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enforced, but it was considered that, as the available evidence stood, convictions would possibly not be obtained.
A summary of the prosecutions taken by the owners, agents, and managers against workmen will be found in Appendix II, page 58.
The coal trade of the district during the year, taken as a whole, may be said to have been in a healthy condition.
In Monmouthshire there has been a much improved demand, and an increase in Monthe output, of 1,372,605 tons, or 11.7 per cent. as compared with 1905, with the result mouththat, between the 1st June and 31st December, wages were twice raised, 2 and 5 shire cent. respectively, so that at the end of the year they stood 37 per cent. above the standard rates of of 1879 or 7 per cent. higher than at the end of the previous year. The new Conciliation Board arrangements continued to work satisfactorily throughout the year.
In the Forest of Dean, although, as usual in the summer months, work has been very Forest of slack-not more than three or four days a week at some of the House Coal Collieries- Dean there has been an increase of about 93 per cent. in the output of coal, principally increased from the Steam Coal Collieries, the increase in the number of persons employed output and being only 169 persons. One wonders how the men manage to eke out an existence upon the amount of work in the House Coal Collieries during the summer, and if the improvidence with which Colliers, generally, are credited really existed among those of the Forest of Dean it would be impossible; as I imagine only by saving some of their winter earnings for summer use can they manage, and even the demand up to the end of the year has not been such as to result in any increase in the scale of wages in the past year. These remarks hold good for at least some of the Collieries in Bristol the Bristol division of Gloucestershire where work in the summer is very slack. There division. was here also no alteration in the wages during the year and only a small and comparatively inappreciable increase in the output of coal.
I am however glad to be able to state that between Christmas and the date of this report there have been material increases in wages which augurs well for the current year.
In Somersetshire, although at some of the Collieries trade was also very slack during, Somersetat any rate, part of the summer, there was an increase of 84,387 tons of coal, or 8.1 per shire cent. on the previous year. Here, too, the winter requirements have not created any increased pressure for coal supplies at any period of the year. The period for which the output. Conciliation Board was elected having terminated on the 31st December, new arrange- tion Board ments became necessary. Negotiations were opened in the latter part of the year and rates of satisfactorily concluded for another three years.
An immediate increase of wages followed from the 1st January of the current year (1907) and has been followed by a further advance.
As I mentioned in my report for 1905, the Risca strike was ended in February, after seven and half months suspension of work, as the result of a decision of Lord St. Aldwyn, and strikes. the independent chairman of the South Wales Conciliation Board. The men in this Risca appear to have ceased work wrongly. Colliery.
The Llanhilleth strike continued until the 1st June, when work was resumed after Llanhilleth eleven months of idleness. In this case, in order to get over the dead-lock which existed, Colliery. the owners conceded a moiety of the men's demand, and, thereupon the executive of the South Wales Miners' Union decided that work should be resumed. The decision gave rise to much dissatisfaction among a section of the men, but was, I understand, received generally with thankfulness, as a large proportion of the men were suffering comparative distress, and running into debt or drawing upon their savings notwithstanding the liberal allowances which they received from the Union and other funds.
There have been no other very serious strikes or stoppages of work in the district ling men to during the year. Isolated stoppages of a few days occurred at different mines in the first
join the Union.
New Colliery enter
half of the year in consequence of the arrangement made with regard to hauliers' wages between the owners' and the mens' representatives, at the end of 1905, not being satisfactory to the hauliers themselves; and in the latter half of the year in consequence of the Miners' Union coercing non-unionists, who were working in the mines, to become members, the unionists declining to work while non-unionists were employed.
The owners took up a passive position in the matter saying "we will employ anyone "suitable, without consideration as to whether they are members of the Union or not and we will not interefere as between unionists and non-unionists." The result has been that a large proportion joined the unionist ranks and a few left the mines.
