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Title: A History of the Durham Miner's Association 1870-1904
Author: Wilson, John Lyde
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A History of the Durham Miner's Association 1870-1904" ***

produced from scanned images of public domain material

[Illustration: _Frontispiece_: THE MINERS' HALL, DURHAM]






_Corresponding Secretary to the Association, Chairman of Durham
County Council, and Member of Parliament for
Mid-Durham Division_

"A tale should be judicious, clear, succinct;
The language plain, and incidents well link'd;
Tell not as new what everybody knows,
And, new or old, still hasten to a close."









   this outline of their associated history is respectfully dedicated by
   one who knows the hardships and dangers of their lives, who
   understands their character and esteems it, who has been with them in
   their struggles for freedom, equality, and a better life, whose
   greatest pride is that from early youth he has been (and still is)
   one of them, whose highest honour is that he is trusted by them to
   take part in the varied and important duties of their association,
   and whose hope is, that avenues of greater good may by their united
   and individual efforts be opened out to them.




THE PREPARATION                    1


REARING THE BUILDING              16

THE LEADERS                       37


HISTORY                           46

AFTER WORDS                      336

CHANGES                          337

IN MEMORIAM                      346

AU REVOIR                        350

APPENDIX I                       355

    "    II                      356

    "    III                     358

INDEX                            361


MINERS' HALL, DURHAM        _Frontispiece_

N. WILKINSON     _facing page_    25

T. RAMSEY                 "       40

J. H. VEITCH              "       43

THE FIRST DEPUTATION      "       47

W. CRAWFORD, M.P.         "       99

W. GOLIGHTLY              "      105

J. FORMAN                 "      123

W. H. PATTERSON           "      160

ALDERMAN J. WILSON, M.P.  "      182

J. JOHNSON, M.P.          "      217

T. H. CANN                "      276

ALDERMAN W. HOUSE         "      293

ALDERMAN S. GALBRAITH     "      305

H. F. HEATH               "      337


It is necessary that I should set forth the reason why this attempt
has been made to place on record, in a compact form, the rise and
progress of our Association, with the changes which have taken place
in our position. The inception lies in a letter received from one of
our lodges, and addressed to the Executive Committee:

   "Seeing that matters of a definite nature relating to the history of
   the Trade Union movement in the county of Durham, in its social,
   political, and industrial aspects, are difficult to obtain, we would
   suggest to our Executive that it would be opportune at this juncture
   to ask Mr Wilson, on behalf of the Association, to write a short,
   concise history of the movement in the county, giving the social and
   industrial changes that have followed its progress, and that the
   Executive issue the same free or at cost price to lodges for
   distribution amongst the members."

This was considered by the Committee. It met with their approval so
far as the history was concerned, but they, with very generous
feelings, remembered the many things I have on hand. They felt
confident that such a work would be appreciated by our members, but
they were loath to impose more work upon me. Their desire that I
should prepare such a work was expressed in such a kind and
considerate manner--not as a Committee dictating business to its
Secretary--that I could not have refrained from taking the task, even
if it had been irksome; but the request was in harmony with my own
desire, and therefore, if the labour had been more arduous, it would
still have been one of pure love and pleasure.

Yet, although it is pleasant, it is well to recognise a difficulty
which meets us at the start. It arises from the fact that at the
commencement of our Association no records were kept, or, if kept,
have been lost. The first Minutes that can be found commence with
1874, and even the Minutes for the years 1874-1875 are not all in
existence, and some which are, have been mutilated by portions of
them, and circulars, being cut out. In the period referred to we were
in the same position as other similar bodies or nations. At the rise
of these there is always the vague and uncertain period where
tradition plays the part of accurate historical record. In the
struggle for a position there is no time for systematic book-keeping,
or, if books are kept, there is no care in preserving them. This is
borne out fully in our inception and our early existence, and
therefore for facts in relation to our commencement and the first few
years of our existence as a Trades Union body we must depend upon
outside sources wherever such are available. In this some little
assistance will come from "Fynes' History," which, of course, cannot
supply much, as it deals with matters largely anterior to our
commencement. If we turn to the files of newspapers we by diligent and
close search can gather from published reports of meetings and
proceedings of that time useful information. There is another source
of information--viz. the books of the employers.

In respect to this matter I cannot too strongly express my thanks to
the proprietors and editor of _The Durham Chronicle_ for the kind and
ready manner in which they placed at my disposal the whole of the
files of their paper, commencing with 1869, and allowed me to have
them for use in our office. They have very largely helped me to fill
in the hiatus up to 1876. My thanks and yours are due to the employers
and Mr Guthrie for the free access they gave me to their books at any
time and in the fullest manner. They have not only allowed me
facilities for examination, but Mr Guthrie has assisted me in my
search, and has copied out portions which I deemed necessary for our

The difficulty has therefore been lessened, and the work lightened by
the help mentioned, but if this had not been so the work would still
have been commenced, as the object lies near my heart, for two
reasons--first, because to me there is no dearer or more attractive
institution in the whole country than our Association. I will not say
it is superior to all others, but I will assert it has none, or not
many equals. From very small beginnings, from very unlikely
conditions, and in the face of bitter and opposing circumstances and
forces, there has been reared not merely a strong Trades Union as
strong as any extant, but one as beneficial as it is strong. The
second reason is the usefulness of the record. If, as Pope says, the
"proper study of mankind is man," then, if on a slightly lower plane,
it must be an important matter for a man to know the history of the
class to which he belongs and of any institution of which he is a

It is useful, too, in showing our young men the condition we have come
from, the toil and anxiety those who were the initiators had to face,
and the large amount of unremunerative labour they had to perform. Our
present position has been bought with a price, the amount of which is
unknown to this generation, many of whom are like the prodigal, who
inheriting a fortune and knowing nothing of the hardships involved in
the accumulation, squanders with indifference that which has cost
bitter years and much hardship.

Let me conclude this preface by saying I offer no plea for inability.
That is too well known, by myself at least. If he is a wise man who
knows his own limits and failings, then I am a very wise man. But one
other thing I know as well: I have a full knowledge of your
toleration, and that you are ready to give full credit for good
intentions. The history shall be the best that I can do, keeping in
view all the circumstances. I remember that we do not want a mere
comment upon our history; that I could make from my experience, but it
might not be accepted as reliable, and therefore what we must aim at
(even if it be tedious) is a matter-of-fact statement, because that is
all we desire.

I fear the history will not be very concise; but that, like all other
words, is relative. If it is not as short as some would desire, it
shall not be verbose. We will waste no words nor use any useless
verbal padding; we will "nothing extenuate nor write down aught in
malice." Each general event shall have its place and mention.

This note may be added, that at the commencement of the Association it
was embracive of all sections of labour in and about the mines. Before
we had been long in existence there was a desire for the formation of
separate organisations, as it was felt that there were certain
peculiarities connected with the other occupations which the miners
could not technically deal with. The first to leave were the
enginemen, then followed the mechanics, and then the cokemen at the
end of 1874. With this notice it will be understood that I deal with
the miners alone, only mentioning the others as they come into play
with us, and especially after the Federation was formed. I propose to
deal with the work with regard to the chronological order of the
events rather more than in symmetrical chapters, and therefore after
we get the Association formed we will take a year or more, just as the
business is great or small, as a definite period.



The Association was not a sudden and startling phenomenon, but was a
pure evolution. It was no growth of a day like Jonah's gourd, but it
was the outcome and the harvest of a long, painful sowing-time. In our
Hall we have two busts. These are no doubt looked upon (if noticed at
all) with casual indifference. Few of us regard them as expressions of
important periods in our struggle for Right and Equality, and as part
of the preparatory process, the consummation of which is our grand
Institution, of which we are justly proud, for our history fully
illustrates the sentiment:

    "Truth struck to earth will rise again."

It is not my intention to take a long and detailed retrospect, but
just to enumerate a few of the events happening after 1860, all of
which were assisting in clearing the ground, and inciting our
formation and preparing men's minds gradually for, such an
institution. These I will place in chronological order. First, there
was the Mines Act which came into force in July 1861, which amongst
other important provisions provided that no boy should go down the
mine under twelve unless he could produce a certificate that he could
read and write; that boys under twelve should go to school five hours
per day; that minerals should be weighed, and that the workmen should
be at liberty to appoint a checkweighman.

Another of the series was the Hartley calamity on the 16th of January
1862--a calamity which is unique in the history of mining disasters,
which moved the heart of the nation, and turned the minds of men
everywhere to two very important matters--first, the sinking of two
shafts to every mine; and second, to the provision for the relatives
of those who lose their lives, or for the workmen who are injured. And
thus it has ever been: our industry has offered up its human
sacrifices before necessary reforms have been introduced. Death has in
many instances opened the gateway to life and blessing. It is sad, but
yet true.

Then we had two very notable strikes--one at the Brancepeth
Collieries, which is known as the "Rocking Strike." The name arose
from the custom which obtained of setting out the tubs if they were
not level full when they came to bank. In order that this might be
attained the hewer used to walk around the tub and strike it with his
"mell," or rock and shake it so that the jolting on the road out-by
might not lower the coals below the rim of the tub, and thus result in
the forfeiture of the entire contents. This system was enforced even
after the Act of 1861, and in such a glaring manner, that the master's
weighman was paid a commission upon every light tub he found. The
demands of the workmen were payment by weight and an advance in
wages. Those whose memory goes back to that period will remember the
meetings that were held, and especially one not far from Mr Love's
(the owner of the collieries) house, just outside Durham city, then
called Mount Beulah, now by the more earthly name of Springwell Hall.

At that meeting on the platform was a working model of a miner rocking
a tub, and a song composed by a local poet (Mr Cooke of Trimdon
Grange) was sung. Part of the refrain was, as near as I can remember,
as follows:--

    "The rocking so shocking long, long we have bore,
    Farewell to the rocking, we will rock them no more."

The second strike took place at Wearmouth, and was the real, although
not formal, starting-point of our Union.

This strike commenced about the middle of April 1869, and arose out of
the conditions contained in the "Bond" of that year, which was brought
out as usual in the month of March, when the hewers were told that,
owing to the depressed condition of trade, there would have to be a
considerable reduction in prices. In one instance the score price was
reduced from 7s. to 5s. 10d., and the yard price from 1s. to 8d. There
was no opposition offered at the time, as the men were willing to give
the lower rate a fair trial. Afterwards they found they were not able
to make a fair day's wage. They worked on until the 18th of May, when
after going into the pit they all came out, and held a meeting on the
green, and appointed a deputation of six to wait upon the manager and
Mr Stobart. No concession being made the report was given, when the
men declared it was impossible to maintain their families, and
resolved that they would not resume work until the previous prices
were paid. It is not part of my purpose to enter into all the phases
of the strike, but one thing I will set forth, as it shows the method
adopted to break the ranks of the workmen. The manager of the colliery
was a man well-known in the North of England Coal Trade, Mr R.
Heckles. He, believing there was great power in the beer jug, when the
strike had continued for a fortnight sent six notes for fifty men each
to get a quart of ale per man. These were placed before a meeting of
250 men. "On the offer of the beer being announced the men replied
that the notes were to be sent back, as the day had gone by when the
men were to be bought with beer, but that beef and bread would be
better, and a resolution was carried not to resume work except at last
year's prices."

The breaking of the bond brought the workmen into collision with the
law, and four of them were summoned to appear at the Sunderland Court,
on the 21st of June 1869. They were charged under the Masters and
Servants Act. One of the cases, that of Thomas Fenwick, was taken. The
magistrates were told they could impose a fine of £20, or commit to
prison for three months. The defence was conducted by Mr Roberts, the
"Pitmen's Attorney-General." The Bench decided that the defendant
should give sureties of £20 to return to work, or be committed to
prison for one month. Mr Roberts took objection, and pointed out that
there was no attesting witness to the signing of the contract, and
asked for a case to the Queen's Bench on the point. On that being
raised the case was adjourned for a fortnight.

On the 6th of July the case again came up for hearing. The objection
raised by Mr Roberts was then gone into. It was to the effect that the
defendant was a marksman (that is, made his mark and did not sign his
name), and that the bond was never read over to him. The matter was
contested for a considerable time. Eventually Mr Roberts said he had
"been told by the most influential men among the workmen that they
wanted to be free from the villainous and iniquitous bond, and they
would undertake to leave the houses within nine days." On that promise
being made and accepted by the solicitor for the owners the bond by
mutual consent was cancelled.

The men immediately arranged for vacating the houses and handing in
their lamps. In one instance this was done in a unique and striking
manner. The men formed in procession, over 300 in number, each man
carrying his lamp and a copy of the colliery rules. Marching to the
colliery they handed in their lamps, and returned the rules to the
overman. The effect of the trial was speedily seen in the solidifying
of the whole of the workmen at Wearmouth, as the deputies and others
(while passively remaining from work, had never taken active part in
the strike) now threw themselves into the struggle, and made common
cause with the hewers, and the further effect was the impetus given to
the cause of unionism throughout the county until it consummated in
the Durham Miners' Union.

Another element assisting our formation was the desire for association
which was burning in the breast of a few men whose ardour could not be
damped by repeated failures or retarded by opposition or hardship. The
last of the series of these attempts was in 1863, the meeting being
held in the Victoria Hotel, Newcastle. There were 30 delegates
present--27 from Northumberland, and only 3 from Durham, Whitworth,
Washington, and Usworth, the membership being slightly over 4000. We
are told by Fynes in his history that it was resolved to hold meetings
in Durham "with the view of moving the men of this county to join
them." At the next meeting Mr Crawford was appointed agent and
secretary, with Mr Joseph Sheldon as a colleague. In that capacity the
writer first saw Mr Crawford. He was the principal speaker at a
meeting held on Sherburn Hill. He was on his way from the Leeds
National Conference, and we find by reference to the report of that
meeting that he was Chairman of the Committee on Law. This union of
the two counties continued until the Northumberland men felt that to
them it was like being connected with a body of death, and they
realised that the connection would in the end be fatal, and in 1865
resolved to separate. This resolution was carried into effect, and
county organisations were formed. The two agents were allotted as
follows:--Mr Crawford being kept in Northumberland, and Mr Sheldon
became the agent in Durham. His term of office was very short, as the
Union here very soon died out. At the united meeting, embracing the
two counties, held on November 21st, E. Rhymer was the only delegate,
and he delivered a very characteristic speech, of which the following
is a portion:--

   "With respect to the county of Durham he was sorry that they appeared
   as a black spot in England respecting the Miners' Association. They
   numbered about 1000, but there were only 74 represented at that
   meeting. The hours of the men were eight hours working. The average
   wage being from 4s. to 4s. 6d. The hours of the boys upon an average
   were fourteen per day. The system with respect to the boys was the
   most wretched in the civilised world. They never saw the light of the
   blessed sun from Sabbath to Sabbath. He had authority to tell them
   that the district which he represented begged of them through him to
   send help to save them from starvation and misery."

These are very strong words and true, for the state throughout was
deplorable. Here and there small societies existed having no federal
connection, but they were of no earthly use. They only showed in
darker colours the disorganisation which had set in. To use Milton's
illustration, they made the darkness more visible. Still, there were
some brave spirits who not only deplored the condition, but, as Fynes
says, "set themselves the almost Herculean task of revising the Union
and substituting harmony for the discord which then prevailed." For
that purpose meetings were held in various parts of the county. The
speakers who attended them ofttimes found themselves sleeping in a
room whose walls were the horizon and the roof studded with the stars
of heaven. Prominent we find the names of W. Crake and J. Richardson
(two men who were sacrificed as the result of the Wearmouth strike),
W. Patterson, T. Ramsey, and N. Wilkinson. Not only were there local
men at these meetings, but strangers were sent from other districts,
seeking to infuse new life into the apathetical and indifferent men of
Durham. The most notable of these meetings was held at Thornley on
Saturday, the 25th of September 1869. Amongst the speeches delivered I
find two given at great length in _The Durham Chronicle_ of the 1st of
October by Mr T. Burt and Mr W. Brown, who was then residing in
Yorkshire, but who afterwards became the agent for the North
Staffordshire miners. The chair was occupied by Mr W. Patterson (our
Patterson), and there were about 1000 men in attendance. If it were
convenient I would place on record in this history those speeches in
full, as they were worthy of the men and the occasion. One or two
sentences may be quoted from Mr Burt's speech. He urged that "there
were many reasons why men should be united: wages, better conditions,
and safety at work." Their wages were not so high as they ought to be,
neither was their social condition what it might have been, and he
would candidly confess that the miners themselves were most to blame
that such was the state of affairs. Had they worked together and
exercised confidence where they displayed little else but petty
jealousy, had they not spent their money for naught, their position
might have been different that day. If proof were needed let them look
at other classes and districts. "If the miners of the county of Durham
compared their condition with any of the great combined bodies of
English workmen they would at once see how different their position
might have been had they been united. If they compared non-Union
districts with Union districts they would contrast the rate of wages
paid in Lancashire, Wales, Yorkshire, and Northumberland; and they
would see a striking example of the effects of Union and non-Union."
These remarks suggest a curious contrast between our relative position
compared with other districts now and then, and the comparison proves
the force and wisdom of Mr Burt's exhortation.

In this connection I find a letter from Mr Crawford bearing on the
same subject, and published in _The Durham Chronicle_ of the 15th of
October 1869, which I insert in full.

   Sir,--Seeing that the Durham miners are again trying to form amongst
   themselves an organisation for mutual protection, you will perhaps
   allow me to say a few words, having had some experience in connection
   with their last one some six years ago. Many of your readers will
   remember the strenuous efforts then made to organise the whole
   county, and at least the partial success which attended that
   undertaking. A great portion of the county did become united, and at
   one time promised satisfactory success. But those who expected such
   an accomplishment were doomed to be disappointed. After a short time
   the whole fabric collapsed, and miners were again subjected to all
   those difficulties and impositions which necessarily follow in the
   train of disorganisation. Since that time my mind has often been
   occupied in trying to ascertain the cause or causes of that
   disastrous downfall, and I have long since concluded that the
   following were the main if not the only causes which led to such a
   direful result:--

   1st. Yearly hirings. For years before the Union began, these had
   existed in the county, and their baneful effects had been to reduce
   the wages of the miners from fifteen to thirty per cent. The coal was
   no better to get, and its market value ranged about the same. What,
   then, was the cause of men being reduced in some instances from 13s.
   6d. to 9s. per score? It may be truly attributed to disorganisation
   and yearly hirings. When the Union began these still continued, and
   hence the impossibility of men gradually recovering that which they
   had lost. These yearly hirings had brought the county to the lowest
   possible social condition, and when brought, kept it there, rendering
   organisation difficult, and when attained making its continuance more
   difficult still. They have been the curse, the withering blighting
   curse, of thousands of miners in that county.

   Again, the county is too wide and extensive for one association. To
   make the work not only practical, but effective, it ought to be
   divided into three, or perhaps four separate districts. These
   districts ought to be thoroughly independent of each other; not only
   doing their own business, but being self-supporting. Of course, in
   many instances, one district would find its interests best furthered
   by rendering assistance to a neighbouring one. In such cases let
   relief be unsparingly given. The more mutual support and sympathy
   there existed between the districts, the greater the chance of
   permanent success. Yet, in their working, collecting, and
   distribution of their finances, let an entire separation exist. We
   have not space to go fully into this matter here; but if the past
   will prove anything, it will prove what I have just said. And, if an
   instance is wanted, it will be found in the two _distinct_, but
   _successful_ associations, which for years have existed in Yorkshire.
   Other causes operated to make short the existence of the last
   organisation; but these were unquestionably the main ones, and
   ought, therefore, to be avoided this time, especially the latter,
   that power being now with themselves, to put into immediate effect,
   while the former must be a work of time, at least for a few months.

   The present condition of the Durham miners calls aloud for a change,
   and the power to effect that change is with themselves. Let them
   bestir, set to work in right earnest, and if that work be
   characterised by prudence and determination, I doubt not but that
   ultimate and entire success will crown their efforts.


    Bedlington, Northumberland,
    _October 11th, 1869._


Currently with these meetings arising out of the Wearmouth strike, and
the other matters mentioned, the young Union was gathering strength.
Delegate meetings were being held, the machinery of the Association
was taking shape, and the constitution outlined. The first of these
was held on Saturday the 3rd of July 1869, the chairman being Mr J.
Richardson of Wearmouth. In his opening remarks he said: "They had met
not as delegates of an organised body of miners, but as
representatives of collieries not yet united, to devise means whereby
an organisation could be established throughout the county of Durham."
No attempt was made to transact any business, but a number of
addresses were delivered. The speakers were Mr Lynney of Wearmouth, Mr
B. Irving and Mr Scranghann of Houghton, Mr Noull, Windy Nook, and Mr
G. Parker of Spennymoor. All spoke of the deplorable condition of the
county, and expressed their firm belief that nothing but union would
bring about an amelioration.

The next meeting was held in the Market Hotel, Durham. I again quote
from _The Durham Chronicle_ report:

   At the hour named there was only a limited attendance of delegates
   and, no others coming up as time passed on, no business was done, and
   the delegates present merely contented themselves with discussing the
   project of a county Union, to which the delegates from Thornley and
   Houghton stated the men in their respective districts gave perfect
   accordance, uniting with the Union in both cases the scheme of a
   benefit society. Mr Richardson of Wearmouth thought they ought to
   form their Union first, and leave the question of benefit and
   emigration societies in connection with it to a future time. A
   resolution that Wearmouth, Thornley, and Houghton form the nucleus of
   an organisation or union among the miners of the county, and that a
   paid agent be appointed to explain to the men the aim, object, and
   principles of the proposed association, was then passed. The
   following is the district set out for the lecturer to visit:--Ryhope,
   Seaton (and Seaham), Hetton, South Hetton, Haswell, Shotton, Castle
   Eden, Wingate, Trimdon, Fire Houses (Trimdon Grange), and Thornley.
   The agitation of the proposed organisation to be directed against the
   yearly bond.

The next account available is that of a meeting held at the half-way
house near Thornley on the 23rd of September. It was held in
connection with the demonstration referred to above, at which Mr Burt
and Mr Brown spoke. The following are the names of the delegates who
answered the roll, with the collieries represented:--

    W. Crake, Wearmouth.
    H. Robson, Ryhope.
    W. H. Patterson, Heworth.
    T. Ramsey, Trimdon.
    J. Wylde, Quarrington Hill.
    E. Furneval, Felling.
    R. Bousfield, Houghton.
    J. Colledge, Murton.
    A. Cairns, Thornley.
    N. Wilkinson, Trimdon Grange.
    C. Flynn, Shiny Row.
    C. Nicholson, Seaham.

This meeting was the most ambitious of any held, as a properly
arranged business programme was before the delegates. The items
discussed were the wages and expenses of the agent. The point
discussed was not merely the amount per week, but whether he should be
charged for stamps and all cost of correspondence. The meeting was
equally divided, when the question was remitted to the lodges.

Next came the "Formation of a Central Fund." In this matter there was
great fear as to the permanency of the movement. The predominant
feeling was that it was better to wait until the roll of members
reached a few thousands. Mr Patterson was among those who hesitated,
and expressed himself in the following terms:--

"They had several times tried to form a Union, but had failed, the men
appearing somehow to have little confidence in them." The Wearmouth
delegate was more optimistic. He did not think it was necessary that
they should have 5000 members before the fund was formed. Mr Patterson
had hinted the Union might fail, but there was not the least fear in
his mind that such would be the case. Following these came the persons
to attend the delegate meetings (whether strangers should be
admitted), the pay for attending (this was fixed at 6s. 6d. and
third-class fare), the appointment of a committee to draw up rules,
the adoption of a "Pass Card" as a guarantee of membership, the
collieries for the agent to visit, and the appointment of an Agent,
Secretary, and Treasurer. These offices were filled as follows:--Mr J.
Richardson, Agent for three weeks; Mr Isaac Parks, Secretary; and Mr
N. Wilkinson, Treasurer for three months.

The next meeting was held on Saturday, 20th November. It is important
that we should note this meeting, as it was the real beginning of the
Association. The following is the full report from _The Durham


   "A meeting of the delegates of this Association was held in the
   Market Hotel in this city on Saturday, when the delegates present
   represented 4328 members. The following resolutions were passed:--(1)
   Resolved that Stanley be exempted from paying any contributions this
   day. (2) That all members receive rules free. (3) That each delegate
   speak in rotation as on the list, and not to speak more than five
   minutes each time. (4) The following were appointed trustees:--Alan
   Murray, W. Crake, Isaac Parks, W. Patterson, R. Carr, W. Wilson,
   John Armstrong, and T. Noble. (5) That each delegate have one vote.
   (6) That Mr John Richardson be Agent and Secretary, and be paid 32s.
   per week, and allowed third-class railway fare when on the business
   of the Association when such business calls him more than four miles
   from his residence, the delegates to decide his place of residence.
   (7) That the delegates should manage the business at present, and
   that in future a president should be chosen at each meeting of
   delegates who shall have a casting vote. (8) That each delegate be
   prepared with security for the person proposed by his district for
   the office of treasurer. (9) That all suggestions be sent in at least
   seven days before the meeting. (10) That the miners of the county of
   Durham have their attention called to the objects contemplated by the
   Association by hand-bills, and that 500 be printed. (11) That the
   agent go into the Crook and Spennymoor districts and explain the
   advantages of the society."

Here we have the Union for the whole county fairly established on a
weak foundation. Sufficient to dishearten, looking from our present
proud position, but it must be remembered that there were giants in
those days--brave, hopeful men, who were not to be turned from their
purpose by any hindrance. They felt that united effort was the breath
of our life, and they kept their eyes on that goal. A united Durham
was their battle-cry and inspiration. If there had been any
possibility of diverting them, the next meeting, which was held on
18th December 1869, was sufficient. That meeting was held again in the
Market Hotel. There were delegates from only 19 collieries,
representing 1964½ members. The outlay for the previous fortnight
was £8, 11s. 5d., and there was a saving of £50, 11s. 1½d. Mr N.
Wilkinson was appointed treasurer. Rules were submitted from various
collieries. The agent was instructed to visit the Derwent District,
and a very wise provision was made that no suggestion should be put on
the programme that infringed the general rules. It was a little
anticipatory, seeing the rules were not formed, but those men knew
well that without order and law it was impossible to have any useful
progress. Later experience proves the wisdom of their provision.


The end of 1869 saw the foundation of the structure laid. The
beginning of 1870 found the builders hard at work raising it. The
first move made was to hold fortnightly delegate meetings. These
appear to have been of the nature of Committee and Council Meetings
combined, and were usually held in the Market Hotel, Durham. The first
in the year was held on Saturday, 1st January. The first business,
even in this early stage, was to deal with that permanent disease of
Trades Unionism, the unfinancial member; for from the origin of things
there have been men who were ready to take all and give nothing.
Various schemes were suggested for dealing with such people, many of
which were crude, but in the end the means most favoured by the
delegates was analogous to, but somewhat more drastic than, the rule
at present in operation for compelling members to keep themselves
straight on the books. The other questions dealt with were the
proposed formation of a sick fund, with sundry minor or local matters.

Passing over the meeting held on January 15th, except to note that the
number of men represented was 2500, and the fortnightly contributions
amounted to £48, 18s. 1½d., we come to an important one held on the
29th. The numbers in union were the same as a fortnight before. The
meeting was important, because it is the first time we find the yearly
bond as part of the business of the council. There was a very lengthy
discussion upon, or rather expression of condemnation of, the bond.
The most noteworthy portion of the proceedings was a letter from Mr A.
Macdonald, as President of the Miners' National Association. The
letter is worthy of note, because it is the first recorded instance of
his official connection with Durham, and because of its opposition to
the system of yearly bindings. He was desirous to ascertain what were
the views of the miners in the county upon it. The Government were
pledged to bring in a Mines Regulation Bill during the next session of
Parliament, and it was necessary that their views should be expressed
with a view to insert a clause in the new Bill to provide for
fortnightly or monthly agreements. In Mr Macdonald's opinion, as in
that of other leading gentlemen connected with the organised coal
districts in Great Britain, it was useless to attempt to better the
condition of the miners in Durham so long as that system existed.

The unanimous agreement of the meeting upon the subject was "that Mr
Macdonald should be informed that the miners of the county of Durham
considered the bond to be a great evil, and would hail with the
greatest gratification any legislative enactment providing for its

At the meeting held on 12th February a much more satisfactory report
was presented. The membership had increased to 3537½, and the
contributions to £80, 4s. 8d. There had been a deposit of £70, making
the banking account £288. In addition to this large increase in funds
and numbers encouraging reports were given by the delegates as to the
requests which were made from unorganised collieries for someone to
attend to assist in inducing the men to join. In connection with this
desire there came a question from Mr Macdonald and Mr Burt asking
whether the young Association would take an active part in arranging
for meetings, passing of resolutions, and getting up petitions in
furtherance of the Mines Bill about to be introduced into Parliament.
These gentlemen were extremely desirous that a series of meetings
should be held, and they were willing to attend them if arranged. The
result of the request was an agreement to hold three meetings at
Sunderland, Bishop Auckland, and Durham, and the appointment of a
committee to make the necessary arrangements.

At this meeting we have the first mention of an entrance fee, which
was to be 6d. for a month, the payment of delegates out of the local
funds, the attendance of trustees at every delegate meeting, and the
most important appointment of President and Executive Committee. The
custom had been to appoint a president from each delegate meeting _pro
tem_., but now it was deemed advisable to elect for a longer period.
The appointments were as follows:--


    W. Crake, Monkwearmouth.


    Christopher Nicholson, Seaham.
    Isaac Parks, Trimdon.
    Martin Thompson, Murton.
    John Jackson, Thornley.
    Mr Allonby, South Hetton.
    W. H. Patterson, Heworth.
    W. Anderson, Murton.

