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Mining for coal in Victorian times
 
  A hard life for Victorian coal miners
 

Coal mining has always been a very hard and often unpleasant job even in recent times, but in the Victorian years it was a terrible way of life for the miners.
Because of the hard work involved in digging by hand through rock to reach the seams of coal, the mineworkings were often made just big enough to let the loaded carts of coal and waste material pass through.

Drawing by
Rob Davies
  Sometimes a small channel would be cut in the roof of the access tunnel for the head of the pit ponies used to pull the carts, and even regularly spaced holes in the floor for the pony's feet ! At the end of a working shaft the horse's head would be pushed between its front legs while it was turned around for the return journey !
The ponies wore thick leather peaked caps fitted with blinkers so that they could only see to the front.
Pit pony in tunnel
 

There were no machines then to dig the coal out of the sides of the narrow tunnels, and the miners often had to lie on their backs and strike at the rock walls with their picks. It was dangerous because of the risk of collapsing tunnels, since the supports were only simple wooden posts.
There was also the risk of poisonous gases and of explosions, although the Davey Lamp of 1815 had made mines safer before the start of the Victorian age in 1837.

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