Childrens Employment Commission 1842
The following extracts are from the report by Thomas Tancred to the Children's Employment Commission on the West of Scotland District which was published in 1842
Collieries, Ironworks, Foundries, and Chainworks in the West of Scotland
No.1. February 11. James Scott, aged 18:
He is a native of Glasgow. Will have been three years in the House of Refuge next March. His last employment before he came into the house was being apprentice to a shoemaker, at which trade he continued 18 months; but on the death of his mother (his only surviving parent) he fell into bad company and left his employment. Before commencing this trade his brother, a collier, employed him to draw for him in one of Mr. Dixon's pits, called "the Fire-work" at Brig-end beyond Gorbals. When his brother had picked out the coal at the face of the seam, his work was to split it and shovel it into "hutches," which are small carts made of iron in which boys draw the coal to the bottom of the shaft; no horses being employed in these pits. The seam of coal in which he worked was not quite five feet thick; he could stand upright in it then, but not now. The pit was wrought night and day, and with the two sets of boys had about 200 altogether. He had to take his turn a fortnight at a time in the "day shift," and the same in the night one. The engine starts to draw up the coal about six o'clock morning, and the boys generally go down about half past four, "by stairs," not by the engine. There were 50 steps to go down. He left work about six in the evening. He took down bread and milk or coffee, as much as would serve till night, and had no regular hours for meals, but just eat them when he was waiting at the bottom of the shaft till it was his turn to have his coals hoisted up. A man empties the coal at the bottom of the shaft from the hutch (or small carriage by which the boys pull them down the railway) into "creels" or baskets (now made of iron), in which they are hoisted tip by the engine. The "howker," or picker is allowed to work out five carts of coals a-day, and gets 2s. a cart wages, and he pays out of it 6d. a-week to a doctor, and 6d. a-week to sharpen his pick, and 3s. a-day to the boys for drawing the coals, and one boy if he is able may earn the whole. Sometimes boys are struck with the collier's fists, and sometimes their faces all cut; but Mr Dixon fines them if he finds it out. Sometimes the roof falls in and hurts the boys drawing the carts; but they generally hear a crack, and take care to be out of the way. Has known 10 boys hurt; two killed outright in one day by fire-damp; and sometimes the coals fall on the collier. This pit is very dry, except one road under the Clyde in which boys went, and it wet their feet. Never was sent to school himself, and never knew a drawing-boy sent to school, "they were kept too close at it;" but the parents taught them to read at home. Boys who keep the trap-doors for the ventilation go down as early as eight years and remain all the "day shift," and others keep the doors at night, wages 6d. a-day. They don't draw till they are about nine, and more between 10 and 11. When in the "night shift" went down about six o'clock in the evening, and remained till six in the morning; the day set being already down, beginning to get the coal out of the face, but not allowed to draw any till the night set have done. Take victuals down and eat at about 12 o'clock at night, when the horses (which draw the carts of coal above ground) are getting a feed of corn, and then the engine stops half an hour.
This lad can now read and write, and said the six times in the multiplication table. Working along with his brother he was allowed to be a collier very young and had a pick made for him lighter than usual. But in general they do not become colliers till 18.