These with the treasurer formed the committee. It was further arranged
that the delegate meetings should be held once a month, and that the
contributions be forwarded fortnightly to the general treasurer.

As a result of the arrangements for holding mass meetings in the
county, two were held: on the 25th of February at Bishop Auckland, and
on the 26th at Sunderland. These were addressed by Messrs Burt and
Macdonald. Both meetings were very well attended; the object was to
discuss the proposed new Mines Bill. Strong speeches were made against
it. "It was too narrow in its application. It would permit a boy to be
employed for 14 hours in the mine, and he would have to work a length
of time equal to 62 days in the year, more than the child in the
factory. There was a deficiency with regard to weighing. That they
demanded should be remedied, because the system of measuring and
gauging simply meant robbery and double robbery. In some districts the
arithmetical tables had been altered to make a ton equal to 25 and
even 28 cwt. Then there was a great need for more inspectors and for
properly trained managers, for the absence of competent men had been a
fruitful source of colliery accidents. Deputies and overlookers were
not chosen, as they all knew, because of their excellence and skill,
or their high moral qualities, but more because they were sycophants
and tyrants in the hands of those who owned the mines."

There came a powerful appeal from Mr Burt on behalf of the Union.
"Every great movement in the world was carried on by combined efforts.
Single individuals had never been able to accomplish much. In all
parts of the world one heard the declaration made that workmen were
doing too much work, and receiving too little remuneration, and it
needed but the organisation of this great army to gain for themselves
justice. If they joined that army they would have education,
temperance, prudence, and virtue rising up in the place of moral
degradation; happiness in the place of misery; and comfort in every
home where wretchedness now only prevailed."

At the monthly meeting held on the 12th of March 1870 there were
delegates from 28 collieries, with a membership of 3650, being an
increase for the month of over 100. The monthly income was £138, 17s.
3d. Of that sum £57 was paid for collecting the signatures for the
petition to Parliament _re_ the Mines Bill, and a balance of £70 was
added to the banking account. Two petitions were in evidence, one
being 35 and the other 36 yards long--the cost in the former case
being over £12, and in the latter over £4. A deputation attended this
meeting from Yorkshire soliciting subscriptions for a colliery on
strike in that county. In response to the appeal £10 was sent, so that
very early in its history the young society was learning the luxury
that comes from doing good to your neighbour--a lesson it has not
forgotten in its older and stronger days. The next monthly meeting was
held on the 9th of April. There was a sad falling off in the
membership represented. The chairman was able to "congratulate the
meeting on the fact that the bindings had passed off so
satisfactorily, and that a slight increase in price had been secured."

There were only 25 collieries represented, with a membership of 2898.
The variation in the number of delegates may be accounted for by the
system of paying the delegates, it being borne by the lodges, and not
as at present. A complaint was made by the delegates in regard to the
dismissal of men at the late bindings. It was said that there were 30
at Trimdon Grange who had been treated in that manner. The owners had
shifted 16 of them, but a claim was made for removal allowance from
the Union at the rate of 5s. for the first mile and 1s. per mile

The meeting held on the 23rd of April had a very full programme of
business. The county was called upon to deal with another serious
strike at Wearmouth, and the support of the men severely taxed the
energies of the Union. A great deal depended upon the result of that
contest. The business part of the meeting, apart from Wearmouth, was
the appointment of a secretary and extra agents. The points under
consideration were the number to be appointed, whether they should be
in districts or be centralised, and what should be the salary. The
decision was there should be two agents, and the salary 27s. 6d. per
week, with house and firing. With respect to the secretary, it was
resolved to appoint one--the choice in this, as in the agents, being
left to a subsequent meeting.

On the 7th of May a full detailed list of the collieries and members
was given, which it may be interesting to set forth.

                          Number of
    Name of Colliery       Members       Income for Month

    Trimdon                165½             £8  5  6
    Trimdon Grange          64½              3  4  6
    Shiney Row              62               3  2  0
    Philadelphia            40               2  0  0
    Murton                 342½             17  4  6
    Ludworth                32               0 16  0
    South Hetton            90               3 18  0
    Whitworth              107               5  7  0
    Addison                120               5 12  0
    Norwood                 33               1 11  0
    Evenwood                63               2  1  0
    Shildon Lodge           41               2  1  0
    Page Bank               28               0 14  0
    Black Boy               77               5  3  0
    Tudhoe                 120               6  0  0
    Adelaide                90               4 15  0
    Thornley               230              11 10  0
    Heworth                 70               3 10  0
    Seaham                 150               4  3  0
    Felling                 20               1  0  0
    Quarrington Hill
      and Coxhoe            52               2 11  6
    Derwent                174               4  7  0

The appointment of agents and secretary was then taken, the following
being the result:--

As agents, Mr Munson, Philadelphia; Mr Crawford Bedlington, and Mr J.
Richardson; the secretary being A. Cairns, Thornley. Mr Richardson was
assigned to North East, Mr Crawford, Central, and Mr Munson,
South-West. Each district to have a sub-delegate meeting, Birtley,
Thornley and Bishop Auckland being the places of meeting.

Mr Crawford was not long in the county before he began to make himself
felt, and let the people know he was around, as the Yankee would say.
In _The Durham Chronicle_ for the 3rd of June 1870 there is a very
striking letter in his best style. Those of us who knew him are well
aware what his best meant in 1870. He was writing in defence of Trades
Unions--some writers had been speaking about the "terrible tyranny" of
these unions. He turned on them, and showed that, "if there were
tyranny anywhere, it lay on the side of the employers, and that the
workmen were at all times inclined to act in a right and courteous
manner. Still, while they so act, they have to be utterly and fiercely
condemned, and the employing class applauded and eulogised for acting
in a manner diametrically opposite, and about as near an approximation
to truth and right, as are the North and South Poles. This seems a
most anomalous condition of things, that with one class right should
be called wrong, while with an opposite class that which is really
wrong should be called right. But I have no hesitation in saying that,
if the doings of working men's associations be closely and impartially
sought into, it will be found that, instead of any of their members
receiving full licence to do as they like, every action is closely
watched, and not over-considerately examined, and that, if there be a
fault, it often is in the executive power pressing rather too hardly
any portion of their fellows who may wish to seek for an amelioration
of their wrongs. Let the general public examine both the origin and
mode of conducting our trade disputes, and, as a rule, it will be
found that, instead of the toiling population deserving their
unsparing contumely, the employing class are alone the undivided cause
of these struggles, and the course they generally afterwards pursue
ought to call forth the bitterest indignation, and often does beget in
the heart of the working men a feeling of dislike and disregard not
unmixed with contempt."

At the meeting held on the 4th of June a fourth district was formed.
It was called the South-Western, and Mr Patterson was appointed agent
to it. As a further consequence of this additional district the
Executive Committee was increased from seven to nine, the wages of the
agents being fixed at 25s. 6d. and expenses. At this meeting we have
the first safeguarding rule against collieries striking illegally:

   "That any colliery coming out on strike in an unconstitutional way be
   not allowed any support from the Central Fund, or have their case
   considered at the Central Board."

The next delegate meeting was held on the 30th of July. There was an
attendance of thirty-two delegates. The only matters needing a place
in our history were the appointment of another agent or assistant, and
an increase in the wages of the agents.

[Illustration: N. WILKINSON]

It was decided to appoint "Tommy Ramsey," and his wage to be 28s. per
week. The wage of the other agents was fixed at 25s. per week, with
10s. travelling expenses and 5s. per week house rent. These sums to
include all expenses within their respective districts.

The first Annual Meeting was held on December 3rd, 1870, in the Market
Hotel, Durham, and the proceedings and programme occupy three columns
of _The Durham Chronicle_.

The reason arises out of the dual nature of the meeting, it being
council and committee. The secretary's report showed that there were
1891 financial members on the books, and the total worth of the
Society was 7s. 1½d. per member. Our purpose will be met if we
select the main points, leaving those of a local and temporary
character. First, in that general category we have a request for
Durham to join the Amalgamated Association of Miners. This was not
acceded to, but copies of the rules were written for. Second, the
appointment of treasurer and his payment. Mr N. Wilkinson was
appointed, and his salary was to be 25s. per quarter (much less than
many of our local treasurers receive now). Yet Mr Wilkinson felt proud
of the office, and promised to merit their confidence during the year.
Third, the question of sending a delegate to the Miners' National
Conference, and the business, which was to discuss the Mines Bill. It
is very obvious that the county was feeling its way very carefully,
and with great regard to economy, for one delegate said it would take
one-twelfth of the income to send a representative, independently of
the entrance fee. It was finally agreed to send Mr Crawford. Fourth,
the question of cumulative voting was brought forward by Murton as
follows:--"That each delegate have an additional vote for every 100
members he represented." The proposal, however, was lost by fourteen
to eight. Fifth, the appointment of the officers for the year. These
were elected as follows:--

Secretary, A. Cairns; Treasurer, N. Wilkinson; President, W. Crawford;
Vice-President, W. H. Patterson; the Committee being Mr Munson, T.
Mitcheson, M. Thompson, M'Mann, J. Jackson, W. Coulthard, and I.

A very fitting finish to the year 1870 will be a reference to another
letter by Mr Crawford. The object of his attack was the Rev. Mr
Blagdon, Newbottle. This gentleman had said he hated and detested
unions, and this roused the temper of Crawford, and plainly he talked
to him. He reminded the parson of the condition of the miner, and he
pointed to the contrast between his conduct and that of Christ.

"But I suppose," said Crawford, "things are changed. Of course, we
live in an age of progression, and we ought to leave behind us those
old and antiquated practices of practical philanthropy. Christ always
spoke the truth too. When He made a promise it was always kept."

Then he asks:

   "What wrong are the workmen doing? Our only aim is the establishment
   of common justice amongst mankind. We have myriads of men, women, and
   children who but seldom receive an approximate sufficiency of the
   commonest necessaries of life. And it is a self-evident fact that
   nothing will render human existence so miserable and short as social
   destitution, bringing, as a matter of consequence, mental pressure or
   anxiety of mind. Even comparative want is prejudicial to physical
   health. This brings care and anxiety. They act and react on each
   other, often doing their deadly work ere men have passed half their
   allotted threescore years and ten. That these things exist are
   incontrovertible facts. And does their removal by moral and
   philosophical means not _in part_ pertain to the work which this
   gentleman has chosen for himself in life? History and observation
   alike teach that, where a people are socially depressed, moral
   culture is a most difficult matter, and, where moral cultivation is
   no easy task, to spiritualise is next to an utter impossibility. So
   that in reality, when rightly viewed, there is a very near kinship,
   and ought to be, in working a very close connection between the Union
   to which the Philadelphia Society belongs and the work in which this
   reverend gentleman is engaged. Whether or not Mr Blagdon will endorse
   these sentiments I cannot say; however, be that as it may, when in
   future he makes a promise let him keep it, and likewise cease to give
   utterance to such vehement expressions as hating and detesting that
   about which he seems to understand but little indeed. By pursuing
   such a course he will in future save himself the merited contempt of
   his parishioners."

This quotation will serve a twofold purpose: it will give an example
of Mr Crawford's vigorous style of writing when roused and at his
best, and it will indicate the kind of opposition the young
Association was met with at this very delicate and important period of
its existence. Those who should have welcomed all effort towards
better things should have assisted instead of thwarting and

The year 1871 found the builders of the Association untiring in their
efforts, but still meeting great discouragements. These came mainly
from the apathy of the people whom they were trying to help. Like
Nehemiah they had their Sanballats, who did their best to prevent the
work; but, inspired by the belief in the power of a united people to
better their own condition, they fought and built, making headway but
slowly. In the early part of January a Miners' Conference was held in
Manchester to consider the Mines Regulation Bill, the Trades Union
Bill, the Truck Bill, and kindred subjects. The delegate from Durham
was Mr W. Crawford, and the number he represented was 18,000.

Before proceeding further with the account of the building we will
place on record the first collective action taken by the young
Association. This was in relation to the inundation which happened at
Wheatley Hill on Thursday, the 19th of January 1871. The colliery had
been in operation about six months; there were thirteen hewers, five
putters, and three helpers up, with the necessary deputies and others,
at the time it occurred. There were five lives lost, and others had a
very narrow escape. There is no need to describe in detail the whole
circumstances. It will be sufficient to say that a man named Roberts
was in a place which was being driven in the main coal at Thornley for
the purpose of tapping some water which was lying on the Thornley side
in order that it might be run to the other colliery which lies to the
"dip." In addition to those who lost their lives, other two were
rescued after being in the mine fifty-four hours.

The Miners' Association was not slow in taking part in the subsequent
proceedings, and at the inquest which opened on the 25th at the
Colliery Office, Wheatley Hill, by Mr Crofton Maynard (whose able
services are still given to inquiries into the sad accidents in the
Easington Ward), the Association was represented by Mr W. Crawford. On
his application that witnesses should be summoned on behalf of the
workmen the Coroner readily consented to an adjournment until
Wednesday, the 8th of February. The adjourned inquest was held at
Wingate Grange, when Mr A. Cairns, Secretary, and Mr W. Crawford,
Agent, were present on behalf of the Association, with Mr Kewney,
Solicitor, of North Shields, to watch the proceedings. After a very
long and exhaustive inquiry the verdict was "that the deceased were
killed on the 19th of January by a burst of water in the Wheatley Hill
pit, through the gross negligence of W. Spencer, head viewer, W. Hay,
resident viewer, and Thomas Watson, overman; and that the said W.
Spencer, W. Hay, and T. Watson did kill and slay the five deceased
previously mentioned by neglecting to put in proper bore holes for the
safe working of the mine." On that verdict the Coroner committed the
accused for trial at the Assizes on a charge of manslaughter.

The trial took place at the March Assizes before Baron Martin. The
counsel for the Association were Mr Herschell (afterwards Lord
Chancellor) and Mr J. Edge. The writer of this history was in court,
and heard the trial, and the able speech made by Mr Herschell, whose
object was to show that there had been a violation of the Mines Act of
1860, the fifteenth rule of which was to the effect "that bore holes
should be kept in advance, and if necessary on both sides, on
approaching places likely to contain a large quantity of water." The
Grand Jury had thrown out the Bill, but the case was still proceeded
with. It was clear the judge was against the proceedings after the
throwing out of the Bill; and eventually the workmen's counsel
withdrew the case, because the judge was of the opinion that Roberts
(the hewer in whose place the water broke away) should have known as
well as the manager how near the water was to them, and because, on
the technical point, it was quite clear how the judge would direct the
jury. The accused were therefore acquitted. One little piece of funny
puzzling of the judge is very vividly remembered. Roberts was not a
native of the county, but was doing his best to train himself in the
peculiarities of a dialect which, when spoken by a Durham man, is to a
stranger difficult to understand, but more so when it comes from a
Welsh tongue. At one part of the proceedings the judge asked Roberts
what he was doing when the water broke in. The reply was: "Aw hed
getten me jud korved, and the hole marked off, and was gannen back for
the drills." With surprise the judge repeated the question, and
received the same answer. Perplexed, but not enlightened, a second
query was put: "What did you do then?" "Aw run doon the board and up
the stenton." Innocently the judge put a supplementary question: "Was
it a wide plank you ran along?" thinking the word board meant a piece
of timber laid for Roberts to walk on. Upon an explanation being given
he confessed that, in the whole of his experience, he had never been
so much puzzled before.

In our review of the building of the Association it will not be
necessary to mention the work in the county except so far as it
relates to the object we are dealing with: the raising and
strengthening of the organisation and the changes in policy and
procedure. The first Council in 1871 was held on March 25th. The
attendance of delegates was moderate, and Mr Crawford, the President
of the Association, was called to the chair.

At this meeting we have the first mention of the Yearly Demonstration.
It was moved "that the Council take into consideration the
desirability of holding a general meeting of miners in the central
district, the expenses of such to be paid from the Central Fund." The
time named was shortly after Easter. It was likewise arranged for the
agents to live in Durham. Mr Crawford at that time was residing in
Sunderland, and Mr Patterson in Bishop Auckland. This, it was felt,
interfered very much with the necessary consultation and arranging of
work. A series of resolutions was brought forward by Mr Crawford.
First, that "minerals be weighed only, seeing that measuring and
gauging are sources of endless losses to the hewers." Second, "that
miners ought to be allowed to place on the pit bank as checkweighman a
man of their own choice, whether such person be one of the workmen or
not." Third, the appointment of an additional number of inspectors or
sub-inspectors is required--the number of pits in 1869 in the whole
country being 3206, and only 12 inspectors, which gave an average of
267 pits each. The following resolution was carried:--

   "We believe that to make inspection thoroughly effective, mines
   ought to be inspected at intervals not exceeding three months."

The fourth resolution was "that no boy should be allowed to work more
than ten hours a day." The Murton delegate seconded the resolution,
and said: "Miners were often referred to as an ignorant set of men,
but if they received more attention than they did in the seed-time of
life perhaps better fruit would be received. At present their boys
went to work at half-past four in the morning, and did not leave the
mine till half-past five in the evening. By the time they got home,
washed themselves, and had a little refreshment it was seven o'clock.
Certainly night schools were provided for the boys, but he could not
see the utility of them, as the minds of the lads after being so many
hours in the pit were incapable of receiving instruction. Providing
schools under these circumstances for pit lads was like preparing food
for persons who had no appetite." That speech is worth quoting and
remembering, because it gives us so clearly the condition in that year
and shows so graphically the change since then. The young men at least
will do well to ponder the lesson. To them it means much, and tells
them the benefit they have (in this alone) received from the labours
of those men who so unselfishly toiled in the early days.

At this time a question arose which evoked great feeling in the
Thornley district in particular, and throughout the county in general.
This was the refusal by Mr Cooper, the manager at Thornley, to bind Mr
A. Cairns, the Secretary of the Association, who was checkweighman,
and Mr J. Jackson, one of the Executive Committee. At that time, it
should be remembered, a man to be a checkweighman must be, and remain,
a workman on the colliery, and therefore be "bound" as all other men
were. The situation is interesting for two points--first, because it
was productive of some very strong letter writing by Mr Crawford in
defence of the two men; and second, because it is the first recorded
instance of an offer from the men to apply arbitration as a means of
settling disputes between employers and workmen under this
Association. The offer was contained in a resolution passed at a
special Council held in the Market Hotel, Durham, on 8th April. The
following is a portion of the resolution:--

   "This meeting strongly urges on the Thornley workmen the propriety of
   offering to submit the whole case to arbitration, the members of the
   Board chosen to be composed of an equal number from both sides; the
   arbitrators to elect an umpire whose decision shall be final."

I quote two sentences from one of Mr Crawford's letters:

   "The entire transactions both on the part of the masters, and these
   perfidious hirelings [certain blacklegs] is contemptible in the
   extreme, clearly showing to working men that where they have not, by
   combination, the power to protect themselves they will only be
   endured so long as they are passive slaves in the hands of grasping
   greediness. Men need to arise, and by an active concentration of
   organised power frustrate that intolerance so rampant among them, an
   intolerance diametrically opposed to the spirit of the age, and one
   that will not hesitate to build its own advancement on the
   spoliation and desolation, and if necessary the damnation, of myriads
   of immortal beings."


The first in the long series of meetings was held in Wharton's Park,
Durham, on Saturday, the 12th of August 1871. For some time prior
district meetings had been held in different parts of the county, and
great efforts made to secure a good gathering. In addition, a "sum
amounting to £20 was offered in three prizes for a Band Contest, and
liberal money prizes for various athletic sports." There was a charge
for admission, and it was estimated that between 4000 and 5000 paid
for admission. The speakers outside the Association were A. Macdonald,
W. Brown, Staffordshire, and John Normansell, Yorkshire. The local
speakers were Mr W. H. Patterson, Mr Hendry, Addison Colliery; Mr T.
Ramsey, Mr N. Wilkinson, Mr Allens, Mr Young, Addison Colliery; and Mr
Ferguson, Edmondsley. The platform was decorated with the Thornley
banner, and in the arena was a banner bearing the inscription: "A fair
day's wage for a fair day's work." The chairman was Mr W. Crawford.
His first words were: "This is the first great Gala Day of the Durham
Miner's Mutual Confident Association, and I only pray that it will not
be the last." He reminded them that he and his colleagues had only
been trying to organise the county. They had met with great
difficulties, but they were still alive, and more likely to continue
alive than ever. "I can assure you," he said, "that on this, the 12th
day of August 1871, the Durham Miners' Association was never in a more
healthy position; never more healthy with regard to its feeling and
determination to carry on its great work of organising the county;
never more healthy with respect to its funds; and never more healthy
in reference to the general progressive tendency of its operations,
since the first day the Association was established." To quote the
speeches would be foreign to the purpose of this history. The speakers
were men who did great work in the Trades Union movement in the period
with which we are now dealing. William Brown had peculiar methods,
partaking more of a religious revivalist. He ofttimes at home opened
his meetings with prayer, and had a small collection of songs
(entitled melodies and poems), from which he would sing before he
commenced to speak (and he was a singer). For some months it was the
privilege of the writer to be engaged as a lecturer in the Midlands by
the Miners' National Union in 1878, three weeks of which were spent
with Brown in North Stafford, and therefore there was a good
opportunity of judging. At this first Gala Brown sang two of these
songs, and recited the following poem:--


      "Think what power lies within you,
      For what triumphs you are formed;
      Think, but not alone of living
      Like the horse from day to day;
      Think, but not alone of giving
      Health for pelf, and soul for pay.
      Think, oh! be machines no longer,
      Engines made of flesh and blood;
      Thought will make you fresher, stronger,
      Link you to the great and good;
      Thought is a wand of power,
      Power to make oppression shrink,
      Grasp ye then the precious dower,
      Poise it, wield it, work and think."

These men, heroes of the highest order, who inaugurated one of the
finest series of labour meetings ever held in this or any other
county, who saw the possibilities which lay within us, and who spoke
such words of hope, have all passed to the reward which awaits the
good and the true who battle for the right in whatever clime or sphere
of life. Their spirits still live and move and have being in many
to-day, bearing testimony that "the good men do lives after them."

A delegate meeting was held on the 9th of September 1871, Mr Crawford
presiding, at which three general matters were transacted. It was
decided to retain a solicitor to transact the legal business of the
Association and act as adviser. Arrangements were to be made to open a
proper banking account, and it was resolved to join the Miners'
National Association.

The next delegate meeting of importance was held in the Shakespeare
Hall, North Road, Durham. Mr J. Forman was now chairman (although
still continuing to live at Roddymoor)--Mr Crawford being appointed
secretary, Mr Wilkinson treasurer, and Mr Patterson agent. The matter
under discussion was the wage settlement, some dissatisfaction being
manifested at the difference between the men underground and those at
bank, and a report was made of the first case settled by arbitration.
This was at the Lizzie Colliery, the arbitrators being T. Taylor-Smith
and Mr W. Crawford.


With the Council meeting held on Tuesday, March 26th, 1872, by the
election of Mr Forman as president and Mr Crawford as secretary, and
the regular meetings with the employers being recognised, we have the
Association fully and solidly established. Before we proceed further
it will be in natural order if we take a short glance at the men who
were at the head of it. There is no need to enlarge upon them; a bare
outline will be sufficient. The first in prominence and force was Mr
W. Crawford. When appointed he was outside the county, but owing to
his having been secretary of the combined counties he was known to the
Durham men as an able and forcible Trades Unionist. When the
separation between the two counties took place he was engaged as
secretary of the Northumberland Association. This post, says Fynes in
his history, he filled "with great ability until June 1865, and made
himself a great favourite in Northumberland, but he then left the
Association in order to take the secretaryship of the Cowpen
Co-operative Store at Blyth." Mr Burt was elected to succeed him. In
1870, when Mr Crawford applied for the position of agent in Durham, he
was selected from a number of candidates. It was at this time that the
writer had the pleasure of making his acquaintance, and had large
opportunities of forming an estimate of his ability. Never had any man
more force of character or more executive power. His individuality
was very large. He had no love for platform work, and the love for
that sphere lessened as he grew older; but he had no superior and few
equals in his grasp of, and power to find a solution of, the peculiar
difficulties and complications which arise in an occupation like the
miners. He was a solver of difficulty and a manager of men, and in
every way fitted for the post of secretary of a trades organisation.
From his appointment to his death he filled it with a skill few men
can command.

_N. Wilkinson_, the first treasurer of the Association, had worked at
Trimdon Grange as a fireman. At the date of his appointment he was
earning a living by tea selling, having lost his employment on account
of his Trades Union principles. His first appointment was temporary,
and when elected permanently he was living at Coxhoe. As soon as the
Union was fairly started he was made treasurer permanently, and so
acted till 1882. As a speaker he was of a blunt, straightforward
order. As Othello says: "His was a round unvarnished tale and he told
it right on." At the commencement, when announced on the bills it was
as "Nicky Wilkinson," and no man could be in the least doubt but that
when he spoke to them on the Union and its usefulness it was from the
heart. As a man in those stern and trying times he was, as those who
were his colleagues would testify, a man upon whom they could depend
in any testing circumstances.

_Mr J. Forman._--He was the first regular chairman. At the time of his
appointment he was checkweighman at Roddymoor, and when spoken of it
was as "Forman of Roddymoor." He came from Northumberland to Annfield
Plain when a young man. He acted as president of the Association for a
time, and followed his occupation as checkweighman; then in 1874 he
was appointed a permanent official, and removed to Durham. He
continued in that position until his death on the 2nd of September
1900, at the age of seventy-seven. He was an ideal president. It is
not saying too much--his superior could not be found. The fact of his
appointment to that position indicated the prominent part he took in
the formation of the Union. He was more of an adviser than a platform
speaker. He preferred a quiet, retiring life in which he could be
useful rather than ornamental. Although shunning public notoriety he
was no shirker when danger demanded the presence of men, for in all
the explosions which happened during the term of his office he was one
of the foremost; and almost single-handed he stood out for the dust
theory when men of noted scientific knowledge were against him.

_W. H. Patterson._--His life's work, from start to finish, was the
most conclusive testimony as to the sincerity of his purpose. There
were men then, as now, whose motive is the loaves and fishes, willing
to gather where they strew not and reap where they have not sown; but
Patterson was not one of these. From the time when, but a mere boy
living at Windy Nook, he threw himself into the work, with earnestness
and energy, until his death, when a comparatively young man, he
devoted himself and the best he could give to the establishment of and
care for the Union. When it prospered no man was more cheerful, and
when dark times came upon it his sorrow was genuine and large. He was
not a Crawford (few were), yet for persistent plodding he was equal
to any. With youthful buoyancy, and a heart full of desire and
determination, he was the very man for the position in which he was
placed. It would have been a useful addition to our own literature if
he had placed on record the hardships he, with "Tommy Ramsey" endured
in 1870-72. They lodged many a time in a room the walls of which were
the horizon and the lamps the stars above them. Money was not
plentiful, and it was not every person who dared to take an agitator
in to lodge. It was in many quarters considered a crime almost
deserving of capital punishment.

"_Tommy Ramsey._"--What can be said of "Tommy"? He was a most perfect
type of an old school miner, and a sound Trades Unionist, one of the
heroes of '44. There are numbers of men in the county who will
remember the rugged old warrior in the noble cause, just as the
picture hanging in the Hall describes him--a rough but true diamond of
the first water. With bills under his arm and crake in hand he went
from row to row announcing the meetings and urging the men to attend.
His words were few, but forcible; not polished, but very pointed--and
they went home. Like Longfellow's arrow shot in the air, they found a
resting-place. He had one speech, the peroration of which was
something like the following:--"Lads, unite and better your condition.
When eggs are scarce, eggs are dear; when men are scarce, men are
dear." It was impossible to miss the meaning in those words. Their
simplicity was their greatest eloquence. His work was far from
pleasant or safe. The writer of this was witness of a brutal attack on
the old man by a bully who would disgrace any place in which he
lived. This antipodes of a man, to curry favour with the manager, and
to please those who bought him body and what soul he had, ill used
Ramsey, and burnt his crake. At the subsequent meeting Crawford was
wild in his denunciations. The words still ring in my ears. Brave old
"Tommy" cared not; he got a new crake, and turned it with more
emphasis. Grand old Ramsey, you are right now; if not, many of us have
a poor chance. You in your way, in accordance with your ability, tried
to open the prison doors to those who were bound, and to stir up a
love of freedom in the breast of those who were in willing slavery.

[Illustration: T. RAMSEY]


This was fourfold, and it may be interesting to look at these
_seriatim_. The first was not in the least unexpected. At that time
Capital and Labour were looked upon as being natural enemies, and all
their relations were on that principle. We see now how foolish is that
idea. Then conflict and doubt formed the atmosphere which surrounded
the two great parties in the industrial world. If men having common
interest joined themselves, in order that they might act for the
common welfare, the leaders were to be dealt with harshly, and if
necessary banished. It was no infrequent occurrence, when the spirit
of Union was abroad, for men to be driven away from localities they
loved and from associations endeared by years of enjoyment. This was
done with the view that terror might be struck into the hearts of
others. The principle was: Drive away the shepherd and the sheep will
flee. So much was that spirit abroad that in many places the
establishment of the Permanent Relief Fund was treated coldly,
obstacles thrown in its way, if not bitterly opposed, because it was
regarded as the thin edge of the Union wedge. What more natural than
for fierce opposition to rear itself, with threats for the braver
spirits, and bribes and allurements for those whose nature was
susceptible to such influences? Ale-houses were used as a means for
preventing Unionism taking root and spreading. The sorrow of it is
there have always been spirits who are ready to act meanly when

This opposition was, therefore, to meet and bear down and convince
that a trades organisation was not an institution prone to evil, and
set up for no other purpose. The men who are alive to-day, and who
took part in that opposition, would, we may assert with confidence,
confess their mistake if they were interviewed on the subject.

