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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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30232. (Mr. Smillie.) You are aware that Section 21
deals with the position of the certificated manager : "In
every mine required by this Act to be under the control
of a certificated manager, daily personal supervision shall
be exercised either by the manager or by an imder-manager
nominated in writing by the owner, or agent of the mine."
Could you let us know what daily personal supervision
really means in Lancashire ? Does it mean that the
manager must be every day on the ground and that
the workmen underground must be daily under his personal
supervision ? — Whatever it may mean, that is not the fact.

30233. I am not dealing with what the law means.
How is that part carried out in Lancashire ? Is each pit
of a mine under the daily personal supervision of a certifi-
cated manager who is responsible under this section ? —
No, as far as my experience goes it is not.

30234* Your point really is that where the mine is under
the control of the manager he should give daily personal
supervision to that mine, and that that is impossible if he
has six or seven mines under his control 7 — I think it is
essential that a manager should be able to get over the
area of his collieries and workings over which he has charge
at least once a week, and that cannot be done with one
manager to five or six collieries.

30235. Is this rule sometimes interpreted to mean that
if the manager is at the top of the mine once per day that
is daily personal supervision ? — If he is at the surface of
the mine or goes down to the pit bottom and comes up
fbgain I rather think that is felt to satisfy the require-
ments of the law.

30236. You want something more than that 7 — ^Yes, we
-want direct supervision and direct touch with the workings
over which he has charge.

30237. In answer to Mr. Davis you said that there
should be a certificate for firemen to prove that they
are competent. It would be a partial proof at least of
their ability if they held a certificate for which they had
to pass an examination 7 — I think there ought to be a
lower grade certificate.

30238. A certificate of some kind 7 — A certificate at
least to give evidence of competency as regards gases,
ventilation, and timbering.

30239. The law at present lays down that the manager
shall appoint a competent person 7 — Yes.

30240. There is nothing to guide him as to whether or
not a person is competent but his own knowledge of the
person, or his statement from him that he has held a
position of that kind before 7 — Yes. As it stands the
manager exercises his discretion and judgment in the
appointment of the man.

30241. You suggest not always, I think, very wisely 7
— In some instances not wisely to my mind, and according
to my view.

30242. You are anxious to b'mit the area which you
would have under the control of a fireman. You are not
sure whether it should be area or number of men, but
whether it is the one or the other, they should have
sufficient time to have personal control of the workmen
under their charge, and visit them more than once per day
in addition to the morning 7 — ^Yes. I think the fireman
ought to be able to visit every workman and spend sufficient
time with him to give him any advice necessary, and
properly examine lus working place at least twice per

30243. Do the regular firemen in Lancashire who have
charge of the districts do an3rthing else than make their
morning examination and their second examination, and
attend to the ventilation 7 Have they other duties
sometimes outside of that, such as looking after the
material being sent out to the bottom, or is their time
wholly devoted to looking after ventilation, timbering
and other things 7 — I cannot speak positively, but in some
instances firemen may be called upon to take charge of,
say, the haulage, or in some respects be responsible for
the output of coal out of their district. They are held in
some respects responsible for there being a satisfactory
output from their district, according to the mind of the

30244. You cannot say definitely from your own know-
ledge that applies to some of the collieries in Lancashire 7
— ^I oonld not cite a case.

30245. There would be little use limiting the area if the
fireman put on were to be in charge of getting the material
out of a certain section in addition to doingtioeir work 7 —
J think his duty should be confined to the ventilation,

to the timbering, and to the safety of the men at the coal
face and in the roadways, apart from the main haulage

30246. That should be his whole duty 7— Yes.

30247. Do you think that would tend to greater safety
underground if that were so 7 — I believe so.

30248. You are aware that a colliery manager cannot
take full charge of a mine as a manager unless he has a
certificate of competency which he has gained by examina-
tion 7 — That is so.

30249. Supposing he has gained that 20 years ago and
has not practised as a manager, he would still be entitled
under lus certificate to take a place as a colliery manager
to-day 7 — Yes, I think he would : I do not see what would
prevent him. His certificate would be his passport.