No.2 February 12. Peter Neilson, aged 18, native of Ireland:
Began to work at about 14 years old in a pit near Airdrie belonging to Messrs Wilson and Co. First worked as a “putter” to his father together with his younger brother who then only eight years old. He has now “seven of his folk,” his father and six brothers, in the pit besides himself and a brother, who are in Bridewell. The putters, one or two if necessary, are set to draw the coal in the hutches; when two are employed one pulls and the other pushes behind. The one that pulls has an iron chain attached to his shoulders by leather loops, which is used in case a steep bit of the road, or if the hutch gets off the rails. In this way the coal is drawn to the bottom of the shaft, there being no horses in this pit. The seam [called the Pyetshaw] is three foot and a half thick, and lies below the seam called the “Main Coal.” When he left it the shaft was 35 fathom and one yard deep - very dry, no drip, and dry to the feet. The regular hour for the day shift to go down is between four and five am, but he has been at work at one o'clock in the morning ,and often at three, to drive levels or take out the pillars, because he says the roof is more apt to fall in at night than by day; it is supposed because the heat of lamps and number of men working in the day kept it from falling [might the expansion of the air have this effect?] The day shift comes off at two or three o'clock, but when taking out pillars or “stoops,” there was no regular hour. The collier is his own master and may work out as much coal as he likes, and is paid by the piece; but the men have a union amongst themselves, and only allow each man to “howk” and draw “eight hutches;” but two colliers will employ only one drawer, because it comes lighter in the last pit - the distance to be drawn was 30 or 40 fathom. The putter need not go down before six o'clock when the “cleet,” or engine starts, to draw eight hutches by two o'clock. Work every day but Friday; the putter gets 2d. a hutch; sometimes one putter draws for two colliers. The colliers pay their putters; the boys to keep the six trap-doors must be down before the colliers, between one and two o'clock in the morning, and they are between six and seven years of age, and they must see their trapdoors secured and shut before they come up between two and three o'clock pm. He has two brothers, the eldest Nicholas, the youngest Paul, the eldest between eight and nine, and Paul between seven and eight, who keep trap-doors. As soon as ever they come home they go to bed. About four pm the night shift goes down and works till four in morning. Often waiting at the pithead till the day shift come up. The miners who drive the levels and the colliers are all one. In this work, i.e. driving levels, they take it “by the fathom,” at 16s. a fathom, and are not paid by the quantity of coals, but by the distance driven. The putter is then paid by the master [i e. proprietor], and not kept to his eight hutches; they get 3s. or 2s. 6d. a-day; six of his folk paid 4d. a-month each “to the doctor” and 1s. a-month to smith for the pick. In the old “Red-brick” pit, (which he was in before the last,) seven men were killed at different times when he worked in it - and his brother's shoulder-blade was broken in taking away a stoop; boys often squeezed between the hutches; if the boy in front misses his foot the hutch runs over him and “tears all before it,” and then they all cry “Awa” for people to get out of the way. He was six weeks lamed by a bruise between two hutches; the pit-head man cried down “Corning,” and then the engine stopped, and gave time for eating from 9 to 10, and dinner after they go up. At night took down only “loaf bread, for if you eat porridge you're aye sweating from the time you go down till you come up.” - “The work's hard, and no air to cool.” At night you wrought on till they called “Corning” at nine o'clock at night, and you took bread, or bread and cheese and drank the “best of water” in the pit. After dinner and bed he rose at five for a night-school for two hours, for about three months. None went to the school before going into the pit, for they began “putting” at six or seven years old; but they went to a night-school; kept by one Jackson, who made his living by teaching the colliers, and some adults. Jackson also kept a day-school for the night shift.
No.3. March 31. Mr. James Allan, manager of the Govan Colliery since 1822, and connected with the works 26 years:
There are four pits now in work at this colliery, and six seams in work. The workmen are divided into colliers and “on-cost men.” The latter perform all the work not done by the collier, such as building sides of roads and heightening them, clearing away the rubbish left by the collier, cutting through dykes, &c. The on-cost men always work at night, and not in the day, unless at a dyke or slip, when they work night and day, till the colliers can resume. These men go down between five and six at night, and come up about same time in the morning, taking down “their piece” [i.e. meal] with them. To three of the pits one stair goes down, and to one pit by the engine. This plan is adopted as safer, also requiring less time to draw up coals than men; coals are hoisted up in about a third of the time, so that using the engine for raising men causes a loss of time. The colliers go down from four to six am; they must be down by half-past five, otherwise there would not be coals ready in time to start the engine at six. The boys in the pits are divided into “drawers” and “trappers;” the first draw the “whirleys,” or carriages, in which the coals are brought to the foot of the shaft, and the “trappers” open and shut the trap-doors for the ventilation. The work of the drawers and trappers does not commence till six o'clock; but some who are sons of the colliers may go down with fathers earlier. The engine works from six am, till the coals are out at night; but it rarely works beyond seven at night, and the children do not come up till the coals are all out. They begin as trappers about eight years old. The market for the coals is partly for consumption in Glasgow, and about half