Then the law was against the Trades Unionists. We complain now, but
they had more reason in those days. We must lift ourselves into the
condition of things prior to the 1875 Act, which did a great deal
towards equalising the positions of the employer and employed. The
Master and Servants Act, with all its one-sided applications, was in
force. For a long time an agitation was carried on for its repeal, but
after twenty years the only result was the appointment of a select
committee to inquire into the operation of the law. The law was very
unequal. It had been framed on the principle that the workman alone
was inclined to do wrong, and therefore wanted hedging in and
punishing. In the year 1865 there were 1100 arrests under the Act
in the country. Eight hundred of the accused were sent to prison. An
Amending Act was passed in 1867, but between that time and 1875, 774
were convicted. "The state of the law was simply infamous. Its
provisions made it a criminal act if a workman broke a contract, even
under the most justifiable circumstances. He was arrested by warrant,
and if the breach of contract was proved the magistrate was bound to
inflict the punishment of imprisonment with hard labour. If, on the
other hand, the employer broke the contract, ever so flagrantly, he
could only be summoned by a civil process, and his punishment was
simply a fine."

[Illustration: J. H. VEITCH]

Then they were hindered by a system of boycotting before the word
became proverbial. It was not merely difficult, but impossible in some
places to get a meeting-place. The writer knows of one colliery where
a place could not be got. Even the co-operative hall was closed
against the Union, and the Union money had to be taken in the corner
of a field. Beyond this, in Durham the printers refused to do the
Union printing--all except Mr J. H. Veitch, who dared almost social
ostracism and took the work, and the connection then formed has
continued up till now. The refusal arose from two reasons--first,
there was a fear that the Union would not be able to pay for the
printing; and second, Trades Unions were in bad odour in the county
generally, and none the less in Durham. There was none of the
respectability about the institutions there is now, and little hope of
them. Broadheadism at Sheffield, with its destructive policy, had
filled men's minds with fear. The form of reasoning was: "Trades
Unions are guilty of these evil things; this is a Trades Union,
therefore it will be guilty of doing evil." Just as logical as if a
man had said: "Murder is committed in England; these people are
English, therefore they will commit murder." Mr J. H. Veitch (all
honour to him) had none of those fears, nor that false logic. He took
the work when social ostracism was in the air. We cannot forget the
act nor the man.

Another great obstacle against which they had to contend was a host of
anonymous writers, who wrote behind a variety of _nom de plumes_--such
as "Geordie Close," which covered W. P. Shield, and "Jacky Close," but
none under their own names. These writers used the most scurrilous and
slanderous language about, and attributed the vilest motives to the
men who were at the head of the movement. The situation was a complete
analogue to that when Nehemiah commenced to build the walls of
Jerusalem. Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem laughed him to scorn, and
despised him, and said: "What is this thing that ye do; will ye rebel
against the king?" But as those sneerers in the far-off Jewish times
had no effect on the builders of that day, so in those days the
founders of our Association, the builders of our broken walls, heeded
not those snarlers of thirty-six years ago, and the result is an
all-round benefit.

The greatest of all the species of opposition they had to meet arose
from the apathy and indifference of the people. Although the condition
was bad in the extreme, yet often the earnest spirits and others
scattered about the county had to ask each other, in the query of the
prophet: "Who hath believed our report?" The state of apathy was
quite natural. It was not because there was no real love of Union; it
was the outcome of repeated failures. "Hope deferred maketh the heart
sick." There had been spasmodic attempts at associated effort. The
result was a feeling of hopelessness. Like men of whom we read in
waterlogged ships or analogous situations on land, having tried oft to
save themselves, they give up in despair, and say "Kismet," like an
Eastern fatalist. The hold this feeling had on the mind is seen in the
small results for a considerable time after the Association commenced.
A thousand or two was their whole membership, their council was their
committee as well, and the numbers so small that a room in an ordinary
hotel could with ease contain them. At their meetings, sparse in
attendance, they were often insulted and sometimes maltreated by the
men they had come to help.

In this alone there was sufficient to deter them, and to lead men of
talent and energy (such as they were) to turn themselves to other
objects in life; but they loved their class, and, while they had
aspirations for better conditions, they desired to raise their fellows
with themselves. Any one of them could have made a position in other
directions if their aims had been selfish; but they were men of
different mould, and they were inspired by the love of the cause, and
confident in its ultimate success if once they could clear away the
dark pessimism which had fixed itself in the minds of the workmen. For
this they endured the hardship and faced the opposition, until finally
men saw the solidity and permanency of their work, with the result
that the institution they founded occupies a rightly deserved
foremost place among Trades Unions.


   The Coal Owners' Association--The Abolition of the Bond--First
   general Advance--Formation of the Joint Committee--First Gala--Mines
   Regulation Act--Second Advance

_The Coal Owners' Association._--One of the results of the formation
of the organisation was the commencement of the Durham Coal Owners'
Association. There had been an association under the name of "The
North of England United Coal Trade Association," but its functions
were vastly different from those of the present organisation. Then the
sphere of operations was parliamentary and legal, but the new body was
formed for trade purposes. The first meeting to consider such a step
was held on February 1st, 1872. There was an adjournment for a
fortnight, when a set of rules was submitted setting forth the
conditions of membership, contributions, the assistance to be
rendered, and the appointment of officers. The chairman and
vice-chairman were respectively Hugh Taylor and W. Stobart, and the
secretary was T. W. Bunning. No sooner was the Association formed than
communications were opened with the Miners' Association, as the
following letter will show:--

 Neville Hall, Coal Trade Office, Newcastle-on-Tyne, _Feb. 5th, 1872._

 Mr Crawford, my dear Sir,--I am directed to inform you that, at a
 large meeting of the representatives of the household coal collieries,
 held here last Saturday, it was resolved--

 That it is considered desirable that a meeting should be held between
 the coal owners and a deputation of the representatives of the
 workmen, at one o'clock on Saturday, the 17th instant, at the Coal
 Trade Office, to discuss the various questions now in agitation by
 the workmen, with a view to their adjustment, and that a copy of this
 resolution be forwarded to Mr Crawford.

 Will you be as kind as to acknowledge the receipt of this letter, and
 let me have the names of the deputation who will attend.

 I beg to remain, dear Sir, very respectfully yours,



    (Back Row).--N. WILKINSON.


    T. RAMSEY.
    J. FORMAN.

    (Front Row).--W. ASKEW.

    (_President and Secretary._)

    J. HANDY.

 The First Deputation from the Durham Miners' Association to the Coal
 Trade Office, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, February 17, 1872]

There were about a score of representatives of the employers present
during the meeting, while ten delegates, representing 20,000 workmen,
took part in the conference on the latter's behalf.

Mr Hugh Taylor occupied the chair, and the delegates were introduced
by Mr Crawford. The first question for discussion by the conference
was then brought forward--viz. the yearly bindings.

At the outset the employers intimated that they were perfectly willing
to abolish the bond, and establish in its place either monthly or
fortnightly agreements, giving preference to the former. The workmen's
delegates at once intimated their readiness to abolish the yearly
bond, and thanked the masters most kindly for the manner in which they
had met them on that question. The men proposed in the place of the
yearly bond to establish a fortnightly agreement, and it was
ultimately decided to discuss the terms of the agreement at a second
meeting to be held shortly.

The next matter was the question of the hours of boy labour, but
after a short conversation it was also agreed to allow this question
to stand over until the second meeting. The next question was with
reference to an advance of wages. On this point the owners admitted
that the men ought to share the present prosperous condition of the
trade, the only difference of opinion that arose being what that share
ought to be. The employers were of opinion that they and the men ought
to meet as two associations--the combined masters on the one side and
the combined workmen on the other--and discuss the question as to what
would be fair to both parties. It was suggested at the same time that
any advance asked or conceded should be based on prices in force at
bound and unbound collieries of the county of Durham in April 1871. On
the part of the employers it was pointed out that a great many
collieries had at the present time presented petitions for an advance
of wages, and in some cases they had intimated their decision of
laying the pits idle in case their demands were not conceded, and it
was now suggested that the delegates from the workmen present should
do their utmost to get the petitions placed in abeyance until the next
conference was held. This was readily agreed to, and the meeting then

It is satisfactory to note that during the continuance of the
conference a most pleasant and amicable feeling prevailed on both

The Association being formed and officered preparation was made for
the removal of grievances. The first to which attention was turned was
the abolition of the "Yearly Bond." For a long time there had been a
protest against the system of partial slavery implied in a contract
covering a year. The system was as follows:--On a Saturday near the
20th of March the whole of the workmen were called to the colliery
office, and there the manager would read over (nearly always in tones
inaudible to all except those who were close to him) the conditions of
labour for the next twelve months. There was usually a balancing of
the prices. As an inducement to the men there was, say, a sovereign
given to the first man bound, ten shillings to the second, five
shillings to the third, and then two shillings and sixpence to every
man after. The crush to secure the first place was generally so great
that the manager was fortunate if he were not carried off his feet. As
a preparation for this rush certain men would be bribed to incite, and
thus induce men to act in an unthinking manner.

This bare outline will suffice to show the evil of the "Bond," and
that it was a wise step on the part of the newly-formed organisation
to attempt to substitute a shorter term of contract. The first meeting
for that purpose between the employers and workmen was held on
February 17th, 1872. As this was the first united meeting in a series
which has been for the benefit of all concerned it will be interesting
to place on record the letter from the employers inviting the
representatives of the Miners' Association to meet them. Of course,
the employers were made aware of the desire amongst the people for
this and other reforms, and that knowledge induced them to arrange
matters amicably if possible. Another thing was in favour of the
workmen: not only was their Union gathering strength, but the state of
trade was in their favour. One result of the war between France and
Prussia was to increase the demand for British coal, the result being
a coal famine and excessive prices. The old pit heaps even were sent
away, and a common saying at the time was: "Anything black was sold
for coal." A conflict, therefore, would have been a dangerous and
destructive thing.

(_First General Advance_)


(_Durham Chronicle Account_)

   Agreeably to an arrangement made at the conference between the
   colliery owners and the miners' delegates held on the 17th inst. an
   adjourned meeting between the two bodies took place on Saturday at
   the Wood Memorial Hall, Newcastle. There was a large attendance of
   the masters, Mr Hugh Taylor, Chipchase, being in the chair. Mr W.
   Crawford, President of the Durham Miners' Mutual Confident
   Association, acted as principal spokesman for the miners' delegates,
   who were eight in number.

   It will be remembered that at the last meeting the masters agreed to
   the abolition of the yearly bond, and the first question, therefore,
   taken into consideration at the present conference, was the nature of
   the future agreement between the masters and the men. On the one
   hand, the employers suggested monthly notices on both sides; but the
   men on the other hand were unanimous in the request for a fortnightly
   notice, with the option of either giving or receiving the same on any
   day except Sunday. After some discussion, the masters acceded to the
   wishes of the men on this point. The next question taken into
   consideration was the advance in pay demanded by the men.

   A proposition for an increase of 35 per cent. on all prices paid in
   April last was submitted by the delegates, who, in answer to
   questions by the owners, admitted that the advance requested appeared
   to be a large one, but they urged that it was made in consequence of
   the low rate of remuneration received by the miners of the county at
   the time referred to.

   To this advance the owners objected on the ground that it was

   They also urged that for several years past coal had been low in the
   market, and the working of pits had been unremunerative, and
   submitted that it was unfair on the part of the workmen, when a
   slightly better price had been obtained, to make an exorbitant
   demand. They also pointed out that the advance asked for was greatly
   in excess of that obtained by the miners in other parts of the
   country. To this argument the delegates replied that they were of
   opinion that the advance asked for was not greater than the excessive
   profits of the masters would allow to pay; in fact they only wanted a
   reasonable ratio of the profits made by their labour, and they were
   also of opinion that the 35 per cent. advance would not place the
   miners of the county of Durham on an equality with the workmen of
   other counties. After some further discussion, the delegates
   intimated that they would be satisfied, if the owners did not feel
   disposed to give the increase asked for, with the average score price
   paid in Northumberland and South Yorkshire. They were willing, if the
   masters would divide the two last mentioned counties into four
   quarters each, and would select, according to arrangement, two
   collieries from each of the eight quarters, to accept the averages of
   the prices paid at the sixteen collieries as the standard scale in
   the county of Durham. The owners, after hearing this proposition,
   asked the deputation if the average would be accepted by the men at
   those collieries in the county who were at present working for only 5
   per cent. less than the proposed standard. The delegates replied that
   every such colliery would accept the average if the masters would
   give it to the men of those collieries who were at present working
   for 50 per cent. less than the average named.

   After some further discussion the delegates retired. On being called
   back into the room they were informed by the chairman that the owners
   did not think it was desirable to go to either Northumberland or
   South Yorkshire for an average, as they were of opinion that they
   were quite competent to manage their own affairs; and that they had
   agreed, in a spirit of conciliation, to offer an advance of 20 per
   cent. on all prices over and above all consideration money paid on
   April last.

   The deputation stated that they had no authority to accept the offer
   of the owners, but they would in due course communicate it to the
   general body of the men. The conference shortly afterwards broke up.

The day fixed for a meeting on this question was the 2nd of March. In
the meantime a special Council meeting was held in the Town Hall,
Durham, Mr W. Crawford, as President, occupying the chair. There were
present 160 delegates, and the members represented were about 20,000.
The business was the discussion of the matters to come before the
employers and the appointment of a deputation to attend the meeting.

The adjourned conference was held on Thursday, March 21st, and for the
purpose of giving a proper knowledge I herewith record the press
report from _The Durham Chronicle_.


   Another conference between the Durham coal owners and a deputation of
   the workmen of the county took place on Thursday sennight in the Wood
   Memorial Hall, Newcastle. The chair was occupied by Mr J. B. Simpson,
   Low Hedgefield, and there was a good attendance of the
   representatives of the owners, the deputation being, as at previous
   meetings, headed by Mr W. Crawford. Before proceeding to the disposal
   of the questions for which the conference had been convened, it was
   intimated to the deputation that Haswell Colliery was idle. It was
   explained that the workmen at that colliery had received an advance
   of 6d. per score on last April's prices in November last, and they
   now wanted an advance of 20 per cent. on that concession. A telegram
   was also produced which intimated that a strike on the same ground
   had occurred that morning at Castle Eden Colliery. The course adopted
   by these two collieries was utterly opposed to the arrangement which
   had been made between the two Associations of employers and workmen
   at their conference, and the representatives of the former body
   intimated that if such constant violations of the arrangements
   arrived at at these interviews were to continue, it would be better
   to break off all negotiations at once, and each side follow its own
   policy. The members of the deputation expressed their utter surprise
   and utter ignorance of the events that had occurred at the collieries
   named, the first intimation of which they had received was at that
   meeting, and they desired to be allowed a private consultation before
   they proceeded further. After a short consultation in private, the
   deputation drew up the following telegram, the substance of which
   they communicated to the employers:--

      We regret to hear that Haswell and Castle
      Eden Collieries are idle.

      You must know that you are wrong, and we
      strongly advise you to commence work to-morrow,
      otherwise steps will be taken to repudiate
      such reprehensible conduct, and if
      necessary the strongest action will be taken in
      the matter.

   This was deemed satisfactory, and the conference then proceeded to
   the business which had drawn them together--viz. the remuneration of
   the offhanded men and boys. The employers stated that they had agreed
   to give all offhanded men and boys who work underground 20 per cent.
   advance on last April's prices, the same as they had conceded to the
   hewers. To the men who work above ground--viz. to the cinder drawers,
   joiners, blacksmiths, firemen, screenmen, and banksmen, and all other
   men and boys, with the exception of the enginemen and a few rare
   cases of cinder drawers--they offered an advance of 12½ per cent.
   on last April's prices.

   The deputation, while expressing their perfect satisfaction with the
   underground men and boys' advance, suggested the propriety of the
   same advance being extended to all those men, as enumerated, who work
   above bank. On the part of the employers, however, it was stated that
   the reason only 12½ per cent. was offered to the above-bank men
   was that a reduction of 8 per cent. in their working hours had been
   conceded; and further that their work was not of so risky and
   dangerous a nature as that of the underground men, and also that
   there was always a superabundance of men willing to work on the
   screens, and to do other work above bank. After a conversation, the
   terms offered by the employers for both descriptions of men were

The report of the interview was given to a delegate meeting, Mr
Crawford again presiding. The number of delegates was very large. The
points under discussion were the two offers contained in the report
above. It was agreed that the offer of the owners should be accepted,
with the understanding that it come into operation at once.

This was the whole of the important business discussed.

It will serve no useful purpose to deal with every local strike, they
are incidental to the main course. Mention will only be made when any
incident cognate to the general purpose be connected with them. With
that idea in view I refer to the strike at Seaham. This strike
commenced on Monday, 17th May. The main causes of the stoppage were
the length of the hours of the hewers and the time when the shifts
should be worked. The hours of the putters had been reduced from
twelve to ten, the pit at the time being a single or day shift. With
the reduction of the hours the employers wanted to arrange for two
shifts of putters and three shifts of hewers. Against this the workmen
not only protested, but stopped work without notice. Two things are
noticeable, and of interest to us. We have the first breach of
discipline, and the first instance of censure of the general
officials, because, in accordance with the obligations of their
office, they enforced the rules of the Association, and candidly and
clearly told the men their opinion.

The cause of complaint with reference to Mr Crawford and the
officials of the Union, was a telegram sent to the lodge, which, with
slight verbal variation, has formed the model of all sent since under
the same circumstances. It read as follows:--"Do go to work. You must
know you are wrong. You will get no support. Liable to punishment. Do
return." For sending that message Mr Crawford was subject to some very
scurrilous remarks at the meetings which were held in connection with
the strike. These remarks called forth a public reply. In the press of
that day is found a letter which contains an unflinching and manly
statement of the facts of the case: the cause of the strike, the
illegal position of the men, and an extenuation of the action of
himself and his colleagues. I quote the concluding words. After
pointing out how expeditious the agents had been in their attendance
to the matter in dispute, how they (the men) were striking against
their own agreement, how he had been vilified, and how his views were
still unchanged, he wrote:

   The report of yesterday's proceedings at Seaham Colliery has not
   changed my views on this matter. I repeat it, the men are in the
   wrong, and even liable to punishment. A miner characterised the
   telegram as an insult to the men at that colliery. Of this I have not
   the slightest doubt. I have recently been accused of both insults and
   incivility; and why? Because, as in the case of Seaham, my opinion
   has been asked, or advice sought, and where such opinion or advice
   has been adverse to their own preconceived ideas of right or wrong,
   and they have been told so decisively but courteously, then I became
   uncivil! These are the men who can prate about liberty of speech and
   freedom of action, and yet, because they are supposed to subscribe
   their mite towards a person's maintenance,--every penny of which is
   doubly worked for,--would only allow his tongue to utter words in
   accordance with their own crude and contracted views, even though
   such words were a mere utterance of the most glaring untruths, and a
   flagrant violation of all the rules now in operation as between
   masters and servants in their respective relations to each other. I
   willingly admit that these are but a small minority among the 30,000
   members now composing our Association. From the men I have received
   the utmost consideration, demonstrating by their conduct, that they
   will give to those whom they employ that treatment which they would
   like to receive from those by whom they themselves are employed. I
   commenced my present agency amongst the miners of Durham on May 16th,
   1870. From then, till now, I have done my utmost to protect and
   further their interests in a fair and equitable manner. Where I have
   deemed the doings of owners or agents to be wrong, I have not been
   slow to condemn them, and what I have done will do again; and where I
   have found the workmen to be wrong, I have pursued the same course,
   unhesitatingly making known my views without the slightest
   hesitation. If any man or number of men are mean and cowardly enough
   to think that I shall sit and become a mere machine of repetition, I
   beg to clearly intimate that they are sadly mistaken. I shall retain
   my individuality intact, holding myself free to unreservedly express
   my opinion of all matters which in any way may effect the welfare of
   our Association, being always willing to retrace my steps, if shown
   wherein I am wrong; but holding on, amid the folly of fools and the
   abuse of knaves, if convinced that I am right. And in conclusion,
   allow me to say that, if such doings are not in keeping with those
   of the men, the sooner I am replaced the better.

A Council meeting was held on the 25th of May in the Town Hall,
Durham. The only thing of note was a proposition for the establishment
of an institution for the benefit of old men. Nothing definite was
done in the matter. After discussing it the Council decided to refer
the matter to the Executive Committee, with instructions to draw up a
plan or plans to be submitted to the county for acceptance or
rejection. In this we have the germ which eventually developed,
through the Permanent Relief Fund, into the Superannuation Fund, which
has been such a blessing to hundreds of aged miners in the northern

On Saturday, June 1st, an important conference was held between the
coal owners and a deputation of representatives of the Association.
The deputation consisted of J. Forman (President), W. Crawford
(Secretary), W. H. Patterson (Agent), N. Wilkinson (Treasurer), T.
Mitcheson, Coundon, M. Thompson, Murton, G. Jackson, and H. Davison,
Thornley. The first question was the dispute at Seaham and the night
shift in general. There was a long discussion, and eventually the
employers promised not to commence any more night-shift pits unless it
were a case of absolute necessity. The conference next turned its
attention to the first rank for pony putters. The proposal of the men
was that the distance should be 100 yards. It will be as well to say
here that afterwards the distance was fixed at that number of yards.

The next subject was as to how many tubs should constitute a score.
There was no uniformity in the county. Although twenty of anything is
generally reckoned a score, yet at some collieries it was as high as
twenty-five. The object was to reduce it to twenty, and the deputation
was willing to rearrange the prices wherever the number was reduced.
The owners thought it unwise to alter the arrangements, and suggested
an adjournment, which was agreed to.

The last question was the arrangement of a uniform time for the
foreshift men to go down. The custom varied; at some places it was as
early as one or two in the morning. The hour named by the
representatives of the workmen was from four o'clock. The employers
had no very strong objection, except that of interfering with other
classes of labour--such as cokemen, waiters-on, and others who would
have to commence later, and therefore be later at work. The deputation
replied by instancing the Peases firm, where the system had been
introduced and was working satisfactorily. The employers asked for
time to consult the trade, and promised to inform the coal trade how
emphatic the workmen were in their desire for the change.


Beyond this gala, which may be truly classed as the first, there will
not be any need to mention the yearly gatherings in this history. Its
importance compels notice. Important it was, for two reasons--first,
its place in the series; and second, because of the public feeling,
and in many quarters fear, which was felt as to the consequence of
bringing such a large number of the miners and massing them in the
city. As showing the state of feeling I will insert a portion of an
article which appeared in _The Durham Chronicle_ for Friday, June
14th, 1872.

   The coming demonstration has occasioned not a few timid residents
   much uneasiness during the past few days, on account, as they
   imagine, of the extreme likelihood of the affair resulting in a scene
   of riot and disorder, and two or three nervous females in business in
   the town have so far given way to their fears that they have actually
   consulted their friends as to the propriety of closing their shops in
   order to protect their persons and property from "those horrid
   pitmen!" Even the borough magistrates, too, seem to have had an idea
   that the dog-fighting and pitch-and-toss portion of the mining
   community was going to be introduced into the city by the approaching
   gathering, for they declined when first requested to grant the usual
   licences to the proprietors of the refreshment booths. A full meeting
   of the borough magistrates was, however, subsequently held, and the
   Bench after hearing a statement from Mr Crawford, the principal agent
   of the Durham Miners' Association, relative to the object of the
   miners in assembling together agreed to issue the required
   certificates. For our own part, we have not the slightest doubt of
   the proceedings being characterised by anything but the best of
   feeling and order on the part of the men taking part in the
   demonstration, which we are sure is intended to partake more of the
   character of a monster "outing" of a class of men whose only desire
   is to discuss amongst themselves the best means of improving, in a
   rational and legal manner, their condition, rather than an assemblage
   of either political or social conspirators and agitators. Almost the
   worst contingency, however, has been anticipated, as there will be a
   force of 40 policemen on the ground, the expense of the attendance of
   20 of whom will be borne by the Miners' Association, whilst the
   remuneration of the remaining 20 will be defrayed from the funds of
   the borough watch rate.

In addition to this, many tradesmen barricaded their shop windows, and
an urgent request was made to the Mayor to have soldiers in readiness.
Mr J. Fowler stood in defence. His reply was characteristic, but
correct: "I know the pitmen better than you, and there is no fear." He
was borne out by the proceedings, which were in the highest degree
satisfactory. The first part of the procession came in at 7.30 A.M.,
and from first to last the most complete good order obtained. There
were in all 180 collieries present--the membership of the Association
being 32,000. The speakers were A. M'Donald, then President of the
National Association of Miners; W. Brown, Stafford; and T. Burt,
Northumberland. The local speakers were W. Crawford, W. H. Patterson,
H. Davison (Thornley), N. Wilkinson, T. Mitcheson, G. ("General")
Jackson, T. Ramsey, and W. Askew. The following resolutions were

   1. The change which during the past twelve months has taken place in
   the position of the Durham Miners' Association, both numerically and
   financially, ought to be encouraging to all who take an interest in
   its welfare. During that period differences, as in other places,
   have arisen; but, so far, they have been managed without a single pit
   having been stopped, or the loss of any work whatever. This is a
   condition of things which, taken all together, ought to give the
   utmost satisfaction to all parties concerned.

   2. This meeting begs to utter its indignant protest against the
   action of the Select Committee in the way they have amended the
   Payment of Wages Bill. It at the same time most earnestly calls upon
   Government to restore it to its original form by amendment whilst it
   is under the consideration of the committee of the whole House. It
   further begs to state that no measure will be satisfactory to the
   miners of the county of Durham that does not contain payment of wages
   weekly without any reduction whatever.

   3. That this meeting also has learnt with surprise that it has been
   stated that the miners of Durham do not want weekly payment of their
   wages, and that they are not aggrieved with the present reduction.
   They beg to give the statement, by whomsoever made, an unqualified

   4. This meeting likewise looks upon the Criminal Law Amendment Act of
   1871 as an insult to the working classes of this country. It at the
   same time pledges itself to every legal means to have the law
   repealed or so modified as that all classes in the country will be
   alike in the eye of the law.

   5. That this meeting regards arbitration as a logical way of settling
   those differences which in trade necessarily arise between employers
   and employed. Arbitration recognises the right of both parties to put
   forth views, and leads to examination or investigation, which tends
   to avoid strikes and lockouts, with all their commercial ruin and
   social misery. It has now for a short time been in operation amongst
   the miners of Durham, and we are able to speak to beneficial
   results; and we most heartily wish to have a continuance and
   extension of the principle.

   6. That a copy of the foregoing resolutions be sent to the Prime
   Minister and Home Secretary.

With this all too brief reference we must leave this, our first
race-course gathering. If anyone be desirous of reading a very full
description of the collieries attending, with their numbers on the
books, the banners with their inscriptions and designs, and the
speeches, let him refer to _The Durham Chronicle_ for June 21st of
that year. Suffice it here to say that the day was all that could be
desired. The old city was enlivened and its trade enhanced. The great
crowd came and went in good order. The fears of the fearful were shown
to be groundless, and the good behaviour initiated that day, amid the
firing of the cannons in Wharton Park, has never varied up to the last
of this series of gatherings. The cannons were fired at the expense of
T. Ramsey.


On Friday, the 12th of July 1872, a meeting took place between the
employers' and workmen's representatives. The meeting was arranged in
response to a request for an advance of fifteen per cent. on the rate
of wages. Mr H. Taylor occupied the chair. The deputation was headed
by Mr W. Crawford. At the outset of the meeting the owners complained
that the men were neglecting work to a very great extent, causing a
diminution in the output of not less than twenty per cent. as compared
with the previous twelve months. Statistics showed that the average
working time of the hewers was not more than eight days per fortnight.
That entailed heavy loss on the owners, and while such neglect of work
continued they could not grant the advance asked for, and they
suggested the propriety of having a clause inserted in all agreements,
that the men should be compelled to work at least thirty-five hours
per week before claiming the highest price paid at the colliery. That
meant the system of bonus money paid at many collieries, and the
deputation emphatically refused it, and said they were not asking
because of the state of trade only, but because of the very low
condition of their wages which had obtained in Durham for so long, and
which they hoped to raise, even if trade became depressed. The
deputation was asked to retire, and on their return were handed the
following resolution:--

   The Association [Owners'] has decided to give 10 per cent. advance to
   all underground workmen, including banking-out men; but excepting
   pony putters, who are to be dealt with after the putting question has
   been settled in Northumberland; and 7½ per cent. to the whole of
   the above-ground labour; enginemen, both above and below ground, to
   be excepted. This advance to be on present prices, and to date from
   the pay commencing nearest the first day of August.