I would emphasize the remarks which I made in my last year's report with regard to the Miners' Unions allowing repairers and others, necessary for keeping the mines in working order, to work during strikes, as, had this been done in the two cases above referred to all the men would have been able to resume work directly terms were agreed upon; whereas Risca Colliery required months of repairs before all could be employed. Llanhilleth having better roof, &c., was able to resume its full output in an exceptionally short time. I have, however, known collieries where after a much shorter stoppage all the men were not at work within five or six months.
The new Colliery enterprises started during the year were-the Cannop Colliery near Speech-house Road Station in the Forest of Dean; the Guilford Colliery, near Whitfield, Dover; and the Tilmanstone Colliery, near Eythorne, Dover. None of them reached more than preparatory work up to the end of the year. Shafts in some instances were sunk with temporary machinery, until feeders of water requiring heavier pumping arrangements were met with.
In the several undertakings the difficulties in front of them are quite unknown, although not expected to exceed what can be overcome with the machinery proposed to be erected. In both counties they are opening up practically unknown coal-fields; that in the Forest of Dean is intended to work the long and much talked of Deep Gales, always fought shy of by Forest capitalists owing to anticipated pumping difficulties; while those in Kent are intended to develop the Kent coalfield, the existence of coal in which has been proved by bore-holes and the sinking of the Dover Colliery, near Shakespeare Cliff.
This latter has been under the inspection of Mr. Gerrard up to the end of the year, Collieries. but he has been good enough to send me the Annual Return, thus enabling the number of persons employed at mines under the Coal Mines Regulation Act in the County of Kent to be included in my report. He also informed me that no accidents were reported to him during the year, and no coal was returned as having been raised.
These collieries, if successful, will be of great importance in their respective districts. The Cannop Colliery will, I expect, be the fore-runner of others for the working of the lower seams in the Forest of Dean coal basin, thus extending the life of the coal trade in that area, now that the available coal in the upper measures is being rapidly exhausted. These seams belong to the Steam Coal and not to the House Coal series, consequently, the Forest of Dean trade will gradually become revolutionized with regard to commercial relations. It may have the effect of providing more regular work throughout the year than has been the case with the House Coal trade.
As the result of the movement inaugurated in the latter part of 1905, several St. John's Ambulance Classes, for instruction in First Aid, were formed in different parts of the district, in order to train a number of men employed in and about the mines and quarries, to render useful assistance in cases of accident, and to remove the sufferers with the least amount of discomfort and injury.
With a view of creating interest and emulation in the classes it was decided to start an Ambulance League, to comprise the whole of this (the Southern) Mining District. By subscriptions from Mine Owners, Workmen's Unions, and individuals interested in the movement upwards of £180 was obtained for the purpose of covering the initial expenses of the League, and providing a shield to be competed for annually by
teams of four from the various classes. The shield, a handsome and valuable one, very similar to that in Durham presented by Mr. Bain, has been provided for competition and is to be held for a year by the winning team. Gold medals are to be awarded to the several members of the best or winning team, and silver ones to the members of the second team. Bronze medals will be further awarded under conditions not yet definitely
I hope it may prove a successful movement and that it will result in the St. John's Ambulance Brigade obtaining recruits, and that miners or others unfortunate enough to meet with accidents in the mines or elsewhere will always find a comrade near at hand capable of rendering first aid.
The number of safety lamps returned as having been in use during the year is Safety 33,634, and the numbers given under the respective names are as follows :—
Some of these, although given different names, are the same type of lamp, but I think it best to give the names as returned to me.
The methods of locking in use, and the respective number of lamps to which they are applied, are:
68 11,105 3,016
There is, as will be seen, no longer any appreciable number of screw-locked lamps in the mines of the district; a few, not exceeding 70, according to the returns made to me, do exist at some of the naked light pits, where the examiner goes round in the morning with a lamp, and, having examined a doubtful place with the safety lamp, I believe sometimes unlocks the lamp and uses the naked light to make sure of its safety before allowing a workman to enter it, a distinct breach of Special Rules, although done with the best possible intention; or, if he loses his light, opens the lamp at some point where naked lights are allowed, instead of returning to the place appointed as a lamp station, and beyond which no naked light is supposed to be allowed until the report is made. I see no necessity for this latter practice being allowed, although it may at times be a convenience without a great deal of danger. Still, I consider discipline cannot be carried out too strictly, and he is no worse off than an ordinary examiner in another mine. The Protector lamps using a highly inflammable spirit have not yet been all done away with, but I understand the firm which still continues their use is procuring Patterson's lamps with a view to superseding them.