for exportation to towns along the Clyde and to Ireland. Not a third part are used in the iron-works. All the breakfasts, [generally tea and loaf bread, cheese or ham, and a piece for the rest of the day], goes down in one corf about nine o'clock and there is generally a slackness in the work for about half an hour; but no regular meal time is allowed. They get their regular dinner after they come up. At one pit, called the Quarry Pit, where the greatest quantity of coal is just now produced, about one-third of the men work a night shift; but this is an expensive way of working, as, if the work could be equally distributed amongst all the pits, the men in them could put it all out in the day-time. There is no combination amongst the men at these pits as to the quantity to be put out by each per day; they have established a friendly and free labour society, to which all are obliged to belong, and the purpose of which is the support of the sick, and the mutual protection against the combined colliers. Where the combination exists, every man's “darg” or day's work is restricted to about two carts or six corves or hutches, and none are allowed to work but the regular bred collier, who has been taken down early. In the combination, if a man takes down a boy only to the pit bottom and sends him up again, or let's him sleep on his coat, he may work out another hutch. If the boy has reached 10 years old he is considered as “a quarter man,” and at 12 “a half-man,” at 17 “a whole man,” - i.e., a collier taking down his own son at 10 may work out two carts and a half; at 12, three carts; and one of 17 may work out for himself. If a man takes one, not his own son, the boy is not considered “so strong” - i.e., is not so soon a half or a whole man. Mr. Allen thinks they should not be taken down under 12 years old. The pits here are examined every morning by men with Davy-lamps, to ascertain that all is safe; but they do not generally work with them. All the pits in this colliery are worked on what is called the long wall system - i.e., the roof is supported by walls, and all the coal worked out without leaving pillars. The coals here are preferred large, which is one reason of this system both in Scotland and Ireland. The holidays in the year are principally about New Year's Day, and they generally take two or three days then, not being restricted. Twice a year the colliery hands are all idle for a day at the fasts, and there is slack work about Glasgow Fair. Individuals may take the whole of any one day, or two half days, in each week; but there is no general holiday or half holiday. Any man earning less than four full day's work a week has to pay house rent, whereas, otherwise, he gets his house rent free. Pay day is Saturday on each fortnight. More of them take holidays on Monday than any other day of the week. The “drawers” are always paid by the men they work for, unless the contractor pays them, and the men do not draw their own coal. The trappers are paid by the contractor when the on-cost is let, which is the usual plan. The on-cost is let in each seam separately, or to different contractors, perhaps in different parts of the same pit. There are rules sanctioned by the men which forbid any striking below ground; and if a complaint is made of children being abused [as they often do complain when it is not their father who does it] an inquiry is made and fines levied according to the rules, which are put into the friendly society fund.
By printed rules of the work, a written warning on both sides of 14 days is required, on discharging or leaving, unless for some valid reason allowed by the courts and men have been put into Bridewell for leaving without. There is a rule in the work that all employed at the colliery, and residing in the colliery houses, shall pay for the schooling of all their children, 9d. a month each from six to twelve year old for boys, and from six to ten for girls, whether they go or not. The children under 12, taken from the day-school by their parents to work, have a right to go to the night-school for the same payment. Most of the colliers, but few of the on-cost men, live in the colliery houses, the rest in town. No store or shop is connected with works. Till within 18 months there was a shop close to the office, and the men were constantly asking credit in the office, called subsistence, and spending it next door in whiskey, &c. It was found such a nuisance, that it was pulled down and given up as an evil; and now the whole money is paid without deduction. Each individual is now paid in change; about 10 or years ago they used to be paid collectively, but it was found that they went to public houses and often spent all their money there instead of paying their shops; it was a great evil to the men, and though it causes a great deal of trouble to pay all in change, yet they find a pleasure in doing it. The school was never found to succeed, or any other attempts for their benefit, till the whole management was thrown upon the men themselves. They have a school society, a reading-room and library, a funeral society and a friendly and free-labour society, as well as an instrumental band, which are all managed by the men. They have an instrumental band of about 25 instruments, and a violin band of six or seven besides a bass. A bandmaster is provided by the work, and £10 a year allowed to the band-master. The schoolmaster gets £10 from Mr. Dixon and his coal free, and £52 from the school-fund, and about £20 as a present at the end of the year, and the proceeds of the night-school for himself. His assistant receives from the fund about £35 per annum. The schoolmaster and the clerk at the forge every other Saturday give a lecture in the school-room, on scientific subjects, admission to which is provided by tickets purchased at 1s. a-piece during the winter. The band is in attendance, and after the lecture they perform, and there is singing and recitation. This is the third year; the two first years admission was free; but now they have adopted tickets and 400 were sold, as many as the house would hold, this year. Besides this, the 2d. paid at the door amounts to from 5s. to 10s. per night.