This offer was brought before a special Council meeting held on
Saturday, the 13th, Mr John Forman presiding. The report of the
meeting with the employers was given by Mr Crawford, who went very
fully into the reasons why the advance of fifteen per cent. was
claimed. The Council adopted the following series of resolutions:--

   1. That in the opinion of this meeting we are more than justified in
   asking the 15 per cent. on present prices, which is being sought by
   our Association. There never was a time when the price of coals
   approximated to what they are at the present time, and in justice we
   believe that we ought to fully share in that increase and increasing
   prosperity. On the 8th day of the present month the following are
   quotations from the London Coal Market:--Kelloe, 26s. 3d.; South
   Hetton and Lambton, 27s.; and Hetton, 27s. 6d.

   Having seen coals sold in the same market for as little as 13s. per
   ton, or more than cent. per cent. less than now, we certainly
   conclude that we are more than justified in seeking 6d. or even 1s.
   out of 14s. or 15s. This being so, we abide by the 15 per cent. now
   being asked for all classes of workmen, above and below ground.

   2. That the owners be requested to meet our deputation on Friday next
   for the purpose of reconsidering the 15 per cent. advance, or if
   possible on a more early day.

   3. That this meeting deplores the oft-repeated statement of coal
   owners and others relative to the amount of work at present lost by
   the miners in the county of Durham. We cannot with our present
   knowledge admit the accuracy of these statements, but believe, on the
   contrary, that such statements are very greatly overdrawn, and thus
   an entire false impression is being conveyed to the public mind, and
   a positive injury done to a large body of men. We have again and
   again declared that in our opinion men ought to attend their work as
   regularly as possible, believing that to do so is for the benefit of
   themselves as well as the employers, and we again urge our members to
   be as regular as possible in their attendance at work, so as alike to
   benefit themselves and deprive all parties from so maligning them.

The adjourned meeting with the owners took place on Friday, July 19th,
when Mr H. Taylor again occupied the chair. The owners repeated their
complaint about the loss of work, and asked whether the deputation
were willing to give any guarantee that the men would in future work
more regularly. They could not give such a guarantee, but said their
Council meeting had agreed to recommend the men to work as regularly
as possible. With this assurance the owners then handed the following
resolution to the deputation:--

   We have decided to give 15 per cent. advance to all underground
   workmen--including banking-out men--except pony putters (who are to
   be dealt with after the putting question has been settled in
   Northumberland), and 10 per cent. to the whole of the above-ground
   workmen, enginemen (both above and below) excepted. This advance to
   be on present prices, and to date from pays commencing nearest to
   Monday the 22nd and Monday the 29th of July.

The deputation were not satisfied with the reservation as to the
putters, and after some further discussion it was agreed to make the
advance applicable to them as to the other underground workmen.


It will be interesting to give this important step in detail. It was
first mentioned in connection with certain meetings which were held
mainly on the wages question or the abolition of the yearly bond.
While discussing these matters Mr Crawford, on behalf of the
deputation, mentioned the advisability of forming a committee of six
on either side to consider local disputes and changes in wages. The
first formal action taken by the employers was on July 12th, 1872,
when the following resolution was adopted at their meeting:--

   JOINT COMMITTEE.--Mr Crawford was also informed that on the motion of
   Mr Lindsay Wood, seconded by Mr Hunter, a Committee consisting of the
   following gentlemen:--Hugh Taylor, W. Stobart, W. Hunter, C. Berkley,
   R. F. Matthews and Lindsay Wood had been appointed to meet a
   Committee from the Miners' Union, to draw up rules for guiding the
   Association in receiving demands from the workmen.

   It was arranged with Mr Crawford, that the Committee from the Miners'
   Union should meet the above-formed Committee at 10.30 on Friday, the
   19th inst.

The suggested meeting was held on 19th July, when the following
recommendation was agreed to:--

   JOINT COMMITTEE.--It was agreed to recommend--That six members of
   each Association should meet every fortnight and discuss all demands
   except cases of consideration in temporary bad places, the
   consideration to be given in such places to be settled from fortnight
   to fortnight by the agents of the collieries affected. All demands to
   come through Mr Crawford, who is to give the agents of the colliery
   and the Secretary of this Association, at least three clear days'
   notice of the nature of the demands that it is intended to prefer at
   the next meeting.

As a result of this recommendation a meeting was held on the 2nd of
August, and the first code of rules was arranged. The names of the
parties at the meeting are in the following list:--


    Hugh Taylor.
    W. Stobart.
    Lindsay Wood.
    John Taylor.
    J. B. Simpson.
    C. Berkley.
    P. Cooper.
    W. Hunter.
    R. F. Matthews.
    T. T. Smith.


    W. Crawford.
    W. H. Patterson.
    N. Wilkinson.
    J. Jackson.
    J. Forman.
    T. Mitcheson.

R. B. Sanderson occupied the chair. The following rules were agreed

   The object of the Committee shall be to arbitrate, appoint
   arbitrators, or otherwise settle all questions (except such as may be
   termed county questions or questions affecting the general trade)
   relating to matters of wages, practices or working, or any other
   subject which may arise from time to time at any particular colliery,
   and which shall be referred to the consideration of the Committee by
   the parties concerned. The Committee shall have full power to settle
   all disputes, and their decision shall be final and binding upon all
   parties in such manner as the Committee may direct.

   The Committee shall consist of six representatives chosen by the
   Miners' Union and six representatives chosen by the Coal Owners'

   At meetings of this Committee it shall be deemed that there shall be
   no quorum unless at least three members of each Association be

   Each meeting shall nominate its own chairman, who shall have no
   casting vote. In case of equality of votes upon any question, it
   shall be referred to two arbitrators, one to be chosen by the members
   of each Association present at the meeting. These arbitrators to
   appoint an umpire in the usual way.

   Each party to pay its own expenses. The expenses of the umpire to be
   borne equally by the two Associations.

   Should any alteration of or addition to these rules be desired,
   notice of such change shall be given at the meeting previous to its

   If any member of the Committee is directly interested in any question
   under discussion, he shall abstain from voting, and a member of the
   opposite party shall also abstain from voting.

   When any subject is to be considered by the Committee, the Secretary
   of the Association by whom it is brought forward shall give notice
   thereof to the Secretary of the other Association, at least three
   clear days before the meeting at which it is to be considered.

   The Committee to meet every alternate Friday at half-past eleven

The first meeting of Joint Committee was held on 16th August. The
members were:


    R. B. Sanderson, Chairman.
    C. Berkley.
    J. B. Simpson.
    J. Taylor.
    P. Cooper.
    R. F. Matthews.


    W. Crawford.
    W. H. Patterson.
    J. Forman.
    N. Wilkinson.
    J. Jackson.
    T. Mitcheson.

There were in all six cases, which, with their decisions, are as

    _August 16th, 1872._

   MURTON (_Stonemen_).--Demand for an advance of from 6d. to 8d. per
   day. To stand over for a fortnight to ascertain the average wages of
   the district.

   OAKENSHAW.--Demand for 1s. per score on the broken and a sliding
   scale similar to that in the whole. The 1s. per score in the broken
   was granted to date from (uncertain?).

   The sliding scale was waived by Mr Crawford and his Committee.

   SEAHAM.--Mr Matthews' report objected to,--referred, together with a
   question of removing bottom coal (Mr T. Taylor was chosen arbitrator
   by the Association); any concessions made by the arbitrators to date
   from Monday the 19th August.

   ETHERLEY.--Complaint that the banksmen and others have not received
   the different advances granted by the Association. Mr Lishman was
   desired to carry out the resolutions of the Association in their

   SOUTH DERWENT.--Complaint that the deputies have not got the 20 per
   cent. advance. Mr Dickenson, having stated the circumstances of the
   case and the wages paid, the complaint was withdrawn; it being
   considered that the deputies are fully in the receipt of the advances
   decided upon.

   WARDLEY.--Longwall skirting.--This turned upon the question as to
   whether it was intended by the arbitrators to include skirting in
   their award of the 25th March 1872, but it was decided that it was
   not so included, and that 8d. per yard extra should be given for

   SHIFTERS' WAGES.--Demand withdrawn.

   RAMBLE.--To be considered at the next meeting.

   It was agreed that full particulars of subjects to be discussed
   before the meeting should be given at least three clear days before
   the meeting.


In the session of 1871 a Mines Bill was under discussion, but was not
carried through its various stages. It was again introduced in the
session of 1872, and for a long time its fate was uncertain. Men from
all the districts were up lobbying on behalf of the Bill. Mr Crawford
was sent from Durham. A Council meeting was held on Saturday, 27th
July. While the meeting was in progress a telegram was received from
Mr Crawford as follows:--

   Crawford, London, to Mr John Forman, Town Hall, Durham.--Many hours
   in the Lords last night. Happily disappointed. Bill passed
   satisfactory. Weighing clause safe. Boys ten hours from bank to bank.

A vote of thanks was carried to Mr Crawford, the Government, and to
the Home Secretary for the able manner in which he had conducted the
Bill through Parliament.


At the ordinary Council meeting held on Saturday, 7th September, the
number of members reported was 35,000. Mr Crawford gave the result of
a conference which had taken place with the coal owners with respect
to another advance of fifteen per cent. Nothing definite had been
done, as the employers were indisposed to comply with the request,
and it was adjourned for a fortnight. That meeting was held on Friday,
September 27th, in Newcastle. The deputation was informed that the
subject had been fully considered. Coals were falling in price, the
demand was declining, and the commercial prospects were assuming a
more unfavourable aspect, and therefore they could not give any
further advance in wages. The meeting terminated, but the deputation
expressed their dissatisfaction with the result, and they were
supported in their objection by a Council which was held on Saturday,
September 28th, and they were instructed to again meet the employers.


   The Mines Act--The third Advance--Death of "Tommy" Ramsey--The
   drawing Hours--The second Gala--Advance in Wages

On January 1st the new Mines Act came into force. It is no part of
this history to enter into all the changes made by the new measure,
but there are three portions of it which deserve a brief notice--these
are the weighing of minerals, the position of the checkweighman, and
the hours of the boys.

The weighing of minerals clause was to provide against the "Rocking"
customs such as had obtained at the Brancepeth Collieries, and which
had caused the "Rocking" strike. The new Act set forth that:

   Where the amount of wages paid to any of the persons employed in a
   mine to which this Act applies depends on the amount of mineral
   gotten by them, such persons shall, after the first day of August
   one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, unless the mine is
   exempted by a Secretary of State, be paid according to the weight of
   the mineral gotten by them, and such mineral shall be truly weighed

The clause further provided for deductions and for exemptions by the
Secretary of State from the weighing clause if it were proved that the
exigencies of the mine warranted it. In a note to this section Mr
Maskell W. Peace, Solicitor to the Mining Association of Great
Britain, warned the employers that: "This is an entirely new
enactment. Care must be taken to provide the necessary machines for
carrying out the provisions by the 1st of August 1872."

The portion of the Act relating to the appointment of the
checkweighman was a great advance in the direction of freedom of
choice. Prior to this the choice of the workmen was confined to those
employed on the colliery subject to the confirmation of the manager,
and the man chosen was as liable to be discharged as any other of the
workmen for any reason. The new Act provided that one of the workmen
could be chosen either from the mine or under the firm. He need not be
sanctioned by the manager, and could only be removed "on the ground
that such checkweigher has impeded or interfered with the working of
the mine, or interfered with the weighing or has otherwise
misconducted himself." The last provision gave rise to some very
glaring removals for acts done away from the mine. These anomalies
were corrected by the Act of 1887.


There were two provisions in the new Act relating to the hours of
boys. One was for those between the ages of ten and twelve, and they
were for the purpose of employment in thin seams; their time was to be
for only "six hours in any one day." The other provision (which still
exists) was for boys between twelve and sixteen years. The weekly
hours were fixed at fifty-four. This latter provision was the cause of
some confusion, seeing the hours of drawing coal were twelve, and the
difficulty was to bring these boys away without interfering with that.

A very important Council was held in the Town Hall, Durham. There were
two questions before the meeting--first, the demand for fifteen per
cent. advance; and second, the working hours under the new Mines
Regulation Act. As stated in the review of the previous year, meetings
had been held on the advance in September, but the employers would not
give way, and asked us to wait. In consequence there was a very strong
feeling in the county which found expression at the Council. There was
some complaint that the Executive Committee had not been so energetic
in the matter as they ought to have been. Mr Crawford defended the
Committee. An attempt was made to increase the amount claimed to
thirty-five per cent., but in the end the original request was
confirmed. The question of the number of hours the pits should draw
coal was next considered. The employers were asking for eleven hours,
but this was felt to be difficult because of the Act in its
application to the boys under sixteen. There was a desire on the part
of many delegates that the coal drawing should be limited to ten.
During the discussion Mr Crawford said:

   No more important question could occupy their attention than that
   before the meeting. Not even the question of an advance exceeded it
   in importance, because whether or not that was given a great deal
   depended on how they settled the question of the hours. He might hold
   views very different to what were entertained by many in that room,
   but he was bound to state them. The question had occupied his
   attention, and he was of the opinion that the owners would be unable
   to keep the men fully employed for eleven hours. They had, however,
   requested to be allowed to work those hours, and they had a perfect
   right to do so if they could employ the men. At the same time, he did
   not believe they could keep the men employed during the last hour
   after the lads had gone to bank.

Eventually it was resolved that the employers should have the
unreserved right to draw coal eleven hours per day, providing they did
not violate the Mines Act relative to the boys under sixteen, nor keep
the men in the pit the last hour doing nothing.

The meeting with the employers on the advance was held on February
8th, Mr Hugh Taylor presiding. In a very long statement he reviewed
the state of the coal trade. He reminded the deputation that, although
there had been delay, there had not been any breach of faith. He
brought before them the question of short time, which was an evil not
only to those engaged in the coal trade, but to the country at large.
He urged again the request of the employers that there should be an
agreement binding men to work so many hours at the coal face. The
Mines Act had been passed. It did not satisfy anyone. All they asked
was that the men should do their duty. In the face of these
difficulties, but in the hope that the men would help them, they had
decided on an all-round advance of fifteen per cent.

There were some of the lodges who refused to carry out the eleven
hours' arrangement, and with a view to induce them to do so the
following circular was issued:--


   Fellow-workmen,--In the inauguration of any new system, difficulties
   always occur; whether these difficulties are easily overcome, or
   otherwise, will much depend on the manner and extent to which men, or
   classes, are affected thereby. As a matter of consequence, we have
   found these difficulties amongst ourselves in putting into operation
   the new "Mines Regulation Bill."

   These have arisen from various causes.

   We have, first, a very erroneous impression gone forth, to the
   effect, that after the commencement of the new Mines Bill, on the
   first day of the present year, no pit, or no person in a pit, must
   work more than 10 hours per day, or 54 hours in any one week. In the
   Minutes of Committee Meeting, held on the 4th inst., we clearly and
   distinctly stated that this view was a wrong one. We again beg to
   emphatically state that the law, in this particular, affects only
   boys under 16 years of age, and that so far as regards all parties
   above this age, matters remain identically as they have been. It
   would appear, however, that in the face of this intimation, some
   collieries of men are still insisting on the general adoption of the
   10 hours per day, and 54 hours per week. In addition to this, we have
   existing at many collieries, both where men work two and three shifts
   per day, difficulties as to what the working hours ought to be.

   Under these circumstances, the owners asked your deputation to meet
   them last week, for the purpose of discussing, and if possible
   arranging, some understood mode of action. This meeting took place,
   at Newcastle, on Friday last.

   The first question asked was, what objection we had to owners working
   their pits 11 hours per day, and 11 or 12 days per fortnight as
   usual, so long as they did not violate the Act of Parliament relative
   to boys under 16 years of age? After talking over the matter for a
   long time, we retired, and in consulting among ourselves, failed to
   see any reason why pits should not draw coals 11 hours per day as
   heretofore they had done. We returned and told them that we could see
   nothing to prevent them from working the pits 11 hours per day, if
   they thought desirable to do so, and they could find men or boys to
   bring the coals to bank; but that, in trying to carry this into
   effect, they must not keep men laying at their work for the last hour
   doing absolutely nothing, as, if such cases did occur, they would
   most certainly be complained of, and a remedy sought by an appeal to
   the Joint Committee, in which case they would be exposed to the
   entire county throughout.

   Respecting boys being brought into the pit an hour or two after work
   commences, or sent home an hour or two before the pit is done at
   night, we cannot see that any difficulties should exist. The question
   was asked, should a boy be sent home for the first 5 days, having
   worked less by far than the allotted 10 hours' per day, and such boy
   should purposely remain at home on the Saturday, would such boy claim
   his 5 days' pay, remembering that for 5 days he had worked short time
   for the very purpose of going to work on the Saturday? To this the
   owners demurred, when we suggested the desirability of seeing boys,
   or their parents, and making with them necessary arrangements.

   We may be told that the boys are sent home to suit the owner's
   convenience, but we must not forget, for whatever purpose sent home,
   that while they worked short time they were paid full hours, and we
   certainly cannot see the wisdom of preventing boys from receiving 6
   days' pay for working 54 hours, when, but a short time ago, they
   worked 66 hours for the same money.

   The employers, by Act of Parliament, are compelled to reduce the
   working hours of boys under 16 years of age, but we cannot expect
   them to reduce the hours of all datal men, if work can be found for
   them for the ordinary time. We must not lose sight of one very
   important fact, viz., that a reduction of working hours to those who
   are paid a datal wage means an advance of price, a reduction of
   hours, from 11 to 10 per day, is equal to 9 per cent., which
   practically means 9 per cent. advance, seeing that the productive
   powers are lessened by so much. In this manner it must be seen too,
   that no boy under 16 years of age is allowed to be in the pit more
   than 10 hours in any one single day, or 54 hours in any one week. If
   this is strictly seen to, a great work has been accomplished, and
   don't let us spoil that which is really good by trying to accomplish
   too much.

   Those lodges who object to the pit drawing coal 11 hours per day,
   ought to bear in mind that a reduction to 10 hours is a very serious
   curtailment in the drawing or producing powers of the pit, and as
   such only tends to lessen the power of owners to pay good wages. The
   profits arising from the produce of any article are up to a given
   quantity consumed in paying current expenses; and, therefore, the
   more the produce is restricted, the less means are there at command
   wherewith to pay all classes of workmen. The disadvantages arising
   from the operation of the new Mines Act must necessarily tell heavily
   on the mine owners in the two Northern Counties, where the
   double-shift system is worked, and it would be an act of
   imprudence--not to say injustice--and materially militate against our
   own interests, to increase drawbacks beyond an absolutely necessary
   point. We would, therefore, strongly urge on all our associated
   collieries to allow the employers (1) to work their pits 11 hours per
   day, where they can find men or boys to keep them going that time,
   without, of course, infringing the law, relative to boys under 16
   years of age. And (2) to allow boys to be sent home on one or more
   days, so as to make up six nine-hour shifts in the week. By this plan
   no workman can lose, while the boys would materially gain thereby.

   We have so far worked successfully, but that success has been
   greatly, if not altogether, owing to the caution we have exercised,
   and the general reasonableness of our requests, having at all times a
   respect for the right, while we have tried to bring into active
   operation the duties of capitalists. Let us not then mar that success
   by an imprudent or forward act of ours, particularly at a time when a
   change which must tell very severely on the interests of mine owners,
   and which, moreover, is of our own seeking, is just being introduced
   amongst us, and from which boys at least must gain immense

    By order of the Committee,
      Wm. Crawford, _Secretary_.

    Offices--16 North Road, Durham.
    _Jan. 20th, 1873._

While these questions were claiming and received the attention of Mr
Crawford and his colleagues a foul attack was made upon him by G.
("General") Jackson of Nettlesworth. He published a number of letters,
which were not very choice in language, but prolific in the lowest
form of abuse. He spoke of "that fellow Crawford," "that bully" who
was feathering his nest by defrauding. This went on until the
Executive came to the defence of Mr Crawford. They published a
circular, pointing out the false charges which had been made, and that
Jackson was a member of the Committee during the period in which he
alleged the misappropriation of money had taken place. They reminded
him of the neglect of duty implied in his not exposing such things
before, and ended the circular by saying: "Further this Committee begs
respectfully to say that they have the greatest esteem for their
secretary, Mr Crawford, and are fully convinced that he has always
acted in harmony with the highest principles of moral rectitude."

On Thursday, 8th of May, the first of the pioneers who crossed the
border line, "Tommy" Ramsey, died at the house of his brother at
Blaydon at the age of sixty-two. He was buried in the cemetery at
Blaydon on Monday, the 12th. The number of people attending his
funeral was a proof of the high esteem in which he was held.
According to the account there were fifty of the Trimdon miners, where
he worked last, present, while from collieries around Durham large
numbers also attended. The procession was headed by the Blaydon Main
banner. We have made a note about him, as one of the leaders, but we
may add a few words from an obituary which was published at the time
of his death.

"Old Tommy," as his brother miners of every degree loved to call him,
was chiefly known to the pitmen at large as a Unionist. With a face
furrowed with care and the hardships of his laborious calling, and
scarred by many an accident in the pits, he was never afraid to stand
up before his brethren and agitate for that amelioration in the
condition of the working pitmen which has at length been conceded. His
style of oratory, if it were not strictly grammatical, was gifted with
a warmth of expression that told forcibly on his hearers of his own
class, and his perfect knowledge of the one subject he engaged
upon--the danger and the excessive toil of the miner's life--caused
him to be held in respect by masters and men alike. In every movement
that had for its object the freedom from the bondage the miner was
held in, Ramsey was always to the front, and none mourned in bygone
years more sincerely than he did the failure to establish on a firm
and lasting basis the Union, by which alone he maintained were they
likely to obtain their rights as workmen. When the present Association
was started, amongst the dozen delegates or so who assembled at the
Market Hall, Durham, bent if they could on forming a union, was "Old
Tommy"; and there he attended every meeting, when to be identified as
a delegate was to almost sign his own death warrant so far as
employment was concerned. "Men and brothers," he said, addressing a
public meeting near Thornley a few weeks after the Association was
formed, "I've been a Unionist all my days, and with the help of God I
will remain one to the end of the chapter."

At the Council meeting held on 31st May we have the first mention of a
hall for the use of the Association, with offices and agents' houses.
After a lengthy discussion the project was endorsed, the money to be
taken from the general funds, and the Executive were appointed a
Building Committee. The Committee immediately commenced operations by
purchasing a block of houses known as Monks Buildings, the site of the
Hall and houses, and offering a premium of £25 for the best design for
hall and offices. This was won by Mr T. Oliver, Architect, of

The other important question was the eleven hours' drawing of coals.
The system received general condemnation. At the conclusion of the
consideration a very long resolution was adopted. It set forth that
when the Mines Act came into operation the workmen did not think it
right to curtail the producing powers of the pits, and they,
therefore, fell in with the views of the owners. Having tried the
system they had no hesitation in pronouncing it an utter failure on
the following grounds:--

   "1. Because of the great difficulty, if not impossibility, of working
   the pits full time on both the first and last hour of the day, thus
   inflicting a positive injustice on large bodies of men. We have the
   testimony of Lindsay Wood, Esq., in his evidence before the Coal
   Committee that the system of eleven hours' work entails great danger
   on the boys going and coming out of the mine while the pit is at full
   work. We regret to say that this system has already borne fruit in
   the slaughter of one or more boys in going and coming out of the mine
   during the day. This being so we now find ourselves compelled to make
   an emphatic appeal to the mine owners of the county to work their
   pits only ten hours per diem in order to obviate both this injustice
   and danger."

As I have said, it will not assist the history we have on hand if we
dwell upon the whole series of our galas, and therefore we will only
make a reference to the second one in the series. It was held on
Saturday, the 14th of June, and the gathering was larger than the year
prior. There were three platforms. The chairmen were J. Cowen, J.
Laverick, and J. Fowler. The speakers outside were P. Casey,
Yorkshire; A. M'Donald, Scotland; B. Pickard, Yorkshire; Lloyd Jones,
London; J. Shepherd, Cleveland; T. Burt, Northumberland; and R. Fynes,
Blyth, with the addition of the Executive Committee. The speeches need
not be referred to beyond the references by Mr Crawford, as indicating
the progress of the Association during the year. They had added 5000
to their numbers, bringing the membership up to 40,000, and they had
increased their funds from £12,000 to £34,000. They had proved their
leading principle was amicability. "That principle had been not to get
a thing because they had the power, but first of all to ask the
question was it right that they ought to have it."

The ordinary Council meeting was held in the Town Hall on July 26th.
It is important because of the attempt that was made to censure Mr
Crawford. For some weeks a personal controversy had been taking place
between Mr E. Rhymer and Mr Crawford. Mr Rhymer had complained that,
although the miners had invited him to the demonstration, yet Mr
Crawford had stood in his way. This was denied very strongly, and some
very curious epithets were applied to him (Mr Crawford) for making the
statement. At the Council a resolution was on the programme from Ushaw
Moor as follows:--

   "That Mr Crawford receive three months' notice from next delegates'
   meeting, for his behaviour to E. Rhymer and also the Bearpark men."

In a note he sent out with the programme he said "he was prepared to
account for all he had done in open day, and after that, if the
Association was so minded, he was prepared to leave them not in three
months, but in three days or three hours." The result of the
discussion was the withdrawal of the Ushaw Moor resolution and the
carrying of one from Hetton which not only exonerated him, but
expressed their high approval of his conduct and work in the county.

On the 4th of October a Council meeting was held. The object of the
meeting was to consider the advisability of applying for a twenty per
cent. advance. In the end the resolution was carried, and Mr Crawford
was instructed to arrange for a meeting with the employers. This
meeting was held on October 17th, but was refused by the owners, and
in refusing they intimated that, as the state of trade was, they would
shortly be making a claim for a reduction. The refusal was reported to
a special Council, when the deputation was again instructed to meet
the employers. The second meeting was held on November 14th. After the
question had been discussed the following resolution was handed the

   "This Association cannot accede to the application of the Durham
   Miners' Association for an advance in wages, but is prepared to refer
   to arbitration the question of whether since the last settlement of
   wages in February 1873 there has been such a change in the condition
   of the Durham coal trade as to call for an alteration in the wages
   now paid, and if so whether by way of advance or reduction and the
   amount in either case."

This offer was discussed at a Council meeting, when the arbitration
was agreed to; but the submission was disapproved of, and the
Executive Committee instructed to draw up a counter proposal, to be
submitted to a subsequent meeting for approval.

Another meeting with the employers was held on Friday, the 12th of
December. At the conclusion of the meeting the employers intimated
that they would send their decision to Mr Crawford. On the 13th a
Council meeting was held. A letter was read from the employers, in
which they objected to accede to the request of the workmen for an
alteration of the submission they had proposed. After a further
discussion the following resolution was proposed:--

   "Having fully considered the objections of the employers to our
   suggested basis for arbitration we fail to see the soundness of such
   objections. Nevertheless in order that no difficulties may arise in
   carrying out this matter, we are willing to alter that basis by
   leaving the question entirely open. Allowing both parties to bring
   forward all reliant matter which may bear upon their respective
   positions, leaving it to the arbitrator to say whether any advance
   ought to be given and that the Durham Coal Owners' Association be
   urgently requested to consider this matter on the earliest day

There are two matters which deserve a brief notice here, although not
essentially part of the Association. These were the Royal Commission
to inquire into the coal supply and the causes of the high prices, and
the rise of the Franchise Association. The former of these was
appointed on 21st February 1873 by the following resolution of the
House of Commons:--

   "That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the causes of
   the present dearness and duration of coal, and report thereon to the

This Committee examined a large number of witnesses, including all
classes connected with the coal trade. The following is a portion of
their report:--

   "1. Considering the great extent of the coal fields in Great Britain,
   the number of collieries at work, and the variety of coals produced,
   which though primarily used for particular purposes, will, at certain
   prices, be used for others, your Committee, notwithstanding
   intermittent and startling fluctuations in price due to temporary
   causes, do not believe that any combination either of employers or
   workmen can by artificial means succeed in permanently affecting the
   ordinary results of the relations of demand and supply in adjusting
   the quantity of coal produced to the demand, or can permanently
   affect the price resulting from the state of the market; nor do your
   Committee believe that the interference of Parliament with the course
   of industry and trade in coal could produce any useful or beneficial
   result to the public beyond what has been arrived at in recent
   legislation, namely, the prevention of injury to the health and
   morals of young children and young persons, and the prevention of
   accidents from wilful neglect of recognised precautions.

   "2. Much evidence has however been given to show the great increase
   in the rate of wages, and the earnings of the working miners; but
   whilst it is true that in some cases the earnings have enormously
   increased, and have been improvidently spent, your Committee conclude
   that in general the condition of the workmen has been much improved,
   and that the rise in the rate of wages has not, under the exceptional
   circumstances, been unreasonable, nor been unattended with
   considerable benefit to the workers; indeed in some cases the workmen
   have preferred improving the conditions under which they work to
   increasing the amount of their wages in money.

   "3. It is clearly shown that the real order of events has been the
   rise in the price of iron, the rise in the price of coal, and the
   rise in the rate of wages. The increased payment per ton for labour
   employed in getting the coal cannot therefore be considered as the
   primary cause of the large increase in the price of coal; a rise in
   wages followed upon rather than preceded a rise in the price of coal.
   To the extent to which increased rates of wages have induced workmen
   to labour for a shorter number of hours than heretofore, resulting in
   a reduced output per man, a higher payment for labour has contributed
   indirectly in an important degree to maintain the high price of coal,
   but having regard to the great danger to which coal miners are
   exposed, and the character of their labour, the average rate of wages
   in collieries has not been more than sufficient to attract the
   requisite labour to the mine. The workmen, like all others connected
   with coal mining, should only regard their present earnings as a
   temporary profit, which may, at no distant day, approach towards
   former rates."

