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    Default Age That Boys/Girls Entered the Mines

    I have some ancesters that worked as coal miners in wales between 1794 and 1800's. What was the average age that boys entered the mines and did girls also enter the mines? At what age did miners typically retire or did they carry on until they were physically no longer able to do so?

    As in more recent history was it a case that if the father was a minor it was a forgone conclusion that the sons would be also or expected to be?

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    I think father & son will have been minors at some time - sorry i couldn't resist that.
    According to http://www.link4life.org/index.cfm?f...age&pageID=445 The Reports to the Commissioners on the Employment of Children in 1842 stated that "children usually began to work in coal-mines at the age of 8 or 9, although some started as early as 4 or 5". in 1842 an act was passed prohibiting the employmen tin the mines of children under 10.and banned the employment of girls completely. This implies that girls were employed previously. However after 1842 it was still possible for boys of 11 to be employed form up to 16 hours, and some younger ones were employed illegally, some, such as Jame Lees , 7, of Butterworth , near Rochdale, even being acknowledged on the 1851 census. I have got the impression that people at that time couldn't usually retire, but just worked as long as they could.

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    See the Coalmining History Resource Centre for some information that's useful in its own right and also a bibliography that you should find useful. Membership of your county library service is one of the priorities to get organised.

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    Mikejee's post has a date error -- he refers to an Act passed in 1942 banning the employment of women in mines; this was actually 1842.

    The Mines Act 1842 banned the employment of women and girls completely in mines and also banned the employment of boys under 10.

    This stemmed from a Royal Commission of Inquiry held after a mining disaster on 4 July 1838 at the Husker Pit at Silkstone near Barnsley in South Yorkshire when the pit flooded after heavy rainstorms and 26 boys and girls died. They are buried in Silkstone Church Yard and there is a sad memorial there known as "the Husker Memorial" on which the names and ages of the 26 are inscribed.

    The disaster shocked the nation, for those outside the mining industry were not aware that boys and girls as young as 4 were employed underground. The youngest in the Husker disaster was 7 years of age.

    In my early years as a mining surveyor working for the National Coal Board in the Barnsley Area the Husker Disaster was indelibly printed in our minds. The abandoned workings from Husker and other flooded workings had to be avoided when designing new mine layouts.

    In my later years working in British Coal's Property Division, the Husker Memorial was one of many such memorials maintained annually at British Coal's expense.

    If you Google "Husker Pit Disaster" you will find many references and articles which may be of interest.

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    In the 1891 census my grandfather (age 13) was a hurrier in the local coal mine. He worked down the pit until after WW1 and he swore that none of his sons would ever go down the mine.
    A cousin of my g.grandfather was killed in Darfield Main Colliery in 1861 age 11. According to the record he was drawn over the pit pulleys. His mother was a widow, so I don't suppose there was any choice but to send him out to work.

    Fran

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    Quote Originally Posted by mfwebb
    The Mines Act 1842 banned the employment of women and girls completely in mines and also banned the employment of boys under 10.
    ..........although women were still employed after this date at the pit brow; grading coal, loading supplies, etc.

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    I don't know about earlier times, but my grandfather who was born in 1883 went down the pit at 12. He told me that he left school on the Friday of the week of his birthday and went down with his father the following Monday. His first job was to open and close the door to let the pony drawn wagons through to the pit bottom so that coal could be hauled to the surface and also to help care for the animals who lived in stables underground. This was at Staveley in north east Derbyshire.

    Eileen

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    My father born in 1907 went underground at the age of 13 and his grandfather was a doorboy underground at the age of 11, sad times.

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    My grandfather was born in 1881 and went underground at Kiveton Park Colliery aged 12 (so he used to tell us) to be a pit pony boy.

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    My Grandfather b.1883 also started in the pit aged 12. He worked with his Father and recalled being so tired at the end of his shift that his Father had to carry him home on his shoulders. I've often wondered if it was the practise for children to be linked to an older person, perhaps a family member, at least being on the same shift.

    One of his Uncles was killed by a collapsing roof aged 12. That rated one line in the Report of the Mines Inspector to Parliament for that year.

    In reply to the starting post of this thread by robsnicta, unlike many other heavy industries which concentrated into expanding towns during the eighteenth century, mining could only be carried on where the product was found. The result was the rise of small self contained communities and there was very little alternative for male children other than to leave the area or to follow their fathers 'down the pit'.

    JoeintheGrove.

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