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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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up and down the brow with his tub much more easily
and much more safely.

29793. You think it is a common practice for the men Mf.
to go in front of the tubs and stop them in that way ? — H* S'umI
They do not go in front ; they are prohibited from going „^ „ -.^^
in front, but they get behmd. ^0 Not. 1907

29794. {Mr, Cunynghame,) What is the balance wheel
which you refer to ? I should like to understand it ? —

I will explain it to you : suppose this is a brow — an incline
{illustrating) : a man is bringing the tub down, and he
would bring the full tub from tJuU point to this point,
assuming that this pencil represents 60 yards or 100 yards.

29796. He would brake it down the slope 7 — Yes, he
would brake it down the slope with a scotch in each wheeL
Now we suggest an appliance of the putting up of two
props at the top and a simple horizontal wheel around it
with a rope attached to his full tub and a balance tub,
that is to say, a small tub filled with dirt to balance it^
and then his full tub will pull his empty tub up from tho

29796. {Mr. Enoch Edwards,) Is that not the practice
in mines ? — It is the practice to some extent, but the other
method is practised much more in Lancashire.

29797. {Mr. Cunynghame,) It is a kind of balance there
— a wheel on to the tub. The wheel is a fixture ? — The
wheel is a fixture behind two tubs.

29798. Then there is a rope from the wheel, I suppose,
to the tail of the tub as it is going down 7 — Yes, and at
the other end of the rope there is a small tub of dirt to
balance it, so that the full tub is taken down without
scotches |n it, and the other is drawn up.

29799. Then that would require another line of rails,
because there must be a line of rails for the empty thing
to come up 7 — Yes, only that the length of rails for the
balance side need only be half the distance of the full tub

29800. Yes, one understands that ; and the road must
be widened accordingly 7 — Yes, but usually now the roads
are sufficiently wide ; places are driven nine or 10 feet
wide, and the tub itself is not more than a yard wide.
So that if the roads are kept open there is ample room to
pull up any balances.

29801. And the weight of the balance is equal to that
of an empty tub, I suppose 7 — It is a httle more, so that
it pulls it up nicely.

29802. {Mr, F, L, Davis,) What is the size of the tub
you are speaking about 7 — ^Tcn cwt. capacity.

29803. In other parts of the country perhaps they are
20 cwt. to 25 cwt., so that it is not so easy in all oases.
You say there is plenty of room to do that ; there may
be with small tubs but not with big ones. — Speaking of
our County, the highest capacity of any box we use is

I I cwt and the lowest is 3 cwt.

29804. {Chairman,) Then you say these scotches should
be used where the mechanical appliance is capable of their
being used. Sometimes perhaps the mechanical appliances
which you are speaking of are incapable of their being
used, and if they are incapable of their being used then
they cannot be used. — Just so.

29805. Then you must have recourse to the ordinary
methods of stopping the wagon 7 — Yes : afl,for instance,
in the case of a man just entering on a coal fewe up -brow
where he had only say Ave or six yards of rails down, we
should not expect that a mechanical appliance should be
put there ; but in all drawing-brows which are permanent
and which range say from 25 yenda up. to 150 yards, as
they do in many cases, there should be.

29806. With regard to the use of safety lamps, you say
that their use should be made compulsory in all mines.
That is rather a large order, is it not. Is it not perfectly
safe to work some mines without safety lamps 7 — It
may be considered safe by the people who are working
them, but we believe that we should all be^quite sure
that they are safe if they used safety lamps.



That is the opinion of your Federation, is it 7-

JF-; 29808. You go on to say, with regard to investigation
into accidents, that you advise that Coroners' Juries should
be composed of men who are or have been practical working
miners, and power should be conferred upon them to visit
the scene of tiie accident if they so desire. Surely that
power is put in practice in England now, is it not : surely
no manager would object to a Coroner's Jury going to
visit the scene of an accident 7 — ^I have seldom if ever
known the request to be made, and I do not suppose the
Juries themselves believe they have the power.


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Mr. 20809. (Mr SmUUe.) The Coroner has no such power ?

JBf. TwiaL —The Coroner has no power.