With respect to the Franchise Association, during the year there was a
strong agitation in favour of an extension of the Franchise to the
householders in the county, as such had been done by the Act of 1868
to those in the borough. The spirit of reform found ready response in
the minds of the Durham miners, and a very active Association was
formed. Although incidental to the labour organisation, and with a
voluntary contribution, it was managed by the leading men in that
Association. The names found prominently in one are found in the
other. A Council meeting of the Miners' Association was held in
November of this year, at which it was proposed that Mr Crawford
should be nominated for one of the county divisions, and the matter
was remitted to the Franchise Association. There were but two of these
divisions at that time--the North and South, each having two members.
There was a General Election in prospect, and it was deemed advisable
to run Mr Crawford as a Liberal candidate. To anticipate a little, he
was duly put forward on Wednesday, the 28th of January 1874. His
candidature was publicly announced, but on Friday, the 30th, at a
meeting of the ex-Committee, he withdrew. His aim in so doing was to
avoid a division of the Liberal forces. There were two Tories in the
field and three Liberals, and it was highly necessary that this should
be avoided. This decision was reported to a Council held on the 31st.
There was a general consensus of opinion that he had acted wisely,
although the delegates regretted the necessity. Some of them had
brought money--as much as £30 in one instance--towards the election
expenses. A resolution was adopted which had for its object the
formation of an election fund with the view to strengthen the hands of
the Franchise Association, and it was agreed that whenever there was a
vacancy in the county, where there was a chance of success, he should
be at once brought forward.


   The first Reduction--Co-operative Colliery--The Strike of 1874--The
   Wheatley Hill Revolt and Evictions--Second Reduction--First

We finished 1873 with a demand for an advance and a difference as to
the submission for a reference to arbitration. During the interval the
trade had declined to such an extent that the employers sent a claim
for a reduction, and thus the young Society was beginning to find
itself entering its first dark cloud of depression. Up to that moment
the booming times arising out of the Franco-Prussian War had been with
it, but now the relapse which generally follows a fever in trade had
set in, and the demand for coals had fallen off seriously; and whereas
a month or two previously they had expected another advance, it was
felt by Mr Crawford and his colleagues that it would not be possible
to stave off a reduction.

Before coming to the consideration of the first reduction let us, for
the sake of chronological order, note one or two matters of some
importance. The first of these is the demand for men being trained
before being left to themselves in a mine. At the Council meeting held
on Saturday, 21st March, the following resolution was carried:--

   "We have again to protest against the introduction of strangers into
   our mines--men to whom mining with all its dangers is thoroughly
   unknown, whereby the limbs and lives of other men are constantly
   endangered. We therefore emphatically ask the owners to put such men
   under the care of some practical miner for a period of not less than
   six months, who will be responsible for any danger arising from such
   person's ignorance of mines."

Another point worthy of note was the resolve to join in the movement
to form a co-operative mining company. At the Council meeting on 4th
April it was resolved:

   "That we take £5000 out of the General Fund, and invest it in the
   Co-operative Mining Co., as we believe productive co-operation to be
   the only solution to the many difficulties that exist between
   Capital and Labour."

At the same Council a copy of the owners' request for a reduction was
read. It conveyed the decision of their full meeting: "That the state
of the Durham Coal Trade imperatively calls for a reduction of twenty
per cent. in all colliery wages, both above and below ground, to take
effect from the 18th of next month." A meeting was held between the
two Associations on the 16th of April, when the employers stated the
reasons for their demand. They held "(1) that there was no connection
between profit and wages, and the workmen had, therefore, no
legitimate right to interfere in such a matter; (2) that trade was
vastly more dull, and prices materially less, than was supposed; (3)
that in various parts of our own country and also in Germany,
reductions had taken place, in the latter 25 per cent., and having to
compete in the same markets with firms and districts so brought down,
they had no choice but to enforce the reduction."

This was brought before a Council meeting on April 25th, but the
delegates refused to discuss it then, and referred the question to a
special meeting to be held on the 29th. Steps were taken to prepare
for a stop should a reduction take place, and men were arranged to
visit various districts. Those going to Ireland and Scotland had £30
each. The owners had in the meantime given notice at certain
collieries, and the workmen were told to remain at their own
collieries. On the 27th the Executive Committee issued the following

    27th, 1874.

   Fellow Workmen,--According to arrangement, Messrs Patterson,
   Wilkinson and Crawford, saw Messrs Burt and Nixon yesterday, and from
   information received it appears that the 10 per cent., or a reduction
   from 50 to 40, has to affect ALL, both above and below ground.

   We cannot but call your attention to our present position. The
   adjoining county, much more compact than ours, and many years older
   in organisation,--two elements of strength and power,--have just
   accepted a reduction of wages. Miners, immediately south of us,--West
   Yorkshire,--have expressed their willingness to accept a reduction of
   12½ per cent. on wages all round. This, however, the owners
   refused to accept. They seek a reduction of 25 per cent., and the
   matter is, therefore, going to arbitration. With these facts before
   us, is it possible that we can, at the present time, by any means,
   which we might adopt, altogether stave off a reduction, more or less,
   without referring it to arbitration, in some way or other? We will
   not attempt to point out all the terrible effects which must arise
   from anything like a general strike. Many of you experimentally know
   the direful effect and heartrending destitution which has arisen from
   partial strikes amongst ourselves. Suppose a general stop now ensues,
   what are the probabilities of success? Can we make our efforts
   successful? Suppose we should strike against a receding market, and a
   surplus number of men, and lose, what would be the consequences?
   These are questions worthy your earnest consideration, because on
   them depend your WEAL or WOE for years to come.

   We have to-day very fully thought over the matter, and considering
   everything, we think it wise, if not absolutely necessary, to make
   some advances, with a view to a settlement of this important
   question. We, therefore, strongly advise that an offer of 10 per
   cent. reduction be made to the owners; and should they refuse this,
   let the whole matter go to arbitration. If arbitration be offered and
   accepted, we would suggest the appointment of two men on both sides,
   and let these four men find a basis or starting-point for
   arbitration. Should they fail to agree as to what such basis ought to
   be, let the matter go to an umpire, appointed by the four

   Let no one regard this as in the slightest degree dictatorial. We
   have too much respect for your collective judgment to attempt
   anything of the kind. But we think it our duty to point out that, if
   not careful, we may drift amongst shoals and quicksands, which may
   endanger the very existence of our Association. And if this should
   come to pass, we need not name--not our probable, but certain
   condition, for years to come.

On the 29th of April the special Council was held, which approved of
the Committee's circular by offering a reduction of ten per cent. This
decision was conveyed by telegram to Mr Bunning, the employers'
secretary. No sooner was it known in the county than a general protest
was made, not only by the miners, but by the mechanics and enginemen.
They objected to being included in the reduction. These bodies held
meetings in Durham on the race-course on May 2nd, and passed
resolutions not to accept any reduction. The spirit of revolt was
rampant in the county amongst the members of the Miners' Association.
Meetings to protest against it were held throughout the county.
Circulars were sent out by District Councils, in which the Executive
Committee was held up to ridicule. To these the agents replied, boldly
pointing out the danger of the course which was being adopted and the
disaster which would assuredly follow if more moderate action were not
taken. Some of the members of the Executive Committee were found
amongst the protestors and the loudest in their condemnation of Mr
Crawford, who came in for a large share of abuse. It was calculated
that at one of those meetings in Houghton there were 10,000 people
present. On May 5th the coal owners held a meeting. The resolutions
dealt mainly with the action of the enginemen. From these the
employers offered to accept five per cent. if acceded promptly, but no
man should be allowed to work for less reduction than that offer.
During the owners' meeting a telegram was read from Mr Crawford as

   "For reasons previously given both to the Standing Committee and full
   meeting of owners, we shall begin on Monday to work five days per
   week or pits be laid idle on Saturday, so far as the working and
   drawing of coal is concerned."

To that telegram the owners sent the following reply:--

   "The Provisional Committee give notice to the Durham Miners'
   Association that unless the Owners' Association receive before the
   end of the week a satisfactory assurance that collieries will
   continue to work the same number of days per fortnight, as
   heretofore, they will advise the Coal Owners' Association to insist
   upon the full twenty per cent.--first demanded; such demand only
   having been withdrawn on the condition that no change whatever was to
   be made in the usual mode of working."

On the 7th of May a Council meeting was held, when the ten per cent.
was under consideration. By a majority of 15 the delegates decided in
favour of the ten per cent., 112 voting for it and 97 against. This
brought the dispute to an end so far as the wages were concerned.

The strike, if it could be called such, was of the most desultory
kind, there being a division as to the acceptance of the ten per cent.
reduction. It is generally known as the "Week's Strike"; but even the
Executive were in ignorance of the time off, and sent out a slip
asking the lodges to tell them "what number of days they were off,
when they stopped, and when they resumed work and the reasons why they
were off." The returns show that there were none off more than a week.
None of them were entitled to strike pay seeing that a colliery had to
be off a fortnight before they could claim. The Executive by their
Minute of June 5th, 1874, said the strike commenced on May 8th and
ended on the 14th.

The strike being settled generally, all the collieries commenced work
except Wheatley Hill, Thornley, and Ludworth. These were in a peculiar
position. For some time they had been ten-day collieries, and at
Wheatley Hill the hours of stonemen, shifters, and wastemen had been
six every day. When the strike ended the Executive Committee sent word
out to the county that work should be resumed under the same
conditions as obtained before the strike. The workmen at the three
collieries claimed they should work the ten days. That position the
following Minute of the Executive Committee bears out:--

   "We have again had the case of Thornley, Ludworth and Wheatley Hill
   brought before us, and beg to give the following statement: As will
   be understood by all lodges, before the stop these places were
   working ten days under protest. After the settlement of the working
   days matter at our Council, the question arose between the manager
   and men whether these were ten or eleven day collieries, the men
   holding to the former, while the manager held to the latter. On
   Friday, May 15th, Mr Bunning telegraphed, stating that the owners
   still held these to be eleven-day places. We replied that they had
   been working ten days under protest, and that in some way or other
   they ought to recommence on the same conditions."

The three collieries, on the strength of the notice to resume work,
corroborated by the above Minute, refused to start except as ten-day
collieries. The owners offered arbitration, but conditioned it by
asking for the men to work eleven days, and suspended the Joint
Committee until the case was settled. The letter from Mr Bunning
contained the words: "The action of the Thornley etc. men renders the
resumption of the Joint Committee impossible," and asked whether the
Executive were supporting them or not. The men were willing to go to
arbitration, but asked to be allowed to start at the ten days. The
Executive ordered them to work on the employers' terms, summoned a
representative from each colliery to the Committee, and sent out large
deputations to attend meetings. Still the men stood firm. On Monday,
June 1st, the evicting of the men from the houses commenced. A very
large contingent of "Candymen" were imported, and a force of seventy
or eighty policemen, in charge of Superintendent Scott, to maintain
order. There never was an occasion where better humour prevailed
throughout and where there was so little need of police. It would
afford a break in this dry matter-of-fact history if some of the
incidents were related: how a Jew who had come to gather his
fortnightly instalments wrung his hands, and, Shylock-like, cried
about his "monish"; how some of the women were to carry out in
arm-chairs, and one of them stuck hat pins in the Candymen, to the
hilarity of all but themselves; how once in a while a "Candyman," sick
of the work, broke through the crowd, and ran off, chased by the
police and the cheers of the crowd; and how the people dwelt in tents
for three weeks, having continuous sunshine by day and jollity by
night, making a continual round of "picnicking."

We must, however, leave the pleasurable for the historical. The lodge
made an attempt at Council to get strike pay on an appeal against the
Committee. The merits of the case were with them, but their case was
prejudiced by the temper of the delegate, Mr J. Wood. During the
discussion of the question some contention rose as to Wood (who could
write shorthand) taking notes. Mr Wilkinson (the treasurer) expressed
himself in doubt as to Wood's honesty, and the latter struck at the
treasurer on the platform--the consequence being the Council decided
against, and the men were left to their own resources.

An attempt was made to settle the strike by the Rev. W. Mayor of
Thornley. He called upon some of the leading men, and asked them to
meet Mr Cooper, the manager, who with Mr Bunning agreed to allow the
pit to resume work on the old conditions with regard to the number of
days, and that the dispute should be left to the two Associations. The
arrangement was come to on the Monday, and on the Tuesday the horses
and ponies were sent down, and about 100 men commenced. It then
transpired that Mr Cooper objected to three of the leading men, and
the men alleged that there had been some reduction in prices. The
result was the stoppage again. The dispute was as to the submission
for the arbitration. The difference lay in this: the owners wanted the
men to start as an eleven-hour colliery, and then arbitrate. The
workmen were willing to start as at ten hours, and arbitrate. In the
end that was accepted. The arbitrators decided that the men were right
in considering their collieries ten-day collieries and refusing to
resume work except as such; but they concluded that the collieries
should work eleven days, "although at the same time we strongly
censure the conduct of Mr Cooper, the manager, throughout the entire
struggle." They further awarded that the whole expense of the
arbitration should be borne by the owners, thus proving the men to be
right in their contention as to starting.

[Illustration: WILLIAM CRAWFORD, M.P.]

We now come to the second claim for a reduction in wages. On July 17th
Mr Crawford read to the Committee a resolution he had received from
the employers making a claim for a reduction:

   "That the Durham Coal Miners' Association, through Mr Crawford, be
   informed that the associated Coal Owners consider that it is
   necessary to reduce wages substantially and promptly. That
   the amount of such reduction, as well as the date of the
   commencement, will be considered by the owners on the 7th day of
   August next, and that in the meantime the Association will be ready
   to give their best consideration to anything the representatives of
   the workmen may desire to lay before it."

To this request the Executive Committee could not accede, and on 7th
August the employers sent another claim for a reduction of twenty per
cent. They said "that the best policy to pursue in the exigencies of
the trade, and to restore the activity of the coal and iron trades,
was for the men to submit to a twenty per cent. reduction." In the
event of the workmen not agreeing to such a reduction the owners would
be prepared to leave the whole case to the arbitration of any
gentleman mutually appointed, each party being left free to produce
such evidence as they may think fit and satisfactory, arrangement
being made for prompt decision, and for securing the operation of the
arbitrator's award from the 29th of this month.

Mr Crawford was instructed by the Executive Committee to inform the
employers that, while they did not offer any opinion on the reduction,
they would call the attention of the owners to the last portion of
their resolution, wherein the date of the reduction was fixed, and

   "In seeking advances we never yet fixed a date, even when coal was
   going up in an unparalleled manner and certainly very much more
   rapidly than ever it has come down. Both in March last and now you
   wish to fix the date in what seems to us rather an arbitrary manner.
   Had we in seeking advances pursued this course, you would have been
   more than justified in doing the same thing, but having pursued a
   course diametrically opposite, we fail to see the grounds of your
   justification for the course you are at present pursuing."

A Council meeting was held on August 22nd, when the first question
discussed was the owners' application for the twenty per cent.
reduction. The following resolution was carried:--

   (1) We cannot see where in the Cleveland, or the Coasting, or other
   markets the prices of coal and coke are down sufficiently low to
   warrant a further reduction of wages. (2) The stacking of coal and
   coke may be made to have--but ought not to have--any very material
   effect on the workmen's wages, seeing that, if too much is being
   produced, we have no objection to be put on short time, or any other
   fair process whereby a reduction of wages can be averted.

   We fail to see why the employers ought to seek arbitration. We are
   now in the same position which they were in during the last two and a
   half years. They were at that time so fully certain that trade would
   not give any further advance that arbitration was pointedly refused.
   We are now so sure that the present, as compared with past prices of
   coal and coke, does not warrant any further reduction, that we think
   arbitration is only an unnecessary waste of time and money, causing
   no end of annoyance without any good resulting therefrom.

This resolution was sent, accompanied by a demand for fifteen per
cent. advance, to the employers, who held a meeting on 28th August,
under the presidency of Mr Stobart, for the purpose of considering it
and what action they should take. After considerable discussion a
resolution was passed to enforce the twenty per cent. reduction and to
give the men fourteen days' notice, to expire on the 19th of
September, seeing that their claim and arbitration had been refused.
The notices were issued in keeping with that resolve, but not to all
men alike. The form of notice was as follows:--

   On behalf of----Colliery I do hereby give you notice to determine
   your existing hiring on the nineteenth day of September eighteen
   hundred and seventy-four, and that the wages and prices heretofore
   paid at this colliery will from that date be reduced to the rate of
   twenty per cent. and that if your service be continued, it must be on
   these terms.

In these circumstances the Executive Committee issued a circular and
called a special Council. The lodges were asked to send their
delegates prepared to discuss and decide upon three questions:

   "1. Ought bankmen, horsekeepers, furnacemen, etc., to give in their

   "2. Ought collieries of men (hewers included) who have not received
   any notice to give in their notices?

   "3. The matter of arbitration."

We will quote a portion or two of the circular. It is very serious and

   "It must be clear to all that we are passing through the most
   important crisis which has marked the history of the present
   organisation on the need or otherwise of a further reduction; we here
   offer no opinion, that being a matter which will take the collective
   wisdom of the county to determine. We wish, however, to point out
   what seems to us to be one of two ultimatums to the present
   unpleasant condition of matters in the county. If a stolid and
   unreasoning resistance be persevered in, a strike is inevitable. We
   feel certain that nothing can or will prevent a stop. How long such
   struggle might continue it is impossible to say. But whether it might
   be for a longer or a shorter period an immense amount of suffering
   would be entailed. We want you therefore to very carefully consider
   the whole matter. View the entire position with an unbiased mind,
   not from the standpoint of mere abstract justice, but from that of
   probabilities or even possibilities. We are offered arbitration. If
   we refuse, the press and public will most assuredly say that our
   position is untenable. If we persistently refuse to submit the entire
   matter to arbitration, we must prepare to cope with the following
   difficulties in conducting a struggle.

   "(1) The strongest combination of employers the North of England ever

   "(2) Stacks of coal and coke laid up in every direction of the

   "(3) Coal and coke brought from other districts to supply what we may
   be short of supplying from our own heaps.

   "(4) The press and public opinion would be against us."

The dispute was brought to an amicable settlement by the whole
question being referred to open arbitration. By that decision the
Association passed out of the era of negotiations into that of
arbitration re underground wages. As that was the first step in the
path of conciliation it may be useful to give in detail the
proceedings. The inquirer after further information may very usefully
consult the printed proceedings of the case. There were for
arbitrators Mr G. Leeman and Mr D. Dale acting for the owners, and Mr
L. Jones and Mr T. Burt for the workmen. The case was conducted by Mr
W. Armstrong and Mr L. Wood (now Sir Lindsay Wood) on behalf of the
employers. Mr W. Crawford and Mr J. Forman were for the employed.
There were with these arbitrators and conductors other gentlemen,
whose names we can find no record of either in the press, the owners'
books, or in ours.

The first meeting was held on Tuesday, 13th October, in the Queen's
Head Hotel (now the Liberal Club), Newcastle. After a long sitting the
case was adjourned until the 15th, when Mr Forman on behalf of the
workmen, and because there had not been sufficient time to prepare a
reply to the employers' case, asked for an adjournment. Mr Crawford
said they had "sat twenty-eight consecutive hours, and never moved the
whole of the time." It was therefore decided to adjourn until the
16th. During the discussion Mr Crawford made the request that the
owners should produce their books in order that both costs of
production and the selling prices of coal might be obtained. The
fourth day's proceedings was held on the 19th. The arbitrators met on
the 26th in London. Failing to agree, they agreed to refer the
question to the Right Hon. Russell Gurney, M.P., whom they met on the
30th in the Abbey Hotel, Malvern. On November 3rd he gave his award.
Without giving the whole of the award it will be explained by a
quotation from a circular sent out by Mr Crawford: "The reduction is
as follows:--At present time our advances amount to 43 per cent. over
1871 prices. This by Mr Gurney's award is reduced to 30. That is a
reduction of 9 per cent. on the gross wages and will take effect from
Monday, November 2nd."

At that time the attention of the county was turned to the sanitary
condition of the mining villages. The Committee took a return in which
they asked eleven questions:

   "What is the size of your best houses? What size are the rooms, and
   how many to a house? Size of single houses? Is there attached to your
   houses or on the colliery any private accommodation? Are there any
   channels or underground sewers to take away the dirty water and other
   refuse made in the houses? Are the houses damp and incompatible with
   health, or dry and healthy? Are there many of the members who have
   houses of their own? What number of double and single houses have
   you? Have you a good or bad supply of water and whence supplied? What
   is your school accommodation, national or colliery? Have you a
   Mechanics' Institute? Is it colliery or private property? Are there
   any gardens to the houses?"

On Saturday, November 7th, the owners made a claim for a reduction
from all the men at bank. This was before the Executive Committee.
They by resolution expressed their surprise, and their opinion that
they had not been treated fairly, as the employers ought to have dealt
with the classes now to be affected in the arbitration just concluded.
They considered that "such a mode of procedure cannot but have an
injurious effect on that good and desirable understanding which has so
long existed between the two Associations." The owners gave the
surface men notice to terminate their engagement on 12th December. A
special Council meeting was called. The questions to be decided
were--first, should the Miners' Committee act for the cokemen,
seeing those men were forming an association of their own, and over
two-thirds of that class had joined it? Of the other classes three
questions were asked: "Ought these men to follow Russell Gurney's
award? Ought the reduction to be resisted or ought arbitration to be
sought?" The Council decided on Saturday, December 5th, that the
Cokemen's Association meet the employers themselves, but "that the
members of the Joint Committee should meet them on the banksmen,
screeners, labourers, etc." The arrangement come to by the Joint
Committee was:

   "The banking-out men having been generally classed with the
   underground men, should in all cases be dealt with strictly according
   to the terms of Mr Gurney's award, that is, remain 30 per cent. in
   excess of March 1871 and it was recommended that the case of men
   earning less than 3s. per diem be left to the consideration of
   individual owners."

There are two matters not dealt with in the general statement of this
year. These are the appointment of Mr Forman as permanent president on
2nd May and the appointment of the first clerk. The first was Mr A.
Hall Shotton; but his stay was short, and he was succeeded by Mr W.
Golightly, who was in the office for over thirty-one years.

[Illustration: W. GOLIGHTLY]


    The third Reduction--Co-operative Colliery--The demand for better
    Houses--The fourth Reduction

Early in the year the Association was called upon to face another
reduction in wages. The Executive Committee had sent some requests
with respect to hewers putting in the foreshifts and working hard
places. The owners sent a reply on January 15th refusing the requests,
and at the same time saying, such things being asked of them in
depressed times were offensive, and would not have to be repeated. In
the same letter Mr Crawford was told that the employers had that day
"unanimously decided to ask for a reduction in the wages of all men
employed about coal mines and that the Standing (Joint) Committee be
instructed to discuss the matter of such reductions and the date when
it should commence."

To this the Executive Committee replied that they would pass over the
question of reduction as it was premature to interfere with it, but
they complained of the tone of the letter sent to them, which was very
unbecoming, to say the least. They had a perfect right to send the
requests. No doubt they were annoying. "But however annoying a request
properly made may be, it ought, in keeping with the common courtesies
of life, to be denied without imperiousness. It was annoying to them
as workmen to receive an application for a reduction."

The response to that reached Mr Crawford on the 30th. It informed him
that they (the owners) felt it needful to claim such reduction as will
leave the wages of both underground and surface men ten per cent. in
excess of 1871, to take effect from the pay ending 13th March. Mr
Bunning added: "As it is our usual custom not to carry out a
resolution of this nature without first having a consultation with
you, I am requested to ask you to make such arrangements with your
clients as may enable you to meet our Committee at an early date to

A special Council meeting was called for the 6th of February to
consider whether a deputation should meet the employers; if so, how
many and whom they should be. The Council decided that as a deputation
the members of the Joint Committee should meet the employers, and Mr
Crawford was deputed to go to South Wales to inquire into the
condition of things amongst the miners there.

At an adjourned Council held on February 10th it was again considered,
and the following resolution carried:--

   In looking at the last reduction, and the undue advantage the coal
   owners have taken on us in making a call on the bankmen so soon after
   the arbitration case, that we in future entertain no more reductions
   on one separate class of workmen, without knowing their intentions as
   to the rest of the workmen in our Association.

The meeting with the employers took place on 16th February, when six
reasons were given by them why the reduction was needed: Many
collieries were working at ruinous losses; a terribly increased cost
of production; at many collieries the men were restricting their work;
a greatly increased number of men were needed; the increased cost
owing to the great decrease in the working hours; and the fact that Mr
Gurney's award was delayed two months.

The employers again issued notices, but not to all men or all
collieries. The Committee immediately called a Council, and drew the
attention of the lodges to two resolutions which were passed on April
21st and December 5th, 1874.

   That in future when there are notices given for a reduction of wages
   throughout the county, and where a colliery or collieries of men do
   not get their notices, they be requested to give them in.

   Where men who are members of our Association and who have not
   received notice should these refuse to give in their notices, their
   names be struck from our books and never again re-entered.

In addition to this the Committee issued a circular in which they
reviewed the condition of trade, and pointed out that in many
districts life and death struggles were taking place. These men were
being supported by voluntary contributions from other mining districts
and the public. If Durham came out large support would be cut off, and
the state here rendered more dangerous. In Northumberland and
Cleveland arbitrations were proceeding. There was only two weeks'
money in the funds, therefore the best policy was to accept
arbitration. Facing these circumstances they advised the acceptance of
arbitration. The employers would be compelled to show sufficient
reasons for a reduction. If this were not done no umpire would reduce
the wages. This advice was accepted at the Council on 8th March, and
it was resolved to refer the whole matter to arbitration on the prices
and wages ruling at hearing of the last case, that Mr L. Jones and W.
Crawford be arbitrators, and the preparing and conducting of the case
be left to the Executive Committee. On March 10th they met the
employers, and made arrangements for the proceedings and the
withdrawal of the notices, and they informed the members that in every
case where the workmen had given notices they must at once be

The first meeting on the arbitration case was held on April 15th in
the Queen's Head Hotel, Newcastle. The Right Hon. W. E. Forster, M.P.,
was the umpire. The arbitrators for the employers were Mr W. Armstrong
and Mr D. Dale; for the workmen Mr L. Jones and Mr W. Crawford. The
case was a dual one, a combination of the Miners' and Cokemen's
Associations. The latter agreed to accept the statement made by the
employers in the miners' case and then put in a separate reply. The
following was the order of the procedure:--The employers stated their
case. Then the miners replied on the first day. Second day, the
owners' reply to the miners, the miners' rejoinder; the cokemen's
reply to the employers, then their reply to the cokemen. The third
day's sitting was taken up by the cokemen's rejoinder. The same
arbitrators acted in both cases, but Mr Jackson Wilson presented the
cokemen's case. The umpire gave his award on the 23rd of April--the
reduction being five per cent. from the underground wages and four per
cent. from those of the surface men.

At the Council meeting held on May 4th a resolution was carried urging
upon the Miners' National Association to use their influence to have
established an important Board of Arbitration, such Board to say:
"First, what amount of interest ought to be claimed for capital
invested in coal-mining operations; secondly, whether or not the books
showing the profit and loss accounts of the employers ought to be laid
before the Arbitrators in deciding a matter in dispute as to the rise
or fall of the wages of their workmen; and thirdly, what portion of
the profits ought to go to the capitalist and what portion to the

The programme for a Council meeting held on 21st August 1875 contained
a resolution dealing with the providing of a better class of houses.

   "That we appeal to the owners to have better houses right throughout
   the county for the members of the Durham Miners' Association, and not
   to make such difference between brakesmen and members of the
   Association. We believe that one man has the same right to a good
   house as another."

In the balance sheet for the first quarter of the year is found an
item relating to the Coop Colliery--3100 shares in the Coop Mining
Company, £15,500. For some time, and especially during 1874, the idea
of a co-operative mine had been agitating the two northern counties.
Meetings were held in various parts, addressed chiefly by gentlemen
from Northumberland. The idea fell upon good ground in Durham, for
from time to time it was found on the Council programme, and, so far
as the Association is concerned, bore fruit in the shares mentioned.
The fruit was not merely collective, but on every hand those who could
took out shares, even to the extent of all their savings. The
Committee of management were:

    Dr J. H. Rutherford, Chairman.
    Mr T. Burt, M.P.
    Mr J. Nixon.
    Mr R. Young.
    Mr J. Brown.
    Mr R. Cramon.
    Mr W. Crawford.
    Mr J. Forman.
    Mr W. H. Patterson.
    Mr J. Byson.
    Mr G. Fryer.
    E. Lowther, Secretary.

--all good men, and, if it could have been established, would have
been. They were all tried co-operators and ardent believers in
productive co-operation. But the enterprise was doomed from the first.
The name of the colliery was Monkwood, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

On the 25th of September 1875 the Committee submitted a balance sheet
for the year ending 30th June. The auditors were Benson, Eland & Co.
They informed the members that after depreciation as per rule the net
loss up to date was £10,863, 15s. 8d. The Committee in presenting the
balance sheet said it had arisen from circumstances over which they
had no control. The output of the colliery had never reached to their
anticipations. The cost of production, and the unsatisfactory state in
which the Society found the colliery, had occasioned the loss. The
vendor had not truthfully represented the output. They had filed a
Bill in Chancery against him for the recision of the contract and the
return of the purchase money. The loss to Durham was £15,500.

