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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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been practical miners 7 — Yes.

30021. The persons to appoint the inspector would, I
suppose, be the people working in a particular colliery
where the inspection had to take place 7 — ^Yes, or in the
particular collieries which they were .to examine.

30022. The inspection is to be made in the particular
colliery 7 — Yes, or collieries.

30023. No, the inspection is to be made under Rule 38
in this way : " The persons employed in a mine may from
time to time appoint two of their number " 7 — ^Yes.

30024. Are the persons employed in the mine to appoint
the person who is to inspect 7 — I think the men working
in the area over which these men have to travel, whether
in one mine or more

30025. What is it to do with other people 7 It is the
men in the particular mine who have the right to appoint,
and you want to extend that too, do you 7 — ^Yes.

30026. Then you say that the miners in Lancashire
-should appoint these people 7 — No ; the miners at Bam-

furlong should appoint all the men to examine the Bam-
furlong collieries.

30027. That is done at the colliery now 7 — ^Yes, that is
now done.

30028. How long in your view does it take a man to
work at the face in order to become a practical miner 7 —
Hejought to have five or six years* experience as a collier.

30029. Do you mean five or six years* experience in
working and getting coal 7 — Getting coal.

30030. Then if he has had five or six years* experience
and he is 25 years keeping a shop, in your view he would
be still competent for one of these poets 7 — If he is how
long in a shop 7

30031. 25 years, we will say 7 — He is not so competent
as a man who has worked at the coal face during that

30032. Is this not your scheme, that a man having onoo
qualified himself in the pit by five years at the face, at any
time during the rest of his life — ^it does not matter what
he has been doing in the interval — ^is competent to fill
one of these posts 7 — He is a practical man.

30033. And he is a man whom you say would be suitable
for the purpose of making an inspection 7 — ^Yes, a man
who has had that number of years* experience at the coal
face is a man who has acquired the necessary knowledge
to fit him for that purpose.

30034. And 25 years afterwards he is still qualified if
he has been keeping a shop in the interval 7 — I think
there would be very little likelihood of a man who had
been keeping a grocer's shop being appointed.

30035. But he is still qualified in your view 7 — ^Yes :
if he has had five or six years* experience at the working
face I say he is a practical man.

30036. With regard to inspection under General Rule 4,
do you think there are 25 per cent, of the firemen in the
Lancashire collieries who are incompetent men for their
duties 7 — I think there are 25 per cent, of the firemen who
have not actually got coal.

30037. But I understand your view is that no man who
has not actually got coal is competent to perform the
duties of a fireman 7 — Is not as competent as a man who
has got coal.

30038. But I understand you to say that he b not compe-
tent to psrform the duties of a fireman 7 — ^I am not going
so far as to say that he is absolutely incompetent; he is
not as competent.

30039. But although he has not got coal, may he be
competent to perform the duties of a fireman 7 — In a
measure, but not as competent as a man who has.

30040. But is he sufficiently competent 7 — In some in-
stances he may be.

30041. I want you to consider this: think what a
serious thing it is that you should condemn in this ofT-hand
way 25 per cent, of these men who are officials at colheries
in Lancashire. — I do not know that I have condemned them.
What do we say about them 7

30042. It was 50 per cent, you took to begin with,
but then you came down to 25 per cent. 7 — I say they are
not at present as efficient.

30043. Are they inefficient — ^because that is the point 7
— ^In a measure ; in degree.

30044. Will you go so f 8kr as to say this, that in your
judgment, speaking with responsibility, there are 25 per
cent, of the men who occupy the position of officials
in mines in Lancashire who are inefficient 7 — ^No, I will
not say that ; but I will say that they have not had expe-
rience at the coal face as miners, and therefore they cannot
be as efficient as men who have had that experience.

30045. Then does it merely come to this, that in your
view no man can be efficient unless he has had four or five
years' work at the face 7 — ^He cannot be so efficient as if
he has had that experience.

30046. But are these men sufficiently efficient to provide
for safety 7

{Chairman). What I understood the witness to say
in answer to that was that they were not originally perhaps
efficient, but that if they performed their duties faithfully
they learnt by experience, in performing their duties, how
to perform them.

