A village grew up around the pits in Colinshiels. The 1841 census shows a population of 80 in the village – 19 people living in three households on Collin Row, as well as 54 living in 11 households on the colliery and 7 in the Farm. Their surnames included Duncan, Harris, Easton, Alexander, Brown, Baxter, Walker and Smellie. At least fourteen of the villagers were coal miners including two boys aged ten. About six miners wives were ‘drawers’, as was one girl aged 10.
The houses were built by the mining companies and were very basic – built with mud and stone with a turf roof.
Colinshiels was studied as part of the Children’s Employment Commission in 1842 – “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”
By 1881 the population of 11 related to the farm only.
We believe ironstone mined in the Colinshiel Pit was used to make cannons that were used at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
The pit employed children and women as well as men and the following Extracts are from the report by R. H. Franks to the Children’s Employment Commission on the East of Scotland District.
Colinshiel Colliery: Messrs. MOORE & Co.: 16 male adults; 7 males under 18; 1 male under 13; 9 female adults; 3 females under 18; 2 females under 13.
Ann Harris, a 15 year old putter at Colinshiel Colliery ‘works 10 to 12 hours daily, has done so about four months, never was at coal-work before and heartily hates it, but could get no other work or would not have gone down. It is no woman’s work, nor is it good for anybody’.
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