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The south Yorkshire coalminers, 1870-1914 : a study of social and occupational cohesion Wolfe, Celia Mary 1974

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THE SOUTH YORKSHIRE COALMINERS 1870 - 19-4 i A STUDY OF SOCIAL AND OCCUPATIONAL COHESION by CELIA MARY WOLFE B.A. (Hons.), University College of Bangor, 1971 Dip. Ed., University of S h e f f i e l d , 1972 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n the Department of HISTORY We accept t h i s thesis avs conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY,OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October, 1974 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumb ia , I ag ree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s tudy . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i thou t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumbia Vancouver 8, Canada Department o f i i ABSTRACT The coalminers as a s o c i a l and occupational group have always been referred to by historians as a "race apart," l i v i n g i n communities which were both phy s i c a l l y and c u l t u r -a l l y i s o l a t e d from other working-class groups. In order to distinguish and examine the special circumstances and charac-t e r i s t i c s which set them apart from the rest of the working class, the present thesis stresses a number of problems: male and female roles? the family? the special place of women i n the family? working and l i v i n g conditions? and the s p e c i a l attitudes and outlooks that these conditions fostered. Although the sources examined are drawn from a l l coal-f i e l d s , the study focuses on the r e l a t i v e l y new South Yorkshire c o a l f i e l d which has not yet been studied i n a systematic fashion. During the l a s t three decades of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, the South Yorkshire c o a l f i e l d underwent i t s period of most rapid expansion. While t h i s c o a l f i e l d was newer than the others, i t s miners exhibited s i m i l a r features to those of the older c o a l f i e l d s , and i t i s not my aim to prove that they were d i f -ferent. Rather, the South Yorkshire c o a l f i e l d i s used as a model to i d e n t i f y some s o c i a l aspects of l i f e i n a coal-mining community. In addition, the study attempts to contrast the envi-ronment of the coalminers with that of other working-class groups. Demographic material i s derived from the Census Reports, and studies of l i v i n g and working conditions from Government reports, eye-witness accounts of s o c i a l i n v e s t i -gators, autobiographies of coalminers and personal memoirs, i i i contemporary newspaper reports, and relevant secondary works. Despite the i n f l u x of new immigrants into the new or expanding coalmining towns and v i l l a g e s , they rapidly came to exhibit patterns to be found i n older coalmining communi-t i e s . The most impressive mark of a coalmining town was i t s d i s t i n c t i v e s o c i a l s o l i d a r i t y and cohesion. These strong s o c i a l bonds were engendered and maintained by a common id e n t i t y produced by occupational dependency upon the p i t , and by the camaraderie fostered by shared l i v i n g and working exper-iences. The need f o r cooperation under dangerous working conditions, the communal struggle against an unfavourable environment, the economic insecurity of p i t - l i f e , the l i m i -tations enforced upon women by the lack of employment oppor-t u n i t i e s , the t r a d i t i o n a l commitment to large f a m i l i e s ! These factors ensured a common pool of experiences and a common set of expectations. The coalmining communities were marked by a unique culture and outlook on l i f e . These features of coalmining served to i s o l a t e i t s populations even more from other working-class groups and offer an explanation for the view which has been advanced by labour historians that the radicalism of the coalminers was r e s t r i c t e d to t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r needs and int e r e s t s , and eschewed a t o t a l working-class s o l i d a r i t y , which was the goal of the organized.,working-class movement i n B r i t a i n . i v P R E F A C E T h e c o a l m i n e r s h a v e a l w a y s b e e n k n o w n f o r t h e i r t u r b u l e n t p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s a n d f o r t h e i r f o r e m o s t p o s i -t i o n i n t h e h i s t o r y o f t r a d e u n i o n i s m . D u r i n g t h e p e r i o d o f t h e "new u n i o n i s m , " t h e Y o r k s h i r e c o a l f i e l d w a s t h e m o s t s t r o n g l y u n i o n i z e d o f a l l c o a l f i e l d s , a n d t h e Y o r k s h i r e M i n e r s ' - A s s o c i a t i o n was t h e m o s t p o w e r f u l c o n s t i t u e n t o f t h e M i n e r s ' F e d e r a t i o n o f G r e a t B r i t a i n . D e s p i t e t h e i r i m -p o r t a n c e i n t h e h i s t o r y o f l a b o u r s t r u g g l e s , I h a v e n o t d i s -c u s s e d t h e r o l e o f t h e c o a l m i n e r s i n p o l i t i c s o r u n i o n i s m , o r t h e u n i q u e i n d u s t r i a l r e l a t i o n s i n m i n i n g . T h e s e t o p i c s h a v e b e e n d e a l t w i t h b y R. P . A r n o t , R o y G r e g o r y , H . A . C l e g g , A . F o x , a n d A , , F . T h o m p s o n , a n d m o r e p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t h e c a s e o f t h e Y o r k s h i r e m i n e r s , b y F r a n k M a c h i n . My p u r p o s e i s q u i t e d i f f e r e n t . I h a v e s o u g h t t o g a i n some i n s i g h t s i n t o t h e p e r s o n a l l i v i n g a n d w o r k i n g s i t u a t i o n o f t h e c o a l -m i n e r s a n d t h e i r f a m i l i e s . O n l y w h e n t h e y s u i t t h e p u r p o s e s o f t h i s t h e s i s , d o I r e f e r t o t h e p o l i t i c a l a n d u n i o n i z i n g a c t i v i t i e s o f t h e c o a l m i n e r s . T o s t r e n g t h e n t h e q u a l i t a t i v e a s p e c t s o f t h e s t u d y , I h a v e r e l i e d h e a v i l y u p o n d e s c r i p t i o n s f r o m t h e c o a l m i n e r s t h e m s e l v e s a n d u p o n t h o s e f r o m s o c i a l i n v e s t i g a t o r s . S o t h a t t h e s e d e s c r i p t i o n s d o n o t l o s e a n y o f t h e i r V a l u e o r m e a n i n g , I h a v e t o a g r e a t e x t e n t l e t t h e w o r d s o f t h e c o a l m i n e r s a n d c o n t e m p o r a r y o b s e r v e r s s p e a k f o r t h e m s e l v e s . Some o f t h i s i l l u s t r a t i v e m a t e r i a l i s t a k e n f r o m o u t s i d e t h e t i m e p e r i o d c o v e r e d i n my s t u d y , b u t i t i s u s e d o n l y w h e n i t c a n V throw l i g h t on the period under consideration, and i s there-fore of s p e c i a l interest or s i g n i f i c a n c e . S i m i l a r l y material i s drawn from a l l c o a l f i e l d s to provide a more complete back-ground i n which the experiences of the Yorkshire c o a l f i e l d can be placed. F i n a l l y , the standard of l i v i n g of any working-class occupational or s o c i a l group can only be studied i n comparison with the standards experienced by other working-class groups. Consequently, throughout the t h e s i s , I have t r i e d to incorporate material from other occupational groups to provide a contrast f o r the coalminers• experiences. vi TABLE OF CONTENTS Ti t l e Page i Abstract i i Preface iv List of Tables v i I Introduction v 1 II The Standard of Life 17 III Marriage, F e r t i l i t y , and Household Size 68 IV Wives and Daughters 109 V The Woman in her Social and Domestic Role .... 135 VI The Coalminer -- His Work 173 VII The Coalminer -- His Social Life 219 VIII Conclusion 25^ Bibliography 262 v i i LIST OF TABLES CHAPTER I TABLE I TABLE I I TABLE I I I TABLE IV TABLE V TABLE VI To show the decennial increase i n the numbers of coalminers i n England and Wales, 1861 -1911. To show the decennial increase i n the numbers of coalminers i n the West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881 - 1911. To show the output of coal i n m i l l i o n s of tons i n Yorkshire, 1880 - 1913. To show the growth of population i n a sample of South Yorkshire c o l l i e r y towns, 1881 -1911. To show the b i r t h places of a sample of males enumerated i n Yorkshire, 1891. „To show the occupational concentration of coalminers i n a sample of Urban D i s t r i c t s i n South Yorkshire, 1901 - 11. CHAPTER I I TABLE I TABLE I I TABLE I I I TABLE IV TABLE V TABLE VI TABLE VII To show the numbers of families and numbers of houses available i n a sample of West Riding coal towns, 1891 and 1901. To show the b i r t h , death and infant death rates for Castleford, 1902 - 1906. To show the b i r t h , death and infant death rates f o r Normanton i n 1906, To show the numbers of patients i n c e r t a i n I s o l a t i o n Hospitals i n the Yorkshire c o l l i e r y areas, 1911. To show the average d a i l y wages of coal hewers and labourers by region, 1888 and 191^. To show the average weekly rates (net) of various grades of coalminers i n West and South Yorkshire, 1886. To show the average d a i l y earnings of various grades of coalminers i n West and South York-sh i r e , 191^. v i i i TABLE VIII To compare the true weekly wage rates i n f i v e major indu s t r i e s , 1886 and 1913. TABLE IX To compare the average weekly earnings of male adult workers i n various i n d u s t r i e s , 1913. TABLE X To show the number of English mining families out of a sample of 124 who consumed quantities of the following commodities i n 1890. TABLE XI To show the number of English mining families from a sample of 124 who incurred expenses fo r c e r t a i n non-food items, I890. CHAPTER III TABLE I To show the average ages at marriage of bache-l o r s and spinsters i n occupational groups, 1884 - 1885. TABLE II To show the average age of the wife at marriage, i n marriages of varying duration and s o c i a l c l a s s , 1911. TABLE III To show the conjugal status, of men and women in three sample coal towns at various ages i n 1891. TABLE IV To show the t o t a l b i r t h s per 1,000 population i n England and Wales, 1871 to 1911. TABLE V To show the b i r t h rate per 1,000 i n the coal-mining counties and England and Wales i n 1881 and 1901. TABLE VI To show the annual percentage decreases i n class f e r t i l i t y rates, standardized f o r age <€: of marriage, TABLE VII To show the f e r t i l i t y of the eight s o c i a l classes i n 1911. TABLE VIII To show the standardized t o t a l and e f f e c t i v e f e r t i l i t y of marriages of various dates i n each s o c i a l c l a s s , as a percentage of the corresponding rates f o r occupied persons of a l l classes j o i n t l y , 1911. TABLE IX To show mortality of legitimate c h i l d r e n under one year of age, according to the occupation and s o c i a l class of the father, 1911. -IX PAGE TABLE X TABLE XI TABLE XII CHAPTER IV TABLE I TABLE I I TABLE I I I TABLE IV TABLE V TABLE VI To compare the i l l e g i t i m a c y rate of the coal areas with the national average. Crude rates. To show the d i s t r i b u t i o n of the r e t i r e d males i n c e r t a i n occupations i n workhouses and asylums, England and Wales, 1911. To show the percentage of aged paupers i n a sample of South Yorkshire coal towns, 1892. To i l l u s t r a t e the age d i s t r i b u t i o n i n t a sample of mining towns, compared with the rest of England and Wales. To show the number of females per 1,000 males i n England and Wales, 1861 to 1911. To show the population by sex of those c i v i l parishes i n the West Riding whose expansion was due to c o l l i e r y development, 1891 to 1911 To show the numbers of females at various ages i n the f i v e sample Urban Sanitary D i s t r i c t s , 1881 - 1901. To show the numbers of males i n various age groups i n f i v e Urban Sanitary District's, 1881 - 1901 To trace the progress of the 10 to lk year age group i n 1891, to 1901, i n four sample Urban Sanitary D i s t r i c t s , from the Census Reports of those years. 93 99 100 111 112 111* 116 118 120 TABLE VII To trace the progress of the 15 to 19 years age group of 1881 to 1901, i n f i v e Urban Sanitary D i s t r i c t s from the Census Reports. Increase/ Decline i n brackets. 121 TABLE VIII To show the proportion per cent of men, boys, women and g i r l s employed i n various trades, 1886. 12^ TABLE IX To show the r a t i o of occupied females to the t o t a l female population of a sample of South Yorkshire c o l l i e r y towns, 1901. 125 TABLE X To show the p r i n c i p a l occupations pursued by women i n a sample of coal towns i n South Yorkshire, 1911. 126 X PAGE CHAPTER VI TABLE I To show the numbers of coalminers at groups of ages, 1891. 181 TABLE I I To show the numbers of coalminers at groups of ages for England and Wales, and Yorkshire, 1911. 182 TABLE I I I To show the annual death rates from accidents per 1,000 l i v i n g i n B r i t a i n , i n age groups. 192 TABLE IV To show the p r i n c i p a l c o l l i e r y disasters i n B r i t a i n , 1856-1894. 193 TABLE V To compare the mortality rate f o r coalminers with the national r a t e , 1908. 200 TABLE VI To show the annual death rates per 1,000 l i v i n g by ages, at two periods. 202 TABLE VII To show the expectation of l i f e at the age of 20 years i n ce r t a i n occupational groups, based on mortality figures f o r 1900 to 1902. 203 CHAPTER VII TABLE I To compare prosecutions per 1,000 population for drunkenness i n f i v e mining counties and a group of a g r i c u l t u r a l counties, for the year ending September 20th, 1864. 226 TABLE I I To compare the numbers of prisoners from ce r t a i n occupational groups i n England and Wales i n 1901. 249 1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION The history of the early development of the coal industry in England is d i f f i c u l t to trace, owing to the ab-sence of records regarding the working of the mines and the men who wrought in them... To a certain extent the same might be said concerning the records relating to the social l i f e of the working classes contained in the press of our time. Although the workmen of today have attained a dis-tinct social position, have represen-tatives in the House of Commons, and trade unions, societies, and powerful combinations, very l i t t l e beyond their public or p o l i t i c a l actions is noted by the press of the country. An author writing a century hence on our social history would find but sparse notices of the manner of living of the grimy toilers of the mine or workshop... he would have to search in the remotest corners of literature to obtain even , a glimpse at the inner l i f e of a c o l l i e r . R.N. Boyd made this comment in 1892, and his words have largely held true. Although much has been written about the British coal industry and on the p o l i t i c a l and labour struggles i t generated, the paucity of personal records re-mains a problem for those who wish to explore the social history of the miners. Nevertheless, the problem is not intractable. Eye-witness accounts and autobiographies of coalminers are available, as are Government reports and en-quiries, census materials, and the observations of social investigators. It is upon the basis of such sources that 2 this thesis has been written. Many writers and observers have justifiably described the coalminers as being a "race apart." This judgement was perhaps stimulated by the geographical isolation of the coal-mining communities, for, as one observer noted, "miners mostly live in villages of their own, apart from the ordinary indus-2 t r i a l l i f e of the country." This isolation and physical separation intensified feelings of loyalty among miners both to the community and to their occupational group. "They lived... in tightly-knit communities with a strong sense of solidarity. In times of trouble they acted together, often violently." ^•Not' unexpectedly, special attitudes emerged from this physical and occupational isolation so that: Coal-miners have always been a class apart, with mentality and aspiration unlike those of the rest of the working class. This s p i r i t u a l isolation is largely a reflection of physical isolation. Living remote from the quick l i f e of the town, the c o l l i e r has developed speech and habits that effectively cut him off from his fellows, k A lack of occupational diversity contributed to the shared l i v i n g and working situation which was so important to the maintenance of cohesion within the population of the coalmining communities: In communities like these there was l i t t l e of the social st r a t i f i c a t i o n and variety of l i f e that is usually found in large industrial conurbations. The typical mining village was a dreary collection of box-like cottages, arranged in monstrous rows, each identical with the next. Almost everyone was related in some degree to everyone else, and physi-cally and psychologically these intensely close-knit societies tended to be cut off from the rest of the world. 5 3 This study w i l l attempt to demonstrate why the coalminers have been designated as an isolated "race" and to i d e n t i f y i n what ways t h e i r l i f e and work d i f f e r e d from that of other occupational groups. The somewhat t r a d i t i o n a l and conserva-t i v e attitudes of the miners, which may be discerned i n many differe n t facets of l i f e , supports the view that the coal-mining communities tended to be inward-looking almost to the point of being closed s o c i a l groups. Examples and i l l u s -t r a t ions w i l l be taken from di f f e r e n t c o a l f i e l d s and from various sources to add weight to the thesis. I t must be pointed out at t h i s stage, however, that there were many l o c a l variations and differences i n l i v i n g and working s i t u a -tions between the d i f f e r e n t c o a l f i e l d s . This thesis cannot attempt the mammoth task of i d e n t i f y i n g these l o c a l diver-gences. Instead, common threads have been selected and some generalizations are advanced. Though examples w i l l be c i t e d from the major B r i t i s h c o a l f i e l d s , including the mining centres of Scotland, South Wales, the Midlands, Durham and Northumberland, the South Yorkshire c o a l f i e l d has been chosen for s p e c i f i c study. Development of the c o a l f i e l d s i n t h i s area received i t s greatest impetus i n the l a s t three decades of the nineteenth century and up u n t i l the F i r s t World War, While much has been written on the older c o a l f i e l d s of B r i t a i n , l i t t l e has been written about the mines of South Yorkshire which were developed l a t e r . My purpose i s to establ i s h the outline of the s o c i a l and working l i v e s of these miners, to show what bound them so clo s e l y together, and to i d e n t i f y the special c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and features which distinguished them so drama-t i c a l l y from other occupational groups, I I The numbers of coalmining population expanded ra p i d l y throughout B r i t a i n i n the period under study. The following figures reveal how quickly these numbers were increasing f or England and Wales alone, i l l u s t r a t i n g the scope and impor-tance of the coal industry, TABLE I To show the decennial increase i n the numbers of coalminers i n England and Wales, 1861 - 1911. ° Miners i n coal 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 246,613 268,091 378,664 513,843 640,989 874,304 Increase 1881-91 1891-01 1901-11 35.7 24.7 36.4 (Note: figures for 1861 and 1871 include r e t i r e d coalminers.) Some of t h i s expansion was accounted f or by the new develop-ments taking place on the Yorkshire c o a l f i e l d . The opening up of new coal mines i n Yorkshire developed from west to east, though coal p i t s had been i n operation i n certain parts of Yorkshire throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. One of the most important of these early phases of coalmining was located i n the Barnsley area from 1835 to 1870. However, the opening up of new c o l l i e r i e s and the development of new communities i n the Trans-Dearne area came aft e r the early 1870's. The most important seam was the Barnsley Bed of both soft house and coking coal and hard 5 steam coal. A c t i v i t y and population gravitated around t h i s area a f t e r 1870, I t was these newer developments which were largely responsible for the rapid increase i n output and mining population i n South Yorkshire f o r the next few decades: TABLE I I To show the decennial increase i n the numbers of coalminers i n the West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881 -1911. 7 Coal miners West Riding Yorkshire 1881 1891 1901 1911 55,680 75,958 94,110 136,399 Increase 1881 - 91 1891 - 01 1901 - 11 36.4 23.9 43.5 The figures for the increase in/the output of coal also demonstrate the rapid development which was taking place i n Yorkshire during t h i s period. These new exploitations were so c r u c i a l to the coal industry as a whole that by 1900 York-shire and Nottinghamshire together dominated the B r i t i s h coal industry. TABLE I I I To show the output of coal i n m i l l i o n s of tons — ' - — - - i r\ r\ ^ \ —i /—\ -i —i O 1880 1885 1890 1895 1900 1905 1910 1913 17.5 18.5 22.3 22.8 28.2 2 9 . 9 3 8 . 3 4 3 . 7 I f we examine the population figures f o r the following South Yorkshire coalmining communities, most of which are named by the census Reports as expanding solely because of c o l l i e r y development, then we can see t h i s rapid rate of expansion i n operation. These p a r t i c u l a r communities are of special interest since they are representative of those which t h i s study examines more clo s e l y . 6 TABLE IV To show the growth of p o p u l a t i o n i n a sample of  South Y o r k s h i r e c o l l i e r y towns. 1881 - 1911. 9 C i v i l P a r i s h 1881 1891 1901 1911 Ackworth Bentley B o I t on- up on- De arne C a s t l e f o r d 2,222 1,484 1,002 10,530 2,647 1,880 1,205 14,143 3,394 2,403 3,828 17,386 4,183 6,497 8,670 23,090 Conisbrough C r i g g l e s t o n e C r o f t o n Cudworth 2,690 2,777 702 1,044 4,499 2,862 824 1.607 8,549 3,246 1,896 3.408 11,059 4,369 2,566 6,824 D a r f i e l d Darton Denaby Featherstone 2,616 2 9601.631 3,247 3,416 3,679 1,708 4.132 4,194 4,457 2,670 7,822 5,427 5,941 5,060 9,167 Glass Houghton Grimethorpe Hemsworth Hoyland Nether 1,049 1,665 9.822 1,477 2,887 11,006 2,950 1,092 6,283 12,464 4,739 3,263 10,173 14,638 Mexborough Normanton Purston J a g l i n Rovston 6,319 8,038 706 1.128 7,734 10,234 1,212 2.613 10;,>430 12,352 1,995 4.397 14,401 15,032 2,376 6.237 R y h i l l South E l m s a l l South K i r k b y Swinton 797 526 634 2.968 1,060 620 1,434 9.705 1,553 1,026 2,916 12.217 2,191 4,359 7,086 -nr6<;4 . Thurnscoe Wath-upon-Dearne Wombwell 249 3,012 8,451 217 3,894 10,942 2,366 4,847 13,252 4,074 7,331 17,536 From t h i s t a b l e i t can be seen t h a t the c e n t r e s of major p o p u l a t i o n growth took p l a c e i n Bentley, Bolton-upon-Dearne, C a s t l e f o r d , Conisbrough, Cudworth, Denaby, Featherstone, Hemsworth, Mexborough, Royston, Wath-upon-Dearne and Wombwell. These communities grew from '.their r e l a t i v e l y modest beginnings t o s i z e a b l e towns i n the space of t h i r t y y e a r s . Furthermore, C r o f t o n , Purston J a g l i n , R y h i l l , South E l m s a l l , South Ki r k b y and Thurnscoe were n o t h i n g more than s m a l l v i l l a g e s i n 1881, but had become s m a l l townships by the end of t h i s p e r i o d . The problem which must now be r a i s e d i s t h a t of the o r i g i n of t h i s p o p u l a t i o n i n c r e a s e . From where were the new c o l l i e r y owners drawing t h e i r labour f o r c e ? 7 The f i r s t source of labour was of course the resident population i n the area of development. In those coalmining areas where c o l l i e r y extensions were taking place, there would be a small, basic mining population upon which to b u i l d . However, i n areas of new development, the coal-owners would have to depend f i r s t l y upon the resident a g r i c u l t u r a l popu-l a t i o n . A great many of the coalmining population as a whole had t h e i r roots i n agricul t u r e . O r i g i n a l l y t h e i r f a m i l i e s had been farm labourers, but the sons turned to mining the land upon which t h e i r forebears had once worked. S i m i l a r l y i n Yorkshire, i t i s safe to assume that resident a g r i c u l t -u r a l labourers l e f t t h e i r lowly paid farm work to take up jobs i n the new c o l l i e r i e s i n t h e i r areas, which were offe r i n g incentives of higher pay to at t r a c t t h e i r labour. Secondly, the figures imply that the opening up of the South Yorkshire.coalfield involved a major i n f l u x of immigrants and t h e i r families — miners from the older, stagnating or deteriorating c o a l f i e l d s , those from poorly paid a g r i c u l t -u r a l areas, and i n instances, workers from occupations com-pl e t e l y divorced from coalmining. The Census Reports i n d i -cate that most of these immigrants did not t r a v e l very f a r . From 1871 to 1891f when information on migration i s av a i l a b l e , the majority of migrants to Yorkshire came from the North Midland counties, Lincolnshire, Lancashire and Ireland. 1 0 Those from England therefore had, i n most instances, simply crossed the border from t h e i r native counties into the mining 8 and i n d u s t r i a l d i s t r i c t s of Yorkshire, The following table shows the b i r t h places of a sample of males i n Yorkshire i n 1891, and indicates those areas from where most immigrants were drawn: To. showjthe b i r t h places of a sample of males enumerated i n Yorkshire, 1891. 11 B i r t h place Numbers of males Lancashire 33,670 Lincolnshire 31,647 Ireland 22,937 Durham 19,594 Derbyshire 17,675 Nottinghamshire 15,220 Staffordshire 14,880 Although these immigrants were enumerated for the whole of Yorkshire, and not s o l e l y the coalmining areas, i t can be assumed that many of them found t h e i r way to the c o l l i e r y d i s t r i c t s . Those from Lincolnshire represent perhaps those a g r i c u l t u r a l workers who were seeking a better l i v i n g i n the mining and manufacturing areas, while among those from Durham, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire would be found a number of miners who would be hoping to f i n d better working conditions i n the new c o l l i e r i e s than those they had l e f t behind. There was but l i t t l e i n f l u x from the south because, " i t seems probable also that souther-ners regarded the mining and manufacturing areas with some 9 repugnance, p a r t i c u l a r l y the c o a l f i e l d s where demand for labour was greatest but patterns of work and le i s u r e least 12 f a m i l i a r . " Those migrants who did leave t h e i r homes and employment however, f o r work i n the c o a l f i e l d s , were attracted by c e r t a i n tangible inducements. F i r s t l y , the wages paid i n coalmining were higher than those which could be earned i n agriculture or manufacturing industry. Low-rental housing was available and coalminers were allowed to buy coal at concessionary rates from the<pits. F i n a l l y , there was an increase i n mining l e g i s l a t i o n i n the l a t e r half of the nine-teenth century, and the improved working conditions that resulted continually strengthened the attractions of coal-mining. During t h i s same period there was a great migration of labour from the a g r i c u l t u r a l counties of western England into the Glamorganshire c o a l f i e l d and here, Brinley Thomas found that the greatest inducement to migration was wages. Infor-mation and storie s of greater spending power f i l t e r e d back to prospective emigrants i n the a g r i c u l t u r a l areas from those who had l e f t before, and "the mere prospect of handling more 13 money was i n i t s e l f a l l u r i n g . " y The new c o l l i e r y communi-t i e s had mixed populations, consisting of the o r i g i n a l r e s i -dents, immigrant miners from other f i e l d s , and those from other occupational groups. However, as s i m i l a t i o n of the new migrants into the community did occur and s t a b i l i t y developed so that i n time the new community assumed those features and outlooks c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the coalminers: 10 ... as new p i t s were opened they drew c o l l i e r s from elsewhere to work them. I f you t a l k to men on t h e i r way to work... you w i l l discover that they or t h e i r prede-cessors came from Wales, Durham or the Scottish border. In some cases they s t i l l maintain l i n k s with t h e i r home counties, but i n general they have been assimilated into the p i t community and as such form an enclave within the Riding with i t s own t r a d i t i o n s and customs, i t s own forms of speech and phrase, and i t s own l o y a l t i e s , as in mining regions everywhere. It i s i n many ways a closed community with a f i e r c e l y independent outlook, and i t s own pride. The miners' leader Jack Lawson moved from Cumberland to Durham as a c h i l d i n 1891 and found that despite d i f f e r -ences i n county backgrounds, marriage and time obliterated these differences and made the newcomers one people with the o r i g i n a l residents. The second generation from immigrant parents regarded themselves as Durham people. Soon the miners became "dominated by a communal s p i r i t " which was fostered by the fact that everyone had to work and struggle together against the hardships and stress that were presented by l i f e i n a c o l l i e r y v i l l a g e . Lawson said that suffering played a great part i n bridging differences between people. Indeed, the common struggle to forge a stable community out of these rapi d l y developing towns, with those miserable conditions i n c i d e n t a l to the "boom" towns such as j e r r y - b u i l d i n g , overcrowding, neglect of sanitary f a c i l i t i e s and disease, must have contributed towards the development of cohesion and what Lawson c a l l e d "the communal s p i r i t . " In his twentieth century survey of t h i s phenomenon i n Canada, the so c i o l o g i s t Rex Lucas found that new single-industry communities took just f i f t e e n years for s t a b i l i t y 11 and maturity to develop. During t h i s period, the children of immigrants had intermarried and established t h e i r own fami-l i e s to the extent that the new community was regarded as being "home." ^ Despite the i n f l u x of varied populations therefore, the coalmining communities quickly assumed ce r t a i n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , and i t i s these features that the thesis w i l l i d e n t i f y and examine. The development of these common ch a r a c t e r i s t i c s was f a c i -l i t a t e d by the fact that the coalmining communities were dominated by the coalmine, as the working population as a whole depended i n some way upon coal. I f a man was not d i r e c t l y employed by the c o l l i e r y , then he was probably involved i n a trade which owed i t s existence to the mine, such as the service trades, bui l d i n g , transport, or side-industries such as glass or brick-making. On the whole, whether the town had these mixed industries or not, the mine exerted a power-f u l influence over the whole population and i n times of d i s -tress such as s t r i k e s , lock-outs or slump, everyone was affec-ted to a c e r t a i n degree. The population of a c o l l i e r y town therefore shared s i m i l a r i n t e r e s t s . In a single-industry c o l l i e r y town t h i s phenomenon was p a r t i c u l a r l y strong f o r : In a mining v i l l a g e i n those days there was nothing else except the p i t , A p i t was b u i l t to l a s t perhaps a hundred years and the whole community was b u i l t up around i t . The miners' houses were b u i l t near the p i t and there was very l i t t l e else i n the v i l l a g e except the post o f f i c e , a few shops, the miners' h a l l and so on, and the whole community had i d e n t i c a l i n t e r e s t s , a l l linked with the coal which gave us our l i v e l i h o o d . 17 12 In Scotland, the French t r a v e l l e r and observer Paul de Rousiers found an indissoluble union between the mine and the miner. "He i s , i n f a c t , as much bound to the subsoil as the serf of the Middle Ages was bound to the s o i l , and i s perhaps more exclusively a miner than the serf was a labourer. Consequently his ispecialized character becomes -I o very highly marked." This union was strengthened by physi-c a l i s o l a t i o n f o r : Thus i s o l a t e d , thus penned up i n his mining v i l l a g e , the c o l l i e r has fewer opportunities than most other workers of q u i t t i n g the trade which he entered i n accor-dance with the family t r a d i t i o n , and i n which he i s temp-ted by habit to remain. Here, then, i s a numerous population, compact and i n e r t , depending on the c o l l i e r y for i t s means of existence. 19 I f we examine a sample of coalmining communities i n South Yorkshire, then we can see t h i s occupational concen-t r a t i o n at work. Most of the mining population l i v e d i n small p i t v i l l a g e s which did not merit the status of an urban d i s t r i c t . Thus we do not have the employment figures for these communities i n the Census Reports. However, we may assume that there was even less occupational d i v e r s i t y i n these hamlets than i n the built-up urban d i s t r i c t s c i t e d below. 13 TABLE VI To show the occupational concentration of coalminers  i n a sample of urban D i s t r i c t s i n South Yorkshire.  1901 and 1911. 20 D i s t r i c t Total employed Coalminers Other major employments 1) 1901 Featherstone Hoyland Nether Stanley Wombwell Worsborouerh 4,179 4,291 3,911 4,459 3.477 3,040 2,861 2,297 3,065 2,259 Building. Building. Building. Conveyance, building. Engineering. 2) 1911 Bolton-upon-Dearne Darf i e l d Featherstone Hoyland Nether Royston Wath-upon-Dearne Wombwell 2,911 1,876 5,001 5,116 2,244 3,958 5,805 2,183 1,505 3,790 3,569 1,619 2,355 4,121 Building. Food, lodging, pubs. Building, food, lodging, pubs. Building, food, lodging. Coal products, building. Railways, bu i l d i n g , chemicals. Railways, bu i l d i n g , glass, food, lodgings. In a l l of these towns, coalmining was the predominant industry, employing over f i f t y per cent of occupied males over ten years of age. Other industries i n the towns were i n some way related to coalmining and the following indus-t r i e s were those most frequently mentioned i n the Census Reports as employing men ranging i n the lower hundreds: building) agriculture; food} drink; tobacco; lodging; railways; coal products; glass and china; and general labouring. This occupational concentration must be kept i n mind throughout the thesis. 14 I I I In i d e n t i f y i n g the features common to coalmining communities, and i n attempting to i s o l a t e the ch a r a c t e r i s t i c s which set the coalminers apart from other occupational groups, the following subjects have been selected for consideration. F i r s t l y , we w i l l look at the community as a whole and examine the standard of l i f e i n the c o l l i e r y towns. The common l i v i n g experience of the coalmining population served to strengthen s o c i a l bonds. Then the family u n i t , marriage and f e r t i l i t y w i l l be examined. Certain features d i s t i n c t i v e of the coal-miners emerge from a study of these questions. A t r a d i t i o n of coalmining became fi r m l y entrenched within the family. In time, a town produced i t s own self-replenishing labour force from i t s myriad of mining f a m i l i e s . Thirdly, a study of women i n the mining communities reveals that there were few employment opportunities for them. From t h i s f a c t , we may make certain inferences about the home l i f e of the miners, and attempt to assess the woman's qual i t y as a housekeeper and mother. F i n a l l y , a f t e r making a close study of the woman, a s i m i l a r study w i l l be made of the man both i n his working l i f e and i n his s o c i a l r o l e . The shared working s i t u a t i o n of the men had a strong effect on s o c i a l l i f e and drew the community closer together. We have already noted that the miners were isolat e d i n a geographical sense. But by examining the above features of the coalminers' l i v e s , we can see that there were not only geographical barriers between them and other occupational 15 groups, but also deep differences i n culture, a t t i t u d e s , l i v i n g and working experiences and i n the degree of cohesion among them. The picture that i s drawn i n the following pages should pinpoint the s o c i a l reasons for these strong bonds of s o l i d a r i t y , and should go some way i n explaining why Roy Gregory was able to write of the coalminers that, "miners the world over have much i n common with each other and always have had. The nature of t h e i r work, t h e i r pattern of l i f e , and the type of community within which they l i v e bind them together, and at the same time set them somewhat apart from 21 the rest of the i n d u s t r i a l working c l a s s . " FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER I 1 R.N. Boyd, Coal P i t s and Pitmen (London, 1892), pp. 1 - 2 . 2 Coal and Power. The Report of an Enquiry Presided over by the Rt. Hon. D..Lloyd George, (London, 1924), p. 8. 3 R. Challinor and B, Ripley, The Miners.;''' Association (London, 1968), p..44. 4 From T.S. Ashton, "The Coalminers of the Eighteenth Century," Economic History, (January 1928), c i t e d i n K.G.J.C. Knowles, Strikes — A Study i n I n d u s t r i a l  C o n f l i c t . 1911 - 47 (Oxford, 1 9 5 2 ) , p . 164. 5 R. Gregory, The Miners and B r i t i s h P o l i t i c s , 1906 - 1914 (Oxford, 1968), pT^ 6 From The Census Report for England and Wales. 1901?  General Report. B.P.P* 1904-, CVIII, and, The Census Report for England and Wales. 1911:  General Report, B.P.?. 1917 - 18, XXXV, Table XXXIX, p. 118. 7 I b i d . , 1901, General Report, p. 106, and I b i d . , Census of 1911. Vol. X, B.P.P. 1913, LXXVIII. 8 B.R. M i t c h e l l and P. Deane, Abstract of B r i t i s h  H i s t o r i c a l S t a t i s t i c s (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 115 - 116. B.P.P. - B r i t i s h Parliamentary Papers 16 9 Table compiled from: Census Report for England and  Wales. 1891: Summary Tables. Vol. I I . B.P.P. lB"93 - 94, CV, Table 2, p..876? Census Report for England  and Wales. 1901t Index to Place Names, B.P.P. 1904. CVIII, and; Census Report for England and Wales, 1911: Index to Place Names. B.P.P. 1912 - 13, CXII, p.593. 10 See, Census Report for England and Wales, 1871:  General Report. Appendices, B.P.P. 1873. LXXI, Pt. I I . Table 91, PP. 74 - 75: Census Report f o r England and  Wales. 1881: County Tables. Yorkshire, B.P.P. 1883, LXXX, Table 11, p. 416; and, Census Report for England and Wales. 1891: County Tables. Yorkshire, B.P.P. 1893 - 94, CVI, Table 8, p. 442. II 11' I b i d . , Census for 1891. 12 E.H. Hunt, Regional Wage Variations i n B r i t a i n . 1850 - 1914 (Oxford, 1973), P. 283. 13 B. Thomas, "The Migration of Labour into the Glamorganshire C o a l f i e l d (1861 - 1911)," Economica, (November, 1930), Vol. 10, p. 291. 14 H.J..Scott, P o r t r a i t of Yorkshire (London. 1965), p.189. 15 See J . Lawson, A Man's L i f e (London, 1932), p. 198. 16 See R. Lucas, Minetown. Milltovm. Railtown. L i f e i n  Canadian Communities of Single Industry (Toronto, 1971). 17 A. Horner, In c o r r i g i b l e Rebel (London, i960), pp. 96-97. 18 Paul de Rousiers, The Labour Question i n B r i t a i n (London, I896), p. 134. 19 I b i d . . p. 134 20 Table compiled from: Census Report for England and  Wales. 1901: County Tables. Yorkshire, B.P.P. 1902, CXXI, Table 35 (A), p. 258? and, Census Report f or England and Wales, 1911: Vol. I. Administrative Areas. Yorkshire, B.P.P. 1912 - 13, CXI, Table 15 (A), p. 418. 21 R. Gregory, Op. C i t . . p. 53. 17 CHAPTER I I THE STANDARD OF LIFE In an examination of the standard of l i f e i n coalmining communities, certain controversies become apparent. There are varying opinions and observations which provide evidence to support both optimistic and pessimistic views of the l e v e l of comfort i n the coal towns, but at the same time there are some features which can be pointed to as being common to the coalmining towns. By examining housing, overcrowding, disease, n u t r i t i o n and the l e v e l of wages, a picture of l i f e i s presen-ted which indicates that the coalminers experienced s i m i l a r l i v i n g conditions. Both the working and l i v i n g situations helped to mould the miners and t h e i r families into a t i g h t l y -knit s o c i a l group, and to produce c e r t a i n common attitudes i n the miners. I The f i r s t v i s i b l e factor which l i m i t e d the residents of the coalmining communities to a shared l i v i n g experience was the dwelling which encompassed the household group. Housing i n the coal towns was large l y the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the c o l l i e r y companies, and although standards varied from town to town acoording to the attitude and wealth of the mineowner, each i n d i v i d u a l c o l l i e r y company provided i d e n t i -c a l housing for i t s own miners. This uniformity, v i v i d l y captured i n the following description of a South Wales Com-munity, reinforced the bonds of cohesion within the mining 18 town or v i l l a g e : Everywhere there are the same long rows of drab, stone-built houses, slate-roofed, b u i l t straight on to the pavement so as to save space, each i d e n t i c a l the one with the other — so that they look as i f they had been manufactured from some common mixture i n a gigantic machine whence they had emerged i n an endless stream, been cut off into the lengths required, and flung down casually to s t i c k where, and as best, they might. 1 Some of the worst examples of c o l l i e r y housing existed, as might be expected, i n the older c o a l f i e l d s of Scotland and the North East. Rows of one-room hovels with bare earth flo o r s and no foundations, b u i l t i n the eighteenth century, survived u n t i l the I860 ,s i n the North East, and even l a t e r i n Scotland. As i n most p i t v i l l a g e s i n the nineteenth century, water was normally provided by communal stand-pipes i n the str e e t , while outside earth closets or p r i v i e s were shared by several f a m i l i e s . Often, open sewers and drains ran between the rows of cottages. In some instances, a second storey was added to the o r i g i n a l construction and a cold water tap i n s t a l l e d inside a pantry to the rear of the dwelling. In t h i s converted state, some of these cottages survived into the twentieth century. In 1924, the report of a L i b e r a l Party enquiry into the state of the coal industry was published. In his survey of housing conditions, the investigator R.A. Scott-James con-firmed that the worst types of coalminers' housing occurred i n Scotland, Durham and Northumberland. In Lanarkshire he found that out of a t o t a l of 321,4-71 houses, 61,202 had just 19 one room and 155,285 had two rooms. These houses were b u i l t i n long rows. Upon those i n Rosehall, Lanarkshire, he observed that, " i n each of these single rooms l i v e s a miner's family. There i s no pantry. The coal i s kept under the bed. Water has to be obtained from a standpipe outside, used by a number of houses. Conspicuously huddled together i n the yards are 2 f i l t h y huts for sanitary purposes," Of Consett he wrote, "Here I saw houses with a single lower room and an upper room approached by a ladder. One that I entered was inhabited by a man, his wife, and s i x children, of whom the eldest were g i r l s of 21 and 23, and another was a boy nearly eighteen." J The ex-trade union leader Abe Moffat had l i v e d i n a cottage of t h i s type i n Scotland during his boyhood at the turn of the century. His home had o r i g i n a l l y been b u i l t for _ 50 at the end of the eighteenth century, and was one of a row of i d e n t i c a l cottages. There was no bathroom save for a shared earth lavatory outside. There was no gas or elec-t r i c i t y and l i g h t i n g was provided by p a r a f f i n o i l . Street l i g h t i n g was not provided u n t i l 1906 when the miners furn-ished t h e i r own from the p r o f i t s of t h e i r cooperative public house. Drainage was by means of an open, surface channel where the children frequently played. The p r i v i e s and ash-p i t s were often not cleared for weeks at a time by the scavengers, so that conditions i n the summer months were p a r t i c u l a r l y bad when, as might be expected, disease was 20 rampant. He l a i d the blame for these poor l i v i n g conditions 4 upon the coalowners. More comfortable l i v i n g conditions were to be found i n the subsequent rows of terraced housing which were b u i l t i n the c o l l i e r y towns throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Though a e s t h e t i c a l l y depressing, the terraced house did provide more space and better f a c i l i t i e s than the surviving single storey cottages. Portland Row i n Selston, Nottinghamshire was a row of terraced housing which was t y p i c a l of many of the c o a l f i e l d s . ^ It was b u i l t i n 1823 but survived w e l l into the twentieth century. I t was comprised of 47 brick houses with outside coal houses and earth lavatories. They were the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c "two-up, two-down" houses, with a s k u l l e r y or back kitchen, a l i v i n g room and a pantry under the s t a i r s . Upstairs, there were two bedrooms, with a fi r e p l a c e i n one of them. F a c i l i t i e s within the house included a cold water tap and sink i n the sku l l e r y , a c o a l - f i r e d copper f o r b o i l i n g clothes, and a black leaded cooking range which became a standard item i n the miner's home i n the second half of the nineteenth cen-tury. It had a b o i l e r for hot water, an open f i r e grate and an oven. With regular concessions of coal from the employing p i t , the mining family was i n an advantageous position both for cooking and heating f a c i l i t i e s when com-pared to other working-class f a m i l i e s , for whom the provi-sion of coal was an expensive necessity. R. A. Scott-James concluded i n the 1924 L i b e r a l Party investigation that the most superior miners' dwellings 21 constructed before the F i r s t World War were to be found i n those areas of most recent c o l l i e r y development, s p e c i f i c a l l y i n Derbyshire and Yorkshire. However, although these houses compared favourably with what he had seen i n the North East and Scotland, he was not e n t i r e l y s a t i s f i e d with the e f f o r t s of the c o l l i e r y developers. A shortage of housing led to general overcrowding i n these areas, where populations were seen to double i n a matter of ten years. Furthermore, with a population expansion on t h i s scale, speculative and "je r r y " building ' were a l l too common. The extension of an old mine or the opening up of a new one, which was occurring i n the Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire c o a l f i e l d s at the end of the nineteenth century, often led to the provision of a better type of miners' housing, services and ameneties i n order to at t r a c t labour from other c o a l f i e l d s . On the other hand, the hist o -r i a n of B r i t i s h town planning, W. Ashworth, claims that i n instances t h i s led to no improvements at a l l , or to a worse-7 ning of ex i s t i n g conditions. ' In r u r a l or semi-rural areas, the mining companies had to set up a l l basic u t i l i t i e s such as water-supply and waste-disposal, and to provide ample accommodation for the miners and t h e i r f a m i l i e s . Although there were some attempts to bu i l d healthy and comfortable l i v i n g places, usually the mining company did not have the c a p i t a l to spare to provide adequate f a c i l i t i e s . In these cases, the c o l l i e r y company l e f t the provision of housing to a speculative builder, laased the dwellings from him for 22 20 or 30 years and sub-let them to i t s employees. Speed and economy were the major concern of the builders. Consequently, houses were often poor i n q u a l i t y . Furthermore, a c o l l i e r y company i n the early stages of developing a mine was often unable to provide f a c i l i t i e s such as shops, schools, churches and recreational amenities, and development i n these spheres was l e f t to the coalminers them-selves. One observer went so far as to say that housing i n the coalmining d i s t r i c t s was " i n f e r i o r to the general run of working-class housing i n construction, standards of accom-modation and i n sanitary arrangements.." Some improvements can be traced i n the l a t e r nineteenth century, but i n Derby-shire for example, some of those newer mining v i l l a g e s "which 9 had been h a s t i l y b u i l t and carelessly planned" ' at t h i s time, were almost as bad as the older deteriorating mining v i l l a g e s . In the same county, as late as 1936, S.J. Bartle of Chester-f i e l d was reported i n the Derbyshire Times as sta t i n g before the Church Assembly that, "The houses of many miners were nothing more than hovels. He believed no class of workmen . were herded together so much i n what should be lovely country v i l l a g e s as the miners." 1 0 E.H. Phelps Brown noted that these conditions were prevalent on a national scale at the turn of the century, and that good housing estates were the + . 1 1 exception. In 1947, however, F. Zweig conducted a survey of the pre v a i l i n g l i v i n g and working conditions on the B r i t i s h coal-f i e l d s , and he had a more optimistic view of the housing s i t u a t i o n . Although slums and hovels did e x i s t , especially i n the older c o l l i e r y d i s t r i c t s , "modern and large c o l l i e r i e s nearly always have decent and spacious housing, with a good lay-out both of the c o l l i e r y and the v i l l a g e . " 1 2 T h o s e pre-1914 houses which were s t i l l i n existence i n the 194-O's were of the four-room type with a kitchen, l i v i n g room and two bedrooms, with p r i v i e s , open ash-pits, coal houses and stand-pipes i n the back yards. Zweig pointed out that these houses had been a great inducement i n the recruitment of labour for though t h e i r appearance was ugly, they were the height of comfort compared to the cottages of the farm labourers. During the period of c o l l i e r y development i n the late nineteenth century, one common feature of coalmining tov/ns was back-to-back housing, whereby three walls of a house were shared with the surrounding houses. These were normally b u i l t i n long rows. In 1910 a Government Report was published which commented upon the detrimental effects of t h i s type of housing. 1^ The Report investigated t h i r t e e n i n d u s t r i a l towns i n the West Riding of Yorkshire between 1898 and 1907, and concluded that mortality rates were generally f i f t e e n to twenty per cent higher from a l l causes i n back-to-back housing, when compaired to housing with through v e n t i l a t i o n . With only one door and one set of windows i n t h i s cheaper type of house, the lack of v e n t i l a t i o n led to excessive rates of chest diseases, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and those diseases "associated with defective growth and develop-14 ment of the young c h i l d . " 24 Previous investigations had shown s i m i l a r patterns of disease, and i n 1907, Dr. Darra Mair studied the effects of back-to-hack housing i n the c o l l i e r y town of Whickham i n County Durham. He discovered over a period of ten years an excess of mortality from a l l causes of 27 per cent and an excess of infant mortality of 50 per cent i n back-to-back houses, over those, houses with through v e n t i l a t i o n . ^ •' In the 1910 Report, the Medical Officer of Health, Arthur Newsholme concluded that back-to-back houses, even i n Healthy surroundings, were decidedly less healthy than houses with through v e n t i l a t i o n . Further, t h i s type of housing entailed additional inconveniences, f o r : The absence of a back-yard made i t necessary i n the older back-to-back houses to place the closets or p r i v i e s and ashpits i n groups, either on one side or at the end of a row, with the re s u l t that the closet and ashpit accommodation belonging to a house may be very far removed from i t and, at the same time, often inadequate, while the proximity of the groups of closets and ashpits to some of the houses i s extremely objectionable. 1° George Orwell's impressions of back-to-back housing i n Yorkshire and other i n d u s t r i a l areas were also unfavour-able, and he recorded from his observations of t h i s l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n that, "A f i f t y yards' walk to the lavatory or the dust-bin i s not exactly an inducement to be clean, and i t i s worth considering what i t i s l i k e for a c h i l d to grow up i n one of the back a l l e y s where i t s gaze i s bounded by a row of lavatories and a :wall." 17 A Board of Trade investigation of 1908 into working-class housing and r e t a i l prices provides a description of housing conditions i n two South Yorkshire c o l l i e r y towns--25 Castleford and Normanton -- in the period with which we are concerned. Both of these towns had grown rapidly at the turn of the century in response to development by colliery companies and the development of housing which accompanied this population expansion may be taken as typical of the growth experienced by the South Yorkshire colliery communi-ties at this time. The following figures demonstrate how 18 the population had grown between 1861 and 1901. CASTLEFORD NORMANTON Population Percentage Increase Population Percentage Increase 1861 - 3,876 1871 - 6,268 1881 -10,530 1891 -14,143 1901 -17,386 67.9 34.3 22.9 1861 - 563 1871 - 3,448 1881 - 8,038 1891 -10,234 1901 -12,352 512.4 133.1 27.3 20.7 55 per cent of the population of Castleford lived in four-roomed houses in 1906, with a kitchen, l i v i n g room and two bedrooms, which were rented at rates of between 4 s . 6d. and 5s . 6d. per week. Three-roomed houses were less common and slightly cheaper to rent at 3s . 3d . to 4 s , 6d. per week. Newer four-roomed housing on the outskirts of the town, with separate yards, an indoor water supply, small skullery, water-closet and coal house rented at 5s . 6d. per week, but were usually occupied by colliery foreman or better paid families. The Board of Trade investigators described Castleford in the following way: In the central part of the town houses are packed closely, often in narrow streets and courts, and show considerable variation in structure and design. Many of these houses are old, and the character of 25 cv the accommodation hardly s a t i s f i e s modern require-ments. On the outskirts of the town the general character of the working-class accommodation i s rather better; the houses are of more recent date, and are more c a r e f u l l y designed. The usual building material throughout the town i s d u l l red b r i c k , occasionally relieved by stonework around doors and windows. Except i n the case of newer properties water i s seldom l a i d on i n the houses, but i s supplied by a tap i n an open yard at the back, shared by a row of cottages. Water closets are infrequent, except in the case of the newer houses which, i n some instances, are also f i t t e d with baths. P r i v i e s and ashpits, placed i n the yards and shared by several households, are the rule . Gas i s i n general use. 19 Back-to-back housing of two or three storeys was of "considerable importance" i n Castleford, being constructed i n rows of twelve. Those with three storeys had one room on each f l o o r , while the two storied houses had one l i v i n g room on the ground f l o o r and two bedrooms above. In 1901, 11.2 per cent of the population of Castleford l i v e d i n overcrowded conditions (of two or more persons to a room), while the national average of overcrowding was, i n urban d i s t r i c t s , 8,9 per cent. Conditions were s l i g h t l y better i n Normanton where construction had almost kept apace with population growth. Here, the percentage of overcrowding was 9.31 and was only s l i g h t l y higher than the national average. The i n v e s t i -gators found housing conditions to be "generally good" with an abundance of garden allotments, a fourteen acre park and recreation grounds. Some three-roomed back-to-back houses had been provided with the usual inconvenience of an out-side communal water-supply and sanitary f a c i l i t i e s . These rented from tween 3s. 6d. and 4s. 6d. per week. But the most common type of dwelling, which housed almost f i f t y 26 per cent of the p o p u l a t i o n , was the four-roomed house b u i l t i n t o rows of 12 t o 24, and c o s t i n g 5s. Od. t o 5s. 6d.per week. They had: ... as a r u l e , (an) abundance of a i r space around them, owing t o the f a c t t h a t there i s a c o n s i d e r -a b l e amount of land not yet b u i l t upon. They are b u i l t of d u l l r e d b r i c k , are p l a i n f r o n t e d , and have sometimes a s m a l l f o r e c o u r t , and g e n e r a l l y ' a spacious backyard common t o the row. On the ground f l o o r t h e r e i s a p a r l o u r , i n t o which the s t r e e t door opens, and a t the back the k i t c h e n c o n t a i n i n g both copper and s i n k . Between the f r o n t and back rooms i s access t o the c e l l a r , and t o the s t a i r s l e a d i n g t o the two bedrooms. Again, Normanton had a s u p e r i o r type of home f o r the more h i g h l y p a i d , c o n s i s t i n g of three bedrooms,;a separate yard and water c l o s e t , and c o s t 6s. 6d. per week. The r e n t s f o r a l l these houses were not h i g h and t a k i n g the average r e n t f o r a w o r k i n g - c l a s s house i n London as a base of 100, the average r e n t s f o r C a s t l e f o r d and Normanton i n 1906 were 53 and 5? r e s p e c t i v e l y . 