I shall be glad to see the change made if from no other cause than the dangerous nature of the spirit during the process of filling the lamps. I recently found a boy engaged at this work with a safety lamp at each side of him, and on putting the safety lamp down near the table where the lamps were filled an explosion occurred each time inside the lamp and the light was extinguished. This is, in a measure, similar to working near a small accumulation of gas underground.
tion by workmen,
I see that there is some attempt to bring before the mining community in this country the advantages of the Wolff safety lamp, which has been in use for years on the continent; it has an igniting apparatus inside the gauze which may be a source of danger and to my mind the further drawback of using a spirit of low flash point.
I have found in some cases that the examiners used colza oil in their lamps while the men were supplied with Colzaline oil of a lower flash-point from 270 to 290 degrees F. I drew the attention of the owners and their officials to the fact that the latter oil would indicate the presence of firedamp in the air more readily than the former, and that in principle the reverse is desirable, i.e., that the officials should have the more sensitive lamp. This view was at once accepted, and I was promised that the matter should be put right forthwith.
I repeat that I think safety lamps should be compulsory in all mines in which firedamp is given off, and that to say they should only be required for 12 months after an explosion causing personal injuries is courting accidents, as, if lamps are put in after an explosion for the 12 months their withdrawal would be justified until someone else is burned or killed. Having given expression to my views on the question of a ventilation standard, use of safety lamps, and blasting in my last year's report, page 29, and again since then, as a witness, before the Royal Commission on Mines, I do not think I need repeat them further this year. I hold strong views on these subjects, and I hope I have impressed the Commission with them.
The number of horses employed underground, as returned to me, was 3,326. I have had occasion to call the attention of certain firms to their horses rubbing against the roof or timbers, and of others to cases where there were signs noticeable on the roof and timbers and more especially on the horses' collars of their doing so. Of course owners and agents generally disclaim all knowledge of such a thing and righteously express their objection to it, but never appear to deal seriously with the matter when called upon for an explanation, although they need only look at the horses' collars to satisfy themselves about it. I incline to think that in some cases they are afraid to do so, considering that if they dealt with the hauliers strictly under the Special Rule which prohibits a haulier taking a horse past a place where it once touches the roof until it has been remedied, they would lose too much coal and would require to employ too many repairers. Certain parties go so far as to say that it cannot in all cases be avoided, but my answer is that it is reasonably practicable to carry out the rule, there being no difficulty in stopping a horse then and there. It is, however, only right that I should say that owners, agents, and managers generally take an interest in the welfare and kind treatment of the animals Sore shoulders, although a few cases have been met with, do not appear to have been so prevalent as formerly.
I used to look upon the horses at Abercarn (Prince of Wales Pit) Colliery, Monmouthshire, then belonging to the United National Collieries Co., Ltd., as the finest and best cared for in the district, but for some time past I have considered that those at Lightmoor Colliery in the Forest of Dean, belonging to Messrs. H. Crawshay & Co., Ltd., would be difficult to surpass. It is a pleasure to see the horses and to visit the stables, not from the point of view of construction, but of cleanliness and attention. There are some mines where neither the horses nor the stables compare well with those of this company in consequence in some cases of owners having their pound of flesh out of the animals and retaining them for work when old and stiff, and in other cases in consequence of the managers and ostlers evidently not taking the same interest in them.
During the year there have apparently been three cases of overwinding at mines in the district, but as they occurred when mineral was being raised no persons suffered injury.