The following paper has since been forwarded by Mr. Allan:-
Answer to Query 1.
The method which is generally adopted for ventilating the workings of pits is to divide the shaft by a midwall or partition of timber, the air descending by the one division, and, after traversing the workings, ascending by the other; this method is found sufficient in ordinary circumstances for conducting the air, when proper attention is paid to the air-courses, the ascent being accelerated, when necessary, by a fire in the bottom of the ascending division of the shaft; however, this method cannot be depended upon in a deep pit, where two or seams are being wrought at the same time, particularly where carburetted hydrogen gas exists to any extent. The difficulty arising principally from the impracticability of making and keeping the partition at all times sufficiently air-tight.
The above method was found quite inadequate for the purposes of good and safe ventilation in one of the pits at this colliery. The pit is 90 fathoms deep; the output from it was extensive, and was produced from three different seams of coal, which emitted a great quantity of carburetted hydrogen gas. Every precaution was taken to prevent an accumulation of the inflammable air; nevertheless several explosions did take place, by which a number of the workmen were burned, and some lives were lost; the employment in consequence was very unsteady and attended with great expense. In order to remedy this great and growing evil, an additional shaft was sunk (seven feet diam.) at the distance of 12 feet from the original one; new machinery adapted for raising the coals by these two pits was erected; the wooden partition was taken out of the old shaft and a furnace erected at the bottom of the new one, which is kept constantly burning; the effects of this alteration, as was anticipated, have been the efficient ventilation of the workings, the workmen enjoying comparative safety, and being kept in regular work. All the pits at the colliery are now fitted up upon the same principle, having a partition of solid strata betwixt them in place of a wooden one; the first outlay is considerable, but after being fitted, becomes a great saving of expense, independent of its other beneficial results.
Answer to Query 42.
There has for a long period of years been a school in connection with Govan Colliery, the patronage of which was given by Mr. Dixon to the late Rev. Dr. M'Lean, minister of Gorbals parish, and quoad sacra of the locality of Govan parish, where a great part of the workmen the colliery reside; the Doctor appointed the schoolmaster, and was expected to have examined into the management and success of the school, which he utterly failed to do. Young men were generally appointed as teachers, who did not look forward to teaching as a permanent employment. Their conduct, in many instances, gave offence to the parents; and as the sending of the children to school, and the payments to the schoolmaster were voluntarily, the parents withdrew their children whenever they were offended at the teacher.
This state of things continued until 1826; a society was then formed at the colliery, of which all the workmen became members, and the managers of that society being elected annually by the members, Mr. Dixon gave the sole management and patronage of the school into the hands of the managers of this society; this was shortly followed, at the request of the workmen, by a regulation at the works, "That every person occupying a house belonging to the colliery shall pay at the office each pay-day the school wages fixed by the managers of the school for each of his children from 6 to 12 years of age." Since that period the school has done a great of good; the children who have attended school regularly are good scholars; but the great source of evil is the irregular attendance of the children. The parents in general are uneducated themselves, and from that cause, I believe, are not sufficiently alive to the interest of their children to enforce regular attendance, although they are obliged by the regulations of colliery to pay for them. At present, payment is made for 271 children, the average attendance does not exceed 130 and on the roll-book of the school there are only 236, showing that there are 35 who never go to school at all, independent of the many who attend only two or three days each week. It is for this reason that I have suggested, in my answer to Query 30, that being able to read and write should be made a criterion for the admission children to work from 10 to 14 years of age; and after a short period I would venture to affirm that there would be few who would not be admissible at 10 years of age; the parent would then have a pecuniary interest in the early education of his family, and the employer would all likelihood be interested to the extent of providing school accommodation for their workmen's children in the locality of his works.
