Coal mining


  • Intro

    Coal-fired steam engines powered England's booming economy, whether in factories or on the rail network. Those in power made huge fortunes from coal discovered under their land.


    Conditions in coal mines were terrible. Women and children were employed to pull the wagons of coal from the coal face to the shaft foot - these workers were smaller, and cheaper, than a properly trained horse. Underground work gets very hot, so often people worked more or less naked. Sir Humphrey Davy's safety lamp, invented in 1815, enabled workers to reach deeper levels, but it was taken on very slowly. Various methods of ventilating mines were invented, but none was widely adopted until 1849 when compressed air first became possible. Ten years later the employment of children under 12 was made illegal.


    This poster reports a terrible explosion in a Staffordshire coalmine in which 25 lives were lost.

  • Transcript

    Coal mining poster

    Original text:


    Colliery Explosion, IN STAFFORDSHIRE.

    Fatal accident and loss of lives, occasioned by an explosion of Fire-damp, which took place at Mr. Thomas Morris' Coal Works at Great Bridge, near Dudley.

    By the above awful catastrophe, 25 lives were lost, and 17 severely wounded, most of them have left large families in very distressed circumstances.


    The dangerous life of a Miner has no paralell. If we take but a brief survey of the many various dangers by which they are surrounded, in carrying on their work. The two elements of fire and water are continually at war with the resolute and daring miners, and their lives are frequently lost by the falling of tons in the mines, by which many poor miners are hurried on to their untimely grave, leaving their poor widows and children to mourn their loss. Your spirit of benevolence and philantropy has often been called into action, and we trust these facts will move your hearts to assist them in this, their present time of need.



    Jesus who mad'st the meanest soul,

        An object of thy care;

    Attend to what my heart would speak,

        And hear a poor Collier's Prayer.


    Good Christians all I pray attend,

        To these few lines that I have penn'd,

    A dreadful coalpit accident,

        Has caused hundreds to lament.


    For thou when bleeding on the cross,

        My sins and grief dist bear,

    This makes me think thoul't not refuse,

        To hear a poor Collier's Prayer.


    Assistance shortly did arrive,

        And brought up all they found alive,

    With mangled flesh and broken bones,

        The air was fill'd with cries and groans.


    Poor and despised once I was,

        Yet thou O God was't night,

    And when thy mercy first I saw,

        Sure none so glad as I


    Oh! what a sight wast here alas!

        A frightful, lifeless, mangled mass,

    They were so burned that scarcely one,

        Except by dress could tell their own.


    In ignorance I long had liv'd

        In rebellion I'd been,

    But they great kindness O my God,

        Saved me from all my sins.


    Such woe and grief in Great Bride town,

        For many years has not been known

    And thousands mourn as the relate,

        How these poor colliers met their fate.


    Whose God [Gon?] is like the Christians God [Gon?],

        Who can with time compare,

    He has compassion on our souls

        And hears a Collier's prayer.


    When these poor Colliers were conveyed,

        And in the grave their bodies laid,

    Some thousands did assemble there,

        And for their fate shed many a tear.


    Jesus thou hast shed thy blood,

        For thousands such as we,

    Many despise poor Collier slaves,

        But we are loved by thee.


    Their money colliers dearly earn,

        They should protected be;

    You all know well a collier,

        From danger is never free.


    Ladies and Gentlemen, the bearers are colliers; being destitute and strangers in this part of the country, we offer these few verses for sale, hoping you will become purchasers during our present distress.

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