2 1 But then r e n t s i n c o l l i e r y communities were t r a d i t i o n a l l y cheaper than those asked from other o c c u p a t i o n a l groups. The Board of Trade regarded the housing i n these two communities wi t h f a v o u r , e s p e c i a l l y when compared t o the c o n d i t i o n s i n the neighbouring t e x t i l e towns of the West R i d i n g . However, not a l l observers regarded the miners' surroundings i n such a f a v o u r a b l e l i g h t . For i n s t a n c e , G.A.W. Tomlinson l i v e d i n a row of company houses i n h i s c h i l d h o o d i n Nottinghamshire i n the e a r l y years of the t w e n t i e t h century, which looked out .upon a row of a s h p i t s . "When i t r a i n e d the a l l e y between the a s h - p i t s became a bog 27 and I was not allowed t o go out. When i t was hot i n the summer the stench from the a s h - p i t s would make me s i c k and 22 I d i d n ' t want t o go out." In the 1930's George Orwell was e q u a l l y a p p a l l e d by the housing c o n d i t i o n s of the w o r k i n g - c l a s s and c i t e d t h i s house i n Mapplewell, a s m a l l c o a l m i n i n g v i l l a g e near Barns-l e y , as one of the poorer examples: Two up, one down. L i v i n g room 14 f e e t by 12 f e e t . Sink i n l i v i n g room. P l a s t e r c r a c k i n g and coming o f f w a l l s . Gas l e a k i n g s l i g h t l y . The u p s t a i r s rooms each t e n f e e t by e i g h t f e e t . Four beds ( f o r s i x persons, a l l a d u l t ) , ... Room nearest s t a i r s has no door and s t a i r s have no b a n n i s t e r , so t h a t when you step out of bed your f o o t hangs i n vacancy and you may f a l l t e n f e e t on t o stones. Dry r o t so bad t h a t one can see through the f l o o r i n t o the room below... E a r t h road past these cottages i s l i k e a muchheap and s a i d t o be almost impassable i n winter. Stone l a v a t o r i e s a t end of gardens i n semi-ruinous c o n d i -t i o n . 2 3 The coalowners were slow t o become i n v o l v e d i n the c r e a t i o n of model towns. Improved housing under government i n s p e c t i o n and f i n a n c e d w i t h the a i d of government s u b s i d i e s belong t o the post F i r s t World War e r a . Twelve thousand homes of an improved type were b u i l t under government and c o a l company sponsorship a f t e r 1919. 6,460 of these b e i n g c o n s t r u c -ted on the expanding Y o r k s h i r e , Derbyshire and Nottingham-s h i r e c o a l f i e l d s . The new developments boasted the ameni-t i e s of bathrooms, hot water, e x t r a l i v i n g space, gardens and p u b l i c f a c i l i t i e s . The planners i n c o r p o r a t e d open spaces i n t o the new housing e s t a t e s t o a v o i d the crowded "barrack-24 b l o c k " appearance of pre-1914 housing. 28 There had been two major attempts i n Y o r k s h i r e before the F i r s t World War t o set up model c o l l i e r y v i l l a g e s , each e x p e r i e n c i n g c o n s i d e r a b l e success. In 190?, the Woodlands C o l l i e r y V i l l a g e near Doncaster was b u i l t , and, a f t e r s i n -k i n g i t s new p i t i n 1906 the Brodsworth Main C o l l i e r y Com-pany b u i l t a whole new c o l l i e r y v i l l a g e a l o n g improved l i n e s . A c o o p e r a t i v e s t o r e , workmen's c l u b , f i s h i n g lake and park and other p u b l i c f a c i l i t i e s were p r o v i d e d , and the cost of a set of p u b l i c baths was borne by the promoter of the scheme, A.B. Markham. The houses c o s t _200 each t o b u i l d and were l e t t o the miners a t 5s. 3d. t o 6s. 9d. a week. By 1912, 653 houses had been b u i l t . 2 ^ The V i c t o r i a County H i s t o r y of Y o r k s h i r e of 1912 noted t h a t : A p l e a s i n g f e a t u r e of the modern c o l l i e r y p r o p r i e -t o r i s the d e s i r e t o provide b e t t e r accomodation i n regard t o housing than has h i t h e r t o been attempted. At Dinnington, Brodsworth, B e n t l y and Maltby model v i l l a g e s are being e r e c t e d , and i n s t e a d of the long d e p r e s s i n g rows of houses so commonly met with i n the B a r n s l e y and Wakefield d i s t r i c t s , the miners' houses are being b u i l t i n b l o c k s of e i g h t or t e n with gardens and wide s t r e e t s . 26 However, i n h i s survey of i n d u s t r i a l v i l l a g e s i n the n i n e t e e n t h century, W. Ashworth concluded t h a t d e s p i t e these notable e f f o r t s , "the p r o v i s i o n made f o r them (the miners) does l i t t l e c r e d i t t o the s o c i a l outlook of the time," and "the m a j o r i t y of mining communities have no p l a c e i n any account of model v i l l a g e s . " 27 A study of housing c o n d i t i o n s leads f i n a l l y t o a grand encompassing view of the community as a whole. One markedly 2 9 common feature of the mining communities was t h e i r immediate physical appearance. The observer was struck by an all-envelo-ping image of drabness afforded by an atmosphere heavy with smoke where, "the p o l l u t i o n of the a i r i s such as to reduce clothes, houses and streets to drab uniformity." 28 The dominant physical feature was the s p o i l or slag heap at the surface of the c o l l i e r y . This could be seen from any point in the town and, "to the observer the s p o i l heap i s the 29 physical symbol of l i f e and work." F. Zweig was appalled by the depressing appearance of the coal towns i n his survey for: ... i n many i f not i n most places the surroundings are marked by ugly, brutal and bleak industrialism, as can be seen i n some v i l l a g e s i n South Yorkshire or in North Staffordshire, Durham, Northumberland or Lancashire. There are f r i g h t f u l landscapes domi-nated by the hideous grey sl a g - t i p s which look l i k e giant dust-bins with d i r t and f i l t h a l l round. With t h e i r agglomeration of rows of stumpy houses, wires and rubbish widespread, ashes, mud and weeds, they make an awesome impression of soulless places deserted by God. JO It can be seen therefore, that there are both favour-able and dismal accounts of the c o l l i e r s ' housing and envi-ronment. The q u a l i t y of housing depended to a great extent on the attitudes of the coalowners and t h e i r willingness to lay out c a p i t a l f o r the decent accommodation of the work force. But, housing generally i n the c o l l i e r y towns might be considered adequate when compared to that of other indus-t r i a l groups. Certainly, the miners' leader J, Keir Hardie experienced worse l i v i n g conditions i n the Glasgow dock area 30 where f i v e f a m i l i e s JBhared the same water c l o s e t i n h i s 31 tenement home. J T h i s type of d w e l l i n g c o n t r a s t e d un-f a v o u r a b l y w i t h the house of the coalminers* l e a d e r John Brophy i n S t . Helens i n the 1880's. His miner's house had f i v e rooms and "was so s o l i d l y and t i g h t l y b u i l t i t was not 32 hard t o keep warm." ^ But whether housing was good or poor, the mining p o p u l a t i o n of a community was bound t o g e t h e r by a s i m i l a r environment and v i s t a . With l i t t l e or no a l t e r -n a t i v e housing, the shared l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n served t o draw the p o p u l a t i o n t o g e t h e r under a set of common e x p e c t a t i o n s , and u n i f o r m i t y of outlook. Though standards of housing might very from area t o area, one constant f e a t u r e p r e v a i l e d i n the l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s i n mining d i s t r i c t s -- overcrowding. Throughout the Census Reports of England and Wales d u r i n g the second h a l f of the n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y and up u n t i l the F i r s t World War, the coalmining c o u n t i e s stand out as d i s p l a y i n g the h i g h e s t r a t e s of overcrowding. Of these c o u n t i e s , Northumberland and Durham were by f a r the worst. In 1891, 11.23 per cent of the p o p u l a t i o n of England and Wales l i v e d i n overcrowded c o n d i t i o n s of more than two persons t o a room. The three most overcrowded c o u n t i e s were a l l c o a l m i n i n g a r e a s , and showed the f o l l o w i n g percentages of overcrowding: Northumberland -- 38.69; Durham -- 34 .03; West R i d i n g --16,49, and the Census enumerator commented t h a t , "Speaking g e n e r a l l y , i t would appear t h a t the c o a l - b e a r i n g c o u n t i e s are those where the crowding of d w e l l i n g s i s most severe. Northumberland and Durham, i f the f i g u r e s are t o be t r u s t e d , 31 33 are far away the worst i n t h i s respect," J J Ten years l a t e r i n 1901, the percentages of overcrow-ding had f a l l e n s l i g h t l y i n these counties, but were s t i l l high: Northumberland -- 32.09; Durham -- 24.48; West Riding -- 10.32 while i n certain North East mining towns, the average numbers of persons per inhabited house were as follows: Gateshead -- 8.01; Newcastle --. 8.03; South Shields -- 8.12; 34 and Sunderland -- 6.80. J The enumerators commented i n t h i s instance that: • Speaking generally - - i t may be noted that i n those counties i n which Coal Mining i s a pre v a i l i n g industry much overcrowding prevailed i n 1901, for example, i n the Rural D i s t r i c t s of Chester-le-Street, Lanchester and Easington, situated i n the County of Durham, the proportions of overcrowded persons to t o t a l population were as high as 37» 38 and 39 per cent respectively. 35 S i m i l a r l y i n 1911, t h i s pattern emerged, .'whereby i n some urban d i s t r i c t s of Northumberland and Durham overcrow-ding reached proportions of fo r t y per cent and i n some West Riding towns exceeded twenty per cent. In the r u r a l d i s t r i c t s of the f i r s t two counties, the percentage of overcrowding was 37.6 while the next highest r u r a l proportions were i n Wakefield r u r a l d i s t r i c t (18.2 per cent) and Hemsworth, (16.2 per cent), both i n the West Riding. The ove r a l l proportion per cent of the population l i v i n g i n the r a t i o of more than two persons to a room was as follows i n certain areas i n 1911s _^ England and Wales 9.1 N'br thumb e r land 30.0 Durham 29.2 London 17.8 West Riding 10.1 32 In an o c c u p a t i o n a l group where f a m i l i e s were t r a d i t i o -n a l l y so l a r g e , some degree of overcrowding might he expected. But a housing shortage l e d a l s o t o a s h a r i n g of houses, so t h a t a c e r t a i n amount of "doubling-up" of f a m i l i e s i n t o one d w e l l i n g had t o take p l a c e . As l a t e as 1925, A.L. Bowley and M. Hogg i n t h e i r survey of S t a n l e y i n County Durham, found i n t h i s c o l l i e r y town 4,106 one f a m i l y d w e l l i n g s , 496 two f a m i l y d w e l l i n g s and 57 houses c o n t a i n i n g t h r e e f a m i l i e s each. Sub-tenants were u s u a l l y young married couples with few or no c h i l d r e n . They normally r e n t e d one bedroom and shared the l i v i n g room: The whole arrangement savours more of a generous s h a r i n g of unavoidably wretched c o n d i t i o n s than of an attempt t o make reasonable bargains of d e f i n i t e r e n t f o r d e f i n i t e accommodation. The c o n d i t i o n s are of course o f t e n the more burden-some because men from the same house are on d i f f e r e n t s h i f t s and t h i s causes much domestic d i s t u r b a n c e . 38 A f t e r 1913» areas of overcrowding were c l a s s e d as those w i t h more than one person per room. Under t h i s d e f i n i t i o n , 79 per cent of the p o p u l a t i o n of S t a n l e y was c l a s s i f i e d as l i v i n g i n crowded c o n d i t i o n s i n 1925» while 26-| per cent of 3< the p o p u l a t i o n l i v e d i n the r a t i o of two persons t o a room. ^ But t h i s s i t u a t i o n was not l i m i t e d t o the North E a s t . In a f o l l o w - u p t o the L i b e r a l P a r t y r e p o r t of 1924 d e a l i n g w i t h housing c o n d i t i o n s , the Derbyshire Times made i t s own i n v e s t i g a t i o n i n t o the housing s i t u a t i o n i n the c o l l i e r y d i s t r i c t s of t h a t county. 33 I t concluded t h a t : Shocking overcrowding i s q u i t e g e n e r a l . The f i r s t t h i n g t h a t s t r u c k our r e p r e s e n t a t i v e i n every p a r t of the d i s t r i c t was the d i f f i c u l t y experienced, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the poorer q u a r t e r s , i n f i n d i n g a house which d i d not s h e l t e r a t l e a s t two f a m i l i e s under very cramped c o n d i t i o n s . . . How some of the people would e x i s t were i t not t h a t the men are on d i f f e r e n t s h i f t s does not bear t h i n k i n g of. ^ Q As i t i s , i n some cases they go t o bed i n r e l a y s . For the West R i d i n g c o l l i e r y towns a l s o , the Census Reports i n d i c a t e a degree of overcrowding and s h a r i n g of houses. In the f o l l o w i n g t a b l e , s t a t i s t i c s are recor d e d which demonstrate the n e c e s s i t y of s h a r i n g houses i n c e r t a i n South Y o r k s h i r e c o a l m i n i n g communities i n the Census years 1891 and 1901. I t can be seen t h a t t h e r e were more f a m i l i e s than a v a i l a b l e housing. The most common type of house i n t h i s p e r i o d was the four-roomed t e r r a c e house. TABLE I To show the numbers of f a m i l i e s and numbers of houses a v a i l a b l e i n a sample of West R i d i n g c o a l  towns. 1891 and 1901. 41 ~~~ZZT C i v i l P a r i s h I n h a b i t e d F a m i l i e s or P o p u l a t i o n or Township. Houses Separate Occupiers 1) 1891 Ackworth 489 504 2,647 A r d s l e y 845 880 4,494 C a s t l e f o r d 2,557 2,631 14,143 Normanton 1,818 1,857. 10,234 Royston 480 491 2,613 S h a r l s t o n 374 432 2,256 S t a n l e y 2,780 2,847 15,576 T i c k h i l l 405 444 1,588 Wombwell 1,987 2;', 047 10,942 2) 1901 Normanton 2,349 2,375 12,352 C a s t l e f o r d 3,3^3 3,369 17,386 Hemsworth 1,152 1,174 6,283 R y h i l l 297 319 1,553 Hoyland 2,405 2,441 12,464 Nether Wombwell 2,541. 2,570 13,252 Mexborough 2,080 2,112 10,430 34 Overcrowding i n South Yorkshire was described by George Orwell i n the 1930's i n his observations of housing i n Barnsley House i n Peel Street. Back-to-back, two up, two down and a l a r g e . c e l l a r . L i v i n g room ten feet square with copper and sink. The other downstairs room the same s i z e , probably intended as parlour but used as bedroom. Upstairs rooms the same size as those below.... Distance to lavatory 70 yards. Four beds i n house for eight people -- two old parents, two adult g i r l s (the eldest aged 27), one young man and three children. Parents have one bed, eldest son another, and remaining f i v e people share the other two. 4-2 Despite these conditions, the wives of the coalminers had a reputation for b a t t l i n g against circumstances i n order to improve t h e i r homes: Nothing so much astonishes the observing v i s i t o r who comes fresh to the c o l l i e r y d i s t r i c t s of the north as the order and cleanliness, the t i d i n e s s and taste with which the pitmen's wives, under very adverse circumstances, manage t h e i r housekeeping ... When i t i s remembered that there was but one room, which had to do duty as kitchen, bedroom, skullery and parlour, the marvel i s that there was either the desire or the a b i l i t y to evoke order and beauty out of such unpromising material, ^3 Paul de Rousiers, who v i s i t e d the Lothian c o a l f i e l d i n the 1890*s found one two-roomed cottage i n which a family of nine l i v e d . But, "the most surprising thing i s that the house i s clean and i n good order, i n spite of the lim i t e d space and the number of children,.. my v i s i t s were sometimes unexpected, and never resulted i n any of those surprises which are so t r y i n g to housewives who are more jealous of 44 good reputation than deserving of i t . " One effect of overcrowding which miners' wives could not successfully overcome was disease. The spread of disease was f a c i l i t a t e d under these cramped conditions i n which the i s o l a t i o n of infected persons was not possible. Conditions 35 i n which, to c i t e one example, fourteen people were found to sleep i n one room, y were hardly conducive to the con-tainment of infectious diseases such as smallpox, measles, whooping cough, scarlet fever, diptheria and enteric fever. On 5"th March, I898, the Derbyshire Times reported that, "a doctor who was cal l e d to attend a Clay Cross family, found si x children i n one bed. The mother, anxious to prevent the spread of i n f e c t i o n , had placed three who were suffering from s c a r l a t i n a at one end of the bed and three who had 46 typhoid fever at the other." Certainly, the spread of tuberculosis was fostered, i t has been claimed, by over-crowding. "It w i l l be borne i n mind that tuberculosis was r i f e at the time (1901) with no a n t i - b i o t i c s to s t e r i l i z e the i n f e c t i o n . The considerable sharing of bedrooms, i f not of beds, implied by t h i s overcrowding must have done 47 much to foster the spread of i n f e c t i o n . " Death rates from infectious diseases were f a r greater i n urban areas than i n r u r a l counties for "the herd condi-tions of urban l i f e greatly f a c i l i t a t e the transmission of 48 infectious disease." A Local Government Board Report into Public Health i n 1909 also concluded that though death rates from infectious diseases were declining at t h i s time, high rates s t i l l persisted i n overcrowded areas, and crow-ding acted as a catalyst for disease. Further, the highest instances of infant mortality (of over 125 deaths per 1 ,000 36 births) occurred i n those centres of overcrowding — the mining counties of Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Glamorgan-shire, Durham, Staffordshire, the North and West Ridings 49 of Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Monmouthshire. This pattern was confirmed i n 1913 i n Newsholme's Second Report to the Local Government Board, when the Medical O f f i c e r of Health named these same counties and including Northumber-land, as displaying the highest rates of infant mortality in the country. ^° If we take a closer look at our model towns of Castle-ford and Normanton, t h i s higher death rate can be seen i n operation. The following tables show the v i t a l s t a t i s t i c s f o r these two communities during our period. Castleford i s classed as a small town, and i t s rates are compared with the average f o r a l l small towns i n the 1908 Board of Trade survey. TABLE II To show the b i r t h , death and infant death rates fo r Castleford. 1902 - 1906. na+.P B i r t h Rate oer 1.000 1 Death Rate T 5er 1 .000 Castleford Average of small towns Castleford Average of small towns 1902 4 7 . 8 1903 41.2 1904 3 6 . 9 1905 3 8 . 9 1906 37.5 10 years 1896 -1905 3 8 . 3 27.3 27 .4 27.5 2 6 . 9 26.5 19.7 16.1 18.0 16.9 14.9 17.0 15.3 14.6 15.6 14.4 14.5 , 37 I n f a n t i l e Death rate per 1,000 Births Date Castleford Average of small towns 1902 153 135 1903 183 135 1904 183 154 1905 172 132 1906 152 138 10 years 1896 -1905 185 -In the case of Castleford, the b i r t h rates and infant death rates are s i g n i f i c a n t l y above the average f o r a l l other small i n d u s t r i a l towns i n the Boards* survey. The o v e r a l l death rate i s s l i g h t l y higher than average for Castleford, but the Report added that, "the general death-rate i n the decennial period (I896 - 1905) does not d i f f e r materially 52 from that p r e v a i l i n g i n the West Riding t e x t i l e towns." TABLE III To show the b i r t h , death and infant death rates fo r Normanton i n 1 9 0 6 . 5 3 1906 Normanton England and Wales Death rate per 1,000 14.8 15.4 Infant deaths per 1,000 b i r t h s 135 133 B i r t h rate per 1,000 population 36 27 The Medical O f f i c e r of Health, from whom these figures were taken, reported that the state of health i n Normanton was generally good as indicated by the s l i g h t l y lower than average death rate. However, as might be expected, the fami-l i a r pattern of a higher b i r t h rate and infant mortality rate can be seen once more. The l i n k between a higher than 38 average b i r t h rate and consequent high infant death rate i s made below. Further causes of t h i s high pattern of i n -f a n t i l e mortality must be drawn from the actual l i v i n g condi-tions i n the mining communities. Writing generally about the causes of infant mortality, Arthur Newsholme was reported as commenting i n 1913 that: The greater part of t h i s heavy mortality at the beginning of the century (and of subsequent improvement) i s associated with the hazards of i n f e c t i o n to which the newly born are subjected. As to s p e c i f i c factors, Newsholme was led to stress the i n t e r r e l a t e d complex of poverty, uncleanliness, overcrowding, alc o h o l i c indulgence and disease, poor water supply, unsatisfactory food storage, conservancy disposal as d i s t i n c t from water-carriage of excreta, i n e f f i c i e n t scavenging, but most of a l l the abandonment of breast feeding without adequate cause. 54 The mining communities were, as already noted, subject to overcrowding and poor sanitary provisons, which were factors beyond the control of the inhabitants. The rush of speculative building which accompanied the opening up of the Yorkshire c o a l f i e l d at the turn of the century led either to a complete neglect of v i t a l f a c i l i t i e s , or to the deter-i o r a t i o n of already poor sanitary provisions. E x i s t i n g and newly created l o c a l a uthorities did not have the resources to deal with the problems of health i n towns and v i l l a g e s which were ra p i d l y expanding. The constant i n f l u x of an immigrant population carrying infections and l i t t l e or no immunity, combined with a general ignorance of how to deal with disease, had i t s t o l l on the general health of the new communities. 39 The desire for rapid and economical building led, as we have seen, to the construction of back-to-back houses with t h e i r attendant e v i l s . Respiratory diseases among the aged, infectious diseases and "developmental diseases" i n children were more prevalent than usual i n t h i s type of housing, and Dr. Darra Mair concluded i n 1910, that, "The conditions which produce such effects are many and complex, but i t can scarcely be doubted that i n the e a r l i e s t period of l i f e , the nature of the home, es p e c i a l l y perhaps i t s f a c i l i t i e s f o r obtaining fresh a i r and sunlight must exert a powerful influence." A s i m i l a r conclusion was drawn i n 1911 when the higher than average death rate i n the mining and i n d u s t r i a l counties was "largely traceable to unhealthy conditions of houses and work places." During the 1890*s i s o l a t i o n hospitals were developed in the Yorkshire coal regions, and we f i n d them mentioned in c e r t a i n coalmining communities i n the Census Reports or 1901 and 1911. In 1901, the Infectious Diseases Hospital at B r i e r l e y had 13 inmates, while that at Ardsley near 57 Barnsley had a t o t a l of 77 patients, y > These were by f a r the most populated hospitals. Those Is o l a t i o n Hospitals at Sandal, Outwood, (Stanley), Pontefract, Glass Houghton, Whitwood and Conisbrough, and the Smallpox Hospitals at Normanton, Purston J a g l i n , Monk Bretton, Balby and Mexborough had very few, or no patients at a l l . However, t h e i r very existence i n these developing coalmining.communities probably 40 indicates that there was a need f o r places to house victims of infectious disease. In 1911. with the growth of population and increased e f f o r t s to stem the spread of i n f e c t i o n , we f i n d greater num-bers of patients i n these sp e c i a l i s e d hospitals. Thus: TABLE IV To show the numbers of patients i n cer t a i n I s o l a t i o n Hospitals i n the Yorkshire c o l l i e r y  areas. 1911. 58 Name of locality- I n s t i t u t i o n Number of patients Ac kt on Infectious Diseases Hospita] 37 Pontefract Isolation Hospital 12 East and West Ardsley Isolation Hospital 21 Wath-upon- Hospital 30 Dearne Infectious Diseases Conisbrough Infectious Diseases Hospital 38 B r i e r l e y Infectious Diseases Hospita] 43 We can conclude, therefore, that the :coalmining. fc-omm\in_-t i e s were marked by a high rate of overcrowding as a re s u l t of inadequate housing and larger than averaged sized f a m i l i e s , which were c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the coalminers. Overcrowding, combined with conditions s p e c i f i c to a quickly developing area, such as poor sanitation, the i n f l u x of immigrants, and neglect by l o c a l a u t h o r i t i e s , were responsible f o r a high rate of disease and infant mortality. Although housing standards were not as appalling i n the newer Yorkshire c o l l i e r y communities as i n the older, deteriorating f i e l d s , i t i s d i f f i c u l t to dispute that the added factors of disease and overcrowding served to minimize l i f e expectancy. A t o t a l assessment i s , however, not possible unless the other c r i t e r i a by which the standard of l i v i n g i s measured — wage rates and diet — are considered. 41 II The d i f f i c u l t i e s involved i n determing actual wage rates for coalminers during t h i s period are manifold, and conclusions i n respect of wages must, therefore be of a general nature. These d i f f i c u l t i e s revolve around regional variations i n wage rates; the complex system of paying both day rates and piece-work rates; additions to wages such as free coal and low rents; deductions; trade fluctuations and short-time; the number of wage earners and dependants per family; and f i n a l l y the fact that no comprehensive survey of coalmining wages was ever made at any one time. We have to r e l y rather on i s o l a t e d investigations into miners* pay. The consensus of opinion on t h i s subject seems to be that i n the period under study, the coalminers as a whole were a r e l a t i v e l y well-paid group of workers. Even e a r l i e r Adam Smith had recorded i n The Wealth of Nations that the S c o t t i s h miners received three times as much pay as the common labourer, while i n 1832 Cobbett was writing about Sunderland that t You see nothing here that i s pretty; but every-thing seems to be abundant i n value; and great thing i s , the working people l i v e well... The pitmen have twenty-four s h i l l i n g s a week; they l i v e rent-free, t h e i r f u e l costs them nothing, and t h e i r doctor costs them nothing... they l i v e well, t h e i r houses are good and t h e i r furniture good; and... t h e i r l i v e s seem to be as good as that of the working part of mankind can reasonably expect. 59 It was also about t h i s time that people could say about the miners, " C o l l i e r lads get gowd and s i l v e r , Factory lads get npwt but brass." 60 42 The miner's wage was supplemented i n instances by the tangible advantages of free or low cost f u e l , medical care, free housing i n the North East c o a l f i e l d , and low r e n t a l housing i n other c o a l f i e l d s . However, the weekly wage was also subject to c e r t a i n deductions which, though they varied from d i s t r i c t to d i s t r i c t , could claim a small though s i g n i -f i c a n t portion of the wage. For instance, i n 1923 i n Stanley, County Durham, Bowley and Hogg found the following deductions from pay i n operation: 62. S. d. Health and unemployment insurance 1 2 Health and unemployment insurance 1 2 Permanent R e l i e f Fund 0 8 Infirmary - Aged Miners* Relief 0 2 Doctor 0 6 Checkweighman and pick sharpening 0 10 to Hewers only 1 0 Water (Tenants of c o l l i e r y houses) 0 6 Trade Union county levy, 6d. i n 11 Candles or lamp o i l . 0 8 Even a f t e r additions and deductions are taken into account, the wages of i n d i v i d u a l households varied according to the number of earners within one family and the number of paying lodgers. In 1890, the United States Labor Commission included within i t s Report, a survey of 124 English mining 62 families from a number of coalmines i n B r i t a i n . (No indication i s given i n the Report of where these families l i v e d and worked.) The family incomes varied according to the work performed by the father and the number of supplementary wage earners i n the family. The whole range of incomes was from approximately 1271 per annum where a father and three c h i l -dren worked, down to the lowest figure of £52 per annum i n the case of a single breadwinner, i n t h i s instance a lowly paid surface worker. In only 14 cases out of the 124 families 43 did the combined incomes of the children outmatch the single income of the father, thus supporting the assumption that the father of a household was generally the chief breadwinner. ^ The average earnings of a single breadwinner were approximately _79 5s. Od. per annum. This average rose to _103 4s. Od. per annum when the earnings of a whole family, including those 64 from children and boarders were taken into consideration. Despite the variations i n earnings from one family to another according to family circumstances, the normal miner's family, l i k e that of any wage-earner's went through c e r t a i n common phases of prosperity and poverty. Thus: When the family was f i r s t set up, the husband would probably be at the height of his earning capacity, and his wage had only two to support. Within f i v e years there might be f i v e mouths to f i l l , and clothes for three growing children to f i n d , but no greater income: a household that had had a small margin for comforts before could be plunged in poverty now, could be ac t u a l l y short of food. As the children grew up, the older ones began to earn, and that brought some r e l i e f . As they l e f t home, a room might be l e t to a lodger, and the householder would now have climbed out of poverty again. But the earning power of a manual worker often began to decline before he was f i f t y ; i l l -ness would increase with age; there was no age of retirement, but the time was coming when the husband would not be able to work any more. 65 We have several tables and records of coalminers' earnings for the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A l l point towards a pattern whereby the actual and r e a l incomes of the coalminers rose quickly during the l a t t e r h a l f of the nine-teenth century, and i n fact outstripped the r i s e i n earnings of other working class groups at t h i s time, "It would appear 44 that the wage position of c o l l i e r s had improved r e l a t i v e to that of other workers during the second half of the nineteenth century..." and "... by the early years of the twentieth century, ... c o l l i e r s were considerably better paid even than s k i l l e d craftsmen," ^ This increase i n earnings i s demon-strated i n the following table drawn up by E.H. Hunt. He reviewed the major works on wage variations i n B r i t a i n and concluded that t h i s table shows, "what are probably the most r e l i a b l e figures of mine wages a v a i l a b l e , " but admitted reservations about t h e i r use i n drawing general conclusions, for they were drawn from only two surveys. TABLE V To show the average d a i l y wages of coal hewers and  labourers by region f 1888 and 1914^ 6"7 Region 1888 1914 Hewers Labourers Hewers Labourers Northumberland Id. 3s. 4d. 9s. Id. 6s. Od. Durham 5s. Od. 3s. 9d. 8s. l i d . 5s. 9d. Cumberland 4s. 5d. 3s. 2d. 8s. 2d. 5s. 8d. Lancashire 5s. 2d. 3s. 4d. 8s. 7d. 5s. lOd. North Wales 4s. Id. 2s. 8d. 8s. Od. 5s. 5d. Nott inghamshire and Derbyshire 5s. 4d. 3s. 5d. 9s. lOd. 5s. 8d. Nth. Staffordshire 4s. lOd. 3s. Od. 9s. Id. 5s. 7d. Cannock Chase 5s. Od. 3s. Od. 8s. 6d. 5s. 7d. Sth Staffordshire 4s. 6d. 3s. 4d. 7s. Id. 5s. lOd. Warwickshire 5s. Od. 3s. Od. 10s. Id. 6s. 2d. Leicestershire 4s. 3d. 3s. 6d. 7s. Od. 5s. lOd. Somerset 3s. 3d. 2s. 3d. 5s. 9d. 4s. 4d. Forest of Dean 4s. 6d. 2s. lOd. 6s. 9d. 4s. 6d. South Wales 4s. lOd. 2s. lOd. 9s. 4d. 5s. 9d. Lanarkshire 4s. 7d. 3s. 2d. 8s. 3d. 6s. 6d. West Yorkshire Not available 8s. l i d . 6s. 3d. South Yorkshire N ot available 10s. 3. 6s. 8d. Great B r i t a i n (weighted average) 4s. 9d. 3s. Id. 8s. lOd. 5s. 9|d. 45 The ahove figures also demonstrate the wide variations to be found between the differ e n t c o a l f i e l d s . For instance, i n 1888, the hewers on the small Somersetshire c o a l f i e l d earned over two s h i l l i n g s per day less than t h e i r counterparts i n Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. In 1914, the South York-shire hewers and labourers led the f i e l d i n wage rates, showing the monetary advantages of working i n a developing area. At t h i s time, the South Yorkshire c o l l i e r y companies were s t i l l t r y i n g to at t r a c t labour to t h e i r expanding enter-prises. Hunt i s firm i n his opinion that the c o l l i e r s were r e l a t i v e l y w e l l paid. In Warwickshire for instance, an un-s k i l l e d labourer i n a coal mine earned 6&. 2d. per day, or 37 s h i l l i n g s a week i n 1914, whereas the farm labourer i n the same county earned 13 s h i l l i n g s per week at t h i s time. Although he produced no r e l i a b l e s t a t i s t i c s for Yorkshire i n the e a r l i e r period, he considered the miners there to be among the highest paid of a highly paid occupational group. "In 1876 the editor of the Beehive wrote to Thomas Brassey? ' In the coal trade the highest wages are earned i n North-68 umberland and Yorkshire'". We do have some wage figures, however, for Yorkshire i n t h i s e a r l i e r period from the 1886 Census of Wages of the Board of Trade. These show the following average weekly wages for various grades of coalminers, af t e r deductions: 46 TABLE VI To show aveage weekly wages (net) of various grades of coalminers i n West and South Yorkshire, 1 8 8 b . 6 9 s. d. s. d. Deputies, etc. 29 3 Pumpmen 23' 3 Coal hewers 28 0 General labourers (underground) 20 6 Putters and trammers 22 9 Banksmen (surface) 20 11 Rippers 29 1 The r e l i a b i l i t y of these figures has been challenged by J.W.F. Rowe, an authority on the matter. They covered only nine per cent of the underground workers i n Yorkshire. Furthermore, the wage variations between the two areas of West and South Yorkshire were concealed in the composite figures. Since the c o l l i e r s came under two separate and independent Employers* Associations, they were covered by two completely d i f f e r e n t wage contracts. Figures exist for these two areas i n a separate form for 1914 only, and are shown below: TABLE VII To show the average d a i l y earnings of various grades of coal miners i n West and South Yorkshire, 1914. 70 Daily rate in 1914 Coal getters: Piece rate West s. 8 Yorkshire d. 11 South s. 10 Yorkshire d. 3 Day wage 7 5 7 11 Putters 5 6 7 2 Stonemen (Rippers) 7 3 8 Firemen 8 2 8 10 Labourers 6 3 6 8 47 Rowe used the years 1886 and 1913 as the p i v o t a l points i n his work on wages. 1886 was a year of trade recession while 1913 was a peak year for miners' wages. He gives the following as true average weekly wages for coalminers i n 71 B r i t a i n i n these two years: 1886 1913 s. d. s. d. Piece work coal getters 24 6 50 4 Putters, f i l l e r s , etc. 20 8 36 10 Labourers 18 0 33 0 When comparing these figures with the wages i n other trades, however, the rates for coalminers have to be aver-aged over f i v e year periods-- 1886 to 1891 and 1908 to 1913 -- to take into account the factors of recession and prosperity. By doing t h i s , Rowe was able to draw more accurate wage com-parisons with other trades, shown i n the following table. It w i l l be noted from t h i s table that the coalminers com-pared favourably with t h e i r counterparts i n four other major industries. TABLE VIII To compare the true weekly wage rates i n f i v e  major industries, 1886 and 1913. 72 Occupation '1886 1913 1) SKILLED Bricklayers Coal-getters Mule spinners Turners (engineering) Engine-drivers ( r a i l ) 2) SEMI-SKILLED Painters Putters and F i l l e r s (coal) Grinders (cotton) Machinemen (engineering) Railway guards s. d. s. d. 31 1 38 11 29 1 46 6 32 6 41 5 29 9 38 2 39 7 42 11 28 8 34 7 24 6 34 0 21 2 29 5 22 3 30 7 27 6 30 9 48 TABLE VIII - continued Occupation 1886 1913 3) UNSKILLED Labourers (building) Labourers (coal) Women weavers Labourers (engineering) Goods porters ( r a i l ) S. d. s. d. 19 4 25 9 21 4 30 6 18 0 21 11 17 11 21 10 20 0 22 1 (Note: wage dates for coalminers5 1886 represents the average for 1886 to 1891* 1913 represents the average for 1908 to 1913.) From t h i s table i t can be seen that i n a l l three levels of s k i l l , the coalminers increased t h e i r wage rates faster than any of the other occupational groups i n the i n t e r v a l from 1886 to 1913, and by 1913 were among the highest paid workers i n these major industries. Furthermore, the i n -crease i n the wage rates of the coalminers i n t h i s period reached a parity with the increase i n the cost of l i v i n g , which i s discussed below. F i n a l l y , t h i s picture of r e l a t i v e l y high wages among the coalminers i s supported by a comparative table issued by the Mining Association i n 1924: TABLE IX To compare the average weekly earnings of male  adult workers i n various industries. 1913 73 Industry s. d. Coalmining 35 11 Building trade 32 10* Pig-iron manufacture 33 11 Iron and st e e l manufacture 36 2 Engineering and boiler-making 32 11 Shipbuilding 33 9 Railways 29 10* Cotton manufacture 30 8 Woolen and worsted manufacture 28 7 Linen 24 6 Bleaching, dyeing and p r i n t i n g 30 2 Boot and shoe manufacture 28 9 Pottery 31 0 Brick making 27 7 H-9 Here again, i t can be seen that coalmining ranked favour-ably i n the wage level s of working-class occupations. Among the coalmining classes as a whole, those miners of South Yorkshire were among the most highly paid and they were reaping some of the prosperity of t h i s expanding f i e l d . In the late 1880's, the father of the trade, unionist John Brophy earned eight s h i l l i n g s per day as a hewer i n the p i t s of St. Helens, which was considered to be a good wage. "With only about one-tenth of his pay going f o r rent and heat, there was plenty to take care of our needs, as long 74 as work was regular." However, t h i s insecurity which Brophy hinted at has to be taken into consideration when examining the wages of miners. Income was threatened by s t r i k e , accident, i l l n e s s or short-time work when coal was stock-piled and trade was poor. When t h i s occurred there was l i t t l e the miner's wife could do to supplement the family income, given the employment s i t u a t i o n i n the coal towns. For the Brophy family: The t e r r i f y i n g threat to our security was i l l n e s s . My father had one long siege of pneumonia, brought on by bad working conditions. His pay stopped, of course, and as my mother nursed him through the long weeks, we got poorer and poorer. Our few belongings began to go into the pawn shop... The union gave us a small sum, but most of our help came from my grandmother and other r e l a t i v e s , though they had l i t t l e to spare. It was months before we recovered from the effects of that- i l l -ness. We could l i v e decently when there was regular work, but we had no r e a l security, nor was there any margin for savings. 75 A family faced d e s t i t u t i o n i n the case of the death of an only breadwinner, and i n a dangerous c a l l i n g such as mining, t h i s was an ever-present threat. But the coalmining 50 family was not only subject to the risk of personal misfor-tune through death, injury, or illness. There was always the constant threat of short-time work in the summer months when trade and home consumption f e l l off. At these times, a man might only work for two or three days in a week, and his wages f e l l accordingly. Rowe found that from 1895 to.1913» hewers worked an average of 5.22 days per week over the year, when the normal working week was six days. This meant that a man expected to lose between five and ten per cent of his poten-t i a l earnings each year, through short-time and trade fluc-tuations. When whole pits lay idle through strike, lock-out, or disaster, an entire community which depended upon coal for i t s livelihood could be plunged into poverty and debt at worst, and extreme frugality at best. The level of wages in coalmining was such as to limit this occupational group to a set of common expectations. There was a common desire to earn just enough money for sur-vival and to provide for leisure pursuits, for the traditional standard of living of the miners did not revolve around the acquisition of material goods. There was no stimulus for competition or social display in the mining communities. A family's status was well known to a l l in a community where wages and income were no secret: In that long grey street... every family knew the essential facts about every other family's l i f e ; the peculiar economic organisation of the pits made this inevitable. Every Wednesday evening... (the) assistant checkweighman of the Miners' Lodge made up the pit 'averages'. This was a record, for 51 union purposes, of the production of every coal-face i n the p i t and of the earnings of every man engaged on those faces. The income of every mining family, i n so far as i t was derived from the mine, was known to everybody. The pretensions of urban l i v i n g were impossible here. No family could assume higher standards than i t s income warranted without incurring r i d i c u l e . Here, per-haps, i s part of the reason why miners made t h e i r demands on l i f e as a community, not as individuals.77 There were aspects of wage and income levels i n the mining communities therefore, which did draw the population together under common standards and expectations. This standard was high by comparison with other working-class occupational groups.. A further i n d i c a t i o n of t h i s r e l a -t i v e l y high income l e v e l i s the fact that rates of pauper r e l i e f i n the coalmining areas were consistently the lowest i n the country. Furthermore, i f we consider the diet and budgets of the c o l l i e r class by comparison with other wor-king-class groups, an even more favourable income l e v e l may be discerned. I l l In 1913 A.L. Bowley and M. Hogg conducted t h e i r f i r s t survey of f i v e i n d u s t r i a l towns, including Stanley i n County Durham. They found less poverty i n t h i s coalmining community than i n the other four towns, (Bolton, Warrington, Reading and Northampton), where just 6.1 per cent of the population f e l l under the poverty l i n e , (compared to 26 per cent i n 52 Reading for example.) Taking Rowntree's level of poverty, whereby a working man needed to spend a minimum of 3s. 9d. per week on food, they found that poverty existed in eleven coalmining families out of a sample of 203 families. In eight of these cases, poverty was due to the death, absence, illness, or advanced age of the natural head of the family. The investigators concluded that in 1913, "miners* wages were generally sufficient to support a moderately large family." We may take the conclusions of this survey to be typical of the general standard of livi n g in the coalfields before the First World War. Unless some misfortune befell a family, the coalmining family was generally able to maintain and feed i t s e l f , by the standards of the time. If we compare the consumption of food in coalmining families with that in families of other occupational groups among the working-class, we find them to be in a favourable position on the whole. For most occupational groups, bread was unquestionaly the major staple, and the degree of depen-dency of a family upon bread in i t s diet reflected i t s earning powers, so that higher paid families could afford a more varied diet and depended to a lesser degree upon this staple. We can see this pattern at work at an early date when comparing a coalmining family with that of a farm labourer. "A Northumberland miner in 1825, with hi a week, purchased 30 lbs, of bread for a family of five (for 6s. 3d.) and was also able to afford a pound of meat each day." At 53 the same time, "A Suffolk labourer with five children, three of whom were in work, had a total household income of 13s. 9d. 79 and devoted nine shillings of i t to bread." ' 7 Even in 1862, thirty per cent of a l l families s t i l l rarely or never tasted fresh meat. Farm workers, the most poorly paid of labourers, s t i l l depended essentially on bread, consuming \2\ pounds per adult per week, with only one pound - + , 8 0 of meat per week. From the 1850's we have the following budget of a coal-mining family of Northumberland, where three sons worked in addition to the father. The family income for a fortnight's work was 15 3s. 7d ., and the outley per fortnight was as -f> T t 81 follows: Outlay per fortnight s, d. Outlay per fortnight s. d Mutton 14 lbs. 8 9 Candles 6 Flour 5 stones 13 0 Soap 1 8 Maslin (mixed grain) 3 sts. 7 6 Pepper, salt, mustard 6 Bacon 14 lbs. 9 4 Tobacco, beer 4 0_ Potatoes- 2 3 Plus, shoes at 9s . Oatmeal 6 per month 4 6 Butter 21bs, Milk 3d. per day 6 0 Clothes, Stockings, Coffee l j lbs. 3 0 etc. 17 6 Tea i lb. 1 6 Sundries _2 6 Sugar 31bs. 2 0 TOTAL 14 5s . 0 This family was at the peak of i t s earning power and was further aided with free rent and fuel. It enjoyed the rare luxury among working class families at this time of a balanced budget, despite the relatively heavy indulgence in meat. It is notable that the family did not buy bread, but ate home-baked bread. This was a typical feature of coalmining communities. 54 If we compare t h i s diet with that of another contemporary group of workers, then the r e l a t i v e luxury of t h i s budget becomes more apparent. The following was the average weekly diet per family of the silk-weavers of S p i t a l f i e l d s , Maccles-f i e l d , Bethnal Green and Coventry. I t i s understandable why they were described as being " i n s u f f i c i e n t l y nourished, and of feeble health". The average weekly diet of the silk-weaving  family i n the mid-nineteenth century. 82 Bread 9 l lbs. Potatoes 2 lbs. Sugar 7| oz. Fats 4|- oz. Meat 2 lbs. Milk 1.1 pts. Tea 2 oz. S i m i l a r l y , i f we examine conditions at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when standards of n u t r i t i o n had improved, we f i n d that the coalminers had re-tained t h e i r r e l a t i v e l y comfortable lev e l s of nourishment. In 1904, a survey by the Royal S t a t i s t i c a l Society found that the wage earning classes consumed on the average of 107 pounds of meat, 8.5 gallons of milk, ten pounds of cheese and f i f t e e n pounds of butter per head, per year. ^ In 1906, the average wage earning family brought home 45 s h i l l i n g s per week which at that time would have bought the following items: The average weekly diet of a wage  earning family i n 1906. 32 lbs. bread and f l o u r 3 lbs. r i c e , tapioca, oatmeal 17 lbs. potatoes 9 lbs. meat',,-, (including 1* lbs. bacon) 3/4 lbs, cheese 12 eggs 21bs butter 55 The average weekly d i e t of a wage  earn i n g f a m i l y i n 1906. - continued 10 pts f r e s h m i l k 5 l b s . sugar i l b . t e a p l u s , s m a l l q u a n t i t i e s of jam,, marmalade, t r e a c l e or syrup, f i s h , c u r r a n t s , r a i s i n s , f r u i t , v e g e t a b l e s , p i c k l e s , condiments, c o f f e e and cocoa. From the evidence we have of the d i e t s of c o a l m i n i n g f a m i l i e s d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d , i t appears t h a t g e n e r a l l y they d i d not f a l l below t h i s average n a t i o n a l l e v e l . Even b e f o r e t h i s weekly d i e t was drawn up, the coalminers i n d u l g e d i n a regimen of t h i s nature. The 1890 survey conducted by the U.S. Labor Commission found t h a t each of the 124 E n g l i s h mining f a m i l i e s i t s t u d i e d spent an average of. approximately 1 5 0 5s. Od. per year on food. The v a r i e t y of t h e i r d i e t i s demonstrated i n the f o l l o w i n g t a b l e , drawn from the Commis-s i o n ' s Reports TABLE X To show the number of E n g l i s h mining f a m i l i e s out of  a sample of 124 who consumed q u a n t i t i e s of the f o l l o w i n g commodities i n 1890. 85 Commodity Number of  consuming  f a m i l i e s out  of t o t a l of 124 Commodity Number of  c onsuming  f a m i l i e s out of t o t a l of 124 Beef None Hog products 113 Meat (not s p e c i f i e d ) 124 P o u l t r y None F i s h 21 Eggs 114 M i l k 119 Bu t t e r 121 Cheese 2 Tea 120 C o f f e e Sugar Molasses Lard F l o u r and meal Bread R i c e F r u i t Potatoes Vegetables 19 120 10 109 124 13 4 6 118 96 The s t a p l e foods of t h i s sample of coalminers can be i d e n t i -f i e d from t h i s t a b l e . A l l f a m i l i e s a te meat of some k i n d , though there was a d i s t i n c t absence of beef and p o u l t r y . 56 Eggs, milk, butter, tea, sugar, lard, home-baked bread and potatoes were consumed by a large majority of the families, and the large number of families buying vegetables (or growing their own?) is significant in a period when vegetables were generally lacking in the regular working class diet. The consumption of cheese was negligible. Some years later in 1905, there was a similar pattern of food consumption in the South Yorkshire colliery towns of Castleford and Normanton. The Board of Trade Report of 1908 found that in these coalmining towns: Roll bacon is the variety in most demand, and the favourite qualities of tea are those sold at from Is. 6d. to 2s. per lb. The bread i s , for the most part, home-baked, and the predominant price of household flour was Is. 4d. per 14 lbs. at the end of 1905. 86 This enquiry into the "Prevailing prices of groceries" in October of 1905 revealed that the commodities which were most important to the coalminers' diet at this time were, tea, sugar (loaf, white granulated and demerara), bacon (Streaky and r o l l ) , eggs, cheese, butter (imported), 87 potatoes, flour and milk. Again the coalminers appeared to be in a more fortunate position than many of their contem-poraries at the turn of the century. While the miners enjoyed this relatively varied diet, Joseph Arch described the diet of Warwickshire farm labourers in 1898 as consisting mainly of barley bread. But, "even barley loaves were a l l too scarce ... the food we could get was of very poor quality, and there was far too l i t t l e of i t . Meat was rarely, i f ever, to be seen on the labourer's table... In many a household even a 57 88 morsel of bacon was considered a luxury." As late as 1912 Mrs. Pember Reeves found labourers i n London who earned as l i t t l e as from 18s. to 24s. each week. She discovered extreme cases where l i f e was barely maintained on two penny worth of food per day, for each member of a family. Moreover, the cost of f u e l for cooking prohibited the provision of hot food and as a r e s u l t , an important item 89 of the diet was bread and dripping. The coalminers were in an advantageous s i t u a t i o n with t h e i r l i b e r a l supply of cheap or free coal and the provisions for cooking i n t h e i r own homes. In an occupational group such as the c o l l i e r s where the wife remained at home i n the majority of f a m i l i e s , home-cooking and baking put them at an obvious advantage over other urban working class groups, f o r : ... urban l i f e necessarily meant a greater depen-dence on professional services of bakers, brewers and food r e t a i l e r s generally, p a r t l y because l i v i n g conditions were overcrowded and ill-equipped f or the practice of culinary a r t s , p a r t l y because many wives worked at factory or domestic trades and had l i t t l e time or energy l e f t f o r cooking. The kind of food which most commended i t s e l f was, therefore, that which needed least preparation, was tasty, and, i f possible, hot, and for these reasons bought bread, potatoes boiled or roasted i n t h e i r jackets, and bacon, which could be f i r e d i n a matter of minutes, became mainstays of urban diet. Tea was also e s s e n t i a l , because i t gave warmth and comfort to cold, monotonous food. But soups and broths, stews and puddings, became for many inhabitants of the new towns the Sunday feast, f or only on the day of rest was long preparation and cooking possible. 90 F i n a l l y , to obtain a f u l l e r picture of the standard of l i f e of the mining family, we must consider expenses other than those for food. From the U.S. Labor Commission's survey 58 of 1890 i t appears that the coalminers i n fact had several additional expenses. The survey found that the average family spent approximately 1>34 5s. Od. per year on non-food items. These included the following: TABLE XI To show the number of English mining families from  a sample of 124 who incurred expenses for certain non-food items. 1890. 91 Number of families Number of affected families out of out of Item t o t a l of 124 Item 124 Rent 123 Other organi-Coal 120 sations 91 Lighting (mainly o i l » Religion 62 some gas.) 122 Charity 49 P i t expenses None Furniture and 114 Clothing: u t e n s i l s Husband 123 Books and news-Wife 120 papers 120 Children 119 Amusements and Taxes 1 vacations 83 Property Insurance 1 Intoxicating L i f e Insurance 107 liquors 101 Labour organisations 73 Tobacco 109 Sickness and death Other purposes 100 50 The majority of coalminers had expenses for the provi-sion of f u e l and l i g h t i n g , clothing, furniture and amuse-ments. Only one family owned t h e i r home and the rest of the families were rent-paying tenants. Many families believed i n insurance and the protection offered by ce r t a i n organisa-t i o n s , while a high number had incurred expenses through the sickness or death of a family member. The item on t h i s l i s t which i s perhaps the most surprising i n i t s importance, i s the provision of books and newspapers. A l l but four families appear to be i n receipt of these luxury a r t i c l e s . 59 A s i m i l a r pattern of expenditure was discovered by Paul de Rousiers i n Scotland at t h i s time. His study of a Lothian coalmining family, (the Fisher family) produced t h i s o v e r a l l budget for the year 1893s The annual budget of the Fisher family. 1893. CREDIT DEBIT h s. d. h s. d. F i s h e r ' s wages 84 0 0 Rent 5 4 0 F u r n i t u r e , l i n e n 4 0 0 Two sons' wages 35 o 0 Coal 4 4 0 L i g h t i n g 2 0 0 T o t a l 119 o 0 Food 64 0 0 C l o t h i n g 14 •0 0 M e d i c a l attendance 13 0 Amusements 2 8 0 S u b s c r i p t i o n t o union 4 E d u c a t i o n a l r e q u i r e -ments 7 0 Insurance 2 3 4 V o l u n t a r y c o n t r i -b u t i o n t o Edinburgh I n f i r m a r y 1 0 Balance unaccounted f o r 19 T o t a l 119 0 0 This family was fortunate i n being able to divert some of i t s earnings into savings. Over half of the yearly income i s spent on food, while a considerable proportion i s spent on clothes, though de Rousiers commented that the family dressed moderately. It appears that expenditure on clothing was general quite high. In 1903, the Board of Trade i n i t s Enquiry into i n d u s t r i a l conditions quoted the family budget of a coalminer for 1891. Here the t o t a l yearly expenditure on clothing for two adults and eight children came to £46 15s. lOd. out of a t o t a l yearly expenditure of £194 14s. 7d., 93 or 24 per cent of the t o t a l expenditure. 7 J 60 It would appear therefore, that the coalminers were i n a r e l a t i v e l y favourable position when wages and consumption are considered. We have already seen that wages i n the coal-mining communities were generally higher than those of most other occupational groups. In addition to t h i s advantage, rents and prices were generally lower i n coalmining d i s t r i c t s when compared to other areas at the turn of the century, so that the ov e r a l l cost of l i v i n g was low. This can be seen i n the two model towns of Castleford and Normanton when com-pared to London. Taking the l e v e l of rents and prices i n London as a base of 100, the cost of l i v i n g i n these coal-mining towns may be compared. The figures for Merthyr T y d f i l are included as an example of a South Wales c o l l i e r y town. Town Rent Prices Rent and -prices combined London 100 100 (The cost of l i v i n g ) 100 Castleford 53 94 86 Normanton 57 91 84 Merthyr T y d f i l 50 97 88 We may conclude, therefore, that during t h i s period the coalminers were generally able to maintain themselves i n an adequate way by the standards of the time. In the 1890 U.S. Labor Commisions Report, of the 124 English mining families under study, 48 had a surplus of money i n hand at the end of the year, 45 others had invested t h e i r surplus into savings banks, building s o c i e t i e s , cooperative s o c i e t i e s , 61 the post o f f i c e or penny "banks, while i n nineteen cases the yearly budget and accounts just balanced. In twelve cases however, families were i n debt at the end of the year. This was usually due to short-time work, i l l - h e a l t h or over-sized families supported by just one breadwinner. Generally the Report found the l i v i n g conditions of the 124 families to be good. A l l but fourteen homes were comfortably or well-fur-ox nished, and only two were described as d i r t y or untidy. ' J In conclusion, housing, sanitary provisions and over-crowding were poor, and were productive of bad health and i n f a n t i l e mortality. However, these miserable l i v i n g condi-tions were perhaps tempered by a r e l a t i v e l y high average of earnings and consumption. Though there were'variations i n household earnings according to family s i z e , a l l normal-sized coalmining families might expect to pass through common phases of r e l a t i v e wealth and poverty. Certainly, s o c i a l pretensions were limi t e d , i f not completely excluded from the f i n a n c i a l circumstances of the coalmining c l a s s . The l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n i t s e l f contributed towards unity among the mining population i n i t s struggle against the environment, and at the same time, i n a common resignation to the im p o s s i b i l i t y of leaving those surroundings. If a generalised description of the standard of l i f e i n a coalmining community i s possible, then perhaps the most accurate i s one given by J.R. L e i f c h i l d i n I856. Though t h i s account i s from an early period, the conditions he described prevailed throughout the period with which we are concerned: 62 Cleanliness, both i n t h e i r persons and houses, i s a predominant feature i n the domestic economy of the better females of t h i s community. The children, although necessarily l e f t much to themselves, and playing much i n the d i r t , are never sent to bed without ample ablution. Pitmen, of a l l labouring classes I am acquainted with, enjoy most the pleasure of good l i v i n g : t h e i r larders abound i n potatoes, bacon, fresh meat, sugar, tea, and coffee, of which good things the children partake as abundantly as the parents: even the sucking infant, to i t s prejudice, i s loaded with as much of the greasy and we l l -seasons viands of the table as i t w i l l swallow. In t h i s respect the women are f o o l i s h l y indulgent, and I know of no class of pers'ons among whom i n f a n t i l e diseases so much p r e v a i l . 