{Mr. RakHiffe Ellis.) My view is that this is a most
unjust aspersion upon the qualities of the firemen in the
county of Lancashire, and I think it will be regarded
very seriously by the men engaged there.

{Chairman.) I understood the witness to mean that
26 per cent, were persons who were made firemen before
they were competent, but that in course of time they may
have become competent ; X did not understand him to say
that in his opinion 25 per cent, of the firemen engaged in
Lancashire are now incompetent.

{Witneaa.) I do not say that.

{Mr. Batdiffe EUia.) I say it is an equally objectionable
statement to make that the persons who are responsible
for the management of the mines in Lancashire did at
any time appoint men to the number of 25 per cent, who
were incompetent men as firemen.

- {Witness.) In my view incompetent




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H. Twist,


30047. la that the view also of the Lancashire and
Cheshire Miners* Federation ? — So far as I am able to
express it.

30048. Do you. seriously think you are justified in saying
that the managers who were responsible for the sc^ety
of the miners and for the management oi the mines in
Lancashire, have appointed as efficient to discharge their
duties 25 per cent, of incompetent men, and men who have
had to learn their duties since they were appointed ? — Ho
learn some portion of their duties ; I am not going to
be drawn into saying that I believe these men are now or
were at any time absolutely incompetent ; that is not
what I mean. What I do mean is this, and what we feel
is this : that at the time of appointment a man who has
not had actual experience of getting coal is not as competent
as a man who has.

30049. In your judgment has that resulted in more
accidents than there would have been if they had selected
colliers ? — I cannot speak as to that.

30050. You do not think so, I daresay ? — I have nothing
to go upon.

30051. Now will you tell me your experience. How
long did you work at the face ? — About 11 years.

30052. What did you do before that ?-— I did everything,
from door tenting to getting coaL

30053. From door tenting you worked up, and then
you worked 11 years at the face ? — ^Yes.

30054. Do you find there are many men working at
the face who want to become officials of the mine ? — ^T^iere
are many young men studying regularly now.

30055. But will you answer my question ? You
understand it perfectly and I shall come back to it, so
that you may as well answer it at once. Do you think
there are many men working at the face who are anxious
to become officials of the mine ? — ^Yes, there are a large
number who would gladly accept a position as an official.

30056. Is it a better place, or is it easier, or what is the
inducement T — ^It is an opening, I suppose, for what they
consider to be a higher position in the mine than that of
coal getting.

30057. Is a man who has worked five or six years at the
face in getting coal, from your experience the sort of man
who wants to be an official of the mine ? — ^In the majority
of cases he may not be, but there is a percentage who woulS
willingly occupy the position.

30058. Should I be justified in saying that in the majority
of oases men who have worked five or six years at the face
do not wish to be officials T^-Yes, I think you would be
right in sajring that the majority would not.

30050. You have given your view as to the number of
men who should be tmder the charge of one fireman.
Would the size of the district make any difference — the
distance he had to travel ? — Yes, some difference.

30060. Coidd there be any rule made defining the area
which one man should superintend ? — ^I agree that it
would be difficult to define the area.

30061. It would have to be left to the management in
some way to decide that ? — Because the length of
roadway to be travelled may be great, and the area of
ooal face small ; the length (k coal face may be large, and
the roadwa}^ to be travelled not so great.

30062. That is so ; so that it is very difficult to fix an
area ? — ^It is very difficult to fix an area.

30063. It would have to be left more or less to the
discretion of the manager that the area should not be too
large ? — Yes.

30064. With reference to timbering, you have made,
if I may be allowed to say so, some very extraordinary
statements with reference to the timbering in Lancashire —
that all sorts of rubbish from broken tubs are sent down.
Do you present that to the Commission as a fair statement
of the condition of things in Lancashire ? — ^I present this
to the Commission as my experience, that in the whole
of my 11 years* experience at the coal face — ^and it is
conveyed to me as being the present condition of things —
it was extremely difficult to get timber suitable as caps
or lids, and that it is customary to send the old timber
down from the surface for covering timber.