On 6th November the ex-Committee was called upon to face the fourth
reduction. They received a letter on that date from the employers
conveying to them a demand for twenty per cent. reduction from all
underground earnings, including banksmen, and twelve and a half per
cent. off all above-ground labour, to take effect from the 27th. The
Committee replied protesting against the imperative way in which the
demand was made, and resolved to ask the county whether a deputation
should attend Newcastle to hear the reasons assigned for the
reduction. The county agreed to send a deputation and offer open
arbitration, the deputation being the Joint Committee, and that a
Council meeting be held on the 27th to hear the report. The Committee
met the owners on Monday, the 22nd, and the offer of open arbitration
was accepted, the Court to consist of four arbitrators and an umpire.


   Death of Burdon Sanderson--Appointment of Mr Meynell--The third
   Arbitration--The General Treasurer and Executive--The new
   Hall--Deputies' Association


In January 1876 the Joint Committee chairman, Mr R. B. Sanderson, was
in a serious railway collision on the Great Northern Railway at Abbots
Ripton. He was not killed outright, but was so seriously injured that
he died shortly afterwards. He was the first chairman, and sat all
through the meetings up to his death. The Joint Committee at their
meeting on January 28th passed a resolution paying high respect to his
character and to his ability and impartiality in his decisions. From
that time until 11th September the chairman was selected from the
meeting _pro tem_. On that date Mr Meynell was appointed, and from
that time until his death in 1900 he occupied that position to his
credit and with fairness to everyone concerned. It would be incorrect
to say that no fault was ever found with him; but it is well known
that at his death all who had been at the Joint Committee regretted
it, and he has been sorely missed, because he had years of
experience--experience which is worth a great deal in that position.

The proceedings in the arbitration did not proceed further in 1875,
but rested over until January 1876. The arbitrators were the same as
in the previous case, and the umpire chosen by them was C. H. Hopwood,
M.P. The advocates for the owners were Mr H. T. Morton, Mr Lindsay
Wood, and Mr T. Wood Bunning, the Secretary of the Owners'
Association, and for the workmen Mr J. Forman and Mr W. H. Patterson.
The names of the Committee who assisted were:

    N. Wilkinson.
    J. Holliday.
    M. Thompson.
    W. Prentice.
    G. Parker.
    J. Cummings.
    C. Kidd.
    C. Cooper.
    J. Crowther.
    F. Smith.
    G. Jackson.
    J. Day.
    G. Newton.

The first meeting was held on Tuesday, 18th January 1876, in the
Queen's Head Hotel, Newcastle. There were two days' sittings. At the
close of the sittings in Newcastle the arbitrators and umpire held a
meeting in London on 16th February, when the umpire gave his award
that there should be a reduction of seven per cent. underground and
four per cent. on the surface.

Out of this case and the meeting in London there arose a serious
disturbance. The treasurer (Mr Wilkinson) refused to pay the Committee
for going to London. He alleged that they went without authority. They
went on the vote of seven out of seventeen members of the Committee,
the rest being either absent or lying neutral. Their going, he said,
was a waste of public money. He finally showed there had been an
extravagant expenditure and charges for unnecessary meetings. Along
with his explanation he sent out a detailed statement in which it is
shown that for one fortnight they had received sums varying from £7,
1s. 9d. to £11, 15s. 7d., or an average of £8, 14s. 11d. per man. For
another fortnight the average worked out at £12, 12s. each. To this
the Committee made a long reply, but all unavailing, for at the
Council meeting held on March 4th, 1876, the following resolution was

   "That the members of Executive Committee who went to London be
   expelled, and that they have no payment for going."

By another resolution the number of the Committee was reduced to nine.

The result was to leave only three Committee men to transact the
business until a new Committee was elected. A word of explanation may
be necessary. At the election of Committee in December 1875 three new
men were elected. These were C. Simpson, W. Gordon, and J. Wilson. As
the arbitration was proceeding when the election of 1875 took place
the Executive Committee asked the members whether they should be
allowed to continue in office until it was finished. This was granted,
and as a consequence the newly elected members did not take their
places until the decision was given. The Durham Miners' Triumvirate
ruled until May 4th, when the full Committee was elected.

As a further result of the dispute between the treasurer and Committee
certain rules were suggested by the Executive Committee and approved
by Council on 29th April.

   (1) That in future there be no night sittings of the Committee.

   (2) For a long time, a custom has existed of the Committee, asking
   questions on their reassembling after dinner hours. These questions
   were put on paper during the forenoon and handed in to be read after
   dinner. It will be seen, that this practice can be abused, and made
   to lengthen out Committee meetings to any extent. That this practice
   be entirely abolished unless it be a mere asking a question from the
   Secretary. The question and answer to be printed on the Minutes; but
   no discussion whatever to be held on the matter.

   (3) That the General Secretary alone have the power both to call and
   disperse Committee meetings.

   (4) That the Committee have no power to either shorten their hours or
   alter modes of payment.

In a letter bearing date May 19th the employers made another demand
for a considerable reduction of wages both above and below ground, and
fixing Saturday, the 27th, as the date for a meeting upon the matter.
On that date nothing definite was done, and an adjournment took place
until 13th June. A special Council was called for June 17th, when
lodges were asked to instruct their representatives what should be
done in the matter. In the meantime the Committee issued a circular,
giving an account of the meeting with the employers, and informing the
members that the owners' demand was for fifteen per cent. off
underground labour and ten per cent. off surface labour, or they were
willing to refer the whole question to arbitration in order to avoid a
stoppage of work. They (the Committee) then urged the acceptance of
arbitration at once. To refuse it would be to run counter to the
efforts of working men in the past who "had fought some of their most
severe struggles in trying to enforce arbitration as a means of
settling their trade disputes." Many hundreds of thousands of pounds
had to be spent before the employers would even recognise the right of
the workmen to the merest inquiry in advances or reductions of wages.
The employers claimed the right to be the sole judges in matters of
that kind.

   "When the employers arrogated to themselves the right to judge both
   for them and us, we were not slow in applying the words tyranny,
   despotism, and even villainy to their actions. Don't let us then be
   guilty of an imprudence, both by a repudiation of our own principles
   and going into a battle when everything is against us."

The Committee supported that bold and candid statement by drawing
attention to the success which had attended the arbitration in the
past. "If ever a body of men ought to be satisfied with a means of
adjusting differences we ought with arbitration. It has in every
instance so far immensely reduced the application of the owners. There
is no other means by which we could have fared better. On every
occasion the owners complained about the insufficient amount awarded
them." The alternative to arbitration was a strike. That course would
be madness. There was a complete stagnation in trade, nowhere more
felt than in Durham. Pits were working half time, and there were
hundreds of men who could not find an hour's work. To strike would be
to jeopardise "an organisation which in the very short space of time
has done more for its members than any other trades' organisation
that ever existed." They urged other reasons in as forcible a manner,
and concluded by saying, if arbitration were refused and a struggle
entered upon, there could be but one end, "that of utter and terrible
defeat for the miners of this county."

Towards the end of May preparations were being made for opening the
new Hall, and a return was taken as to the mode of procedure. The
place of meetings had been on a movable plan. At first the Committee
meetings were held in 58 North Road, Durham. Then both Councils and
Committees were held in the Market Hall. As the organisation increased
the Councils alternated between the Shakespeare Hall and the Town
Hall, and the Committees in the Western Hotel, Western Hill, Durham.
The opening of the Hall took place on Saturday, June 3rd, the occasion
being the consideration of a ten per cent. reduction at a special
Council meeting. The cost of the buildings was £6000, and the
architect, Mr T. Oliver, Newcastle--the council-room fifty-two feet by
thirty-four; the tower thirty feet above the body of the Hall. The
clock cost £130. The arrangements as to the lighting of the clock are:
the city authorities pay for the gas, while the miners keep the clock
in repair. For some time the City Council refused to bear the charge
for lighting, and at first only agreed for six months as a trial.

There was no opening ceremony beyond a few words from the president,
Mr Forman. The delegates took their places as per number of seat. Mr
Forman then said he was glad to welcome them to their new Hall.

   "The noble building had been built with the money of the working
   miners of the county of Durham. It was a great example of their
   forethought, their economy, industry, enterprise and unity, and he
   hoped that it would be one more link that would bind them together in
   the cause of mutual help and mutual endeavour, and be another great
   supporting prop to the noble edifice they had reared in their
   Association. He was sorry that the first business at the opening was
   to be the unpleasant one of discussing a ten per cent. reduction."

The first Council meeting was held in the new Hall on 17th June, and
the first resolution was "that we refuse to send the reduction
question to arbitration." The spirit of war was in the air, at least
among the men who attended the lodge meeting to consider the subject
at first. During the next week, however, a ballot of the members was
taken, the result of which was declared at a special Council
meeting--the voting being for arbitration, 20,190; against, 16,435;
majority for, 3,755. There were resolutions passed to remit the
question to open arbitration: That the Committee get up the case, but
"if any person has to accompany the arbitrators out of the county,
only the two men who conduct the case do so." At the same meeting Mr
N. Thompson and T. Mitcheson (two of the London Committee) were
removed from the trusteeship, and their places filled by John Wilson,
Wheatley Hill, and W. Gordon, Ravensworth.

The arbitration commenced on 29th August in the Queen's Head Hotel,
Newcastle, the umpire being G. J. Shaw-Lefevre, M.P. The arbitrators
for the employers were Mr W. Armstrong and H. T. Morton, Mr L. Jones
and Mr W. Crawford acting again for the workmen. The advocates on the
owners' side were Mr Lindsay Wood and Mr J. B. Simpson and Mr T. W.
Bunning; for the workmen were Mr J. Forman and Mr N. Wilkinson. There
were two sittings. There is no need to review the arguments or facts
in these cases, as that would extend our work too much, but there is
one interesting point advanced by the employers in their rejoinder to
the workmen's case. It refers to the cost of production at that time
over 1871. The increase was thirty-seven or thirty-five per cent.
higher than 1871--the items being, wages 14.68 per cent., and the
effect of the Mines Bill 22.67 per cent. Assuming that the cost
arising from the operation of the mines was divided between employers
and workmen--eleven per cent. to each--there was still 26.35 per cent.
to the disadvantage of the employer. On the credit side coal was only
5½ or 8.8 per cent. higher than in 1871, and therefore their
conclusion was that the claim for fifteen and ten per cent. reduction
was amply justified. At the conclusion of the two days' sitting it was
agreed that the arbitrators should meet on the 16th of September, and
if they failed to agree the umpire would decide. That meeting took
place, and the umpire was asked to decide, which he did on September
25th, and awarded a reduction of six per cent. in the wages
underground and four per cent. in the wages paid to surface men.

No sooner was the arbitration finished than the Association found
itself face to face with a difficulty of a different but yet
perplexing nature. The employers conceived the idea of separating the
deputies from the miners. Their reasons for taking this step are
stated in a subsequent letter. The mode of procedure they adopted was
to exempt the deputies from the six per cent. reduction, providing a
majority of the deputies on any colliery would leave the Miners'
Association. The employers said their action was in response to a
request by some of the deputies. The action drew from the Executive
Committee a strong remonstrance. They pleaded with the deputies and
protested against the action of the owners. The circular they issued
was a lengthy one. Our object will be served if we quote a few
portions. Addressing the deputies, they said:

   "It appears in response to some application made by some of you the
   Owners' Committee have agreed that where a majority of deputies on
   any colliery are not members of ours, they will recommend that such
   deputies be freed from the recent reduction. Call this offer by what
   name you will it is neither more nor less than a special kind of
   bribery held out to you and we regret to hear, that some of you have
   been imprudent enough to accept it. Why make this difference between
   those who belong and those who do not belong to our Association? It
   is not because they respect the one party more than the other, or
   that the party who have left us are any better workmen or in any way
   more useful to the owners than those deputies who still belong to our
   Association. The most unknown amongst you as to your past history, or
   the most casual observer of present doings, ought to know that the
   motive which has induced the Owners' Committee to make this offer is
   not respect for you as a class, is not because they think your
   responsibilities are increased more than heretofore, neither is it
   because they think you underpaid, but it is because they want to
   induce you to sever your connection with an Association which has
   hitherto been able to gain many advantages for members and for none
   more than for your class. They offer you an inch now in order that
   they may take from you a foot hereafter. Most of you can remember the
   time (only five years ago) when your wages varied from 3s. 4d. to 3s.
   8d. per day of eight hours' working, while with the recent reduction
   of six per cent. your wages are now 4s. 8d. for 7½ hours' working,
   or an advance in time and money of 39.58 per cent."

The circular then draws attention to a portion of a letter from the
deputies who had left the miners to those of another colliery, and to
the resolution of the Owners' Association. The portion of the
deputies' letter said:

   "If any member of our [the Deputies'] Association leaves and starts
   to hew, and has to go back to the Hewers' Association, the two
   pounds' entrance fee will be paid out of the Deputies' Association."

The resolution of the Owners read:

   That this Association thinks that deputies, like overmen, should be
   the agents of the masters, and that under these circumstances it is
   imperative that they should not be restricted by any Trades Union

In relation to these the Committee point out that they (the deputies)
could not honestly be members even of the Deputies' Association, for
by the stipulation of the employers they were not to be restricted by
any Trade Union regulations. "It will thus be seen that if you do
this, you sell your birthright, your independence, your manhood, your
all, not even for a necessitous 'mess of pottage' but for an
insignificant present advantage, in order that you may bring upon
yourselves a future permanent and great evil."

Some of the deputies were desirous of serving two masters: they wanted
to remain in the Miners' and at the same time enter the Deputies'
Association for the sake of the six per cent. At the Council held on
Saturday, 30th September, a resolution was carried declaring "that the
Deputies be not allowed to remain in our Association and also become
members of what is called the Deputies' Association." At the same time
a sharp correspondence took place between the Owners' Association and
the Miners', in which Mr Bunning sent a letter, bearing date 3rd
November, which contained a protest and an extenuation.

    _November 3rd, 1876._


   The members of this Association regret that the Representatives of
   the Miners' Association after five years' amicable correspondence,
   should have thought it necessary to communicate to them so
   uncourteous and offensive a document as that bearing date 24th
   October 1876, and relating to the resolution passed respecting the
   deputies, on October 11th, 1876. And, as this resolution was arrived
   at after mature deliberation, and from the conviction that both the
   safety of the mine, and discipline of the pits, are seriously
   endangered, by having the deputies subject to the restrictions
   imposed by the Miners' Union, no good can possibly arise from any
   discussion of the subject at a meeting of the two Associations.

[Illustration: JOHN FORMAN]

The reply sent by the Executive repudiated all intention to be
uncourteous or offensive in language, but at the same time they
repeated the charge of bribery, for, said they, "viewed from the most
favourable standpoint, your action in the matter can only be
characterised as that of holding out a manifestly unfair inducement to
the deputies." They asked what the employers would have thought, if,
having the power, the Miners' Association had held out inducements to
charge men? They reminded the owners that they asked for a reduction
off all wages, and the award of six per cent. applied to all
underground labour. Considering these facts they could not but look
upon the action as a covert attack on the Association.

The Executive acting on instruction from Council took a return, which
resulted as follows:--

    Total number of Deputies--2557.
    Total number in our Association--936.
    Total number in Deputies' Association--1621.
    Total number paid old wage--1449.
    Total number paid reduced wage--1044.


   Deputies--Sliding Scale--Relief Fund--Emigration

The dispute about the deputies opened the year. A very lengthy
correspondence took place on the subject between the Employers' and
Miners' Associations. On January 23rd the whole of it was sent to the
lodges. They were informed that the Committee had done all they could
to avert a conflict on the question. In keeping with a resolution of
Council, the owners had been offered arbitration, which they had
refused. The resolution referred to contained the alternative of
giving the whole of the notices providing arbitration was refused.
Now, to carry out the instructions contained in that resolution the
Committee forwarded the ballot tickets for the purpose of taking the
vote in accordance with the rule. They concluded by saying: "Whatever
the result may be arising out of this case the entire onus of blame
must rest with the owners themselves." A resolution was placed on the
programme for Council on February 3rd by the ex-Committee asking "that
the deputies who are still with us be paid the 6 per cent. out of the
General Fund of the Association," but it lost. In addition, the
subject was laid before the Central Board of the Miners' National
Union. They expressed regret and surprise at the action of the
employers in paying one portion of the deputies more than the others,
and were of the opinion "that there can only be one object in view in
this policy, the disruption of the Miners' Union. The Board earnestly
appeal to the mine owners to withdraw from the position they have
taken up. Should they fail to do this the Board will feel called upon
to ask the members of the National Union to yield all the support to
the Durham Miners' Association they can under the circumstances."
Nothing further was done in the matter during 1877 except an
occasional Council resolution. We shall, however, meet the same
question in a few years.


Early in the year the Association was entering seriously into a new
phase of our industrial relation with the employers and taking
another step in the path of amicability by the arrangement of the
sliding scale. For some time there had been an inclination in that
direction. By the Minutes of the Executive Committee members were
informed that negotiations were proceeding with a view to establishing
a scale, and at the Council meeting held on December 9th, 1876, the
following resolution was on the programme:--"Seeing that coals are up,
we ask for 25 per cent. advance." The decision was that the question
rest over until the sliding scale question is settled.

On February 16th a letter was received from the employers containing
the following resolution:--

   "This Association having anxiously considered the further serious
   depression in the Durham coal trade and the necessity for
   endeavouring to avert in some prompt and thorough manner the complete
   collapse which has set in to the ruin of many owners, and the casting
   adrift of large bodies of men, feels compelled to ask the Miners'
   Association to concur in a further reduction in wages and
   readjustment of hours."

The Executive Committee met the owners on Thursday, February 22nd,
when they were informed that the depressed trade and lower prices
demanded a reduction of ten per cent. from underground and six per
cent. from the bank workmen, "coupled with an increase in the working
hours which would, in a great measure, compensate the men for the
reduction in their wages." The Committee could neither see the
necessity for a reduction nor could they see the compensation in the
lengthening of hours. They, however, arranged another meeting for
Friday, 9th March, when they would further discuss the sliding scale,
and, failing that, the reduction. In the statement explaining these
proceedings the Committee placed before the members two scales--one
proposed by them and the other by the owners. It will be interesting
and instructive to give these scales.

    _December 22nd, 1876._


     Price                Wage
     s. d.   Per cent.   s. d.
     5  2        0       4  8.0
     5 10        5       4 10.8
     6  6       10       5  1.6
     7  2       15       5  4.4
     7 10       20       5  7.2
     8  6       25       5 10.0
     9  2       30       6  0.8
     9 10       35       6  3.6
    10  6       40       6  6.4
    11  2       45       6  9.2
    11 10       50       7  0.0
    12  6       55       7  2.8
    13  2       60       7  5.6

    _January 2nd, 1877._


     Price                  Wage
     s. d.    Per cent.    s. d.
     5  6        0         5  0
     6  2        5         5  3
     6 10       10         5  6
     7  6       15         5  9
     8  2       20         6  0
     8 10       25         6  3
     9  6       30         6  6
    10  2       35         6  9
    10 10       40         7  0
    11  6       45         7  3
    12  2       50         7  6
    12 10       55         7  9
    13  6       60         8  0

In the explanation sent out it was shown that each scale would carry a
minimum wage. Theirs would be five shillings, while the employers'
would be 4s. 8d. The wages in the scale were for coal hewers only. The
reduction the employers were asking for would bring the wages down
twopence per man below the lowest wages offered in the owners' scale.
They asked the members to leave the question entirely in their hands,
as in their opinion a better settlement would be got than by any other
way. A special Council was called for the 8th of March, and two
subjects were sent out for discussion--(1) Should a sliding scale be
adopted; if so, under what condition? (2) Should the owners be offered
arbitration? The result was that the arranging of the scale was placed
in the hands of the Committee, and on 14th March the first sliding
scale was signed for two years.


The following scale shall regulate the wages of hewers and labour
below ground:--


    at and above    but below          Wage
                      5  4           7½ per cent. reduction
     5  4             5  8           5      "         "
     5  8             6  4           Present Rate
     6  4             7  0           5 per cent. advance
     7  0             7  8          10    "        "
     7  8             8  4          15    "        "
     8  4             9  0          20    "        "
     9  0             9  8          25    "        "
     9  8            10  4          30    "        "
    10  4            11  0          35    "        "
    11  0            11  8          40    "        "
    11  8            12  4          45    "        "
    12  4            13  0          50    "        "
    13  0            13  8          55    "        "
    13  8                           60    "        "
    And so on.

It will be observed that the grades were eightpence, and for that
amount the change in wages was four per cent. Next, there was to be a
minimum wage of 4s. 8½d. per day. This is worthy of special notice
in the light of subsequent events, especially during the time the
minimum existed, which was until 1879, and especially in view of the
desire of many people to have a minimum established again. Another
point was the amount of reduction, which would depend upon an
ascertainment by accountants. Messrs Monkhouse, Goddard & Miller acted
for the owners, and Messrs Benson, Eland & Co. for the workmen. The
ascertainment was made known on the 31st of March, the average net
price realised being certified at 5s. 3.97d. The Committee
accompanied the ascertainment with a short circular, and informed the
members "that a reduction of 7½ per cent. on underground men and
boys and 'banksmen' wages and 6 per cent. on 'bankmen's' wages will
take place on the pays commencing April 2nd and April 9th."


As a consequence of the depressed state of trade very large numbers of
men were thrown out of work, and the rules of the Association made no
provision for them. Opinion had been ripening for some months, and the
Committee realising that the time was opportune, and acting on a
Council resolution, suggested the formation of a Relief Fund. In
furtherance of the object they sent out the following:--


   Fellow Workmen,--At last Council meeting, you put into the hands of
   the Committee, the work of suggesting some plan to relieve the
   numbers of men now idle at various collieries in the county. After
   mature consideration, they suggest the following as a means of
   forming a Relief Fund:--

      1. To take from the General Fund the sum of five thousand
      pounds to form the nucleus of such Relief Fund.

      2. That this Fund be afterwards kept up by the payment of a levy, or
      extra contribution, of 2d. per member per fortnight.

   These two are the basis of their suggestions, details can be
   discussed and arranged afterwards. But to make these suggestions--and
   especially the second one--a success, the Committee believe that the
   county will require to have brought before them our exact position.
   The best, if not the only, means of doing this is to hold a series of
   public meetings at the various lodges and districts in the county,
   grouping lodges together where such can be done. What they now ask
   is, can they have your consent to assist the agents in attending such
   a series of public meetings? It is the only means of rendering
   successful the getting of necessary means and would not cost more
   than an ordinary Council meeting.

In support of their proposals they adopted two modes of
advocacy--first, to issue a circular, and second, to hold a series of
meetings at all the lodges. This latter step they considered most
essential, as they would thus be enabled to state the matter more
clearly by speech and answer to the members. This view they placed
before the lodges, and received sanction with very little objection;
and, acting upon it, they arranged themselves into deputations of two
each, and for about three weeks either addressed lodge meetings or
groups of collieries where convenient, and as a consequence the Relief
Fund was formed on the lines suggested. While it existed it proved
itself a very useful institution for that period, which was the
darkest through which the Association had to pass.

The amount paid, although small, was useful to the public as well as
the members--to the latter by easing off the pinch of poverty, and to
the former by the help to the rates, which would assuredly have been
much more heavily weighted if the fund had not existed. It only
existed a year, however, for the Committee placed a statement before
the county on November 2nd which showed that, while there had only
been £4144 contributed to the Relief Fund, the expenditure had been
£9695, and that, adding the £5000 grant from the General Fund, the
expenditure had exceeded by £551 the whole amount paid into it.


During 1876 and up to July 1877 the agents had acted as emigration
agents, and had been very useful in their advice to people who were
inclined to emigrate by giving them advice upon points and matters of
importance to them. All they did was done free of charge, and only
with the view to help those who were members of the Association; but
as in every movement there are men of the "viler sort," whose envy
prompts them to attribute ill motives to those they envy, so in this
case there were some who, instead of giving the agents credit for good
motives, were not slow to charge them with selfishness and exploiting
the volume of emigration for their own benefit. The agents bore this
until the Council meeting held on July 21st, when Mr Crawford and his
colleagues resolved to give it up. In doing so they gave their reasons
in the following circular:--


   _To the Members._

   Gentlemen,--As announced at Council Meeting on Saturday last, we
   intend to give up the agency. It was taken with two objects--(1) To
   have ourselves well posted up in emigration news, so that we might be
   able to give the best advice possible; (2) to aid our members by
   allowing them the commission money, which is a very important item
   indeed. It was not taken with the view of making one penny of profit,
   but solely to assist our members by advice and also an abatement of
   their fares. But as some poltroon fellows, who are directly
   interested in getting emigrants in order that they may get the
   commission money, are causing some stir, and as, further, some of our
   lodges are listening to their statements, we think it necessary to
   give it up. You will be the only losers by it, but remember that it
   is amongst our own members that the real grumblers are found.


   The Hours Arbitration--Position of the Association--Federation Board

The first item of interest in 1878 was initiated on 15th March by a
letter received from the employers _re_ the lengthening of the
coal-drawing hours. It was addressed to Mr Crawford as follows:--

   Dear Sir,--I am desired to inform you that the present state of the
   coal trade in Durham seems to render it imperative to extend the
   hours of work and increase the facilities for drawing coal. And that
   the members of this Association would be glad to discuss the matter
   with you and your Committee with a view to arriving at some decision
   on the subject.

   Could you fix Thursday next, the 21st, at two o'clock to meet our
   Committee here? An answer at your earliest convenience will oblige.

The Executive met the employers as requested, and found that the
change was to increase from ten hours to eleven all the collieries
working ten hours, that drawing time being the outcome of an
arrangement. The owners were reminded that it was inconsistent with
the sliding scale, and the demand should be withdrawn. They replied by
quoting a portion of the scale: "Both parties shall remain at liberty
to raise any question not inconsistent with the maintenance of the
sliding scale." "Should any dispute arise as to the carrying out of
these arrangements the question in dispute shall be submitted to the
chairman of the Joint Committee, who, if he cannot act, shall appoint
some other umpire to act in his place. The award in either case to be
final." These were discussed at great length; finally three proposals
suggested by the Executive Committee, subject to the approval of their
members, were agreed to:

   1st. Is it consistent with the sliding scale to even discuss a
   lengthening of the hours?

   2nd. If it is consistent with the sliding scale to discuss the
   matter, is it necessary to lengthen such hours?

   3rd. If the hours are lengthened, should there follow any increase in
   wages, and if so, how much?

The Committee were not sure whether the full body of owners would
agree to them, as those present at the meeting objected to No. 2 being
a question of reference. They informed the lodges that Mr Meynell had
fixed 9th April for the hearing of the case. They were convinced that
the employers could make the demand under the arrangements, and
therefore all that was necessary was to say how many persons should
attend and who they should be. The question was eventually placed in
the hands of the members of Joint Committee to make the best
settlement they could. On 15th April Mr Meynell gave the following



   Whereas the Durham Coal Owners' Association, being of opinion, that
   it is absolutely necessary that the working hours of all men and boys
   above 16 years of age should be increased, if they thought fit to
   place it before me, and to leave me to decide the question. And
   whereas it was also agreed that the following questions should be
   left to me for my decision:--

   1st. Is it consistent with the sliding scale to discuss a lengthening
   of the hours?

   2nd. If it is consistent with the sliding scale to discuss the
   matter, is it necessary to lengthen such hours?

   3rd. If the hours are lengthened, should there follow any increase in
   wages, and, if so, how much?

   Now, having heard and carefully considered the arguments on each
   side, I award, decide, and determine that it is not inconsistent with
   the sliding scale to discuss the question of lengthening the working
   hours; 2nd. that it is necessary to lengthen such hours; 3rd. that
   there should be an increase in the wages where the hours are

   I award and decide that the working hours of all men and boys above
   16 years of age shall, or may be increased in accordance with my
   award, that the minimum wage to be paid to the hewers shall be, when
   the pit works 10½ hours, 4s. 10½d.; and when the pit works 11
   hours, 5s. 0½d.; and that the wages of the datal men shall be
   increased in strict arithmetical proportion to the wages they are
   earning at the time of such increase in the hours. I determine that
   the increased hours shall or may commence on and after the first pays
   after the date of this my award.

   As witness my hand, this 15th day of April 1878.

    E. J. MEYNELL.

There immediately arose some dispute as to the application of the
award, and he was called upon to define it, which he did in a decision
given at Joint Committee on May 10th.

    _May 10th, 1878._

   "I further award and decide that where the working hours shall be
   increased in accordance with my award, that the minimum wages to be
   paid to the miners shall be where the pit works 10 hours and a half,
   4s. 10½d. and where the pit works 11 hours, 5s. 0½d. is
   intended to mean--that where the hewers are increased one quarter
   hour per shift, the county average wage shall, in that case, be
   considered as 4s. 10½d. instead of 4s. 8½d. as hithertofore;
   and where their hours are increased half-an-hour per shift, the
   county average wage shall be 5s. 0½d. instead of the present
   average of 4s. 8½d.

   It is also intended that the working hours of any or all classes of
   workmen may be increased on the payment to them of proportionate
   increased rates as set out in the award; and that the maximum working
   hours for drawing coals be 11 hours per day in day-shift pits, and
   double shifts proportionately."

