In Harm's Way

Staff: Ceri Thompson

One of the topics of most interest to visitors to Big Pit is the employment of children underground. Up to the mid-19th century the British state accepted that children as young as five were a part of the industrial workforce. However, between 1840 and 1842, a Royal Commission appointed inspectors to visit the coal fields. The findings of this commission led to the banning of all females, and boys under ten, from employment underground. However, owing to the lack of mines inspectors, the practice continued for a number of years after 1843. The employment underground of young boys of up to 15 years of age lasted until the 1970s.

The research will result in a Museum publication under the provisional title of In Harm's Way. This c.60 page, fully illustrated book will follow on, and be in the same format, as Harnessed: Welsh Colliery Horses.