30065. I will not ask you to give me the name now,
but will yon give to the Secretary the name of any colliery
where tliat state of things exists at the present time, u
vou give that name to the Secretary afterwards it shall
be enquired into. You do not like to give the informatioD
publicly, I dai-e8ay,but will you tell the Secretary where

this state of things exists wU'^'Q you complain about. You
are aware of General Rule ^i no doubt, which provides^
" Where the timbering of the working places is done by
the men em^tloyed therein, suitable timber shall be pro-
vided at the working place, gate-end, pass-bye, siding, or
other similar place in the mine convenient to the workmen,
and the distance between the sprags or holing props where
they are required shall not exceed six feet or such less
distance as may be ordered by the owner, agent or
manager." — ^Yes.

30066. In Lancashire the general custom is that the
timbering is done by the workmen ? — That is so.

30067. So that there is an obligation in Lancashire
that suitable timber shall be provided at the working-
place, gate-end, and pass-bye by the management. Now
in the Special Rules in force in Lancashire there are also
certain provisions with reference to the timbering. I
think you will find those provisions at Special Rule 47 in
the Lancashire Rules : " Where the timbwing of the work-
ing places is done by the workmen employed therein,
every miner shall by himself or his drawer take his own
timber and other materials from the far end siding or the
place whence he or his drawer takes away Us empty tub,
except where the timber cannot be taken thence in or on
the tub. He shall secure the roof and sides of his own work-
ing place, and shoidd he be imable to do so, or to procure
suitable material for these purposes, he shall cease working,
leave the place, and at once report to the Underlooker
or Fireman. In pillar and other working, before com-
mencing to move pillars, the roof and face shall be made
secure " ; and so on. Do you say that these rules, both
so far as they have to be observed by the managem^it
and have to be observed by the men, are delil^ately
set at naught in Lancashire— that neither does the manager
find satisfactory and sufficient timber, nor does the work-
man see that has pl8M)e is secure, or, if it is not, leave his
work T — I say that owing to the long drawing and th»
difficulty of taking timbering in, in the first place, a suffi-
cient supply of suitable timber is not constantly provided.

30068. Then I will ask you to be good enough to give
to the Secretary the names of the places where you say this
state of things exists ? — ^I say that it is pretty general.

30069. Very well ; we will make no mistake about it ; I
that is to say, that the law obliging the management to I
find suitable timber is disregarded in Lancashire — not j
carried out ? — As regards some timber, particularly lids [
and caps.

30070. We must have this matter clear, because when
these views of yours are read in LanoaBhire, I am sure
they will cause consternation amongst the managers there,
and amongst the inspectors too, I should think. I want
to know whether your view is that these rules as to
timbering, the rule obliging the management to find
sufficient and proper timber, and the rule obliging the
man to leave his work if ho has not got sufficient t imber
to put up, are disregarded in Ijancashire ? — I do not say
they are disregarded.

30071. Then what do you say about it ?— What I da
say is that as regards lids and caps there is a difficulty in
getting suitable timber provided of that kind.

30072. Now will you give the names of the colUenea
and let us inquire into it as to what difficulty there is 7—
I will give you the firms.

30073. I do not want you to give the names now ; you
can give to the Secretary the names of the firms where
this difficulty exists. Is it only in providing lids and
caps, or is it generally in regard to the supply of timber ?
— I cannot give you cases where there is a scarcity of
props and bars and that kind of thing. My evidence is
largely concerning lids and caps.

30074. Then what was that story which you were
teUing us about himdreds of yards that timber had to be
dragged, and that the place was not big enough to get it
through, and that sort of thing ? — It is not an uncommon
thing for coUieiy roads to be so low that the timber cannot
be taken.

30075. In what colliery is it the case that the roads are
so low that the timber cannot be taken up to the face 7 —
You cannot take it on the tub.

30076. That is from the gate-end or pass-bye 7— Yes
— from the shunt.

30077. Then what do they do there where they cannot
get it on the tub 7 — The drawers drag it in.

30078. Are there many cases of that sort 7 — Yes,.
I can tell you of places where that has obtained.

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- 30079. Are there many cases of it? — Well, I cannot
epeak for the whole of the county : I can only speak for the
area in which I move.