30250. You would not expect any employer or mine
owner would be likely to employ a person who had not
been employed for 25 years on any shaft, although he held
a certificate 7 — I should not think he would.

30251. Do you think employers are less intell^ent
than miners in that respect 7 Do you think the miners
would be likely to employ a person to examine a mine
who had five years' experience in a mine 25 years ago 7 —
I am certain they would not appoint such a man. - /

30252. Is there any use making a provision that a
person should not be appointed who had not been more than
10 years out of a mine 7 Could you not leave that to
the good sense of the men 7 — ^I should personally be willing
to leave it with them, but a stipulation to prevent anyone
being appointed would seem to me to be an essential

30253. You would not lay down the same stipulation
with regard to certificated managers 7 — I shoidd apply
the same sauce to the goose as to the gander.

30254. It does not apply at the present time 7 — ^No.

30255. It was felt there would be no need for it, as
the employers would not be so foolish as to do a thing of
that kmd 7 — I should expect they would not.

30256. With regard to timber, I think your point is
that the owner should be responsible for placing the timber
at the working face 7 — ^Yes, we do believe tlw»t.

30257. Is that the opinion generally in your county 7 —

30268. That the owners should be responsible for
placing the timber at the working face 7 — Yes.

30259. At the present time it is customary in many
parts of your county for the workmen to convey their
material a considerable distance from the coal face to the
lie or pass-lM^ 7— It is almost universal

30260. In those cases they are responsible for bringing
the material from the lie into the working face 7 — ThiB,t
is so.

30261. Is the opinion of your men that the employers
should be held responsible for having the timber at the
working face or the nearest possible place to the working
face where the timber can be kept without danger 7 —
The opinion is that the timber should be conveyed by the
manager as near to the coal face as can with safety permit
of the timber being stored. -;^ '^'*t5 .^ jfe^S J ?:^

30262. With regard to winding workmen, you have
stated once or twice that the rate at which workmen are
wound is considerably less than coal. Is there any com-
plaint in your county, in addition to the rapidity of the
winding at the pass-byes, that sometimes workmen are
lowered immediately from the surface for the first 20
or 25 yards more rapidly than is good for them 7 — ^Yes,
there are individual cases where men are dropped down too
suddenly and brought up too rapidly, but speaking
generally the speed is reduced, but not so much as we should

30263. You have no complaint as to engine winders
because of the greater hurry now in getting men up and
down, and lowering the first part of Sie distance at such
a rate as injures their nerves, and probably their health 7
— One has heard at times of pressure being brought to
bear, and officials timing as to how long it took to wind a
wind of men. ,\

30264. Dealing with drawing roads, you stated here
that sometimes the gradient was from 1 to 10, to 1 to 4 7
— Sometimes 1 in 3 - -3i.

30265. Drawers have to bring out the full tubs down
those roads. Is it possible they can hold them with even
two sprags in down those roads vdih safety to themselves



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or anyone coming up the road ? Can they hold them from
running away very often T — Very often in those brows
once the man has started with the box he could not stop
it till he got to the bottom.

30266. Persons might be coming up at the time, and
the road is so narrow that they could not get to the side ?
— I have been caught more than once.

30267. It is impossible in many cases for a man to stop
his tub 7 — If a man hears another man coming, he wiu
throw his empty tub off in order to stop the progress of
the full one.

30268. That is a special danger of itself ? — A very par-
ticular danger in Lancashire.

30269. You know the Special Rule which prevents a
person going in front of a tub ? — ^Yes.

30270. On some of your roads you would require almost
two persons to hold a tub down at your brows ? — ^There
are many gradients where it requires two.

30271. Are you dealing now with longwall workings 7
— Yes ; and straight workings, too.

30272. In every case the road is sufficiently wide to
have a double road if it was kept at that width 7 — In every

30273. It is only a question of keeping to that width
to provide for safety as far as that is concerned 7 — ^No roads
I Imow are driven less than 7 ft. wide.

