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Bibliophile price: £6.50
Now an almost obsolete industry, at one time coalmining was Britain's most important economic trade, albeit the most dangerous. This collection of photographs and other illustrations, complete with fascinating anecdotes and history notes is unique, as it concentrates on the miners themselves and their families and communities, not the mines. It ranges late 1900s to the end of the 20th century in Scotland, northern England, to Wales and smaller coalfields in Cumbria and Somerset. Some of the images depict the 'door trappers', often youngsters, whose job it was to sit in almost complete darkness for around ten hours a day, with just a candle flame for light, ready to open a door to allow tubs of coal to be manually pushed along the rails. Pushing or pulling tubs away from the coalface was one of the hardest jobs, often performed by young boys who had to bend almost double, but would still end up with bruised backs from the low tunnels. Other illustrations show men bending over tubs attempting to remove the coal dust as their dutiful wives scrub their backs. Women called 'pit lasses' (pictured page 51) also worked at some pit-tops, and when a clause in a bill formulated by Gladstone's government in 1886 tried to exclude them, there was such an outcry that the government relented and women were allowed to continue. Includes Miners' Strikes, pit ponies, new tunnels and drifts, lights and lamps, 'weighman' and more. Large softback. 158pp, hundreds of archive illus.

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