Voices in the Coalshed: Sunshine Miners
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Voices in the Coalshed: Sunshine Miners

Were you a sunshine miner?

As we celebrate the secondary anniversary month of ‘Voices in the Coalshed’   Rafiq, a student at Huddersfield university, completes his volunteer module by exploring an intriguing phrase.

In 1942, civil engineers were tasked with digging for outcrop coal. These men were dubbed ‘sunshine miners.’  How did they acquire this name?

These miners worked above ground and so, in contrast to deep pit miners, were likely to be exposed to the sun all day. The irony is that many of them worked during long wet winters and all-too-short summers, so often they did not see much sun at all!

Opencast coal mining, also known as quarrying or strip mining, involves extracting coal from an open-air pit.

This explanation, which relates to open cast mining, is not to be confused with the same phrase that is attributed to miners who rather suspiciously skipped work on sunny days. These men were also referred to, rather wryly, as ‘sunshine miners.’  We can only suppose that they preferred to bask in the sunshine rather than work deep underground where the sun never shone!

Open cast ‘sunshine miners’ did, however, work very hard.

Do you recall any ‘sunshine’ miners?’ Did the term really suit the conditions in which they worked?

If you would like to join Voices in the Coalshed…even on a temporary basis like Rafiq please get in touch with voicesinthecoalshed@gmail.com