96. Conditions did not change much during the period under study. There was an apparent uniformity of conditions i n the mining f i e l d s except that the coalminers i n the Yorkshire c o a l f i e l d enjoyed higher wage levels and i n some cases, better housing, than t h e i r counterparts i n the older c o a l f i e l d s , during our period. FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER II 1 A. Hutt, The Conditionoof~-'the Working Class (London, 1933), P. 13. 2 R.A, Scott-James, "Housing Conditions i n Mining Areas," fippendix to Coal and Power. The Report of an Enquiry presided over by the Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, (London, 1924), p. 135. 3 I b i d . , P. 131 4 A. Moffat, My L i f e with the Miners (London, 1 9 6 5 ) , p.11. $ From A.R. G r i f f i n , Coalmining (London, 1972). 63 6 For instance, "between 1901 and 1911 the populations of the South Yorkshire c o l l i e r y communities of Bentley, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Cudworth and Thurnscoe increased by the following percentages respectively -- 170.4%; 126.5% 100.2%; and 72.6%. From the Census Report for England  and Wales. 1911: Summary Tables. B.P.P. 1914 - 16, LXXXI. Table 11, p. 13. 7 W. Ashworth, The Genesis of Modern B r i t i s h Town Planning (London, 1954), pp. 145 - 146. 8 W.H. Chaloner, "The B r i t i s h Miners and the Coal Industry between the Wars", History Today. (June 1964), Vol. XIV., No. 6. p. 419. 9 J.E. Williams, The Derbyshire Miners (London, 1962), P. 445. 10 From the Derbyshire Times 19th June, 1936, c i t e d i n I b i d . , P. 782. 11 E.H. Phelps Brown, The Growth of B r i t i s h I n d u s t r i a l  Relations (Londonl96o), p. 31. 12 F. Zweig.':, Men i n the P i t s (London, 1948), p. 42. 13 Dr. L.W. Darra Mair, A Report on Relative Mortality i n  Through and Back-to-Back Houses i n Certain Towns i n the  West Riding of Yorkshire. B.P.P. 1910, XXXVIII, p. 893. 14 I b i d . , p. 896. 15 I b i d . , p. 902. 16 I b i d . , p. 903. 17 G. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (London, 1937), p. 59. 18 Report of an Enquiry by the Board of Trade into Working  Class Rents. Housing, and R e t a i l Prices, i n the P r i n c i p a l  I n d u s t r i a l Towns of the United Kingdom, B.P.P. 1908, CVII, p. 144. 19 Ibid., p. 145. 20 Ibid., p. 333. 21 I b i d . , P. x l i v . 22 G.A.W. Tomlinson, Coal-Miner;"; (London, 1937). p. 13. 23 Orwell, Op. C i t . . pp. 56 - 57. 24 Rt. Hon. S i r . J. Tudor Walters, The Building of 12.000  Houses (London, 1927), p. 24. 64 25 See W. Ashworth, Op. C i t . 26 W. Page, (Ed.), The V i c t o r i a History of the Counties of England. Yorkshire. Vol. I I . (London, 1912), p. 362. 2? W. Ashworth, " B r i t i s h I n d u s t r i a l Villages i n the Nine-teenth Century," Economic History Review. (1951), 2nd Series, Vol. I l l , No. 3 . p. 386. 28 N. Dennis, F. Henriques, and C. Slaughter, Coal i s our  L i f e (London, 1956), p. 11. 29 I b i d . , p.11. 30 F. Zweig, Op. C i t . . p. 4 3 . 31 J. Cockburn, The Hungry Heart. A Romantic Biography  of James Keir Hardie (London. 1956). p. 23 and p. 25. 32 J. Brophy, A Miner's L i f e (Madison and Milwaukee, 1964), p. 5. 33 Census Report for England and Wales. 1891; General  Report, B.P.P. 1893 - 94. CVI. p. 23. 34 Census Report for England and Wales. 1901s General  Report, B.P.P. 1904, CVIII. p. 38. 35 Ib i d . , p. 42. 36 Census Report for England and Wales, 1911s General  Report, B.P.P. 191? - 18, XXXV. 37 Census Report for England and Wales. 1911s Summary  Tables, B.P.P. 1914 - 16, LXXXI, Table 92, p. 417. 38 A.L. Bowley and M.H. Hogg, Has Poverty Diminished? (London, 1925), p. 170 39 Ibid. 40 From the Derbyshire Times 29th Nov. 1924, cit e d i n J.E. Williams, Op. C i t . , p. 782. 41 From, Census Report for England and Wales. 1891: County  Tables. Yorkshire. B.P.P. 1893 - 94. CIV. Table 7. P P . 412 - 413, and, Census Report for England and Wales. 1901: County Tables. Yorkshire, B.P.P. 1902, CXXI, Table 12, pp. 81 - 101. 42 Orwell, Op. C i t . , pp. 56 - 57. 43 T. Burt, Thomas Burt. M.P.. D.C.L.. Pitman and Privy  Councillor. An Autobiography.(London. 1924), pp. 100 - 101. 65 44 Paul de Rousiers, The Labour Question i n B r i t a i n (London, 1896), p. 169. 45. A case reported i n the Derbyshire Times, 9th March 1907, ci t e d i n J.E. Williams, Op C i t . 46 Cited i n Ibid. , p. 446. 47 B. Benjamin, "The Urban Background to Public Health Changes i n England and Wales, 1900 - 1950," Population  Studies, (1962), Vo. XVII, No. 3. p. 229. 48 I b i d . , p. 235. 49 See S t a t i s t i c a l Memoranda and Charts prepared i n the  Local Government Board Relating to Public Health and  Soc i a l Conditions. B.P.P. 1909. CIII. 50 Cited by B. Benjamin, Op. C i t . 51 From Report of Board of Trade Enquiry into Working Class  Rents, etc. . 1908"] p. 146. 52 I b i d . , p. 146. 53 I b i d . , p. 333. 54 B. Benjamin, Op. C i t . , p. 239. 55 Dr. L.W. Darra Mair, Op. C i t . , p. 918 56 See B.L. Hutchins, The Working L i f e of Women Fabian Tract No. 157, (London, 1911), p. 12. 57 Census Report for England and Wales, 1901: County Tables. Yorkshire, Op. C i t . , Table 17, p. 143. 58 Census Report f o r England and Wales, 1911: Administrative  Tables, Yorkshire, B.P.P. 1912 - 13, CXI, Tahle 17, p. 580. 59 Cited i n E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working  Class (London, 1968), pp. 267 - 268. 60 I b i d . , p. 268. 61 See A.L. Bowley and M. Hogg, Op. C i t . , p. 192, 62 Sixth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor, 1890, U.S. Department of Labor, (Washington, 1891). 63 I b i d . , Table XIX, pp. 1023 - 1025. 66 64 Ib i d . , Table XX, p. 1234. 65 E.H. Phelps Brown, Op. C i t . . pp. 22 - 23. 66 A.R. G r i f f i n , Mining i n the East Midlands 1550 - 1947 (London, 1971), p. 114. 67 E.H. Hunt, Regional Wage Variations i n B r i t a i n 1850  - 1914 (Oxford, 1973), P. 72 68 Ibid. , p. 4In. 69 R. Giffen, Return of Rates of Wages i n the Mines and  Quarries of the United Kingdom Vol. I l l of the Census of Wages of the Board of Trade, 1886, B.P.P. 1890 - 91, LXXVIII, pp. 14 - 16. 70 J.W.F. Rowe, Wages i n the Coal Industry (London, 1923), P. 75. 71 J.W.F. Rowe, Wages i n Practice and Theory (London, 1928), P. 31 . 72 I b i d . , p. 42. 73 J..Raynes, Coal and i t s Co n f l i c t s (London, 1928), p. 132. 74 Brophy, Op. C i t . , p. 5 75 I b i d . , p. 6 76 See Rowe, Wages i n Practice and Theory. 77 M. Benney, Charity Main. A C o a l f i e l d Chronicle (London, 1946), p. 24. 78 A.L..Bowley and M. Hogg, Op. C i t . . p. 23. 79 J. Burnett, "Trends i n Bread Consumption," i n Our  Changing Fare, Ed. T.C. Barker, (London, 1966), p. 70. 80 Ibid. 81 J. Burnett, Plenty and Want. A Soci a l History of Diet  i n England from 1815 to the Present Day (London, 1966) . p. 149. 82 Ibi d . , p. 152. 83 R.H. Rew, "Reports from the Committee Appointed to Inquire into the S t a t i s t i c s Available as a Basis for Estimating the Production and Consumption of Meat and Milk i n the United Kingdom," Journal of the Royal S t a t i s t i c a l  Society, (Sept. 1904), Vol. LXVII, pp. 368 - 429. 67 84 E.H. Phelps Brown, Op. C i t . , p. 19. 85 Sixth Annual Report of U.S. Labor Commission, 1890, Table XX, pp. 1236 - 1239. 86 Report of the Board of Trade Enquiry into Working  Class Rents, etc.. 1908"! p. 146. 87 Ibid.. p. 147 and 334. 88 Cited by J. Burnett i n "Plenty and Want: A S o c i a l History of English Diet", History Today. ( A p r i l 1964) Vol.XIV, No. 4. pp. 226. 89 See P. Reeves, Family L i f e on a Pound a Week Fabian Tract No. 162, (London, 1912). 90 J. Burnett, Plenty and Want, 1815 to the Present Day, Op. C i t . , pp. 33 - 34. 91 Sixth Annual Report of U.S. Labor Commission. 1890. Table XX, pp. 1240 - 1243. 92 Paul de Rousiers, Op. C i t . , p. 183. 93 Memoranda, S t a t i s t i c a l Tables and Charts Prepared i n the  Board of Trade with Reference to Various Matters Bearing  on B r i t i s h and Foreign Trade and Industrial Conditions. B.P.P. 1903, LXVII, p. 216. 94 Report of Board of Trade Enquiry into Working Class  Rents, etc., 1908, p. x l i v . 95 Sixth Annual Report of U.S. Labor Commission. 1890. 1092 - 1094. 96 J.R. L e i f c h i l d , Our Coal and Our Coal-Pits; the People in them and the Scenes around them (London, 1856), p. 199. 68 CHAPTER III MARRIAGE, FERTILITY AND HOUSEHOLD SIZE The primary objective of t h i s chapter i s to examine the core of the coalmining community — the household of the mining family. Peter Las l e t t ' s d e f i n i t i o n of the household, 1 as the nuclear family with additions such as lodgers or kin l i v i n g within the confines of the home, and under the charge of one head, i s the model which I s h a l l use. This w i l l involve an examination of marriage patterns, f e r t i l i t y and family size, the roles of family members, and f i n a l l y the provisions;; made for aged kin and the migratory population of young miners. There are many features here that distinguish the miners from other occupational groups, but my main concern i s with the larger-than-average household size to be found i n coalmining communities. The mean household size for England and Wales remained f a i r l y constant at a l i t t l e below 4 . 7 5 persons for three centuries up u n t i l 1911 . The Census Reports f o r England and Wales provide the following ten yearly mean sizes* for families or separate coresident domestic groups of occupiers, which La s l e t t termed household groups: 1861 - - 4 . 4 7 1891 — 4 . 7 3 1871 — 4.50 1901 — 4 . 6 2 1881 - - 4 . 6 1 1 9 1 1 - - 4 . 4 3 In contrast, we f i n d the following mean household sizes from the Census Reports f o r c e r t a i n coalmining d i s t r i c t s , compared with England and Wales: 69 For a l l dwellings 1901 1911 England and Wales 4.62 4.51 Durham 5.04 4.95 Northumberland 4.82 4.73 Rotherham 4.99 4.80 Barnsley 4.78 4.77 In certai n South Yorkshire C o l l i e r y communities, during the period of most rapid expansion at the turn of the century, the mean household size was even higher. For instance: 1901 Urban D i s t r i c t Population Number of Households Approx. Mean House-hold Size A l t o f t s Bolton-upon-Dearne Wath-upon-Dearne Cudworth Darfield Hoyland Nether Thurnscoe 4,024 3,828 8.515 3,408 4,194 12,464 2,366 805 670 1,644 655 819 2,441 428 5.0 5.7 5.2 5.2 5.1 5.1 5.5 The effects of t h i s average household size which was reflected throughout the c o a l f i e l d s , are demonstrated consis-t e n t l y i n the Census Reports for 1861 to 1911, when the coalmining areas of Durham, Northumberland, South Wales and the West Riding are ci t e d as displaying the worst cases of overcrowding i n the country. The reason for these discrepan-cies i n the, household size are to be found i n the high f e r t i -l i t y rates of coalmining communities, and the common custom of taking aged parents and lodgers into the home. 70 I The f i r s t aspect of family l i f e to be examined i s the i n s t i t u t i o n of marriage. The most noteworthy factor about marriage i n the coalmining communities i s the early age at which the coalminers and t h e i r wives married. As early as 1834, the Poor Law Commissioners i n Durham noted that "... the miners assumed the most important o f f i c e of manhood at the e a r l i e s t age at which nature and passion prompted." ( s i c ) . More than f i f t y years l a t e r , i n 1886, the Annual Report of the Registrar-General published the following table demon-st r a t i n g that marriage occurred at an e a r l i e r age within the coalmining group than within any other occupational group. TABLE I Average ages at Marriage of Bachelors and Spinsters  in Occupational Groups. 1884 - 1885~. 7 Occupational Group Bachelors Spinsters (Years) (Years) Miners 24.06 22.46 Professional and Independent j Class 31.22 26.40 The average age at marriage for a l l classes i n England and Wales at t h i s date was 26.1 years for men and 24.6 years for women. I t can be seen therefore, that the miners and t h e i r wives married generally, two years e a r l i e r than the average for a l l other classes. The Royal S t a t i s t i c a l Society devoted much time to the question of declining f e r t i l i t y i n England and Wales i n the Textile Hands Shoemakers and Tailors Artisans Labourers Commercial Clerks Shopkeepers and Shopmen Farmers and Farmers' Sons 24.38 24. 92 25.35 25.56 26.25 26.67 29.23 23.43 24.31 23.70 23.66 24.43 24.22 26.91 e a r l i e r part of t h i s century. The tables offered i n the Society's journal from t h e i r investigations into f e r t i l i t y and the age of the wife at marriage, add support to the view that the miners displayed the lowest mean age at marriage of any s o c i a l or occupational group. In Table II below, the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s I to VIII are those established by the Census  Report of 1911, and represent the following socio-occupational groups: I -- Professional and Higher Administrative II -- Employers i n Industry and the R e t a i l Trade III -- S k i l l e d IV -- Semi-Skilled V -- Unskilled VI -- Tex t i l e s VII -- Miners VIII -- A g r i c u l t u r a l Classes (Note: This c l a s s i f i c a t i o n w i l l be used throughout the chapter) TABLE II shows the average age at marriage of the wife, according to s o c i a l class and the duration of the marriage in years i n 1911. TABLE II To show the average age of the wife at.marriage, i n marriages of varying duration and s o c i a l c l a s s , 1911. Date Duration Average I Age at Marriage in Years VIII of Marr of Marriage age fo r a l l II S o c i a l Class VI VII iage in Years the III IV V i n 1911 occupied classes 1906 -11 0 - 5 25.3 26.6 26.1 25.1 25.2 24.8 25.1 23.6 24.9 1901 -06 5 - 10 24.8 26.1 25.6 24.6 24.7 24.3 2 5 . 0 23.3 24.7 72 TABLE I I - continued Date Duration Average I I I Age at Marriage i n Years VIII of Marr of Marriage age for a l l the I I I S o c i a l Class VII iage i n Years occupied IV V VI i n 1911 classes 1896 24.7 24.7 -1901 10 - 15 24.5 25.7 25.2 24.2 24.4 24.0 23.1 1891 24.2 24.3 -96 15 - 20 24.2 25.3 24.9 24.0 24.1 23.7 22.8 1886 -91 20 - 25 23.8 24.7 24.4 23.5 23.7 23.3 23.6 22.5 24.0 1881 23.4 -86 25 - 30 23.4 24.2 23.9 23.1 23.2 22.9 23.0 22.1 1871 22.6 21.6 -81 30 - 4o 23.0 23.7 23.3 22.8 22.5 22.5 23.0 Prom t h i s table i t can be seen that the average age at marriage of the wife, i n a l l s o c i a l classes, had gradually-increased from the date of the e a r l i e s t marriages recorded i n t h i s table, i n 1871, u n t i l the l a t e s t i n 1911. For instance, the e a r l i e s t recorded average age at marriage was f o r those miners* wives i n Class VII who had married t h i r t y or fo r t y years before, ( I 8 7 I to 1881) at 21,6 years of age. The average ages gradually rose from that time. As might be expected, the wives of the upper and middle class professional groups recorded the highest average ages at marriage. However, we must note that i n a l l cases, the wives of the miners record the e a r l i e s t average age at marriage. The group which most closely resemble the miners i n t h i s question i s the un s k i l l e d class — a comparison which w i l l be made again i n t h i s chapter, with respect to f e r t i l i t y . In 1911, less than one-third of professional men's wives were married before the age of 25 years, whereas three 9 quarters of miners' wives were married before t h i s age. 73 Table I (see page 70) indicated that on average the women i n the coalmining communities married at an e a r l i e r age than the men. An examination of a sample of coal towns i n South Yorkshire shows t h i s more c l e a r l y . In 1891, the coal towns of Pontefract, Hemsworth and Barnsley displayed the following conjugal conditions at specified ages, which are t y p i c a l of the coal towns. TABLE I I I - To show the conjugal status of men and women i n , Q  three sample coal towns at various ages i n 1891. Town and Conjugal Status Under 15 Years 15- 20- 25- 35 - 4 5 - 55- 65-PONTEFRACT Single iMarried Widowed Male Female Male Female Male Female 1,324 1,123 0 0 0 0 3,142 2,331 8 113 0 0 2,116 1,161 601 1,062 3 _ 1 1,363 634 2,871 3,047 55 _ J 2 398 219 2,911 2,599 111 131 232 120 1,902 1,686 164 291 110 71 1,031 843 198 371 67 60 364 367 332 636 HEMSWORTH Eingle Married widowed Male Female Male Female Male Female 2,994 2,788 0 0 0 0 786 538 2 38 1 1 571 276 143 237 2 2 479 232 752 752 19 15 185 96 663 619 31 43 80 47 451 412 42 51 37 29 286 223 64 95 22 30 152 107 95 143 BARNSLEY Single Married Widowed Male Female Male Female Male Female 18,863 |18,601 0 0 0 0 5,423 5,888 25 251 0 0 3,765 1,756 1,245 2,093 •9 17 2,487 1,008 5,344 6,146 109 128 953 292 4,772 4,208 228 290 430 152 3,184 2,775 340 471 198 87 1,605 1,379 657 96 64 719 489 493 850 74 Here we f i n d a high rate of marriage at the e a r l i e r ages, with the number of married women exceeding the number of married men at these ages, and an excess number of single young men, compared to single young women. A large number of young women married between the ages of 20 and 24 years. We cannot t e l l how many of the women i n the column 25 to 34 years a c t u a l l y contracted marriage within that age period as t h i s table only records those who had a married status at those ages i n 1891, and does not show when those women were actua l l y married. We must assume that some of those women recorded as being married i n the age group 25 to 34 years actu a l l y contracted marriage before t h e i r 2 5 t h birthday. This same argument can be applied to a l l age groups over twenty years. The large discrepancy between the numbers of those young women and young men who are reported as being married before the age of 35 years i s reversed when the number of married men exceed married women af t e r the age of 35 years. This i s accounted for by the fact that many older men took younger women as t h e i r wives. After the age of 35 years, moreover, the larger number of widows compared to widowers becomes more pronounced. Because of a lack of d i v e r s i t y of employment i n the coal-mining towns, a marriage pattern developed whereby the daughters of miners married miners, who i n turn propagated a coalmining family. Marriage was contracted at an unusually early age because the miners reached t h e i r highest earning capacity normally by the age of twenty years. Those who worked at the 75 surface of the c o l l i e r y earned the least of a l l , and they married generally a f t e r the age of 35 years."'""'" Employment opportunities for women were s t r i c t l y l i m i t e d i n these single industry towns, and marriage therefore assumed a greater im-portance for them. Reasons for early marriage within the coalmining class are discussed i n greater d e t a i l i n the f o l -lowing chapter on women. One of the most d i s t i n c t i v e aspects of married l i f e i n the coalmining community was the s t r i c t d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n of the roles of husband and wife. Role d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n i n the t r a d i t i o n a l nuclear family as described by Zel d i t c h , closely approximates to the s i t u a t i o n that existed i n the coalmining family. He describes the father as the instrumental leader of the nuclear family: "Ego i s boss manager of the farm; leader of the hunt, etc. Ego i s the f i n a l court of appeals, f i n a l judge and executor of punishment, d i s c i p l i n e , and control over the children of the family." The mother on the other hand i s the expressive leader: "Ego Is the mediator, c o n c i l i -ator, of the family; ego soothes over disputes, resolves h o s t i l i t i e s i n the family. Ego i s affectionate, s o l i c i t o u s , warm, emotional to the children of the family; ego i s the 'comforter,' the'consoler,* i s r e l a t i v e l y indulgent, r e l a -12 t i v e l y unpunishing," In the coalmining family, the father was the sole bread-winner, unless he was fortunate to have sons working too, and as such, represented the community to the family, and vice versa. The wife's primary roles were reproductive and 76 and educational. , With her..:husband absent at work for much of the day, the wife's r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s i n the home and family were strengthened, and she emerged as the primary s o c i a l i z i n g agent within the family. She held more emotional and s e n t i -mental importance than the father. Marital roles within the coalmining community were c l e a r l y set when compared to the community where the wife was employed. When the coalminer writer Jack Lawson married i n 1904, he was emphatic about the set roles he and his wife assumed — "For 13 me the p i t , for her' the home." ^ Because of the lack of female employment, the man's primary function as the bread-winner was indisputable. The man who f a i l e d to provide for his family through his own f a i l i n g s was regarded with contempt by his fellows. Through his work, the husband was responsible for the status of his family and i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p with the rest of the community. The wife was responsible for the s o c i a l i z a t i o n of the family and the management of the home, and, by acting as the mediator between the children and the father, she became the centre of a f f e c t i o n and emotions. It may be inferred from these d i s t i n c t r o l e s that the coalmining family was i n fact mother-centred. Indeed, i n a study of a coalmining town i n the United States i n the 1950's, i t was found that the majority of the families interviewed were, for the reasons c i t e d above, mother-orientated. There existed "... a s o c i a l arrangement i n which family a c t i v i t i e s and goals are primarily organized around the wishes and power 14 of the mother." Furthermore, the father was constantly threatened by death or injury, and so l i f e became organized 77 around the mother "... who represents i n her own way s t a b i l i t y and p r e d i c t a b i l i t y i n the home." The d i s t i n c t i v e , t r a d i t i o n a l role d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n i n coal-mining families can be demonstrated more c l e a r l y i f compared with the s i t u a t i o n which existed where female employment was normal. Female employment tended to break down t r a d i t i o n a l family r o l e s . Thus i n nineteenth century Lancashire, "the recruitment of women and children weakened the t r a d i t i o n a l domestic basis for child-rearing. Because the opportunities for the adult male i n the industry (cotton) were limi t e d , his status as chief breadwinner i n the family was i n danger." Moreover, the semi-apprenticeship system of son to father i n the cotton industry was declining a f t e r the 1830's,,. "Hence the economic authority, i n s t r u c t i o n , and control associated with the apprenticeship system were probably absent i n the weaving rooms." The apprenticeship of son to father persisted i n coal-mining into the twentieth century. This factor, which promoted an economic and s o c i a l i z i n g l i n k between father and son, and the d i s t i n c t d i v i s i o n of roles between husband and wife i n economic and emotional spheres, persisted i n the coalmining family long a f t e r they had disappeared from those families in areas of greater i n d u s t r i a l d i v e r s i f i c a t i o n . This points towards a more t r a d i t i o n a l l y orientated society i n the coal-mining areas. 7 8 I I Marriage patterns and the d i s t i n c t husband and wife roles served to set the coalmining population apart from other occupational groups, but i t was i n f e r t i l i t y and family s i z e , above a l l , that the greatest d i s t i n c t i o n s occurred. After the late 1870's there was a general decline i n the b i r t h rate i n England and Wales. Between I876 and 1920, the b i r t h rate f e l l by one-third. This was a matter of great con-cern to contemporary s o c i a l s t a t i s t i c i a n s who i d e n t i f i e d the decline as being >due to a f a l l i n productivity rather than a decline i n the marriage rate. I876 was pin-pointed as the turning point i n the downward pattern of the b i r t h rate by those s o c i a l observers who saw the decline as being caused by l ft voluntary l i m i t a t i o n of family s i z e . Table IV demonstrates the declining b i r t h rate for England and Wales i n the period 1 8 7 1 to 1911. TABLE IV To show t o t a l births per 1.000 population i n England  and Wales, 1871 to 1911 19 Date Total b i r t h s per 1 , 0 0 0 population 1 8 7 1 3 5 . 0 1 8 7 6 3 6 . 3 1 8 8 1 3 3 . 9 1 8 8 6 32.8 1 8 9 1 3 1 . 4 1 8 9 6 29.6 1 9 0 1 2 8 . 5 1 9 0 6 2 7 . 2 1 9 1 1 2 4 . 3 The idea that the decline i n f e r t i l i t y was caused by the widespread degeneracy of the health of the population was rejected by most contemporary observers. The decline i n the economic importance of children as wage earners, and greater 79 opportunities of employment for women, combined with a dis -semination of knowledge on b i r t h control methods pointed rather to l i m i t a t i o n by deli'-berate v o l i t i o n as the major factor i n the f a l l i n g b i r t h rates. T.H.C. Stevenson, who was the Census investigator and tabulator for 1911, stated before the Royal S t a t i s t i c a l Society i n 1906 that the f a l l i n g b i r t h rate was due neither to poverty nor physical degeneracy, but was rather associated with r i s i n g standards of comfort and r i s i n g expectations. Moreover, with the r a i s i n g of the school 20 leaving age, children were no longer a great source of p r o f i t . The Fabian Society r e i t e r a t e d t h i s viewpoint i n the following 21 year. Others have i d e n t i f i e d the growth of a desire for emanci-pation among women as a contributory factor i n the l i m i t a t i o n 22 of the family which would explain why the decline i n the b i r t h rate occurred f i r s t of a l l among the higher s o c i a l orders, and among those groups, such as the t e x t i l e workers, where female employment was high. F. Zweig, whose s o c i a l i n v e s t i -gations of working women took place i n the late 1940's, also discovered t h i s pattern whereby wage-earning wives were f a r more l i k e l y to practise b i r t h control than those wives who remained at home. "I do not mean to say that a l l women workers make such calculations (about b i r t h c o n t r o l ) , but the ten-dency i s there, and they are more i n c l i n e d to do so than 21 women staying at home for good." ^ Although natural methods of b i r t h control were widely practised by the working class, and a r t i f i c i a l means were 80 employed by the middle and upper classes, a f t e r 1880 the a v a i l a b i l i t y of contraceptives was increasing. "With the exception of the oral contraceptive, there i s not a single b i r t h control method i n existence today (1963) which was not oh. already a v a i l a b l e , and available i n greater variety i n 1 8 9 0 . " This throws a good deal of weight behind the arguments of those who c i t e d an increase i n a r t i f i c i a l l i m i t a t i o n as a cause in the decline of productivity. Further, Peel states, "The trade l i t e r a t u r e of t h i s period gives no support to the con-tention that such contraceptives as were available s i x t y years ago were generally crude, u n r e l i a b l e , expensive and d i f f i c u l t to obtain." 2 5 I f we examine the coalminers to see how they f i t into t h i s pattern of general decline i n f e r t i l i t y , I t w i l l be seen that they provide a s i g n i f i c a n t contrast to other socio-occu-pational groups i n that they maintained a high average rate of b i r t h throughout t h i s period of decline. The b i r t h rate of the miners' class remained higher than a l l other groups and i n fact only began to decline at a l a t e r stage. While the general decline had started between 1861 and 1871, the miners' f e r t i l i t y did not begin to f a l l u n t i l between 18?1 and 1881, and even then decreased at a slower rate than other classes. Thus: .....there was much more difference between the average doctor's family and the average miner's i n 1906 than t h i r t y years before. Among brides of the 185O's, for instance, the miners' were to have about eight children each, to the s i x of the doctors' and lawyers'? among those of the early 1880's the miners' were s t i l l to have about seven, but the 2{, ' doctors' and lawyers' now not even so many as four. 81 The miners i n fact outnumbered the u n s k i l l e d poor i n f e r t i l i t y rates despite the fact that generally speaking t h e i r work and l i f e s t y l e did not merit the description of either uns k i l l e d or poor. Their most rapid reduction i n family size occurred between 1900 and 1911, but even i n 1911, Peter Stearns suggests that there was s t i l l an average of 3.6 c h i l -dren per family. According to his cal c u l a t i o n s , the miners were the only large category of i n d u s t r i a l workers with fami-l i e s with more than three children at t h i s point i n time. Moreover the coalmining class experienced an extremely high infant mortality rate so that, "the average miner's wife had to bear about 4|- children to achieve the average family size even i n 1911." 2 7 Table V shows how a higher b i r t h rate persisted i n the coalmining counties when compared to the average b i r t h rate for England and Wales. TABLE V To show the b i r t h rate per thousand i n the coalmining  counties and England and Wales i n 1881 and 1901. Z G Area Total B i r t h Rate (Crude) 1881 1901 England and Wales 33.9 •28.5 Durham 39.5 35.48 Northumberland 35.1 32.15 West Riding 34.6 28.56 Glamorganshire 37.35 35.25 Monmouthshire 34.0 35.16 The b i r t h rates for the West Riding are affected by the existence of a large section of the population who were i n -volved i n the t e x t i l e industry. However, the rates for the counties where coalmining dominated a l l other industries, are 82 s i g n i f i c a n t l y higher than the national rates. There was a degree of decline i n the rates between 1881 and 1Q01 i n a l l areas except Monmouthshire, where there was a s l i g h t increase i n f e r t i l i t y between these two dates. This decline, however, was slower than among other classes and i s demonstrated more c l e a r l y i n the following table, again using the eight s o c i a l classes i d e n t i f i e d by the 1911 Census Report. TABLE VI To show the annual percentage decreases i n class ~ f e r t i l i t y rates, standardized for age of marriage. Year of S o c i a l Classes VII VIII Total Marriage I I I I I I IV V VI 1851 - 61 to 1861 - 71 1861 - 71 to 1871 - 81 1871 - 81 to 1881 - 86 .51 .71 .40 .39 .28 .32 1.62 1.28 .94 .85 .66 1.04 2.01 1.74 1.28 1.17 .88 1.27 +0.1 .57 .61 .49 .40 .67 .92 .70 1.24 With the sole exception of the miners during the f i r s t period, f e r t i l i t y had diminished consistently for a l l s o c i a l classes. Innes, from whom t h i s table i s drawn, concludes that "although the decline was c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of a l l the classes, the lower the status of the c l a s s , the more slowly did i t 30 participate i n the downward trend," Having looked at the b i r t h rates f o r the i n d i v i d u a l coal-mining counties and having compared the decline i n the f e r t i -l i t y of the miners with other s o c i a l groups, we must now com-pare the actual b i r t h rates of the miners with those of other s o c i a l classes. Table VII shows both t o t a l and e f f e c t i v e f e r t i l i t y for a l l classes i n 1911 — t o t a l f e r t i l i t y being the 83' numbers of children born, e f f e c t i v e f e r t i l i t y being the numbers of surviving children. The standardized rates are those c a l -culated by the s t a t i s t i c i a n T.H.C. Stevenson. TABLE VII To show the f e r t i l i t y of the eight s o c i a l classes  i n 1911. 31 Crude Rates Standardized Rates Social Class II I I I IV V VI VII Children born per 100 families 190 213 241 279 287 337 238 248 278 285 317 247 358 348 VIII 327 320 Children surviving per 100 families Crude Rates Standardized Rates 168 187 205 232 237 268 191 211 231 236 253 197 282 274 284 278 Children dead per 1 F000 born Crude Rates Standardized Rates 116 123 147 167 173 206 200 150 167 173 202 203 213 212 131 129 A l l these figures are at a maximum for miners except that the miners lose t h e i r i n i t i a l advantage of a higher t o t a l f e r t i l i t y to the a g r i c u l t u r a l classes (Class V I I I ) , when con-sidering e f f e c t i v e f e r t i l i t y . The high death rate among i n -fants which characterized the coalmining c l a s s , and the r e l a -t i v e l y healthy conditions of the r u r a l , a g r i c u l t u r a l envi-ronment, had an equalizing effect on the effective f e r t i l i t y of these two groups. However, t h i s table shows quite c l e a r l y the high b i r t h and death rates which prevailed i n coalmining communities, and indicates that despite a high infant morta-l i t y rate, miners' families were s t i l l s i g n i f i c a n t l y larger 84 than those of other classes. F i n a l l y , Tahle VIII, taken from T.H.C. Stevenson, draws together a l l the points discussed above and again shows how the coalminers were distinguished from other groups with regard to f e r t i l i t y . Stevenson has standardized his rates so that each figure i n t h i s table i s expressed as a percentage of the combined rates f o r a l l the eight classes at the same sp e c i f i e d duration of marriage, 100 per cent being the mean b i r t h rate. Both t o t a l and ef f e c t i v e f e r t i l i t y are considered i n t h i s table. TABLE VIII To show the standardized t o t a l and e f f e c t i v e f e r t i - l i t y of marriages of various dates i n each s o c i a l  c l a s s , as a percentage of the corresponding rates  fpr-QGOUPied persons of a l l classes .jointly. 1911. A) Total F e r t i l i t y Date of Duration Marriage of Marriage i n Years I II III IV V VI VII VIII 1906 - 11 0 - 5 80 92 98 102 114 87 120 114 1901 - 06 5 - 10 79 91 98 101 112 86 122 114 1896-1901 10 - 15 76 89 99 101 114 86 125 114 1891 - 96 15 - 20 74 88 99 101 113 88 127 115 1886 - 91 20 - 25 74 87 100 101 112 90 126 114 1881 - 86 25 - 30 76 89 100 101 110 92 124 114 1871 - 81 30 - 40 81 93 101 101 107 93 117 109 1861 - 71 40 - 50 88 96 101 100 104 94 113 104 1851 - 61 50 - 60 89 99 101 99 103 94 108 105 B) E f f e c t i v e F e r t i l i t y 1906 - 11 0 - 5 83 93 99 102 111 84 116 116 1901 - 06 5 - 10 84 94 99 101 109 83 116 118 1896-1901 10 - 15 81 92 99 101 109 83 119 119 1891 - 96 15 - 20 79 90 100 101 109 85 120 122 1886 - 91 20 - 25 79 90 100 101 107 87 119 122 1881 - 86 25 - 30 81 92 101 101 106 89 116 122 1871 - 81 30 - 40 86 96 100 101 103 89 110 116 1861 - 71 40 - 50 91 99 100 100 100 88 105 111 1851 - 61 50 - 60 91 102 98 98 99 91 97 111 85 The high t o t a l f e r t i l i t y of the miners loses i t s lead aft e r the mortality rate i s taken into account and e f f e c t i v e f e r t i l i t y i s considered. Once more, i t can be seen that the a g r i c u l t u r a l group i s i n a favourable position among the lower orders of society, for e f f e c t i v e f e r t i l i t y shows that a higher proportion of children survive among t h e i r ranks than i n other groups. Though t o t a l f e r t i l i t y i s l e s s , the e f f e c t i v e f e r t i l i t y of the a g r i c u l t u r a l population exceeds that of the coalminers i n some instances. The table also shows, through Stevenson's method of standardization, that though f e r t i l i t y was decreasing i n a l l s o c i a l classes, i n the case of the miners (Class VII), the a g r i c u l t u r a l workers (VIII) and the u n s k i l l e d class (V), f e r t i l i t y was decreasing at a much slower rate when compared to those .socio-occupational classes who were more in c l i n e d to exercise family l i m i t a t i o n . Consequently, these three groups show an increasingly higher percentage of f e r t i l i t y i n l a t e r years, up u n t i l 1911, when compared to the rest of the s o c i a l classes, than they did i n e a r l i e r years before the effects of b i r t h control were f e l t . The e f fects of family l i m i t a t i o n may be noted i n the higher s o c i a l groups and within the t e x t i l e worker class (Class VI) by the decreasing rates of f e r t i l i t y demonstrated by these classes. Among a l l the classes whose t o t a l f e r t i l i t y was higher than the mean of 100, the mining class showed the highest figures throughout the whole period covered by t h i s table. The slowness with which the miners adopted voluntary family l i m i t a t i o n i s shown by the increase of t h i s higher than 86 average f e r t i l i t y from eight per cent i n 1851 - 1861 to 27 per cent i n 1891 - 1896. As the miners gradually began to l i m i t t h e i r families t h e i r higher than average f e r t i l i t y f e l l s l i g h t l y to 20 per cent above the mean i n the f i n a l period, 1906 to 1911. There are f i v e main reasons for the persistence of the high b i r t h rate i n the mining classes during a period of general decline. F i r s t l y , the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y early marriage within the coalmining groups, discussed i n the early part of t h i s chapter, meant that the le g a l child-bearing period was lengthened. The coalmining population generally began to procreate families at an e a r l i e r stage than other occupational groups. Secondly, with the lack of opportunities for female employment, the women became more home-centred and family orientated. The following two chapters discuss i n d e t a i l how wifehood and motherhood was the woman's vocation i n the coalmining community. The b i r t h rate figures for the coalmining communities indicate that b i r t h control was slow to be adopted by the miners and t h e i r wives. They were not motivated to l i m i t t h e i r families to the extent of those groups who f i r s t practised b i r t h control. Among the upper and middle classes, where Feminist ideas and increasing desires for le i s u r e were f i r s t experienced J J and among those i n d u s t r i a l classes where the women commonly worked, .rthe advantages of family l i m i t a t i o n were obvious. T.H.C. Stevenson suggested that the f a l l i n f e r t i l i t y affected those classes f i r s t who had access to information 8? on b i r t h control, and l a s t l y , those "least immediately In-accessible to such influence," y Certainly, b i r t h rate s t a t i s t i c s suggest that family l i m i t a t i o n began primarily at the top of the s o c i a l scale, (the t e x t i l e workers are the exception here) and permeated down through the ranks. Perhaps the adoption of b i r t h control was not so much a question of necessity or a c c e s s i b i l i t y of information, but was more a matter of attitude and reception of ideas. Phelps Brown noted that changes i n fashion usually originate at the top of the s o c i a l hierarchy, and spread downwards according to how f a r people are aware of new ideas, and are responsive to them. He said that the following factors motivated the spread of family l i m i t a t i o n : Such are the growth of a personal r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for the well-being of the children one has brought into the world; the spread of the s c i e n t i f i c out-look, breaking down i n h i b i t i o n s , and increasing men's b e l i e f i n t h e i r power to control t h e i r l i v e s ; the extension of the small family simply as a fashion with which men conform to avoid appearing unusual; and e s p e c i a l l y the r i s i n g status of women, which made wives less w i l l i n g to be exhausted by pregnancies and worn out by family cares, and (though t h i s more slowly) raised the cost of c h i l d r e n by giving a daughter nearly as great a claim on her parents' purse as a son. 35 The coalminers were slow to be affected by changes of t h i s nature. Though they were probably aware of methods of family l i m i t a t i o n , as Peel suggests that t h i s knowledge was general, the lack of such motivations discussed above, and a slow response to new ideas, perhaps goes further to explain the gradualness of the spread of voluntary family l i m i t a t i o n i n the coal areas. 88 A connection between high rates of f e r t i l i t y and rough, manual labour has been i d e n t i f i e d i n B r i t a i n by Phelps Brown. He made t h i s l i n k with the coalminers, farm labourers, iron and s t e e l workers, glass workers and dock and building labourers. "Only the roughness of the work -- the bodily exertion, the exposure to heat and dust and weather -- seems to provide a factor that i s consistently d i f f e r e n t between the two groups," (that i s between those with large and small families.) This idea cannot be proved or disproved and so should be treated with reservations, but i t may be noted that a s i m i l a r l i n k was discovered i n the United States where the b i r t h rate was higher among those groups involved i n occupations requiring 37 "unusual physical exertion." ^ This connection i s explained by Phelps Brown thus: It may be that rough and hard work increases desire, as danger does, or makes men want children more. But a stronger reason is probably that i t makes men conservative i n the s o c i a l sense -- less ready to change t h e i r ways and take up new ideas. In 1873 the Cambridge economist A l f r e d Marshall had stressed how bodily fatigue i n h i b i t s thought among "those vast masses of men who, a f t e r long hours of hard and u n i n t e l l e c t u a l t o i l , are wont to return to t h e i r narrow homes with bodies exhausted and with minds d u l l and sluggish." We have a l l heard," he went on, "what rude manners have been formed by the rough work of the miners; but even among them the rougher the work of the body, the lower the condition of the mind. Iron miners, f o r instance, are a superior race to c o l l i e r s . " It happens that the Census of 1911 found that the number of children born to a hundred couples was J60 for the coalminers, 3^3 for the iron miners. 38 Yet the actual work of the coalminer c a l l e d upon great powers of concentration, forethought, cooperation and some degree of technical knowledge. In fact Phelps Brown i s exaggerating when describing t h e i r work as " u n i n t e l l e c t u a l t o i l " . The miners were conservative and suspicious of change, 89 "but to blame t h i s upon a "low condition of the mind" engen-dered by hard work i s perhaps erroneous. The question of conservatism of ideas brings us to a fourth reason why high f e r t i l i t y prevailed i n the coalmining group. A high b i r t h rate and a high infant mortality rate prevailed i n those groups where people were slow to change t h e i r ideas and habits, so that a vicious c i r c l e developed. "Where many babies were born, there could have been less care for each; and where many babies died, there was more room for more." 3 ^ Here, Phelps Brown was r e i t e r a t i n g what T.H.C. Stevenson had discovered in the e a r l i e r part of the twentieth century. Stevenson demonstrated that infant mortality rose with a higher rate of f e r t i l i t y so that for example, f o r a wife aged 15 to 19 years at marriage, c h i l d mortality rose from 117 per 1,000 born i n one-child f a m i l i e s , to 368 per 1,000 born i n families of twelve children, to as high as 429 per 1,000 born i n families of over twelve children. "It seems probable both that i n many cases children die because many are born, and that many are born because comparatively few sur-,.40 vive. A d e f i n i t e connection can be i d e n t i f i e d therefore between high f e r t i l i t y and high mortality. In 1911» deaths of infants under one year of age occurred i n the following r a t i o s , per 1,000 born: S o l i c i t o r s -- 4 l per 1,000 Coalminers -- 62 per 1,000 Doctors -- 39 per 1,000 Costermongers -- 196 per 1,000 90 The average number of children born to wives under 45 years of age for the same occupational groups were as follows: S o l i c i t o r s - 1.73 Coalminers -- 3.60 . i 41 0 Doctors -- 1.69 Costermongers -- 3.45 Some of the highest infant mortality rates on record occurred i n the coalmining areas, with Lancashire, the West Riding, Northumberland, Durham, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire and Glamorganshire, a l l coalmining counties, being noted for the highest infant mortality i n the country between 1907 and 1910. In t h i s same period, Merthyr T y d f i l , Rhondda and Barnsley were included among the 25 towns in the country 42 with the highest rate. When comparing the coalmining group to the other seven s o c i a l groups, i t i s found that the miners were distinguished by a higher mortality rate among infants. TABLE IX To show mortality of legitimate children under one  year of age, according to the occupation and s o c i a l  class of the father. 191lT 4~3 Social Deaths per 1,000 C l a s s i f i c a t i o n babies born 76 106 113 122 153 148 160 It i s noteworthy that the a g r i c u l t u r a l classes record low infant mortality when compared to other working-class groups, being more c l o s e l y akin to the upper and middle classes. The miners resemble the unsk i l l e d poor i n terms of infant mortality. 9 1 There i s also a connection between infant mortality and the age of the wife at marriage. Infant deaths were at a maximum where the wife married under twenty years of age, and at a minimum where the wife married between the ages of 25 and 30 years. In the 1911 Census Report, T.H.C. Stevenson showed that i n most cases, mortality was higher among the 44 children of wives who married at an e a r l i e r age. The c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y early age of marriage among the coalmining class had a deleterious effect on the rate of s u r v i v a l of children i n the coalmining communities. Stevenson suggests,however, that infant mortality was probably affected even more by the rapid rate at which children were born, rather than the actual number born, from the out-set of married l i f e . He found that highest mortality occurred where, i n the early years of marriage, a wife gave b i r t h to a c h i l d each year. For example, i n those families where six children had been born within f i v e years of marriage, where the age of the wife at marriage was 20 to 24 years, the death rate was as high as 462 per 1,000 children born. He said that the s i t u a t i o n most favourable to the health of the mother and c h i l d was for one c h i l d only to be born i n the f i r s t f i v e years of married l i f e , and from then onwards, two children only to be born every f i v e years. By spreading out a family in t h i s way, the health of mothers and children i n the f e r -tile-groups would improve. However, among those classes where a r t i f i c i a l l i m i t a t i o n was not practised, rapid b i r t h rates continued to p r e v a i l . 92 With the persistence of early marriages and rapid rates of b i r t h , combined with poor l i v i n g conditions which promoted the spread of disease, (see above), infant mortality rates remained high throughout the c o a l f i e l d s . It can be argued that these high death rates aided the maintenance of high rates of f e r t i l i t y . F i n a l l y , an above average b i r t h rate may have prevailed among the coalminers because of t h e i r attitudes to children. Sons t r a d i t i o n a l l y followed t h e i r fathers into the mining profession, and t h e i r value as wage-earners may have i n f l u -enced the miners towards larger f a m i l i e s . At the age when the miner's strength began to f a i l , a family of wage-earning sons was of increasingly v i t a l importance. It would appear then that large families i n the coal-mining communities were not unusual, and that a c h i l d might expect to grow up with a great number of s i b l i n g s . Certainly, among those coalminers who wrote t h e i r autobiographies, the large family was no exception. For instance, Jack Lawson was 45 46 one of ten children , Abe Moffat one of eleven , while John Brophy survived with four other children, though eleven 48 died at b i r t h or i n childhood. Before proceeding to discuss family t i e s and r e l a t i o n s h i p s , a b r i e f examination of i l l e g i t i m a t e b i r t h rates among the coal-miners reveals an i n t e r e s t i n g s i d e l i g h t on t h e i r attitude to marriage and the importance of children. Despite the high degree of mobility and migration among single, young men i n the coal industry, and the periods of 93 unsettlenient and i n s t a b i l i t y at a time of expansion i n the coal towns, and i n spite of the miners' reputation for heavy drinking and leisure-orientated l i v e s , rates for i l l e g i t i m a c y c l o s e l y approximate to the national average, though one might expect them to be i n excess of the national rates. TABLE X - To compare the i l l e g i t i m a c y rate of the coal areas  to the national average. Crude rates. 4~9 : Area Illegitimacy b i r t h per 1,000 born. rate 1881 1901 England and Wales 1.7 1.12 Durham 1.62 1.23 Northumberland 1.97 1.22 West Riding 1.90 1.21 Glamorganshire 1.39 0.94 Monmouthshire 1.63 0.84 Illegitimacy rates had decreased during these 20 years on both the national and county l e v e l s . This was probably due to the increasing use of contraceptive methods rather than any change i n the l e v e l of morality. Contemporary evidence suggests that promiscuity was r i f e i n the c o a l f i e l d s , but i n f a c t , rates for i l l e g i t i m a c y were not excessive because of a pressure from the community to marry i n the event of pregnancy. In 1893, the French s o c i a l observer Paul de Rousiers v i s i t e d the c o a l f i e l d s of the Lothians i n Scotland, and here he found a great deal of promiscuity among the mining classes. However, public pressure acted as a counter force to desertion and i l l e g i t i m a c y : Marriages are l i g h t l y made, and often to l e g a l i z e previous r e l a t i o n s . ; Such i r r e g u l a r i t i e s are very r i f e '. i n Rosewell, (on the Lothian c o a l f i e l d ) and public opinion i s not very hard upon them i f the s i t u a t i o n 94 is regularized. A young man who refused to marry the g i r l he had seduced would f i n d himself i n a very bad case, without taking into account his le g a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . Such a case occurred at Rosewell a few years ago, and the man was kicked out of the v i l l a g e , 50 Although many marriages were made to l e g a l i z e i l l i c i t r e l ationships, marriage.itself and c h i l d rearing were of im-portance, e s p e c i a l l y to the women. It has been suggested, moreover, that the coalminer was more family orientated than 51 most men of other occupational groups. ^ He paid more attention to the welfare of h i s family, and was more prone to take part i n family leisure a c t i v i t i e s , where these occurred, such as walks or outings. This brings us to the f i n a l aspect of family l i f e to be discussed i n t h i s section -- family relationships. The high b i r t h rates among the coalmining population affected the age-cycle of the coal communities i n that there was a preponderance of young children i n the population. There was a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y high number of dependants in the producer/dependant r a t i o i n the coal towns. Because of the emigration of some young women out of these single industry towns, and the inflow of young men seeking work, there was a discrepancy i n the male/female sex r a t i o , with an.excess number of young males. There was on the other hand, a lower than average number of aged persons i n r e l a t i o n to the rest of the mining population. This i s accounted for by the i n f l u x of young persons, the death rate among aged miners, and the fact that some of the aged miners who o r i g i -nated from an a g r i c u l t u r a l environment, t r i e d to return to 9 5 t h e i r areas of o r i g i n a f t e r retirement. A l l these factors r e l a t i n g to the age-cycle i n the mining communities are demon-strated i n Table I of Chapter IV below. (Table to i l l u s t r a t e the age d i s t r i b u t i o n i n a sample of mining towns.) One consequence of the high degree of dependancy which was created i n the coal towns by the excessive numbers of children and non-working women was a strengthening of family t i e s . Indeed, i n the i s o l a t i o n of the mining-";j',' communities, family t i e s were such that personal c o n f l i c t s often led to family feuds, "for when a man str i k e s i n a c o l l i e r y , he does 52 not merely h i t a person, he h i t s a family." Family r e l a -tionships were strengthened more; by the existence of strong t r a d i t i o n a l i s m i n the mining profession among fa m i l i e s . Sons were recruited to mining because of strong family bonds, normally becoming apprenticed to t h e i r own fathers, and thus extending family relationships into the working s i t u a t i o n . "Family l i f e was a t t r a c t i v e and the sons went to learn t h e i r 53 father's c r a f t with a deal of pride and i n t e r e s t . " J J The importance of t h i s s i t u a t i o n i s captured by G.A.W. Tomlinson, a working miner, when he wrote: There i s something about c o l l i e r y l i f e , something which brings fathers and sons very close together.. ,.. There i s a sort of friendship and understanding between them which i s unlike that of any other walk of l i f e . . . a greater respect because of t h e i r knowledge of each other gained i n the p i t s . A father w i l l often-be i n charge of a " s t a l l " i n which two or three of his sons are working, and i n the p i t one sees one's father or brother or son as a man, not as a r e l a t i v e . The hard l i f e of a p i t tests a man, his weaknesses are c l e a r l y seen as also i s his strength and courage. When one has seen one's father naked and sweating at the coal face, one r e a l i s e s the debt which one owes to him for having beenjbrought up to manhood a f i t person to take place by his side. There i s 96 no deep sentiment about the miner's family l i f e : t h e i r s i s a deep understanding of each other. 