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Although mining was hard work and dangerous, compared with other manual jobs working underground was relatively well paid. Families would work together in a team and the amount of money they earned depended on how much coal they brought up to the surface. 

The team's wages would be paid to the collier who was ‘hewing’ or cutting the coal, who was often the father of the children he worked with. These wages were often essential for a family’s survival.

Victorian monetary values:

12 pence (12d) = 1 shilling (1s)

20 shillings = 1 pound (£1)
or 240 pence = 1 pound

Modern monetary values: 

100p = £1

£1 = 240d (old pence)

1p = 2.4d

5p = 1s

Activity ideas:  

  • What do these lists of expenses tell you about each family?
  • What sort of things do these mining families have that your family do not? 
  • Do the mining families spend a lot of money on anything that is cheaper today?
  • What do you notice about the cost of their housing?
  • Use the money converter at the National Archives website (see Related Links below) to work out how much the items bought by mining families would cost now.
  • What do you think would have happened to a family’s earnings if the father became sick or was injured and unable to work?
Test your knowledge with our  Victorian Coal Mining Quiz!

View other relevant My Learning resources or see the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas. 

Scroll down for a list of links and resources on this topic.

Chart illustrating 1842 Commissioners' findings into wages