The employers then asked that there should be an allowance for the
time taken by boys under age descending and ascending. With the ten
hours the boys under sixteen came out after coal drawing was done,
but under the eleven hours some were taken in at six A.M. and "rode"
at four P.M. Some were taken at seven A.M. and came out at five P.M.,
when the coal drawing finished. There was, therefore, a loss of time
at either seven or at four, and this should be allowed for. The matter
was arranged on the following principle:--Whatever time was taken
either at seven to send the under-age boys down, or at four to bring
them up, should be added to the eleven hours. If it took ten minutes,
then the coal drawing would be from six A.M. to five-ten P.M., but in
no case was the time allowed to be more than a quarter of an hour.


As the year progressed the trade became more depressed. Pits were
being laid in or batches of men were being discharged. The price of
coals was rushing down; the ascertainment for the four months ending
November showed the average was 4s. 7.65d. per ton, a reduction of
8.32d. per ton since the scale was established without any reduction
in wages. The evil of this was seen in the numbers of men being
discharged and in the sad falling away in the membership. The extent
of this may be gathered by a reference to the Executive Committee
Minutes for May 13th. Without mentioning names here, suffice it to say
that at one large colliery a deputation was sent from the Executive
with power to "appoint someone to act as checkweighman and secretary
and to guarantee his wages for six months," and that if the men at
that colliery wished "the President attend as either steward or
treasurer." The state of the county was growing so desperate that the
Committee issued two circulars, the object being to place it clearly
before the members. In the first they dealt with the Relief Fund. They
commenced by saying:

   "We are passing through a crisis in the coal trade, and during its
   continuance every step we take requires careful watching. We may even
   find it necessary to retrace our steps, by undoing what we have
   hithertofore done. We are well aware, that to many men this kind of
   conduct seems to portray a want of stability and necessary
   perseverance. Perseverance in a good and successful cause is highly
   commendable, but to persevere in a course of conduct, where
   perseverance means ultimate ruin is neither wise nor commendable. A
   renowned writer has said that "while fools persevere in their ways,
   wise men change their opinions and course of conduct." A body of men
   who either cannot or will not adapt themselves to existing exigencies
   must not expect success to attend their efforts."

Passing from these calm, wise words of warning they bring before the
members the position of the Relief Fund. A year prior they (the
Committee) had asked them to subscribe to assist those thrown out of
employment by the bad condition of trade. To this there had been a
response of twopence per fortnight. That had not been adequate to meet
the demand, and the twopence had been increased to fivepence. Still
the income did not keep pace with the outlay. For the six weeks
previous there had been a loss of £2145. There was not only this
monetary loss, but there was the more serious one, its effect on the

   Thousands of members are refusing to pay the fivepence per fortnight,
   and great numbers of men have left the Association, so that we are
   not only losing the fivepence but their ordinary labour
   contributions. This being our position, we would strongly advise you
   to at once abolish the payment of the Relief Fund levy.

While this was their opinion they would continue the benefits for
three months. At the Council held on 15th June it was decided "that
the benefits of the Relief Fund be continued for 12 weeks longer, but
the contributions cease forthwith and the money required to meet the
demands thereof be taken from the General Fund." This was done in
order that the men in receipt of relief should not suddenly have their
small resources cut off, but should have a little time to look round.

The second circular dealt with the General Fund in its relation to the
demands upon it. As a preface to their suggested alteration they said:

   The history of Trades Unions during the last 30 years would form a
   very curious chapter in the annals of our country. The vicissitudes
   which have happened to organised bodies of workmen have been
   manifold, and varied; but the disastrous consequences which have so
   often overtaken them have generally been the result of a want of
   policy, prudence, and forethought, on the part of those who have
   composed such Associations. It is just as much the study of those who
   have the more direct management of Associations like ours to look
   facts fully in the face before it is too late, as it is that of the
   head of a household to weigh his position and measure his stores both
   present and prospective, before he rushes into irretrievable ruin.
   Believing this to be our duty we now place before you our position
   both present and prospective.

They then point out that the expenditure was just double the income.
During the previous nine months there had been £20,000 drawn from the
deposit account. In the face of these facts there needed to be
retrenchment. They then show that in 1869 the contribution was fixed
at 6d. per fortnight, while the strike and breakage allowance was 10s.
per week (and a colliery must be off two weeks before receiving
anything), and the sacrificed allowance was 13s. per week, with 1s.
per week for each child. These benefits continued until 1872, when
work was plentiful and wages good. Then the strike and breakage
allowance was raised to 15s. (and only to be off a week before being
entitled), and the sacrificed allowance was made 20s., with 2s. 6d.
for each child, per week. They therefore suggested a reversion to the
original payment (except in the case of the week) and the reduction of
the death legacy for children from £3 to £2, and they wound up by

   "It is not now a matter of choice, but one of positive compulsion. An
   Association wanting money is like a ship wanting a rudder in a
   boisterous sea. We would soon find ourselves driven on to the rocks
   of discontent, disaffection, and disunion, and in all probability
   shattered to pieces in the struggle. To pursue longer the course we
   are now pursuing must shortly leave us in that pitiable and helpless

A special Council meeting was held on 11th October which gave sanction
to the whole of the Committee's recommendation.


As soon as the other sections of labour had formed themselves into
separate organisations in 1873-4, there sprang up a desire for a
federation of forces, and from time to time there appeared resolutions
on the Council programme all aiming at that end. In this year it took
a more definite shape. On the Committee Minutes for January 28th there
is a resolution as follows:--

   That a deputation of three agents attend a meeting of cokemen,
   mechanics and enginemen as to the amalgamation of all those

In October a meeting was held at which a set of rules was drawn up and
sent out to the county with an explanation. The members were informed
that the suggestions were not unalterable, but in their crude form
were submitted subject to their approval or amendment. And they were
informed that:

   "The Federation was formed to protect their joint interests. There
   might have been divisions but these must be forgotten. The workmen
   were unconnected, whilst acting against a thoroughly organised body
   of owners. There had been no cohesion, nor the remotest
   understanding, while at the same time they were dealing with the same
   combined body of capitalists. It must be clear to everyone that while
   in our present divided condition and negotiating with owners who act
   as one body we must be placed at a very serious disadvantage."

The county approved of the idea, and on November 13th the rules were
issued to the county. At the Annual Meeting held on 6th December the
first members of the Board were elected. Their names were J. Forman,
W. Crawford, W. H. Patterson, N. Wilkinson, J. Wilson, and W. Johnson.
Slightly anticipating the events happening in 1879, and for the
purpose of keeping ourselves in as close sequence as possible, it may
be stated here that the first meeting of the Board was held on January
28th, 1879, when Mr Crawford was appointed secretary, and Mr J. Dover
(mechanic) treasurer. With respect to the chairman, it was decided to
appoint an independent one for six months. He should only have a
casting vote, and be paid 21s. per day and expenses. At the meeting
held on February 7th Mr John Coward of Durham was elected to that
position, and occupied it for some months, and during the strike of
1879, assisted by his counsel. By being unaffected in wage by that
stoppage he was able to bring a cool and dispassionate feeling to bear
upon the questions in dispute. It is due to him to say he took no
remuneration for his services.


    Demand for Reduction--Strike of 1879--Dual Arbitration--Renewal of
    Sliding Scale

The Board was just formed when it was called upon to face one of the
most serious crises in our history. At the Council meeting held on
December 7th, 1878, it was decided that the average wages in the
county should be taken, and that the formation of another scale should
be remitted to the Committee, with power to renew it. The Committee
were not satisfied with that indefinite resolution, and asked for more
explicit instructions. There were certain alterations required, and
therefore they asked for "full and uncontrolled power." They knew that
in adopting that course they would risk a large amount of
unpleasantness, but they were willing to risk it if they were assured
of the confidence of the majority of the members. Further, they asked
that the retiring members of the Committee should be allowed to remain
in office until the scale was arranged and the crisis over. These
requests as to power and suggestion as to the Committee were both
accepted. The formation of the Federation Board, however, somewhat
altered, and at first complicated, the situation, for the result was a
complex and dual authority. The Board was not then, as now, the sole
conductor of the wages disputes, but the various Committees acted
collaterally, the Miners' Committee taking the leading part in the
negotiations. The demands made by the employers were handed to the
Miners' Committee on February 4th. The conditions were as under:

   (1) That a reduction of 20 per cent. on present underground wages is
   a condition precedent to the re-establishment of a sliding scale.

   (2) That a reduction of 12½ per cent. should be made in surface
   labour, but so that the wages of able-bodied men be not brought below
   2s. 6d. per day.

   (3) In the event of a scale being established, it shall have no limit
   upward or downward, and shall be subject to termination on 12 months'

The Committee could not grant the request, but at once made an offer
of seven and a half per cent., to take effect on Monday, the 10th, or
they would submit the entire matter to arbitration. These offers were
refused by the owners, and as a consequence the meeting was adjourned
until the 20th. The Committee called a Council for the 15th of
February. On the 7th the Federation Board met, and passed the
following resolution:--

   This Board feels that the position of the county in reference to
   wages is anomalous. The owners having as a body demanded a reduction
   of wages, and as such reduction includes all classes of labour in
   connection with collieries, we recommend that each Association call a
   Council meeting to discuss the advisability of adjusting a sliding
   scale for the regulation of wages, consistent with all our interests.

   That the Secretary write and ask that at the meeting on the 20th
   inst. all the four Associations be represented.

The Miners' Council decided against the seven and a half per cent.,
but by the following resolution offered arbitration:--

   "That having heard the report of the Committee on their interview
   with the owners on the reduction now asked by the latter, this
   meeting is of opinion that the best means of settling the difficulty
   is, to refer it to open arbitration as heretofore."

The owners refused to meet the Federation Board as a whole, and as a
consequence the Miners' Committee met them on the 20th, in keeping
with the Board Minute, on February 18th. At that meeting the owners
modified their demand.


    _February 22nd, 1879._

   "1. That a reduction of 10 per cent. in underground, and 7½ per
   cent. in surface labour, be brought into operation in the first pay
   beginning March next.

   2. That the additional 10 per cent. in underground, and 5 per cent.
   in surface labour, claimed by the owners in their Minute of January
   11th, be referred to arbitration in the following manner, viz.:--

      Representatives of the two Associations to meet
      within the first week of March, and if they can agree on a sole
      arbitrator, the matter to be forthwith referred to him; and if they
      cannot so agree, each side to appoint an arbitrator, which two
      arbitrators shall forthwith appoint an umpire, and if they fail to
      do so by March 15th, such umpire shall, on the application of either
      arbitrator, be appointed by Mr Meynell, County Court Judge of

      In the event of there being two arbitrators and an umpire, they
      shall sit together to hear the case; and the award shall take effect
      in the first pay in April.

   3. The expediency of re-establishing a sliding scale, to be left for
   consideration after the award has been given."

This was submitted to the Federation Board, who met the modification
by the following:--


    _March 6th, 1879._

   1st. To offer the owners the 10 per cent. for underground workmen,
   and 7½ per cent. for bank workmen as a settlement of the whole

   2nd. To offer them 7½ per cent. from underground, and 6 per cent.
   from above-bank workmen, and to refer any further claim they might
   make to arbitration.

The Miners' Committee supported the Board, and did this in a circular
which contained some very plain and urgent statements.

   "At best, the lookout is but a gloomy one, and we must try to bridge
   over the difficulty as best we can, and if possible, without the pits
   being stopped. We have no wish to descant on the generally depressed
   condition of trade, or the evil effects producible by a large surplus
   number of men. At the present time, both these things are operating
   amongst us, and the owners know this, and seem determined to use them
   in this crisis. Looking at the general condition of things, we would
   very strongly advise you to adopt one of the suggestions contained in
   this circular. They are the best we can get at the present time, and
   a refusal of one of the methods suggested cannot result in better
   terms for the great body of our members. You must remember that these
   are times when prudent men do the best, and get the most they can
   without running all the risks which always attend a stoppage of the
   pits when trade is paralysed and men both suffering and

Immediately these offers were made known there arose a fierce
agitation in the county, and on every hand mass meetings were held
protesting against the terms. As is the case in matters of this kind,
orators vehement if not polished sprang up from every quarter, whose
stock-in-trade consisted of foul epithets which they hurled at the
Committee and Federation Board. So desperate was the situation that
certain of the Committee were in fear, and came into public view as
little as possible. A personal incident may be excused here. A mass
meeting was held on the sands in Durham. The writer, as chairman of
the Wheatley Hill Lodge, marched to it. The first words heard were:
"There's one of the----; let us put him in the river." The crowd
surged and rocked. What the consequence might have been it is hard to
tell, but just when the feeling ran highest and he was most in danger
a man was knocked back over on to a drum which stood end up, and it
went off with a loud report, and the cry was: "They are firing guns."
In a moment a panic seized the people, and, as is recorded of the
battle of Stanhope over the moor hen, "those who ran fastest got
soonest out of town." There was a low wall (low on one side, high on
the other) over which hundreds fell head foremost, and a good, kind
lady who had come from Wheatley Hill to take care of her husband (the
man whose presence was the cause of all the hubbub) was carried away
by the crowd, and was so rushed along by the panic-stricken stream of
humanity that she was with twenty others landed in a stable, the door
of which stood invitingly open like a city of refuge. And so the
result was the meeting was disturbed, and the culprit, one of the
malodorous Committee, was left unhurt, Providence in the shape of a
drum being the means of saving him.

Apart from the ludicrous incident of the bursting drum the feeling
manifested towards the Committee there was only on a par with that
found everywhere throughout the county. If one of those at the head
of affairs appeared in the street and passed a group of men insult was
rampant--slander, being cowardly, feels safe in a crowd. Still the
Committee were not to be driven from their task. They regretted the
action of the employers in refusing open arbitration, and who, knowing
the condition of the Union, were determined to force their full
demand; and they were sorry for the opposition of their members, but
they knew they were moved by sheer desperation, and played upon by
designing men who cared more for popularity, even if it were fleeting,
than the welfare of the Union, and who would not hesitate to bring
ruin if perchance small gain would come to them from it.

The Committee prepared for the struggle which they saw was inevitable
if the employers did not move from the position they had taken up.
Knowing this they set themselves to ascertain the true state of
affairs in the county. They took the actual average of the hewers and
reductions which at each colliery had been suffered at Joint
Committee, or had been forced upon them since March 1877, with the
hewing prices. It was found that while there was a nominal minimum
wage of 4s. 8½d. where the drawing hours were ten, 4s. 10½d.
where the hours were ten and a half, and 5s. 0½d. where the eleven
hours prevailed, the actual average of the hewers throughout the
entire county was only 4s. 6¾d. It was therefore about 5d. per day
or seven per cent. below the theoretical minimum. This is worth
considering when we are desirous of establishing it again. It may
work in the summer of trade, but not in the winter of depression.

This state of things was brought about as the result of local
reductions. There were well-known instances where whole collieries of
men petitioned the Executive Committee to be allowed to work at twenty
per cent. below the minimum wage. In the final arbitration of 1879,
before Lord Derby, the employers admitted the actual average was only
4s. 6¾d. This they had taken just prior to the strike. They
likewise stated in their case that many and considerable reductions
were privately agreed to, and particularly where the owners possessed
little capital or worked inferior or costly seams. The average taken
by the Committee harmonised with the 4s. 6¾d.

_Quotation from Owners' Case_

   34. At 43 separate pits arrangements for abatements of wages were
   made in the working of 65 different seams, varying from 2½ per
   cent. to 20 per cent. and upwards, and this state of things continued
   up to the close of the period to which the sliding scale applied,
   when negotiations for a general reduction of wages were entered into
   by the two Associations which eventually ended in the strike.

   35. These local arrangements, as we have stated, were private, and
   between the individual worker owner and his workmen, and without the
   official knowledge of the Owners' Association.

   It is believed that, if not in every case, certainly very many of the
   private agreements had the approval of the Miners' Executive, for
   some of these negotiations were conducted personally by their staff,
   who had the strong motive in thus keeping their constituents
   employed at the best wages they could obtain for them, of saving the
   Union funds from supporting every man, who, under the rules of the
   Association, was entitled to support when thrown out of employment.

The Committee in their reply before Lord Derby acknowledged that these
reductions took place, but to strengthen their case they charged the
whole blame on the employers. They said:

   Sometimes this was done by threatening to stop the pits and sometimes
   by the more reprehensible practice of dismissing portions of men, in
   proof of which we can testify that men were personally canvassed, and
   if not found pliable were threatened and coerced. That reductions
   took place, and, as the owners state, in some cases they amounted to
   20 per cent., is correct, thus making the wages of numerous bodies of
   hewers (in place of reaching the owners asserted 4s. 8d. or 5s. per
   day) fall far below even 4s. per day and proving what we have all
   along stated, that the average wages of the best paid class of men in
   the county, viz.--the hewers, are at least 10 per cent. and even more
   below the rate named by the owners. This proves the inability of our
   men to suffer any further reduction.

In their rejoinder the employers returned to the subject. They
asserted that for two years the great bulk of the owners had kept
faith with the workmen, at a loss to themselves when the selling price
fell below the scale. In the cases where arrangements had been made
they had been assisted and concurred in by the Miners' Executive. "We
assert and challenge contradiction that the Executive were parties,
if not to every abatement of wage in 1878-79, most certainly they
were parties to many, and hence the folly of accusing the owners of
conniving at the reductions when the Executive were straining every
nerve to assist them, with the object, as we again assert, of saving
their Union funds."

In addition to the general poverty of the workmen through low wages
and slack work the Committee had to face a serious disorganisation. At
some very large collieries the numbers had decreased very much. This
fact was as well known to the owners as the Committee, for it was
brought out very prominently at the meeting with the employers, when
the Committee made the offer of ten and seven and a half per cent. as
a full settlement. One of the employers, urging the acceptance of
their claim, said: "There are a large number of men outside the Union,
and these are not with you. The logic of events will decide the
issue." The reply of one of the Executive was: "You mean the logic of
circumstances, the logic of the cupboard. You have a good ally in our

Then there was a sadly depleted fund, which in itself was sufficient
to fill them with pessimism, for every man deserving of being at the
head of Trade Unions is bound to feel when faced by these
circumstances--not in a cowardly manner, but a feeling evolved out of
the dark background of poverty and hunger, not of men, but of the
children. There was only £22,688 in property and bank. From this was
to be deducted £4861 as money invested in the Industrial Bank and
Houghton and Shotton Workmen's Hall, which was not available for
strike purposes; therefore the war chest was very small, especially
to enter upon a struggle such as lay before them.

In the face of these adverse circumstances--owners persistent in their
demands, wages very low, partial disorganisation, small resources, and
an angry people--the Committee stood firm. Their attitude was
unflinching, and their advice fearless and clear, as witness the
following quotation from a circular:--

   The time has now come when there must be unmistakably plain speaking.
   It is now clear, beyond a doubt, that if you persist in your
   adherence to open arbitration alone, the owners will allow the
   sliding scale to run out without further interference or negotiation
   and at the end of that time they will take all that they can get,
   either along the whole line or piecemeal, whichever course may best
   suit their purpose, by enabling them to punish you by lowering wages
   and reintroducing pernicious practices. To attempt to fight at the
   present time without offering the terms which we shall further on
   advise you to offer, would be suicidal. Look around you, and what do
   you find? On every hand you can count idle men by hundreds and
   thousands. Many of these men have been idle for weeks and months. All
   their means have long since been spent, and they are waiting for
   work, begging for work, and cannot find it. We have spent in two
   years over strikes amongst our own members, at large and small
   collieries, nearly one hundred thousand pounds and there is not a
   single strike, either of large or small dimensions, where we have not
   signally failed.

The offer mentioned in the above was a ten per cent. off underground
men and seven and a half per cent. off surface men as a final
settlement, or seven and a half per cent. off underground wages and
six per cent. off surface wages, and any further claim referred to
open arbitration. The circular was submitted to a Council, and
refused, but Mr Crawford was instructed to offer open arbitration on
the whole question. This was done by telegram:

   To T. W. Bunning, Coal Trade Hall, Newcastle.

   Open arbitration having for many years been resorted to by your
   Association and ours in the settlement of wages questions, our
   members again wish to have recourse to it in the settlement of your
   present demand for a further reduction of wages.

On the same day a reply was received:

   W. Crawford, 16 North Road, Durham.

   The following resolution was passed by a full meeting of the
   Employers' Association before the receipt of your telegram and has
   since been unanimously confirmed--At a meeting of this body held
   to-day arrangements were made for giving notice to expire on April
   5th to all men whose wages have been hitherto regulated by the Durham
   Miners' sliding scale, that from that date underground wages will be
   reduced fifteen and surface wages ten per cent.

It will be seen the offer of the owners confines it to the miners, as
they alone were in the scale. This modification of demand and threat
of notice was sent out in a circular on the 17th of March. They
reviewed the whole situation both at home and in other counties. At
home, within the previous six days, four collieries had received
notice for depression of trade. In South Wales heavy reductions had
taken place. In Scotland nearly the whole of the notices had been
served for further reductions, while wages were as low as 2s. 6d. per
day. In other parts of the country a similar state of things existed.
In stating these matters there was no attempt to terrify. It was a
simple statement of facts. It would require the pen of a master to
place before them a true picture of "all the comparative and positive
destitution to be found in the houses of thousands of men at the
present time. With this dreadfully adverse condition of things is it
possible to go into a struggle with a body of men, strong in their own
cause, determined to fight, and who have every possible advantage on
their side? To do so can only end in results the most damaging to our
organisation and ruinous to ourselves and families. True valour is not
shown in reckless and heedless action, but by waiting until a foe can
be met on at least equal terms." It was no use offering arbitration,
for the owners had persistently refused that. They urged the whole
matter should be left in the hands of somebody chosen by themselves to
make the best settlement they could. The voting at the Council was
taken on the two questions: the Committee's suggestion or arbitration.
The result was 118 for the former and 155 for the latter--being a
majority of 37 for open arbitration on the whole question.

It will be obvious that the tendency of the owners' offer only being
made to the miners would be to disintegrate. It would not be right to
say such was the intention, yet that was assuredly the bias. The
justification lies in this, the miners were the only parties to the
scale at its formation. None of the other sections were parties to it,
and therefore the negotiations only applied to them. The terms of the
requests were very embracive: they are "underground wages" and
"surface wages." This is certain, that no division took place. The
action, right or wrong, was as solid as could be expected.

The voting on the questions, Committee suggestion or arbitration, did
not give a satisfactory decision, and a second ballot was taken on the
questions: "Strike" or "Owners' terms," with a result that the workmen
refused the terms. The strike was entered upon, the notices
terminating on 5th April. Some of the managers threatened to withhold
the wages until the houses were vacant, and it was feared that this
might provoke disturbance. Notice was sent out by the Committee, in
which the action of such managers was condemned as "not only an
illegal, but also an inhuman act." "But whatever course they may
adopt, either in this or any other matter, be very careful not to be
guilty of any breach of the law. Let nothing induce you to pursue a
course which at all times is to be deplored, but which just now would
be aggravated into the most heinous of crimes." As a result the
conduct during the strike was most commendable, the only persons
suffering being the Committee and Federation Board.

There were certain collieries to whom notice was not given, and the
Committee felt it necessary to ask whether these should continue
working or give in their notices. The returns of the voting were 224
for stopping the whole of the collieries and only 7 for working on.
They were, therefore, ordered to give in their notices, and
instructions were sent out as to the mode of procedure. That vote was
taken on April 22nd, but on the 30th at a special Council meeting it
was qualified by the following resolution:--

   "This meeting deems it highly necessary that all those firms ought to
   be allowed to work their pits who will agree to arbitration as a
   settlement of their difficulties, or who will agree to a continuation
   of present prices without being affected by any county change."

An offer was made to the enginemen, which their representative brought
before the Federation Board. At the meeting on April 21st they were
advised "to only take such a reduction as the sliding scale would have
warranted them in asking, had it been operative downwards as well as
upwards. Should this be refused by the owners, this board would
further recommend the enginemen, mechanics and cokemen who are yet
employed to give in their notices and thus legally terminate their

The Board met again on the 28th of April, when the enginemen reported
a change in their position, and the following resolution was passed:--

   This meeting has heard with satisfaction that the owners on Saturday
   last offered the enginemen open arbitration in the settlement of
   their present wages difficulty. But it cannot but express its
   surprise at the conduct of the owners in so determinedly refusing to
   adopt the same principle in the settlement of the wages difficulty
   now existing between the miners and them. If the adoption of
   arbitration in the enginemen's case would have been a right and
   equitable way of settling, it surely must be right also in the case
   of the miners.

So the strike proceeded. The Committee were formed into a Strike
Committee, with full power to manage it. They were called upon to
defend themselves in the press. Every effort was made to get help from
other districts. On the 4th of May a communication was received from
the owners.


   The Durham Coal Owners' Association recognising

   (1) That the public, as well as private interests, so seriously
   prejudiced by the strike, render it a duty to adopt a course most
   likely to bring about a settlement;

   (2) That the proposition for each side appointing a Committee with
   the full powers seems to have met with general approval;

   (3) That such Committee would undoubtedly provide the means by which
   difficult negotiations can be most successfully conducted;


   That a Committee of 14 members of this Association be and are hereby
   appointed to meet a similar Committee, if such should be appointed by
   the Miners' Association, with full power to settle the matter at

   That the foregoing Resolution be communicated to the Miners'
   Association, and they be invited to adopt a similar course.

 The Committee in response to that Resolution met the Owners'
 Committee on Saturday, the 10th of May, but failed to come to any
 agreement, and the meeting was adjourned until the 14th. The county
 was informed of the failure, and told to remain as they were until
 they heard from the Committee again. Mr Forman and Mr Crawford met Mr
 L. Wood and Mr D. Dale on the 14th. No settlement was come to as to
 amount of reduction, but it was arranged there should be a _pro tem_.
 arbitration, with Mr Bradshaw, County Court Judge, as umpire. The
 arrangement was that there should be an arbitration to say how the
 collieries should commence, and a second case after work was resumed
 to decide what further reduction should be granted. The preliminary
 case was heard on May 15th, and Judge Bradshaw, after passing in
 review the various stages of the dispute, decided "that there should
 be an absolute reduction in wages of 8¾ per cent. on underground
 and of 6¾ per cent. on surface labour, to take effect from that
 date, and the question whether any further reduction should be made
 be left to a future arbitration."


   In the matter of disputes relating to wages between the coal owners,
   members of the Durham Coal Owners' Association, and their workmen,
   members of the Durham Miners' Association:

   Whereas the owners claimed a considerable reduction of wages, to take
   effect from the fifth day of April last, and the miners refusing to
   accept such reductions the collieries in the county of Durham have
   for some time been, and still are idle.

   And whereas, with a view of settling the matter in difference
   between them, the Owners' Association appointed a Committee of 14
   persons, and the Miners' Committee appointed a Committee of like
   number, with full power to determine the question at issue.

   And whereas, after long negotiations, the Owners' Committee deputed
   to Messrs Lindsay Wood and David Dale, and the Miners' Committee
   deputed to Messrs William Crawford and John Forman, their respective

   And whereas, the said Lindsay Wood, David Dale, William Crawford, and
   John Forman having applied to me, the undersigned, for my advice and
   decision in the premises, and have laid before me the following
   statements, which are admitted by the parties on both sides,

   1. That on February 20th last, the owners offered to accept an
   absolute reduction in wages of 10 per cent. on underground, and 7½
   per cent. on surface labour, and to leave to arbitration the question
   whether any, and what further reduction should be made.

   2. That on April 2nd last, the Miners' Association offered to concede
   an absolute reduction in wages of 7½ per cent. on underground, and
   6 per cent. on surface labour, and to leave to arbitration the
   question, whether any, and what further reduction should be made.

   3. That on the 10th inst., the Owners' Committee offered to accept an
   absolute reduction in wages of 8¾ per cent. on underground and
   6¾ per cent. on surface labour, and to leave to arbitration the
   question, whether any, and what further reduction should be made.

   4. That on the 10th inst., the Miners' Committee offered to concede an
   absolute reduction in wages of 6¼ per cent. on underground, and 5
   per cent. on surface labour, and to leave to arbitration whether
   any, and what further reduction should be made.

   Now, I, the undersigned, having duly weighed and considered the
   foregoing statement, and what has been alleged before me by the
   respective parties, _Do Decide and Award_, that there be an absolute
   reduction in wages of 8¾ per cent. on underground, and of 6¾
   per cent. on surface labour, to take effect from the date of these
   presents; and the question, whether any, and what further reduction
   should be made, be left to future arbitration.

   In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, in duplicate, this
   fifteenth day of May, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-nine.


Then there arose a dispute as to whether it were competent for the men
to show cause before the future arbitrator why there should be a
rebatement of the eight and three quarters and six and three quarters
per cent. It was again referred to the umpire. He decided that the
contention of the workmen's representatives could not be sustained.
The employers accepted his decision as an instalment of their claim,
and to get the pits to work, but they in no way waived or relinquished
their right to refer to arbitration, whether or not they were entitled
to any, and if any, what further reduction over and above the absolute
reduction by his award.

That definition the Committee accepted. Immediately the spirit of
revolt ran through the county, and for a few days some lodges objected
to resume work. Whenever the Executive appeared they were greeted with
cries of "Judge Bradshaw" and "Eight and three quarters." Gradually
the resumption of work became universal, and on the 22nd of July the
arbitration was opened, with Lord Derby as umpire, in 12 Great George
Street, London. Mr W. Armstrong and Mr D. Dale were arbitrators for
the employers, with Mr L. Jones and Mr W. Crawford for the workmen.
Advocates for the owners were H. T. Morton, L. Wood, and W. T.
Bunning; for the employees J. Forman, N. Wilkinson, and W. H.
Patterson. The names of the Executive Committee were:

    W. Johnson.
    G. Newton.
    J. Scott.
    J. Bell.
    W. R. Fairley.
    W. Robinson.
    W. Longstaff.
    G. Parker.
    W. Gordon.
    J. Wilson.

