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Physical impairment in British coalmining, 1780–1880

This book sheds new light on the human cost of industrialisation by examining the lives and experiences of those disabled in an industry that was vital to Britain's economic growth. If disability has been largely absent from conventional histories of industrialisation, the Industrial Revolution has assumed great significance in disability studies. The book examines the economic and welfare responses to disease, injury and impairment among coal workers. It discusses experiences of disability within the context of social relations and the industrial politics of coalfield communities. The book provides the context for those that follow by providing an overview of the conditions of work in British coalmining between 1780 and 1880. It turns its attention to the principal causes of disablement in the nineteenth-century coal industry and the medical responses to them. The book then extends the discussion of responses to disability by examining the welfare provisions for miners with long-term restrictive health conditions. It also examines how miners and their families negotiated a 'mixed economy' of welfare, comprising family and community support, the Poor Law, and voluntary self-help as well as employer paternalism. The book shifts attention away from medicine and welfare towards the ways in which disability affected social relations within coalfield communities. Finally, it explores the place of disability in industrial politics and how fluctuating industrial relations affected the experiences of disabled people in the coalfields.

David M. Turner
and
Daniel Blackie

overwhelmingly lived in family settings, not institutions. The families in which they lived, however, could vary quite widely. Many types of working-class household existed during the Industrial Revolution, including those tightly focused on the nuclear family unit, others that were more fluid and contained non-nuclear kin and others unrelated to the nuclear unit, such as lodgers.50 Mining families were no different. A sense of the range of households in which disabled miners lived is found in Scottish Poor Law records and the census of 1871. When the census was taken, William

in Disability in the Industrial Revolution
Prisoners of the past
Author:

This book examines the impact that nostalgia has had on the Labour Party’s political development since 1951. In contrast to existing studies that have emphasised the role played by modernity, it argues that nostalgia has defined Labour’s identity and determined the party’s trajectory over time. It outlines how Labour, at both an elite and a grassroots level, has been and remains heavily influenced by a nostalgic commitment to an era of heroic male industrial working-class struggle. This commitment has hindered policy discussion, determined the form that the modernisation process has taken and shaped internal conflict and cohesion. More broadly, Labour’s emotional attachment to the past has made it difficult for the party to adjust to the socioeconomic changes that have taken place in Britain. In short, nostalgia has frequently left the party out of touch with the modern world. In this way, this book offers an assessment of Labour’s failures to adapt to the changing nature and demands of post-war Britain.

Open Access (free)
David M. Turner
and
Daniel Blackie

himself.12 Even in areas where women were not employed underground, as in the north-east of England, sending very young children to work in coal mines was a familiar survival strategy for mining families struggling to cope with the effects of disability or other family misfortune. Ann Mills testified that she had sent her son Matthew to work underground to open and close the doors used to ventilate Blaydon Main Colliery at the tender age of six ‘on account of her husband’s bad breath’.13 According to Robert Franks in his report on the east of Scotland for the 1842

in Disability in the Industrial Revolution
Abstract only
Marching forward
Daisy Payling

initial grant of £5,000 towards the campaign, and used public libraries to distribute leaflets and act as food collection points. It provided information on benefits and welfare and publicised the effect of pit closures on Sheffield in a booklet ‘Coal Matters in Sheffield’ produced in conjunction with NUM. 98 It extended free school meals for children of those involved in the dispute beyond the return to work in ‘cases of hardship’, and at Christmas it provided mining families in Sheffield with food hampers worth £30

in Socialist Republic
Kirsti Bohata
,
Alexandra Jones
,
Mike Mantin
, and
Steven Thompson

-changing injury was, for many mining families, very real. Disablement of the main breadwinner, whether temporary or permanent, also brought about a reconfiguration of social relations between fathers and their children. The contemporary definition of masculinity cast the man as a father with responsibilities to his children as much as a husband to his wife, and disability had consequences for this part of the man’s identity and social relations also. In the first instance, disability, and particularly the reduced income brought about by its effects on earning capacity, led some

in Disability in industrial Britain
David M. Turner
and
Daniel Blackie

. Kentish documented the widespread use of opiates to relieve pain in mining communities during the late eighteenth century.96 How frequently mining families could access, or indeed afford, these drugs, however, is difficult to ascertain. It seems likely, though, that few working-class Britons who experienced chronic pain would have enjoyed a ready and uninterrupted supply of opiates. The belief, then, that miners were impervious to pain may have proved a serviceable myth in an era when pain management was basic.97 The physical trauma of accidents and injuries was easy

in Disability in the Industrial Revolution
David M. Turner
and
Daniel Blackie

tended to cause severe hardships for mining families. Such hardships often affected disabled people particularly badly. In matters of industrial politics, courts commonly upheld the interests of mine owners and their representatives at the expense of workers. As we have seen, judges frequently imprisoned miners for defying employers and Edward Rymer’s experiences indicate that men with impairments also shared this fate. Yet the courts were not the only state institutions used to discipline insubordinate or troublesome mineworkers. Sometimes the Poor Law was also

in Disability in the Industrial Revolution
Abstract only
People and place
Cathrine Degnen

demise of coal mining in Britain, when most mining families were again ‘reduced to subsistence living’ (Szurek, 1985: 6) from their more comfortable circumstances of ten years previously. Throughout Yorkshire, 55,000 miners were on strike (Threlkeld, 1993: 125) and many thousands more family members were directly affected, as were small businesses that depended on mining incomes for their own. The strike was not successful. Four months after it ended, Barnsley pits lost 3,000 jobs and another 4,000 were lost by 1987. Church Lane pit in Dodworth was closed in 1986 and

in Ageing selves and everyday life in the North of England
South Wales Miners’ Institutes
Robert James

‘an eclectic mix of art nouveau, art deco and classical styles’, and was decorated with murals ‘depicting industrial scenes with miners toiling underground’.34 It was, as Stephen Ridgwell has rightly observed of all miners’ cinemas, ‘very much in tune with local needs and sensibilities’.35 Like cinemas across the country, then, miners’ cinemas offered their customers entertainment which combined comfort, pleasure and low cost. It was, of course, entertainment that provided an escape route from the deprivations experienced by many mining families. As one ‘Memo

in Popular culture and working-class taste in Britain, 1930–39