Mr. Leggat, the schoolmaster, is engaged by the managers of the school at a yearly salary of £52, and, when the school funds admit, they give him a present in addition; they presented him last year with the sum of £14, although he had taught for them only eight months previously. He has the fees of the evening-school; but so little interest is felt in the evening-class, that the teacher was under the necessity of vacating the school for six months last year; it is now open and 80 scholars have engaged for a quarter. The teacher is allowed an assistant, who is paid £30 per annum from the funds.
The building wherein are the school, class-room, teacher's-room, with reading-room and library above, was built and fitted up by Mr. Dixon at an expense of about £500 and given up by him to the managers of the school about three years ago; in addition to this he gives £10 per annum to the teacher in lieu of house-rent and supplies the school, reading-room, and schoolmaster's house with free coal.
The school wages, at present, are 9d. per month for each child, from 6 to 12 years of age.
The reading-room has only existed about three years; it is optional on the part of the men to be members, and for this obvious reason, a number of the workmen cannot read and it might have been reckoned unjust to compel them to contribute to an institution from which they could derive no benefit. The reading-room is managed by a committee of the subscribers, elected half yearly. It is supported by payments of 1s. per quarter, and Mr. Dixon supplies them with the following London papers, viz. “Times” and “Morning Chronicle” daily, - and the “Examiner,” “John Bull” and “Dispatch,” weekly papers. There are, in all, 30 papers in the room weekly, besides periodicals; and there are at present 189 subscribers; it is open upon all the days of the week from 7 am to 10 pm; and because it is open on Sunday, Mr. Turner, the present parochial clergyman, has deterred a number of the workmen from being subscribers. A correspondence having been entered into betwixt the directors and that gentleman upon the subject, Mr. Turner states, “I have no wish to conceal the fact, that I most cordially disapprove of the reading-room being open upon the Lord's day; and can by no means believe it is to be an institution calculated for the moral and intellectual improvement of the neighbourhood.” I am fully aware that many of our workmen have spent many hours there upon a Sunday which would otherwise have been spent in the dram-shop.
The library has been established at the colliery for 14 years, and at first consisted chiefly of donations of books from Mr. Dixon and other individuals who had a desire to promote information among the workmen. The workmen are all members, and it is now supported by quarterly payments of 6d. from each member. There are now nearly 1400 volumes in the library; the librarian changes about 20 volumes each day, and upon the Thursday evening about 30 volumes.
The Friendly and Free Labour Society was instituted in 1826, having two objects in view - the support of sick and infirm workmen, and the protection of the workmen from the threats and intimidations of the combined; happily, no part of the funds has been required for the latter purpose. The society has done much good to the workmen. It is supported by fortnightly payments of 6d. from each member. They have about £300 in Mr. Dixon's hands, for which they are paid five per cent interest.
About 14 years ago, at the request of the workmen, a regulation was made at the colliery, "that every person employed above 16 years of age should pay 6d. to the widow of any workman and 3d. to the representatives of unmarried workmen, who may die while employed at the works." This fund did a great deal of good, by placing in the hands of widows a sum of £28 to £30, which supported her and family until she found out some permanent means of support.
This regulation was abrogated in March last at the unanimous request of the workmen, and changed into a Funeral Fund for defraying the funeral expenses of any individual of a members family - the allowance to a widow being fixed at £12. The whole workmen above 16 years of age, employed at the colliery, iron-work and forge, are members. This fund will prevent the workmen from getting into debt when visited with bereavements in their families, having a fund provided for a casualty which is certain to all. The fund is supported by periodical payments, which I would estimate at from 9s. to 10s. per annum, and is under the management of the master court of the Friendly Society.
