Introduction: The Role of Women
Adult women were chiefly used as bearers - they moved the coal hewed by the miners to the surface. In most cases they were sub-employees of their father, husband or brother. This kept the wages in the family; otherwise, the hewer would have to hire and pay wages to someone outside of his household.
The women worked on average 12 to 14 hours a day, making 20 - 30 trips, each with .75 to 3cwt upon their backs. The distance for each journey varies, but 100 to 250 fathoms was not unusual from pit bottom to pithead.
Excerpts from the Royal Commission Reports of 1842
Areas Worked & Other Figures
|Back to Pre-1842 Introduction|
hundredweight (CWT) = 112 pounds
|£1 = 20s. (shillings)|
fathom = 6 feet
|12d. (pence) = 1s.|
|(In 1842, £1 = about US$4)|
|Basket women||Hook on the tubs and are generally selected from widows of colliers or those who may have met with an accident.|
|Putters||Males or females who drag or push the carts containing coal from the coal wall to the pit bottom. Weight varies from 3cwt to 10cwt.|
|Trappers||Girls who wear a harness and pull instead of pushing carts.|
|Coal bearers||Women or children who are employed to carry coals on their belts on un-railed roads up and down steep braes, with burdens varying from .75cwt to 3cwt.|
|Pumper||Male or female child who descends into the deepest part of the mine to pump rising water to the level of the engine pump in order to keep the men's rooms of work dry. They frequently work up to their waists in water or in such cramped situations as to be nearly covered. The work is severe and continuous; they are relieved every 6 hours and rest for twelve.|