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Work & Industry in Tredegar during the 19th century A Key Stage 2 Educational Resource Pack Part 3—Health & Dangers at Work


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How did working underground affect the health of colliers during the 19th century?


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Children’s Employment Enquiry, 1841

What diseases did they suffer from as a result of working underground? Why was it unusual to meet colliers (coal miners) aged over 50? Many colliers were injured and killed as a result of gas explosions and ‘roof falls’ and water flooding in from older mine workings.


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Roof falls: When the roofs of tunnels collapsed unexpectedly, many tons of rock fell down, instantly crushing anyone underneath.


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Testing the roof—a hollow sound was warning of an imminent collapse!


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Flooding: Mines were flooded when colliers accidentally broke into old, abandoned mine workings that had filled with water over time.


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Gas explosions: Methane gas (or fire-damp) is released when coal is mined. The use of candles caused explosions when the gas ignited.


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Bedwellty Pits Disaster of 1865


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Bedwellty Pits was a colliery (coal mine) which was started in 1850 by the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company. An explosion of methane or fire-damp gas on 16 June 1865, killed 27 miners including 6 boys. The number of people killed would have been much higher if it wasn’t for the fact that the explosion happened during the night shift when there were fewer men working underground. The manager was accused of the crime of manslaughter, which means the killing of another person through carelessness or neglecting his duties. However he was found not guilty because it could not be proved that the flow of air through the colliery was poor when the explosion occurred.


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Right: Part 1 of Newspaper article from ‘The Bristol Mercury’, 24 June 1865.


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Right: Part 2 of Newspaper article from ‘The Bristol Mercury’, 24 June 1865.


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List of accidents in mines and ironworks of Glamorgan 1839-41


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List of unexpected deaths in Merthyr Tydfil area 1837-1841


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Work & industry in Tredegar Part 3 Health & Dangers at Work  
Work & industry in Tredegar Part 3 Health & Dangers at Work  

Work & industry in Tredegar Part 3 Health & Dangers at Work Tredegar, 19th century, Victorian, Industrial Revolution, coal, iron, Blaenau Gw...

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