From returns received I find that there are four cases in which the winding engines are fitted with automatic appliances for the prevention of overwinding, and that there are 86 detaching and self-acting safety hooks or catches in use, being 10 more than in the previous year.
No exemptions to provisions of the Act or Special Rules were granted in this. district during the year, nor were any in operation.
At various collieries the workmen have availed themselves of the 38th General Rule, which allows of their having inspections made on their own behalf, and the reports made as to the result generally show how thoroughly the men appointed fulfilled the important duty entrusted to them by their comrades. I consider these examinations of the utmost
value and importance when carried out thoroughly and honestly as in this district; the whole mine being examined in one day, it satisfies the men in a manner which no other examination can do. The modus operandi is as follows:-On the morning the examination is to take place the appointed men, on arriving at the colliery, are informed before descending that they are to make the examination that morning, no one knowing it before hand except the men's official who has the ordering of it. Two men are appointed for each examiner's district, one of those in each district who made the previous inspection is re-appointed, for the purpose of maintaining continuity, and comparing the condition of things with what then existed. It may cause a slight temporary disturbance in the examiner's work that morning in order that he may accompany these men, but as they go through his district there is no practical dislocation of the work. I lay no value upon an examination by two men appointed under the Rule to go through the mine day after day lasting perhaps a week or ten days. The officials are aware of the fact that their turn will come in a few days, besides which the men themselves weary of the job, and of making themselves unpleasant to the officers day by day if they report accurately, whereas under the other system the men make their report-pleasant or unpleasant, as the circumstances require— once for all and are done with it, and, the number of men engaged in the work prevents oppression on the part of the management, and as the men are continually changing, the reports are not so liable to be governed by personal grievances or interests.
The managers in this district as a rule look upon the examination, under this system, very favourably, and say that it is of the greatest help to them in having things kept right, which they recognize should be done in their own interests.
Naturally there always will be a few owners, and possibly managers, (but in this district they are exceptional) who resent any interference in such matters by the men, just as they do to Government inspection, and would like to mark it with their displeasure, but the miners' committees at the respective collieries are sufficiently strong to withstand any such action, irrespective of such support as you would be able to render.
Of course, at times when friction exists, some of the reports may be slightly strained, and in other cases where the conditions are different, the reports may not be so detailed as they should be; but half of the men being changed at each examination prevents too much dependence on individual spleen, and such cases may readily be discounted by neutral parties, who, as a rule, are able to read between the lines, and be checked by Government Inspectors where considered desirable.
The use of electricity continues to extend in the mines, more especially for haulage Electricit and pumping purposes. One small engine has been applied to winding at the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company's new sinking pit at their McLaren Colliery, and is the only winding engine working in the district. It appears to have worked satisfactorily since its
In some cases the electrical arrangements underground do not appear to have been erected in accordance with the requirements of the Electrical Special Rules, and have been called attention to.
There have been only two electrically-driven coal-cutting machines in use in the mines during the year; of these one is in the Ras Las seam at the Tredegar Iron Co.'s Whitworth Colliery, where very little firedamp is given off, and one in the Meadow Vein at Guest, Keen, and Nettlefold's Cwmbran Colliery, the other eight being worked by compressed air (see page 7). I should be sorry to see them introduced into any of the fiery or gassy mines in the South Wales coalfield. Notwithstanding the various patent arrangements for enclosing the commutators, I, personally, have not got confidence in these safeguards, and think they should only be taken into consideration in allowing electricity to be applied in places where gas may be possible but not probable. I would practically as soon see a naked light at the face as some of these machines.
Coal-cutting machines have made comparatively little headway in this district, Coal although I think in some places they would be advantageous, in others they would not cutting be so. I would, however, suggest that in fiery mines suitable air compressors should be machines. erected and driven by electric motors &c. duly encased and situated in main intakes, at safe distances from the face, and that the coal cutters should be driven by compressed air from them. This method would be a practical and useful adaptation of electricity to the present method of working by compressed air, thus avoiding the serious risk which I consider is, or would be, incurred by carrying the current into the faces.