface ? — ^No, it is more particu-
larly with regard to the deputies that we wish to speak,
and the underground work.

28883. You only propose to tell us about the underground
accidents ; but it is a very serious thing that there should
be such an enormous difference — almost four times as
msmy accidents among the persons employed above
ground in the ironstone mines as there are among the
persons employed in coal mines above ground in the
same district ? Surely there must be somebody who can
give us some suggestion as to how accidents above ground
can be lessened ? — ^We have not taken that into considera-

28884. {Mr. Wm. Ahrdham,) Will you kindly take it
into consideration, and send someone to give evidence here
who can speak about it. It seems so very strange that you
should be here representing a body of mei} who have a
less number of accidents than the mon who are outside
happen to have, and you are representing both in your
union ? — Yon do not mean that we have a less number
of accidents underground than we have outside, do you ?

28885. Yes t-Oh dear, no.

28886. {Chairman,) As compared to coal mines ? — ^That
m^y ba.

28867. As compared to coal mines, the accidents below
groimd are more per cent, than the accidents above ground,
but the accidents in ironstone mines above ground com-
pare more unfavourably with the coal mines than the
underground accidents do ?— And so do our underground
accidents, do th^ not !

28688. No, not to the samo extent. There is about
50 per cent, difference in the ironstone mines compared
witn the coal m'nes below ground ; and above ground
ihfiSe is something like 300 per cent, difference— one is
three timas or nearly four times as much as the other in


the case of accidents above ground ? — I know I am not
here to ask qu38tions, but m\y I ask whether you include
the quarries in that ?

28889. No, only the mines under the Coal Mines Begu-
lation Act. It is a marvellous state of things ? — 1 can
only say this, that the work is heavy work, and we have
a number of inclines where they run the stone down in
large sets at once, and at the coal pits I take it in a great
m\ny of them they just pull the kerb up and tip it, and
there is no incline or anything. Now we have lots of in-
clines, and it is far heavier work thin the work is about
the coal pit.

28890. Do you moan above ground ? — ^Yes, above

28891. That is the explanation which you give. But
you are not commissioned to say anything to u? on behalf
of the mon with respect to these above-ground accidents !
— That is so.

28892. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) We had better ask you to
send someone ? — ^I do not think we could give you this
informittion. At a mine like Eston, where there are three
inclines and one very steep one, they will very likely em-
ploy men who are what we call "ffreenhorna" to "work
about those inclines, and we think that that is to a great
extent how these accidents happon.

28893. {Chairmaru) Well, that is a rea'^n ; someone
can speak to us about these " greenhorns," as you call
them ? — I should not like to say anything definite about
it, because we have not prepared ourselves with regard
to what goes on outside.

28894^ But still, that is a ver^ imx>ortant m\tter. You
see there are two kindi) of m-nes in the same district,
nam'ily, coal m'nes and ironstone mines, both of which
are under the Coal Mines Regulation Act, and in one class
the accidents on the surf ewe, in proportion to the men
employed, are nearly four times as mu?h as in the other ?
— ^1 have been in the Cleveland district for many years,
more than 50 years, and I could not suggest to you any safer
means outside.

28895. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) If you will allow mo to say
so, I think we had better drop this subject now and ask
the Chairman to be kind enough to allow you to come again
to give evidence on this special question ? — If it is neces-
sary we can do so ; we can make inquiry, if you put it in
that way.

28896. You see it is a question upon which we want
men to speak specifically and definitely, or else it is of no
nae 1 — ^If you wish it we will appoint someone to give
evidence biefore you.

28897. {Chairman.) By all m^ns. You have mode one
suggestion, that it is owing to the employment of persons
who are not very well skillwi ? — ^That is a sort of haphazard
statement. I have an idea that a good deal of that is

28898. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Yes, we have an idea about
it, but we want someone to come here to speak to it
specifically ? — ^If you wish it, it shall be done.

28899. {Chairman.) We should like to hear the evidence
of someone who knows all about it. You see with regard
to falls of roof and sides the accidents are very heavy ? —

28900. The figures as to fatal accidents in the Cleveland
mines are these : out of 15 fatal accidents underground,
11 were due to falls of roof and sides ? — Yes.

28901. It is a very large proportion — a larger propor-
tion than in the case of the coal mines. Bo that it is very
clear that it is a matter which requires a creat deal of con-
sideration. Then you say that the treacherous nature of
the roofs and the heavy timber required to secure them,
make it imperative that for the safety of the deputies
themielves and of the m'uers under their charge, two skilled
deputies should be allowed to go together 7 — Yes.

28902. You say that a d -puty should never go by himself,
but that they sliould be allowed to go together. Do you
mean that if a deputy thinks it is desirable that he should
have another deputy to go with him, he should be always
permitted to take another deputy T— ^earcely that. They
nave to go two together. In one mine they have to go
three together, where it is very hi^ and there is very
heavy timber ; but in all the mines it requires two to put
baulks in.

28903. That is so now ?— That is so now.

28904. Then you are not making a new suggestion 1
when you say that two deputies should be allowed to go

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