GWRHAY and PEN-Y-VAN, parish of Mynyodduslwyn, county of Monmouth. Aaron Crossfield, Esq., part proprietor.
Numbers of persons employed:-
Under 18 years of age 14
Under 13 years of age 13
No.215 Aaron Crossfield, Esq.
Our mines are worked by levels and we employ no machinery whatever. The coals are brought from the workings by horses along tram roads. Our main road is six and a half feet high and the mine is well ventilated by air ways and air pits. We have had but one serious accident within the last 12 months. A lad of 15 was killed in consequence of the top falling while he was holeing the coal for blasting. I think the youngest boy in the work is about eight years old and it is my opinion they ought not to be employed under nine years of age. Children assist their fathers in cutting coal at a very early age as also driving the drams. The usual hours of labour are from 10 to 11 per day. There is a sick fund, a Sunday School and day school for young children also a night school Religious service twice on the Sunday and twice in the Dissenter’s service.
[When visiting the colliery I was unable to discover either a day school or a night school in operation.]
No.216. Mr. James Harper, book-keeper to Mr. Roger Lewis, general storekeeper and contractor for working the Gwrhay Colliery.
Mr. Lewis engages the colliers by the month. The men draw their money as much as they require, weekly and there is a final settlement once every month. 2s. 1d. and 2s. 4d. is the price here for hewing coal but it is not constant work for the men and the real average wage is seldom exceeds 12s.
No.217. Mrs. Mary Lewis.
My husband has worked in these mines many years. I have had 12 children, six of whom are working in the mines. Children can’t get any schooling in this place as the parents are obliged to employ them so early. My youngest boy, Lewis, was taken down at five years and three months of age. He will be 15 next Christmas and been below ever since. He has sometimes been at the Sunday School trying to learn to read his letters but I don’t think he knows them yet. None of the children read. As the work is so uncertain, they wouldn’t be able to send them even if there was a school Idon’t think one in a hundred can read in this place. I can’t read myself. Parents are so driven in this quarter from irregular work that many of the children are half starved.
No.218. Shadrach Williams, aged 11, collier.
He has been only two years working in the mine. He was at a colliery school at Crymlyn 12 months and learned to read a little English. He goes to work at four o’clock in the morning and does not come up till seven or eight at night when work is on. He has three brothers at the work and one sister a servant.
[The father stated that when work was well on they were glad to get as much as they could and consequently they worked very long hours. This boy had a very sickly and dejected appearance and was much stunted in his growth.]
No.219. Moses Williams aged 7, air-door boy.
My father carried me down 18 months since. I keep an air-door. He brings me in the morning and I return with him at night.
No.220. Rosser Jenkins, aged 8, collier.
I work with my father as often as he works, sometimes a long time. He sometimes takes bread and cheese with him and drinks the water below.
No.221. Richard Hutton, aged 7, collier.
He has been 12 months at work. He thinks the place is “middling” and is very glad when he gets home. The noise of the shooting used to frighten him but it doesn’t now.
No.222. John Evans, aged 8, collier.
He has been two years below. His father took him down to claim a dram. He has often fallen asleep. Father pulls me up when he wants me.
No.223. Daniel Jones, aged 16, collier.
He has been down for a very long time. He thinks it must be nine or ten years. He has never got hurt. When first at work he did little but he now works hard. He sometimes is in full work and the hours are very long. He has never been to any school.
[He as not the slightest scriptural knowledge and is generally ignorant.]
No.224. Charles Pascal, aged 14, collier.
He thinks he was between six and seven years of age when his father took him down. He never was at any day school.
[Has had not instruction whatever.]
No.225. John Rosser, aged 14. haulier.
He has been below three years and his father is in America and his mother dead, He works for his uncle. He has three cousins at home. None of them go to the works yet. I can’t say what I earn as uncle takes my wages. I was never at school.
No.226. Joseph Head, age, 14 haulier.
He has been down for more than eight years. His father took him down to work the coal. After I had been down two years my brother taught me to drive the horses. I have been crushed several times with the drams when first at work. I know the letters in the alphabet. I stands for Joseph and H is the first letter of my name.
(This makes the child sound ignorant, but the Welsh language has no letter J,K, or Z
and words from English with a J sound are pronounced with a sort of IO sound.
The letter I is used instead of J. ) (GCH)
Father gets 12s. a week for my labour. I sometimes get 6d. or a 1s. for myself which I spend in beer and tobacco. I go to Sunday School to learn the spelling.