Pre-1842 Introduction


The early nineteenth century saw a dramatic rise of activity in the mining of the country's coal fields. Thousands of people were drawn off the land and from factories into the coal mines. Stories of how these people lived and worked began to circulate among the general public. They were thought of as wild, hard drinkers who had no morals and were Godless and without any education. It was said that women and children worked long hours underground in cramped and dangerous places doing hard, back-breaking work. The public conscience was stirred and Victorian philanthropists pressed Parliament for some action.

A Royal Commission appointed Commissioners and they were dispatched to examine the conditions in the coalfields of the country, to take evidence and to report their findings back to Parliament.

The Commissioners who reported on the conditions in the coalfields and traveled round gathering his evidence with a secretary, who was skilled in the new Pitman's Shorthand and who took down every word that was spoken at the interviews with coal owners, mine officials, teachers, Poor Law officials, the Police and the men, women and children who worked the mines.

Their Reports provides a unique insight into the social and working conditions of those involved in coal mining in the coalfields of Great Britain in the mid-nineteenth century in the words that were spoken at the time. In some of the Reports there are contemporary illustrations that graphically illustrate the conditions of work in the mines.

Selected Interviews / Information

England Scotland Wales

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Last updated 14.7.2002