30080. Take the area in which you work: are there
many cases of that sort ? — The complaints to me are fairly

30081. I will ask you to give to the Secretanr the names
of tibe particular collieries where you si^y this state of
things esdsts, and it shall be inquired into. You consider
that the way to get a man thoroughly competent is for
him to work at the face T — To be fully competent, yes.

30082. And therefore the man who works at the face
knows better how to set tunber than anybody else, I
suppose T — Yes, I think he knows better than anybody

30083. Then it follows that the man who can best
look after his safety is the collier at the face ? — ^Yes :
I think the man actually working at the coal face knows
best how to timber his place.

30084. And therefore he is the best man to do the
timbering at the face T — ^Yes, I believe that to be so.

30085. So that what you want is that he should be
better looked after to see that he does this timbering ? —
Yes: 1 think there ought to be closer visitation and

30086. That is all— that he ought to be better looked
after. He is the man who can do it best, and what you
want is that there should be more firemen to look after
him to see that he does his duty. That is your suggestion 7
— Yes, in a measure that is.

30087. What else is there : you say " in a measure " T —
I think that some portions of the timbering might be done
by persons provided by the employer, say as to barring the

30088. But I thought we had got it that the man who
can do it best for his safety is the collier himself ? — So
far as spragging the coal face and timbering in the immediate
vicinity of the coal face is concerned.

30089. Is there any danger to the collier from the
immediate vicinity ? — ^There is oftentimes danger in the
drawing road approaching the coal face, and along the
coal face.

30090. Then why should you put that in less competent
hands 7 — I do not say they would be less competent
hands altogether.

30091. You and I have agreed that the collier, the man
who is working at the face, is the man who can best secure
his own safety. Why should it be deputed to someone
else 7 — The setting of bars along the coal face and the
setting of stacks, and putting of packs, may be given out
to other people.

30092. Why, if he is the man who can do it best 7 —
He should only be responsible for the immediate coal face
he is working at.

30093. Why should he not be responsible for the other 7
— ^For the simple reason that he would not earn any wages
at all oftentimes if he was responsible for the whole safety.

30094. It is not a question of safety : it is a question
of wages, is it 7 — If he has to pack his place and to timber
his place, he will have no time for anything else.

30095. Does he get any wages now 7 — Yes.

30096. How does he manage that 7 — He manages it by
getting the coaL

30097. And he manages to keep the place safe, does he
not 7 — Yes, the immediate coal face : but there is always
sinkage coming on after him, and if he has to turn back
and to repair die broken timber and to check the sinkage,
then of course he is going to have a lot of his time taken up
which is now spent in getting coal.

30098. {Chairman,) What I understood you to suggest
is that a hewer at the coal face knows best how to protect
himself from falls of roof and sides at the coal face, but
that there are other people who are equally competent
to timber a place which is not at the face 7 — ^Yes, to
follow him up.

{Mr, Ratcliffe Ellis,) The roads are maintained by the
management now.

f^ 30099. {Chairman.) I understand 3ron to say that the
' superior competency of the h^wer in putting up the timber
' is confined to the putting up of the timber at the working
|i face, and not to preventing creeps, and so on, further
off 7-Yes.

30100. {Mr, Batdiffe EUia.) I will ask you about that
Who are these persons to whom the work is to be trans-
ferred from the collier 7 — ^Timbermen employed by the

30101. Men who have worked at the face 7 — ^Yes, so far
as possible.

30102. You do not mean to say that all the timbermen
have worked at the face 7 — The majority of the timbermen
have worked at the coal face.

30103. There are scores of expert timberers working on
the roads who have never worked at the coal face at all 7
— ^And there are a large number who have, but who have
become, say, over 50 years of age, and have gone to what we
call day waging.