30274. That would be sufficient for the double road which
you refer to 7 — Yes.

30275. We have different names for the method of
hauling. You stated that the road on which was the biff
balance, or the small tub containing dirt or metal, would
only require to be half the length 7 — Yes.

30276. Did you mean half the width 7— No, half the

30277. Does not the rope merely go round the wheel
at the top 7 — It runs double on the dobbing side.

30278. You have two ropes, as it were 7 — ^No, one rope.
This is the box, there is a revolving wheel on the dirt box ;
here are two props, and the wheel round.

30279. There is a revolving wheel on the front The
e^d of the rope is not attached to that box 7 — ^No, it is
past there (inaicoHng), It revolves roimd that wheel and
round this, and this runs at only half the speed of this.

30280. I see the point You complain of some of your
workmen requiring in some cases to go home from bad
Ught caused by bad oil or deficient lamps 7 — It is usually
the bad quality of oil we have to complain of.

30281. Do your workmen in some cases pay for the use
of the lamps and the oil 7 — ^In all cases that I know of.

30282. In all cases they pay a certain daily or fort-
nightly allowance for oil 7 — Id. a day, or 6d. a week.

30283. And for the use of lamps 7— Yes.

30284. Have they any voice as to how those lamps
■hould be kept, or Uie choice of the oil 7 — "So.

30285. The money which they pay is sufficient to keep
up the lamps and pay for the oil 7 — It is very often more.

30^86. You have the right to audit the accounts to
find out whether they pay more or not 7 — Yes.

30287. You have no voice as to choosing the kind of oil
or the class of lamp 7 — ^Neither the lamp nor the man that
cleans it.

30288. You have to depend on the employer to do that
although your people pay for the up-keep, and all that 7 —

30280. Is it likely that the workmen in a case of that kind
would complain to a mines inspector, and call attention to
bad oil — I mean an individual workman concerned 7 — ^He
would prefer to make his complaint first of all to the

30290. Officials of the colliery, or officials of the organi-
vation 7 — Both of the coUiery and of the organisation.

30291. Y'ou could conceive a case where complaints
were made to the agents of the organisation and the atten-
tion of the mines inspector being called after having referred
to the manager of the colliery 7 — ^We should prefer to see
the management, and if we could not get it remedied, we
■hould feel it was advisable to acquaint the inspector.

30292. I am very much concerned as to the question
of the inspectors, and I have not 3ret grasped exactly your
position. With regard to what is caSed the third grade,
there is the chief inspector and the assistant inspector.
Would the third grade be a lower grade than the assistant
inspector 7 — Yes.

30293. Have you any objection to that class of inspector
holding a first-class certificate 7 — Not in the least.

30294. He would require to make the ordinary in-
spection of the mine, and he might require to make sug-
gestions to the colliery managers if he found anything
wrong 7 — ^That is so.

30295. Would it not be better that he should hold a
first-class certificate which would place hin\ on an equal
footing, in theory, at any rate, with the manager 7 —
There is no doubt that it would be better, but still I should
think him competent with a second-class certificate to
discharge those duties,

30296. If it were laid down that he muit be a practical
working miner who had worked at the coal face, and that
he must hold a first-class certificate, would you have any
objection to that 7— No.

30297. There are sufficient intelligent miners who work
at the coal face holding first-class certificates to supply
this want 7 — I know that there are some.

30298. Would not a person who holds a first-class cer-
tificate be more likely to have courtesy from the manager
than a person whom he felt was below him in knowledge
and theory 7 — If we could get a man whose theoretical
knowledge placed him on the same level as the manager
himself, and he had in addition to that the practical
knowledge, I see no reason for objecting to him.

30299. His chief duty would not be so much to tell
the manager what was wrong and put it right, as to report
to the district inspector as to how he had found matters
there 7 — That is what I take it would be his principal

30300. There would be some difference between him-
self and the chief. The district inspector at once calls
the attention of the manager to something wrong, and
orders him to put it right, but the third-grade inspector
might talk the matter over with the manager. His final
duty would be to rejwrt to the district inspector 7 — That
is so.

