Source 4  
 
print button

Simplified Transcript source 4
This source consists of four witness statements.
(Catalogue ref: ZCH 2/79)


No.75 Ester Craven, aged 14:

I have worked as a hurrier (pulling tubs of coal) for 5 years for Mr. Joseph Ibbotson. I am not his apprentice. Mr. Foster pays my wages. I like working down in the mine and would rather be here than anywhere else. I prefer it to nursing and any other kind of work. I can sew and mend if I have to, there is no one else to do it for me as my mother died two years ago. I have a brother and sister who are both hurriers and a younger one at home. My father is a weaver. I usually start work at 7am and eat breakfast before I get here and bring my lunch, a piece of cake, with me. When I get home I have milk and porridge, sometimes potatoes. I do not get home at a particular time, sometimes it is three, four, five or six in the evening. When I work I wear short trousers and a corset. The men never hurt us but Joseph Ibbotson often beats us, he was beating my sister when you visited the mine and he beats all of the boys. The other men tell him off for doing so. Whilst working I often hurt my feet and graze my legs on the gates, I was once struck by a pick and broke my finger. I cannot read or write, and do not attend Sunday school a great deal as I have few clothes to wear. I had a very bad mother, she left home and would not stay with my father. For this reason I came to work in the mine with my sister. It was my choice. Mother came to the pit head with a whip as I was going down, I quickly got out of her way. Many a time I have regretted coming here, but I am used to it now and think nothing about being beaten by the getters.

No. 309 George Bentley:

Age 8 years, has worked for a year and is paid a shilling a day (5p). He lives in South Normanton and walks a mile and a half to the pit each day. He has his breakfast before he leaves home. He works full time from half past six in the morning to eight at night with an hour for lunch on some days. He sometimes does three quarter days from half past six in the morning until seven at night, and half days from half past six in the morning until three or four in the afternoon with no break for lunch. He does not work at night or on a Sunday. He eats bread and dripping for breakfast, potatoes, and occasionally has bacon, bread, and milk for his supper. He attends the Ranter’s Sunday School to learn his alphabet. This boy appears half starved, like the three others I spoke to. I visited their homes and they were the poorest I witnessed.


No. 64 William Hollingsworth, aged 13

I have no father or mother. My father was a shoemaker and died five years ago, mother died eleven years ago. I lived with my sister at Crossfield for six months and then went live in the workhouse. In the parish of Halifax I became an apprenticed bricklayer to Joseph Morton in the town of Southwram for two years until his death. A coal miner called Jonathan Oldfield applied to the Board of Guardians for an apprentice and I went to work for him on a month’s trail. If I had remained with him I would have been bound to him until I was 21years old. I only stayed for 5 days. He gave me porridge for breakfast at five thirty in the morning and then I went with two other apprentices with whom I slept, to work in the mine. We took cake for our lunch but had no time to eat it. The first night I worked in the pit, which was Thursday, we worked until ten. The next night we finished at nine, then eight-thirty and then seven forty-five. During that whole time we had nothing but the cake to eat. We were not allowed to get a drink. I was really thirsty at times. My master did not beat me, but he swore at me because I was not quick enough with the baskets of coal. One day I pulled them along without wearing shoes to go faster, but had to put my shoes on again because I hurt my feet. The other apprentices told me that they regularly worked until ten or eleven. I worked in Joseph Stock’s pit and ran away because he worked me so late. I asked to go back to the workhouse again. I would rather work if I had a fair master. I have been to school and Sunday school and can read and write well.

No. 8 John Bennet aged 14

I started work here five years ago carrying coal and stones. We have no horses in this mine. I cannot read or write. I go to Sunday School at Pitshills. I never went to day school. I start work at half past five and bring my breakfast with me. I finish at six in the evening. We are allowed half an hour for breakfast and an hour for dinner without fail. I am paid ten shillings a week (50p) and I am in regular work nearby. My father is a banksman (man who loaded men, boys and coal onto boats in the river) and my mother stays at home. My father earns about a pound a week. I have seven brothers and sisters, two of us work and the others have married or are in service. Before I came here to Delph, I worked at Eli Hawley’s at Burslem for a year, then Enrick Woods for two years running moulds and turning jiggers. If I was paid the same as a pit worker, I would rather work running moulds because it is safer. I have seen men killed by coal and roof falls. I have no fear of going up and down in the mine. I have not seen any fires. I have enough tea, bread, butter, bacon and potatoes to eat and have good clothes at home. The people here do not beat me.