30104. But there are a great many men working on the
roads who have not worked at the face at all 7 — ^Yes.

30105. And who are expert timberers 7 — ^Yee.

30106. I will leave the question of the timbering for the
moment. With reference to the lamps, do you again
think that the complaint which you made is genenu in
Liancaahire, that either from defective oil or by reason
of not being properly attended to, the men cannot make
light out of the lamps 7 — I cannot speak of it as being
general : I can only say that at some of the collieries in
the area in which I move, complaints have been made,
and I have repeatedly been on deputations to try and get
it made better.

30107. Perhaps you will at the same time give the
Secretary the names of those collieries where complaints
have been made as to the lamps 7 — ^Yes.

30108. With regard to shaft accidents, you have men-
tioned the Fogg's Colliery accident, where unfortunately
a number of men were lulled 7 — ^Yes.

30109. Do you know that there are safety catches
there 7 — ^Yes.

30110. Why did they not stop that cage going down
the pit 7 — I think that has not been completely brought
out by the inquiry. I cannot say.

30111. I am not suggesting this because I know anything
particular about it : perhaps I do not know as much as
you do : but might it not be because these safety catches
came into action when they were not required 7 — I can
hardly say that

30112. You know that is a danger 7 — ^There is a danger
of the catches gripping if the chains become slack.

30113. There is a danger of their coming into action
when they are not required 7 — ^There is a danger.

30114. However, in that case where that accident
occurred, there were safety catches 7 — ^Yes.

30115. I think you have already said with reference to
the speed, that it is the invariable custom in the County
that men are not wound at the same speed that coal is
wound at 7 — ^That is so : speed is reduced generally.

30116. Have you anything to suggest now so far as
Liancashire is concerned — ^we will confine it to the County
of Lancashire — ^with reference to the winding 7 — ^No : I
think the winding is well done in Lancashire.

30117. With reference to the haulage roads, you have
suggested that men should travel by the return air- way 7 —
Yes, so far as possible.

30118. Is that a desirable thing 7 That is where all
the foul air and the gas, if there is any, is to be found, is
it not 7 — ^Yes, but w£uJe travelling in and out I think it is
preferable to travelling on a main haulage road.

30119. You think vou would advise in the interests of
safety that they should travel on the return air-way7 — ^The
men have to live in that atmosphere during much of the
whole day.

30120. I am only putting it to you that you think that
would be so 7 — ^Yes, I think it would be much safer to travel
on the return air-way.

30121. {Mr, SmiUie,) 11 it was at the same time the
haulage road 7 — Yes.

30122. {Mr, Ratdiffe EUia.) You must remember they
are not living in it all the day : there is fresh air coming
to them in the face. They are not living in the return
air-way all the day, or in any air like it 7— No, I do not
say they are living in it exactly.

30123. However, I take it from you that in your view
that would be desirable. With regard to runaway tabs
we have rules in Lancashire : there is Rule 18 of the New
Rules that were established, which provides: "Where



E. Twiti.


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Mr, tlie manager directs the ' trailer ' or ' devil ' must be

H. TwiaL attached when the full load is drawn against the incline

ttA'ta''^*^uwm ^y means of a single rope, or single chain, other than a

SOK^lWy j^hing ^,i^^» ^_Ye8.

30124. Do you want anything better than that except
perhaps you might have it instetul of " Where the manager
duQ^ts " that Siere should always be this " trailer " or
" deviL" Would that meet your view ? — ^Yes : I think
where tubs are drawn up in that way there ought to be
either a " devil " or " trailer " on in any case.

S0125. And that would be sufficient ? — I think in motion
roads there ought to be axle catches as well on the
full road side.

. I 30126. Well, whatever might be desirable, everyone
} r wishes to stop these runaway tubs if they can stop them,
'■ ! and whatever contrivance you suggest as being advisable
that ought to be used 7 — ^Yes, that is the idea which is
i to be conveyed.

30127. With regard to a Coroner's Jury, did you ever
hear of a Coroner's Jury wanting to go down a pit ?— No,
I have not.

30128. — And you do not think it is a great grievance
to them at present ? — ^Not so far as they are concerned.

30129. So that you would not advise any alteration in
the law 80 far as that is concerned ? — ^I think it is essential
that a Coroner's Jury should see the scene of the accident
in order to assist them.

30130. Would you make it obligatory that they should

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