Voices in the Coalshed: Court of Enquiry
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Voices in the Coalshed: Court of Enquiry

Does a speech hold the power to touch your emotions?

This extract is taken from a speech made by Herbert Smith, President of the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain. He was giving evidence to the Buckmaster Court of inquiry on wages in 1924. In it he paints a visula picture of the industry’s record on safety.

“You know the terrible dangers in our industry, the large numbers of men and boys killed and maimed every year……… Every working day more than five persons were killed. Every five hours the clock round a life was lost. Every 215,000 tons of coal raised was stained with the crimson of man’s blood. Every working day 859 men and boy injured…….try and visualise this great army of bruised and broken humanity…..marshal them in one huge procession of injured men stretching a distance of 45 miles. Every 15 yards of that tragic march you would have an ambulance conveying a man who was seriously injured, and every 60 yards a hearse. This is part of the miners’ wages; part of the price he pays in the struggle with natural forces, that the people may have coal, and that he and his family may have bread. This part of his wages never gets into the balance sheet……………”  B. Supple, History of British Mining Vol 4

Discover the work of the Mines Rescue teams that worked in this dangerous environment in our brand-new exhibition ‘Rescue’