20 Not. 1007 {Ghairman.) The Coroner would have no power to ask

the manager, but surely no manager would refuse, would


{Mr, SmiUie.) I think managers would refuse to allow
Jxuies to go down to visit the plaoe.

(Mr. Gunynghame,) I should have thought they had the
power. You do not mean to say that any person can
refuse the right of a Coroner's Jury to enter a plaoe to
inspect the scene of an accident in respect of which their
inquiry is being held.

29810. (Chairman,) You have never heard of a case
in which, where a Coroner's Jury has appUed to go down
a mine to view a place where an accident has taken place,
they have not been allowed to do so 7 — I do not know of any
oase in which a Coroners Jury has been refused, but, so
far as Lancashire is concerned, I am quite sure Coroners*
Juries feel that they have not even the power to make such
a requests

29811. I think the sooner they get rid of that feeling
the better ; I should have though everybody knew they
had a right to ask and that they could not be refused.
Now we come to the question of drafting Special Rules :
you say that workmen's representatives should be given
an opportunity of taking part in the drafting and adoption
of Special Rules. What further have vou to say on that
subject ? — ^When Special Rules are oeing drafted and
are about to be adopted, I say that representatives of the
workmen should be present with the managers of the
mines, and the Inspector of the district to offer suggestions
and to confer with them in the drafting of the Rules.

29812. Before the rules have been promulgated by the
owners or managers of mines, you would have the miners
consulted T— Yes.

29813. So that it comes to this : that the mine owners
might have committed themselves to a certain set of
Special Rules as being desirable without consulting the
men, that then they have these Rules printed and that
then the men, as I understand it, may raise any objection
they like ? — Yes.

29814. But you would say that they ought to have
the power of raising the objection at a previous stage ? —
I think it is much better to take part in the drafting of a
thing rather than to sit upon it and offer objections after
it has been drafted. I think when a man has dralted a
Special Rule it is rather unlikely that he would like to go
back upon his own ideas at the suggestion say of miners
or of woiknxen.

29815. He might feel that it was a matter of pride,
we will say, to stick to his own opinion ? — Well, I rather
think he would defend his own opinion anyhow.

29816. Whereas, perhaps if there was a friendly con-
ference before he had put iorward his views in public,
you think there would be more chance of his changing
them — ^he would be more amenable to reason, as one
might put it ? — ^I think he would be more amenable to
reason then than afterwards.

29817. (Mr. Cunynghame.) You have told u& that men
would prefer prosecution to fining. A large number of
the accidents which occur in mines occur through falls
of roof, do they not. You are aware of that ? — Yes.

29818. What proportion is due to falls of roof and
ndes 7 — ^In Mr. Hall's district, 48 per cent.

29819. What is your suggestion as to remedying that
state of thmgs T 'niat is a large loss of life, is it not ? —
Very large.

29820. What is your suggestion^AsTto^^theJmode of
remedying that 7 — ^1 think a distinct improvement would
be made by the firemen being given less areas to cover,
and that instead of being compelled by law, as they are
now, only to make one visitation during the shift, they
ooold msJce two or more visits daring the shift, and so have
the workmen who were under their charge more constantly
before their eyes.

29821. Then yon mean it is really due to workmen
doing careless things in the absence of saffioient direction
and inspection 7 — No, not exactly that ; only I do think
that if there was an official tiiere to suggest to the
workmen there would be less danger of accident.

29822. That is the same thing — ^that in the absence of
an official there to suggest or direct (whichever you like) the
men do careless things which would not take plause if there

was an official there ? — I beli^^ better supervision and
more frequent visitation would Iiftve the effect of reducing
the accidents in that regard.

3. That is by preventing carelessness 7 — Yes.
(Chairnyan.) And also ignorance, I suppose.

29824. (Mr. Cunynghame.) Carelessness or ignorance 7

29825. I suppose that would lead to a considerable
amount of prosecution if we are to reduce the number of
accidents 7 — Yes. I should say in rezard to neglect of
any timbering rule, discipline would be better enforced
by prosecution than by fining the men.

29826. How many prosecutions do you think it would
be necessary to have in a year in your mine ? First of
all, how many men are employed in the mine where you are
working 7 — ^I am not actually engaged in the mine now,
but the firm at whose colliery I did work have, say, 2,000
men employed below ground.

