Testimony Gathered by Ashley’s Mines Commission 1842
No. 26. — Patience Kershaw, aged 17, May 15.
My father has been dead about a year; my mother is living and has ten children, five lads and five lasses; the oldest is about thirty, the youngest is four; three lasses go to mill; all the lads are colliers, two getters and three hurriers; one lives at home and does nothing; mother does nought but look after home.
All my sisters have been hurriers, but three went to the mill. Alice went because her legs swelled from hurrying in cold water when she was hot. I never went to day-school; I go to Sunday-school, but I cannot read or write; I go to pit at five o’clock in the morning and come out at five in the evening; I get my breakfast of porridge and milk first; I take my dinner with me, a cake, and eat it as I go; I do not stop or rest any time for the purpose; I get nothing else until I get home, and then have potatoes and meat, not every day meat. I hurry in the clothes I have now got on, trousers and ragged jacket; the bald place upon my head is made by thrusting the corves; my legs have never swelled, but sisters’ did when they went to mill; I hurry the corves a mile and more under ground and back; they weigh 300 cwt.; I hurry 11 a-day; I wear a belt and chain at the workings, to get the corves out; the getters that I work for are naked except their caps; they pull off all their clothes; I see them at work when I go up; sometimes they beat me, if I am not quick enough, with their hands; they strike me upon my back; the boys take liberties with me sometimes they pull me about; I am the only girl in the pit; there are about 20 boys and 15 men; all the men are naked; I would rather work in mill than in coal-pit.
This girl is an ignorant, filthy, ragged, and deplorable-looking object, and such an one as the uncivilized natives of the prairies would be shocked to look upon.
It was another lovely morning this morning albeit rather cold and frosty. As I was driving to work on the M25 my attention was drawn to the field on my left which sat a little way below the motorway. The grass was white with frost and a mist hovered above it. The rising sun struggled to break through but where it did it poked shafts of light which shone like diamonds through the morning gloom.
As ever there was no where to stop to take a picture!
I was in this prematurely air-conditioned supermarket and there were all these aisles and there were these bathing caps that you could buy that had these kind of Fourth-of-July plumes on them that were red and yellow and blue, and I wasn’t tempted to buy one, but I was reminded of the fact that I had been avoiding the beach.