In addition to the above institutions there are, fortnightly, lectures upon moral and scientific subjects, delivered in the schoolroom gratuitously by Mr. Leggat, the schoolmaster, and Mr. Granger, clerk at the forge, upon alternate nights. For the illustration of the lectures, there is a good chemical and other necessary apparatus, and an excellent magic lantern with slides. The lectures are followed by recitation, sentimental and comic singing, and other amusements. The expenses are defrayed by tickets for the season at 1s each: 400 of these were sold last season and those who had not obtained tickets got admission at 2d each; the money collected in this way alone amounted to from 5s. to 10s. each lecture night.
The master court of the society have also the management.
The amusements which follow the lectures are much enlivened by music, there being an instrumental and a violin band established at the works, the former consisting of 25 instruments and the latter of seven; the instruments of the band belong to the works, having been raised by subscription. Besides subscribing liberally for the purchase of the instruments, Mr. Dixon has erected an orchestra in the school for the accommodation of the bands, and to ensure the permanency and proficiency of the instrumental band, he has fixed a salary of £10 per annum upon the band-master. The band is also under the care of the master court of the Friendly Society.
The whole of the institutions taken notice of in the foregoing statement, with the exception of the reading-room, are under the care of the master court of the Friendly Society, who meet upon the Tuesday evening of every week and transact the business of them all; and, from the whole of my experience, I can unhesitatingly say, that they manage all of them with great discretion and propriety.
I beg to transmit a copy of the standing rules and regulations of the colliery, with copies of the rules of the various institutions so far as these have been printed.
(Signed) James Allan, Manager, Govan Colliery, 5th May, 1841.
Govan Colliery (visited personally.)
No.4. April 1. Robert Ferguson, collier, adult, examined in the colliery whilst at work:
He comes down at three in the morning, and works till four, or five, and sometimes as late as six in the evening. He and his brother and another collier, have four drawers amongst them, three of which drawers are his brothers. They each work six or seven carts of coals and fireclay a-day, according as the powder brings down more or less of the coal at once. [He shows me how he works. He kneels, and inclining to one side, picks out the fireclay beneath the coal with his pick. In this way he undermines a mass of coal and then applying wedges, and perhaps a blast of powder, between the roof and the top of the seam of coal, he brings down a great mass, which he supports with wooden posts if inclined to fall before he wants it.] The six carts would make 18 whirleys full of coal a-day, to be drawn about 30 fathom from the place where he is at work to the bottom of the pit and the empty whirley to be brought back 18 times. Each collier works at 10 yards of the face of the coal. His oldest brother, who is a drawer, is about 17, the next about 15, the next 12, and the fourth drawer between 11 and 12. This boy lives in his house and he feeds and clothes him, but does not pay him any wages. He is not related to him. The boy's father is in the iron-works. He has no contract or bargain with the boy's father, but just has the boy for his meat, and he may keep him all his days if he likes it. They all come down the tow at the same time - [i.e., by the engine]: never by the stair, if they can help it. He has never paid "his passage-money" i.e., a fine for using the engine when they are throng of work. He is paid 14d. a cart for coals and 6d. a cart for fire-clay and last week he worked out 50 carts, 21 of which were of fire-clay, the rest of coal - [29 carts of coals at 14d. a cart, 38s. 2d.; 21 carts of fire-clay, at 6d., l0s. 6d.; together his week's wages, £2 8s. 8d.] The on-cost, i.e. Night-work, and the drawing of the coals in the day, in this part of the workings, are let to a contractor, Ritchie, who consequently pays the drawers. The collier's business is to hew out the coal, to "break out" the coall [i.e. break up the large masses into pieces which can be lifted], and to fill it into the whirley with the hands or the shovel. For this he is paid by the company, and the contractor makes some arrangement with him about his drawer. In other parts the "on-cost" alone is contracted for and the drawing is paid for by the company to the collier, who hires and pays his own drawer. [The temperature where this man was working which was as warm as any part of the pit, I found to be only 58o and a very good ventilation constantly kept up.]