29827. Supposing there were this increased number of
firemen, and that the management were much more strict
in regard to timbering, and that they enforced their strict-
ness not by fines at all but by prosecutions, how many
prosecutions do you think there would be in a year cunong
those 2,000 men 7 — I could not give you a very correct
idea of that.

29828. Not a very correct one, but will you give it to
us as nearly as you can ? Have you thought about it 7
— ^No, I could not offer you a suggestion.

29829. I tell you frankly that when you come here and
suggest things (I am not saying that you do it in bad faith),
the value of your evidence would bo much greater if you
had thought the question out. You ask us to embark
in a number of prosecutions, and therefore I put to you
how many prosecutions do you think would be approxi-
mately necessary in a mine employing 2,000 men 7 — It
would depend upon the offences.

29830. I agree. How many offences do you think there
would be 7 Have you thought of it 7 — I cannot project
my mind into the future, and say how many offences
would be committed.

29831. No, but you see you are asking us to project
our action into the future 7 — Quite so. .

29832. (Mr Wm. Abraham.) Would not the protection
you are asking for reduce the offences considerably 7 —

29833. (iff. Cwnynghamt.) I do not say it would not
reduce them, but I want you to give us an idea of how many
prosecutions you think there would be. It is a perfectly
fair question, which I have a right to ask, and if you are
able to answer it, it would encourage me to think that
you have been considering the question fully. First of
all, I will ask you how many fines are there, or how many
used there to be, in the pit ? — A number of fines are made
of which we have no knowledge, but we have records in
our Federation of 100 fines being made last year — I mean
to say 100 oases where men were fined, and were discharged
because they would hot be fined. But with regard to the
number of fines that, have been inflicted, we have no

29834. I am not at all necessarily justifying fining;
but taking that pit where 2,000 men are working, how many
fines were inflicted on those men in the course of a year 7
If you have not any knowledge on the subject, tell us so 7
— ^I have no knowledge; that knowledge is the exclusive
property of the manager.

29835. You do not know T— No.

29836. Then you cannot give us any help with regard to
the question of what number of prosecutions we should have
to contemplate if your scheme is brought into play 7 —
No ; but I think the tendency would be such that the prose-
cutions would be few.

29837. You are in favour of detaching hooks and catchei7

29838. Have you had experience of the use of those
appUances 7 Do ^^ou know places where they are used
and places where they are not 7 — Yes, I have had experi-

29839. It is said by some people that they would fail
occasionally and be • more detriment than advantage.
What have you to say upon that point 7 Have you by
chance read the Report of the Transvaal Commission which
sat on this subject 7 — I have not.

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29840. Can you give us any opinion as to how far it is
right to say that these appliances would fail now and then
and would be a source of danger 7 — ^I think, taking
Ormerod's patent as the one I have most knowledge of,
if properly attended to it will invariably act, and that the
chances of failing are infinitesimal.

29841. What do you mean by "if properly attended
to " ? What attention does it want ? — I should say that
once every 24 hours the engineer's man or the engineer
himself should overhaul it, and occasionally it should be
taken down, cleaned and oiled.

29842. ThAt would be between shifts at some time,
I suppose ? — ^Yes.

29843. Can it be detached without detaching the rope
from the cage 7 — ^Yes.

29844. It can be taken away 7 — Yes, taken away.

29845. Without detaching the rope 7 — ^You have to
detach the rope, but you suspend the cage while you draw
it on to the landing place. At some collieries they have
it done once a week : the detaching hook is taken to
pieces by the engineer and put together again and oiled,
and kept in perfect trim.

29846. If that is done you have confidence in this
particular invention, and perhaps in some others 7 —
Yes, absolute confidence.

29847. I will now come to the question of winding
men at reduced speed. Is that done at all in the collieries
which you are now representing in Lancashire and Cheshire 7
— Are you speaking now of Uie meetings 7

29848. No, of the men being woimd at reduced speed.
Is it done anywhere 7 — Yes.

29849. In what collieries is it done 7 — The Bamfurlong
Colheriee. There the engineer instructs the winders to
reduce speed at the meetings as well as when approaching
the surface.