54 Tomlinson's concluding sentence c r y s t a l l i z e s the essence of family l i f e among coalmining groups. The miners and t h e i r wives were not sentimental hy nature, but were held together rather, by respect, l o y a l t y and an understanding and appre-c i a t i o n of each other's role i n the family. A study of the miner's household cannot be r e s t r i c t e d to the nuclear family alone;., and i n the f i n a l section of t h i s chapter, attention i s focused upon those other members of the household who made up what Laslett termed "the extended family household." III Apart from the nuclear family, the miner's household often included other residents of a temporary or permanent nature. These could be rent-paying lodgers or aged parents, whose only recourse i n old age was to the h o s p i t a l i t y of th e i r children. Aged parents might pay a token rent, or receive house-room and food i n exchange for t h e i r help i n the home. The following section i s large l y concerned with those provisions made for old age i n the coalmining commu-nit y . For many of the aged poor throughout England and Wales, the workhouse was the f i n a l or only resort i n old age. In the period 1906 to 1914, as many as one-third of the aged expected to end t h e i r days on parish r e l i e f . ^ Others 97 depended upon savings or Friendly Society benefits, or upon the non-contributory old age pensions introduced a f t e r 1908. But for many, these sources of income proved to be i n s u f f i -cient, and i f the workhouse was to be avoided, aid from relatives.had to be sought. The family was i n fact the most important i n s t i t u t i o n for the provision of r e l i e f for the aged. In instances where aged parents were taken i n by children, a symbiotic r e l a t i o n -ship developed whereby r e c i p r o c a l duties were performed. In the nineteenth century, children were more l i k e l y to take in aged parents i n areas where women commonly worked, such as i n the t e x t i l e towns. In these si t u a t i o n s , the older persons could be of value, of f e r i n g services such as child-care i n exchange for shelter. In 1851, i n Preston, 32 per cent of persons over 65.years of age l i v e d with married children, while 36" per cent l i v e d with unmarried children, ^ But th i s l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n was by no means r e s t r i c t e d by period or occupational area. As late as 1957, i n an enquiry into Bethnal Green, i t was found that 45 per cent of a sample of 203 old people l i v e d with r e l a t i v e s . ^ We must now see i f t h i s common phenomenon i n the r e l i e f of the aged had any eff e c t on household size i n the coalmining d i s t r i c t s . The proportion of old people i n the coalmining areas was quite low by national standards. On average, i n 1892, out of 10,000 persons i n mining areas, 195 were old men and 225 old women. The average f o r England and Wales by comparison 98 was 210 old men and 265 old women per 10,000 of the population. The age-cycle i n the mining d i s t r i c t s was distinguished "by a preponderance of children and reduced numbers of aged per-sons. Moreover, of the widowed aged, widows greatly outnum-bered widowers so that i n the West Riding i n 1861, there were 27,265 widowers compared to 50,282 widows, ^° • As well as finding a low proportion of aged persons i n the coal mining areas, a study of parish r e l i e f reveals that there was an equally low proportion of the aged seeking indoor and outdoor r e l i e f i n the coal towns. Charles Booth found in his survey of the aged i n 1892, that r e l i e f was lowest for England and Wales i n the coalmining areas of the North of England (apart from purely r e s i d e n t i a l areas), where 22|- per cent of the aged population received r e l i e f . For a l l mining areas combined, r e l i e f s t i l l only amounted to 28-| per cent of the aged, and the rates for the mining population were generally lower than those for a l l other occupied groups. In the coal towns of Newcastle and Gateshead, 20^ per cent of the aged population were paupers, while the figures for Liverpool and London stood at 2 9 i per cent and 38 per cent respectively. The Census Reports can be used to support what Booth found i n his survey. In I871,the Census Report stated that pauperism i n the mining counties was considerably below the 6i average. In 1901, only 997 male inmates of workhouses i n England and Wales returned themselves as being r e t i r e d 62 coalminers, out of a male workhouse population of 208,650. 99 Out of these, only 298 were ex-coalminer, indoor paupers i n the West Riding. ^ In 1911» the figure for r e t i r e d miners who had sought 6 4 refuge i n the workhouse had r i s e n to 1,928 hut at t h i s time, coalmining was, of a l l occupations, one of the greatest em-ployers of men. Table XI demonstrates how the r e t i r e d coalminers were distr i b u t e d i n the workhouses and asylums, when compared to a sample of other occupational groups i n England and Wales. The percentages shown are the proportions of the r e t i r e d to the t o t a l of occupied males i n that occupational group, so that i n the case of the coalminers, the number r e t i r e d (17,150) i s I.96 per cent of those occupied, (874,304). TABLE XI To show the d i s t r i b u t i o n of the r e t i r e d males i n  certa i n occupations i n workhouses and asylums, England and Wales. 1911. 6"5 Proportion % r e t i r e d to t o t a l occupied. Total Total In In Occupation Occupied Retired Total Workhouses Asylums Coal Miners 874,304 17,150 1.96 0.22 0.18 C i v i l Service 61,213 9,664 15.79 0.05 0.27 Officers Brick layers 102,752 3,461 3.37 1.20 0.34 Boot and Shoe makers 160,087 6,735 4.21 1.30 0.66 These figures demonstrate the low number of miners who resorted to the workhouse on retirement. The low proportion of miners recorded as being r e t i r e d i s accounted for by the fact -that the c o l l i e r i e s had a higher than average rate for 100 employment of the eld e r l y , mostly i n light-duty surface occu-pations. The following table shows what percentages of aged persons depended on parish r e l i e f i n a sample of coalmining towns i n South Yorkshire. There i s some v a r i a t i o n i n the proportions, but on the whole, the figures demonstrate that the majority of the aged i n these coal towns, had some other form of sup-port, without f a l l i n g into the class of aged paupers. The preponderance of aged women over aged men i n a l l cases demon-strates further the effects of female longevity. TABLE XII To show the percentage of aged paupers i n a sample Population over Paupers over Total 65 years 65 years percentage Town of aged Male Female Male Female paupers Wortley 643 796 73 149 15% Pontefract 903 1,063 312 500 4 If. Hemsworth 269 280 53 57 20% Doncaster 1,387 1,642 297 449 25% Wakefield 1,553 1,766 363 623 30io Barnsley 1,308 1,412 298 504 29% A minority of aged persons i n the coalmining communities depended on the parish for r e l i e f , but of a l l the occupational groups, Booth found that the miners displayed the lowest pro-portions of aged pauperism. Four ways may be suggested as to how the aged miners and t h e i r wives managed to keep out of the workhouses i n such great proportions. F i r s t l y , coalmining had a higher rate of e l d e r l y employ-ment than other occupations. Employed miners over the age of seventy years were not uncommon. They earned reduced rates of 101 pay, but expenses - were far less for them i n old age. . Secondly, the miners were an occupational group who involved themselves i n the welfare of the aged. Many volun-tary schemes existed i n the miners' unions for the provision of benefits for r e t i r e d miners, notably the provision of aged miners' homes, Durham and Northumberland were the leaders i n t h i s respect. John Wilson, the Durham miners* leader was esp e c i a l l y active here, and i n 1895 aged miners* homes were set up under his d i r e c t i o n i n County Durham, He i n i t i a t e d the purchase of the c o l l i e r y v i l l a g e of Haswell Moor by the Durham Miners' Union for £840. 112 houses for the aged were provided by t h i s scheme, which were paid for by the working miners of the county at one s h i l l i n g per year each. By 1908, the following homes for aged couples had been secured i n Durham -- S h i n c l i f f e - 64; Houghall - 32; Wallace V i l l a g e - 30; Middlestone Moor - 18; West Pelton - 12; Boyne - 6: Crook - 4; and St, Helens - 6. There were also t h i r t y nursing £.1 homes for single old men distributed throughout the county. ' Jack Lawson explained the coalminers' involvement i n the welfare of the aged as respect for those who had completed a l i f e t i m e of hard work. He describes the homes as, "old comrades of the p i t who formed a l i t t l e community t a l k i n g over the past .,. Men and women cut out of the granite of grim circumstance, steel-hewn characters, the centre of a f f e c t i o n for a l l the c o l l i e r y . " There was a great deal of variety among the miners i n saving habits, but investment i n insurance, Friendly S o c i e t i e s , Cooperative Movements, Sick and Bur i a l Clubs, or Benefit 102 Societies was an important factor among some of them. Those who had saved through one or more of these agencies were per-haps able to maintain themselves i n old age and retirement with the aid of r e l i e f offered through the miners* unions. The miners did not have t h e i r own pension scheme on a national scale, but there were regional schemes i n operation to provide for old age. In the 1860's and I8?0's Miners* Permanent Re l i e f Funds were set up i n Derbyshire, which were supported both by the miners and the c o l l i e r y owners. In 1901, the Warwick-shire c o l l i e r s began a scheme whereby f i v e s h i l l i n g s were provided weekly to those miners unable to work beyond the age of s i x t y years. In Durham and Northumberland, the Miner,s': Permanent Re l i e f Fund was an important source of r e l i e f for many r e t i r e d miners. Booth mentions that i n South Shields, Chester-le-Street and Houghton-le-Spring, there was a great deal of dependence upon t h i s pension. In Auckland, as many as one-sixth of the r e t i r e d miners depended on t h i s source 69 of income for t h e i r l i v e l i h o o d , 7 However, there were of course some miners or t h e i r widows o for whom these sources of r e l i e f were either unavailable "or i n s u f f i c i e n t . For them, the alternative to the workhouse was to s o l i c i t help from r e l a t i v e s and children. Booth discovered that on the whole there was a willingness among sons and daughters to care for aged parents. Exceptions to t h i s rule occurred i n those areas where poverty simply precluded the maintenance of aged dependants. It was noted above that parents were more l i k e l y to be maintained by t h e i r children i n those areas where female 103 employment was commonplace, where a r e c i p r o c a l duty of c h i l d care could be performed. Female employment i n the c o a l f i e l d s was rare, and consequently the aged parent perhaps held a more redundant role i n the home when compared f o r instance to those i n the t e x t i l e areas. It i s l i k e l y that the aged person i n the coalminer's home, with some means at his disposal through the various miners' benefit funds, was i n fact a lodger con-tributing i n the family whatever his means would allow. In some cases t h i s would be but a token rent, but would a l l e -viate the stigma of dependence. This i s not to suggest that the coalminers were mercenary, and i f an aged or widowed parent had no means whatsoever, children were s t i l l a l i k e l y source of l i v e l i h o o d . In the c o l l i e r y town of Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, for instance, Booth found that "assistance from children i s very general, and friends give much help. No 7 respectable person would be allowed to go to the workhouse." ' This attitude prevailed i n the South Yorkshire c o a l f i e l d also, as can be seen from the reports Booth col l e c t e d from l o c a l clergy on the state of the aged poor. In Wortley ex-treme poverty was r a r e l y experienced. Help from the aged came from c h a r i t i e s , Friendly Societies and the miners' clubs, and "a f a i r number are wholly maintained by children 7 1 or r e l a t i v e s . " In Pontefract, the Church gave some dona-tions to the aged poor, but very few of the r e t i r e d had i n -vested i n insurance or T h r i f t Agencies, Many depended there-fore on children and friends for r e l i e f . A sim i l a r s i t u a t i o n existed i n Wakefield where savings had been neglected and 104 penslons were few. Many men worked at reduced rates at the p i t s beyond the age of 65 years. It was reported that '"children are generally w i l l i n g to help i f they can; i t depends much 72 on t h e i r bringing up." It would appear therefore that children i n the c o l l i e r y d i s t r i c t s aided t h e i r parents i n old age where the f i n a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n made t h i s possible. They were instrumental i n keeping the aged out of the workhouses and i n maintaining the low rates of aged pauperism that prevailed i n the coal areas. When examining the t y p i c a l household of the miner therefore the l i k e l y presence of an aged or widowed parent must be taken into account. F i n a l l y , within the coalmining population, there existed a number of mobile young men, who roved the c o a l f i e l d s i n search of better conditions of work and pay. A number of lod-ging houses for single men existed i n the coal towns, but a lack of s u f f i c i e n t accommodation meant that many of these young men became paying lodgers i n the homes of the miners themselves. Accommodation i n the home maant the sharing of every amenity with the family, including the sleeping room, for the miners could not offer the luxury of separate quar-ters to t h e i r paying guests. But, the taking i n of lodgers was accepted as a necessity i n the mining communities, and for many families was an added source of income. If we consider therefore the factors at work in making up the household of the miner, we f i n d clear and d i s t i n c t i v e features. In the f i r s t place, the coalminers were d i s t i n -guished by a higher than average e f f e c t i v e b i r t h rate, so 105 that the size of the nuclear family was larger than the average. Further, f i l i a l duty and economic circumstances meant that many families included dependent or semi-dependent aged r e l a t i v e s . F i n a l l y , economic and s p a t i a l considerations i n many instances added a further party to t h i s sizeable extended family household. It i s small wonder that the coalminers were noted for l i v i n g i n cramped and crowded conditions, and that the counties of Durham, Northumberland, the West Riding, Monmouthshire, and Glamorganshire were consistently a t t r i -buted with the highest rates for household overcrowding i n England and Wales i n the Census Reports, and by contemporary observers. FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER III 1 See P. La s l e t t and R. Wall, Household and Family i n Past Time (Cambridge, 1972), p. 24 2 P. L a s l e t t , "Size and structure of the Household i n England over Three Centuries"' Population Studies, No. 23, 1969), P. 200. 3 See the General Reports to the Censuses of England and  Wales from 1861 to 1911 i n the B r i t i s h Parliamentary  Papers. 4 The census Report for England and Wales. 1911: Summary  Tables, B.P.P. 1914 - 16, LXXXI, Table 74, p. 362. 5 Table drawn from Ibid.. Table 11, p. 13. 6 M. Hewitt, Wives and Mothers i n Vict o r i a n Industry (London, 1958), pp. 40 - 41. 7 Ibid., p.,45. 8 T.H.C. Stevenson, "The F e r t i l i t y of Various S o c i a l Classes in England and Wales from the Middle of the Nineteenth Century to 1911," i n the Journal of the Royal S t a t i s t i c a l  Society, (1920), Vol. LXXXIII, p. 426. 106 9 See E.H. Phelps Brown, The Growth of B r i t i s h I n d u s t r i a l  Relations (London, I960). 10 From the Census Report for Englandand Wales. 1891: Summary Tables, B.P.P. 1893 - 9 4 , CVl, Table 5, p. 415. 11 See The Census Report for England and Wales. 1911: B.P.P. 1913, LXXVIII, Vol. X, p. 59. 12 M. Zelditch, Role D i f f e r e n t i a t i o n i n the Nuclear Family: A Comparative Study, c i t e d i n T, Parsons and F. Bales, Family, S o c i a l i z a t i o n and Interaction Process (New York, 1955 ) , P. 318. 13 Jack Lawson, A Man's L i f e (London, 1932), p. 14-7. 14 H.R. Lantz, People of Coal Town (New York, 1958), p. 150. 15 Ibid., p. 155. 16 N.J. Smelser, S o c i a l Change i n the I n d u s t r i a l Revolution, (London, 1959), p. 188 17 Ibid., pp. 199 and 201. 18 See G. Udny Yule, The F a l l of the Birth-Rate (Cambridge, 1920), and J.W. Innes, Class F e r t i l i t y Trends i n England  and Wales, 1876 - 1934, (Princeton. 1938). 19 From the Annual Report of the Registrar-General, c i t e d i n B. M i t c h e l l and P. Deane, Abstract of B r i t i s h S t a t i s t i c s . (Cambridge, 1962), pp. 29 - 30. 20 T.H.C. Stevenson and A. Newsholme, "The Decline of Human F e r t i l i t y i n the United Kingdom and ether Countries," i n The Journal of the Royal S t a t i s t i c a l Society. Vol. LXIX, (March, 1906), pp. 34 - 87. 21 See S. Webb, The Decline i n the Birth-Rate Fabian Tract No. 131, (London, 1907). 22 See J.A. and 0. Banks, Feminism and Family Planning i n  V i c t o r i a n England (Liverpool, 1964). 23 F. Zweig, Women's L i f e and Labour (London, 1952), p. 56. 24 J. Peel, "Manufacture and R e t a i l i n g of Contraceptives i n England," Population Studies. Vol. XVII, (1963), No. 2. p. 116. 25 Ibid., p. 116. 26 E.H. Phelps Brown, Op. C i t . . pp. 4 - 5 27 P. Stearns, "Working Class Women i n B r i t a i n 1890 - 1914," in Suffer and Be S t i l l . Women i n the V i c t o r i a n Age, Ed. M. V i c i n i u s (London, 1972), p. 10?,. • 107 28 T.H.C. Stevenson and A. Newsholme, Op. C i t . , Table I I , pp. 7 4 - 7 7 . 29 J.W. Innes, Op. C i t . , Table XIV, p. 4 3 . 30 Ibid., p. 43 . 31 T.H.C. Stevenson, Op. C i t . , p. 410. 32 Ibid., p. 416. 33 See J.A. and 0. Banks, Op. C i t . 34 T.H.C. Stevenson, Op. C i t . , p. 418. 35 E.H. Phelps Brown, Op. C i t . . p. 7. 36 Ibid., p. 6 37 See F.W. Notestein and X.Sallume "The F e r t i l i t y of S p e c i f i c Occupational Groups i n an Urban Population", i n The  Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly. Vol. X. No. 2. ( A p r i l , 1932 ) , New York, pp. 120 - 30. 38 E.H. Phelps-Brown, Op. C i t . , pp. 6 - 7 39 Ibid., p. 8 40 T.H.C. Stevenson, Op. C i t . , pp. 402 - 403 . 41 Ibid. 42 From Newsholme's Second Report to the Local Government Board, 1913, c i t e d i n "The Urban Background to Public Health Changes i n England and Wales, 1900 - 1 9 5 0 , " B. Benjamin, Population Studies, Vol. XVII, No. 3. (1964 ) . 43 E.H. Phelps Brown, Op. C i t . , p. 39. 44 From The Census Report for England and Wales. 1911. Vol. XIII, " F e r t i l i t y of Marriage," cited by T.H.C. Stevenson, Op. C i t . , p. 407. 45 J. Lawson, Op. C i t . 46 A. Moffat, My L i f e with the Miners (London, 1965) . 47 J. Brophy, A Miner's L i f e (Madison and Milwaukee, 1964 ) . 48 A. Horner, Incorrigible Rebel (London,196o.) 49 T.H.C. Stevenson and A. Newsholme, Op. C i t . , pp. 74 - 77 108 50 Paul de Rousiers, The Labour Question i n B r i t a i n (London, I896), p. 192. 51 See P. Stearns, Op. C i t . 52 J. Lawson, Op. C i t . , P. 101. 53 B.L. Coombes, Those Clouded H i l l s (London, 1944), p. 7. 54 G.A.W. Tomlinson, Coal-Miner (London, 1937), pp. 177 - 178. 55 P. Laslett and R. Wall, Op. C i t . 56 See E.H. Phelps Brown, Op. C i t . 57 See M. Anderson, Family Structure i n Nineteenth Century  Lancashire (London^ 1971). 58 P. Townsend, The Family L i f e of Old People (London, 1957). 59 See Charles Booth, The Aged Poor in England and Wales (London, 1894). 60 The Census Report for England and Wales,. 18.6.1: Summary  Tables. B.P.P. 1863. LIII . Table VIII. pp." 289 - 290. 61 See The Census Report for England and Wales. 1871: General Report. B.P.P. 1873, LXXI. 62 The Census Report for England and Wales, 1901: Summary  Tables, B.P.P. 1904, CVIII, Table XXXVIII, P. 213. 63 Ibid., County Tables, Table 34, p. 226. 64 The Census Report for England and Wales. 1911: Summary  Tables, B.P.P. 1914 - 16, LXXXI, Table 52, p. 179. 65 The Census Report for England and Wales. 1911: General  Report, B.P.P. 1917 - 18, XXXV, Table XLIX, p. 149. 66 C. Booth, Op. C i t . , pp. 121 - 129 67 See J. Wilson, Memories of a Labour Leader (London, 1910). 68 J. Lawson, Op. C i t . , pp. 238 - 230. 69 See Charles Booth, Op. C i t . , pp. I l l - 112. 70 Ibid., p. 248. 71 Ibid., p. 123. 72 Ibid., p. 129. 109 CHAPTER IV WIVES AND DAUGHTERS For of the community as a whole there was one half unorganized, unsafeguarded, unrepresented i n P a r l i a -ment -- the wives and mothers of the working miners. No Government reports measured from year to year the changes i n t h e i r conditions of l i f e : nor do they figure i n s t a t i s t i c a l columns beyond t h e i r place i n the tables of b i r t h s , deaths and marriages. Their song, or t h e i r dirge, remained unsung or at any rate unheard. 1 . . Although much has been written on the coalminers, both the primary and secondary material available has revolved around the history of the men. No history has been written of the women, and there i s a d i s t i n c t lack of personal and o f f i c i a l documentation of t h e i r l i v e s . Instead the women are mentioned very b r i e f l y i n the available autobiographies of miners, or are cast aside with a cursory mention i n general h i s t o r i e s . The following two chapters w i l l attempt therefore to suggest a picture of the l i f e of the women i n the coal towns from the available material i n eye-witness accounts, personal memoirs and biographies of coalminers, s t a t i s t i c a l evidence from the Census Reports, combined with a good deal of inference. Because of the absence of substantial material on the l i f e - s t y l e of the female section of the coalmining population, the picture of women i n the coal towns cannot be complete; t h i s exercise can only attempt to i d e n t i f y the place of the woman i n coalmining society. To do t h i s , we must take into account the wage-earning woman, the woman as a domestic creature, her importance i n the family, and her interes t s , i f any, i n a f f a i r s outside the home. 110 I The f i r s t factor to consider i s the numerical importance of the female section of the coalmining population. Arnot's comment i n the quote above that women constituted one half of the community i s erroneous, for i t i s an undisputable fact that the females i n the coal towns were consistently outnum-bered by the males. This conclusion can be drawn from an exami-nation of the Census Reports r e l a t i n g s p e c i f i c a l l y to the coal communities, but i t i s also v e r i f i e d i n numerous instances i n secondary works. The reasons for t h i s discrepancy i n the sex r a t i o w i l l be examined i n greater d e t a i l below, but the immediate objective of t h i s section i s to examine the material which demonstrates the extent of t h i s discrepancy. Table XXII of the General Report of the Census of 1911. may be taken as the s t a r t i n g point i l l u s t r a t i n g the sex and age proportions i n a sample of mining towns, compared with the corresponding proportions i n England and Wales. Taking the national average for the number of males and number of females i n England and Wales at each age group from under f i v e years to over 90 years as bases of 100, the table demonstrates how the proportion of males and females i n the sample of coal tov/ns related to the average for England and Wales. To f a c i -l i t a t e comparison, each figure i n each age group i n the coal towns represents a percentage of the proportion of corres-ponding males and females i n England and Wales at the same age. I l l TABLE I To i l l u s t r a t e the age d i s t r i b u t i o n i n a sample of  mining towns, compared with the rest of England and Wales. 1911. 2 AGE RATIO TO CO RESPONDING P R0P0RTI0NS I N ENGLAND AND WALES Merthyr Rhondda Barnsley Rotherham Middles -T y d f i l borough Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female 0- 122 120 131 133 118 118 119 120 117 119 5- 116 115 119 120 110 111 111 112 113 109 10- 103 103 106 104 101 106 109 111 104 108 15- 107 96 111 90 104 102 104 90 98 98 20- 119 90 131 87 105 100 102 87 107 96 25- 122 85 133 85 108 93 111 90 114 96 30- 115 88 124 82 113 95 116 94 116 97 35- 120 87 123 81 103 89 112 92 112 91 40- 112 81 114 77 103 88 107 85 106 88 45- 103 74 105 68 102 84 93 79 100 84 50- 93 69 91 61 99 81 93 77 96 77 55- 89 66 78 55 95 81 99 79 90 74 60- 95 67 68 52 90 78 100 77 91 71 65- 77 67 58 47 83 70 96 76 79 61 70- 73 56 42 39 64 66 85 64 78 59 75- 52 48 39 35 60 60 73 63 58 42 80- 63 51 29 27 58 55 58 44 43 39 85- 37 46 20 20 31 31 53 48 31 34 90- 75 36 17 12 33 16 50 44 50 40 A l l ages 110 91 113 88 104 96 107 94 106 95 The f i r s t point to he n oted from t h i s table i s the widely d i f f e r i n g sex r a t i o . Up u n t i l the age of 15 years, the sex ra t i o s are quite close, but from 15 years onwards we f i n d a discrepancy a r i s i n g , u n t i l there i s a sharp d i s t i n c t i o n be-tween the numbers of males and females i n the coal towns. While the numbers of males r i s e above the national average of 100, the females f a l l to varying degrees below the national average. There i s a continual decline i n the numbers of women in these towns, but from the age of 15 years onwards, with the exception of Barnsley, these figures f a l l below the national average, perhaps indicating an outflow of women of these ages, and an in f l u x of men af t e r the age of 15 years. 112 The most s t r i k i n g f a l l i n the number of females i s i n Rhondda and Merthyr T y d f i l , probably indicating poor opportunities for female employment i n these towns. (The other three towns i n fact offered greater opportunity for female employment, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the service industries.) The f i n a l row of figures showing the r a t i o s for a l l ages demonstrates quite amply the discrepancy with which we are concerned, showing that there were higher numbers of men and lower numbers of women i n the coal towns than the national average. F i n a l l y , the figures support those c h a r a c t e r i s t i c features of c o l l i e r y towns described i n the previous chapter of a higher than average1 b i r t h rate and r e l a t i v e l y small numbers of aged persons. On the la s t point, the Census indicates that these towns were marked by r e l a t i v e l y high death rates. Throughout the Census Reports we f i n d references to the high proportion of males and the low proportion of females i n the coalmining towns. This s i t u a t i o n i s a reversal of the general population s i t u a t i o n i n England and Wales, where women outnumbered men considerably according to the Census figures. The following table shows the male/female r a t i o at a l l ages i n England and Wales during the Census years 1861 to 1911, using a standard of 1,000 males. TABLE II To show the number of females per 1,000 males i n England and Wales. 1861 - 1911 3 Date Males Females 1861 1,000 1,053 1871 1,000 1,054 1881 1,000 1,055 1891 1,000 1,064 1901 1,000 1,068 1911 1,000 1,068 113 Despite the fact that male "births outnumber female b i r t h s , females exceed males i n number (except for ages 10 years to 15 years), a f t e r the f i r s t year of l i f e , due to a higher death rate and a higher propensity to emigrate among males. The 1861 Census Report concludes that i n the average, community there are more boys than g i r l s , but that a f t e r youth, there k are more women than men i n the middle and l a t e r years of l i f e . Those counties which d i f f e r from t h i s proportion have a sp e c i a l occupational s i t u a t i o n . Here we can examine the s p e c i a l s i t u a -t i o n of the mining counties where, "A ".cursory examination ... shows that i n mining parts, such as Durham, Monmouthshire, and Glamorganshire, to which large numbers of young men are attracted from without, the proportion of unmarried males i s high; whereas i n the absence of any sp e c i a l occupation for unmarried females, the proportion of these i s low." ^ Bearing i n mind the above proprtions of females per 1,000 males for England and Wales, i t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note how the coalmining counties f e l l below t h i s proportion. In 1891 and 1901, the numbers of females to 1,000 males were as follows for these coalmining counties, where information i s av a i l a b l e : -COUNTY 1891 1901 Glamorganshire 908 937 Monmouthshire 934 9 k7 Durham 963 972 F l i n t s h i r e 992 Denbighshire 997 Northumberland - 994 Although the county figures for 1911 are not given, i t i s once again stated i n the Census Report of that year that the counties with the lowest numbers of females to males were those 114 where coalmining was the major employer, "that industry having the tendency to draw large numbers of single men into i t s ranks," Q whereas i t "does not make much demand upon female labour." Those towns with the lowest proportions of females per 1,000 males connected with mining were, i n 1901. Rhondda - 825 Middlesborough - 94? Merthyr T y d f i l - 869 Rotherham - 948 9 On the national scale, however, towns usually included a larger proportion of females to males. The 1891 Census Report noted that there were 109 females to 100 males i n towns at a l l ages. Females began to migrate from the r u r a l to urban areas between the ages approximately of 13 years to 20 years, while male migration occurred larg e l y a f t e r the age of 20 years. If we move from the county figures to a closer look at the mining communities i n South Yorkshire, we can see t h i s d i s t i n c t sex r a t i o more c l e a r l y at work. The following table drawn from the Census Reports shows the sex r a t i o in those West Riding communities which were s p e c i f i c a l l y referred to by the Census enumerators as expanding s o l e l y because of c o l l i e r y develop-ment . TABLE III To show the population by sex of those C i v i l Parishes i n the West Riding whose expansion was due  to c o l l i e r y development, 1891 to 1911. 10 Population C i v i l 1891 1901 1911 Parish Males Females Males Females Males Females Ackworth 1,345 1,302 1,732 1,662 2,164 2,019 Bolton-upon -Dearne 635 570 2,108 1,720 4,653 4,017 B r i e r l e y 267 235 912 772 2,119 1,757 Castleford 7,498 6,645 9,061 8,325 12,005 11,085 Conisbrough 2,390 2,109 4,528 4,021 5,967 5,092 115 TABLE III - continued C i v i l Parish Crigglestone Crofton Cudworth Darton Denaby Featherstone Great Houghton Hemsworth Mexborough Purston J a g l i n Royston R y h i l l South Elmsall South Kirkby Thurnscoe Wath-upon-Dearne Wombwell 1891 Males Females 1,468 1,394 430 394 893 714 1,942 1,737 947 761 2,313 1,819 338 282 1,595 1,292 4,128 3,606 681 531 1,437 1,176 609 451 322 298 779 655 111 106 1,993 1,901 5,888 5,054 Population 1901 Males Females 1,713 1,533 1,054 842 1,889 1,519 2,350 2,107 1,446 1,224 4,261 3,561 660 560 3,473 2,810 5,551 4 ,879 1,102 893 2,389 2,008 859 694 589 437 1,601 1,315 1,313 1,053 2,517 2,330 7,113 6,139 1911 Males Females 2,305 2,064 1,396 1,170 3,740 3,084 3,111 2,830 2,762 2,298 4,941 4,226 945 775 5,568 4,605 7,694 6,707 1,286 1,090 3,331 2,906 1,211 9 8 O 2,437 1,922 3,903 3,183 2,190 1,884 3,823 3,508 9,383 8.153 For comparison, the following three samples are woollen towns i n the West Ridings 1901 Males Females Dewsbury 13,090 14,970 Hebden Bridge 3,429 4,107 Keighley 19,758 21,806 In Table I I I , i l l u s t r a t i n g the sex r a t i o s i n the expan-ding coalmining towns of South Yorkshire, i t i s consistently shown that the males outnumbered the females and that, i n general, the numbers of males were increasing s l i g h t l y faster than those of females. The figures for the county sex r a t i o are substantiated, therefore, by the population figures at the l o c a l l e v e l . It may be proposed at t h i s point that t h i s discrepancy between the sexes was due to an i n f l u x of young males, who were 116 attracted by favourable employment opportunities, and an out-flow of young females who had few chances of employment i n . t h e i r home l o c a l i t y . If we look at a modern example of the development of single industry towns, t h i s pattern i s v e r i f i e d , 12 In Minetown, Militown, Railtown , Rex Lucas surveys the development of these communities i n Canada, where he concludes that there exists a d i s t i n c t i v e discrepancy i n the sex r a t i o . There i s a high number of single, young men and a low number of single, young women i n these towns. Most women are married and do not normally work, whereas the single women are employed mainly i n the service industries. He notes that there are very few daughters of marriageable age as most leave the town for outside employment when they reach t h i s stage i n the l i f e cycle. If we now turn to examine the numbers of women at various age groups i n a sample of coalmining towns, further trends emerge. The f i v e coal towns of Castleford, Featherstone, Hems-worth, Mexborough and Wombwell w i l l be used as the sample group, as these are the only towns i n South Yorkshire, whose economy depended overwhelmingly upon coalmining, and whose populations are traced by age groups through the three Censuses from 1881 to 1901. Table IV below shows the numbers of women i n the various age groups i n the f i v e towns from the Census Reports, 1881 to 1901. TABLE IV To show the numbers of females at various ages i n the f i v e sample Urban Sanitary D i s t r i c t s . 1881 to  1901. 13 Urban Year Under 15- 20- 25- 30- 35-Sanitary D i s t r i c t 5 5- 10-Castleford 1881 1891 1901 1,094 923 84-3 1,262 1,104 1,022 387 606 787 383 430 341 589 520 418 422 745 648 615 492 117 TABLE IV - continued Urban Sanitary Under D i s t r i c t Year 5 5- 10- 15 - 20- 25 - 30- 35 -Feather- 1881 14 0 157 231 213 stone 1891 1901 593 957 500 845 445 638 278 410 255 463 245 46l 192 403 195 300 Hemsworth 1881 1891 1,033 924 831 443 577 435 515 383 530 339 469 421 Wombwell 1881 1891 1901 907 1,037 789 891 624 744 291 410 517 298 370 518 277 411 482 245 314 418 277 370 Mexborough 1881 _ _ _ 251 232 244 184 _ 1891 1901 551 768 503 633 446 518 312 483 314 426 264 401 227 350 213 290 From t h i s table i t can be seen that the numbers of women decrease as the age groups progress. Naturally, the death rate i s responsible for a certain degree of t h i s decline. However, the sharpest decline consistently occurs i n the age group 15 to 19 years, (except inexplicably f o r Mexborough i n 1901 ) , which suggests that something more than the factor of death i s at play here. Moreover the figures i n the 20 to 24 year old age group are approximately half of the figures for under f i v e year olds. This decline i s more than that displayed by the men (see Table V below). This would support the thesis that females i n t h i s age group were emigrating from the coal towns i n search of employment, A period of notable decline can be i d e n t i f i e d therefore i n the numbers of women i n the age group 15 to 19 years, over the previous age group, but thi s decline i s slowed down, halted or ac t u a l l y reversed i n instances, between the ages of 20 and 29 years,. These cases have been underlined i n Table IV. The explanation for t h i s 118 phenomenon may be that c e r t a i n of the women who l e f t the towns e a r l i e r were returning, perhaps to marry, or were entering the towns as wives of male immigrants. Certainly, the average age of marriage for women i n the coalmining d i s t r i c t s f a l l s within t h i s age period, that i s 22 years. It i s d i f f i c u l t to deter-mine the major reasons for females entering the mining towns, other than for purposes of marriage since female employment was limited and could not exert a strong p u l l on single, young women from outside, (see Table IX below). The South Yorkshire c o l l i e r y d i s t r i c t s therefore were losing young women under 19 years of age, but the proportion of young women from the early 20's upwards began to increase throughout t h i s period. (Tables VI and VII below demonstrate t h i s more amply,) As employment was not the motivating factor for t h i s increase, we are l e f t with the marriage factor. Its importance i s sup-ported by the extremely low percentages of spinsters to be found in the coal areas. Table V below shows the age groups of the male population of the same f i v e sample towns during t h i s period. We may use thi s to compare patterns in the male population figures with trends i n female population figures. Some useful factors emerge when comparing the two, TABLE V To show the numbers of males i n various age groups  in f i v e Urban Sanitary D i s t r i c t s , 1881 to 1901. 15 Urban Sanitary D i s t r i c t Year Under 5 5- 10- 15- 20- 25- 30- 35-Castleford 1881 529 493 539 461 1891 1,083 975 853 783 695 597 549 515 1901 1,237 1,069 993 915 885 734 682 577 119 TABLE V - continued Urban Sanitary D i s t r i c t Year Under 5 5- 10- 15- 20- 25- 30- 35-Feather- 1881 277 270 273 276 stone 1891 635 545 484 409 417 302 253 273 1901 959 830 683 641 616 612 524 408 Hemsworth 1881 _ — — 578 598 480 426 _ 1891 1,090 951 953 789 716 632 618 483 Wombwell 1881 — 421 438 415 324 — 1891 879 756 683 652 580 496 414 317 1901 1,081 923 776 710 670 602 550 432 Mexborough 1881 _ — 322 275 301 250 _ 1891 517 510 463 481 393 316 299 272 1901 742 671 545 568 561 537 427 368 . When t h i s table i s compared with Table IV, i t can be seen that population figures i n the age groups up to 14 years of age are somewhat sim i l a r i n each town for both males and females. However, a d i s t i n c t i o n between the two emerges from the age of 15 years onwards, when the number of males f a r outstrips the number of females. Except for Hemsworth, the period of sharp decline i n the numbers of women (15 to 19 years) i s not a p p l i -cable to the male population. Despite the decline i n the numbers of men and women as the age groups progress, the population of these towns was r i s i n g r a p i d l y i n the period covered by these tables, as es-tablished i n Chapter One. Though i t can be seen from the above three tables that the population of these towns was r i s i n g as a whole, and that the female population was r i s i n g too, we can use these tables of population by age group to point out some int e r e s t i n g patterns. If a p a r t i c u l a r age group i s followed through the Census Reports, some int e r e s t i n g trends 120 can be discerned. In Table VI, the 10 year old to 14 year old age group i n 1891 i s followed through to 1901 for both males and females, i n each of the towns except Hemsworth, (the figures are lacking here for 1901.) TABLE VI To trace the progress of the 10 - 14 year age group  i n 1891 to 1901 i n four sample Urban Sanitary Dis- t r i c t s , from the Census Reports of those years. TE Urban 10 - 14 year FEMALES - 24 year olds Increase/ Sanitary olds 20 D i s t r i c t i n 1891 i n 1901 Decrease Castleford Feather stone" Wombwell Mexborough 843 445 624 . 446 745 463 518 426 -98 +18 -106 -20 MALES Castleford 853 885 +32 Featherstone 484 616 +132 Wombwell 683 670 -13 Mexborough 463 561 +98 This table covers the period of suggested outflow for women, hence the drop i n t h e i r numbers, (though the death rate also accounts for some of t h i s decline). The period of i n f l u x of young men i s shov/n by the additions to t h i s age group i n each case except Wombwell, where there i s a s l i g h t loss. This table might be used therefore to add weight to the proposition that there was a reverse population flow for men and women. It must be remembered however that these figures are crude figures; no account i s taken of the death rate involved i n the intervening ten years. We may take t h i s method of tr a c i n g through p a r t i c u l a r age groups a stage further to suggest another pattern i n female population movements. Table VII traces the progress made i n the f i v e towns of the 15 to 19 years age group of 1881: 121 TABLE VII To trace the progress of the 15 to 19 years age group of 1881 to 1901 i n f i v e Urban Sanitary Dis- t r i c t s from the Census Reports. Increase/Decline  in brackets. 17 Urban Sanitary FEMALES 15-19 years 25-29 years 35-39 years D i s t r i c t i n 1881 i n 1891 i n 1901 Castleford Featherstone Hemsworth Wombwell Mexborough 387 520 (+133) k 9 2 (-28) i4o 245 (+105) 300 (+55) 443 530 (+87) 291 411 (+120) 370 (-41) 251 264 (+13) 290 (+26) Castleford Featherstone Hemsworth Wombwell Mexborough MALES 529 597 (+68) 577 (-20) 277 302 (+25) 408 (+106) 578 632 (+54) 421 496 (+75) 432 (-64) 322 316 (-6) 368 (+52) In the table r e l a t i n g to female population, we f i n d generally that there are additions to the 15 to 19 years age group as we trace i t through the Census Reports. This shows that the growing female population i s not due s o l e l y to a r i s i n g b i r t h rate, but that there are additions other than the natural increase - additions through immigration. The highest additions of women occur again in the 25 to 29 years age group, those who are perhaps returning to marry, or who are entering the towns with immigrant husbands. This table covers the age period of i n f l u x of females, whereas Table VI covers the age period of outflow f o r females. Both tables demonstrate, with few exceptions, a gradual in f l u x of males, but a f t e r the f i r s t generation had se t t l e d down i n these mining towns, the r e s i -dent population would be breeding-most of i t s own replacement miners. 122 Female immigration appears to be at a higher rate i n Table VII, but neither i t nor Table VI takes into account the young men who moved into these towns f o r a short period of time, for temporary work, i n the intercensal period, and who, having moved on again, were not recorded i n the Census s t a t i s t i c s . The l i m i t a t i o n s of these figures must be acknowledged. They are crude figures which do not take into account the death rates or the outflow of unrecorded population. We cannot t e l l from these.figures how many persons died i n the intercensal period, i f t h e i r s t a t i s t i c a l places were taken by others, or how many persons l e f t the towns to be replaced by newcomers. When r e l y -ing on Census figures alone- therefore, we are hampered by the lack of intercensal indications of population figures. The figures are used only to suggest patterns of population move-ment, and with the absence of other primary materials, they can only be regarded as suggestions. However, one factor i s well supported by the above two tables. They v e r i f y the factor of male population preponderance. F i n a l l y , i t may be suggested that female immigration into these f i v e p a r t i c u l a r towns a f t e r 25 years of age was higher than normal for coalmining communi-t i e s , since they were larger than the normal community, and might therefore have had more well developed service • industries. II This brings us to the question of the employment of women in the coal towns, and why women were so consistently out-numbered by men. 18 J.E. Williams i n The Derbyshire Miners says that the 123 miners anticipated the b i r t h of t h e i r offspring with a ce r t a i n amount of dread that the unborn c h i l d would be a g i r l . From the economic point of view a g i r l was a handicap because of the lack of employment opportunities for women in single-industry communities, while a boy could follow the family profession of mining i n his early 'teens. The Census figures showing the rates of female employment i n coalmining areas demonstrate how d i f f i c u l t i t was for woman to become employed. The General Report for the Census of 1911 points out that the lowest rates for female occupation occurred i n mining towns, while, as might be expected, the highest rates were found i n the t e x t i l e towns. The following figures compare rates of employment i n 19 these two types of town. y Percentage employed Coal Rhondda Aberdare Merthyr T y d f i l Rotherham Text i l e s Preston Burnley Blackburn Unmarried 28.8 31.0 34.0 74.5 76.6 78.0 National Average 45.5 Married Not more than 4% 35.3 41.4 44.5 10.3 Total 14.39 15.87 17.95 18.06 S i m i l a r l y , the lowest percentage of a l l employed widows are to be found i n the following coal towns: Rhondda (15.2$); Aberdare (17.2%); Wakefield (19.6%); Rotherham (19.9%); and Merthyr T y d f i l (20.8%). 2 0 This pattern of employment was discovered e a r l i e r i n a Government Report of 1890. The Report's figures are reproduced 124 i n Table VIII to show the percentage employment for males and female i n certain mining and t e x t i l e industries. TABLE VIII To show the proportion per cent of men, boys. women and g i r l s employed i n various trades, 1886. 21 Trade Men Boys Women G i r l s Coal, Iron Ore and Ironstone Mining 85.7 13.6 0.5 0.2 Cotton 22.5 16.7 44.4 16.4 Woollen 33.3 12.4 45.3 9.0 Worsted 19.2 15.3 46.5 19.0 Linen 17.2 10.5 55.4 16.9 Hosiery 29.7 3.9 61.0 5.4 Those counties which were the lowest on the l i s t for female employment were the counties of Durham, Monmouthshire, Glamor-ganshire and Northumberland -- a l l mining counties. Yorkshire was omitted from t h i s l i s t because the t e x t i l e towns i n the western part of the county raised the county percentage for employed females. However, a closer examination of the South Yorkshire coal towns w i l l demonstrate that they were no excep-t i o n to t h i s pattern of unemployment. The coal mines themselves offered l i t t l e employment to women, the simpler tasks of sorting and cleaning the coal at the surface being reserved mainly for young boys and elde r l y or disabled miners. No woman worked underground •in the period under study. The Census Reports return the following figures 22 for women employed by the c o l l i e r i e s i n England and Wales. 1851 -- 3,260 1891 --3,267 1861 -- 3,763 1901 — 2,665 1881 -- 3,099 1911 -- 2,843 125 The majority of these women were unmarried and f e l l into the 15 to 19 years age group. Of these, the figures we have for the West Riding indicate that only 138 women were employed i n 1881, and only 65 i n 1891, i n Yorkshire p i t s . 2 3 Most of the women recorded above were enumerated i n Lancashire and Cumberland. It was not the custom to employ women i n the Yorkshire mines. What occupations employed those women who remained i n the Yorkshire mining communities? The following tables from the Census Reports of 1901 and 1911 indicate how many women were employed i n a sample of South Yorkshire c o l -l i e r y towns, and i n what p r i n c i p a l occupations. TABLE IX To show the r a t i o of occupied females to the t o t a l  female population of a sample of South Yorkshire  c o l l i e r y towns, 1901." 2T Female Females Employed population L o c a l i t y 1901 Single Married Ardsley 2,913 265 32 Castleford 8,325 822 168 Dart on 2,10? 265 73 Featherstone 3,561 337 78 Hoyland Nether 5,? k6 355 89 Mexborough 4,879 358 111 Normanton 5,717 306 96 Stanley 2,260 636 119 Swinton 5,771 396 111 Wath-upon-Dearne 2,330 306 73 Wombwell 6,139 352 91 Worsborough 4,827 371 81 As might be expected i n a single-industry community, the numbers of employed females are low i n comparison to the t o t a l female population. Single women by far outnumber those married women and widows who worked. Most of these women are recorded as being employed i n domestic work or dressmaking. The following table gives a more detailed picture of types of occu-pations open to women i n these towns. 126 TABLE X To show the p r i n c i p a l occupations pursued by women i n a sample of coal towns i n South Yorkshire, 1911. 25 Lo c a l i t y Female P r i n c i p a l female occupations, population with figures i n brackets Ardsley Bolton-upon -Dearne Castleford 3,285 4,017 11,085 Domestic (98); Dressmakers (23) Domestic (114)s Shopkeepers (30) Domestic (405); Teaching (109); Shopkeepers (130); Dressmakers (108) Cudworth Dar f i e l d Darton 3,084 2,539 2,830 Domestic (88); Shopkeepers (37) Domestic (79)J Dressmakers (28) Domestic (142); T e x t i l e s (64); Shopkeepers (26) Featherstone Hoyland Nether Mexborough ..4,226 6,806 6,707 Domestic (169); Dressmakers (54); Shopkeepers (58) Domestic (216); Teaching (67); Dressmakers (50); Shopkeepers (48) Domestic (215); Shopkeepers (67); Teaching (56); Dressmakers (65) Normanton Royston Swinton 7,015 2,906 6,452 Domestic (181); Teaching (83); Shopkeepers (78); Dressmakers (67) Domestic (110); Dressmakers (30); Shopkeepers (28) Domestic (221); Teachers (58); Shopkeepers (67) Wath-upon-Dearne Worsborough 3,508 5,981 Domestic (252); Dressmakers (54); Shopkeepers (58) Domestic (200); Charwomen (88); Shopkeepers (43) The p r i n c i p a l occupation for women i n a l l cases i s seen to be domestic work. This would involve mainly the employment of single, young g i r l s by large families to help out with the simplest, domestic chores of child-care, cleaning, laundry, and running errands; they were simply mothers' helpers. There were few, i f any residences of the professional classes i n these areas, (apart from the c o l l i e r y manager and the upper echelons of the management hierarchy), which would be able to employ servants i n such numbers. If the family had enough wage-earners on the other hand, contributing to i t s upkeep, domestic help on a simple scale could be hired. Moreover, "domestic service was not regarded as a vocation, rather ... 127 the g i r l was i n a sense serving her probation for marriage." The g i r l would not regard herself as destined to l i v e and die in service. Domestic help i s distinguished i n the Census Return from the charwomen (see Worsborough) who possibly thought of themselves as a more professional occupational group. Dressmakers occur i n considerable numbers. It i s not possible to ascertain whether these women kept shops, but i t i s more probable that they carried on a simple business from t h e i r home to supplement the family income. Teachers figure i n large numbers natu r a l l y only i n the larger communities. It i s u n l i k e l y that the teaching profession drew a l l i t s members from the resident female population. Rather, these women pro-bably represent an i n f l u x from outside. F i n a l l y , those women who were l i s t e d i n the census investigations as shopkeepers would not f i t the image of the shopkeepers i n a more sophistica-ted or well-developed community. By 1911, service industries and r e t a i l shops were developing and were i n need of a s s i s -tants. Yet many of these women ran shops i n t h e i r own homes, whereby one room would be used for minor transactions i n food-s t u f f s , goods being displayed i n the window to the street out-side. None of these home-run businesses were large. They might be employed by the mother to supplement the family's income. Often a widow, with no other source of support, would enter into a small r e t a i l i n g business. For instance, John Brophy i n his autobiography, A Miner's L i f e remembers how in Wigan i n the 1890's his grandmother kept a greengrocery 27 s t a l l i n the market place. ' 128 Apart from these four major occupations there i s only-one town i n the sample which displays any other occupation of any note. Darton employed 6k women i n t e x t i l e s i n 1911. Other lesser employers of women included such services , as laundry and washing, and the provision of food and drink. It might be expected that i n an industry involving some degree of mobility of i t s work-force, with a perpetual flow of young men looking f o r work, that some provision of lodgings would be necessary. The majority of these towns did not possess jthe so p h i s t i c a t i o n of hotels at t h i s early stage, and t h i s f l o a -t i n g population of casual workers was accommodated by the resident mining population. A number of women concerned them-selves therefore i n caring for lodgers, either alongside t h e i r own f a m i l i e s , or s o l e l y as lodging-house keepers, who are men-tioned i n small numbers i n the Census, Unfortunately, there i s no i n d i c a t i o n as to the conjugal status of these women i n the Census Reports, but t h i s may have been a source of employ-ment for widows. One f i n a l occasional or part-time occupation which the Census Reports do not mention, but which figured l a r g e l y i n many communities, was seasonal work i n the f i e l d s . In the sum-mertime, women found employment i n the surrounding a g r i c u l t u r a l areas p u l l i n g peas, picking potatoes and burning twitch. This was often one of the few opportunities for them to escape t h e i r drab environment. G.A.W. Tomlinson, a Nottinghamshire miner emphasized the love of the land which permeates the mining community and which attracted the women to work i n the f i e l d s despite t h e i r many other household duties. • 129 The important point to note from the above tables however i s that female employment was minimal. In most cases, eighty per cent or more of the female population were unemployed i n the South Yorkshire c o l l i e r y towns. When compared with the figures f o r female employment i n the t e x t i l e areas of Preston, Burnley and Blackburn mentioned e a r l i e r (page 123), we can see that the woman i n the coalmining community was faced with a dilemma. With fewer opportunities f o r employment, she was distinguished from her counterpart i n the t e x t i l e areas by being faced with two alternatives — migration or marriage. As has already been noted i n an e a r l i e r part of t h i s chap te r , s t a t i s t i c a l evidence points to a migration of young g i r l s from the coal towns a f t e r leaving school. We can only i n f e r that these females were seeking employment elsewhere. There i s no evidence of where these women went, though the Yorkshire woollen m i l l s would af f o r d the largest and closest employment. This entailed overcoming a weakness c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the mining population of " i n e r t i a based on custom and adaptation to a given place and set of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s with known people In his survey of contemporary, Canadian single-industry towns, Rex Lucas concluded that t h i s lack of female employ-ment drove some women from the towns, but also led to early marriage, f o r many preferred to stay i f possible. He noted that, "there i s a shortage of marriageable females because there i s no work f o r them to any extent. They leave town. To avoid the problem of leaving town or fi n d i n g themselves i n unsatisfactory jobs, g i r l s tend to take the opportunity 10 to marry early." J 130 To return to the period under study, s i m i l a r evidence can be ci t e d f o r early marriage consequent upon the lack of female employment. Lady Florence B e l l i n her 1907 s o c i a l sur-vey of Middlesborough noted that the females of that town tended to marry at a very early age, often i n t h e i r 'teens, because there were so few means of self-support. She concluded b i t t e r l y that "the women have no independent existence of t h e i r own." ? 1 Many therefore found marriage rather than migration to be the answer to the vacuum created by unemployment, though there were many other factors at work which favoured an early marriage f o r these women. F i r s t l y , there was a surplus number of males i n these towns, through the steady i n f l u x of sing l e , young workers. Most of these men were miners and the chances of a women marrying outside of t h i s i n d u s t r i a l group were small. Consequently, as the community developed, there emerged a pattern whereby daughters of miners who did not migrate would in turn marry miners, down through the generations, thus r e i n f o r c i n g the e l i t i s t aspect of the coalmining community. Moreover, i n addition to the lack of opportunity f o r marrying outside the miners' group, many women would be unwilling to s a c r i f i c e a higher standard of l i v i n g afforded by the miners' wages when compared to many other i n d u s t r i a l groups. Women tended to marry miners to maintain the standard of l i f e they were used to, and to remain within t h e i r known environment and c i r c l e of friends. Mining i t s e l f was an occupation whereby the young man would reach his period of maximum earnings at an early age. 131 A man would become a hewer on average at the age of 20 years, and remain as such for as long as his strength lasted. The miners were fortunate i n that they earned t h e i r highest wages when they most needed them, that i s , from t h e i r embarkation upon family l i f e u n t i l that family was old enough to earn i t s own l i v e l i h o o d . This of course increased the e l i g i b i l i t y of the young miner. F i n a l l y , there was i n the towns with which we are con-cerned, a buil d i n g boom i n the 1890's. As these towns r a p i d l y increased, so did building speculation, and though most newly married couples might begin t h e i r married l i f e by l i v i n g with t h e i r in-laws, the chances of obtaining a low-rental home were favourable. The exceedingly low age of marriage which characterized mining communities has been discussed above, (see previous chapter). S t a t i s t i c s to show the low percentage of spinsters i n coalmining d i s t r i c t s , however, w i l l serve to i l l u s t r a t e the view that most of these women chose the alternatives of either marriage or migration. The mining areas had a p a r t i -c u l a r l y low percentage of spinsters as can be seen i n the following figures: -1901 percentage of unmarried women aged 20 to 45 years  Upper Class areas Coalmining areas Cheltenham 65-60% Durham 35-30% Barnsley 29-25% Eastbourne 59-55% Glamorgan 35-30% Chester Brighton 54-50% Whitehaven 35-30% - f i e l d 29-25% Windsor 54-50% Rotherham 35-30% Middles • -borough 29-25% 132 Despite the i n f l u x into the mining towns of women who were accompanying t h e i r husbands who were seeking work, and women who were returning to marry, there were s t i l l fewer numbers of women than men. This discrepancy i n the sex-ratio has to be explained therefore by the large scale i n f l u x of single men seeking work, and the outflow of single women who could f i n d no employment i n the coalmining d i s t r i c t s . Marriage was doubtless the only factor i n a t t r a c t i n g women to return to these areas, or to keep them i n the mining communities. FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER ROURi^ 1. R.P. Arnot, The Miners: Years of Struggle Vol. 2. (London, 19537, pp.146 - 147. ' ' 2 Census Report for England and Wales. 1911: General  Report. B.P.P. 1917 - 18. XXXV. Table XXII. P. 75. 3 Table I I compiled from the General Reports to the Censuses f o r England and Wales. 1861 to 1911 i n the B . P . P . " - " ' 4 Census Report for England and Wales f 1861: General  Report. B.P.P. 1863. L I I I . '" ~ 5 Census Report for England and Wales. 1881: General  Report. B.P.P. 1883. LXXX. p. 24. ~ " ' ~~ 6 Census Report for England and Wales. 1891:. General  Report. B.P.P. 1893 - 94 CVI. " rr^~~ 7 Census Report for England and Wales. 1901: General  Report. B.P.P. 1904. CVIII. ' • """^  8 Census for 1911: General Report p. 58. 9 Census for 1901: General Report. 10 Table I I I compiled from: Census Report for England and  Wales, 1901: County Tables, Yorkshire, B.P.P. 1902. CXXI, Table 12, pp. 81 - 101, and, Census Report for 133 10 continued England and Wales, 1911s Administrative Areas. York-shi r e , B.P.P. 1912 - 13, CXI, Vol. I, Table 10, p. 374. 11 From Census Report for England and Wales. 1901: Summary  Tables. B.P.P. 1902 - 1904. LXXXIV. Table XI. pp. 44 -73 12 R.A. Lucas, Minetown. Militown. Railtown (Toronto, 1971) 13 Table IV compiled from: Census for 1881: D i v i s i o n a l Reports, Yorkshire, Op. C i t . , Table 6, p. 385J Census Report for England and Wales, 1891: D i v i s i o n a l  Reports. Yorkshire. B.P.P. 1893 - 94. CIV. Table 3. p. 403j and, Census for 1901: County Tables. Yorkshire, Table 24, p. 182. 14 See Chapter I I I above on the average age of women at marriage. 