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.

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

200 DISABILITY IN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION CONCLUSION The Industrial Revolution produced injury, illness and disablement on a large scale and nowhere was this more visible than in coalmining. While the loss of lives in large-scale mining disasters is still commemorated today, and forms part of the cultural memory of coalmining in areas where pits have long since closed down, there are no memorials to the many thousands who were disabled in the industry.1 Yet the experiences of those whose bones were broken, whose bodies were crushed, ‘lamed’ or maimed, or

in Disability in the Industrial Revolution
Open Access (free)
David M. Turner and Daniel Blackie

killed 439 men and boys at Universal Colliery, Senghenydd, in 1913 are well known.2 But as John Benson has pointed out, many British miners were killed in smaller accidents that claimed one or two lives. Still more suffered non-fatal injuries, or contracted chronic diseases that sapped their strength and shortened their lives.3 Dr James Mitchell, presenting evidence 2 DISABILITY IN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION in 1842 to a commission set up to examine the employment of children in coal mines, documented a series of accidents at several unnamed Durham collieries. They

in Disability in the Industrial Revolution
Rodney Barker

5 Reformations, revolutions, continuity, and counter-reformations Why revolutions are so sartorially perilous In Robert Wise's 1962 film Two for the Seesaw , Shirley MacLaine reassures besuited middle-class lawyer Robert Mitchum, arriving at a Greenwich Village flat, ‘Take off your hat, and no one will know you've come to the wrong party.’ 1 The colour of a pair of socks or the style of a shirt in settled times are matters of social recognition or at the worst mundane snobbery. In unsettled times, they can be matters of

in Cultivating political and public identity
David M. Turner and Daniel Blackie

128 DISABILITY IN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION 4 DISABILITY, FAMILY AND COMMUNITY The risks of coalmining affected not just the working lives of British miners during the nineteenth century, but also their lives beyond the pit. Many contemporary commentators sought to interpret the experiences of miners and their communities through the prism of their susceptibility to danger in the workplace. For example, in his comparative statistical study of Britain’s ‘dangerous classes’, Tactics for the Times (1849), Jelinger C. Symons calculated that rates of criminality

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

to colliery owners than profit. Yet, beyond the political and rhetorical use to which he put them, Burt’s observations also raise important questions about the supposed consequences of industrialisation for ‘disabled’ people. As Burt’s recollections make clear, workers with impairments were not automatically forced from the mines 24 DISABILITY IN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION during the Industrial Revolution but continued to work there in considerable numbers despite their injuries. If industrialisation was such a calamity for disabled people’s working lives, as

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

report represented a key moment in the emergence of the cultural figure of the disabled mineworker. This figure was used rhetorically to great effect by policymakers and critics of industrialisation during the frequent debates about mining regulation that punctuated the nineteenth century. In persuading Parliament to outlaw the underground employment of women and young children in 1842, 164 DISABILITY IN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Figure 4  ‘Capital and Labour’, Punch, 29 July 1843. Reproduced with the permission of Punch Ltd. Punch.co.uk. the law’s chief architect

in Disability in the Industrial Revolution
Open Access (free)
David M. Turner and Daniel Blackie

friendly societies, insurance schemes, pit clubs and trade unions as the nineteenth century progressed.3 Disability has long been at the heart of discussions and debates about welfare. It has been used as a yardstick by policymakers, charities and self-help organisations to determine not only who needs support and assistance, but also who deserves it.4 Welfare systems played a critical role in defining ‘disability’ 94 DISABILITY IN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION during our period and also imposed a series of responsibilities and moral strictures on those who sought

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

particular on the services provided through workplace ‘sick clubs’, the chapter examines the development of medical responses to sickness and injury in and around coalmining communities in late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain and shows how the coal industry was innovative both in the extent of medical provision available to workers 56 DISABILITY IN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION and in a variety of responses to workplace injury from first aid to specialist convalescent homes. The expansion of medical services made mineworkers, like other industrial workers

in Disability in the Industrial Revolution
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An Excerpt from Bill V. Mullen’s New Biography, James Baldwin: Living in Fire, and an Interview with the Author
Bill V. Mullen

This excerpt from James Baldwin: Living in Fire details a key juncture in Baldwin’s life, 1957–59, when he was transformed by a visit to the South to write about the civil rights movement while grappling with the meaning of the Algerian Revolution. The excerpt shows Baldwin understanding black and Arab liberation struggles as simultaneous and parallel moments in the rise of Third World, anti-colonial and anti-racist U.S. politics. It also shows Baldwin’s emotional and psychological vulnerability to repressive state violence experienced by black and Arab citizens in the U.S., France, and Algiers.

James Baldwin Review