29850. That is for men 7— Yes.

29851. And not in the case of coal 7 — ^No.

29852. Are there any other collieries at which that is
done 7 — Not to my knowledge.

29853. That is the only one 7— Th»t one.

29854. How far has that been conducive to safety in
that colliery7 — ^Well, they have not had any shaft accident,
and therefore one could not say whether the greater
precaution is the reason, because in some pits where they
have not taken that precaution they may have had no
shaft accidents.

29855. Can you call my attention to any case of an
accident that has occurred through too quick speed in
the winding of the men 7 — An accident happened a few
weeks ago at Fogg's Colliery, where the cages came together
in the meetings and nine men were lost. It is the opinion
of some engineers that in that case it was due to vibration
in consequence of the speed at which the cage was being

29856. Who are the engineers who think that 7 What
is the name of the man who is of that opinion 7 — I have
it given to me second-hand from one engineer at this
particular firm where they reduced the speed at the

29857. I will ask you to mention now the name of that
man, but it will not be put upon the notes. What is the

name of that man ? — Mr. . May I say that this

opinion has been given to me. I am going now to be
perfectly candid, and while perhaps I did feel diffident
at stating the name of the person, yet, being pressed, I
have given it to you. Now I want to make a straight
statement, that this opinion is not given to me by

Mr. himself, but it is given to me by a person as

from him ; and that he, of course, held the opinion, his
instructions being that speed should be reduced at the
meetings, that that was an extra safeguard in the winding
of men, and would prevent accidents such as occurred at
Fogg's Colliery.

29858. It is Mr. who held that opinion 7— Yes,

quite so.

29859. (Chairman,) Then, after all, that opinion does
not come to so very much, because he has been of opinion
that fast winding where the cages met might lead to an
accident, and therefore it would be natural to suppose
that where an accident did occur when cages met it was
caused by vibration, or something of that sort. I mean
he does not say in this particular case that he is satisfied
that vibration caused the accident, but he merely says


he has alwa3rs been of the opinion that excessive winding
might cause vibration and might cause accidents in a
general way 7 — ^That is so.

29860. {Mr. F, L, Davis.) Could you tell us what kind of
guides there were at that particular pit at which thai
accident occurred 7 — ^Wooden guides.

29861. {Mr. Cunynghame.) Is there any reason in your
own knowledge as a practical miner which makes you
think it is desirable that men should not be wound so fast
as coal 7 — There is, ample.

29862. What is the reason 7 — That when the men are
being wound the oscillation, whether the rods be wood or
wire, is so great that in my belief when cages are passing
there is a danger unless there is a good deal of room
provided : and in some shafts it is impossible.

29863. To what colliery are you alluding when you
say that 7 — I am alluding to a number of collieries. I have
worked in a great many collieries.

29864. I will ask you to give us the name of any one
colliery (we will not have the name put on the shorthand
notes) where that oscillation occurred to an extent that
alarmed you ? — Am I to tell you the name of the coUieiy 7

29865. Yes : the shorthand-writer will not take it
down, and it will not be put on the Notes. {The Witness
stated the name of a coUiery.) Is that the state of things
in existence there or not 7 — I cannot tell you : it is some
years since I was down the mine.

29866. In what year was the case you are alluding to 7
—That would be in 1889.

29867. Can you not give us a more recent one 7 — ^Not
from that colliery.

29868. No, but from anywhere 7— Yes. {Witness then
meniianed another coUiery.)

29869. When was that in that condition 7 — That was,
say, 12 years ago.

29870. Can you not give us a more recent one 7 —
No. It is ten years since I was in the mine.

29871. Have you heard of any specific mine where the
winding is so rapid that vibration occurs and the men
are alarmed 7 — I cannot tell you of a mine.

29872. Is there anything that you would like to add
as a reason why the men ought to be wound at a reduced
speed besides what you have said 7 I do not want to miss
anything : that is all. — No, only I think it is very essential
to take greater preoautions.

29873. Yes, I know, but have you any further reasons
to give : is there an3rthing else you would like to add 7 —
I do not think there is.

29874. Now as to light. The badness of the light is
not due, I suppose, to the lamps being out of repair, is it 7
— I cannot say exactly being out of repair, but it is due to
a bad quality of oil, and in some mstances not being
sufficiently well cleaned.