30301. The fourth-class of inspectors are under Rule
38 7 — Yes, that is so.

30302. You are of opinion it should not be confined to
persons who are now working as miners, but opened up
to persons who were or had been witiiin a reasonable time,
gay ten years, working miners 7 — I do not see the good of
excluding a man who had had practical experience, al-
though at the moment of appointment not working at
the coal face. I think it would add to the efficiency of
the inspectors if men were appointed who were not engaged
under some particular manager, and who depended on
him for their livelihood and employment.

30303. You do not want to lay down that they must
hold certificates of competency: it is sufficient to know
that they must be practical men 7 — No.

30304. You think the Government should pay them T
— ^Yes.

30305. Failing that, a third grade paid by the Govern-
ment If the Government reused to pay those men
appointed by the workmen do you think the workmen
should have a right to appoint any person they thought
fit who had been a practical working miner 7 — Yes : I
think the privilege and the opportunity ought still to be
maintained and given to the work-people to appoint those

30306. Have you any unskilled workmen in the mines
in Lancashire, persons who have not previously been
employed until 25, 30 or 40 years of age 7 — One haa
known of single instances of men being taken in the mine
never ha'ving been in up to 20 or 30 years of age or more,
but it is difficult to decide that, because men are migrating
from one colliery to another, and you never know whether
a man has had experience when he says he has. There
is no means for the manager or anyone else to know,

30307. Do you mean at the coal faee 7 — ^Into the mine
at all, or the coal face.

Is there any cause of complaint amongst the
Lancashire miners as to unskilled persons working under-
ground being a danger to themselves and the other persona
employed 7 — ^The complaint is not very general, but
still there is a feeling against men who have not been in
the mine up to reaching mature years. There is a feeling
against them going into the mine.

30309. Have you had oases in which unskilled persona
went to the oool face to work, had been taken by ikilled

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personB to the working face to work under their super-
▼ision ? — I could not at the moment give you names,
but I have a knowledge of men having been brought
into the mine after having reached mature years, but
not a specific case where a man has been taken down to
the coal face.

30310. If it is not a real grievance we need not follow
it up.

30311. {Chairman,) I want to clear up one point about
the inspectors. In answer to me you did not seem to
object to the third-class sub-inspectors being appointed
by the Government, but in answer to Mr. Ellis you seem
to think they ought to be appointed by the men. What
do you think 7 — ^I think they onght to obtain their oer-.
tificate of proficiency by sitting at an examination fixed
by the Government, but popular election in the sense
that the men appoint them.

30312. Is that the opinion of your Federation 7 Have
you discussed whether these sub-inspectors should be
appointed by the Government or the men themselves 7

20 Nov. 1907

Is that a matter you have thought out, or do you only Mr.

give your own opinion 7—1 cannot say that there has H, TwisL
been any definite resolution passed upon it. r-

30313. You are hardly in a position then to tell this
Commission that your Federation are in favour of their
being appointed by the men 7 — ^I would not commit the
Federation to that view.

30314. It is said that the hewers do not often wish to
be firemen. Do you think better men would be appointed
as firemen if paid more than they are now 7 Do you
think that an increase in pay would increase their effi*
oiency 7 — I am sure if the money paid to the firemen was
any inducement to men workmg at the coal face
many would prefer to be firemen, but it is not sufficient.
The wages are not enough, and they can get more at
getting coal, so that they do not aspire to it. nn^

30315. There are a certain number of people who do not ^ '
like the responsibility, whatever the wages might be 7 — /
Yes, that is so. K

Mr. Richard Wabing, called and examined.


30316. {Chairman.) You and Mr. Twist are equally
responsible for the paper which has been put into my hands
of the evidence you propose to give 7 — Yes.

30317. You have heard what Mr. Twist has said 7 —

30318. Is there any point of disagreement you would
like to mention to Uiis Conmussion 7 — ^Not that I see.
I think Mr. Twist has expressed sufficiently my views
and the views of the Federation.

