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History of Coal Mining in Easton

General


The Bristol region was one of the first places to use coal as a fuel in industrial applications. First it was used in soap manufacture and then in glass making, brewing , pottery and in many other ways.

The area of Kingswood supplied the first coal. Kingswood was then a heathland to the east of the city which was once a Royal Forest. The coal was first mined in outcrops or 'bell pits'

The local coal industry began to shrink as good quality coal from S Wales and the Midlands proved too strong a competition.

The last local colliery to close was Kilmerdon/Writhlington near Radstock in 1975.

Working Conditions

Methane gas was rare in Kingswood District. Men worked by light of a naked flame of a candle stuck in their hats by T-shaped iron holders.2

Boys were used in thin seams where men could not go. Boys were used, for the most part as tuggers and pushers. Tubs of coal were pulled by boys who were harnessed to them. The harness was attached to the tub by a chain which went between the boys legs and attached to a hook on the tub. Government Inquiry in 1841 to look into conditions of boys. Elijah Waring was the official sent to Kingswood as part of the Inquiry. Waring said that the method of 'tugging' struck him as being 'very painful. An overseer compared the boys to horses whose necks were tender when first broken to the collar. Most of the boys said that it had once hurt them but that they were now fully fledged miners. Boys aged 10 and 11 were commonplace. Abraham Brain was 10 and had been working underground for a year and earned 3d a day. He had no shoes and complained of a tightness in his chest. The youngest miner he found was only seven and a half and had been working for a year in Easton.2

Trade Unions, Strikes and Disputes