Colinshiels pits were sunk in the latter half of the 18th century, and they continued until 1877.
There were four pits in Colinshiels, which all provided coal and ironstone, with the iron creating the cannons which were used at the battle of Waterloo.
Colinshiels was studied as part of the Childrens Employment Commission of 1842;
– parish of Bathgate, Linlithgowshire. – (Messrs. Moore and Duncan, Leaseholders.)
No.192. Mr. Henry Duncan:
I am in partnership with Mr. Moore, a farmer, near by, in the Collinshield Coal-works, and we employ about 40 men, women and children at present; we consider the number employed few, as the work is limited at this season.
The roads are railed in our pits, and the ventilation produced by the two shafts – the shaft up which the coals are drawn, and that which the people descend by stairs.
The coal-seam is three feet high, and the roads are the same height. The carts contain 2 to 3cwt. Of coal, which children and young persons draw on the railed roads.
Females did not work in mines at this part till lately, as some years since the men agreed amongst themselves to allow no females to labour below; but time and the want of assistance has caused many to neglect the regulations.
Masters in this part never advised or interfered with any moral regulations made by the colliers; but must admit that females and young children could be dispensed with; their exclusion now might cause the coal to rise.
I am quite aware that there is a very strong feeling hereabouts against employing females and children, but as they work below at the pleasure of parents how is it to be prevented? [The mines in this part are all badly managed, ill-ventilated and the consequence is that colliers rove much, and are speedily afflicted with bad breath.]
No.193. Ann Harris, 15 years old, putter:
Works 10 to 12 hours daily; has done so about four months; never was at coal-work before, and heartily hates it; could get no other profitable work or would not have gone down. “It is no woman’s work, nor is it good for anybody; am obliged to do the work, as father houks [hews] the coal below.”
[Reads pretty well; very ill informed; the cottage was most filthy, and the few seats and household necessaries were of the most wretched description. The houses are in a complete morass, and it was with difficulty that I could jump from one to the other.]
No.194. John Harris, collier (hews coal):
I am about 40 years of age and have, within the last 3, taken to hew coals, as I hope that it would be more profitable than my old trade, which was that of a candle-maker.
The work is very hard, and from bad air and limitation of output, rendered uncertain.
I can hew two tons per day, the quantity usually sent up by experienced workmen who hew in the narrow seams in these parts; was first down at Dykehead, near Airdrie.
I am rather disappointed, as I thought the work would have been more profitable; it is with difficulty that I can get average wage of 2s. 6d. a-day, after paying oil and tools.
No.195. John Baxter, age 15 years, coal-hewer:
I work from two in the morning till six at night; done so for five years. My adopted mother puts my coal, and we earn about 2s. a-day together. The work is gai sore for both of us, but the woman has been a real kind friend to me, as I lost my mother soon after my birth, and my father was murdered seven or eight years ago; he was thrown into the canal and the murderer was never sought after, as there was no talk about the death and therefore no inquiry. I was reading – [reads a little] – and was going to the writing but the night-school was dropped.
[A very steady lad; weakly, arising no doubt from over labour. Spoke with great feeling of the kindness he had experienced from his foster mother.]
To read the Commission paper click here