30319. Is there any statement you would like to make
on your own account to the Commission 7 — It already
has been done pretty well, but as a working miner working
at the coal face I would specially like to emphasise one
or two points with regard to the roof and side accidents.
That practicallv accounts for 60 per cent, of all the accidents.
My opinion is that if these lids wnich we have been speaking
about were plentifully supplied and were proper lids of
the proper quality and size, and also if provision was made
for duplicate timbers similar to that which prevailed
in the French mine at Courrieres, it would save many

30320. Do you mean by duplicate timber two props
where there is only one, side by side 7 — ^Not exactly ; it
would give more space for working. We would have a
longer lid to put against the roof, and if that was the bar
{Witness here held his pencil up) there would be a prop
under either end, which would grip a long length between
it, cross breaks and slips, and give more room to work in,
and would be more safe. l£at, in my opinion, is an
important point.

30321. You think that the present system does not
provide a sufficient number of props 7 — No, not exactly
that so much as efficient material for lids and the quality
of lids.

30322. {Mr. Enoch Edwards,) You mean rather a bar
than a lid 7 — Yes, I should prefer them of suitable size.
I should like also to add, with regard to this lid question,
that I know of mines where it is not a question of bad
material being sent, but for long periods no material is
sent for lids.

30323. You can mention mines 7 — I have personally
set props without lids when a lid would have made it more
safe and kept the roof better in every respect.

30324. Have you complained that there were no lids
sent down 7 — To the immediate official.

30325. Did you next time get a sufficient quantity of
lids 7 — No ; 1 do not say this is always the case, but it is
the case periodically at every pit.

30326. You think that periodically there is a shortage
in lids 7 — Yes.

30327. If you know mines where that occurs, perhaps
you will give the names in to the Secretary 7 — Yes, but
I am afraid I shall have to mention all the pits I have
worked in.

30328. Will you mention some pits where they are
worse, at all events, and we will make enquiries. I mean
through the Secretary ; I do not want you to give them to
us now 7 — Of course I prefer, personally, in everything in
this respect that names should not be given.

30329. {Mr. Enoch Edtoards.) Because you are working
at a pit now 7 — Yes.

30330. {Chairman.) Is there anything more you would
like to say to the Commission 7 — I do not think I could
add anything to what Mr. Twist has said, or place it before
you in a better way, but I thought that I would like to
emphasise that point, because I am of a strong opinion
that this lid question is at the root of many accidents.

30331. {Mr. Wm, Abraham,) Would you suggest a change
m the system of timbering in the face of some of your
workings 7 — I should suggest that we should get a better
stamp of lids, not exactly a change of system, but better
timber, difPerent sized lids and a good provision of them.

30332^ Do we understand you to say that you would
want two props and what we call a collar, a prop covering ;
you call it a bar. Do you suggest that you would have a
right to put up two props and a bar of timber where you
now put up a single prop 7 — Exactly, according to the
option of the man. I do not suggest that this is always
absolutely necessary, but there are cases where at present
it is not allowed, and in fact where we should be fined.
They might warn you, but eventually you would be fined
if you persisted in putting bars up under circumstances
where there is a very dangerous roof, because of the cost .
of the timber. The management will tell you frankly
that it is too expensive, that they cannot afiord it, and if
you do not desist after that you would probably be fined,
and afterwards sacked.

30333. Where there are soft brittle tops do you have
any accidents in the immediate face? — I tSdnk the
ckccidents are in places where there are more slips than
soft roof, in my observation, slips or big breaks over long
lengths of roof.

30334. You suggest where these slips are dangerous
you should be allowed to put up cross timber ? — Yes,

30335. Instead of a prop and a lid, two props and a bar.
Do you think that would be the safest thing to do 7 —
I am positive of it.

30336. That is what I thought was in your mind. Then
you could put a bar across reaching from one collar to
another, to help keep up this roof. That is what you
mean 7 — Yes.

30337. You know of certain falls of stone in these places
which would not have happened had that kind of timbering
been adopted 7 — ^Yes, certainly — ^many.

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 97 of 177)