"On Tuesday last a melancholy
circumstance took place at Rawdon colliery.
A boy of the name of J Spence,
about 8 years of age, was attempting to get out of a corf (basket) at the pit
before his companion when is foot unfortunately slipped and he was precipitated
to the bottom of the pit and killed"
Image courtesy of the British Newspaper Archives, research by Edwy Harling
Further text by Christine Lovedale
Rawdon is situated on the northern edge of the
Yorkshire coalfield, in this locality coal was found not far from the surface
and mined in bell-pits.
These were vertical shafts sunk to usually about 25
feet deep but could be deeper, when a coal seam was found the shafts were
widened out for excavation.the coal was hauled to the surface using manpower
and buckets or by horses and winches.
Thomas Layton is believed to have been mining
coal in 1628, the Thompson family owned their own pits using the coal to power
their mills, Larkfield and Low Mill.
There were around 11 pits in Rawdon,
the locations included Knott Lane, west end of Layton Avenue, Larkfield Dam
area, east end of Layton Lane which was filled in with household waste by the
Council in 1834, Intake Lane, Peasehill and 2 in the vicinity of Park Mill.
advent of the railways brought an end to mining in Rawdon as better quality
coal could be brought in quickly by rail.
As in other early industries child
labour was used, it was cheap and in coal mines a small child could manoeuvre
into spaces inaccessible to an adult.
They were often working for 12 hours or
more in horrific, filthy, wet conditions with little or no light.
Mines Act forbade the employment of women and boys under the age of 10 in
mines, it was not until 1900 that boys under the age of 13 were not allowed to
work or be in an underground mine.