29875. Do you say this from observations which you
have made yourself, or from reports which you have heard
from others, or both 7 — It is from both.

29876. I will take your own observation first. That
would be some years ago, I suppose 7 — Yes, some years

29877. What was the fault which you observed in the
light 7 Was the wick insufficient, or of bad quality 7 —
The wick, instead of giving off a clear light, was burning

29878. Indicating what 7 — Indicating that there was
bad oil, and in some instances bad ventilation.

29879. Never mind the question of ventilation for the
moment, but let us deal with the oil first : we will come to
the ventilation in a moment. What was the character
of the oil 7 — I could not tell you.

29880. Was it paraffin or colza 7 — It certainly was not
paraffin : there might have been a drop of paraffin in it
to enable it to bum more keenly, but certainly it was not
all paraffin.

29881. Did you screw the wick up and yet still would not
the lamp bum properly 7 — Yes. m the lamp I am now
referring to we had what we call a pricker — a wire for
lifting up the wick — and I have come out of the pit on
more than one occasion with as much as an inch and a
half of wick sticking up through the tube.

29882. And yet it would not bum 7-~Yes— it did not
give a clear lignt.

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29883. Did you make complaint of that to anybody T
— ^Yes, oftentimes I made oomplaints.

29884. Did the men who made inspection of the mine
ever make a complaint of it 7 — Yes, complamts are pretty
general with regard to oiL

29885. Did you complain to the Inspector 7 — Do you
mean the Chief Inspector 7

29886. The Inspector of Mines of the District, or any of
them ? — No, I have never personally made a complaint
about that.

29887. Do you know whether a complaint was made by
anybody 7 — ^No, I have no knowledge of anv complaint
having been made to the Inspector by anybody about the
quality of the oiL

29888. With regard to the absence of a balance-wheel
and manholes, I do not think any complaints have been
made to the Inspectors of the district of the absence of
those things, have they 7 — No. It is taken almost for
granted in Lancashire that if a man has a brow he uses
scotches if he can hold the tub down.

29889. And in regard to manholes in the same way
there has been no complaint 7 — I cannot give you any
specific instance of complaints.

29890. (Sir Lindsay Wood), With regard to the rate
at which men are wound in the shafts, is it the practice or
the custom in your district that in nearly all cases there
is a reduced speed for winding men 7 — ^Yes, generally
the practice is to reduce the speed.

29891. Is not that almost invariable 7 — ^Yes : I might
go so far as to say almost invariably the speed is reduced
as between winding men and winding coal.

29892. In the case you refer to of an accident by some
men being thrown out of the cage, which was attributed
to vibration of the cage in wooden guides, has there been
any inquest 7 — To which of the cases do you refer 7

29893. The case in which there were nine men killed
by the vibration of the cage where there were wooden
guides 7 — ^No : in that case, by some means or other,
which even the Coroner's Jury had not been able to fathom,
the cage broke away and went down the shaft.

29894. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) No, the case Sir Lindsay
Wood is asking you about is the CMJcident at Fogg's Colliery :
has there been an inquest there 7 — ^Yes, there has been.
But Sir Lindsay speaks of the accident being due to
vibration, and I want to correct that view. In this case
the men were not pitched down the shaft as the result of
vibration : the cage itself with the men in it went down.

29895. (Sir Lindsay Wood.) I understood what you said
just now was that in the accident at Fogg's ColUery the
men were thrown out of the cage owing to the vibration 7
— ^No: I am speaking of the Yorkshire accident, upon
which the Coroner's inquest is now being held.

29895. You stated that a certain engineer told you that
it was due to vibration, which was caused by the two cages
meeting ? — I did not say that an engineer did tell me that :
I said information was conveyed to me that a certain
engineer's opinion was so-and-so.

29897. Very well: that is what I mean: then I was
going to ask you if there were wood guides do you know
what distance the slides of the cages were apart. The
wood guides could not vibrate 7 — If the horse trees —
the side supports — are a considerable distance apart there
can be vibration in a wood rod that is only, say, 4 ins.

29898. You think there would be vibration 7 — ^Yes.

29899. To what extent 7 — ^Not to the same extent as

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 93 of 177)