A ‘Stair Pit’ was where ladders were used for the ascent and descent of miners.
Women and children were used as ‘bearers’, hauling the coal up endless ladders with baskets on their backs weighing well over one-hundred weight, to the surface, as the men dug the coal from the pit bottom. It was estimated that a woman bearer, heavily laiden would climb four-times the height of Arthur’s Seat in the course of a day’s work. “It is no uncommon thing,” wrote Robert Bald, an early authority on coal-mining, “to see them while ascending the pit, weeping most bitterly, from the excessive severity of their labour.”
The women and children had to work quickly, or receive the wrath of the men who got paid per load brought to the surface.
In 1842 the findings of the Royal Commission, shocked the public and persuaded the government to ban the employment of women and young children under ground.
There were two stair pits in this area, one was called ‘The Maid o’ the Mill’ and the other was called ‘The Rosebud’ mine.