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William and  Frank  would  have most likely have  started  work  in  the  Pit  as  door  boys. These boys opened and closed  the  ventilation  doors to try to keep some  air  flow through  the  levels.  This was a dangerous and active job because there was no signal to warn the boys when a tram load of coal was on its way - if the boy didn't move quickly enough, the tram would crash into the door and in all probability, he would be killed.


Extract from a 1901 Colliery Accident Register

Extract from a 1901 Colliery Accident Register relating to a doorboy


"While standing on the posting, he placed his hand on the crossbar of a tram and the haulier, not knowing that the boy's hand was there, threw a 6 foot piece of pit wood into the tram. Two fingers on the right hand were crushed and one of the finger, the middle one, has been amputated."

Courtesy  of Glamorgan Country Register Office


Some boys began on the surface, working alongside women as  sorters for  the  face  workers   who  were  paid  by   the  tram  load (more  for  big  lumps  and  a  good  deal  less   for   small  coal.)  Hence  the   need   for   lads as well  to  try   to  sort   the  coal   that  was   coming  back  from  the   face. 


Women sorting coal

Women sorting coal

Origin of this photograph currently unknown


We know that William must have worked hard in his job because by 1901, as listed in the census, he had worked his way up the ladder to become a Mine Fitter.

My Aunt, Doris Roberts, has told me that like so many Welsh miners, William took his religion very seriously. I am sure that he was a Deacon of the Bethany (non-conformists) Chapel in Hermon Road, Caerau.


Herman Road, Caerau - mid 20th century

Herman Road, Caerau - mid 20th century

Courtesy Maesteg Library and Glamorgan County Council


The Bethany Chapel is now no longer used and has fallen into disrepair but there are plans to restore it for community use. It was regarded as the family chapel by my Grandmother, Edith Evans ( née Stentiford) and as miners worked a 6-day week in those days, it would have been the place where William spent most of his free time above ground.

And except for that brief spell in Torquay (see Issue 52) when he joined his brother Hedley in his butchery business, this was pretty well the shape of his entire working life.


Bethany Chapel, Caerau

Bethany Chapel, Caerau - now awaiting restoration

© Huw Davies


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Last modiied: 25/02/2007