No.5. April 1. Another collier:
Is working at 150 or 160 fathoms from the Quarry Pit, which is the nearest to him. He works about six carts of 14 cwts. each per day, for which he gets 16d. a cart and pays own drawer, who must either be a man, or he must have two boys, on account of the distance to be drawn. His drawer is a man with a family, to whom he pays 2s. 9d. a-day. Another collier near him employs two boys of 12 and 14 years old respectively. They come down [i.e. the colliers,] at four or five am. The drawer has his whirley at the bottom of the shaft ready for the engine when it begins to hoist up the coal at six. If the boys "are forward" before five o'clock, they get down by the engine, otherwise, by the stair, which most of them do. The stopping of the engine in the evening regulates the time when the drawers can go up, which varies from three to six pm, according to the quantity to be raised. Generally on the Monday after pay-day the engine stops at two o'clock, and only the steady men work on that day.
No.6. April 1. Francis Conery, aged 9:
Is a trapper [i.e. opens and shuts the trap-door for the ventilation when the whirleys go past.] He comes at six am and goes at six. He gets down and up by the engine. He sits on a board in a niche in the wall without a light, quite in the dark, and holds a rope which is fastened to the door, and when a whirley comes either way he pulls the rope and so opens the door, and when the carriage has passed he shuts it again. He has some bread, tea, tea and cheese, sent down by the engine and brought to him by a drawer, or if slack he can run get it himself. It serves him for the day, as long as he is down the pit. He has not eaten all he got this morning yet. He sometimes falls asleep at his door when he is in the night shift: this is one week out of three. When he is asleep, the drawer raps at the door and he wakes and opens it. He gets 8d. a-day, and is "no able" to be a putter yet, but when he can he shall get 1s. a-day. His brother is a trapper here also, and is older than he is. Neither of them ever went to any school, day or night.
No.7. April 1. _____ Buchanan, Esq., Main-street, Gorbals:
Is surgeon to the Govan Colliery, together with his partner Mr. Tindale, who is now dressing the leg of a drawer injured some days since by being jammed between two whirleys. They were going down an incline, and the boy in charge of the one behind him was a new hand and did not understand it, so that he let his come against the patient. He will be unable to work again for some time. Wishes he were on the sick society, as he should get an allowance whilst unable to work. Mr. Buchanan says that it is only for the last two years that he has had to attend to the accidents in Govan Colliery, since the death of the former surgeon; he before only attended the families of the workpeople. He keeps no register of cases, only a daily list. He cannot therefore speak quite accurately as to the number of accidents in the last two years, but they have chiefly been of a trifling nature. The severe accidents which he recollects were two being severely burned by firedamp, but they recovered; one man had his leg broken by the coal falling upon it; and one of the on-cost men lost his sight by the powder igniting, when he was blasting the rock, unexpectedly. As to medical disorders, rheumatism and coughs are the most prevalent and these he considers owing in a great measure to coming up heated and sitting to smoke at the pit head. And also that they are often so wearied by the day's work, that they throw themselves down on the floor of their kitchen and there lie before the fire for some time before they wash or dress themselves. He has frequently cautions them against this practice. He thinks, however, that there is more consumption among the lower class immediately about where he lives than amongst the colliers. Those who work in the colliery are subject to a peculiar sort of phthisis, called phthisis melanotica, the symptoms of which are a cough and expectoration of a black mucus, supposed to be caused by of the lamps and the dust of the coal. Young subjects generally recover from it; in older ones it prevents work by the cough. Asthma is rather common amongst those in advanced life. Scrofulous subjects coming from a distance often get better at the colliery. So many strangers have been brought together by the recent extension of the workings, that it is difficult to say much about the duration of life, but those who have remained stationary from early life have died well advanced in years. Altogether, if they were but more temperate, he considers the employment not unhealthy. As to the children, if the parents only do them justice as to food and clothing, they are stout, plump and active, and better in health than those of the same age in mills. Some of the poor Irish children who live near him, and work in the colliery, are pale and ill-looking but that is the fault of their parents, not of the labourer. Fever, if it exists in the colliery dwellings, may usually be traced to some female who has caught the infection in the mills in Glasgow, where many of them go to work. He has just now a case of a girl, a worker in a mill, who has fallen sick of fever, though there is no other case anywhere in the colliery village; but, perhaps, now she has it, it may spread a little. Not above two or three have complained to him of being ruptured by the work.
