Pit Lasses (Paperback)
Women and Girls in Coalmining c.1800–1914 - Revised Edition
Women have long been recognised as the backbone of coalmining communities, supporting their men. Less well known is the role which they played as the industry developed, working underground alongside their husband or father, moving the coal which he had cut. The year 2012 is significant as it is the 170th anniversary of the publication of the Report of the Commission into the Employment of Children and Young People in Coal Mines (May 1842). The report findings included the revelation that in some mines half-dressed women worked alongside naked men. The resulting outrage led to the banning of females working underground three months later.
The Report of the Commission has been neglected as a source for many decades with the same few quotations regularly being used to illustrate the same headline points. And yet about 500 women and girls gave statements about what mining was like in 1841 and in earlier years in different parts of the country. In conjunction with the 1841 census it paints a comprehensive, though previously unexplored picture of the work of a female miner, how she lived when not at work, how she was regarded by the wider community and what she could achieve.
Although banned from working underground, women were still allowed to work above ground after 1842. In the second half of the nineteenth century around 3,000 women continued to be employed at the pit head though this was increasingly confined to the pit brow lasses of Lancashire.
This book examines the life of the female miner in the nineteenth century through to the outbreak of the Great War, both at work and away from it, drawing out the largely untapped evidence within contemporary sources - and challenging received wisdoms.
As featured inWho Do You Think You Are