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The 1842 Mines Act

There were no clauses relating to hours of work, and inspection could only take place on the basis of checking the 'condition of the workers'. Ironically, many women were annoyed that they could no longer earn the much needed money.

The following information was sent to me by Lionel Anthony, to whom I am grateful. The document refers to his grandfather:

mine textIn the mid 1950's, coincidence found three generations of the same family looking across  a field, not far from Warrington, Lancashire. My grandfather, Samuel John, pointed out a fenced off corner of the field. Inside the fence was a hole, at my estimate about twenty feet wide.

"That was the ventilation shaft", he announced "there was a plank across that when I was a lad and we used to take a short cut across to get to the mine, else we'd get our ears clipped if we were late." He thought for a little while as we turned away, then said "I were nine year old then."

Unfortunately my grandfather never said anything more about his life in the mine.

In May 2009, I received this mail from Ian Johnson, for which I am grateful: it all adds to the knowledge of things historical and especially to local, personal knowledge.

The piece about the walking of a nine year boy to travel the eight miles from Lowton (where I used to live) to Warrington to start work in the Bickershaw Colliery cannot be wholly accurate because :-

Bickershaw Colliery was not in Warrington but in Plank Lane, Leigh (where I was born) and was (depending in which part of Lowton the boy lived) about two to three miles from Lowton.  Bickershaw Colliery was originally slightly further away from Plank Lane in earlier days (believe it or not in Bickershaw near Abram). It is more than possible that the story is true about the boy being roused early and walking eight miles to work in a mine at Warrington as my Great Grandfather and his four sons, including my Grandfather whilst living in the Pemberton area of Wigan, did walk five miles to work in a mine in the early 1900`s.

It is also more than true that the boy did walk to work at Bickershaw Colliery but not the two combined into one event. I would not doubt the authenticity of the eight mile walk but it does seem an awfully long way considering the number of pits that abounded at the time.

After moving to Leigh in 1906 my Grandad worked with his three brothers and father down Bickershaw Colliery amongst others. He said, " During the winter with the long walk to work and long shifts down the mine there were periods of six days at a time when miners would not see daylight — Sunday of course being a day off work would be the exception".

My Grandfather related to me the story about his working life when I was in my teens and had started my Family History research, albeit in a small way. This would be in the late 1950`s. He also stated that they worked, lying on their sides hewing coal in 2` 6" high seams with picks which seemed (forgive the pun) to have been borne out with the mock mine constructed at the late Wigan Pier museum which showed this as having actually occurred.

Conditions in the Mines

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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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