15 Table V i s compiled from the same sources as Table IV above, 16 Table VI i s compiled from Tables IV and V above. 17 Table VII i s compiled from Tables IV and V above. 18 See J.E. Williams, The Derbyshire Miners (London, 1962). 19 See Census Report for England and Wales. 1911: General  Report, p. 158. and Vol. X, Occupations, B.P.P. 1913. LXXVIII. 20 I b i d . , Vol. X. 21 R. G i f fen,. Return of.. Rates of Wages i n the Mines and  Quarries of the United Kingdom, B.P.P. 1890-91, LXXVIII, p. xxiv. ~ 22 From Census for 1861: General Report, and Census for  1911: General Report. Appendix C. Table 9, p. 274. 23 From Census for 1881: D i v i s i o n a l Reports. Yorkshire, Table 10. p. 406 and Census for 1891: D i v i s i o n a l  Reports. Yorkshire, Table 7, p. 424. ! ~ 24 Census for 1901: County Tables. Yorkshire, Table 12, pp. 81 - 101, and, Table 35A, p. 258. 25 From Census Report for England and Wales, 1911: Summary  Tables, B.P.P. 1914 - 16, LXXXI, Table 11, p. 13,and, Vol. X, Table 15 (B), p. 456. 26 Paul de Rousiers, The Labour Question i n B r i t a i n (London, 1896), pp. 189 - 190. 134 27 John Brophy, A Miner's L i f e (Madison and Milwaukee, 1964), pp. 13 - 14. 28 G.A.W. Tomlinson, Coal-Miner (London, 1937), pp. 143 - 144. 29 N. Dennis, F. Henriques, and C. Slaughter, Coal i s our  Li f e (London, 1956), p. 173. 30 See R.A. Lucas, Op. C i t . . p. 95 and p. 357 31 Lady Florence B e l l , At the Works (London, 1911), p. 252. 32 F. Musgrove, The Migratory E l i t e (London, 1963), p. 35. 135 CHAPTER V THE WOMAN IN HER SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC ROLE From the foregoing, i t may he concluded that marriage was of great importance to the woman i n the coalmining com-munity and i t i s to the subject of the married woman i n the coal town that we must now turn. What kind of woman was produced by the harsh, unpredictable l i f e i n mining towns? Despite the many d i f f i c u l t i e s of her duties, what was her worth as a home-maker, and her importance i n the family, and what were her in t e r e s t s , i f any, outside of the home? I As the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of supporting the family devolved almost t o t a l l y upon the males, the d i v i s i o n of r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s i n the home was reinforced. With the. lack of what Lady B e l l c a l l e d an "independent existence," the miners had a d i s t i n c -t i v e attitude towards t h e i r women. With few al t e r n a t i v e employments, the wife's r o l e i n the home became doubly im-portant, and there emerged within the mining community an i d e a l i s t i c image of what the wife and mother should be. She was i n fact t i e d to the home, and she had to devote her-s e l f to the task of running the.f household, managing home finances, and catering f o r the needs of a hard-working family. Added to t h i s i d e a l i z e d domesticity of the woman, the miners also i n s i s t e d upon high standards of comfort within'the home. The id e a l home was described i n a s o c i o l o g i c a l survey of a South Yorkshire mining community i n 1956 as clean, 136 comfortable, warm and cosy, i n contrast to the conditions of work. The miners worked i n such dreary, damp, and drab con-diti o n s that the home by preference was seen as providing a relaxing, comforting contrast. Hence the chief duty and res-p o n s i b i l i t y of the wife was to ensure these standards. How t h i s image emerged, or how the women as a whole matched up t h i s i d e a l i z a t i o n cannot of course be measured s t a t i s t i c a l l y . A good deal of our evidence rests heavily on personal accounts and references i n surveys and secondary sources. In most working class autobiographies, the women are r a r e l y or never mentioned, "... only fathers are given o any space." However, t h i s i s not the case i n the auto-biographies of miners, who are concerned to portray the women i n t h e i r l i v e s as individuals and to describe t h e i r work. This .'perhaps i l l u s t r a t e s a d i f f e r e n t attitude towards the home-centred woman i n the mining communities, when com-pared to other working-class wives. Lady B e l l concluded from her survey of working-class wives i n Middlesborough, that the non-earning housewife was the central force i n her family: The key to the condition of the workman and his family, the clue, the reason for the p o s s i b i l i t i e s and i m p o s s i b i l i t i e s of his existence, i s the capa-c i t y , the temperament, and, above a l l , the health of the woman who manages his housej into her hands, the future of her husband i s committed, the burden of the family l i f e i s thrust...The pivot of the whole s i t u a t i o n i s the woman, the wife of the workman and the mother of his children. 3 Despite the fa c t that the miner's job presented h i s wife with extra duties, such as the constant provision of meals and hot w a t e r t o cater f o r a family of workers i n the s h i f t system, and the constant battle against grime i n the mining 137 communities, the coalminer's wife was noted hy many fo r her good housekeeping. The wife not only had to cater for the t r a d i t i o n a l l y large family, hut also to lodgers who were a recurrent feature i n an industry where mobility was common. The miner's wife therefore had extra duties imposed upon her because of the nature of her husband's work and her environ-ment. She also had to manage with a lack of adequate f a c i l i -t i e s . This had already been discussed i n some d e t a i l i n Chapter I I , but i t i s relevant here to mention what effects the " j e r r y - b u i l d i n g " i n the r a p i d l y b u i l t "boom" towns of South Yorkshire, had upon the miner's wife. Houses lacked such basic necessities as running water, adequate drainage and of course bath-tubs. In the Report of the enquiry into conditions i n the c o a l f i e l d s presided over by Lloyd George i n 1924, the investigators concluded that over-crowding was r i f e and that, "the conditions are s p e c i a l l y hard on the women, who, because they often have to cook and provide for men working i n successive s h i f t s , have special need f o r proper L housing conditions." Pit-head baths were rare i n the period before the F i r s t World War, and the lack of a proper bathroom at home added to the burden of the housewife, as well as to the discomfort of the miner, who: ... i s condemned to trudge home covered i n coal-dust, wearing his wet and f i l t h y p i t - c l o t h e s . When he arrives home he most l i k e l y has not got a bathroom and has to wash i n a tub i n front of the kitchen f i r e . Next morning his pit-clothes are s t i f f and uncomfortable a f t e r drying. The extra labour for a miner's wife that t h i s barbarous business e n t a i l s has often been the subject of b i t t e r comment, especially i f more than one man in the house i s working i n the p i t , and on diff e r e n t s h i f t s . 5 138 The problem raised public interest to the extent that a Government investigation into the advantages of pit-head baths had been ordered i n 1913. The Report concluded that the home conditions of the miners would improve from both " s o c i a l and moral aspects" i f pit-head washing f a c i l i t i e s were provided. ^ Gn a more personal l e v e l , George Hitchin, a Durham miner, remembered i n his autobiography the effects of having no running water: Water f o r cooking, drinking, washing and the f r e -quent hot baths had to be carried from a communal tap - each bucket, and there were many, perhaps a hundred yards along the unmade street. In winter the task became excruciating - always supposing, of course, that the tap had remained unfrozen. I f i t had not, an alarm s i g n a l was hurriedly sent to the c o l l i e r y plumber while distraught housewives took up panic stations. Our drinking water was kept i n the pantry i n a s p e c i a l l y clean p a i l covered with a board or a sheet of t i n , and two or three times a day a fresh supply had to be hauled from the street. 7 But t h i s was.just one small aspect of the wife's working day, and Hitchin also said that i n his experience, "the women worked harder than the men. They aged ra p i d l y under the s t r a i n of childbearing, anxiety, and labours that had no end. I f we look more c l o s e l y at the t y p i c a l working day of the miner's wife, from eye-witness and personal accounts, we begin to see what motivated t h i s strong comment. For instance R. Page Arnot wrote that, "behind each man who had to go down the p i t there was a wife and mother t o i l i n g to feed them and o clothe them and keep them clean." 7 He quotes the story of one miner's wife i n Durham, who personally narrated her t y p i c a l working day to him. She was married i n the 1880's, and had brought up nine sons and daughters (which Arnot 139 describes as not an abnormally large miner's family): The day began at 3 a.m. when the eldest son, a hewer, made his breakfast, took his "b a i t " (food) put up the night before and went on s h i f t at four. Mother, i f awake, would t r y to snatch an hour's sleep before preparing a younger son, a datal worker, whose s h i f t started at 6 a.m. He would no sooner be off than Father would be coming i n for breakfast and bath, his s h i f t ending at 6 a.m. He had started his s h i f t at 10 p.m. the previous night (repair s h i f t ) . By the time Father had had his breakfast and bathed i n a t i n i n front of the f i r e i t would be time for three children to get up and prepare f o r school. Even with t h i s task performed, Mother had no time to r e s t . She had now to prepare a dinner for the eldest returning between 11 and 11:30 a.m. He would not have finished washing i n front of the f i r e before the children returned from school f o r t h e i r mid-day meal. In a l l p r o b a b i l i t y Father would get up and have something with the children at mid-day, go to the l o c a l f o r a p i n t , return at tea-time and go to bed for a couple of hours. V/ith the children off to school f o r the a f t e r -noon Mother had to prepare three more sons going on s h i f t at 2 p..m. By the time she had got them off she had to prepare a meal and bathing water for the son who went on s h i f t at 6 a.m. and would be retur-ning to the house just a f t e r 2 p.m. By the time he was off the kitchen f l o o r , i t was nearly time for the school children returning. On top of t h i s continual round a l l the washing "laundry" was done at home as wel l as baking. There was no bought bread i n northern mining v i l l a g e s i n those days. The bread was a l l baked at home. This took sacks and sacks of f l o u r . Then she had to prepare for Father going on s h i f t at 10 p.m. The next preparation was the biggest of the day. After 10 p.m. the sons who had gone on s h i f t at 2 p.m. would be home. Not only had Mother to prepare t h e i r meals on the kitchen f i r e , but she had also to b o i l the water for t h e i r bath i n pan and k e t t l e . Altogether i t would take anything up to two hours before they were a l l bathed, which they took suc-cessively i n a t i n on the hearth i n front of the f i r e . I t was always af t e r midnight before they were a l l off to bed. This was the end of a normal day and the alarm clock would r i n g again at 3 a.m. for another day. 10 140 This type of existence seemed to he the rule rather than the exception. Jack Lawson was one of ten children in a coal-mining family in Cumberland. As each of the boys became old enough, they entered the pit. Lawson himself began work at the age of twelve years in 1894. His mother always rose at 3.00 a.m. to get her husband off to work, and again at 5.00 a.m. to send her sons off to work. Although the family tried to persuade her not to do this, he explained her persistence in r ising and seeing them off as an old colliery law, for the woman never knew i f she would see her husband or sons alive again when they l e f t for the dangers of the mine. 1 1 In 1947, F. Zw;eigvisited a l l of the major colliery areas of Britain as part of a survey into the daily l i f e of the mining community. In his report, reflecting on the past, he had the following to say on the subject of women: In the past the miner's wife had a very rough time, especially when she was the mother of many children and the mortality rate for women was nowhere greater than among the silent heroes of work and sacrifice in the old days of mining... the housewife was an integral part of the mining routinej she was the pit-head bath attendant, the rotary machine which now cleans the pit-boots before the men go into the bath-room, the canteen attendant and often the ambulance man for light scratches, the hospital when she nursed her husband, and the attendant in the lamp-room, keeping clean his lamp, which in those days he often brought home. She washed, cleaned and dusted, cooked and mended from morning to night. She was the most important link in the wheel of work, wel-fare and education. And i t was she who provided new hands to f i l l the gap in the man-power caused by so great a wastage. She needed a l l the fortitude and endurance she couldcmuster. Was her l i f e not harder than that of her husband? 12 Zweig sees here that the miner's wife had an elevated status among housewives, because of her many varied duties and roles. She was the central, motivating force in the l 4 l family, and carried a great deal of importance. Returning to Jack Lawson*s family, he says that his mother and her eldest daughter never l e f t the house. Their l i f e was a con-tinual battle in the home against d i r t . "And how they worked! Clean! They rubbed and scrubbed, washed and dusted, from morning u n t i l night. If you want heroism, go to such homes and such mothers. Patience, fortitude, selflessness is there in f u l l measure, pressed down and running over... When I grew up to years of understanding I vowed that the wrestle and risk of the pit was i n f i n i t e l y preferable to l i f e in that kitchen." 1 3 Lawson here reflects many views that the wife spent much of her day in cleaning the home and making i t comfortable for the earning members of the family. Paul de Rousiers, a French observer, who chronicled his findings from a tour round Britain in 1893, found that the miners* houses were simply furnished, comfortable, and out of necessity, clean. For instance, in the Lothians, he found that despite the concentration of coal-dust in the a i r , there were always clean, white curtains at the windows, a sure sign of the housewife's 14 virtues. In the home of G.A.W. Tomlmson in Nottingham-shire, his mother would spend hours in polishing, especially the black, iron fire-place or kitchen range, which was a constant feature of miners' homes. She also spent a good deal of time in baking, and he recalls when he was a child that she was always producing surprises with their food, despite a shortage of money. His mother was "a typical c o l l i e r ' s wife, clean without being faddy, proud without being arrogant, masterful without being unwomanly and patient 142 as the earth "beneath which her husband laboured. She made our home a happy place." ^ The coalminer Mark Benney drew upon his experiences of l i f e i n the c o a l f i e l d s to produce the novel, Charity Main. A C o a l f i e l d Chronicle, which t e l l s the story of what he c a l l s a t y p i c a l mining community. In t h i s , the mother of the cen-t r a l family i s pictured as a t y p i c a l miner's wife and i s the most important person i n the home. "Mrs. Kelso was con-stantly at work, baking bread and t a r t s and pas t r i e s , washing, mending, scouring, and above a l l serving an endless succession of meals... no one seemed to eat at the same time as anyone Qther l i t e r a r y evidence on the subject of the wife's wor-king day revolves around the importance of washing day. George Hitchin remembers washing day with trepi d a t i o n : On one side of the f i r e was a b o i l e r and on the other a vast oven. On wash-day the f i r e was poked and stoked u n t i l the temperature was,such that the kitchen had an atmosphere of a foundry. Out then came the paraphena-l i a of the laundry... The housewife, her arms thrusting l i k e pistons, sweated her way through the weekly wash, her figure crouched over the poss-tub and scrubbing bench under a r o l l i n g cloud of steam that hovered near the c e i l i n g . I t has l e f t me with more than a normal abhorrence of wash-day. By late afternoon the clothes flapped on the l i n e : d i r t y water was carried out to the street drain and, since under the stimulus of the roaring f i r e the oven wasnow hot, bread-making began immediately... u n t i l at l a s t a f t e r hours of hot work 7 or 8 loaves and a yester cake would come from the oven. Mean-while men were coming home from the p i t and expected cooked meals and hot baths and, miracle upon miracle, the women somehow dovetailed these into washing and baking. 17 F i n a l l y , i n addition to these duties, many wives made t h e i r husbands* p i t clothes by hand. I t i s small wonder 143 that the mining chroniclers dwelt upon the working l i v e s of t h e i r wives and mothers on the few occasions that they are mentioned. In a community where heavy emphasis was l a i d upon hard work as a sign of character, a woman's pride and standing depended upon the state of her home, so that even i n times of depression, the round of housework did not stop. They were able to make t h e i r dreary surroundings into clean and comfortable homes through sheer hard work. Jack Lawson went so f a r as to say that "housewifery i s such a great v i r -tue with them that i t has almost become a f a u l t , f o r the woman w i l l deny herself things to which she i s e n t i t l e d and w i l l wear herself to the bone i n order to make the house comfor-T ft table and shining." The woman was fi r m l y placed i n the home, f u l f i l l i n g a role to which there was l i t t l e a l t e r n a t i v e . Even by modern standards, the coalminer's wife i s t i e d to the home by force of circumstances, and by necessity the home and family be-comes the centre of her l i f e . In 1950, two observers i n Yorkshire were s t i l l able to write that "... even i n the con-gested areas, miners' wives are notoriously house-proud, and t h e i r homes have more shining cleanliness and warm com-19 f o r t than are found i n many country cottages." However, these almost i d y l l i c pictures and descriptions do not f i t i n with the pessimistic view of the standard of l i f e put forward by other observers, who were not part of the coalmining community. Though t h i s question has been discussed more f u l l y i n a previous chapter on the conditions of l i v i n g , we must at t h i s point turn to the pessimistic view of l i f e , where i t related to the ro l e of wives and mothers. 144 Though l i v i n g conditions varied considerably among coal-f i e l d s and alternated between prosperity and d i s t r e s s , there were two constants i n the coalmining communities — overcrow-ding and high rate of infant mortality. Overcrowding and the near i m p o s s i b i l i t y of i s o l a t i n g a v i c t i m of disease, fostered the spread of diseases among children e s p e c i a l l y . The high rate of infant mortality caused concern to the Medical Officers of Health i n the coalmining d i s t r i c t s , who concluded that poor sanitary provisions, and ignorance among parents, e s p e c i a l l y young parents, were the causes. Child mortality was high f o r instance i n a l l Derbyshire c o l l i e r y d i s t r i c t s . While the national average stood at 151 infant deaths per 1,000 b i r t h s i n 1901, the rate i n Chesterfield was 217 per 1,000, and i n Shirebrook i t was as high as 236.4 deaths per 1,000 b i r t h s . 2 0 The b i r t h rate i n these areas was s u b s t a n t i a l l y higher than the national b i r t h rate (see Chapter I I I ) , but other reasons were put forward by contemporaries f o r t h i s high death rate: The medical o f f i c e r of health f o r the Blackwell Rural D i s t r i c t Council attributed the high infant mortality rate to 'gross neglect i n the clothing and feeding'. Such 'parental neglect and inexperience', he said, were *tpo often the concomitants of early marriages.' Peck (the M.O.H.) believed that the infant mortality rates were kept up ' by the existence of the p r i w y midden system and the ignorance of mothers'. He advocated, as a speedy remedy,'the introduction of the water carriage system i n urban parts of the d i s - 2 T t r i c t , and the teaching of mothers by health v i s i t o r s ' . By allowing children infected with measles, whooping cough, sc a r l e t fever, dysentery or diarrhoea to play and mix with other non-infected children, disease spread r a p i d l y . But i n the crowded conditions of the miners* housing with 145 i t s unsanitary provisions, i s o l a t i o n and other rules of health were neglected either through ignorance or force of circum-stances. We can see therefore that there are two sides to the picture of the q u a l i t i e s of the miner's wife. Autobiogra-ph i c a l and s o c i a l survey accounts point to a high degree of success i n household management, while s t a t i s t i c a l evidence and the comments of medical men suggest some degree of neglect and ignorance on the part of the wife. The f i r s t point to make i s that maternal ignorance, squalor and neglect were general features among working class groups at t h i s time. Reports on B r i t i s h wives found them to be generally "sloppy" i n t h e i r housework. This was due to poverty, overcrowding, early marriage, ignorance of how to run a household, and a sense of unhappiness due to l i f e ' s hardships. Despite improvements i n the standard of l i v i n g up u n t i l 1 9 0 0 , housekeeping standards did not improve and a " t r a d i t i o n of poverty" prevailed. This poor standard of housekeeping "... expressed a sense of hopelessness and des-22 pair that was not simply economic." We can now p r o f i t a b l y look at some s p e c i f i c examples to which these Reports were generally r e f e r r i n g and with which we may compare and contrast the miners' wives. In her studies of poverty i n London at the turn of the century, Helen Bosanquet examined the contribution of the mother to the state of di s t r e s s . Some mothers were found to be lazy, pre-f e r r i n g to spend time gossiping than working, or "often she 146 i s i n bad health, worn out with bearing children, s i c k l y from l i v i n g close, d i r t y rooms, anaemic from bad food." 2 3 To Bonanquet, poverty depended upon the character of the mother, and those women who lacked "interest, foresight and pride" were the ones who neglected themselves, t h e i r home and t h e i r children, and depended upon external a i d rather than the e f f i c i e n t planning of t h e i r own resources. Ignorance also played a great part i n poor l i v i n g standards, es p e c i a l l y i n the care of her children. "Her untrained eye hardly 24 notices that they are ragged and s i c k l y and f o r l o r n . " Further evidence from Lend on of poor housekeeping q u a l i t i e s and a general neglect of children comes from Mrs. Pember Reeves for 1912. In her short t r a c t , Mrs. Reeves reported on the poor health of women and i t s effect upon the family. "Give:' her s i x children, and between the bearing of them and the rearing of them she has l i t t l e extra v i t a l i t y l e f t for s c i e n t i f i c cooking, even i f she could afford the necessary time and appliances. In fact one woman i s not equal to the 25 bearing and e f f i c i e n t , proper care of s i x children." J Moreover, the children of the London poor suffered from the lack of more basic n e c e s s i t i e s i The children of the poor suffer from want of l i g h t , want of a i r , want of warmth, want of s u f f i c i e n t and proper food, and want of clothes, because the wage of t h e i r father i s not enough to pay for these necessaries. They also suffer from want of c l e a n l i -ness, want of attention to health, want of peace and quiet, because the strenth of t h e i r mothers i s not enough to provide these necessary conditions. 26 147 Lady Florence B e l l concerned herself with the iron-workers of North Yorkshire f o r t h i r t y years. Her findings were drawn together i n 1907 when she devoted considerable attention to the wives of the iron-workers. She found i n the foundry towns that there existed both a high b i r t h rate and a high infant mortality rate, with detrimental e f f e c t s on the women of the towns. Women soon became phy s i c a l l y worn out from bearing children too quickly. She found that i n rare instances some women gave b i r t h to a c h i l d almost every year of t h e i r peak child-bearing years. If t h i s was i n fact the case, then obviously t h i s i n turn would a f f e c t family welfare, f o r , "what chance has the welfare, physical and moral, of the children thus r a p i d l y brought into the world by a mother whose strength, owing to imperfect nourishment and unhealthy surround-dings, must be st e a d i l y declining umder t h i s immense s t r a i n as time goes on?" 2 ^ She too blamed the high mortality rate - upon what i s now becoming a f a m i l i a r pattern — overcrowding, bad a i r , maternal ignorance and negligence, unsuitable feeding and a poor milk supply. Of these, Lady B e l l found ignorance to be the most important factor i n infant mortality and i n the general health of the family. The mother was generally ignorant of the value of cer-t a i n foods, which, combined with poor cooking f a c i l i t i e s and i n many cases, an i n a b i l i t y to cook, meant a limi t e d diet for the family. Many r e l i e d f o r food on the eating-house or the f r i e d f i s h shop, with the extra expense that t h i s en-t a i l e d . Special foods could not be afforded f o r the baby i n the working-class households that Lady B e l l v i s i t e d , nor 148 did the mothers know of t h e i r value. Consequently, an infant would he given the same food as the rest of the family. Further, she found that disease spread rap i d l y among children due to parental ignorance about i n f e c t i o n . The Report of the Interdepartmental Committee on Physical Deterioration of 1904, revealed an awareness of the importance of diet to the nation's health, and recommended that young g i r l s should be taught how to cook i n school. I t had been discovered that the B r i t i s h housewife was generally lazy, and found the easiest way around cooking. There was a good deal of ignorance at the root of t h i s , but apart from t h i s f a c t o r , not a l l tenements contained cooking f a c i l i t i e s . The absence of meat and milk, and a heavy reliance on tea, bread and jam and the excessive use of tinned food among working class wives were also c i t e d as contributing towards poor health. The Report showed a high degree of concern with the effects of the employment of women upon the welfare of the family, drawing upon information offered by the investigator Miss A.M. Anderson. I t was within the families of working mothers that perhaps the greatest incidence of ignorance and neglect occurred. I t was found that infant mortality i n areas of high female employment, such as Lancashire cotton towns, Dundee jute m i l l s , and the pottery towns, was unduly high, Anderson would not d i r e c t l y l i n k high infant mortality with the employment of women, but asked that housing and sanitary conditions should also be taken into account before any con-clusions could be drawn. However, she offered the following figures which compare infant mortality i n areas of female 149 employment with the coal areas, where few females were employed. Infant Mortality per 1.0Q0 Born Areas of high female  employment Areas of low female  employment Dundee 1893 — 217 1903 -- 142 Hanley Average Durham 1901 -Northumberland 1901 -South Wales 1901 -179 182 170 Yearly Rate over 10 years 204 Longton Ditto — 239 Preston Ditto 236 Burnley Ditto — 210 Blackburn Ditto -- 200 Further evidence which demonstrates a s i m i l a r trend i n infant mortality i s that of Dr. George Reid, County Medical Officer of Health for Staffordshire who stated i n 1892 that: In the south of the county the people are mostly engaged i n coal-mines and iron works, i n which the element of female labour may be disregarded, while i n the north the chief industry i s potting, i n which large numbers of women are employed. Three years ago, when f i r s t i t became my duty to c o l l a t e the reports of the various medical o f f i c e r s of health, what impressed me most f o r c i b l y was the 'extraordinarily high infant death-rate i n ce r t a i n d i s t r i c t s . Further than t h i s . . . the broad fact was apparent that the rate was much higher i n the north than i n the south of the county, a circumstance which has since been proved by figures covering, i n most cases, a period of ten years, and which show a rate of 182 (deaths per 1,000) as compared with 158. 29 High infant mortality i n areas where mothers were exten-s i v e l y employed, developed from the abuses necessarily i n f l i c t e d upon children by the lack of adequate attention, a r t i f i c i a l feeding i n the hands of untrained "nurses" (usually older children or old women), and ignorance on the part of women who had neither the time nor the means to learn the arts of motherhood. Miss Anderson uses evidence i n the 1904 Report 150 from a Miss Paterson's investigations i n Lancashire to support t h i s accusation of neglect! As to the effects on health, moral and phys i c a l , both of the mothers and children, she was able to form very d e f i n i t e ideas of the excessive and i n j u -rious s t r a i n on the mothers and of the lack of s u f f i c i e n t care of the children. V i s i t s on Saturday afternoons to the homes showed that any energy that was l e f t over by the week's work i n the m i l l was spent by the mother i n family washing and house-cleaning, but d i r t and discomfort abounded and she 'never saw any attempt at cooking'. 30 I t may be argued that coalmining families were at a greater advantage than families i n the Lancashire cotton areas or Midlands pottery towns, because the mother i n the coal areas at least remained at home. With the knowledge she possessed, she focused a l l her attentions upon the amelioration of the domestic scene. In contrast, i t may be suggested that domestic comforts suffered i n the cotton areas of Lancashire for instance, where 23 per cent of mothers were factory workers. The factor of working mothers has been put forward as one cause of family 31 disintegration. v N e i l Smelser supports t h i s i n part when he says of the working mother, "her t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e , i n short, l i k e the roles of her children and of her husband, was being twisted beyond recognition by the moral e v i l s of the factory." 3 2 Of course, women i n the mining iv vareas had not always pursued housewifery as t h e i r vocation. Domestic chaos had also reigned i n those homes where the woman had been employed i n the mines, according to the Report of the Royal Commission  on Mines of 1842. In f a c t , the 1842 Report stated that there was a d i s t i n c t difference between the order and cleanliness 151 of non-working wives and the f i l t h and misery of conditions where the wife was employed. "The description of miners' homes i n Durham, for example, where miners declared they had as much ri g h t to domestic comfort as other men, stands out i n strong contrast to the deplorable pictures of f i l t h , wretchedness and perpetual poverty i n the d i s t r i c t s where 33 women were employed." I I From the above examples, we may conclude that, the t r u t h of the matter was that amongst the working classes generally 34 the standard of domestic accomplishment was deplorably low." J The coalminers' wives cannot be singled out by the pessimists as poor housekeepers when standards were so low thoughout the working classes. As has been demonstrated above, the miners as a group were at an advantage because t h e i r womenfolk remained at home, concentrating t h e i r energies on the care of the family. With no or few employment opportunities, the daughters became "apprenticed" to t h e i r mothers i n the domestic arts an advantage missed by the young g i r l with a wage-earning mother, and a method advocated by the s o c i a l observer 35 Bosanquet as a means of d i s p e l l i n g ignorance. J J Moreover, there are many impressive testimonies to the cleanliness of the miner's home. The s o c i a l observer F. Zweig wrote, "there i s a great contrast between the unplea-sant appearance of the houses from the outside and the nice appearance inside. The rooms are kept very t i d y and clean, and the housewives take immense pride i n keeping t h e i r houses spotless." There were also those men such as B.L. Coombes who a c t u a l l y experienced l i f e as a lodger i n the coalmining 152 community, where, "... I have found most Welsh mining-houses as clean — or nearly so — as this one. The women work very hard — too hard — trying to cheat the greyness that is outside by a clean and cheerful show within. They age them-selves before they should because of this continual cleaning 37 and polishing." The "clean comfort" of this miner's cottage contrasted favourably with the rural worker's cottage which Coombes had l e f t behind in Hereof ordshir^ with i t s leaking roof, broken oven and chimney and cold atmosphere. Finally, one writer had the following comments to make upon motherhood in coalmining communities in 1888: The c o l l i e r ' s wife i s a good mother to her children} her ideas of what i s for their good may not be wide or far-reaching but what she does see she puts into effect with a thoroughness and devotion that are admirable. She is wholly unselfish, and to keep her house, "bien," her husband sober, and her children at school, and in a well-conduced state, i s her continual effort. A hard effort i t is too. 38 There were of course exceptions to the examples cited. But even though these existed, the Rt. Hon. Sir. J. Tudor Walters s t i l l believed that the building of model housing estates for miners was a most worthwhile project, when he referred to the success of the building of such model houses in the South Yorkshire coalfield after the First World War. He said that criticism of the miners for abuse of new housing projects were unfounded, and in fact, "we find that the bulk of the tenants greatly appreciate a good house and make f u l l use 39 of a l l i t s conveniences." Standards of l i v i n g depended greatly on the state of trade and prosperity. The miners as a whole were not a group 153 of savers, and therefore soon sank into distress i n times of i r r e g u l a r work. Even though poverty was rampant at these times however, the miners' wives did not lose the incentive to maintain cleanliness, as witnessed by a Derbyshire journa-l i s t during the 1893 lock-out i n that county. He reported i n the Derbyshire Times for 30th September, 1893: What struck us at Chesterfield, a f t e r many days of wandering among the same class of people, was the fact that more homes than we had noticed anywhere else were spotlessly, b e a u t i f u l l y clean. The bare, flagged f l o o r , the r i c k e t y wooden chairs, the hearth, the windows, the steps, a l l showed that the women, i n spite of a l l , had not sat down and folded t h e i r arms. 40 There i s evidence to show that conditions of l i v i n g were poor i n the mining d i s t r i c t s , and that there was a c e r t a i n l e v e l of ignorance and squalor. However, instances of these conditions can be found f o r a l l working class areas. In f a c t , from the evidence c i t e d from working class memoirs, and s o c i a l investigators' evidence, i t would seem that the coalminer's wife, armed with better domestic t r a i n i n g , such basic f a c i l i t i e s as f u e l , cooking f a c i l i t i e s , a low-rental or rent-free home and her commitment to her family, was better equipped to tackle the problems of d a i l y l i f e . There were squalor, disease and ignorance i n these communities. But there were also f o r t i t u d e , hard work, self-respect, and a continual b a t t l e against circumstances. In concluding t h i s section, there i s no denying that disease and high rates of infant mortality existed i n the coal towns, adding f u e l to the pessimists' f i r e . What i s at question here are the reasons f o r t h i s trend. Since we have I5 k already proposed that maternal ignorance was a general con-d i t i o n among the working classes, other forces were at work to push forward the c h i l d mortality rates i n the c o a l f i e l d s , and to blacken the reputation of the c o l l i e r s ' wives i n t h i s respect. Neglect and maternal ignorance were constants among the working classes as a wholej the variables i n the case of the coalminers were the high b i r t h rates c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of mining f a m i l i e s , and the unsanitary, overcrowded, and disease-promoting conditions of the " j e r r y - b u i l t M boom towns on the c o a l f i e l d s . II The f i n a l object of t h i s chapter i s to attempt to ascer-t a i n how the woman was regarded i n the heavily male-orien-tated mining society. We cannot hope to reach into the per-son a l i t y of the woman i n the coal town. As she l e f t so few records behind, we can only look at her through the eyes of others and suggest c e r t a i n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s which might emerge i n a community of t h i s nature. One e f f e c t of the type of existence described above which might be expected, i s the premature aging of the wife. This feature was the r e s u l t of hard work, and i s mentioned i n several instances i n the c o l l i e r autobiographies. Both George Hitchin and B.L. Coombes noted the recurrence of premature old age i n women i n t h e i r 30*s. Neither did these women escape with f u l l health. In 1929, a Government investigation into the s o c i a l r e s u l t s of depression i n the South Wales coal 155 trade commented upon the exhausting effects of hard work, concluding that, "there could he no question that i n some areas women, especially the mothers of young chil d r e n , suffer to an unusual extent from languor and anaemia." I t cannot he doubted that the i l l effects of rapid c h i l -bearing that Lady B e l l observed among the iron-workers• wives i n North Yorkshire, also affected the miners' wives with t h e i r equally high b i r t h rate. Moreover, i n times of dis t r e s s the wife was probably the f i r s t to suffer from a lack of adequate food and cloth i n g , which would contribute further to health problems. There i s a good deal of evidence upon t h i s l a s t point. I t has been found that there was an unequal d i s t r i -bution of food and other benefits such as clothing and medical care among working-class f a m i l i e s , the p r i o r i t y being to provide for the breadwinner f i r s t . "The wife deferred to the breadwinner because without him her own s i t u a t i o n would have been even worse. The e f f i c i e n c y and health of the chief breadwinner was essential to the welfare of the entire family. This was no less true for the mining f a m i l i e s , and as late as 1956, the soc i o l o g i s t s who investigated l i f e i n the South Yorkshire coal town discovered that the middle-aged and older women would serve "a heavy meal for t h e i r f a m i l i e s " whilst providing a mere snack for themselves." J The dependence upon the husband which t h i s a c t i v i t y i l l u s t r a t e s was a common ch a r a c t e r i s t i c of coalminers' wives. They married early and, with few opportunites f o r employment, t h e i r dependence on the breadwinner and subjection to male economic dominance was reinforced from the s t a r t . Unlike 156 many wage-earning wives, the coalminer*s wife did not have the security to assert her own economic independence. Peter Stearns identified this dependence upon the husband in the question of judgement. He gives this as the reason why the practice of birth control was so slow to reach the coalmining areas. Most wives, particularly those who had married before 1900, "had not sufficiently escaped from tradi-tion to arrange a reduction the family size. Only the younger generation was rapidly awakening to an interest in birth con-t r o l , which older miners considered "unnatural and wicked". Hence the continued resemblance to the urban poor, whose fami-li e s in 1911 averaged 3.9 children." However, Stearns is perhaps assigning too much importance to the men here in the decison-making about voluntary family limitation. It has been argued in Chapter III that the move towards acceptance of birth control ideas was slow among the coalmining population as a whole, and not just among the male section of the popu-lation. In fact, a more basic reason for the slow adoption of birth control methods has been identified. In the coal-mining area, the only vocation that a woman could pursue was to marry and have a family, and she had l i t t l e chance of pur-suing an occupation even i f she did decide to limit her family size. In fact, the slow adoption of family limitation was a combination of many factors, described in Chapter III. One effect of the large family size was that once a woman had borne a large family, her chances for contact with the out-side world were limited even further. Certain characteristics have been identified as distinct features of the wives of miners. Traditionalism was one of 157 these c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and flourished p a r t i c u l a r l y i n those v i l l a g e s remote from urban centres. There was a t r a d i t i o n a l l o y a l t y of women to t h e i r husbands and f a m i l i e s , and emerging perhaps from the economic dependence, a dedication to the needs of the breadwinner., In a drama about the lyneside pitmen, written by a native of Jarrow, Alan Plater describes the leading wife as being, "gently persuasive, with a manner toughened by years of hardship and sometimes violent bereave-ment. A l i f e dedicated without question to her . husband and, by implication, to co a l . " J Moreover, he suggests that the wife had to obey her husband and was always there "to provide LA baths and tend wounds." Peter Stearns suggests that the miner's wife was resigned to poor conditions, especially where.housing was overcrowded and unsanitary. But t h i s was an advantage i n so f a r as ex-pectations were low? she did not experience as much unhap-piness as her counterpart who was i n employment: Horizons i n the mining v i l l a g e were assuredly narrow, which i s why the women preserved a rather t r a d i t i o n a l family focus for so long. Lack of job opportunities even before marriage served, rather l i k e extreme poverty i n the big c i t i e s , to l i m i t expectations among women... Because there was l i t t l e sense of alternatives there was l i t t l e v i s i b l e despair, and active p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n t h e i r husbands* labor protest gave women an outlet many'of t h e i r urban s i s t e r s lacked. 47 Increasing employment opportunities i n the towns led to "a v i r t u a l revolution i n the l i f e - s t y l e of working-class women 48 before marriage." The young working g i r l s experienced independence, s o c i a l contacts outside the home, r i s i n g material expectations and,"a new concern for freedom and 158 49 dignity was developing." However upon marriage t h i s newly found s o c i a l and economic freedom was c u r t a i l e d , and women were thrown back into a male-dominated world, and aspirations were s t r i c t l y l i m i t e d . Moreover, the behaviour of husbands towards t h e i r wives was worse i n the factory c i t i e s than i n the mining towns, and a limi t e d allowance system operated whereby the husband's control of the budget lowered the woman's economic status. Wives who had once controlled t h e i r own budget suffered great disappointment with t h e i r reduced economic status. Those material expectations they had developed i n t h e i r s i n g l e , independent days, were not met, adding to t h e i r f r u s t r a t i o n s . Their pre-marriage s o c i a l contacts were severely c u r t a i l e d . Consequently, Stearns i d e n t i f i e s greater unhappiness among married operatives than among miners' wives, and t h i s was r e f l e c t e d i n sloppy housekeeping. The control of the budget was an important function i n the family f o r i t was not how much the breadwinner earned which was important, but how i t was spent. A family's happi-ness or very existence depended on how wisely the wage was divided. The economic r o l e of most working class wives, however, was low, i n that most did not know how much t h e i r husbands earned and r e l i e d therefore on the "wage" that they were given each week, t h e i r husbands keeping back an unknown amount of "pocket money." Lady B e l l found that i n over one-t h i r d of the homes she v i s i t e d i n North Yorkshire, the wife had no idea of how much her husband earned, while Laura Oren found that t h i s was the general s i t u a t i o n among the labouring 159 classes. However, i n rare cases the wife was i n control. In mining v i l l a g e s f o r instance, the husband gave a l l his earnings to his wife and received a f i x e d amount of "pocket money" i n return. This custom was c a l l e d the "tip-up". Michael Young noted that working childr e n i n mining v i l l a g e s also handed over a l l t h e i r earnings i n return f o r a small amount of "pocket money". Usually the c o l l i e r s gave t h e i r wives t h e i r wages out i n the streets. Here t r a d i t i o n was at play, f o r public witnessing of the act ensured that the wife's t r a d i t i o n a l claim to the wage would be met. This t r a d i t i o n was described i n the mining novel How Green was my Valley. "As soon as the whistle went they (the wives) put chairs outside t h e i r front doors and sat there waiting t i l l the men came up the H i l l and home. Then as the men came up to t h e i r front doors they threw t h e i r wages, sovereign by sovereign, into the shining laps, fathers f i r s t and sons or lodgers i n 5 1 a l i n e behind." J It was the woman's r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to decide how the money would be spent. In times of d i s t r e s s , such as st r i k e s or lock-outs f o r instance, Llewellyn, who was writing from experience noted that, "women l i k e my mother, who had sons earning, and had saved and kept a good house were putting money and food together each week f o r the babies of the women who had just married, or for women with only a 5 2 husband working and many chil d r e n . " J This control of family finances obviously elevated the status of the woman i n the home, and i s some further i n d i -cation of how the woman was regarded i n the mining community i n her domestic r o l e . "Control over the budget," Stearns 160 writes, "was a v i t a l element i n the working-class woman's l i f e , for i t r e f l e c t e d her place i n the family and determined how well she could carry out her r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . Mining women l i k e the urban poor, usually had substantial power." J J The duties of the woman were concentrated on family l i f e -- i t was here alone where the miner's wife could excel, for she had no opportunities to concentrate her energies elsewhere. Her f i r s t p r i o r i t y was her duty to her family, and i n Chapter III i t was noted that the coalmining families were mother-centred. Evidence of a matriarchal system can be recognized i n what few references we have to the persona-l i t y of the mother i n the memoirs of coalminers. Jack Lawson regarded his mother's devotion to her family as a form of heroism, while the coalminer*s leader John Brophy said of his mother that, "her great concern was the welfare of her family, and devotion to i t was her way of l i f e . She accepted the p e r i l s and hardships that came to a miner's family, and did the best she could with the s i t u a t i o n from day to day. She had the strength to meet a l l duties and demands of l i f e , and a l o y a l t y to her family that was ins p i r e d . " J The miners* wives have been seen to exercise a sobering i n -fluence over the mining population, both i n t h e i r r o l e as wives and as mother, fo r parental duties were i n many cases l e f t e n t i r e l y to them. As early as 1842, the Royal Commission had recognized the female r o l e heres "The Complete lack of educational opportunities f o r g i r l s i n c o l l i e r y v i l l a g e s was, however, a serious handicap on mining communities and was constantly lamented by witnesses and Commissioners a l i k e — the more so as the women were said to exercise an unusual 161 and unlimited influence over the miners." ^5 Jack Lawson saw t h i s powerful influence at work when he said that "women have been very powerful educational forces indeed i n the northern counties. In my l i f e t i m e I have seen women, r e l i g i o n and education perform miracles i n the personal l i f e of the miner. For I remember well the old, gross, gambling, drinking type." -John Wilson, the Durham miners* leader also remembered the "gross, gambling, drinking type" that he was as a young man, but attributed h i s conversion, i n his autobiography, to his wife. ^ Under her influence he changed h i s ways and became a Methodist lay preacher, Secretary of the Durham Miners' Association, and eventually entered the House of Commons, (sic . ) The women displayed a high degree of dedication to t h e i r husbands, emerging from t r a d i t i o n and t h e i r dependent status. In a community where l e i s u r e was heavily male-orientated, t h e i r recreational a c t i v i t i e s were lim i t e d to a morning's shopping i n the c i t y once or twice a year, or perhaps an annual outing to the coast, so that t h e i r l i v e s were circum-scribed by the home. In spite of these f a c t s , however, we cannot conclusively say that the wife came under the s t r i c t authority of her husband, as i n most other working class f a m i l i e s . Despite the male-orientated nature of work and le i s u r e , we can s t i l l i d e n t i f y aspects of a matriarchy i n coalmining society. As early as 1856 i t was found thats ... whatever may be the p e c u l i a r i t i e s of the husband on the one hand, or of his wife on the other, the difference i s s t i l l so great as to authority at home, that she i s almost sure to rule i n every case} and t h i s from no 162 amiableness on the part of the husband. Should the pitman have anywhere to go, or any l i t t l e business to transact, the wife must not only be there, but superintend, or even do i t e n t i r e l y . 58 Neither was she a passive creature i n times of distress or when the welfare of her family as at stake. Stearns notes that women were p a r t i c u l a r l y prominent i n times of s t r i k e , and i n t h i s respect they d i f f e r e d from t h e i r counterparts i n other i n d u s t r i a l groups. He c i t e s the occasion of the 1909 to 1910 South Wales s t r i k e as an example when the women, faced by the threat of extra work for t h e i r men through the proposed introduction of a three s h i f t system, were unusually active i n stoning shops and policemen. John Wilson i n the early years of his campaigning f o r labour i n the 1870's faced many set-backs because of the conservative nature of many of the miners, but one one occasion he had to face the wrath of a band of angry women who, "made an attack upon me, and threw various kinds of missiles at me... The sum of t h e i r epithets was that they did not want any agitator there s t i r r i n g up the minds of t h e i r menfolk and inducing them to s t r i k e . " Jack Lawson noted a great fear among women of s t r i k e s , because of the hardships that they entailed, but once they occurred they displayed a great strength of purpose and w i l l to v i c t o r y . "When t h i s stage i s reached, then the world may be against them,death and everlasting damnation come upon them, but they w i l l not retreat an inch. And woe betide the man who 6o would compromise." He remembers his own mother i n t h i s predicament when, " a l l her b a t t l i n g and wrathful s p i r i t rose up against the proposed wage reduction, (1892) and her i n s i s -163 tence on "no surrender" was i n inverse r a t i o to her fear of the st r i k e at i t s beginning." ^ It i s d i f f i c u l t to estimate, apart from her r o l e i n s t r i k e s and times of d i s t r e s s , how f a r the woman i n the coalmining community involved herself i n p o l i t i c s . Lady B e l l found that the iron-workers' wives were t o t a l l y ignorant and disinterested i n t h e i r attitude to public questions, and that they were "apathetic and suffered from an i n e r t i a , " However, an early cause of the Women's Labour League was "Baths for Miners", about which they produced a set of pamphlets directed towards, "... the graat mass of women, p a r t i c u l a r l y those belonging to 6? the wage-earning c l a s s . " I t i s hard to say how e f f e c t i v e these pamphlets were i f they reached the miners' wives, but they were c e r t a i n l y directed towards a female audience, con-cerned with "black slavery i n the home for the brave wives and mothers," The provison of pit-head baths would c e r t a i n l y have a l l e v i a t e d the work of the wife who had to wash and dry both husband and clothes i n the home, and where she had to contend with what Robert S m i l l i e , the miners' leader, had described i n a Women's Labour League pamphlet i n the following way, "... he had himself seen the sick mother or l i t t l e c h i l d r e n under the care of the doctor, l i v i n g i n the room where a l l the bathing of the men and boys from the p i t had to be done, and where the foul-smelling p i t clothes had to be dried before the common f i r e . " ^ A series of i l l u s t r a t e d pamphlets e n t i t l e d Baths at the  Pit-Head and the Works, "... which were sold l i t e r a l l y i n the tens of thousands i n mining and i n d u s t r i a l communities, pressed 164 home the spe c i a l p o s s i b i l i t i e s and advantage of hot and cold 64 spray bath i n s t a l l a t i o n s . . . " while, "Mrs. Bruce Glasier lectured i n dif f e r e n t parts of the country and dis t r i b u t e d i l l u s t r a t e d pamphlets c a l l i n g attention to the enormous help that pit-head washing accommodation would be to the wives and mothers of miners." J The Women's Labour League found that the experimental pit-head baths of the Atherton C o l l i e r i e s i n Lancashire i n 1915, were;g%yen a good reception. "The t e s t i -mony a l i k e of miners and t h e i r wives, and of enlightened em-ployers and inspectors was unanimous." ^ During and a f t e r the F i r s t World War, branches of the Women's Labour Section grew up throughout the South Yorkshire c o a l f i e l d . The 1922 Motes and Minutes of the Women's Labour  Section of one of these branches i n the heart of the mining industry — South Elmsall, Moorthorpe and South Kirkby — indicate the existence of branches of varying strengths i n Rotherham, Featherstone, Chesterfield, S h e f f i e l d , York, Outwood, Leeds, Penistone, Cudworth, Askern and Ackworth. They ranged from 250 members i n S h e f f i e l d to 20 members i n Featherstone. From t h i s l i m i t e d source, i t i s hard to gauge the extent of the influence of p o l i t i c s among women i n the c o l l i e r y towns, though i t i s int e r e s t i n g to note the extreme enthusiasm and hope for the future which marked the notes of t h i s small branch of p o l i t i c a l l y active women. As might be expected t h e i r main concerns were for c h i l d welfare through the schools — " I t i s our duty to mother the nation"? problems of unemploymentj votes for women at 21 years of age? higher taxation of the wealthy? and, af t e r the holocaust they had 165 recently experienced i n the Great War, a desire f o r no more war, . "Why should men and science be out for destruction instead of reconstruction and world peace?" they asked. ^ It i s almost impossible to t e l l however how many wives were affected by s i m i l a r interests i n public questions i n the period with which we are concerned. F i n a l l y , i n order to attempt to understand the wife of the coalminer further, the element of r i s k to the l i f e of the breadwinner must be taken into account. The element of danger extended to every member of the community, but f e l l e s p e c i a l l y hard upon the women who had to bear the consequences of a f a t a l accident, which struck down the centre of s e n t i -ment, and the breadwinner of the family. There i s no denying that the threat of t h i s possible eventuality continually hung over the women-in the mining community, though i t was a threat with which they had to come to terms i f possible. As late as 1969, Rex Lucas found i n his study of the implications of a mining disaster upon those involved that, "the d a i l y threat of death to the breadwinner affected the fa m i l i e s of the miners. Many wives stated that as they saw t h e i r husbands off to work, 68 they wondered i f they would see them a l i v e again." If possible, a wife had to conceal her fears from her husband and family. G.A.W. Tomlinson wrote how his own mother was able to hide her emotions: Sometimes there would be rumours of an accident at the p i t and though Mother never t o l d us, we knew that she was troubled. Then we could s i t q u i e t l y together on the sofa whilst she v/ent on preparing the supper for a man v/ho might never need i t . God alone knows what fears she kept hidden from us and how with i r o n con-t r o l she continued to attend to the cooking of the supper. 