Young People's pages

Snippets of information

1. Did children really have to work in coal mines in Pembrokeshire? .................

Conditions for young people in Victorian times.

“A limitation of the age at which children shouldn’t work in mines is not necessary as they are not tasked above 10 hours either day or night. They work the same number of hours as the men. I know of no machinery which would render the non-employment of very young children necessary, nor do I think it practicable”.

Coal had been mined at Landshipping and other nearby small collieries for over a hundred years; the coal from the area was of a very high quality and in demand. Some of the coal seams went out under the Cleddau Estuary and eventually tunnels were dug to bring coal from those seams.

Conditions were appalling by today’s standards, and in 1844 (only two years afer Hugh Owen's comments recorded above) there was eventually a roof collapse with over forty lives being lost. The names of women killed in the roof collapse are not on the Garden Pit memorial stone to those who died because a law had previously been passed to prevent mine-owners from sending women underground; but it still happened - for a few women it was the only way to make a living.

Among the dead were a boy aged only 9, three aged 11, one of 12 and three who were 13. No one was blamed individually and it was thought that the very high tide and shallowness of the coal seam which was being followed caused the tunnel to flood. Widows would have faced severe hardship as well as the terrible loss of husbands, fathers and children; for there was no support for them following the death of the family breadwinner.

 

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