Queen Coal? Why should we remember Victorian mining women?
Women In Their Own Words
This extract is from the 1842 Royal Commission Report into Children's Employment (Mines). Interview with Ann Stevenson, Drawer at the Bridgewater Colliery, Worsley, May 6, 1841: (Ann's answers are in italics)
What age are you? I am 23 years old.
How long have you been employed at Worsley? I have been at work twelve years.
What are you? I am a drawer.
What hours do you work? I come down at seven in the morning and go out a five in the afternoon, sometimes six or eight, just as there is work. I have done now [one oclock] for today. Work is very slack.
How much can you earn per week? I can earn 7s. 6d. a-week on average.
Have you ever met with any accidents? I have had my ankle put out and a small bone broken in my leg by the roof falling in.
What number of girls are employed in this pit? There are about 25 girls and women in this pit.
Should you prefer other work out of the pit, or do you like your present occupation? I should like to work on the top better than in the pit if I could get enough to live on, but I should have to work such long hours at weaving to make the same wages, that I would rather work in the pit.
Have you a helper? Yes, my brother thrutches for me.
What wages does he get? 5s. a week.
Do you ever trash him? Yes, I trash him sometimes when he does not behave himself; I sometimes hit him with my hand, and sometimes with my foot.
What distance do you draw your tubs? I have to draw 150 yards up brow with the empty and 150 yards down with the full ones - 300 yards. I have to go eight up and eight times down, and sometimes ten or more [that is 6000 yards].
Have you regular hours for your food?
No, we never stop at any regular time; we eat when we have time.
Download the worksheet below to read what other women said to the enquiry, including the stories of Mary Jones (age 21), Hannah Bowen (age 16), Ann Fern (age 16), Fanny Drake (age 16), Mary Margerson (age 15).
Read 'Women in their own words' from post-war mining communities
Read 'Women in their own words' during the 1984 miners' strike