69 166 When an accident did occur, a woman had to r e t a i n the same ir o n w i l l and composure that she displayed under the threat. The p i t posed a harsh threat to l i f e , and had to be faced with a s i m i l a r ruthlessness. There existed a sense of community i n misfortune, so that one family's loss was everyone's l o s s , but at the same time, sentimentality was masked. A poignant description of the effects of tragedy i s given by Tomlinson, when he writes from experience: Tears are rare things i n c o l l i e r y towns and v i l l a g e s . C o l l i e r s and t h e i r wives seldom cry. I sometimes wish they did cry occasionally, f o r the sight of a woman's face when her man or son i n brought home from the p i t injured i s one that haunts the mind for a long time a f t e r -wards. I have seen them so many times as they have met the sweating party of men carrying a husband or son — no excitement, no f l u t t e r i n g around the stretcher, no f a i n t i n g , no tears. Just the question, "Is i t very bad?" The muscles of the face set i n hard l i n e s , the l i p s drawn t i g h t together and the voice as steady as i t was when the man started off for the day's work. But i t i s i n the eyes that a man dare not look. 70 I t i s l i t t l e wonder that the men who l e f t t h e i r l i f e s t o r i e s behind them were struck by the heroism of the women i n the mining communities. The women who were l e f t without means by a f a t a l a c c i -dent to the wage earner could r e l y on the.ihelp of the other members of the community for material a i d . Apart from the occasional instances of compensation from the c o l l i e r y com-pany — t h i s appears to be rare — and ai d from the Union or Friendly Society, she would also receive help from neigh-bours. In addition to h i s , explosions gave r i s e to a flood of ballads and poetry-sheets, which were sold i n the c i t i e s 167 and neighbouring towns to rais e money for the victims of tragedy. Such mining balladry, though sentimental i n the extreme, was e f f e c t i v e i n s t i r r i n g consciences and r a i s i n g alms. One such ballad was the Trimdon Grange Explosion. written i n 1882 by a working Durham c o l l i e r , Thomas Armstrong. Seventy-four men were l o s t i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r tragedy, which e l i c i t e d t h i s ballad? "Oh l e t * s not think of tomorrow, l e s t we disappointed be. Our joys may turn to sorrow, as we a l l may d a i l y see, Today we may be strong and healthy, but soon there comes a change, As we may see from the explosion that has been at Trimdon Grange. Men and boys l e f t home that morning for to earn t h e i r d a i l y bread, Nor thought before that evening they'd be numbered with the dead. Let's think of Mrs Burnett, once had sons but now has none — By the Trimdon Grange Explosion, Joseph, George and James are gone. February l e f t behind i t what w i l l never be forgot? Weeping widows, helpless children may be found i n many a cot. Now they ask i f father's l e f t them, and the mother hangs her head, With a weeping widow's f e e l i n g s , t e l l s the c h i l d i t s father's dead. God protect the lonely widow, and r a i s e each dropping head ? Be a father to the orphans,never l e t them cry for bread. Death w i l l pay us a l l a v i s i t , they have only gone before. We'll meet the Trimdon victims where explosions are no more." 71 I t i s impossible to say exactly what type of woman the miner's wife was, because she l e f t behind her no written record of her own. I t can only be suggested from personal 168 accounts and inference that she possessed some or a l l of the above c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . On thing i s c e r t a i n , the nature of her s o c i a l and domestic rol e did d i f f e r from that of other working class wives i n the ways suggested above. I t i s proposed that a l l miners* wives possessed some s i m i l a r c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , because of the nature of t h e i r work and environment, and i n t h i s respect they shared a degree of s o l i d a r i l y . In the words of the s o c i a l commentators I. Lubin and H. Everett, which appropriately conclude t h i s chapter: They are a l l f i g h t i n g the same bat t l e against the d i r t brought home from the p i t : they a l l face the same round of meals ^ preparation of bath water and the dry/ing of p i t clotnes i n houses where modern sanitary conditions are v i r t u a l l y unknown. I f t h e i r husbands and sons are working on di f f e r e n t s h i f t s , t h e i r struggle may begin at four i n the morning and end at midnight. And through the hard routine runs the d a i l y fear of disaster f or one's family, and the despression that comes from moving among those whom death or serious accident has l e f t desolate. The l o t of a miner's wife gives to her the same f i x i t y of purpose, the same i n t e n s i t y of conviction as that of her husband. I f one asks the secret of the miner's "staying power" i n times of c o n f l i c t , one must look to the miner's wife for the answer. 72 FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER V 1 N, Dennis, F. Henriques. and C. Slaughter, Goal i s our L i f e (London, 1956). 2 Peter Stearns, "Working-Class Women i n B r i t a i n . 1890 - 1914," i n Suffer and Be S t i l l . Women i n the  Vict o r i a n Age Ed. Martha Vicinus, (London, 1972), p. 113. 3 Lady Florence B e l l , At The Works (London, 1911), pp. 242 - 243. 1 6 9 4 Coal and Power. The Report of an Enquiry presided over hy the Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, (London, 1924), p. 7 5 A, Hutt, The Condition of the Working Class (London, 1933), P. 3 0 6 Report of the Departmental Committee on the Provision  of Washing and Drying Accommodation at Mines, B.P.P. 1913, XXXIV, p. 6. 7 G. Hit c h i n , Pit-Yacker (London, 1962), p. 20. 8 I b i d . . pp. 13 - 14. 9 R.P. Arnot, The Miners: Years of Struggle Vol. 2. (London, 1953TTp. 148. 10 I b i d . , pp. 147 - 148. 11 J . Lawson, A Man's L i f e (London, 1932), pp. 5 2 - 53. 12 F. Zweig, Men i n P i t s (London, 1948), pp. 101 - 102. 13 Lawson, Op. C i t . . pp. 47 - 48. 14 Paul de Rousiers, The Labour Question i n B r i t a i n (London, I896), pp. 173 - 174. 1 5 G.A.W. Tomlinson, Coal-Miner (London, 1937), pp. 21 - 22. 16 M. Benney, Charity Main. A C o a l f i e l d Chronicle (London, 1946), p. 19. 17 H i t c h i n , Op. C i t . , pp. 21 - 22 18 Lawson, Op. C i t . . pp. 59 - 6 0 . 19 E. Pontefract and M. Hartley, Yorkshire Tour (London, 1950), p. 19. 20 J.E. Williams, The Derbyshire Miners (London, 1962), p. 449. 21 I b i d . , p. 449. 22 See Stearns, Op. C i t . , on t h i s t o p i c , p. 104. 2 3 H. Bosanquet, The Strength of the People (London, 1902), p. 103. 24 I b i d . t p. 107. 25 P. Reeves, Family L i f e on a Pound a Week (London, 1912), p. 16. 170 26 I b i d . , p. 17. 27 B e l l , Op. G i t . , p. 278. 28 Report of the Interdepartmental Committee on Physical  Deterioration. B.P.P. 1904. XXXII, Appendix V, p. 123. 29 Cited by M. Hewitt i n , Wives and Mothers i n V i c t o r i a n  Industry (London, 1958). p. 120. 30 Report on Physical Deterioration. 1904. p. 124. 31 See M. Anderson, Family Structure i n Nineteenth  Century Lancashire (Cambridge. 1971). 32 N.J. Smelser, S o c i a l Change i n the I n d u s t r i a l Revolution (London, 1959), p. 282. 33 I. Pinchbeck, Women Workers and the I n d u s t r i a l Revo- l u t i o n . 1750 - 1850 (London. 1930). P. 263. 34 Hewitt, Op. C i t . . p. 75. 35 See Bosanquet, Op. C i t . . p. 191. 36 F. Zweig, Op. C i t . . pp. 142 - 143. 37 B.L. Coombes, These Poor Hands (London, 1939), p. 21 38 R. Haddow, "The Miners of Scotland," The Nineteenth  Century. Vol. XXIV, (July - Dec. 1888), p. 366. 39 S i r J. Tudor Walters, The Building of 12.000 Houses (London, 1927), p. 31 40 Cited i n J.E. Williams, Op. C i t . . p. 453. 41 Report on the Investigation i n the C o a l f i e l d of South  Wales and Monmouth. B.P.P. 1928 - 29. V I I I . p. 6. "Languor" i s defined by Webster's Dictionary as "lack of v i t a l i t y . " 42 L. Oren, "The Welfare of Women i n Labouring Families: England, I860 - 1950," Feminist Studies. Vol. I, (Winter/Spring 1973) P. 119. 43 N. Dennis et a l . , Op. C i t . . p. 243. 44 Stearns, Op. C i t . . p. 107 45 A. Pla t e r , Close the Coalhouse Door (London, 1969) 46 Ibid. 47 Stearns, Op. C i t . . p. 108. 171 48 I b i d . , p. 110 49 I b i d . , p. 112. 50 M. Young, "The D i s t r i b u t i o n of Income within the Family," B r i t i s h Journal of Sociology. No. 3. (1952). 51 R. Llewellyn, How Green was my Valley (London, 1939) p. 8. 52 I b i d . , p. 228. 53 Stearns, Op. C i t . . p. 108. 54 J. Brophy, A Miner's L i f e (Madison and Milwaukee, 1964), p. 8. 55 Pinchbeck, Op. C i t . . pp. 262 - 263. 56 Lawson, Op. C i t . , pp. 59 - 60. 57 J. Wilson, Memoirs of a Labour Leader (London, 1910). 58 J.R. L e i f c h i l d , Our Coal and Our Coal-Pits> the People  i n them and the Scenes around them (London. 1856). P. 219. 5$ Wilson, Op. C i t . , pp. 268 - 269. 60 Lawson, Op. C i t . , p. 64. 61 I b i d . , p. 66. 62 Dr. M. P h i l l i p s ( E d i t o r ) , Women and the Labour Party (London, c i r c a 1919). 63 I b i d . . pp. 89 - 90 64 I b i d . , p. 90. 65 R. S m i l l i e , My L i f e f or Labour (London, 1924), p. 153. 66 P h i l l i p s , Op. C i t . . p. 91 67 Notes and Minutes of the Women's Labour Section? South El m s a l l , Moorthorpe and Sourth Kirkby, 1922. MSS Cusworth H a l l Museum, Doncaster, Yorkshire. 68 R. Lucas, Men i n C r i s i s (New York, 1969), p. 10. 69 G.A.W. Tomlinson, Op. C i t . . p. 22. 70 I b i d . , pp. 154 - 155. 172 A.L. Lloyd, Come A l l Ye Bold Miners (London, 1952), PP. 78 - 79 I. Lubin and H. Everett, The B r i t i s h Coal Dilemma (New York, 1927), P. 193. 173 CHAPTER VI THE COALMINER - HIS WORK I am proud that I am a miner, and the son of a miner, and although I have hated the p i t I am gra t e f u l f o r what the men of the p i t s have taught me. 1 We must now turn to the coalminer himself and consider his l i f e i n both i t s vocational s o c i a l contexts. Unlike the women of the coal towns, much has been written about the coalminers, and most writers agree that the s o l i d a r i t y which existed between the coalminers as a group was t h e i r most notable and d i s t i n c t i v e feature. The purpose of the following two chapters i s to present some r e f l e c t i o n s on the coalminer — on his work, health, l e i s u r e pursuits, his s o c i a l r o l e s , and to attempt to dis t i n g u i s h some common features of per-sonality which emerged from these factors. They are an attempt to sketch a picture of the miner i n his occupational and s o c i a l role -- a picture which can only be an outline, because of the sheer size of the top i c . The primary aim of these descriptions i s to i l l u s t r a t e the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c cohesion and s o l i d a r i t y which bound the coalminers together. Reasons why the coalminers have been designated as "a race apart" by historians and s o c i a l observers are put forward. Although there are great variations i n l i f e s t y l e s and work among the c o a l f i e l d s , some p a r a l l e l s and common features are drawn out i n these two chapters. The greatest problem here l i e s i n the d i f f e r i n g opinions that observers have held of the coalminers* behaviour. S o c i a l commentators and investigators have written both disparaging and u p l i f t i n g assessments of the coalminers, and from these d i f f e r i n g 174 opinions we must attempt to evaluate the character of the coalmining population. This involves f i r s t l y , an examination of the occupational ro l e and the actual working l i f e of the coalminers, how they were regarded by non-miners, and al s o , the attitudes that the miners have taken towards themselves. The opening quotation from a working miner c r y s t a l l i z e s how most coalminers have regarded t h e i r l i f e and work. I Despite the fact that the coalmining industry was i n -te g r a l to the economy of Great B r i t a i n i n the nineteenth century, the coalminers as a class were regarded as an i n f e r i o r group, set apart from the rest of the population by t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r l i v i n g and working conditions. An observer i n 1842 said that " i n the character of the c o l l i e r population there are phenomena which demarcate i t from every other class 2 of the community." For the l a s t two centuries, Frank Machin said that the coalminers had been assigned a lowly s o c i a l status by observers and that they had been described as "a people apart and an i n f e r i o r race." J Comments made by contemporary observers i l l u s t r a t e the general attitude displayed towards the pitmen. In the 1760 ,s Arthur Young described them as "a most tumultuous, sturdy set of people, greatly impatient of co n t r o l , and much void of common industry." The very nature of the miners 1 work caused outsiders to regard them as being something less than human. Their work was to many, unnatural, and as such added 175 a s i n i s t e r facet to t h e i r character. The conditions under which they laboured, i t was believed, fostered degradation and immorality. The investigation of the Royal Commissioners into Children's Employment i n 1842 added weight to t h i s b e l i e f i n the public mind. Moreover, the miners were regarded as being dangerous and v i o l e n t . In 1839» a Welsh M.P. Wrote to the Home Sec-retary urgently requesting troops to q u e l l Chartist disturbances. He lamented his s i t u a t i o n when he wrote, "a more lawless set of men than the c o l l i e r s and miners do not exist ... It requires some courage to l i v e among a set of savages." J One of the reasons why outsiders regarded the miners i n t h i s way was that l i t t l e was r e a l l y known about them. Isolated geographically from the res t of the population, the miners were mistrusted and were a source of misunderstan-dings, s t o r i e s and rumours. The majority of miners l i v e d i n v i l l a g e s p h y s i c a l l y i s o l a t e d from other workers, "out of sight of the rest of the community and wholly out of i t s ken." People displayed a remarkable ignorance about the l i f e of the mining population. Even William Cobbett held a mistaken b e l i e f about the coalminers when he wrote i n his P o l i t i c a l Register i n 1832, "Here i s the most surp r i s i n g thing i n the whole worldj thousands of men and thousands of horses continually l i v i n g underground: childre n born there, and who sometime never see the surface at a l l , though they l i v e to a considerable age." 7 Cobbett was not alone i n belie v i n g that the mining popu-l a t i o n a c t u a l l y resided underground. As late as 1856, we 176 have a reference to t h i s same misunderstanding when John Wilson, the Durham miners' leader was working on the " c o l l i e r s " shipping sea coal to London. In his autobiography he des-cribes the following conversation he had with a London barman: "He was t o l d I was a pitman. Pressing for more information, he enquired how long I had been down the p i t . 'Seven years,' was the answer. In most surprised tones he s a i d , 'Have you not been up t i l l now?' I was surprised at him, and r e p l i e d , 'Yes, every day except on rare occasions.' 'Why, I thought Q you pitmen l i v e d down there always!' said the queris t . " W. Palmer, a pitman f r i e n d of John Wilson's experienced a simi-l a r incident i n London when his occupation was the cause of great interest to the southerners: That increased the surprise of the Londoner, and he requested the Northerner to accompany him to a tavern nearby, and took him into the parlour, where a number of persons were s i t t i n g , and made Palmer walk round l i k e a horse showing his paces at a f a i r , and the general cry was, "Why, he can walk as straight as ourselves. We thought those pitmen could only walk i n a doubled-up posture owing to the cramped condi-t i o n of t h e i r work and t h e i r continual residence underground." 9 So l i t t l e was a c t u a l l y known about the miners that i t i s hardly surprising that "to the majority of people, especi-a l l y those i n the non-mining d i s t r i c t s , the miner was a curio-s i t y of i n f e r i o r s o c i a l status." 1 0 At least one miner bene-f i t e d f i n a n c i a l l y from t h i s public c u r i o s i t y . John Marshall, reputed to be the f i r s t c o l l i e r to leave the p i t s i n the great national stoppage of 1912, earned his l i v i n g a f t e r t h i s time as an a t t r a c t i o n i n the London music h a l l s . He appeared on the stage i n his work clothes, carrying a pick and h i s , i 11 miner's lamp. 177 I t was only on the o c c a s i o n of some gre a t c o l l i e r y d i s a s t e r or prolonged c e s s a t i o n of work through a s t r i k e or l o c k - o u t , t h a t p u b l i c a t t e n t i o n was s e r i o u s l y drawn t o the l o t of the co a l m i n e r s . Nothing was known of the l a b o u r or h a b i t s of the c o l l i e r s o u t s i d e of the c o a l m i n i n g d i s t r i c t s . Tragedy u s u a l l y provoked p u b l i c i n t e r e s t f o r i n s t a n c e . On the o c c a s i o n of the famous H a r t l e y C o l l i e r y d i s a s t e r i n 1862, when 204 men and boys were k i l l e d , the Queen gave the l e a d i n d onating s u b s c r i p t i o n s f o r the r e l i e f of the r e l a t i v e s of the v i c t i m s , w h i l e the Bishop of Durham p u b l i c l y p r a i s e d the rescue workers f o r t h e i r bravery. However, such p u b l i c and o f f i c i a l alarm was not always the case, and K e i r Hardie expressed h i s i n d i g n a t i o n i n the House of Commons i n 1894 a t the f a i l u r e of the House t o express sympathy t o the South Wales miners a f t e r the e x p l o s i o n at the A l b i o n C o l l i e r y when 260 miners l o s t t h e i r l i v e s . The c o l l i e r s t h e r e f o r e , r e c e i v e d scant a t t e n t i o n from the r e s t of the p o p u l a t i o n . I f they were ever c o n s i d e r e d by o u t s i d e r s , a p a r t from p i t y d u r i n g times of tragedy, they were the focus of c u r i o s i t y , f e a r and d i s g u s t . They were regarded as a c l a n n i s h s e t , cut o f f from the r e s t of the p o p u l a t i o n by p h y s i c a l i s o l a t i o n and by the nature of t h e i r work and l i f e s t y l e , and having l i t t l e concern w i t h o u t s i d e r s . The c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the miners which most impressed o u t s i d e r s was, i n f a c t , t h e i r s o l i d a r i t y . 178 II There were great variations between the working condi-tions of the different coalfields in Britain and any assess-ment of the working situation therefore, has to include some generalizations. In examining these conditions, i t may be seen that there were certain common or characteristic features in the actual working situation of the miners which served to distinguish them further from other working-class groups. Throughout a l l coalfields, there was a hierarchy of wor-kers ranging from the supervisors, deputies and overmen down to manual labourers. Leaving aside the supervisory staff, the most highly respected and wellpaid workers were those who worked on the coal face i t s e l f . The stone-men whose job was to blow down the roof to form roadways and galleries were considered to be at the top of the hierarchy, followed closely by the coal cutters and hewers.' These men alone worked on a piece-rate, and in fact they employed their own putters and f i l l e r s or haulage men on a daily wage rate. The face men and the haulage men together governed the attitudes of their community, for they dominated the hierarchy of workers. They were the most influential voices in the local lodges, and most trade union disputes revolved around their griev-ances. After these skilled and semi-skilled workers came the poorly paid and inarticulate lower orders in the scale — the manual labourers and the surface workers. Rex Lucas, in his study of Canadian coalmining, had ar-gued that social st r a t i f i c a t i o n centred upon this job struc-12 ture. However, this stratification was weak since there 179 was no c l o s e d or formal a p p r e n t i c e s h i p system i n c o a l m i n i n g whereby a s e l e c t few would be allowed t o reach the upper echelons of the job s c a l e . Every h e a l t h y and w i l l i n g boy c o u l d expect t o become a hewer by h i s e a r l y twenties through the unique a p p r e n t i c e s h i p system which p r e v a i l e d i n the c o a l communities. The c o a l owners p r e f e r r e d t o employ the sons of c o a l -miners r a t h e r than o u t s i d e r s , f o r they f e l t t h a t c l o s e f a m i l y t i e s i n the i n d u s t r y produced more knowledgeable and r e l i a b l e pitmen. Preference was g i v e n t o those who a l r e a d y had mining connections f o r the more h i g h l y p a i d and s k i l l e d work. Some form of s e l e c t i o n may be i d e n t i f i e d here, f o r o u t s i d e r s were d i s c r i m i n a t e d a g a i n s t by being r e l e g a t e d t o more menial t a s k s . A l o c a l boy however, on l e a v i n g s c h o o l , would be a t t a c h e d t o h i s own f a t h e r or r e l a t i v e i n the p i t , and he would g r a d u a l l y work h i s way through a l l the v a r i o u s types of work, up the job s c a l e . There was t h e r e f o r e a h i g h degree of i n t e r n a l r e c r u i t m e n t of l a b o u r t o the mines which took the form of a passage through a l l the d i f f e r e n t phases of work, from the l o w l i e s t , menial t a s k s , up t o the most h i g h l y s k i l l e d and w e l l - p a i d p o s i t i o n s at the c o a l f a c e . T h i s i n f o r m a l a p p r e n t i c e s h i p system was open t o a l l sons of miners, and the c a r e e r of George Parkinson d e s c r i b e d below was t y p i c a l of those d e s c r i b e d by the miner autobiographers. T h i s i s what a miner's son might expect i n h i s working l i f e : On t h a t l e v e l of l i f e , I passed from c h i l d h o o d t o manhood through the o r d i n a r y c u r r i c u l u m of the n o r t h e r n p i t b o y ' s l o t . I graduated s u c c e s s i v e l y 180 from the s t a r t i n g - p o i n t of a doorkeeper i n the mine at nine years of age, through a l l the stages of a miner's t o i l and i t s dangers, t i l l a t 21 years of age I took my degree as a c o a l hewer, t h i s b e i n g the h i g h e s t u n o f f i c i a l p o s i t i o n a t t a i n a b l e a t the c o s t of the hardest from of mining labo u r known. L i k e an a p p r e n t i c e completing h i s "time", so the " p u t t e r " , or conveyor of c o a l , becoming a hewer, has reached h i s h i g h e s t l e v e l , and i n the o l d p i t phrase, "He's now a man f o r h i s s e l ' . " 13 Although t h e r e was a form of a p p r e n t i c e s h i p i n the mining community expressed by means of the o c c u p a t i o n a l h i e r a r c h y , Henry P e l l i n g has argued t h a t t h e r e was no s o c i a l cleavage w i t h i n the mining community. Though the h i g h e s t p a i d c r a f t s -men who worked on the f a c e were r e s p e c t e d by the community as having reached the top of the o c c u p a t i o n a l s c a l e , t h e r e was no l a b o u r a r i s t o c r a c y of E . J . Hobsbawm's d e f i n i t i o n w i t h i t s f o r m a l , s e l e c t i v e entrance requirements, and lower middle c l a s s overtones. Hewers and face workers were the h i g h e s t p a i d pitmen but t h e i r o n l y q u a l i f i c a t i o n s were t h e i r s t r e n g t h and age. There was t h e r e f o r e , "the absence of s o c i a l cleavage such as might a p p l y where a labour a r i s t o c r a c y 14 e x i s t e d . " The degree of promotion depended upon a man's s t r e n g t h and t h e r e would be some weaker men who never entered i n t o the promotion r a c e . They spent t h e i r working l i f e i n l e s s w e l l - p a i d s u r f a c e or underground jobs, working a l o n g s i d e immigrant l a b o u r e r s . However, t h e i r c a r e e r s were not t y p i c a l of the normal work c y c l e of the miners. T h e i r jobs may have been regarded as i n f e r i o r by those a t the top of the h i e r -archy, but i t i s d i f f i c u l t t o prove t h a t a s t r o n g s o c i a l gap or t e n s i o n s emerged between them and more h i g h l y p a i d workers. 181 Family circumstances varied enormously, according to the number of dependants, wage earners and paying lodgers, i n d i c a t i n g that s o c i a l s t r a t i f i c a t i o n was weak i n the coalmining commu-n i t i e s . A man might serve h i s apprenticeship and graduate into the mining e l i t e , but he l i v e d i n the same house, drank i n the same pub, and, under a wage system whereby earnings were divided up by a team of workers according to the individual's labours, no s o c i a l pretensions could be assumed. Earnings, and therefore s o c i a l status, could be estimated by a l l i n the close working and l i v i n g conditions of the mining com-munity. Status symbols, for instance, held l i t t l e sway. The miner, moreover, was bound i n time to be relegated to a less strenuous but poorly paid job once his strength began to f a i l him. This expectation operated against his opening up a s o c i a l r i f t with his i n f e r i o r s i n the job scale, since he would not be able to maintain i t throughout h i s l i f e t i m e . If we examine the ages of workers i n the coalmining industry, the t y p i c a l career of the coalminer described above, can be traced. Table I taken from the Census Report of 1891 shows the numbers of coalminers i n various age groups i n Eng-land and Wales, i n that year. TABLE I To show the numbers of coalminers at eight groups of ages. 1891. 15  Total 10- 15- 20- 25- 35- L5- 55- 65-Coal Miners 31,518 94,312 85,175 126,785 86,366 54,327 26,801 8,559 513,843 182 T h i s t a b l e i n c l u d e s workers i n a l l phases of co a l m i n i n g . There i s a l a r g e i n c r e a s e i n the numbers of miners i n the age group 25 t o 34 y e a r s , and a f t e r t h i s , the numbers s t e a d i l y d e c l i n e , so t h a t t h e r e are f a r fewer coalminers over the age of 55 years than t h e r e are under the age of twenty y e a r s . T h i s t a b l e i n d i c a t e s t h a t c o a l m i n i n g was p r i m a r i l y a young man's occupation, and the r a t e of r e t i r e m e n t and death n o r m a l l y e s c a l a t e d a f t e r 55 years of age. In Table I I , the occupation i s broken down even f u r t h e r t o show the number of miners i n the t h r e e main c a t e g o r i e s of c o a l m i n i n g — c o a l f a c e , work, haulage and maintenance, and s u r f a c e work — a t v a r i o u s ages i n 1911. The t a b l e shows f i g u r e s both f o r England and Wales, and f o r our model, the A d m i n i s t r a t i v e County of Y o r k s h i r e . TABLE I I To show the numbers of coalminers a t seven groups of ages f o r England and Wales, and Y o r k s h i r e . 1911. 16 Occu-p a t i o n England and Wales 10- 15- 20- 25- 35- 45- 55-64 W orkers at the face Other Worker Under ground Workers on the s u r f a c e 7,249 7,807 43,970 81,968 17,195 77,841 42,991 11,164 155,717 51,925 17,948 115,41C 39,903 14,788 56,405 26,521 11,577 39,901 15,598 8,168 York - s h i r e workers at the face 96 2,991 11,085 25,854 20,006 11,416 5,318 183 TABLE I I - continued Occu-pation 10- 15- 2fi- 25- 35- 45- 55-64 Others under ground 3,559 16,452 6,998 6,848 ^,575 2,732 1,390 Workers on the surface 1,996 2,851 1,771 3,054 2,448 1,810 1,169 On both the national and the county l e v e l , i t can be seen that the numbers of hewers increased with age among the younger workers, and more especially i n the age period 20 to 34 years. The huge decline i n the number of other wor-kers underground a f t e r the age of 20 years and the rapid increase i n the number of hewers at t h i s age, indicates that the process of promotion from haulage to face work was at work here. The number of surface workers i n the age period 20 to 24 years f a l l s i n both cases below the number of ju-veniles and older men i n t h i s category of work. At t h i s age a young man was probably promoted to more highly paid work underground. After the age of 25 years, the number of sur-face workers was swelled by those miners who had been injured underground and were confined to less strenuous jobs on the surface, and those u n s k i l l e d immigrants who were too old or too f a r removed from mining to be taught more specialized underground work. I t may be noted from t h i s table that boys and youths began t h e i r careers pr i m a r i l y i n underground sup-port work, which was usually connected with transport, main-tenance or v e n t i l a t i o n . The e a r l i e s t age at which work 184 commenced was twelve years, though the minimum age for p i t work had been raised to fourteen years in 1911. Those who began work at this early age perhaps combined some part time schooling with their job. The actual working conditions that this hierarchy of workers experienced have been amply described in secondary sources, but i t is the distinguishing features of pitwork that are of importance here. The d i f f i c u l t i e s presented to the miners by the working environment "serve to di s t i n -17 guish them in some ways" from other occupational groups, and " i t is invariably said by the miners that pitwork can never be other than an unpleasant, dirty, dangerous and •I Q d i f f i c u l t job." If we examine the attitudes of outside observers to the miner's work, and the reflections of the miners themselves upon their jobs, i t can be seen how the miners were distinguished from other occupational groups by the nature of their work and i t s environment. The f i r s t aspects of"coalmining tobe considered are the special peculiarities of the physical working situation. The surroundings of the underground workers were constantly moving as the earth settled over the caverns and tunnels crea-ted by the miners. In this respect the environment can be described as being dynamic and unpredictable. Unlike other occupations.working conditions were constantly changing, and planning therefore could not be uniform or standardized. No two coal faces were ever alike and, indeed, one coal face could go through many phases of change, from r o l l s in the 185 f l o o r or roof s t r a t a to f a u l t s where the coal might disappear completely. The roof or f l o o r might become wet, and a r e l a -t i v e l y safe working area might suddenly become uncertain or dangerous. The uncertainty and u n p r e d i c t a b i l i t y of the working s i t u a t i o n affected the attitude of the coalminer to his work, and required a high degree of alertness and s e n s i t i v i t y to changing conditions on the part of the miner. This served to draw the miners more c l o s e l y together f o r , "the s o l i d a r i t y and independence of the miners... must i n part be due to feelings engendered by working i n a world of t h e i r own faced 19 with an ever-present sense of danger." Other more s t r i -king d i s t i n c t i o n s concern, "... the peculiar nature of the environment... compared with a factory or other place of work. The miner descends into a world where the most obvious features are darkness, dust and a sense of i s o l a t i o n . In many cases these conditions are coupled with excessive heat, 20 water and cramped working conditions." These "dark, d i r t y and dangerous" aspects of coalmining were the reasons why the miners had "a psychology peculiar to t h e i r trade and why non-mining people often regard miners with an ambiguous mix-21 ture of respect rand r e j e c t i o n , " Coalmining encompasses conditions of extreme variety. Seams may be narrow so that men can never work i n a standing position? the atmosphere can be dry, dusty and excessively hot; or conditions may be wet and slippery. Whatever the peculiar conditions of the mine, there were c e r t a i n d i f f i -c u l t i e s that the miner had to learn to overcome i n his 186 everyday work. One f e a t u r e common t o a l l c o a l m i n e r s , was the constant b a t t l e a g a i n s t darkness and i t s l i m i t a t i o n s . I t i s understandable t h a t the miner f e l t h i m s e l f t o be d i s t i n c t from other i n d u s t r i a l workers, and t h a t o u t s i d e r s regarded h i s work as marking him o f f from other o c c u p a t i o n a l groups. Although working c o n d i t i o n s improved towards the end of the n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , w i t h the implementation of v a r i o u s s a f e t y f e a t u r e , Paul de Rousiers was s t i l l a b l e t o w r i t e from h i s o b s e r v a t i o n s i n the L o t h i a n c o a l f i e l d i n 1893 t h a t " t h e i r work i s v e r y d i f f e r e n t from t h a t of the f a c t o r y hand t e n d i n g a machine without any muscular f a t i g u e i n a l a r g e and w e l l -22 v e n t i l a t e d b u i l d i n g . " By s t u d y i n g the experiences of observers who a c t u a l l y v i s i t e d the p i t s and watched men work, we can see how p i t work was regarded by non-miners. The f i r s t major o b s t a c l e t o be overcome by the v i s i t o r , was the a c t u a l descent of the s h a f t . In 1835, John H o l l a n d noted i n h i s experiences t h a t i t was i n descending v a r i o u s c o l l i e r i e s t h a t " s e n s a t i o n s b o r d e r i n g 23 on the awful are i n e v i t a b l y e x p e r i e n c e d . " y The c o a l f a c e c o u l d be a n y t h i n g up t o f i v e m i l e s from the bottom of the s h a f t , and the c o l l i e r had t o t r a v e l t h i s d i s t a n c e on f o o t b e f o r e h i s working day began. T r a v e l l i n g the underground-roadways on f o o t was an a r t i n i t s e l f , and was one t h a t George Orwell had d i f f i c u l t y i n mastering. H i s d e s c r i p t i o n of t h i s o p e r a t i o n i s one of the most g r a p h i c of any s t r a n g e r underground. The d i f f i c u l t i e s ' he encoun-187 tered r e f l e c t those of any newcomer to the mine and are quoted i n f u l l to demonstrate a further s p e c i a l i z e d condi-t i o n of the miner's occupations • Usually i t i s bad going underfoot - thick dust or jagged chunks of shale, and i n some mines where there i s water i t i s mucky as a farmyard. Also there i s the track for the coal tubs, l i k e a miniature railway track with sleepers a foot or two apart, which i s tiresome to walk on ... At the s t a r t to walk stooping i s rather a joke, but i t i s a joke that soon wears off. I am handicapped by being exceptionally t a l l , but when the roof f a l l s to four feet or less i t i s a tough job f o r anybody except a dwarf or a c h i l d . You have not only got to bend double, you have also got to keep your head up a l l the while so as to see the beams and girders and dodge them when they come. You have, therefore, a constant c r i c k i n the neck, but t h i s i s nothing to the pain i n your knees and thighs. After h a l f a mile i t becomes (I am not exaggerating) an unbearable agony. You begin to wonder i f you w i l l ever get to the end - s t i l l more, how on earth you are going to get back. Your pace grows slower and slower. You come to a stretch of a couple of hundred yards where i t i s a l l exceptionally low and you have to work yourself along i n a squatting po s i t i o n . Then suddenly the roof opens out to a mysterious height - scene of an old f a l l of rock probably - and f o r twenty whole yards you can stand upright. The r e l i e f i s overv/helming. But a f t e r t h i s there i s another low stretch of a hundred yards and then a succession of beams which you have to crawl under. You go down on a l l fours j even t h i s i s a r e l i e f a f t e r the squatting business. But when you come to the end of the beams and t r y to get up again, you f i n d that your knees have temporarily struck work and refuse to l i f t you. You c a l l a h a l t . . . Your guide (a miner) i s sympathetic. He knows that your muscles are not the same as h i s . . . f i n a l l y you do somehow creep as f a r as the coal face. You have gone a mile and taken the best part of an hour; a miner would do i t i n not much more than twenty minutes. Having got there, you have to sprawl i n the coal dust and get your strength back f o r several minutes before you can even watch the work i n progress with any kind of i n t e l l i g e n c e . 24 Orwell was also highly impressed with the work performed by the miners, under conditions which he compared to his 188 mental impression of h e l l . Under these conditions he watched t e r r i f i c feats of work being performed by the f i l l e r s . These men could each load between ten and fifteen tons of coal 25 per "day on to the conveyor belts or into tubs. -\ It is impossible to watch the " f i l l e r s " at work without feeling a pang of envy for their toughness. It is a dreadful job that they do, an almost super-human job by the standards of the ordinary person. For they are not only shifting monstrous quantities of coal, they are also doing i t in a position that doubles or trebles the work. They have got to remain kneeling a l l the while - they could hardly rise from their knees without hitting the ceiling ... And the other conditions do not exactly make things easier. There is the heat - i t varies, but in some mines i t is suffocating and. the coal dust that stuffs up your throat and nostrils and collects along your eyelids... But the f i l l e r s look and_work as though they were made of iron. 26 The miners had to adapt to cramped working conditions, and in fact became expert at working in a kneeling or lying position. Those miners who wrote in their autobiographies of the experiences they encountered when they were f i r s t learning the miner's trade describe the specializations and adaptations required by mining. The environment in which the coalminer laboured necessitated the development of special s k i l l s , strength, and attitudes to work, and an in-tuitive avoidance of injury. B.L. Coombes who entered mining in South Wales from an agricultural background found that: The need to watch where you step, the d i f f i c u l t y of breathing in the confined space, the necessity to watch how high you move your head, and the trouble of seeing under these strange conditions are a l l confusing un t i l one has learned to do them automatically. My mate lay on his side and cut under the coal. It took me weeks to learn the way of swinging elbows and twisting wrists without moving shoulders. 2? Of the end of his f i r s t shift of work he wrote: How glad I was to drag my aching body toward that circ l e of daylight! I had sore knees and was wet from 189 the waist down. The back of my r i g h t hand was raw and my back f e l t the same. My eyes were h a l f closed because of the dust and my head was aching where I had h i t i t against the top, but I had been eight hours i n a strange, new world. 28 The hours worked by the miners were a source of contro-versy, and from the 1860's to 1908, the Miners' Federation of Great B r i t a i n was committed to a p o l i c y to secure an eight-hour day. Apart from the obvious advantages of spen-ding less time underground i n the conditions described above, the Federation was interested i n keeping coal production down to a l e v e l whereby the market would not be swamped. Ben Pickard, the Yorkshire miners' leader fought ardently f o r shorter hours, for the sake of safety and health. In 1891, he addressed the Joint Conference of Coal Owners and the M.F.G.B. i n the following ways The long hours our men have to put i n from the time they leave t h e i r homes to engage upon t h e i r work i n any s h i f t i s on the average longer than i n any other trade or occupation i n the country. The average i s from f i v e i n the morning u n t i l two or three i n the afternoon, which means 10i to 11 hours a c t u a l l y engaged either i n getting to t h e i r work or being engaged at the coal face.... Whilst these men on the surface ( i n other occupations) are breathing pure a i r , being supplied with warm food and drinks, with t h e i r half-hour to breakfast and t h e i r hour to dinner, with such i n t e r v a l s i n t h e i r t o i l , our miners are hurrying as i f f o r l i f e or death from home to the p i t bank, and when they descend the mines the only pure a i r they possess during that day i s what they take down with them. From the time they enter the mine they are breathing impure a i r , r i s k i n g t h e i r l i v e s every moment they are underground, and t h e i r t o i l i s more dangerous and exhaustive than any other work known on the surface. We have more permanently disabled men than any other trade, and there i s not the s l i g h t e s t doubt that we have more k i l l e d , seriously injured, and non-seriously injured than h a l f the trades of the country put together. I t has just been ascertained 190 that a great portion of the accidents r e s u l t i n g i n persons k i l l e d and injured occurred during the l a t e r hours of the s h i f t worked. 29 It was t h i s l a s t f a c t that eventually helped to win the o f f i c i a l eight-hour day f o r the coalminers i n 1908, which reduced the average working day f o r the miner from between f i f t y minutes and one hour. Working conditions were therefore, of an exceptional and d i s t i n c t i v e nature f o r the coalminers. They acquired sp e c i a l s k i l l s , and adapted t h e i r bodies to working i n close situations so that the actual work involved i n hewing and transporting coal underground seemed to be second nature to them to outside observers. However, the actual environmental conditions such as bad a i r , d i r t , poor l i g h t i n g and the diseases and i n j u r i e s that they promoted, could not be over-come so e a s i l y and the miners therefore deserved sympathy from outsiders, John Brophy found i n his experiences i n mining that the coalminer withstood hardships out of necces-s i t y , but t h i s did not make those hardships any easier to bear. To be a successful miner was simply a question of having the r i g h t attitude to the job. This set him apart from the newcomer into mining: An experienced miner would often work calmly on under conditions that would t e r r i f y a novice. This was not because he l i k e d taking chances, but because he had to work s t e a d i l y , with as l i t t l e l o s t time as possible, to get out a good day's production. He had to develop something l i k e a s i x t h sense that would t e l l him when the chances were going against him, and never miss that warning or his career i n mining would be a short one. 30 191 III The coalminer did not escape unharmed i n his l i f e t i m e of labour i n t h i s environment. He expected to have his health impaired, or to succumb to injury at some time i n his career, as a d i r e c t r e s u l t of the conditions already described. We must now consider the effects of these conditions upon c o l l i e r y safety and the health of the miner. The nature of the miner's work place was such that he had to be aware at a l l times of the dangers that might b e f a l l him. Roof f a l l s , f l o o r movements, f i r e s , flooding and poi-sonous gas were ever present threats. The high accident rate of the industry indicates the unpredictable nature of under-ground work. To combat the dangerous nature of his job, a coalminer developed a s e n s i t i v i t y and knowledge peculiar to his occupation: A man w i l l gently tap the roof with the head of a pick-shaft. The sound w i l l t e l l him how safe i t i s . He must d i s t i n g u i s h between a prop that i s merely creaking and one that i s about to break. The distant rumbling of a runaway tub, the s l i g h -test change i n the movement of the a i r , a d u s t i -ness i n the atmosphere, the mighty belch as the f l o o r heaves upwards, or a t r i c k l e of stones from the roofj each w i l l bring a miner's senses to concert p i t c h . 31 However, accidental deaths from explosions, asphyxiation, flooding, and (most wasteful of a l l of l i f e ) , roof f a l l s , occurred to a tr a g i c degree. If death rates through:violence, are considered, mining was, with the exception of seafaring, the most dangerous occupation i n B r i t a i n . J.S. Haldane's researches into the mortality of coalminers demonstrated that the miners had a higher than average rate of death due to accidents. Table III below draws upon his figures. 192 TABLE I I I To show the annual death rates from accidents, -per 1.000 l i v i n g i n B r i t a i n , i n age groups. 32 15 - 25 25 - 35 35 - 45 45 - 55 55 - 65 A l l Males 0.9 1849 1.0 - 53 1.15 1.4 1.6 Coalminers 5.7 5.3 6.2 6.9 5.9 1910 - 12 A l l Males 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.8 1.1 Coalminers 1.3 1.2 1.6 . 1.9 2.3 (Notes the figures i n the l a t e r time period include those r e t i r e d males as well as occupied males.) The wide v a r i a t i o n i n the figures for coalminers between these two dates indicates that the accident rate was d e c l i -ning considerably, due to the introduction of safety l e g i s -l a t i o n i n mining. However, the rates for the coalminers were s t i l l more than double those of the national rates i n the l a t e r period. The figures for the Midlands c o a l f i e l d s during the e a r l i e r period were considerably less than the national rates for coalminers. Thus, deaths by violence per one thou-sand coalminers i n Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, and Leicestershire combined ( t o t a l of 33»000 men) were as follows for each year from 1851 to 1853*-a l l accidents — 3 . 4 j explosions — 1.1? roof f a l l s — l.Oj and other accidents - 1.3 per thousand. 3 3 In the Black Country, where 32,500 miners worked i n these years, the a l l -34 accident rate was 7.1 per thousand employed. J-It was the small scale or in d i v i d u a l tragedies from roof f a l l s which claimed the greatest annual t o l l of l i f e . For instance, between 1903 and 1912 the annual death rate 193 per 1,000 coalminers i n c e r t a i n types of a c c i d e n t s was as f o l l o w s : e x p l o s i o n s — 0.17; f a l l s of ground — 0.74; Shaft a c c i d e n t s — 0.11; m i s c e l l a n e o u s — 0 . 4 4 ; above ground ( a l l causes) — 0.78; and, under and above ground ( a l l causes) 35 — 1 .33. I t was t h e r e f o r e , those a c c i d e n t s which went unnnoticed by the p u b l i c which were the most d e s t r u c t i v e of l i f e . Deaths i n c o a l m i n i n g u s u a l l y caught the a t t e n t i o n of the p u b l i c when they occurred i n d i s a s t e r p r o p o r t i o n s , and i t was these a c c i d e n t s t h a t were recorded i n mining b a l l a d r y and which formed the b a s i s of the f o l k - l o r e of the miners. "These major d i s a s t e r s l e d t o e n q u i r i e s , occasioned most comment, made the p u b l i c more keenly aware of the unusual dangers of the miners' occupation and conscious of how d i f f e r e n t were the c o n d i t i o n s under which the c o l l i e r laboured as compared 36 w i t h other workers." v Table IV r e c o r d s some of the more n o t a b l e c o l l i e r y d i s a s t e r s i n B r i t a i n , which prompted the sympathy of the p u b l i c . Those which occurred i n Y o r k s h i r e are i n d i c a t e d . TABLE IV To show the p r i n c i p a l c o l l i e r y d i s a s t e r s i n B r i t a i n . 1856 - 18W.37 Name of c o l l i e r y Date Number Dead Lund H i l l ( Y o r k s h i r e Feb. 1857 189 R i s c a Dec. 1860 130 The Oaks ( Y o r k s h i r e ) Dec. 1866 361 Ferndale Nov. 1867 178 Swaithe Main ( Y o r k s h i r e ) Dec. 1875 143 B l a n t y r e Oct. 1877 207 Haydock June, 1878 189 Abercarne Sept. 1878 268 R i s c a J u l y , 1880 120 Seaham Sept. 1880 164 Pendlebury June, 1885 Feb. 1890 178 L l a n e r c h 176 T h o r n h i l l ( Y o r k s h i r e ) J u l y , 1893 139 A l b i o n C o l l . , P ontypridd June, 1894 290 194 The most devastating accident i n B r i t i s h coalmining history occurred i n 1913 at Senghenydd i n South Wales, when 439 men and hoys were k i l l e d at one time. Between I856 and 1880, an average of one thousand miners died annually under violent circumstances i n the p i t s . With increased numbers of miners at work at the turn of the century, t h i s annual figure rose i n some years to 1 , 5 0 0 . In 1910 alone, 1,818 miners were k i l l e d . Four miners died each day, on average, i n the B r i t i s h c o a l f i e l d s between 1880 and 1910. However, these figures do not indicate the every day dangers that the miners had to face, so impressively, as do the figures f or non-fatal accidents. Under the 1906 Notice of Accidents Act, the following numbers of i n j u r i e s were reported i n the United Kingdom, as causing disablement f o r periods 39 longer than seven days. J 7 1908 - 143,258 1911 - 168 ,360 1909 - 154,740 1912 - 1 5 2 , 3 0 2 1910 - 160,638 1913 - 178,962 These figures represent between 14 and 15 per cent of the t o t a l number of employed i n mining. They do not record minor accidents which caused disablement for less than one week, and probably not a l l accidents were reported. I t i s c e r t a i n , however, from these figures that the miner had to expect some inj u r y to b e f a l l him during his working l i f e , and that, " the families of the miners l i v e at a l l times under the shadow of calamity, great or small." In times of accident, the c o l l i e r s formed t h e i r own rescue teams, and consequently the majority of miners were 195 aware of the destructive effects of an explosion, flood or roof f a l l , either through personal experience or hearsay. No miner who witnessed or heard the d e t a i l s of a tragedy could remain unmoved, and the importance of disasters l i e s i n t h e i r impact upon the miners and the mining community. There are many descriptions from observers and investigators of the effects of explosions, which leave l i t t l e to the imagi-nation. One such description of a fire-damp explosion i n the C o l l i e r y Manager's Handbook of 1896 perhaps throws some l i g h t upon the o f f i c i a l attitude to tragedies, on the part of the management. Here, the waste of human l i f e was granted the same importance as the destruction of material objectss In i t s destructive progress (the fire-damp explosion) everything presenting an impediment, unless strong enough to r e s i s t the b l a s t , i s hurled to one side or overthrownj doors, a i r - c r o s s i n g s , trams, horses, men, the timbers for securing the roadways, etc., usually offer no obstacle to the fury of the ex-plosion. The road timbers being knocked down the roof f a l l s i n , and the v e n t i l a t i o n i s arrested. In other parts of the roadways the timbers are consi-derably charred and deflected from an upright posi-t i o n : t h e i r altered state and appearance pointing almost as c e r t a i n l y as a finger-post i n the direc-t i o n of the b l a s t . Too often the evidence of such mute objects i s a l l that i s to be obtained, for those who escape the violence of the explosion are poisoned by the after-damp, and not one i s spared to throw l i g h t upon the calamity. 41 A more sympathetic description i s afforded by John Holland of the F e l l i n g C o l l i e r y disaster i n Durham. The explosion occurred i n May of 1812, but the 92 dead were not f i n a l l y recovered u n t i l September: Mr. Hodgson (Rev.) d e t a i l s with much minuteness the circumstances i n which the bodies of the sufferers were respectively discovered - sometimes buried beneath the f a l l of roof, but mostly l y i n g exactly i n the p o s i t i o n i n which they appeared to have been thrown at the moment of the explosion. In one place, twenty-one bodies lay together i n ghastly confusion: some l i k e mummies, scorched as dry as i f they had been baked. One wanted i t s 196 head, another i t s arm. The scene was t r u l y f r i g h t -f u l . The power of the f i r e was v i s i b l e upon a l l ; but i t s e f f e c t s were extremely v a r i o u s ; w h ile some were almost t o r n ot p i e c e s , t h e r e were others who appeared as i f they had sunk down overpowered w i t h s l e e p . 42 The l a s t mentioned had been overcome w i t h carbon-monoxide p o i s o n i n g , or the deadly "after-damp". W.N. and J.B. A t k i n s o n , who performed post-mortems on many bodies from mining d i s a s -t e r s i n an o f f i c i a l c a p a c i t y , found, among others crushed and mangled by r o o f f a l l s and e x p l o s i o n s , those who had d i e d from poisonous gas. For i n s t a n c e , from the Usworth e x p l o s i o n , Durham, i n 1885: "Thomas W e t h e r a l l . After-damp cause of death. The h a i r was s l i g h t l y s i n g e d where i t was not covered by h i s cap which was on. Fr o n t t e e t h were lo o s e and q u i t e pink i n appearance (a remarkable f a c t ) . C l o t h i n g not t o r n i n any way. No f r a c t u r e s or d i s l o c a t i o n s . Body much p u t r e f i e d . " J The r e c o v e r y of bodies such as t h i s was o b v i o u s l y a p a i n f u l process f o r the s u r v i v i n g miners. 3.L. Coombes who acted as an ambulance man and f i r s t - a i d man i n the p i t s , commented t h a t the frequent c o n t a c t w i t h death and i n j u r y had i t s e f f e c t s . He admitted f e e l i n g s of apprehension f o r h i s own s a f e t y : " I cannot check the f e e l i n g t h a t some day I s h a l l be j u s t t h a t important second too l a t e when jumping back from a stone which i s f a l l i n g , or w i l l be j u s t a yard too near a tram when the rope snaps." The miner l e a r n e d t o a v o i d p r e d i c t a b l e a c c i d e n t s , but the nature of the working environment was such t h a t f r e a k a c c i d e n t s o c curred, and these promoted f e e l i n g s of f e a r among the miners and t h e i r f a m i l i e s . In a study of a North Ameri-can mining community, Rex Lucas found t h a t , " d e s p i t e group 197 support, group control of behaviour, and a feeling of mastery-over some threats, each miner faced anew each day an uncer-tain, unpredictable, and threatening situation," J and, "the miners, their families, the townspeople, the mining com-pany, and union were a l l alert to the threat of death and 46 injury in the mine." Indeed, perhaps the most important aspect of a disaster, was i t s effect in welding the mining community together under a common sorrow. Tragedy had a unifying effect on the towns-people, as noted by G. Ridley M.P. when he reported on the South Normanton co l l i e r y explosion of 1937 to the House of Commons. Eight c o l l i e r s had died. I had never quite realized before, and I think that the house as a whole cannot realize, the long shadow which is cast by a mining disaster. I visited in the course of the day, a man in the middle t h i r t i e s , a normal, healthy, v i r i l e man who had, 48 hours before, been within 50 yards of the disaster. In that 48 hour<s he had succumbed, a nervous wreck, conscious for the f i r s t time in his mining l i f e what fear in the presence of death really meant... The shadow cast i t s e l f not only upon a man in the immediate vi c i n i t y of the disaster, but I could feel i t in the whole of that mining constituency. There was a new nervousness, a new apprehension of what i t meant to be in the presence of such an emergency... 47 Individual accidents as well as great disasters had a similar effect on the miners for: ... what are f i r e and flood compared with the daily t o l l over two centuries: the sudden silence in the mine and the mournful groups with the s t i l l body on the rough ambulance? These things have brought suffering and broken hearts, but they have welded these people into a unity which is more than econo-mic. They have brought an instinctive understanding to a l l miners and a l l workers in a l l lands, and created a sense of solidarity which no amount of education could have given by i t s e l f . 48 198 The working conditions of the coalminer not only pre-sented him with safety problems, but also had an adverse ef-fect on his health. It was i n the realms of i n d u s t r i a l disease that perhaps the greatest death t o l l lay. Disasters could be tabulated i n s t a t i s t i c s , but death from disease could not be assessed so e a s i l y . , Opinion has therefore divided on the extent of the harm to health which adverse working conditions engendered. The 1842 Royal Commission into Children's Employment was quite emphatic that work i n the coalmines resulted i n "cer-t a i n p o s i t i v e diseases, p a r t l y the d i r e c t r e s u l t of excessive muscular exertion, and p a r t l y the r e s u l t of such exertion combined with the unhealthy state of the place of work." ^ The Report i d e n t i f i e d the symptoms of these diseases as loss of appetite, stomach and back pains, ftausea, l i v e r troubles, rupture and b o i l s . Most miners aged prematurely, were asth-matic by the age of t h i r t y , and many contracted tuberculosis, while rheumatism and inflammation of the joints were common complaints. This pessimistic view was assumed by the miners them-selves and those sympathetic with t h e i r l o t , and i s also supported by. some o f f i c i a l data and s t a t i s t i c s . Those miners who recorded t h e i r l i f e s t o r i e s were most b i t t e r about the i l l - e f f e c t s of mining on health. S i l i c o s i s was a p a r t i -c u l a r l y strong bone of contention. For many years the coal owners refused to recognize t h i s disease or i t s cause, but Arthur Horner was b i t t e r l y aware of i t s e f f e c t s : 199 Ever s i n c e I was a boy, I can remember the men cho-k i n g themselves t o death a f t e r l o n g years i n the mine. Nobody who hasn't l i v e d w i t h the miners can under-stand what the t o l l of t h i s d i s e a s e meant. Go t o the graveyards of West Wales and look a t the tombstones and see how i t decimated the young manhood of the Welsh v a l l e y s . There was the case of the G l y n Neath :, f o o t b a l l teami a l l e l e v e n of them, miners working i n the a n t h r a c i t e p i t s , d i e d from s i l i c o s i s . 