Clyde Iron Works (visited personally)
No.8. March 30. James Dunlop, Esq:
Has been proprietor and manager of the Clyde Iron Works since 1837. Few under 18 are employed in the iron works; we would not employ such, because not strong enough, unless to drive the coals along the railway from Hamilton Farm Colliery to the works. There are at present six furnaces and another building. Each furnace requires for the 24 hours and two shifts two keepers [who take charge of the furnace and let out, or tap, the metal], two assistants or firemen [to heat the blast and generally to assist the keeper], two fillers [who charge or fill the furnace], two men to fill the barrows in which the charge is taken up to the furnace, and two boys to make the moulds for the pig-iron to run into. About 70 pigs are cast in each of two beds. This makes 10, including the boys, to each furnace and a pig-wheeler 11 [vide below]. The hours of work are from six to six every day alike, Sundays as well, and breakfast time is at nine, and dinner at two; and during the hour for each meal they arrange amongst themselves to get the meal, taking each other's places. The whole of the eight adult workers about the furnaces are paid so much a ton, according to the quality of the product; the boys are hired and paid by the keeper, and are generally their own children; some keepers and firemen make their own moulds and dispense with the boys. The making the moulds for the pigs does not require above three hours, and consequently many of the boys go to a school built by the firm, and to which they appoint the master, the children paying each 10d. a month. There are also men called pig-wheelers, who wheel the iron from the beds to stack it in the yard; they are paid also by tonnage, one to each furnace; but they assist each other. They have very hard work and are the most irregular in the works. The metal is wrought near Airdrie and at Cross-basket, about ten and six miles from hence, and the output is let to contractors, who deliver it at the pit and it is brought here at the expense of this company, who also manage the workings, supply rails and props, &c. A cart and man also carts away the slag from the furnaces. Mr. Dunlop thinks the furnace-men not a bad set of men and certainly improving. Last New Year's Day, which is a criterion of an inclination to dissipation, they were never so quiet. Wages are paid monthly, on Saturday night and all must give and receive a month's warning; and this is an established rule of the works, and would be considered an implied contract in a court of justice; in some other works a shorter period is the rule. There is no general rule in the trade. Drunkenness on duty, if at all a practice, is a cause of dismissal and not coming on a Monday after pay-day would cause a temporary suspension, as for a week. There was an old rule in the work, that children should be obliged to go to school till a certain age and it ought to be done now - till 12 years old.
No.9. April 5. Dr. Adams:
Surgeon to two collieries and certificating surgeon to some factories; he also has patients from two or three foundries, but is not regularly paid by the firm for these as he is by the collieries, he therefore cannot say much about the foundries, but he has been astonished at the fewness of the accidents in them; he has had some accidents from the machinery but no serious burns from the molten metal; he is surgeon to the collieries of Mr. Neilson at Kepper and of Mr. Grieve at Rock-hill; some explosions have happened in them, but every one through carelessness, by letting out the fire which causes the ventilation, or from not examining the workings with a Davy-lamp before the colliers go down. It is often on Mondays that such accidents happen, the gas having collected on the Sunday. Amongst colliers bronchitis or asthma is very prevalent amongst the older hands, and also an eruption on the skin of the men, perhaps from the irritating nature of some of the mineral waters; he however knows of no injuries caused to the children's health by too early or long-continued employment; they get bruised by parts of the roof falling, and also by the hutches running against them. As to boys in foundries, the only deleterious effect of their work he knows is soreness of the eyes caused by the heat and brightness of the molten metal, and perhaps also by the charcoal-dust used in casting.
Knightswood Colliery, Dumbartonshire (visited personally.)
No.10. April 3. James Macleod, pit-head man at the Knightswood Colliery
The one I went down in was formed at the bottom of a frame of wood, through the side bars of which were inserted, in the middle of their length, two iron pins, with eyes hook on to the chain, which is double at the end and secured in the wood by pins. The four sides were wattled hazel; I should consider them hardly safe but they the most common; some have only a single hook and eye.