Child Employment Commission, 1841:: Luke Brook

No. 4.- Luke Brook, aged 49, Colliery steward, Low Moor iron works. Feb. 9:-

Wages 24s., a week, besides house, coals, and candles.
You are a colliery steward in the Low Moor works? - Yes.
You were born and bred in this country? - Yes.
But you have worked at times in Lancashire and other places? - Yes.
For the last twenty-eight years you have been in this neighbourhood? - Yes.
How old were you when you began to work? - Betwixt seven and eight.
Have you ever attended day-school? - No.
You can read, write, and cast accounts? - Yes.
Where did you learn? - Night-school.
At what age did you attend night-school? - From about one-and-twenty to thirty.
If you had not attended night-school, could you have had learning to hold your present situation? - No.
Did other people in the same situation with yourself attend night-school? - No, not one.
Are you better off now than they are? - I should think I am a great deal.
Did you like being in a pit when you first went there? - Yes, and if I had my time to begin again I would as lieve be a pit-man as any other trade whatever.
Did you find it unhealthy? - No, only when I took labour beyond what was reasonable.
At what age did you do that? - About twenty.
When you were a child were you put to labour beyond what was reasonable? - No, I can't say that I was.
You have always had good health? - As good as if I had been at any other branch.
Were you beaten when you were a boy? - Yes, many a time.
Did they beat boys then more than they do now? - Yes, I should think so; we suffer nought o't sort here.
At what age do boys enter the pits in this neighbourhood? - Between seven and eight, that's as low as we have.
Can they stand their work when they first come? - Their work is very light when they first come.
What are the hours of working in the pits? - They begin between six and seven, and we don't allow them to work after six.
Do they often leave off before six? - Oh yes.
What time do the hurriers stop as a general thing? - Between four and five o'clock, but when they have been laking* they want to work longer to make up lost time, but we don't allow it after six.
Why don't you allow it? - Because we consider it an evil. We want to get the work performed regularly each day.
Do they stop working for dinner? - They don't stop regularly in the coal mines, but do in the iron mines.
The two descriptions of mines are different? - Yes.
The boys don't come out of the pits, but eat their dinners at the bottom? - Yes.
They do not leave the pits from morning to night? - No.
That is generally from six to seven in the morning till about five in the evening? - Yes.
Tell me what the boys do in the pits? - They fetch the coals from the colliers to the pit-bottoms, in small waggons on a railroad, weighing about two hundred weight when loaded.
Is it hard work? - No, it can't be called hard work. We call it very easy work now.
Do the boys often seem tired? - If they have a hard day's work they will be tired.
Do you ever see boys tired so as to hurt them? - Nought o't kind. - You will see them laking* at nor-and-spell as full of action as any children.
Are they often ill? - I don't know that a healthfuller set of boys need to be.
Have the boys in the mines better or worse health than other boys? - I don't know that it makes any difference. I should think that it is more healthful in a pit than in a mill. I have brought up three girls in mills.
You have no objection to put boys of your own into pits? - No.
Did not girls formerly work in the pits? - Never common in this neighbourhood; about Leeds they used to do.
Are the boys often beaten? - No, we don't suffer them to thrash them
What wages do the boys get? - In one bed of coal the hurriers get as high as 9s. a-week, but there is a deal of difference according to the beds of coal and iron.
Wages are paid weekly? - Yes.
Would it not be better if they were paid fortnightly? - In my opinion it would be worse, for paying fortnightly they would drink the first week, or a good part of it.

*Playing. To lake, however, is often used to signify to be not at work.
 

 

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