50 S t a t i s t i c s and o f f i c i a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n s can a l s o be c i t e d t o support these i n d i v i d u a l views. A p e s s i m i s t i c a t t i t u d e was taken by the commissioners of the 1904 I n v e s t i g a t i o n i n t o P h y s i c a l D e t e r i o r a t i o n . The Report commented on the e n t r y of boys i n t o mining t h a t , " i t does not matter t o the managers whether they are s c r o f u l o u s , r i c k e t y , p h t h i s i c a l or a n y t h i n g e l s e - they get them i n t o the p i t . Dr. Young a l s o i n s t a n c e d the coalminers as a c l a s s l i a b l e t o degene-51 r a t i o n . " George Rosen, who gathered t o g e t h e r evidence from v a r i o u s d o c t o r s * i n v e s t i g a t i o n s i n t o miners' d i s e a s e s from as f a r back as the seventeenth c e n t u r y , concluded t h a t the h e a l t h of miners was impaired because of working c o n d i t i o n s , and t h a t m o r t a l i t y r a t e s were a d v e r s e l y a f f e c t e d . Before 1850, he s a i d t h a t the mean d u r a t i o n of l i f e f o r the miners was l e s s than the average d u r a t i o n of l i f e f o r the r e s t of 52 the p o p u l a t i o n . Although h e a l t h conditons improved somewhat i n the second h a l f of the c e n t u r y w i t h the a m e l i o r a t i o n of c o n d i t i o n s i n the mines, the coalminers* death r a t e s were s t i l l h i g h e r than average among o l d e r men and youths. Table V compares the m o r t a l i t y r a t e s f o r coalminers g e n e r a l l y and f o r those i n the West R i d i n g , w i t h the n a t i o n a l m o r t a l i t y r a t e which i s taken as a base of 100. 200 TABLE V To compare the mortality rate for coalminers with  the national rate. 1908 53 AGES 15 20 25 35 45 55 65 and upwards Occupied males 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 Coalminers generally 150 111 86 77 94 119 143 Coalminers i n West Riding 115 92 ?° . 77 89 126 138 The age period from 25 years to 54 years appeared to he quite healthy years for coalminers, when compared to the average for a l l occupied males. Yet, the miners suffered worse health i n t h e i r early working l i f e and a f t e r 55 years of age when the death rates were comparatively higher than the national rate. Rosen concluded that most deaths i n miners were due to respiratory and chest diseases, es p e c i a l l y bron-c h i t i s and pneumonia. From the seventeenth century autopsies had discovered the presence of a t h i c k , black macous substance i n the lungs of the miners who had died from respiratory diseases. Medical knowledge, however, was l i m i t e d i n t h i s early period of coal-mining, and the causes of miner's "black lung" were not con-vinc i n g l y i d e n t i f i e d by early physicians. Rosen i s never-theless emphatic about the adverse effects of breathing i n coal dust, and att r i b u t e s these early cases of lung deterio-r a t i o n to pneumoconiosis. His conclusions from his study of health and the coalminer are that: In the f i r s t place, i t i s evident that a l l miners suffered most from various pulmonary diseases. In consequence of the prevalence of these morbid 201 conditions, the rates of mortality were generally higher among miners than among non-mining males, although an excessive divergence in the mortality rates of the two groups did not become very apparent un t i l the fourth decade of l i f e . 5L One f i n a l disease which was peculiar to miners, was the eye disease, nystagmus. This was caused by poor illumination, and could be severe enough to prevent a miner from working. In 1908, 460 cases of nystagmus merited compensation, while in 1910, "this figure had risen to 1,618, and again to 6,000 cases in 1913. By 1922, the wide prevalence of nystagmus was recognized, and i t was estimated that 50 per cent of a l l coalminers suffered from this, with dizziness and other head complaints to some degree, There can be no doubts about the detrimental effects of coalmine work upon the miner's health. Yet this has been disputed and evidence has been produced to support a favourable view of work in the mines. Sir Richard Redmayne, a Chief Inspector of Coal Mines, suggested in his autobio-graphy that although mining was dangerous, coalminers on the whole provided the healthier section of the community. In 1892: ... the general manger of some c o l l i e r i e s . , said before the Royal Commission on Labour: "Coalmining is not an unhealthy occupation. The atmosphere in which the miner works is temperate, and of necessity fresh and comparatively pure. The coalminer is not liable to ... wet and dry... He is liable to accidents of various description:, but he added that there was a consi-derable number of workmen between the ages of 55 and 70 s t i l l following their occupations. 57 But the Coal mine mangers doubtless tolerated social evils . more easily than their employees. E.H, Phelps Brown maintains that the coalminers were 202 healthier than t i n miners, potters, seamen, u n s k i l l e d labou-r e r s , builders and t e x t i l e workers. The differences i n stan-dards of health were due, he writes, to better income, diet and housing, recreation, a healthy physique demanded by mine-work and the fact that the miners insured themselves f o r the provison of medical care. ^ S t a t i s t i c s can also be used to support t h i s contention. J.S. Haldane investigated the causes of death among coalminers and concluded that as an occupational group, they were f a r healthier than might have been expected. Although death rates among coalminers had once been higher than average, they had improved out of a l l proportions as a r e s u l t of i n ovations i n , mining such as improved v e n t i l a t i o n systems. He provided the following figures to support his statement: TABLE VI To show the annual death rates per 1.000 l i v i n g . Iby ages, at two periods. 59 1) 1849 - 53 AGES 15 - 25 25 - 35 35 - 4-5 45 - 55 55 - 65 8.1 10.1 12.7 18.9 31.8 14.5 14.5 17.2 26.3 44.0 2.85 4.7 7.9 14.6 30.1 3.5 4.4 6.7 12.6 30.1 A l l males Coal Miners 2) 1910 - 12 A l l males Coal Miners (Note: the figures i n the l a t e r time period include r e t i r e d as w e l l as occupied males.) This table demonstrates that a s i g n i f i c a n t improvement had occurred i n the death rates of coalminers during t h i s period of time. In middle age, from 25 years to 54 years, 203 we see once again that the miners had a relatively low rate of death in the later of the two time periods. Haldane a t t r i -buted a higher death rate for miners among the younger men to a higher than average accident rate, and among the older men, to the prevalence of lung diseases in old miner. But on the whole, he suggested that coalminers were not unhealthy. Indeed, he produced figures to suggest that annual death rates from lung diseases were considerably less than average for miners before old age was reached, thus denying Rosen's evi-60 dence. It must be borne in mind however, that J.S. Haldane's investigations came under the auspices of the coal mine owners and his biases combined with a general inefficiency in recor-ding deaths from specific causes, may have affected these figures. Collis and Greenwood both maintained that the coalminers had a lower death rate than might be expected, especially when compared with other occupational groups. Thus, their l i f e expectancy was slightly higher than factory workers and workshop employees. TABLE VII To show the expectation of l i f e at the age of 20 years in certain occupational groups, based on  mortality figures for 1900 to 1902^ 61 Occupation Life expectancy in years Clergy 4?,1 Agricultural labourers 46.2 Clerks 43.2 Coal Miners 43.2 Cotton manufacturers 41.4 Carpet manufacturers 42.2 Shoemakers 42.6 Tailors 42.3 Printers 42.1 204 It can be seen therefore that a c o n f l i c t exists between those who take the part of the coalminers and argue poor health due to working conditions, and those who regard coal-mining as being no unhealthier than other occupations. I t i s a controversy from which no d e f i n i t e conclusions about the miner's health can be drawn, as convincing evidence has been put forward on both sides. Even today, a controversy rages i n the United Kingdom between the National Union of Miners and the National Coal Board over the eff e c t s of coal and stone dust on the miner's health, and where the fin e d i s t i n c t i o n between bronchitis and pneumoconiosis should be drawn. Problems which face today's observer, when attemp-t i n g to i d e n t i f y the exact extent of i n d u s t r i a l disease, are multip l i e d when an assessment i s attempted of i l l - h e a l t h i n the past. Perhaps the most important conclusion which can be drawn i s that, despite the controversies over the actual extent of disease, the miners genuinely did regard themselves to be at a disadvantage i n t h i s respect. They believed t h e i r work to be abnormally unhealthy, and the question of disease provided one of t h e i r major grievances. The eff e c t s of t h i s b e l i e f was to further alienate the coalminers from the coal owners, and to strengthen s o l i d a r i t y within the mining communities. Here was a further reason, combined with grievances over safety conditions, why miners should f e e l themselves to be d i s t i n c t and separate from other occupational groups. 205 IV The working conditions of the coalminers and the r e s u l -t i n g accidents and impaired health had c e r t a i n unifying e f f e c t s upon the coalminers as an occupational group. Furthermore, ce r t a i n attitudes developed from t h i s s p e c i a l i z e d working s i t u a t i o n which were d i s t i n c t i v e of the coalminers. These attitudes alone could provide the topic f o r a whole new t h e s i s , but i n t h i s instance space permits only a b r i e f survey of the effects of his occupation upon the coalminer. The coal mine obviously dominated the working l i v e s of the majority of men i n the coal towns, as there were few other employment al t e r n a t i v e s . It i s to the work of the coal-miner that we must look f o r the key to his attitudes and c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , and i t was i n the coal mine that his s o c i a l contacts, and his outlook on l i f e , were moulded. Once a man became a coalminer, he became a member of a geographically, s o c i a l l y and c u l t u r a l l y i s o l a t e d group — he acquired i t s p a r t i c u l a r norms and attitudes. These attitudes developed primarily from the peculiar nature of the coalminer's work, and were dominated by a sense of unity, exclusiveness, and sharing i n a common struggle i n l i f e and work. Lubin and Everett have i d e n t i f i e d what they term a "group mind" or "group mentality" among the miners, emerging from t h e i r shared l i v i n g and working conditions, and t h e i r preoccupation with a common past. Because of the lack of d i v e r s i t y of a c t i v i -t i e s f o r the coalminer i n these single industry towns, every-one shared the same preoccupations. 206 T h e c o a l m i n e r s w e r e a w a r e o f t h e i r common p r o b l e m s , a n d a l s o t h e d i s t i n c t i v e n e s s o f t h e s e p r o b l e m s f r o m t h o s e o f o t h e r } o c c u p a t i o n a l g r o u p s . T h e r e d e v e l o p e d f r o m t h e w o r k i n g s i t u a -t i o n a u n i q u e s o l i d a r i t y , a n e c e s s a r i l y h i g h d e g r e e o f c o o p e r a t i o n a n d a m u t u a l t r u s t b e t w e e n t h e c o a l m i n e r s . T h i s w a s r e c o g n i z e d b y t h e C e n s u s i n v e s t i g a t o r s i n 1 9 1 1 who s t a t e d t h a t , " f a r m o r e t h a n m o s t o t h e r i n d u s t r i a l w o r k e r s , m i n e r s w e r e b o u n d t o g e t h e r b y t h e p e c u l i a r n a t u r e o f t h e i r w o r k : a n d b e c a u s e t h e y w e r e a l l i n v o l v e d i n t h e same d i s c o m f o r t s a n d d a n g e r s , a n d w o r k e d u n d e r g r o u n d e i t h e r i n p a i r s o r i n h i g h l y d i s c i p l i n e d t e a m s , t h e y d e v e l o p e d a u n i q u e c a m a r a d e r i e . T h e d a n g e r s p r e s e n t e d b y c o a l m i n i n g c a l l e d f o r c o m p l e t e c o o p e r a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e m i n e r s f o r t h e i r own s a f e t y , a n d f o r t h e s a f e t y o f t h e w h o l e g r o u p . E a c h man c a r r i e d a g r e a t b u r d e n o f r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r h i s f e l l o w s , a n d f r o m t h i s t h e r e g r e w a u n i q u e i n t e r d e p e n d e n c e i n t h e p i t s . S i g a l f o u n d t h i s a t w o r k i n h i s s t u d y o f a p i t i n t h e B a r n s l e y a r e a . " A t f i r s t , a s f a r a s I c a n t e l l , t h e t w o m o s t r e q u i s i t e s k i l l s a r e t h e w i l l i n g n e s s t o e n d u r e a t a c o n s i s t e n t l y h i g h l e v e l o f p h y s i c a l e x p e n d i t u r e , a n d a n i n h e r e n t s e n s i t i v i t y i n t h e a r t s o f c o o p e r a t i o n . . . . F o r t h e s e v e n o r m o r e h o u r s d a i l y w h i c h t h e c o l l i e r m u s t s p e n d d o w n i n p i t , h e i s u n i t e d t o h i s m a t e b y d e v i l i s h b o n d s o f o c c u p a t i o n a l m a r r i a g e . " ^ M o r e o v e r , t h i s c l o s e w o r k i n g s i t u a t i o n l e d t o t i e s o f f r i e n d s h i p a n d m u t u a l u n d e r s t a n d i n g . T h e c o l l i e r B . L . C o o m b e s w o r k e d i n t h e same p i t w i t h a c o m p a n i o n f o r m a n y y e a r s w h e r e , "we l e a r n e d t o l i f t t o g e t h e r a u t o m a t i c a l l y , t o c h a n g e o u r w o r k i n g p o s i t i o n s t o s u i t e a c h o t h e r w i t h o u t s a y i n g a w o r d , 207 a n d t o v a r y o u r j o b s s o t h a t t h e c h a n g e s h o u l d g i v e some r e s t . F o r some y e a r s we s h a r e d o u r t r o u b l e s a n d j o y s , g o o d w e e k s a n d b a d , f e a r s a n d a m b i t i o n s — we w e r e r e a l " b u t t i e s " . T h e c a r d i n a l s i n i n t h e p i t w a s f o r a man t o be l a z y . F a i l u r e t o c o m p l e t e h i s q u o t a o f w o r k m e a n t t h a t t h e w h o l e p r o d u c t i o n o f t h e t e a m was h e l d b a c k . I f a man w a s u n a b l e t o k e e p u p t h e p a c e o f w o r k , t h r o u g h i l l n e s s o r o l d a g e , t h e n h e w o u l d e x p e c t h i s c o l l e a g u e s o r w o r k i n g s o n s t o h e l p h i m o u t . I f , h o w e v e r , a man c o n s i s t e n t l y f e l l b e h i n d t h r o u g h l a z i n e s s , t h e n t h e t e a m w o u l d e x c l u d e h i m f r o m t h e i r r a n k s . I n m i n i n g c i r c l e s , t h i s w a s a c a u s e f o r s h a m e , f o r i t w o r k e d a g a i n s t t h e i m a g e o f t h e m a n l i n e s s o f t h e m i n e r , a n d a l s o w e n t a g a i n s t t h e c o o p e r a t i o n e s s e n t i a l t o t h e w o r k i n g s i t u a t i o n . T h e m a j o r i t y o f t h e c o a l m i n e r s i n a p i t w e r e k n o w n t o e v e r y o t h e r w o r k i n g man i n t h a t m i n e , e i t h e r t h r o u g h r e p u -t a t i o n o r a c t u a l w o r k i n g e x p e r i e n c e . E a c h man w a s c l a s s i f i e d a c c o r d i n g t o h i s a b i l i t y a n d w o r t h a s a w o r k e r , a n d i t was o f i m p o r t a n c e t o t h e m i n e r t h a t h e r a n k e d h i g h l y i n t h e o p i -n i o n s o f h i s w o r k m a t e s . A n t a g o n i s m s c o u l d n o t b e a l l o w e d t o d e v e l o p i n t h e p i t , a s t h i s m i g h t i n f l u e n c e s a f e t y . T h i s c a l l e d f o r h a r m o n y i n s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s t o o , f o r a m a n ' s w o r k c o n t a c t s w e r e o f t e n h i s s o c i a l a n d l e i s u r e c o n t a c t s a l s o , f o r " t h e t e a m o f c o l l i e r s , w i t h i n t h i s s y s t e m o f m u t u a l d e p e n d e n c e , i s t h e h u b o f t h e s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e o f c o a l m i n i n g . " T h e u n i f y i n g e f f e c t s o f d i s a s t e r a n d d i s t r e s s i n t h e c o a l m i n i n g c o m m u n i t y , w h i c h e n c o m p a s s e d t h e w o r k e r s a n d t h e i r f a m i l i e s , h a s a l r e a d y b e e n r e m a r k e d u p o n . I n d e e d , t h e f r i e n d -s h i p w h i c h e m e r g e d i n t h e w o r k i n g s i t u a t i o n was p u t i n t o 208 p r a c t i c e a n d c h a n n e l l e d i n t o r e s c u e o p e r a t i o n s d u r i n g t i m e s o f t r a g e d y , a n d t h i s c o m b i n e d w i t h t h e c o m m u n i t y f e e l i n g o f s o r r o w t o f u r t h e r a s e n s e o f c o h e s i o n f o r , " t h e r e i s a d e f i n i t e c o m m u n i t y o f m i s f o r t u n e , a f e l l o w s h i p o f p o v e r t y , a G u i l d o f G r i e f . M e n h a v e s o m e t i m e s w o n d e r e d w h y i t i s t h a t t h e m i n e r s i n t h e i r u n i o n s a r e s o c l a n n i s h ; a n d t h e y h a v e m a r v e l e d t o o a t t h e n a t u r e o f t h i s w e l d i n g a n d o f t h e s t r e n g t h i t r e p r e -s e n t s . W e l l , t h e y n e e d n o t w o n d e r m o r e . I t i s o f t h e m i n e , 66 i t s d a n g e r s a n d i t s n e e d . " I f a m a n w e r e k i l l e d i n t h e m i n e , h i s w o r k m a t e s t r a d i -t i o n a l l y l e f t t h e i r w o r k f o r t h e r e s t o f t h e d a y a s a m a r k o f r e s p e c t . I n t i m e s o f m o r e s e r i o u s d i s a s t e r , t h e m i n e r s ' c o d e o f h o n o u r d e e m e d t h e r e s c u e o f t r a p p e d w o r k m a t e s t o be a " s a c r e d d u t y . " ^ R e s c u e w o r k c o n t i n u e d i f p o s s i b l e u n t i l t h e l a s t b o d y h a d b e e n f o u n d , d e s p i t e t h e t h r e a t t o t h e r e s c u e r ' s own l i f e . M i n i n g l o r e a b o u n d s i n t a l e s o f h e r o i s m a n d c o u r a g e d i s p l a y e d b y t h e r a n k a n d f i l e i n t h e c o a l f i e l d s i n t h e i r l o y a l t y t o t r a p p e d w o r k m a t e s . T h e r e e x i s t e d a l s o a u n i t y a m o n g t h e m i n e r s i n t h e i r s t r u g g l e f o r b e t t e r c o n d i t i o n s , a n d i n t h e i r p r o t r a c t e d w a r -f a r e w i t h t h e c o l l i e r y o w n e r s o v e r q u e s t i o n s o f h o u r s , p a y a n d c o n d i t i o n s . T h e s o l i d a r i t y o f t h e m i n e r s i n u n i o n i z a t i o n a n d t h e i r h i g h e r t h e n a v e r a g e p r o p e n s i t y t o s t r i k e i s w e l l k n o w n , a n d w i l l n o t b e d i s c u s s e d h e r e . H o w e v e r , i t m u s t be m e n t i o n e d t h a t t h e m i n e r s w e r e a g g r e s s i v e w h e n t h e i r k n o w n a n d a c c e p t e d w o r k i n g c o n d i t i o n s o r w a g e s w e r e t h r e a t e n e d , a n d i t w a s i n t h e r e a l m s o f t a n g i b l e w o r k i n g a n d l i v i n g 209 grievances that they were involved, rather than i n p o l i t i c s . G.D.H. Cole explained the coalminers' struggle to better t h e i r own conditions, and the s o l i d a r i t y that t h i s engendered i n the following way: The miner not only works i n the p i t : he l i v e s i n the p i t v i l l a g e , and a l l his immediate interests are concentrated at one point. The town factory worker, on the other hand, l i v e s often f a r from his place of work and mingles with workers of other c a l l i n g s . The townsman's experience pro-duces perhaps a broader outlook, and a quicker response to s o c i a l s t i m u l i coming from without: but the miners* intense s o l i d a r i t y and l o y a l t y to t h e i r Unions i s undoubtedly the r e s u l t of the conditions under which they work and l i v e . . . t h e i r i s o l a t i o n ministers to t h e i r own s e l f -s u f f i c i e n c y and l o y a l t y one to another.... They are narrow and slow to understand others or to f e e l the influence of outside public opinion. 68 Once the coalminers had fixed upon a course of action, they pursued t h e i r aims aggressively. They were keenly aware of the past, and the common knowledge of past struggles with coal owners served to bind them together more c l o s e l y . Stories of s t r i k e s and lock-outs had become f i x e d i n mining l o r e , and t h i s contributed to the strong influence of t r a d i t i o n a l i s m among the miners. This brings us to the f i n a l way i n which the work of the coalminer served to strengthen s o l i d a r i t y . The physical i s o l a t i o n of the coalmining communities and the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of t r a n s f e r r i n g the technical s k i l l s of the miner to other c r a f t s , meant that a t r a d i t i o n a l i s m emerged i n coalmining whereby sons n a t u r a l l y followed t h e i r fathers into the family trade, and an attitude of resignation emerged, so that the numbers who l e f t the coal trade were small. George Hitchin wanted to leave mining \ . but was forced to 210 stay, because no-one among his family or friends could give the s l i g h t e s t guidance. In t h i s respect, he says he was 6 9 suffering from, " s o c i a l and economic claustrophobia." The mining class therefore became self-perpetuating because of i t s geographic i s o l a t i o n and the t r a d i t i o n a l attitude to the mining trade. The physical d i f f i c u l t i e s of leaving mining combined with a conservatism, a lack of i n i t i a t i v e and force of habit, inherent i n the mining c l a s s , meant that families devoted themselves to coalmining and were united i n a r e s i g -nation to t h i s vocation. As well as the tremendous unifying force of working conditions, c e r t a i n attitudes came out of the working s i t u a -t i o n which were c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the mining c l a s s . F i r s t l y , the coalminers were b a s i c a l l y conservative i n outlook. Their h o s t i l i t y to innovations i n the mine, such as the introduc-t i o n of machinery, demonstrated t h e i r basic d i s t r u s t of change and t h e i r desire to perpetuate conditions as they knew them. This conservatism can be i d e n t i f i e d i n the f o l k - l o r e culture, balladry and superstitions of the c o a l f i e l d s , f o r , "... the t r a d i t i o n a l ballads and songs of the c o a l f i e l d are the product of a slowly evolving conservative industry which lacks the sudden invigorating experience of rapid technological change." Furthermore, the i s o l a t i o n i n which the miners l i v e d combined with an awareness of a long history, fostered an oral t r a d i t i o n l a r g e l y revolving around s t o r i e s and songs of s t r i k e s , dangers and disaster, "for that which i s t r a d i t i o n a l and conservative flourishes best where workers l i v e i n 211 71 i s o l a t i o n , with limited occupational opportunities." ' The superstitions of the mining classes were concerned with the question of safety, and a great deal of attention was given to dreams and premonitions of disasters. "This type of work, with at least four times as many accidents as i n other industries, must he a breeding place f o r a l l kinds of 72 superstitions and premonitions." ' Some of these supersti-tions appear to be i l l o g i c a l — f o r instance, a miner would return home for the day i f he passed a woman on his way to work. If ;,a man did not awake at his usual time to r i s e f o r work, then he would not go to the p i t that day even i f he could s t i l l get there on time. There must have been strong reasoning behind the s u p e r s t i t i o n discovered by a Commissioner of Mines i n 1844, f o r t h i s p a r t i c u l a r habit has persisted among some miners u n t i l today: I found during casual v i s i t s to t h e i r cottages from time to time a f t e r the hours of labour, some hundreds of men i n the act of washing; the backs of every one of them were quite black, and every one of them gave the same reason i n the same words fo r not washing his back, namely, "that i t would weaken i t " . The univer-s a l i t y of t h i s habit was allowed by a l l the managers and persons i n authority, whom I questioned upon the subject. 73 The existence of such b e l i e f s suggest that the coalminers did fact f e e l fear because of t h e i r jobs and despite the maxim " f a m i l i a r i t y breeds contempt," i t might be inferred from the persistence of such superstitions that the miners never r e a l l y overcame t h e i r fear as time and experience passed hy. Secondly, the coalminer f e l t a great deal of pride i n his working a b i l i t y , mingled with feelings of exclusiveness. 212 His pride originated from two sources. He r e a l i z e d that his job was d i f f i c u l t and dangerous and drew upon great reserves of physical strength. He f e l t that no non-miner could match his s k i l l . In the second place, his pride was also an attempt at self-assurance and a reaction against the i n f e r i o r status that the miner had been given i n the past. The miner's task was indeed one which only a well trained and experienced coalminer could perform. He was uniquely responsible for his l i f e and the l i v e s of his workmates. He was aware therefore of his own specia l i z e d s k i l l s , but was also aware of the contempt with which his class was regarded by outsiders. The French observer Paul de Rousiers believed that mining made no c a l l upon the imagination or brain power, 74 and that the c o l l i e r depended purely on sheer muscle power. But one Scottish ' c o l l i e r t o l d Robert Haddow i n the 1880's: Just now any strong s t i c k of a fellow can come into a p i t and hash and smash and c a l l himself a c o l l i e r ; but i f a l l the men i n the p i t were such, then the pi t would go to wreck and rui n . This i s a point on which we have a very keen f e e l i n g , and i t would be useless to disguise the fact that the introduction of untrained men - mostly Irishmen - into the p i t , i s what keeps the c a l l i n g of a c o l l i e r at so low a l e v e l . 7 5 The coalminers f e l t that only those who were born to mining were capable of learning the trade, and that outsiders were a hindrance and a danger i n the p i t . The i n f l u x of outside labour into mining at the end of the nineteenth cen-tury caused a considerable degree of anxiety to the miners, and there was a general c a l l from the unions to the coal owners not to employ men from other occupations a f t e r the age of 16 years. In 1890, Frank H a l l of Yorkshire voiced 213 t h i s alarm when, addressing a union meeting, he was reported as saying: Since the coal trade had improved, t h e i r p i t hanks had presented a s i m i l a r spectacle to what they did i n 1872, and they were again "being v i s i t e d by farm labourers. He did not say that out of any disrespect to t h e i r a g r i c u l t u r a l friends, but, he did say "Every man to his trade". Let a g r i c u l t u r a -l i s t s therefore s t i c k to the land and they as miners would s t i c k to t h e i r trade i n the coal p i t s . 76 The h o s t i l i t y that the miners showed towards outside labour, which was expressed through t h e i r unions, was effec-t i v e i n keeping the numbers of foreign immigrant miners low. (There was a fear among B r i t i s h miners that i f foreign labour was employed, then problems of communication would arise — a dangerous s i t u a t i o n i n the coal p i t s . ) The num-bers of North American and European miners enumerated i n the coal p i t s of England and Wales were as follows from 1861 to 1911:- 77 The numbers of foreigners i n B r i t i s h p i t s were therefore n e g l i g i b l e u n t i l the turn of the century, when American mine-workers, i n p a r t i c u l a r , began to enter B r i t i s h mines. F i n a l l y , the miners were notoriously carefree i n t h e i r attitude to l e i s u r e , and the recr e a t i o n a l pursuits of the miners were fr i v o l o u s i n the sense of giving "no thought f o r the morrow". Their " l i v e f o r today" attitude emerged d i r e c t l y from t h e i r work. The ever-present threat of death or injury, and the in s e c u r i t y of employment, either through injury or 1861 — 36 1871 -- 11 1881 — 51 1891 — 109 1901 — 559 (319 from the United States) 1911 — 882 214 the reduced state of the market f o r co a l , led them to make the "best of l i f e while they were able. This was characterized by the carefree, spendthrift attitude of the majority of miners. Involved i n t h i s active pursuit of le i s u r e was ab-senteeism from work. Absenteeism served a dual purpose — i t acted as a strain-reducing mechanism at times when a miner f e l t himself to be a l i a b i l i t y to the safety of his workmates; and when a miner working on piece-rates f e l t that he had earned a l l he needed, he would take time off from work to pursue more pleasurable a c t i v i t i e s . It i s to the question of how the coalminer spent his time when not at work that we must now turn i n a new chapter. Aspects of working l i f e and i t s effects upon the community and upon the attitudes of the mining class have been discussed. We must now examine i n more d e t a i l , what effects the working s i t u a t i o n had upon the coalminer i n the s o c i a l sphere. FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER VI 1 G.A.W. Tomlinson, Coal-Miner (London, 1937)» p. 84 2 F. Machin, The Yorkshire Miners Vol. I. (Barnsley, 1958), p. 4 3 IMd., p. 3. 4 I b i d . , p. 3. 5 C.R. Fay, L i f e and Labour i n the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1920), p. 185. 6 Machin, Oy. C i t . . p. 24 7 J. Holland, F o s s i l Fuel. The C o l l i e r i e s and the Coal  Trade of Great B r i t a i n (London, 1st E d i t i o n , 1835), p. 242. 215 8 J . Wilson, Memories of a Labour Leader. The Autobio- graphy of John Wilson (London, 1 9 1 0 ) . P. 95. 9 I b i d . , p. 96. 10 J.E. W i l l i a m s , The Derbyshire Miners (London, 1962), p. 442. 11 See The Derbyshire Times. March, 1912, c i t e d i n I b i d . , 12 R.A. Lucas, Minetown. M i l l t o w n , Railtown. L i f e i n  Canadian Communities of S i n g l e I n d u s t r y (Toronto. 1971), P. 390. 13 G. Parkinson, True S t o r i e s of Durham P i t - L i f e (London, 1912). p. 1. 14 H. P e l l i n g , Popular P o l i t i c s and S o c i e t y i n Late  V i c t o r i a n B r i t a i n (London, 1968), p. 47. 15 The Census Report f o r England and Wales. 1891» Summary  T a b l e s , B.P.P. 1893 - 94, C V l . Table 5. PP. x x i i - x x i i i . 16 The Census Report f o r England and Wales. 1911; Summary' f a b l e s , B.P.P. 1914 - 16, LXXXI. Table 50. p. 144 and Table 6, p. 59 17 N, Dennis, F. Henriques, and C. S l a u g h t e r , C o a l i s our  L i f e (London, 1956), p. 44. 18 I b i d . , p. 38. 19 W.H. S c o t t , E. Mumford, I.C. McGivering, and J.M. K i r k b y , Coal and C o n f l i c t . A Study of I n d u s t r i a l R e l a t i o n s a t  C o l l i e r i e s ( L i v e r p o o l , 1963). P. 23. 20 I b i d . , p. 22. 21 G.B. Baldwin,, Beyond N a t i o n a l i z a t i o n . The Labour . Problems of B r i t i s h C o a l (Harvard, Mass., 1955), p. 1. 22 Paul de R o u s i e r s , The Labour Question i n B r i t a i n (London, 1896), p. 122. 23 H o l l a n d , Op. C i t . . p. 235. 24 G. Orw e l l , The Road t o Wigan P i e r (London, 1937), pp. 27 - 29. 25 See N. Dennis et a l . , Op. C i t . . on working output, pp. 38 - 40. 26 O r w e l l , Op. C i t . . pp. 24 - 25. 216 27 B.L, Coombes, These Poor Hands (London, 1 9 39 ) , p. 34. 28 Ibid., p. 38. 29 R.P. Arnot, The Miners. A History of the Miners' Federa-t i o n of Great B r i t a i n . 1889 - 1910. Vol. I. (London, ~~ 1949), PP. 142 - 143. 30 J. Brophy, A Miner's L i f e (Madison and Milwaukee, 1964), p. 41. 31 G. Hitchin, Pit-Yacker (London, 1962), p. 72. 32 J.S. Haldane, "Coal Owners' Research i n Health and Safety, from H i s t o r i c a l Review of Coalmining, (London, 1924), p. 267. 33 P.E.H. Hair, "Mortality from Violence i n B r i t i s h Coal Mines, 1800 - 1850," Economic History Review. 2nd Series, Vol. 21, No. 3, (1968), p. 546. 34 Ibid.. p. 546. 35 E.L. C o l l i s and M. Greenwood, The Health of the Indus- t r i a l Worker (London, 1921), p. 181. 36 Machin, Op. C i t . , p. 21. 37 C. Pamely, The C o l l i e r y Manager's Handbook (London, 1896), p. 779. 38 R.P. Arnot, The Miners: Years of Struggle. A History  of the M.F.G.B. from 1910 onwards Vol. 2. (London, 1953), P. 23. 39 Ibid., p. 23 . 40 Ibid., p. 23 . 41 Pamely, Op. C i t . , p. 420. 42 Holland, Op. C i t . . See pp. 263 - 265. 43 W.N. and J.B. Atkinson, Explosions i n Coal Mines (London, 1886), p. 94. 44 Coombes, Op. C i t . . pp. 258 - 259. 45 R.A. Lucas, Men i n C r i s i s . A Study of a Mine Disaster (New York, 1969), p. 19. 46 Ibid., p. 4. 47 Williams, Op. C i t . , p. 799. 217 48 J. Lawson., A Man's L i f e (London, 1932), p. 199. 49 The 1842 Children's Employment Commission, First- Report, p, 187, c i t e d i n Machin, Op. C i t . , p. 7. 50 A, Horner, In c o r r i g i b l e Rebel (London, i 9 6 0 ) , p. 142. 51 Report of the Interdepartmental Committee on Physical  Deterioration 1904, Vol. I, Report and Appendix, B.P.P. 1904, XXXII, p. 29. 52 G-. Rosen, The History of Miners' Diseases (New York, 1943), pp. 212 - 213. 53 I b i d . , p. 241. 54 I b i d . , pp. 224 - 225. 55 See Williams, Op. C i t . , p. 479 and p. 803. 56 See S i r R. Redmayne, Men. Mines and Memories (London, 1942). 57 The Royal Commission on Labour. B.P.P. 1892, XXXVI, Part ( i ) , p. 166, c i t e d i n J. Hart, "Nineteenth Century So c i a l Reform: A Tory interpretation of History," Past and Present. No. 31, (July, 1965), pp. 39 - 61. 58 See E.H. Phelps Brown, The Growth of B r i t i s h I n d u s t r i a l  Relations (London, i960, pp. 35 - 36. 59 Haldane, Op. C i t . , p. 267 60 I b i d . , p. 268. 61 C o l l i s and Greenwood, Op. C i t . . p. 74. 62 Cited i n R. Gregory, The Miners and B r i t i s h P o l i t i c s . 1906 - 1914 (Oxford, 1968), p. 3. 63 C. S i g a l , Weekend i n Dinlock (London, i960, pp. 172 - 173. 64 Coombes, Op. C i t . , p. 68. 65 N. Dennis et a l . , Op. C i t . . p. 45. 66 From R. D a t a l l e r , From a Pitman's Notebook c i t e d i n I. Lubin and H. Everett, , ;The B r i t i s h Coal Dilemma (New York, 1927), p. 197. 67 See R.A. Lucas, Men i n C r i s i s . 68 G.D.H. Cole, Labour i n the Coal-Mining Industry. 1914 - 21 (Oxford, 1923), P. 7. 218 69 See Hitchin, Op. C i t . , pp. 88 - 89. 70 B, Lewis, Coal-Mining i n the Eighteenth and Nineteenth  Centuries (London, 1971)» P« 30. 71 Ibid., p. 31. 72 F. Zweig, Men i n the P i t s (London, 1948), p. 69. 73 R. Challinor and B. Ripley, The Miners' Association (London, 1969), P. 51. 74 See Paul de Rousiers, Op. C i t . 75 R. Haddow, "The Miners of Scotland," i n The Nineteenth  Century. Vol. XXIV, (July - D e c , 1888), p. 362. 76 A. R. G r i f f i n , Mining i n the East Midlands. 1550 - 194-7 (London, 1971), p. 114. 77 See General Reports to the Censuses f o r 1861 to 1911 i n B.P.P. 219 CHAPTER VII THE COALMINER - HIS SOCIAL LIFE The purpose of t h i s chapter i s to examine the s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l pursuits of the coalminer outside of the hours of work, and to determine how these a c t i v i t i e s reinforced that cohesion among the miners, described i n the previous chapter. A c o n f l i c t of opinion exists as to the i n t e g r i t y and the extent of the c u l t u r a l l e v e l i n the mining communi-t i e s , between those who saw the coalminers as a rowdy, i l l i -terate and pleasure-seeking rabble, and those who have i d e n t i -f i e d an extensive movement towards self-improvement among the miners. Both of these observations are v a l i d and i t would appear that the miner's s o c i a l l i f e was influenced to a great extent by the working conditions already described. Coalmining society was a male-orientated society, both i n the occupational and s o c i a l spheres. With few opportunities for female employment, the role of the man as breadwinner was reinforced. Through his occupation, he represented the family to the outside world, and the status of the family depended upon his a b i l i t y as a worker. We have already seen how the coalminer worked hard. In the same s p i r i t , as though to r e l i e v e the tensions of work, he was infamous f o r his energetic l e i s u r e a c t i v i t i e s . Recreation, l i k e work, was a male preserve, and women were r a r e l y found i n either of these pursuits. Home and family l i f e might centre around the woman, but employment and lei s u r e were exclusive to the man. John Holland's summary of the recreation peculiar to the coalminers, written i n 1835, resolves the c o n f l i c t of attitudes 220 about the high or low c u l t u r a l l e v e l of the miners, by sugges-t i n g that there was a combination of both l e v e l s : ... those persons only who are acquainted with the labours of the late Rev. John Wesley and his zealous coadjutors, i n preaching at the r i s k of t h e i r l i v e s among the c o l l i e r s of Kingswood and elsewhere, can have any just notion of the state of ignorance and bruta-l i t y which prevailed. Their sports and pastimes were mostly of that barbarous description of which happily few traces at present remain, such as b u l l - b a i t i n g , cock-fighting, boxing, etc. On the other hand, a taste for music l a r g e l y prevailed, there being found among the pitmen not only those who could play upon the more common instruments, but i n some of the hamlets entire bands were made up. It may be added that some of these grimy men are consi-derable readers of books not always found i n the hands y of workmen, such as metaphysical t r e a t i s e s , etc. On r e l i g i o u s subjects,many of them are exceedingly well informed, 1 Tastes varied i n ..all mining 1 ^ ..communities between low or vulgar pastimes, and more elevated c u l t u r a l pursuits. But wherever the miner sought his outlet, he had no h a l f -hearted feelings and, just as i n his work, he pursued his interest with intense energy. I Because of the nature of the coalmining community where the mine dominated the v i l l a g e or town, and the community was not characterized by d i v e r s i t y of occupation or s o c i a l c l a s s , a man's workmates were often his s o c i a l contacts also. This close s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p combined with the mutual under-standing and cooperation of the working r e l a t i o n s h i p , served to strengthen the bonds of s o l i d a r i t y between the miners: 221 S o l i d a r i t y , despite the d i v i s i o n into i n t e r e s t groups among the miners i n a given p i t , i s a very strongly developed c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s i n mining; i t i s a charac-t e r i s t i c engendered by the nature and organi-zation of coalmingj i t i s a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c that has been given added strength as a r e s u l t of the high degree of integration i n mining v i l l a g e s . 2 Just as i n the working s i t u a t i o n , the miners tended to s t i c k together during t h e i r l e i s u r e hours, and recre a t i o n a l a c t i v i t i e s were of a gregarious nature. The miners preferred to enjoy themselves i n groups, which were made up of t h e i r workmates, and from which women were excluded. The a c t i v i t i e s of these groups were pursued with a high degree of in t e n s i t y , which was engendered by the working conditions already des-cribed. The miner's " l i v e f o r today" attitude i n , t h e i r l e i -sure pursuits was a d i r e c t reaction to the fear and uncer-t a i n t y presented to them by t h e i r work. As late as 1956, i n the s o c i a l survey of a Yorkshire c o l l i e r y town, i t was found that "insecurity... i s the most important single f a c t o r which has moulded and s t i l l moulds the miner's way of l i f e i n those hours when he i s not at work." ^ Certainly J.E. Williams found a streak of Epicureanism i n the miner's phil o -sophy, which he attr i b u t e d to the uncertainty of c o l l i e r y l i f e . It was widely believed that the c o l l i e r s ' favourite pur-su i t s included gambling, drinking, f i g h t i n g , poaching and cock-fighting to the exclusion of a l l else, because these were the a c t i v i t i e s which attracted the greatest public atten-t i o n . It was these a c t i v i t i e s which earned the miners t h e i r unsavoury reputation, and these w i l l be discussed f i r s t . 222 Although the coalminer did invest i n medical insurance and benefit schemes through his union, he was more well known for spending heavily on pleasure a c t i v i t i e s . It was believed by some that, aside from the dues deducted by the union, saving for times of distress was a wasted e f f o r t . Instead the miners preferred to spend any pocket-money they had as quickly as possible, i n the uncertainty of "what tommorow might bring." Pay-night was indeed the occasion of excessive drinking, feasting and gambling, a f t e r which f r u g a l i t y and abstention would necessarily p r e v a i l u n t i l the next pay was earned. In 1883, Keir Hardie wrote of these carefree spending habits of the coalminers i n his journal, the Ardrossan and Saltcoats  Herald; Hungers and bursts are the r u l e . On a cash night, a load of- provisions w i l l be brought i n . J e l l y , b i s c u i t s , fancy bread, etc., are a l l spread out at once and everybody has a feast. Then for a day or two previous to the next cash day they are i n semi-starvation. This i s the story of hundreds of. our miners at the present day. 5 Gambling was a favourite pastime of the miners. One explanation was that mining i t s e l f was a gamble, and the miners enjoyed taking r i s k s i n t h e i r l e i s u r e time also. I t was p a r t l y an attempt to escape the l i m i t a t i o n s of the miner's l i f e , and p a r t l y a desire to assent, oneself i n competition. Gambling took the form of betting on horse-races, whippet races, cards, dominoes, pitch-and-toss, and cock-fights. I t was a cause of great concern to many, especially those who were involved i n the .temperance movement, and to the members of the r e l i g i o u s sects, who saw gambling and drink as the ru i n a t i o n of a great number of miners. In the 186;0's, an i r a t e ^witness sent the 223 following l e t t e r to the Barnsley Chronicle commenting upon the s o c i a l scene i n a South Yorkshire c o l l i e r y v i l l a g e : S i r -In your l a s t week's issue there was a short l e t t e r from Mapplewell... on "cock-fighting", etc. Whilst the thing i s on hand I may as well give the Mapplewell rascals a l i t t l e more of the benefit of t h e i r character. I was glad to see you thrashed them so savagely, but that thrashing did not pre-vent another cock-fight on Monday l a s t when the notorious blackguard Job P e l l l o s t his cock and his sovereign, and for the benefit of the curious I may. add that there i s another cock-fight next Monday. 'I hope on that occasion the police w i l l not be duped but w i l l be i n at the commencement. But there are other things done im Mapplewell as bad as cock-fighting - Sunday gambling f o r instance. A few weeks ago I was returning from the Sunday school at noon, when congregations were dispersing, and i n the most public place i n the v i l l a g e , only a few yards from the high-road, were congregated twenty or t h i r t y lads tossing and betting, and cursing and swearing most h o r r i b l y . This i s a common occurrence only they get outside the v i l l a g e , generally on Sunday. But any other day they may be seen on the public roads carrying on t h e i r abominable practice. For the l a s t few Sundays fo r t y or f i f t y have been assembled i n one place to the great disgust of a l l decent people. We must not, however, overlook the snares and temp-tations they are exposed to e s p e c i a l l y at the c o l l i e r y pay when they have more brass than brains. Three new "publics" have been opened during the l a s t two years and t h i t h e r the s i l l y fellows go. Out of one of these dens of s i n I have seen some of our adult Sunday scholars come - drunk. These places are the pests of the v i l l a g e , and yet I am t o l d that another licence w i l l soon be applied f o r . The r e l i g i o u s bodies have done much good and the Temperance Society numbers some twenty reclaimed drunkards i n i t s ranks. But there i s so much to  do. D.E.F. 6 Poaching was perhaps connected with gambling i n that both r i s k and excitement were involved. Coalminers were inveterate poachers, for t h i s was one way to change t h e i r environment, to supplement t h e i r food supply, and 224 to score a minor v i c t o r y over those landowners who belonged to the superior c l a s s . G.A.W. Tomlinson also linked t h i s with "a deep love of the land that generations of pitwork has 7 not destroyed." ' But i t was drinking that provided the c e n t r a l interest of the pleasure-loving coalminers. There were strong s o c i a l obligations to drink i n the coalmining communities where teamworkers were under heavy pressure of opinion to j o i n i n such a gregarious a c t i v i t y . Heavy drinking was t r a d i t i o n a l and s o c i a l pressure made i t almost impossible to break away. The central focus of l e i s u r e time, was the pub. A t y p i c a l example of the miners' pub was the one described by A.R. G r i f f i n i n the miners' row at Selston, Nottinghamshire, where a miner's cottage had been converted into a drinking room: "Such places, while d i f f e r i n g l i t t l e from the houses of the miners, offered a b i t more room, a chance to smoke a pipe, to t a l k , to drink, to l i s t e n to the newspaper being read, to play dominoes, or some other game, to gamble and to get away iQ-from the family f o r an hour or tw®." A less docile descrip-t i o n i s afforded of Lambton i n North Durham by the Methodist, George Parkinson: The only place f o r s o c i a l gatherings or recreation was a public house, formed by uni t i n g two cottages, which with a fenced cockpit, and quoitground at the front, and quiet place f o r "pitch-and-toss" just around the corner provided opportunities f o r votaries of these sports, which with the tap room as t h e i r centre, were often accompanied by drunken brawls and f i g h t i n g , with a l l the demoralizing influences a r i s i n g therefrom. 9 225 This aggressiveness which accompanied a drinking spree was often directed against other occupational groups. For instance, John Wilson writes of the b i t t e r feuds that were waged between the miners and other workers when they congre-gated i n Durham at weekends; On Saturday nights, when turning-out time ar r i v e d , there was sure to be a running f i g h t , commencing at the Market Place and extending to the gate at the top of Gilesgatej and woe to the straggling or belated miner i f caught by the weaver bodies. They would have got the same measure meted out to them as they would have given to any of the weavers i f found at the same time of night i n one of the neighbouring v i l l a g e s . 10 Before his conversion to Methodism, John Wilson led an ir r e s o l u t e youth. He describes how, "Sherburn H i l l at that time was the gathering ground at the pay week-end fo r gamblers, drinkers and f i g h t e r s from the neighbouring c o l l i e r i e s " ^ and he was i n the "front rank" of these. S i m i l a r l y , i n South Wales, the grandfather of Arthur Horner found the need every si x months to "break loose, and go on the drink, usually 12 ending up with a f i g h t on the Iron Bridge at Merthyr." The rates of prosecutions f o r drunken offences were consistently at t h e i r highest i n the mining areas, when com-pared to other areas. In 1865, the Derbyshire Times published the following figures f o r prosecutions, comparing the Midland coalmining counties with a group of a g r i c u l t u r a l counties. 226 TABLE I To compare -prosecutions per 1.000 population for drunkenness i n f i v e mining counties and a group of  a g r i c u l t u r a l counties, for the year ending  September 2 0 t h . 1864. 13 Number proceeded Number convicted against, per per 1,000 County 1,000 population population Derbyshire 2.4 2.1 Nottinghamshire 3.4 2.7 Staffordshire 5.2 4.2 Warwickshire 2.1 1.8 Leicestershire 2.0 1.4 Averages of these 3.0 2.4 Averages i n a group of a g r i c u l t u r a l counties. 1.9 1.7 Later, i n 1891, the national figures for prosecutions showed that, "the rate was far higher in.seaports and mining counties than i n London or manufacturing counties, whereas a g r i c u l t u r a l counties, the home counties and pleasure towns 14 registered the lowest rate of a l l . " Between 1891 and 1900, the annual arrests f o r drunken-ness per 100,000 population again showed the mining counties to be the most intemperate. Of these however, the West Riding registered a lower rate of arrests, v i z . , 1891 - 1900 Annual arrests per 100,000 pop. 15 Durham 2,228.8 Northumberland 1,543.8 South Wales 1,012.9 West Riding 644.1 (Note: the figures for the West Riding are tempered by the existence also of a large a g r i c u l t u r a l and t e x t i l e manufacturing population.) However, i t might be noted that despite the high degree of ^ drunkenness exhibited i n the mining counties by the large numbers of prosecutions, the death rate from alcoholism and 227 r e l a t e d diseases was low among the coalminers. C o l l i s and Greenwood demonstrate t h i s phenomenon with the following figures: i 6 1900 - 1902 Standard mortality of a l l males from alcoholism i n England and Wales 100 Dock labourers 167 Coalminers 51 They explain t h i s unexpected pattern of high convictions but few deaths from drinking, by the working conditions of the coal miners. They spent long hours i n the mine, either at work or t r a v e l l i n g underground when, because of the s t r i c t supervision of sobriety i n the mine, they were separated from a l l access to alcohol. They therefore indulged i n shortened periods of heavy drinking when compared to other occupational groups, such as the dock labourers, who drank a l l through the day, and es p e c i a l l y at meal breaks. The miners caused a greater s o c i a l nuisance during t h e i r drinking sprees, but i n the long run, they did less damage to t h e i r health. The c o l l i e r s probably did most harm to t h e i r reputations when they looked f o r t h e i r amusement i n the neighbouring towns. On these occasions, outsiders witnessed t h e i r behaviour at i t s worst, and the low regard i n which they held the miners v/as reinforced. The following ballad written by Henry Robson (1775 - 1850) about the North Eastern pitmen was a great favourite among the c o l l i e r s f o r many years. E n t i t l e d The  C o l l i e r s ' Pay Week, i t describes the Saturdays a f t e r pay-day when the c o l l i e r s would descend upon Newcastle: 228 At length i n Newcastle they centre, In Hardy's, a place much renowned, The j o v i a l company enter Where stores of good liquor abound. As quick as the servants could f i l l i t - T i l l emptied were quarts h a l f a score -With heart-burning t h i r s t down they s w i l l i t , And thump on the table f o r more. With boozing and laughing and smoking, The time sl i p p e t h s w i f t l y away: And while they are ranting and joking, The church clock proclaims i t mid-day. And now for black puddings, long measure, They go to Tib T r o l l i b a g ' s stand, And away bear the glossy r i c h treasure, With joy, l i k e curled bugles i n hand. And now a choice house they agreed on, Not f a r from the head of the Quay, Where they t h e i r black puddings might feed on, And spend the remains of the day, Where pipers and f i d d l e r s resorted To pick up the straggling pence, And where the p i t lads often sported Their money at f i d d l e and dance. 17 These instances were repeated i n many of the bigger towns in close proximity to the c o a l f i e l d s , and obviously l e f t an unfavourable impression with the majority of the non-mining population. In 1861, for instance, we have the following detailed account from the Barnsley Record of a v i s i t to London by c o l l i e r s of the Barnsley area. Their behaviour e l i c i t e d a reaction from the London Telegraph i n an a r t i c l e e n t i t l e d "Invasion from the North" — an understandable reaction from those who were not "au f a i t " with the miners* norms of beha-viour, and who witnessed the following: Having embarked the largest portion of the l i v i n g f r e i g h t at the v i l l a g e s t a t i o n with a considerable supply of provisions, together with ales and s p i r i t s , and some wine and ci g a r s , a second s t a r t was made... and reached S h e f f i e l d about s i x o'clock, where the t r a i n had to undergo a short "quarantine" of about 20 minutes, during which time a most vigorous and determined attack was made upon the 229 provisions and eatables, the bags and bottles i n most instances being nearly depleted,,.. No sooner was the s t a t i o n reached (at Grantham), however, than the carriage doors were opened and the occupants "rushed l i k e a torrent" into the small room where the counters were laden with pies, sandwiches, and confectionery, and soon a l l were swept away as with the force of an avalanche, that rendered the two or three waiters e n t i r e l y helpless. S h i l l i n g s and half-crowns were thrown down i n Wild confusion i n payment, and s p i r i t s were taken from the counter promiscuously, and demands f o r bottles were shouted out i n a l l d i r e c t i o n s . Money was e v i -dently no object i n comparison with creature comforts, and a l l were w i l l i n g to pay f o r whatever they could obtain, price being out of consideration. (Next stop was Hitchen)... No i n v i t a t i o n s to leave the carriages were at a l l necessary, f o r before they had e n t i r e l y stopped the male refreshment room was c l o s e l y packed, and the three ladies behind the counter looked bewildered with astonishment at the number of guests that had so suddenly and unceremoniously dropped i n . Everything eatable was at once taken possession of... 18 The annual c o l l i e r y outing was i n fact one of the few highlights of the s o c i a l year which was shared by the whole family. Special t r a i n s would be commissioned, subsidized usually by the c o l l i e r y companies, to take the majority of the mining community to the seaside. These outings served to foster community fe e l i n g s , and to provide a break from the monotony of the c o l l i e r y environment. -.When John Brophy was a boy i n St. Helens i n the 1880's the annual outing was to the seaside town of Southport, where thousands from the mining v i l l a g e s would gathers Each delegation brought a band, and there was much martial music. Between numbers, speakers addressed the crowd around each bandstand on the problems of the union... people bathed i n the surf and amused themselves on the sands. When they grew weary of that they would go to the nearby pubs to chat with friends over mugs of a l e . Southport was only an hour by t r a i n from St. Helens, so whole families went early i n the day and stayed u n t i l dark, both for a good time and to demonstrate the s o l i d a r i t y of the union. 19 230 In defence of the coalminers, Robert Haddow said that those miners who spent a l l t h e i r l e i s u r e time i n the pub were i n a minority, and even on pay-night, when the worst ex-cesses were reached, only hal f of the miners were involved! He brings to the fore the rather more harmless entertainments 20 pursued by the coalminer. Sport played a large part i n the miners' l i v e s and a f t e r 1900 came the more extensive development of sports f i e l d s and recreation grounds. Cricket, f o o t b a l l and quoits (the forerunner of bowls) became popular sports, and each c o l l i e r y v i l l a g e had ,its : own sports teams. Competitions between mining v i l l a g e s i n these games, as well as darts, draughts and dominoes,.'provided Saturday and Sunday entertainments. This competitive s p i r i t was also found i n the coalminers' intense love of gardening. Many miners took graat pride i n the c u l t i v a t i o n of t h e i r gardens or allotments, flowers and produce being entered into h o r t i c u l t u r a l shows and competitions. Some went so f a r as to keep pigs and chic-kens, which can be related to the a g r i c u l t u r a l roots or back-ground of many coalminers. There v/ere c e r t a i n other a c t i v i t i e s which were communal a f f a i r s and as such helped to reinforce a community s p i r i t . One such occasion was the annual gala day, which was i n s t i -tuted towards the end of the nineteenth century. Some of the c o a l f i e l d s , or even i n d i v i d u a l townships would celebrate t h e i r own gala day — a loud,, c o l o u r f u l , c i r c u s - l i k e form of enter-tainment which usually involved sports, sideshows, processions, drinking, brass bands, and on a more serious note, prominent speakers from the world of p o l i t i c s or trade unionism. 