"What the Papers Said" - from Shropshire Caving & Mining Club Archives
Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News, June 28,
The report of Mr. W. N. Atkinson, H.M. Inspector of Mines for this part of the Kingdom for the past year is just published, and the following interesting details are extracted therefrom:
In Shropshire 84 mines were worked, employing 2,976 males below ground, and 948 males and females above ground, making a total of 3,924, an increase of 178 persons compared with the figures for the previous year. The output of minerals from mines under the Coal Mines Regulation Act in the Stafford District, which includes Shropshire—coal, 754,858 tons, fireclay 12,059 tons, ironstone 25,586 tons, other minerals 62,725 tons, making a total of 855,345 tons. The output of minerals in the counties of Shropshire, Staffordshire, and Worcestershire show a total decrease from the preceding year of 1,451,781 tons, and the decrease in Shropshire was 38,120 tone.
Commenting on the fact of the increase in the number of persons employed, and the decrease in the output, Mr. Atkinson says:—It may appear anomalous that in 1901 there should be an increase in the number of persons employed in the district accompanied by a decrease in the output of minerals, and in this respect the Stafford district is not exceptional, as the same lack of proportion holds good for the whole country, for which the statistics show a decrease output of 6,948,051 tons of minerals in 1901 from mines under the Coal Mines Regulation Act, and an increase of 26,683 in the number of persons employed. The statistical information available does not indicate clearly how it arises that a decreased output is accompanied by an increased number of persons employed, but a possible explanation may be stated as follows:—In 1900 and part of 1901 there was an abnormal demand for coal, and all the men available were set to work to produce it. During 1901 there was a considerable falling off in the demand but not such as to lead to any general dismissal of workmen or stoppage of pits. The result would be that the maximum number of men were still either employed at the end of 1901 when the returns were made up, or if not still actually employed they would go to swell the average for the year. If the above explanation as to the increased number of persons employed is correct, the reduced output must be accounted for by a reduction in the number of days worked by the pits or by individual workmen.
As to the means of haulage the Inspector makes the following interesting comment:— I have often alluded to the defective haulage arrangements and the number of haulage accidents in North Staffordshire and Shropshire, and judging by the number of accidents and the little I have yet seen of the mines in South Staffordshire and Worcestershire, I am afraid matters are worse rather than better there. In many of the pits in all parts of the district the methods and arrangements for haulage can only be described as barbarous. Roads unnecessarily irregular in direction, gradients and sectional area, tramways
badly laid, tubs of bad construction, and in bad repair, are the prevailing features in many of the mines. These conditions not only lead to accidents, but largely increase the cost of haulage. There is no direction in which the colliery managers of the district could introduce greater improvements than in the underground haulage arrangements.
The new Board for examination for certificates has been constituted as follows:—Mine owners: Mr. J. B. Cochrane, Woodside Ironworks Dudley; Mr. H. Peake, Walsall Wood Colliery, Walsall; and Mr. F. Rigby, Alsager, Stoke-on-Trent. Mining engineers : Mr. N. T. Beech Lilleshall, Salop; Mr. J. Strick, Barr Hill, Madeley, Staffordshire; and Mr. J. Williamson, The Hills, Cannock. Miners' representatives : Mr. C. Grocott, Ashley Heath, Market Drayton; Mr. T. Mansell, Great Bridge; and Mr. A. Stanley, West H N, Hednesford. The chairman of the Board is Mr. W. N. Atkinson (Inspector of Mines), and the secretary Mr. R. S. Williamson of Hednesford. Mr. G. Ferriday of Oakengates has been successful in obtaining a second class certificate.
A list of plans of abandoned mines in Shropshire includes the following:— Buck-a -Tree, in the parish of Little Wenlock; Charles Hay, Dawley; Dobblers and Fair View, Wellington; Fish House, Broseley; Knowbury, Bitterley; Lawley, Wellington; The Moors, Little Wenlock; Old Park Coppice Pit and Old Park Daisy Pit, Dawley; Rock, Wellington; and Spring Village, Dawley.
With regard to metalliferous mines in Shropshire there were 10 employing 292 males and females, and the output was barytes 8,771 tons, lead ore 1,223 tons, limestone 2,494 tons, and 251 tons of zinc ore, making a total of 12,739 tons. It is pointed out that the recent temporary revival of metal mining in the district seems to have died away, and there is a decrease in the output of both lead and zinc ores.
There are 74 quarries at work in the county, employing 542 males inside the quarry and 714 outside, making a total of 1,256. With reference to the accident at Dhu Stone Quarry on January 23rd, when a man was killed by a lump of basalt falling from the quarry face about 40 feet above him. The Inspector states that at this and similar quarries when the faces run up to 100 feet in height it is the practice to have watchers stationed to look out for falls from the upper part of the face, and give warning to men working at the bottom. In this case the stone was seen to start falling and warning was given, and the men below ran away; but the stone appeared to have struck an outstanding part of the face and rebounded, and fell on one of the men before he got far from the face. This method of averting accidents from falls is bound to fail occasionally, and it would be safer either to work the quarries in benches, or to bring the face down by big blasts.
Submitted by Steve Dewhirst