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The Coal Industry.

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The Coal Industry As with the coal and textile industries the demand for coal grew dramatically between 1700 and 1900. Coal Output in 1700 was less than 3million tons (per year) and the main use was for domestic purposes (for heating and cooking). By 1830 the output had grown to 45million tons (per year) and by 1900 this figure had topped 200million tons. The Early Years In 1700 coal was mined using traditional and rather inefficient methods - such as bell pits and adit mines. Bell Pit Adit Mine The Increase in Demand. 1. At first the increase in demand was met by digging more and more bell pits, adits, and shallow mines. Many were "family run with the men as "hewers", the women as "drawers" (pulling baskets/tubs of coal along the galleries) and the children as "sorters" (sorting the coal into piles of different sizes) 2. The improvement in transport especially the growth of canals, allowing coal to be transported cheaply all over the country. ...read more.


or carbon monoxide (choke damp). Often the explosive gas was ignited deliberately each day by a miner dressed in damp leather and with a candle on a long pole. One common solution to circulate air was to have 2 shafts - an upcast and a downcast. A fire was lit at the base of the upcast and then fresh air was sucked down the other shaft. The airflow was then controlled by a series of trapdoors operated by young children (aged 4-7) called "trappers". The ventilation problem was not solved until John Buddle's steam powered fan (invented in 1807) came into widespread use. 3. Lighting Throughout the 18th century and the first 15 years of the 19th century candles were the only source of light in mines. The naked flame frequently caused explosions. The inventory of the Safety Lamp by Sir Humphery Davy was a real breakthrough. The idea was simple. The flame was surrounded by fine copper gauge which conducted the way the heat of the flame. ...read more.


Following the successful campaign led by Lord Shaftesbury and other reformers to improve factory conditions (Royal Commission and 1833 Act) their attention turned to the mines and in1840 a Royal Commission was set up to investigate and report back to parliament. The Commission used the same shock tactics as it had done in the factories. Shaftesbury's 19th century middle and upper class audience were horrified by the use of women and children and the general immorality of working conditions - with naked and semi-naked men, women and children alongside each other. Pit owners complained that the commissioners presented a very distorted and biased picture. The 1842 Mines Act The Act made it illegal for women and children under the age of 10 to be employed underground in mines. Inspectors were appointed to enforce the Act - however the Act said nothing about men's hours or working conditions. Other Acts: 1843 - No worker under 15 to be left in charge of winding gear. 1850 - Inspectors allowed underground. 1860 - Boys under 12 not allowed underground unless they could read and write. 1862- Single shaft mines made illegal. ...read more.

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