231 The focus of community s o c i a l a c t i v i t i e s was the Working Men's Club or In s t i t u t e , Most communites possessed a club of t h i s nature before the F i r s t World War. After the Mining Industry Act of 1920, Miners' Welfare Halls were introduced, being b u i l t either by the c o l l i e r y owners or the miners' unions. Both were the venue fo r community teas, concerts or dances, and would also be used f o r classes i n ambulance and rescue work, lectures, and for private reading. On, a more serious l e v e l , both Abe Moffat and Robert Haddow were anxious to point out that the miners had t h e i r own higher l e v e l c u l t u r a l pursuits, despite the unfavourable reputation acquired hy the coal communites. Moffat pointed out that his home town i n Scotland was t y p i c a l of other c o l l i e r y towns i n i t s possession of a brass band, a choir, a drama group and a Burns Club, f o r the study of the poetry of Robert Burns. Music was very popular among the miners and was ameans by which the miner could elevate himself above the humdrum monotony and drabness of his working and l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n . Penny readings, lectures, concerts, and so f o r t h are provided less or more l i b e r a l l y ? but the readings and the lectures he does not care much fo r ; the concerts are more i n his way, f o r he i s fond of music, and i s often a good musician. In almost every v i l l a g e a band may be found, and some of them have a high reputation for excellence. I know of at least one c o l l i e r y v i l l a g e that has a very f a i r Choral Union, the conductor of which i s a miner, the orchestra a l l miners, and the chorus nearly e n t i r e l y made of miners and miners' sons and daughters. 21 There i s evidence to show the existence i n the coal mining communities of c e r t a i n elements who involved themselves i n the 232 pursuit of material pleasure and who • were i n f a c t responsible for the general b e l i e f that the miners led immoral and i r r e -solute l i v e s . On the other hand, there were those who made concrete e f f o r t s to elevate the tenor of the communities, and who were involved i n self-improvement through c u l t u r a l a c t i v i t i e s , r e l i g i o n or education. It i s impossible to assess the degree to which either of these types prevailed over the other. We can only conclude that the image of the low morality of the coal towns, held by outsiders, was not en-t i r e l y true, and that t h i s dissolute tone was tempered by serious attempts to raise the c u l t u r a l l e v e l of the community. But whatever the pursuit of the i n d i v i d u a l miner, l e i s u r e a c t i v i t i e s were gregarious, and he contributed to the cohesion of the mining community through his actions, f o r these a c t i -v i t i e s were not pursued i n i s o l a t i o n . II We must now turn to a b r i e f examination of those a c t i -v i t i e s pursued by the miner outside of purely l e i s u r e i n t e r e s t s . An attempt i s made to assess the extent of the temperance, r e l i g i o u s and educational movements on the one hand, and on the other, the extent of crime. Once again, i n the realms of r e l i g i o n and education, i t w i l l be seen that there exist great v a r i a t i o n s of opinion of the general l e v e l of these two movements. On the question of temperance, there i s no doubt as to the existence of bodies of men who were dedicated to the 233 elimination of drunkenness from the mining communities. Though they were greatly outnumbered by those they wished to convert, they pursued t h e i r cause with missionary zeal. The temperance societies were on the whole connected with the nonconformist churches, and the t e e t o t a l l e r s played an i n -t e g r a l role i n t h e i r r e l i g i o u s r e v i v a l s . We f i n d evidence of the energetic labours of the t e e t o t a l l e r s who belonged to the mining population, throughout the period with which we are concerned. The mine owners were interested i n temperance as a means of producing more d i s c i p l i n e d men, i n a job i n which cooperation was so necessary. But by 1877, the c o l l i e r y owner J.W. Pease s t i l l found that the largest percentage of accidents occurred i n his Durham mines, on Mondays and Tuesday, when the men were 22 s t i l l recovering from t h e i r weekend drinking sprees. Those trade union leaders who were motivated by r e l i g i o u s convictions, were also involved i n the temperance movement. Keir Hardie wrote extensively on t h i s subject. Also, i n 1904, Harvey, the Derbyshire miners* leader t o l d an audience at a Primitive Methodists' bazaar that: One thing working men had to be t o l d was to keep t h e i r mouths from going into pint pots so often as they did. The gambling s p i r i t of the age was an e v i l that would have to be attended to, and when men would not give themselves so much to pleasure, would not devote a l l t h e i r time to f o o t b a l l and other things, but would s i t down and think for ten minutes, then there would be no need for public meetings to teach them how to vote, because t h e i r common sense would teach them. 23 The temperance movement i n the coal communities therefore usually had a r e l i g i o u s background, as well as being motivated 234 by a reaction to the high degree of drunkenness i n these communities. Religion was of a vigorously evangelical nature in the coalfieds. T y p i c a l l y of the miners, those who professed r e l i g i o n .did not do so i n a half-hearted-way,and the mining communities produced a number of men who took up some kind of missionary work. There i s some d i v i s i o n among observers about the actual extent of the numbers who were a c t i v e l y involved i n the r e l i -gious movements i n the c o a l f i e l d s . Zweig noted as late as 194? i n his survey of the c o a l f i e l d s that only ten per cent of the men i n the c o l l i e r y towns attended church, and that r e l i g i o n appealed more to women. A survey undertaken so f a r into the twentieth century perhaps has l i t t l e bearing upon such a f l e x i b l e factor as church attendance, i n the period with which we are concerned. However, Paul de Rousiers who conducted a s i m i l a r survey of the c o a l f i e l d s i n the 1890's found that r e l i g i o n affected only a minority of people i n a serious way. He noted that young people r a r e l y attended church, though church attendance usually increased a f t e r mar-riage. Most families possessed a family Bible, but Bible reading was not much practised. There was a respect for r e l i g i o n and i t was treated seriously, even i f i t was not a c t i v e l y practised on a wide scale. On the other hand, the 1956 survey of a South Yorkshire c o l l i e r y town, conducted by N. Dennis et a l . discovered that the Methodist churches were well attended at that time, and also that before 1914, one Methodist church they investigated, 235 had boasted a regular congregation of 600. In the 1860's, the Barnsley Chronicle reported on the Mapplewell and Stain-cross Feast and Hospital Sunday, a f e s t i v a l organized by the New Connexion, Primitive Methodist and Weleyan Churches. C o l l i e r volunteers had erected a stage from which the Barnsley Choral Society, boosted by other v i l l a g e choirs sang extracts from Handel's '"Messiah" and other r e l i g i o u s pieces. The whole r e v i v a l lasted f o r three days, during which there were prayers, singing and sermons. "It was computed that no fewer than from three to four thousand people were on the ground during the II ( f i r s t ) afternoon. Perhaps some of these witnesses had been drawn to the f e s t i v a l by other less s p i r i t u a l a t t r a c t i o n s , f o r the newspaper reported that "Altogether, the feast has been rather quiet, but there has been no lack of c r i c k e t , 24 f o o t b a l l and other sports." Throughout the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley Record newspapers from the 1860's to the late 1880's, we f i n d r e f e r -ences and reports of many d i f f e r e n t Nonconformist churches, the most prominent being the Wesleyan Chapel, the Primitive Methodist Chapel, the United Methodist Free Church, the Wesleyan Reform Chapel, the Salem Chapel, and the New Connexion Church. These chapels had been b u i l t by the miners themselves i n most cases, and were equipped with t h e i r own Sunday Schools. Further evidence of the widespread existence of Nonconformist chapels i s given by J.R. L e i f c h i l d who wrote i n 1856 that each c o l l i e r y v i l l a g e had a number of dissenting chapels of various sects, which were a l l well-attended. 2 ^ 236 However, i t might a l s o be noted a t t h i s p o i n t t h a t i n her study of atheism i n England from 1850 t o 1950, Susan Budd concluded t h a t the coalminers p r o v i d e d the l a r g e s t o c c u p a t i o n a l group w i t h members w i t h i n the ranks of the S e c u l a r i s t s and F r e e t h i n k e r s . She e x p l a i n e d the a l l e g i a n c e of many coalminers t o atheism as being a r e a c t i o n t o the i n j u s t i c e of s o c i e t y which f r u s t r a t e d attempts a t s o c i a l betterment and kept t h e i r s t a t u s low. We must conclude t h a t although i t i s d i f f i c u l t t o d e t e r -mine the a c t u a l numbers of r e g u l a r church-goers, because of the d i v i s i o n of o p i n i o n and c o n t r a d i c t o r y evidence on t h i s s u b j e c t , those persons who were committed t o r e l i g i o n , were f a n a t i c a l i n t h e i r b e l i e f s and a c t i o n s , and the church as i t e x i s t e d i n the c o a l communities, was e n e r g e t i c and i n f l u e n -t a i l i n many f a c e t s of the l i f e of both b e l i e v e r s and non-b e l i e v e r s . I t was the nonconformist s e c t s which f l o u r i s h e d most s t r o n g l y throughout the c o a l f i e l d s . The P r i m i t i v e Methodists dominated the r e l i g i o u s scene i n Durham and Northumberland, the Wesleyans dominated i n the West R i d i n g , while i n South Wales the B a p t i s t s and C o n g r e g a t i o n a l i s t s were most i n f l u e n -t a i l . In a l l c o a l f i e l d s , the Church of England had but a weak a l l e g i a n c e from the c o l l i e r p o p u l a t i o n . The c o a l m i n i n g p o p u l a t i o n were o f t e n p h y s i c a l l y s eparated from the A n g l i c a n churches because the c o l l i e r y v i l l a g e s had grown up around the mine, and were not n e c e s s a r i l y c l o s e t o an A n g l i c a n church. The church c o u l d be many m i l e s away from the new c o l l i e r y community. Whereas the Church of England was slow t o e r e c t 237 new church b u i l d i n g s i n the c o l l i e r y communities, the noncon-f o r m i s t s e c t s q u i c k l y moved i n t o the v i l l a g e s , and as a r e s u l t of t h e i r eager m i s s i o n a r y z e a l , chapels and d i s s e n t i n g churches were b u i l t anew, or housed i n e x i s t i n g c o t t a g e s or a v a i l a b l e b u i l d i n g s , and the miners' s o u l s were claimed f o r the non-c o n f o r m i s t r e l i g i o n s . Furthermore, the r e j e c t i o n of A n g l i c a n -ism was a l s o connected w i t h the q u e s t i o n of c l a s s c o n s c i o u s -ness. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , the parson of the A n g l i c a n church was chosen by p a t r o n s , u s u a l l y the landowners of the a r e a , and the Church of England was c o n s i d e r e d t o be i n the hands of a s u p e r i o r c l a s s . The nonconformist church on the other hand, where pr e a c h i n g was more p l a i n and p r a c t i c a l , was c o n s i d e r e d t o be more concerned w i t h the poor. Simply, the nonconformist church appeared t o o f f e r more t o the miner, and t o be more concerned w i t h h i s w e l f a r e — both s p i r i t u a l and m a t e r i a l — and the e f f o r t s of these churches i n the realms of s e l f - i m -provement, t r a d e unionism and e d u c a t i o n are ample testimony t o t h e i r concern f o r the working man. Of the nonconformist s e c t s , the Methodists have been the most i n f l u e n t i a l i n the coalminirgcommunities, i n a l l a s p e c t s of l i f e . The Methodist Church,played a g r e a t p a r t i n u p l i f t i n g the miner, p r o v i d i n g him w i t h an e d u c a t i o n and a sense of s o c i a l duty. "Methodism seems t o have been best adapted t o the miners' 27 m e n t a l i t y and t h e i r emotional and s p i r i t u a l needs." ' Often, p u b l i c f a c i l i t i e s i n the c o a l m i n i n g communities were e i t h e r so poor, or even n o n - e x i s t e n t , t h a t the c h a p e l p r o v i d e d the f o c a l p o i n t f o r c u l t u r a l a c t i v i t i e s , and posed as a r i v a l t o the p u b l i c house, George Parkinson noted the importance of 238 Methodism when he wrote, "Methodism was the only agency that taught them, enlightened them, and fed t h e i r hungry souls," :. and of the chapel i n his v i l l a g e that, "though void of orna-ment and without a r c h i t e c t u r a l pretensions, that l i t t l e un-assuming Methodist chapel was the only place of worship, and i t s Sunday school the only place of education, i n the v i l l a g e 28 for more than 60 years." This s i t u a t i o n was t o p i c a l of many areas where the chapel was the f i r s t s o c i a l centre, providing the f i r s t source of education and culture. The Methodists infused a self-respect and desire for self-improvement i n a great many of the mining population. "He took to going to chapel, and f i n d i n g i t necessary to appear decent there he got new clothes, and became what i s termed respectable. They took away his gun, his dog, and his f i g h t i n g cock. They gave him a frock-coat for his posy jacket, hymns for his public house d i t t i e s , 29 prayer meetings f o r his pay night f r o l i c s . " 7 The story of William Challenger of Kexbro near Barnsley i l l u s t r a t e s how the chapel could r a d i c a l l y change a man's l i f e . In the second half of the nineteenth century, Kexbro was a rough, unGodly v i l l a g e , William Challenger, a miner since the age of seven years, who had been buried a l i v e i n the p i t three times i n f i v e years, was t y p i c a l of most residents i n his excessive indulgence i n swearing, drinking, singing, dancing and f i g h t i n g . He had received no schooling. However, his l i f e changed completely a f t e r his conversion to Chris-t i a n i t y i n 1879, during a Methodist R e v i v a l i s t campaign. 239 He was taught how to read and write at the Sunday school and at night school classes organized hy the chapel, and became the Steward of the newly formed Methodist Society i n Kexbro, styled the Church of the New Connexion. He l a t e r became the Sunday school and Band of Hope Superintendent, a Class Leader, Local preacher and missioner, and his work not only involved house to house v i s i t a t i o n i n his home v i l l a g e , but he also conducted r e v i v a l i s t missions i n the neighbouring v i l l a g e s . The f i r s t meeting place f o r worship was the club room of the public-house, where they became known as the "White Bear Methodies", though he and h i s followers l a t e r b u i l t t h e i r own chapel. Challenger's missionary work was of an evangelistic nature, and was aimed primarily to promote temperance. A l -though many of his ex-workmates victimized him and his followers for preaching against t h e i r ways, Challenger was personally responsible for the conversion of 5»000 people i n his f i v e years as a missioner and, "he did much to l i f t the people to a higher moral and s p i r i t u a l conditions." J The energy of the r e l i g i o u s movements was channelled into various a c t i v i t i e s such as cooperative movements, edu-cation, unionization, and various types of entertainments to a t t r a c t the c o l l i e r s to t h e i r ranks. .These included open r e v i v a l i s t meetings, feasts,suppers and teas with entertain-ments, lectures, bands and sports days. F.J. Metcalfe, an Anglican clergyman i n Derbyshire i n the l a s t years of the nineteenth century accused the Methodists of interference i n a l l facets of l i f e i n that, " t h e i r leaders are to be found i n Cooperative S o c i e t i e s , or Hospital Committees, among Chapel 240 Trustees, and Deacons, i n Teetotal S o c i e t i e s , members of Parish Councils, School Boards, and a variety of other places. 31 No-one can do anything but themselves." J There was i n fact a strong l i n k between the leadership of the Methodist church and l o c a l s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l organization, and the f i r s t union spokesmen were often Methodist lay preachers. After 1850, Methodism became much more democratic i n organization, and various ways were offered i n which i n d i v i d u a l talents could be exercised through the administrative system. T3hr@Mgh work i n book-keeping, class leadership, stewardship, committee work, building administration and even lay preaching, the i n d i v i d u a l could develop talents which were r e a d i l y applied to organization i n Friendly Societies, Adult Education Move-ments, and more es p e c i a l l y , trade unionism. "In the Methodist Society, they learnt earnestness, sobriety, industry and r e g u l a r i t y of conduct. They stood out as men of character gaining i n the respect of t h e i r fellows. They had learnt from Methodism, the methods of organising men and the art of 32 public speaking." Methodism was so strongly i n f l u e n t i a l i n trade unionism, that Wearmouth notes that out of eighty trade-union leaders of the late nineteenth century who owed t h e i r union careers to r e l i g i o u s experience, seventy were Methodists. E s p e c i a l l y i n f l u e n t i a l i n the union leadership of the North East Coal-f i e l d were the Primitive Methodists; Thomas Burt, the f i r s t coalminer M.P. was both a Northumberland trade unionist and a Primitive Methodist. To i l l u s t r a t e the connection further, other coalminers' leaders who were also Primitive Methodists 241 include John Wilson, William Crawford, Hepburn, Fenwick, John Johnson, and Peter Lee from Northumberland and Durham; Ned Cowey and Parrott from Yorkshire; Enoch Edwards, Albert Stanley and Sam Finney from the Midlands. The story of John Wilson i s perhaps a t y p i c a l example of how a man could aspire to higher things through the ranks of his chapel. Upon his conversion to Methodism, Wilson's whole l i f e s t y l e changed completely. He read a v i d l y and collected his own small l i b r a r y of books. He taught i n the Sunday school, attended the discussion groups of the chapel's Improvement Society, and became a lay preacher. From church government, he became involved i n l o c a l organization as secre-tary to the early cooperative society i n his v i l l a g e . He lo s t his job i n the mine through his involvement i n trade unionism, which served to strengthen his commitment to p o l i -t i c s . He became the Secretary to the Miners' Association of Durham where he was elected to Parliament i n 1885 on a L i b e r a l t i c k e t . The Wesleyan Methodists were generally praised for t h e i r moderation and r e s p e c t a b i l i t y , whereas the Primitive Methodists or "Ranters" as they were often known, were blamed as the insti g a t o r s of s t r i k e a c t i v i t y , and were usually the f i r s t to be evicted from t h e i r homes and dismissed from the p i t s . They were accused by the coalowners of using t h e i r r e l i g i o n as a cloak for spreading dissident teachings and conspiracies among t h e i r men. But i t was not only i n the realms of radicalism and s o c i a l welfare that the r e l i g i o u s sects were i n f l u e n t i a l . They also 242 p r o v i d e d a moving f o r c e i n the e d u c a t i o n of the c o l l i e r p o p u l a t i o n . In t h i s r e s p e c t , Wearmouth says s e n t i m e n t a l l y t h a t Methodism "came t o the miners not merely as a form of r e l i g i o u s d i s s e n t , but a l s o as a welcome a m e l i o r a t i v e b r i n g i n g 33 a r a y of sunshine i n t o t h e i r b l e a k and d i s m a l environment." I t i s d i f f i c u l t t o asses the l e v e l of e d u c a t i o n i n the mining communities, though a f t e r the 1870 E d u c a t i o n Act and a s p e c i a l Act of 1872 d e a l i n g w i t h the e d u c a t i o n of c h i l d r e n over 13 years of ,age employed i n the p i t s , c h i l d r e n i n mining towns would have r e c e i v e d a standard e d u c a t i o n . But e a r l i e r i n the n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , the mass of miners had l i t t l e p r o v i s i o n f o r e d u c a t i o n , and i n most cases had had t o depend on the e f f o r t s of the Methodists t o remedy t h i s s i t u a t i o n . Methodism had brought t o the uneducated miners the preacher and the c l a s s l e a d e r , the B i b l e and the Methodist Hymn Book, the Sunday s c h o o l and the A d u l t D i s c u s s i o n Group, and had taught them t o read and t h i n k . Thus, the i l l i t e r a t e s of the a d u l t g e n e r a t i o n o f t e n attended t h e i r c h i l d r e n ' s Sunday s c h o o l t o l e a r n the rudiments of r e a d i n g and w r i t i n g . However, d e s p i t e the worthy e f f o r t s of the Methodists i n t h i s r e s p e c t , the nature of education i n the c o a l m i n i n g areas i s s u b j e c t t o d i s p u t e . I t would appear t h a t the coalminers were n e g l e c t e d i n the realms of e d u c a t i o n , and t h e r e f o r e , as i n the q u e s t i o n of r e l i g i o n , t here were those who were i n d i f f e -r e n t t o t h e i r e d u c a t i o n , and others who were imbued wi t h a d e s i r e f o r self-improvement. The e x i s t e n c e of adequate edu-c a t i o n a l f a c i l i t i e s depended upon the g e n e r o s i t y and e n l i g h -tenment of the c o l l i e r y owners, or upon the s t r e n g t h of the 243 organized miners, for i t was by one of these two bodies that school buildings were provided before the end of the nine-teenth century. There were therefore great variations i n the adequacy and inadequacy of public f a c i l i t i e s and education i n the c o l l i e r y towns. An examination of the i l l i t e r a c y rates for the coalmining areas suggests that the l e v e l of education was generally low, when compared to other areas. In 1863, i n the South Wales manufacturing town of Monmouth, the i l l i t e r a c y rate was 47 per cent, while i n the Welsh c o l l i e r y town of Merthyr T y d f i l , the rate was as high as 64 per cent. The average rate for the coalmining areas of South Wales and Staffordshire at t h i s time was over 45 per cent. In his survey of i l l i t e r a c y , Hobsbawm concluded that i n the late 1870*s the most i l l i t e r a t e indus-t r i a l counties were those of South Wales, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and the Northern mining areas, and the indus-t r a i l groups with the highest i l l i t e r a c y rates, of over twenty per cent, were the u n s k i l l e d and the coalminers. He names Easington, Bishop Auckland, Barnsley and Houghton-le-Spring as displaying some of the highest degrees of i l l i t e r a c y . ^ L Apart from t h i s s t a t i s t i c a l material, we also have f i r s t -hand evidence of the i n a b i l i t y of many miners to read or write, George Hitchin i n describing his paternal grandfather said: More odd was his a b i l i t y to read. Few people of his generation or station i n l i f e could read, and my maternal grandfather used an X when signing a document - an operation that scared him s t i f f . Of those who could read, few ever opened a book and fewer s t i l l possessed one. But Grandpa Hitchin went once a week to the Workmen's Club, whose committee, more as a gesture to culture than out of conviction, kept a few volumes i n a glass-fronted cupboard. This was the l i b r a r y . 35 Before 1870 and compulsory e d u c a t i o n , l i t e r a c y depended l a r g e l y upon the Sunday School Movement, the S.P.C.K., and t o a l e s s e r e x t e n t , upon the Mechanics* I n s t i t u t e s , branches of which appeared i n some of the mining communities. Some l i t e r a t e l e a d e r s emerged i n the c o a l towns, but the mass of the mining p o p u l a t i o n remained untouched by e d u c a t i o n . D.H. Lawrence, who was the son of a coalminer, wrote t h a t h i s f a t h e r attended a dame s c h o o l where he b a r e l y l e a r n e d t o w r i t e h i s name. Lawrence's g e n e r a t i o n was sent a t f i v e years of age t o the Board S c h o o l s , B r i t i s h Schools or N a t i o n a l S c h o o l s . In 1890, he went t o a Board School w i t h other miners' sons. He found t h a t t h e r e was a d i s t i n c t i v e a v e r s i o n t o l e a r n i n g among the miners' c h i l d r e n g e n e r a l l y . "They hated even l e a r -n i n g t o read and w r i t e . The endless r e f r a i n was: 'When I go down p i t y o u ' l l see what sums I ' l l do.' That was what they waited f o r : t o go down p i t , t o escape, t o be men." As many as n i n e t y per cent of these s c h o o l boys, became c o l l i e r s . Among a d u l t s too t h e r e was a sense of h o s t i l i t y t o edu-c a t i o n , though some managed t o overcome t h i s s In the e i g h t e e n - e i g h t i e s Edward Carpenter, f r e e d from h i s d u t i e s as an E x t e n s i o n l e c t u r e r (Univer-s i t y ) , and l i v i n g on h i s s m a l l h o l d i n g a t M i l l -t horpe, used t o go down t o the mining v i l l a g e s of the West R i d i n g w i t h one or two companions. They would take up t h e i r stand on a heap of s l a g or broken w a l l and begin t o speak. The miners would come round and stand or s i t down with t h e i r backs t o the speaker but a f t e r a l i t t l e time would become i n t e r e s t e d . 37 There are t h e r e f o r e v a r y i n g o p i n i o n s as t o the i n f l u e n c e of a d u l t e d u c a t i o n movements, and t o the i n t e r e s t shown by the miners. 245 In 1889, the T e c h n i c a l I n s t r u c t i o n A c t was passed by which l o c a l a u t h o r i t i e s were empowered t o s e t up c l a s s e s i n t e c h -n i c a l t r a i n i n g , Some men lacked the a b i l i t y t o p r o f i t from courses of t h i s n a t u r e , others l a c k e d the endurance t o a t t e n d n i g h t s c h o o l a f t e r a strenuous day i n the p i t . But the oppor-t u n i t y was the r e f o r the miner who was i n t e r e s t e d i n improving h i m s e l f . However, a number of miners must have been i n t e r e s t e d i n books of a t e c h n i c a l n ature as the Co n v e r s a t i o n on Mines a h i g h l y t e c h n i c a l t r e a t i s e on mining by W i l l i a m Hopton, had s o l d 23,000 c o p i e s t o a mining r e a d e r s h i p by i t s Seventh E d i t i o n i n 1883. In the Preface t o the F i r s t E d i t i o n i n 1864, Hopton s a i d t h a t many works had been w r i t t e n on mining, but were not understood by the miners who were g e n e r a l l y "not w e l l educated." But: the author, having had a p r a c t i c a l knowledge of mines and miners from h i s youth has, t h e r e f o r e , a b e t t e r knowledge of what miners r e q u i r e f o r t h e i r b e t t e r i n f o r m a t i o n . The o b j e c t of h i s w r i t i n g the f o l l o w i n g pages on mines, by the way of a c o n v e r s a t i o n between f a t h e r and son, has been t o make use of such words, and i n such a manner, t h a t the s u b j e c t can be p e r f e c t l y understood by miners. 38 In 1904, Harvey of the Derbyshire Miners' A s s o c i a t i o n complained i n the l a c k of i n t e r e s t i n f u r t h e r e d u c a t i o n among the miners. He was r e p o r t e d i n the Der b y s h i r e Times as s a y i n g t h a t : There was a good d e a l of a t t e n t i o n g i v e n t o f o o t b a l l , c r i c k e t and r e c r e a t i o n . He d i d not obj e c t t o t h a t but he d i d ob j e c t t o a l l l e i s u r e time b e i n g devoted t o r e c r e a t i o n and none whatever t o mental study. He had made e n q u i r i e s of the L i b r a r i a n a t C h e s t e r f i e l d , and found t h a t e d u c a t i o n a l s u b j e c t s , p h i l o s o p h y , h i s t o r y , e t c . , d i d not form f i f t y per cent of the 246 reading at Chesterfield compared with f i c t i o n . He hoped the members of that lodge would act as missionaries. I t was not necessary for them to go to South A f r i c a . They could s t a r t at Shirebrook and he was sure they were needed. 39 The University Extension Classes at Chesterfield were eventually discontinued because of a lack of interest and support from the c o l l i e r s , though the branch of the Workers' Education Association which was set up there i n 1909 was more successful. In f a c t , t h i s pattern was repeated elsewhere whereby the W.E.A. successfully ousted the University Exten-sion movement. The technical courses offered by the W.E.A. had greater appeal to the coalminers. In 1906, the W.E.A. was introduced to Yorkshire, i n d i v i -daul branches being established i n Wakefield i n 1906, Castle-ford i n 1909 and Barnsley i n 1910. Education was based upon the t u t o r i a l system and essay w r i t i n g , and the classes were linked with the u n i v e r s i t i e s of Leeds and S h e f f i e l d , and so were of a necessarily high standard. These u n i v e r s i t i e s had also opened mining departments, offering degree and diploma courses for those aiming for mining managerial positions. The atten-dance of courses offered by the W.E.A. could therefore lead to u n i v e r s i t y entrance on a trade union t i c k e t , or to the summer schools held at Oxford for working men. Furthermore, there was a steady stream of men from the c o a l f i e l d s who pur-sued t h e i r education at Ruskin College, or the London Labour College. (The l a t t e r was owned and controlled j o i n t l y by the National Union of Railwaymen and the South Wales Miners' Federation.) 24? In Yorkshire, a more far-reaching scheme was set up by the West Riding County Council i n the early twentieth century whereby elementary mining classes were given at night schools i n the p r i n c i p a l c o l l i e r y centres. By 1909, the regular attendance of these classes was 1,252 students, and by 1910, these special courses were being offered i n ;'34 v i l l a g e s on the Yorkshire c o a l f i e l d . Later, i n 1922, the W.E.A. launched a new and popular Miners 1 Lectures Scheme i n Yorkshire. From the turn of the century therefore, there was an upsurge i n a c t i v i t y i n the f i e l d of miners* education and t h i s tremendous a c t i v i t y i n technical and c u l t u r a l education ob-viously affected a great number of men, despite the reputation that the miners had for being ignorant and i n d i f f e r e n t to education. The effects of self-help i n education i n the c o a l f i e l d s , amid a mass of generally ill-educated miners, can be seen by the emergence of numbers of men who were success-f u l i n public a f f a i r s . A great number of ex-miners reached Parliament, and Lubin and Everett fround that i n the 1920*s more coalminers were q u a l i f i e d f or technical appointments and brain working professions than any other group of manual 40 labourers. Jack Lawson wrote that some of those i n his Methodist Society became "school-teachers, Headmasters, Univer-s i t y professors, managers, ministers, musicians, s o c i a l wor-41 kers, and public men and women," The c o a l f i e l d s produced many great i n d i v i d u a l s , including J. Keir Hardie, S i r George E l l i o t , Rev. Peter Mackenzie, who was a great moving force i n Methodism, the author Richard Fines, and more recently, the p o l i t i c i a n s W i l l Lawson, Aneurin Bevan and Ness Edwards, 248 Northumberland alone produced from among i t s mining p o p u l a t i o n the mathematician Dr. C h a r l e s Hutton, Thomas Bewick the a r t i s t and " i l l u s t r a t o r of n a t u r e " , George Stephenson the locomotive engineer, Joseph S k i p s e y the poet, and Thomas Burt, the "Father 42 of the House of Commons." The c o a l f i e l d s d i d t h e r e f o r e produce a number of excep-t i o n a l men. On the q u e s t i o n of e d u c a t i o n , we must conclude from our evidence t h a t on the whole d u r i n g the n i n e t e e n t h century the c o a l f i e l d s were c e n t r e s of i l l i t e r a c y . However, the r e were exceptions t o t h i s r u l e , and i n d i v i d u a l s c o u l d b e t t e r themselves, u s u a l l y through the agencies of the Non-co n f o r m i s t churches. A f t e r the t u r n of the century, t h e r e was a g r e a t e r involvement i n e d u c a t i o n , and the w i l l t o s e l f -improvement, which had a f f e c t e d but a few of the c o l l i e r c l a s s , and which had l a i d dormant among the g r e a t e r p a r t of the mining p o p u l a t i o n , came t o the f o r e and p r o v i d e d an impe-tus t o a d u l t e d u c a t i o n movements. One f i n a l a c t i v i t y o u t s i d e of working hours which must be d i s c u s s e d i n any study of the c u l t u r a l l e v e l of a group, i s crime. Here we f i n d t h a t the coalminers had an u n u s u a l l y low crime r a t e when compared t o other o c c u p a t i o n a l groups, d e s p i t e the f a c t t h a t c o n v i c t i o n s f o r drunkenness were the h i g h e s t i n the country, (see above). As e a r l y as 1856, L e i f -c h i l d noted of the c o l l i e r s t h a t , "Beside other l a r g e indus-t r i a l d i s t r i c t s , t h e i r m o r a l i t y now stands h i g h . Crime i n our m e t r o p o l i s i s f o u r times g r e a t e r i n p r o p o r t i o n than i n the mining d i s t r i c t s . The c o t t o n and i r o n d i s t r i c t s much e x c e l 43 these i n crime." ^ 249 The Census Reports support t h i s o b s e r v a t i o n on crime r a t e s f o r coalminers throughout the p e r i o d w i t h which we are concerned. Table II below compares the numbers of p r i s o n e r s from c e r t a i n o c c u p a t i o n a l groups i n 1901. The c o n v i c t i o n s f o r o f f e n c e s by coalminers are out of p r o p o r t i o n t o t h e i r numbers when compared wi t h other o c c u p a t i o n a l groups. Even though c o a l m i n i n g was one of the l a r g e s t employers of men a t the t u r n of the c e n t u r y , c o n v i c t i o n s remained a t a r e l a t i v e l y low r a t e . TABLE II To compare the numbers of p r i s o n e r s from c e r t a i n o c c u p a t i o n a l groups i n England and Wales i n 1901. 44 Occupation Number of p r i s o n e r s T o t a l employed Coalminers 542 643,654 T a i l o r s 379 237,185 Boot and shoe makers 312 218,581 B r i c k l a y e r s ' l a b o u r e r s 438 97,779 Costermongers, hawkers, s t r e e t - s e l l e r s . 458 61,339 Merchant s e r v i c e , Seamen, p i l o t s , boatmen on seas. 551 97,881 P a i n t e r s , d e c o r a t o r s , g l a z i e r s . 469 160,387 Crime r a t e s are an i n d i c a t i o n t h a t t h e r e was a g r e a t e r degree of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and a h i g h e r m o r a l i t y among the c o a l -miners than among c e r t a i n other o c c u p a t i o n a l groups, and i n -deed, the t o t a l number of male coalminer p r i s o n e r s was but a t i n y p r o p o r t i o n of the p r i s o n e r p o p u l a t i o n of England and Wales. 250 The preceding; two chapters have presented a b r i e f exami-n a t i o n of the miner's l i f e and work, and have p o i n t e d towards f a c t o r s which f o s t e r e d cohesion among the c o a l m i n i n g p o p u l a t i o n . At the same time, i t would appear from the defenders and a t t a c k e r s of the c o a l m i n e r s , t h a t t h e r e were two l e v e l s of c u l t u r e i n the c o a l communities. There was both ignorance and e d u c a t i o n , both atheism and deep r e l i g i o u s c o n v i c t i o n , but a l l were u n i t e d i n a common s t r u g g l e f o r s u r v i v a l i n work, and by common experiences i n l i f e . S i m i l a r l y , the coalminer h i m s e l f had a d u a l p e r s o n a l i t y . On the one hand, h i s work c a l l e d f o r a hard, s t e e l y c h a r a c t e r , and a r u t h l e s s n e s s t o p i t h i m s e l f a g a i n s t nature and the c o a l -owners, i n order t o s u r v i v e and make h i s l i v i n g . Apart from t h i s a g g r e s s i v e n e s s i n work, the c o l l i e r s were noted f o r t h e i r rough and rowdy l e i s u r e a c t i v i t i e s . On the other hand, the c o l l i e r s were a l s o noted f o r t h e i r g e n e r o s i t y t o others l e s s f o r t u n a t e than themselves. Weekly c o l l e c t i o n s f o r v i c -tims of a c c i d e n t s and r e g u l a r deductions from t h e i r pay f o r the r e l i e f of the aged and widowed were accepted as necessary c o r o l l a r i e s of mining l i f e . T h e i r w i l l i n g n e s s t o h e l p t h e i r workmates who were i n danger, and t h e i r neighbours who were i n need of r e l i e f , i s w e l l known. Despite the f a c t , however, t h a t t h e r e were c e r t a i n d i f -ferences; i n a l l coalmine communities i n l e i s u r e p u r s u i t s and i n e d u c a t i o n , and d e s p i t e the d i v i s i o n of o p i n i o n among h i s -t o r i a n s as t o the q u a l i t y of s o c i a l l i f e among the miners, one constant remains. Even though t h e r e were those whose l i f e r e v o l v e d around the p u b l i c house and the gambling t a b l e , 251 and those who a s p i r e d t o M g h e r moral, s p i r i t u a l or e d u c a t i o n a l p l a n e s , no man l i v e d or moved i n a vacuum. A l l of the a c t i v i -t i e s d i s c u s s e d above were g r e g a r i o u s , whether they i n v o l v e d d r i n k i n g sprees on pa y - n i g h t s , or l o v e - f e a s t s and r e v i v a l i s t meetings organized by the Nonconformist churches. In the words of the i n v e s t i g a t o r s of the 1956 s o c i a l survey, s o l i -d a r i t y was strengthened f o r , "A man's workmates are known t o him i n a m a n i f o l d s e r i e s of a c t i v i t i e s and c o n t a c t s , and o f t e n have shared the same u p b r i n g i n g . The e f f e c t of a common s e t of p e r s i s t i n g s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s , shared over a l i f e - t i m e by men working i n the same i n d u s t r y and i n the same c o l l i e r i e s , tin. i s a v e r y powerful one." J FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER VII 1 J . H o l l a n d , F o s s i l F u e l , the C o l l i e r i e s and Co a l Trade  of Great B r i t a i n (London, F i r s t E d i t i o n , 1835). PP. 290 - 291. 2 See N. Dennis, F. Henriques, and C. S l a u g h t e r , C o a l i s  our L i f e (London, 1956), pp. 79 - 80. 3 N. Dennis et a l . , Op. C i t . . p. 140. 4 See J.E. W i l l i a m s , The Der b y s h i r e Miners (London, 1962), PP. 58 - 59. 5 F. R e i d , " K e i r Hardie's Conversion t o S o c i a l i s m , " A. Briggs and J . S a v i l l e , i n Essays i n Labour H i s t o r y V o l . 2., (London, 1971), p. 29. 6 The B a r n s l e y C h r o n i c l e , c i r c a 1863, from a C o l l e c t i o n of Newspaper C u t t i n g s and A r t i c l e s from the Ba r n s l e y C h r o n i c l e and B a r n s l e y Record, c i r c a 1861 t o 1889. ( A r t i c l e s are undated) MSS Cusworth H a l l Museum, Doncaster, Y o r k s h i r e . 7 G.A.W. Tomlinson, Coal-Miner (London, 1937), p. 139. 8 A.R. G r i f f i n , Coalmining (London, 1972), p. 137. 252 9 G. Parkinson, True Stories of Durham P i t - L i f e (London, 1912,), p. 10. 10 J. Wilson, Memories of a Labour Leader. The Autobio- graphy of John Wilson (London, 1910), P. 91. 11 I b i d . , p. 84. 12 A. Horner, In c o r r i g i b l e Rebel (London, I960), p. 11. 13 From the Derbyshire Times, 1865, ci t e d by J.E. Williams, Op. C i t . , p. 59. 14 B. Harrison, Drink and the Victorians. The Temperance  Question i n England 1815 - 1872. (London. 1971). "P. 315. 15 From E.L. C o l l i s and M. Greenwood, The Health of the  In d u s t r i a l Worker (London, 1921). 16 Ibid. 17 A.L. Lloyd, Come a l l ye Bold Miners. Ballads and Songs  of the Coalfields (London* 1952), pp. 33 - 34. 18 From the Barnsley Record 1861, Cusworth H a l l Museum MSS Op. C i t . 19 J. Brophy, A Miner's L i f e (Madison and Milwaukee, 1964), p. 12. 20 See R. Haddow, "The Miners of Scotland," The Nineteenth  Century, Vol. XXIV. (July - Dec. 1888), pp. 360 - 371. 21 Ib i d . . p. 371. 22 B. Harrison, Op. C i t . 23 From the Derbyshire Times. 10th Dec. 1904, c i t e d i n J.E. Williams, Op. C i t . . p. 466. 24 The Barnsley Chronicle 1860*s Cusworth H a l l Museum, MSS Op. C i t . 25 See J.R. L e i f c h i l d , Our Coal and Our Coal-Pits; the  People i n Them and the" Scenes Around Them (London, 1856). 26 See S. Budd, "The Loss of Faith. Reasons f o r Unbelief among Members of the Secular Movement i n England, 1850 -1950," Past and Present. No. 36 (London, 19§7), pp. 124 - 125. 27 F. Zweig, Men i n the P i t s (London, 1948), p. 168. 28 G. Parkinson, Op. C i t . . p. 9. 253 29 R.F. Wearmouth, Methodism and the Working Class Move- ments of England. 1800 - 1850 (London, 1947), p. 226. 30 See William Kenyon, The Bishop of Kexbro or, Incidents i n the L i f e and Labours of William Challenger, Missioner i n the Barnsley C i r c u i t of the Methodist New Connexion (Barnsley, 1907), p. 60. 31 J. E. Williams, Op. C i t . . p. 78. 32 R. Wearmouth, Op. C i t . , p. 227. 33 I b i d . . p. 226. 34 E.J. Hobsbawm, Labouring Men. Studies i n the History  of Labour (London, 1964), p. 314. 35 G. H i t c h i n , Pit-Yacker (London, 1962), pp. 15 - 16. i 36 D.H. Lawrence, "Enslaved by C i v i l i s a t i o n , " i n Assorted  A r t i c l e s . (London, 1930), pp. 122 - 123. 37 J.F.C. Harrison, Learning and L i v i n g 1790 - I960. A Study i n the History of the English Adult Education' Movement (Toronto. 1961), p. 249. 38 W. Hopton, Conversation on Mines, etc., between a father and son; to which are added questions and answers to a s s i s t candidates to obtain c e r t i f i c a t e s f o r the manage-ment of c o l l i e r i e s , A lecture on the atmosphere - i t s changes and explosive gases, tables of c a l c u l a t i o n s , rules of measurements, etc. (Manchester, F i r s t E d i t i o n , 1864), p. 10. 39 From the Derbyshire Times 2nd July 1904, c i t e d by J.E. Williams. Op. C i t . . p. 471 40 See I. Lubin and H. Everett, The B r i t i s h Coal Dilemma (New York, 1927). 41 J. Lawson, A Man's L i f e (London, 1932), p. 114. 42 See S i r R. Redmayne, Men, Mines and Memories (London, 1942). 43 J.R. L e i f c h i l d . - Op. C i t . . pp. 220 - 221. 44 From the Census Report for England and Wales. 1901; Summary Tables, B.P.P. 1902 - 1904, LXXXIV, Table XLIII, p. 244. 45 See N. Dennis et a l . , Op. C i t . . p. 79. 2 5 4 CHAPTER VIII  CONCLUSION From the foregoing we can see how the coalminers and their families were distinguished from other working class groups both in their liv i n g and working situations. Further-more, these features not only served to distinguish the coal-miners from others and earn them a reputation for being a "race apart" but they also helped to draw the coalminers more closely together into an almost closed social and working group, with specific attitudes and outlooks. To summarise, the following factors have been identified as promoting the intense solidarity characteristic of the coal-miners. F i r s t l y , the whole community was centred around the coal mine and i t s fortunes. Everyone was connected with the mine to some degree, and this factor alone led to a sharing of common interests. In most cases the population of the coalmining community was isolated geographically from other working-class groups and occupations and therefore was largely immune to the influence of new ideas and change. This factor intensified dependence upon the coal mine and interdependence within the mining population. The lack of occupational d i -versity and loyalty to the community, provided l i t t l e incentive for leaving mining. Coalmining thus became entrenched as a traditional occupation within families. Paul de Rousiers identified these interdependent forces at work in his obser-vations from the late nineteenth century: Few artisan communities in England are so stable as mining communities. In a mining village... there are only miners or persons employed by the mine, such as 2 5 5 carpenters or mechanics, and everybody, from the pony-driver to the village r e t a i l trader, gets his livi n g directly or indirectly from the mine. The frame is i n f i n i t e l y more narrow and the young man has less chance of raising himself, 1 The standard of living within the coal towns limited the population to a similar l i v i n g experience. The level of wages and diet, indentical housing and f a c i l i t i e s , and a common environment a l l contributed to shared or common expectations in l i f e and as such, drew the population together. Though better off than most other occupational groups, the actual living conditions of the miners were generally poor, and coal-mining families were caught up in a common struggle against the environment. The interests of individual families centred upon the coal mine and upon the community as a whole. However, the coalminers were also family men, and a study of the family unit brought to light certain distinctive features which clearly separated the miners from other working-class and occupational groups. One of the prime distinguishing features here was the actual size of the coalminer's family — the coalminingpopulation consistently led the f i e l d in high rates of f e r t i l i t y . Several explanations have been proposed in the thesis for this phenomenon and a l l of them involved factors that applied specially to the coalminers. Early age at marriage prompted by high wages and the attainment of peak earning .": powers at an early age; high rates of infant mortality which further prompted fecundity; the ignorance of birth-control methods or the unwillingness of the c o l l i e r population to employ family limitation; the lack of employment opportunities 256 f o r women and the consequent l a c k of an i n c e n t i v e t o l i m i t f a m i l y s i z e ? and t o a l e s s e r e x t e n t , the va l u e o f c h i l d r e n as wage-earners: these were a l l f a c t o r s which were p e c u l i a r t o the c o a l m i n i n g p o p u l a t i o n and which helped r a i s e the l e v e l s of f e r t i l i t y . The coalminer's home pro v i d e d s h e l t e r f o r c e r t a i n other household members i n a d d i t i o n t o the l a r g e r than a v e r a g e - s i z e d f a m i l i e s . In an occu p a t i o n which a t t r a c t e d a f l o a t i n g popu-l a t i o n of s i n g l e young men, temporary l o d g i n g s were e s s e n t i a l . T h i s type of accommodation was norm a l l y p r o v i d e d by the c o a l -miners themsleves, and the miner's home t h e r e f o r e was o f t e n shared by one or more o u t s i d e r s . In a d d i t i o n , s t r o n g k i n s h i p t i e s and c o n s i s t e n t l y low r e l i e f r a t e s f o r aged paupers i n the c d a l m i h i s g ' d i s t r i c t s i i m p l y t h a t sons and daughters r e g u l a r l y p r o v i d e d s h e l t e r f o r aged or homeless p a r e n t s . As a r e s u l t of a l l these f a c t o r s , the coalminer's household was swel l e d t o a d i s p r o p o r t i o n a t e and d i s t i n c t i v e s i z e . Because of the s i n g l e - i n d u s t r y n ature of the co a l m i n i n g v i l l a g e s and towns, employment o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r women were extremely l i m i t e d . Women t h e r e f o r e became more home and f a m i l y - o r i e n t a t e d . T h i s f a c t o r had c e r t a i n r a m i f i c a t i o n s i n the standards of housekeeping and comfort i n the average c o l -l i e r ' s home, and f o r the m e n t a l i t y of the women themselves. But i t was the men who o s t e n s i b l y determined and forged the a t t i t u d e s o f t h i s m a l e - o r i e n t a t e d community, and who were the m o t i v a t i n g f o r c e behind the s o l i d a r i t y of the mining p o p u l a t i o n . T h e i r working s i t u a t i o n which d i f f e r e d so markedly 257 from other occupations served t o encourage a " t e a m - s p i r i t " and comradeship. Each man had t o work wit h and f o r h i s "team" and the n e c e s s i t y f o r c o o p e r a t i o n w i t h i n the working s i t u a t i o n demanded good s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s a l s o . L e i s u r e was s i m i l a r l y of a g r e g a r i o u s nature and pl e a s u r e hours were shared w i t h working companions. The dangers i n h e r e n t i n c o a l m i n i n g a f f e c -t e d the s o c i a l l i f e and c u l t u r e of the mining p o p u l a t i o n which combined f r i v o l o u s p l e a s u r e s w i t h s e r i o u s e f f o r t s towards seIf-improvement. Both work and l e i s u r e t h e r e f o r e were group a c t i v i t i e s and f o s t e r e d c o h e s i o n w i t h i n the community. There was a l s o the ever-present t h r e a t of tragedy or m i s f o r t u n e . T h i s common b a t t l e f o s t e r e d community f e e l i n g s and a d e s i r e t o h e l p f o r "you w i l l never see a miner r e f u s e h e l p t o another p who i s s i c k or i n j u r e d , f o r i t may be h i s own t u r n next." Abe Moffat found t h i s community s p i r i t t o be the mainstay of the p o p u l a t i o n , and when h i s l a r g e f a m i l y was v i c t i m i z e d by the F i f e C o a l Company f o r i t s p a r t i n the 1926 s t r i k e , he found no l a c k of o f f e r s t o h e l p : But l i v i n g i n a mining community, we were a b l e t o withstand the ha r d s h i p and s a c r i f i c e , f o r the f r i e n d s h i p of miners and t h e i r f a m i l i e s can onl y be understood when you l i v e among them. In i l l -ness or bereavement you are never without f r i e n d s i n a mining v i l l a g e . Even d u r i n g hard times we c o u l d always r e l y on one another's a s s i s t a n c e . The people were not only k i n d and generous, they were l o y a l t o one another, and even w i t h a l l the h a r d s h i p and s a c r i f i c e they would come to g e t h e r and enjoy themselves i n a manner t h a t would be the envy of many non-mining communities. 3 Out of t h i s community s p i r i t and i s o l a t i o n t h e r e emerged common a t t i t u d e s and outlooks s p e c i a l t o the miners. T r a d i -t i o n a l i s m , a keen sense of a common past and r e s i s t a n c e t o i 258 change "became strong characteristics among the miners for, "the weight of the dead past in the miners' mind, behaviour, customs and habits i s very considerable." This traditiona-lism amounted almost to a conservatism by which their peculiar culture was strengthened and maintained. Sir Richard Redmayne described the "peculiar character" of the northern pitmen with whom he had worked: Jealous of their rights, steadfast in their courage, loyal to their leaders, and though in p o l i t i c s mainly radical, they are in most other respects strangely conservative. Having lived for genera-tions apart from the general community, in villages situated close to the scene of their labours, the miners have come to possess an outlook on l i f e and many characteristics peculiar to themselves. In their mode of livin g , their sports and diversions, and even in their language.,. they differ from their nearby neighbours. No boy in a coll i e r y village dreamt of following a calling other than that of a miner. The boys entered a mine at an early age, passing from trapper to pony-driver, from driver to putter and from putter to coal hewer, so that i t was a true saying in youth, "once a miner always'a miner." 5 Despite the fact that the coalminers were noted for their redicalism in the realm of p o l i t i c s , they were s t i l l essen-t i a l l y averse to change. This can be seen in fact in their slow acceptance of Labour principles, and in the long struggle of the infant Labour party to wean the miners away from their Liberal a f f i l i a t i o n s . Even after their commitment to Labour p o l i t i c s , the coalminers remained a self-sufficient and in-ward-looking occupational group in the p o l i t i c a l battle-ground: Miners had many of the classic ingredients for a labor protest movement. Their work was dangerous? they lived with their fellow workers without much contact with other elements of society. But there was a traditionalism in miners' l i f e that limited their vision of the future. They were proud of their work and were quick to protest major changes in i t . They were devoted to their families and often religious. They benefited from f u l l employ-259 ment^ and t h e i r wages often rose even when those of other workers were f a l l i n g . They also had gardens which i n my opinion, obviously open to challenge, i s a l i k e l y index or cause of a c e r t a i n basic con-servatism. F i n a l l y , they were isolat e d from other workers. Even when they joined them i n Labor p o l i t i c s they acted as miners not as workers. 7 These conservative attitudes of the coalminers were further r e l f e c t e d i n the community as a whole, for the coal-mining community was marked by a p e c u l i a r l y conservative culture. This closed and isol a t e d l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n encou-raged a coalmining culture which was preserved i n balladry, legend and supers t i t i o n . There was a strong and wide oral t r a d i t i o n among the coalminers for "miners' roots went deep and t h i s consciousness of a past, expressed i t s e l f i n many o ways, but most c l e a r l y i n s u p e r s t i t i o n , f o l k - l o r e and song." A sense of a common past and of brotherhood i n d i v e r s i t y led therefore to the development of a special culture and " i t i s doubtful whether any other industry i n B r i t a i n has such a body of balladry related to the job i t s e l f , or to the l i f e , o diversions and struggles of the men engaged i n that job." We may conclude that the coalmining communities gene-r a l l y were of a closed, inward-looking nature, r e f l e c t i n g the attitudes of the coalminers' themselves, who had been nur-tured i n an atmosphere of t r a d i t i o n a l i s m , conservatism and i s o l a t i o n . The community grew up around the coal mine, and the mine dictated the personality t r a i t s and c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s to be assumed by the community as a whple. The strongest 260 of these t r a i t s wa&'bsolidarity. Perhaps Mark Benney's des-c r i p t i o n of the e f f e c t s of the c o l l i e r y upon i t s working p o p u l a t i o n i l l u s t r a t e s most g r a p h i c a l l y the in t e n s e i n t e r -dependence between c o a l mine and p o p u l a t i o n , and the coh e s i o n between the members of the community. In c o n c l u d i n g , h i s coa l m i n i n g community may be taken as be i n g r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of those w i t h which t h i s t h e s i s has been concerned: For a c e n t u r y and h a l f the p i t had dominated i t s l i f e , shaping the people t o s u i t i t s purposes, k i l l i n g and maiming them g i v i n g a proud p r o s p e r i t y and s n a t c h i n g i t back, throwing up a grey rampart of s l a g t o i s o l a t e the v i l l a g e from the world, b i n d i n g i t i n f i e r c e exiguous l o y a l t i e s . A r b i t r a r y and unaccountable i n i t s behaviour, t o the men who were dragged from i t s g a l l e r i e s burnt or mangled, t o the women who t r i e d t o keep homes c l e a n and t a b l e s l a d e n w i t h the wages i t p a i d . Yet t o those who had endurance and h a r d i -hood enough t o s u r v i v e i t s ways, i t gave a deep sombre p r i d e and s a t i s f a c t i o n . Nothing had come e a s i l y t o t h i s v i l l a g e . When i t f e l t a need, i t had t r i e d t o su p p l y i t f o r i t s e l f , and i f anyone opposed the e f f o r t , the v i l l a g e had fought. Every i n s t i t u t i o n i n the v i l l a g e w i t h the e x c e p t i o n of the cinema, the p o s t - o f f i c e and the church, the people had b u i l t themselves or s t r u g g l e d f o r through t h e i r union. T h e i r community, f o r g e d deep underground i n dark stony p l a c e s , drew on elemental sources of s t r e n g t h and d i s c i p l i n e . P e r s o n a l ambition was tamed t o the Lodge o f f i c e , the committee t a b l e , the p u l p i t and the c r a f t of the p i t . The customs of the community, both underground and on the s u r f a c e , were o l d and honoured f o r t h e i r ages the double i s o l a t i o n of c r a f t and geography had turned these people i n upon themselves, so t h a t they took t h e i r standards from t h e i r f o r b e a r s i n s t e a d of from the s t r a n g e r s i n the c i t y . Often they r e s i s t e d change t o t h e i r detriment. The working customs of the p i t — the c a v i l , the b a r g a i n , the s t i n t , the complicated p i e c e - r a t e payments, the hundred separate l i t t l e agreements about p i c k s and lamps and what-have-you — these were the s u r v i v a l s of an e r a of p l e n t y t h a t t e n -ded t o become f e t t e r s i n time .of d e a r t h . But t h e i r h i s t o r y was important t o them. I t s v i c t o r i e s were the worn paths of t h e i r l i v i n g : i t s d e f e a t s were the marrow i n t h e i r bones, 10 261 FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER VIII 1 Paul de Rousiers, The Labour Question i n B r i t a i n (London, 1896), p. 128. 2 B.L. Coombes, These Poor Hands (London, 1939), p. 238. 3 A. Moffat, My L i f e with the Miners (London, 1965), p. 10. 4 F. Zweig, Men i n the P i t s (London, 1948), p. 176. 5 S i r Richard Redmayne, Men. Mines and Memories (London, 1942), p. 9. 6 This point i s open to debate. See section on wages i n Chapter I I , above. 7 P. Stearns, "The European Labor Movement and the Working Classes 1890 - 1914," i n H. M i t c h e l l and P. Steams, Workers and Protest: The European Labor Movement, the  Working Classes and the Origins of S o c i a l Democracy. : 1890 - 19147 (Itasca, I l l i n o i s , 1971), p. 143. 8 B. Lewis, Coal-Mining i n the Eighteenth and Nineteenth  Centuries (London, 1971), p. 29. 9 A.L. Lloyd, Come A l l Ye Bold Miners. 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