There were two days' sittings, and on the 28th of July Lord Derby gave
his award. He said it was agreed that the award should apply to all
underground and surface men, except enginemen, firemen, joiners,
smiths, masons, labourers, and cokemen. He awarded a reduction of one
and a quarter per cent. in the present rate of wages paid to
underground and surface men affected by his award.

Thus ended a stoppage of work--it is a misnomer to call it a
strike--which should never have taken place. The men from the first
were ready to appeal to reason, and the final decision proved the
Executive Committee right in their offer. There is a closer spirit
abroad now. The county has been in an atmosphere of amicability. May
that better state take full possession and the day of strikes be gone
for ever.

[Illustration: W. H. PATTERSON]

The strike ended, the Committee set themselves to work to repair the
broken places and put the Association on to a solid foundation again.
They found themselves financially insolvent and shattered numerically.
They were unable to meet the benefits provided by rule, and there was
a great cry of distress from those who were out of work owing to
depression of trade. A return was taken as to a levy to meet the
latter class, but it was very unsatisfactory, not one half of the
votes being cast, and the suggestions included levies varying from 2d.
up to 1s. They therefore decided to call a special Council, warning
the members that these people could not be paid from the General Fund.
They had been compelled to pay those who were on the funds short
allowance. The position was so desperate that "either the
contributions must be increased or the benefits reduced," and at the
Council the two questions were--first, the general question of
contributions and outlay; second, the men idle from depression: how to
raise money for their support and how much should they be paid? The
Council acting on the advice of the Committee decided that the
benefits for strike, lockout, and breakage should be 6s. and 3s. per
week for members and half members respectively, and that these
payments should only be paid for six months, when they should cease
without appeal, the sacrificed allowance being reduced to 10s. per
week without a reduction in time.

Their next difficulty was the unconstitutional district meetings which
were held. At these the wildest statements were made, and as a
consequence the minds of the members (as will always be the case when
these meetings are in vogue) became unsettled, and disunion followed.
Amid the natural difficulties of the situation the Committee were
called upon to defend themselves. A circular was sent out which, after
renewing the argument of the promoters of the meetings, said:

   "If you determine to let those men go on, doing their endeavours to
   undermine your Association, then be prepared to accept with that
   choice all the evil consequences which must arise therefrom. These
   are the men who would "_rather rule in_ hell than serve in heaven!"
   They have yet to learn the most important of all attainments--viz.
   how to rule themselves, before presuming to guide the thousands of
   people in this county. If complaints are to be made, let them be made
   regularly and right. If reformations are needed, let them be sought
   in keeping with the constitution."

History is apt to repeat itself in this mode of procedure as in
others. Nothing but evil can result. We are not in Russia; we are a
democracy, and have a free tribunal.

There were other four questions calling for arrangement: the fixing of
the county average; the arranging for official recognition and the
operation of the Federation Board; the rearrangement of the sliding
scale; and the resumption of the Joint Committee. A dispute as to the
average for hewers arose in reference to the figures from which the
eight and three quarters per cent. and one and a quarter per cent.
should be taken. The employers contended they should be deducted from
the actual wage of the county for the three pays prior to the strike,
which was found to be 4s. 6¾d. The Committee contended they should
be deducted from the nominal minimum wage of 5s. 0½d. for the
eleven-hour pits and 4s. 8½d. for the ten-hour pits. These were the
wages from which the reductions were sought. If they were averaged as
per the number of pits at each it worked out at 4s. 11d. It was
therefore obvious that there would be a great difference in the
result. If the two reductions were taken from the 4s. 11d. the average
would be 4s. 5.16d.; if from the 4s. 6¾d. it would be 4s. 1.33d.,
or 3.83d. of a difference. It was finally agreed that the average for
hewers should be 4s. 5d. for the eleven and 4s. 2d. for the ten hour

The official recognition of the Federation Board was at first objected
to by the employers. At a meeting of the Board held on the 23rd of
September the details of the sliding scale were discussed. They were
in doubt as to whether the owners would discuss it with them, or the
miners alone. Eventually a joint meeting was held, and the second
sliding scale was arranged on October 11th. The date of its
commencement was fixed for December.


                                          There shall be made the
                                        following percentage additions
      When the Net                      to, or deductions
    Average Selling                     from, the now prevailing
    Price of Coal                       tonnage rates and wages

    Reaches     But does not reach    Additions       Deductions
    s.  d.           s.  d.
    4   2            4   6              None              None
    4   6            4   10              2½ per cent.      "
    4   10           5   2               5     "           "
    5   2            5   6               7½    "           "
    5   6            5   10             10     "           "
    5   10           6   2              15     "           "
    6   2            6   6              17½    "           "
    6   6            6   10             20     "           "

And so on upwards, 2½ per cent. for each 4d.; the 5 per cent.
variation for the 4d. range in price between 5s. 10d. and 6s. 2d.
being limited to that special range.

    s.  d.    s.  d.     Deductions.
    3   10    4   2      2½ per cent.
    3   6     3   10            "

And so on downwards.

       *       *       *       *       *

The difference between this and the previous one consists in the
lessened grades. The 8d. grade was reduced to 4d. for two and a half
per cent. change in underground wages and two per cent. in surface
wages. Another variation was the giving up of the minimum wage. All
parties were agreed on this point, as all had felt the evil arising
from the operation of it during the two years of its existence. Long
may it be before such another condition arises here, for the days were
dark indeed; as witness the first ascertainment, which showed the
average selling price of coal to be 4s. 3.3d. per ton. The accountants
were, as now (1906), E. Spark, and Monkhouse, Goddard & Co.

The Joint Committee was suspended at the commencement of the strike on
April 5th, and did not resume its sittings until December 12th. During
the time intervening the rules were revised. A special Committee
(which might be called an interregnum Committee) met, and transacted
business of the same nature as that within the purview of the Joint

Before leaving the strike and the consequences it may be of interest
to quote from Mr Crawford's first monthly circular his estimate of it.

   The strike which took place in the months of April and May last will
   ever remain an epoch in the history of the Association. A more
   complete success never took place. At its beginning, strong doubts
   were expressed and great fears entertained as to what would be the
   ultimate consequences of such a step.

   I was amongst those who doubted, but did not despair, and the end
   more than justified the expectations of the most sanguine. If we take
   the entire history of trade disputes, it will be found that not one
   ever commanded so much public sympathy. We had justice and right on
   our sides, and we took the only wise course--viz. to let the public
   know it. We deplore strikes as much as anyone can do, but there are
   times when they become necessary and such a climax had we arrived at
   in April 1879. Numbers of men who were outside our Association then
   came forward and joined with us and fought the battle side by side.
   There never was a more complete stoppage of work or one which to the
   workmen, at least, ended more satisfactorily.

We may fittingly close the year by a reference to the strong tide of
emigration that was running. A miners' conference to consider a scheme
to assist prospective emigrants and draw up a code of rules was called
in Manchester in November. Such a scheme was formulated and the rules
suggested, but nothing ever came of it. In connection with this large
volume of emigration from the mining districts Mr Crawford took a trip
to America in one of the Inman liners, and wrote an account of it in
a pamphlet entitled "In the Steerage." A report was circulated in the
press describing what purported to be the foul condition of the
accommodation provided for the third-class passengers. With a desire
to ascertain the truth or otherwise of these statements Mr Crawford
went to New York in one of the Inman boats, and completely exposed the
untruthfulness of it, and did a great deal towards easing the minds of
many of the miners who were preparing for leaving the country.


   Violations of Scale--Restriction of Labour--Working Hours
   Arbitration--Deputies' Wage Arbitration--Employers' Liability

By the end of 1879 the consequence of the strike, as seen in
disarranged collective machinery, had been reconstructed. One
beneficial effect of the stoppage was the great number of men who
joined the Union. When the notices terminated there were collieries
where the numbers were few; but these men, as if moved by the instinct
of self-preservation, ceased work, and to a very large extent became
members, remaining until this day. It was the greatest piece of
missionary effort ever seen. Instead of disunion and isolated action
there were manifest loyal adhesion and solidity.

There were sure to be exceptions to this as to all rules, and early in
the year the Federation Board was called upon to meet a class of
trouble which was entirely illegal, and which arises occasionally now.
Without specifying places (but dealing generally) it will suffice to
say that in a few instances notices were given for advances beyond
what the sliding scale gave. The employers requested the Board to meet
them. This they did, and two resolutions, one dealing with the cokemen
and the other with the miners at one colliery, were unanimously
carried. The workmen were told that they had violated the rules of the
Federation Board and sliding scale agreement. They were told (by a
circular sent out by the Federation Board) that they were parties to
the arrangement, and yet had given in their notices for an advance in
direct contravention of its provisions. Having been parties to the
scale they ought not to violate it with impunity. If this individual
or lodge action were allowed it would end in disruption, and therefore
it must be checked. The wisdom of that advice is obvious, and not only
in that day, but for the present time. If agreements are made for men
they should be adhered to. To violate them is lawlessness, which in
the end is hurtful beyond the immediate act. If conditions are forced
upon people it is right to repudiate, but for the last thirty-four
years in this county there has been freedom and equality.


At the Council meeting held on January 17th it was decided that there
should be a restriction, and that no coal hewer should make more than
4s. 5d. or 4s. 2d. per shift, but this was never carried out in any
general manner. On March 13th the Council again dealt with it, and
declared all lodges unfinancial where it was not put in force. In
furtherance of that resolution the Seaham Lodge put a notice on the
pit heap to inform the members "that the restriction had commenced,
and that a list be drawn up stating the number of tubs each man had to
fill in his respective district or flat, no man to make more than the
county average in any one day." To that notice the Owners' Association
took objection. A letter was sent to Mr Crawford asking him whether
the workmen had determined to enforce restriction, and if so, were
they then acting on it. These questions Mr Crawford did not answer,
but brought them before the Committee. As a result a circular was
issued reviewing the whole case. They pointed out that when the
Council carried it very few of the lodges put it in force, and the few
who did soon left off, and that at the Council to enforce it the
voting was 145 for, 126 against. They reminded the majority that
"surely a minority so strong ought to have led to a reconsideration of
a matter not only so vitally important, but which has at all times
been found so very difficult to carry out in practice." Lodges were
sending in resolutions refusing to carry out the Council resolution.
That resolution said those lodges should be expelled. The position
would be that whole collieries of men would be cut off from the
Association because they were determined to abide by the scale
agreement. In view of these facts, they resolved to call a special
Council. They pointed out that one or two lodges had sent in motions
of censure because advice had been given, and they met the censures by

   One or two lodges have sent motions seeking to pass a vote of censure
   on us for issuing the last circular. It would seem that these lodges
   would like to see us sit and do nothing, even though we were certain
   that an impending evil was threatening our very existence. We cannot
   regard this as our province. What we did was for the preservation of
   the Association. The moment we see that our efforts have not ended
   more satisfactorily we have called a special Council meeting to
   further consider the matter. Take our advice, and inasmuch as we have
   only done our duty, spare your censures. We have quite enough to do
   at present without wasting our energies in useless and pernicious
   quarrelling amongst ourselves.

The result of the special meeting proved the Committee right. A
tabulated vote was taken--the voting being against restriction 130,
for 117; majority against, 13. Thus ended the only county attempt to
carry out a uniformity in piecework. It ended as all such will end.
Human nature is too strong for such arrangements.


This case arose out of the hewers' hours at some of the collieries.
Amongst them were Gurney Pit, Leasingthorne, Letch, and Wingate. These
were eleven-hour pits, but during the depression of 1877-79 the
hewers had been induced or coerced to go in at three A.M. instead of
four A.M. The Executive Committee in their negotiations contended that
this was a violation of Mr Meynell's award, and therefore ought not to
exist. On the employers' side it was held that the award named only
dealt with the coal drawing. After attempts to settle it was finally
agreed to refer it to arbitration, with Lord Rowton as umpire. The
arbitrators on the owners' side were Mr R. F. Mathews and Mr W. T.
Hall, and for the workmen Mr L. Jones and Mr W. Crawford. There were
two days' sitting in the Westminster Palace Hotel, London. On the 20th
of August the umpire decided that the hours complained of should
remain as they were.


This question of the deputies being paid a higher wage if they were
not in the Miners' Association came up in a renewed application for
uniformity of wage. This was sent to the owners amongst a number of
other requests. The reply was that they were strongly of the opinion
that the deputies should not be members of the Miners' Association.
The Executive could not accept that reply. They had never asked about
the Associations, but a just wage, and they considered the reply was
an insult. They recommended to their members that it should be sent to
the Federation Board. This was done, and on the 19th of March the
Board offered to submit the matter to arbitration. The offer was
refused by the following resolution:--


    _June 17th, 1880._

   _Deputies._--That deputies who are not members of the Deputies'
   Association be paid the same wages as those who are.

   Considering the position in which the deputies stand to the hewers
   and other workmen, any change in the present arrangement is

On the receipt of this the Board notified the county, and resolved to
call a joint meeting of the four Associations. Their advice was that
the whole of the notices be given in, and work to cease until the
claim was conceded or arbitration granted. The meeting was held on
August 26th. Negotiations proceeded, and in November the employers
agreed to accept arbitration. The case was not heard until February
1881. The umpire on that occasion was Mr I. Hinde Palmer, M.P.; the
advocates were Mr L. Wood, Mr W. Armstrong, Mr L. Jones, and Mr W.
Crawford. The hearing lasted two days, and was held in the Westminster
Hotel, London. The umpire decided upon two points:

   (1) That it is competent under the sliding scale agreement of October
   1879 for the deputies who are members of the Miners' Association to
   require that their wages be advanced.

   (2) That the advance shall be such a sum as will make the amount of
   their wages respectively the same as the wages paid to those deputies
   who are not members of the Miners' Association.


It is not intended to review the introduction and passing of Acts of
Parliament, but mention may be made of the Employers' Liability of
1880, not with a view to explain its provisions, but to indicate steps
which were taken towards contraction out of it. In Lancashire
contracting out was made one of the conditions of hiring, and a strike
took place in an attempt to resist it. With us in the north (for the
two counties worked together) the same end was sought, but by
different means. The aim of the employers here was to avoid litigation
if possible, and, with that end in view, would have increased their
contributions to the Permanent Relief Fund. The officials of that fund
were desirous of bringing an arrangement about, believing it would
strengthen their position. There were a few men outside the ranks of
those officials who advised the miners to enter into a contract. At a
meeting of the Permanent Fund Committee it was just on the point of
being carried when a suggestion was made to the effect "that it was
not a matter pertaining to the fund, but belonged to the Workmen's
Associations, and that a joint meeting should be held." Such did take
place, with the result that the proposal was defeated. The leaders of
the Associations were very strong against it. Among the strongest was
Mr Crawford, whose monthly circular for December contained some very
clear and explicit reasons in opposition to the idea. There were
threats from some employers as to smart money and subscriptions to the
Permanent Relief Fund, but still the workmen refused to give way.


   Deputies' Wage again--Third Sliding Scale--Death of Mr
   Macdonald--Change in the Treasurership

In February this question was again in evidence. By reference to the
award as given above it will be seen that the umpire decided clearly
in the workmen's favour, but there arose a complication in the mode of
application adopted by the owners. The mode of calculation was skilful
and peculiar. The dispute arose in 1876 when, as an inducement for the
deputies to form an organisation of their own, they were to be exempt
from the six per cent. reduction; therefore, said the employers, we
will give those deputies who are in the Miners' Union the six per
cent. given in 1876, and then deduct all the reductions since, by this
process bringing them to 4s. 1½d. per day. They seemed to forget
that the deputies' arbitration was for the difference between the
actual wages at that time--the difference being 6d. or 8d. per day.
The anomaly was that two men might be doing the same work with equal
responsibilities (in some cases the lower paid the best workman) and
yet one have a much higher wage than the other.

Mr Bunning (on behalf of the owners) sent a copy of the instructions
to the managers to Mr Crawford, asking him if they met with his
approval. The answer was sharp. Instead of agreeing with them he
considered them a clear violation of Mr Palmer's award. It was not
based upon Shaw Lefevre's award, but upon the existing difference in
the wages. And he informed the owners, that they would demand the
higher wages. The negotiations continued until May, when the umpire by
joint letter was asked to meet Mr L. Wood and Mr Crawford. He informed
them he would write each of them an explanation, and save the journey.
This he did, and said the award was clear and intelligible, and that
he meant those who were in the Miners' Association to be paid the
highest wages. On the strength of that interpretation the owners paid
the wage, with everything kept off since the award.


As the two years for which the sliding scale was definitely fixed drew
near completion it was obvious that there was a strong feeling against
it. The circumstances were against it. Introduced at the conclusion of
a very disastrous strike the whole of its operation was in the worst
times--trade bad, wages low. There was no wonder that the men had
little love for it. Recognising the opposition the Committee placed a
motion on the Council programme suggesting that notice be given to
terminate it at the end of the two years. This was adopted, and notice
given at the proper time. In the meantime the miners generally were
turning their attention to the question. A sliding scale conference
was held on April 20th, 1881, in the Midland Hotel, Birmingham. The
conference affirmed "that the principle of sliding scales is an
equitable mode of settling wages questions, if rightly worked out in
detail: That the best mode of taking out the selling price will
generally be to take the price of coal sold, but that no coals should
be taken which were sold on contract; only those sold at the current
market price." In the matter of leaving firms out each district was
left to its own option. It was considered desirous that the
accountants should have more freedom in regard to the matters they
were permitted to divulge. A second conference on the same question
was called for October 19th in Birmingham, with a programme on very
similar lines.

A Council meeting was held, and two delegates selected to represent
Durham. Certain instructions were given them: sliding scales were the
best arrangements for regulating wages; the open markets were
preferable to the existing mode of ascertainment, with others of a
kindred nature. On January 18th the Federation Board had under
discussion a proposal from the employers. It was not accepted, but
they were told the Board was ready to meet them at any time. At a
special Council held on 25th February 1882 the situation was
complicated by the miners deciding to ask for an advance of twenty per
cent. if the owners refused the sliding scale drawn up by the
Federation Board, and that body was instructed to meet the employers.
The meeting took place on March 13th on the two questions, when the
owners gave the Board the following:--


    _March 13th, 1882._

   The Durham Coal Owners' Association is unable to accept either of the
   propositions suggested in the Federation Board Minutes of February
   25th, that is to say,--

   1. The Association cannot regard "the sliding scale drawn up by the
   Federation Board as just and equitable," and consequently cannot
   adopt it.

   2. The Association cannot grant "an immediate advance of 20 per cent.
   in the wages of all men and boys," nor admit "that trade warrants
   such an application," or any advance at all.

   Having regard to the difference of view between the Owners'
   Association and the Federation Board, the Association can only
   suggest that the question whether wages shall be varied, and if so,
   to what extent, and in what direction, shall be left to open

The Miners' Council then decided to take a ballot on the twenty per
cent. If the question were not carried by a two-thirds majority, to
arbitrate on the advance. When this was sent to the owners they
replied that the advance could not be granted, but they were quite
ready to leave it to open arbitration. The Federation Board as a whole
considered itself in an anomalous position if any section were allowed
to act as the miners were doing. If this were allowed to proceed, then
on wage questions there was an end to all usefulness. Either the power
must be taken away altogether, or they must unreservedly trust them.
As the position was, they were in a crippled condition. "This renders
our work on general questions nil, and the Federation instead of being
a tower of strength is a source of weakness, inasmuch as it exposes to
the owners our want of agreement and diversity of thought and action."
They had, therefore, come to the conclusion to take a vote, with the
view to have the matter settled. The response of the county was in
favour of the Board by a large majority. Immediately they decided to
ask for a scale with a minimum wage, and that the variations should be
two and one and a half per cent.

A meeting between the Board and the owners was held on April 17th,
when the workmen asked for an advance of seven and a half per cent. To
this the employers objected, but said they would pay a wage as if the
coals had reached 4s. 8d., which was equal to an advance of three and
three quarters per cent., and would be an advantage of two and a half
per cent., during the continuance of the scale. The Board strongly
urged the acceptance of the offer, which in their opinion was
preferable to arbitration. The workmen accepted their advice, and the
following scale was signed on April 29th:--


                                    There shall be made the
                                    following percentage of
                                    additions to, or deductions
                                    from, the standard tonnage
    When the Net                    rates and datal wages,
    Average Selling                 being those prevailing at
    Price of Coal                   November 1879

    Reaches    But does not reach    Additions     Deductions
    s.  d.            s.  d.
    3   10            4    0            None          None
    4    0            4    2            1¼            "
    4    2            4    4            2½            "
    4    4            4    6            3¾            "
    4    6            4    8            5                 "
    4    8            4   10            6¼           "
    4   10           5    0            7½            "
    5    0            5    2            8¾            "
    5    2            5    4           10                "
    5    4            5    6           11¼           "
    5    6            5    8           12½           "
    5    8            5   10           13¾          "
    5   10           6    0           16¼           "
    6    0            6    2           18¾           "
    6    2            6    4           20                "
    6    4            6    6           21¼           "
    6    6            6    8           22½           "

And so on upwards, 1¼ per cent. for each 2d., the 2½ per cent.
variations for the two ranges of 2d. each in price between 5s. 10d.
and 6s. 2d. being limited to those special ranges.

    3    8            3   10            --          1¼
    3    6            3    8            --           2½

And so on downwards.

It had to continue in force until 30th June 1883, to be terminated by
six months' notice given any time after that date.

It will be of interest if we insert the scales proposed by the owners
and Board before the agreement.


                                 There shall be made
                                 the following percentage
                                 of additions to, or
                                 deductions from, the standard
    When the Net                 tonnage rates and datal
    average Selling              wages, being those prevailing
    Price of Coal                at November 1879

    Reaches    But does not reach    Additions    Deductions
    s.  d.           s.  d.
    4    2           4    4            None        None
    4    4           4    6            1¼          "
    4    6           4    8            2½          "
    4    8           4   10            3¾          "
    4   10           5    0            5           "
    5    0           5    2            6¼          "
    5    2           5    4            7½          "
    5    4           5    6            8¾          "
    5    6           5    8           10           "
    5    8           5   10           11¼          "
    5   10           6    0           13¾          "
    6    0           6    2           16¼          "
    6    2           6    4           17½          "
    6    4           6    6           18¾          "
    6    6           6    8           20           "

And so on upwards, 1¼ per cent. for each 2d., the 2½ per cent.
variations for the two ranges of 2d. each in price between 5s. 10d.
and 6s. 2d. being limited to those special ranges.

    4    0           4    2            --          1¼
    3   10           4    0            --          2½
    3    8           3   10            --          3¾
    3    6           3    8            --          5

And so on downwards.


                                  There shall be made the
                                  following additions to the
    When the Net                  standard tonnage rates and
    Average Selling               datal wages, being those at
    Price of Coal                 November 1879

    Reaches     But does not reach       Additions
    s.  d.            s.  d.         (5s. minimum wage)
    4    8            4   10               2½
    4   10            5    0               5
    5    0            5    2               7½
    5    2            5    4              10
    5    4            5    6              12½
    5    6            5    8              15
    5    8            6    0              17½
    6    0            6    2              20
    6    2            6    4              22½
    6    4            6    6              25
    6    6            6    8              27½
    6    8            6   10              30
    6   10            7    0

And so on upwards, 2½ per cent. for every 2d.

It will be obvious that the difference between the two is very wide.
The workmen sought to renew the minimum wage, although but two years
had intervened since the dark experience of 1877-79, and when it was
impossible for the condition to have been forgotten.


On October 31st, 1881, Mr Macdonald, M.P., died at Wellhall, near
Hamilton, Scotland. He was the ablest leader the miners of Scotland
had, and one of the first Labour representatives in the House, being
elected with our good friend Mr Burt in 1874. He was often called the
"Miners' Friend." Although not a Durham man he was so intimately and
closely connected with our early history and progress up to his death
that there would be a great hiatus if no mention were made of him. The
Executive Committee was represented at his funeral, and the first
Council meeting after his death passed a resolution expressing deep
sorrow at his death, and regarding it as an irreparable loss and
national calamity to the mining population of England, Scotland, and
Wales. His self-sacrificing efforts for a number of years on their
behalf cannot be fully known, but his memory will ever be held dear by
a grateful people. A movement was immediately started to commemorate
his work, the result of which was the statue which is in front of the
Hall in Durham. As Mr Crawford said, "It is the last tribute of
respect we can pay to one who through good and evil report kept
steadily in view the one object of his life--viz. to reduce the
misery, and alleviate the sorrows of the mining population, while
following their hazardous occupation."

It will be interesting to place on record an outline of his life. He
was born in the year 1821, and began work at eight years of age. When
he was born the condition of the mining population was dreadful. There
was no law to protect the miner, and there was little regard for
health or life. The hours were fearfully long. Women worked in the
mines under the most debasing conditions. In the midst of this he set
himself the uphill task of self-education--uphill now, but how much
more so then! In early life he left the mines, and became a teacher.
The knowledge he acquired he determined to devote to bettering the
condition of the miners. Between 1850 and 1855 he was assiduous in
procuring amended Miners' Acts, and those of 1855 and 1860 were mainly
due to his efforts. From that time until his death he was earnestly
working in efforts to ameliorate the conditions of the life he knew so
well, and at his death was busily engaged in further amending the
Mines Act. He was a sample of men who have been endowed with splendid
powers, and who might have made a fortune if they had followed
commercial pursuits as eagerly as they followed after reform and
better temporal conditions for others, but who, when there was nothing
to gain, counted it their highest good if they could in any way assist
their class on to a higher platform and into brighter conditions of
life. They chose rather to suffer with the people in their affliction,
and help those who needed it, than to make for themselves monetary
positions. When he died a truly great man left the ranks of reformers,
and to the honour of Englishmen be it said, they honoured him in death
as they appreciated him in life, as witness the splendid statue which
was unveiled on 17th November 1883 by his colleague in Union and
Labour representation in Parliament, Mr T. Burt.

In the beginning of 1882 a matter arose which, were it not for the
fact that it would leave an incompleteness in our record, might have
been passed over unnoticed. Some doubts were felt as to the state of
the accounts, and it was resolved to have a thorough inquiry into and
examination of the books. Mr John Staton, the accountant, was employed
for the purpose. His report was to the effect that the treasurer was
indebted to the Association to the amount of £282, 11s. 1d. This
examination covered the period commencing with December 1876. He not
only described the amount, but he suggested a system of book-keeping.
The result of the affair was the suspension of the treasurer (Mr
Forman acting _pro tem._), and his removal on the 6th of May, and the
appointment of Mr J. Wilson. The whole circumstance was unfortunate.
There were many (the writer among them) who doubted if there had
been any defrauding, and who were convinced he had only been careless.
He was an earnest worker in the Association.

[Illustration: ALDERMAN JOHN WILSON, J.P., M.P.]


   Five Days per Week Movement--Fourth Sliding Scale--Second Relief
   Fund--Wheatley Hill "Putt Pay"

The question of restriction of the output was again brought under
discussion at the beginning of the year. It was not peculiar to nor
spontaneous in Durham, but was of extraneous suggestion. It was the
result of a miners' conference in Leeds, and was set forth under two
phases: the reduction in the hours per day and the days per week to
five--all the pits being off on the Saturday. The members were told
plainly by Mr Crawford what the real issue was and what was the
condition of the mining districts. While in other districts the hours
had to be reduced, in Durham they would remain, but the days per week
would apply to all alike. He, however, pointed out that there was only
one-sixth of the miners of the county represented. A special Council
was called, and the matter placed before it, when it was decided "that
pits ought to work not more than five days per week and draw coal not
more than ten hours per day--each and every pit being idle every
Saturday, irrespective of how many of the preceding days of the week
have been worked."

A Second National Conference was held on the question. A report was
issued by the representatives, Messrs Crawford and Wilson, which
showed the fallacy of attempting any national movement. The
conference was called to hear how far the decision had been carried
out. The report showed that there were only 81,000 paying members in
the districts represented, the total number employed being about
379,000; that there were only 9500 persons who had adopted the Leeds
Resolution of Restriction, and some districts positively refused to
carry it out. In the face of these facts the conference reaffirmed the
restriction resolution, and resolved that the ballot should be taken
in each district, and that there should be an adjournment to hear the

In the meantime a meeting was held between the Executive Committee in
Durham and the owners. The Committee stated their reasons for
requesting the meeting, and hoped the owners would assist them to
carry the conference decisions into effect. The reply was that the
question was so important to both employers and employed that it would
require serious consideration. Could the workmen point out any
probable good which would result? How far it had been carried out?
Unless it were generally adopted it would mean ruin to those districts
attempting it. They were willing to take part in a national conference
for the purpose of discussing the subject. The matter was again
brought before a conference in Birmingham on April 10th. There were
twenty-seven delegates present from districts where 229,000 men were
employed. The only item of business was the appointment of a Committee
to meet the Mine Owners' National Association, each district to
appoint its own representative on the Committee. Mr Crawford was
afterwards appointed to act for Durham. The request for a meeting was
sent to Mr Maskell W. Peace, the owners' secretary. It was refused, as
they considered it outside their province. Beyond the disorganisation
in the other districts it was found in Durham to be incompatible with
the sliding scale, and as a consequence the attempt at a national
regulation of labour proved abortive. That which oft looks easy when
at a distance is often found impracticable when we are brought face to
face with it. If a national restriction be ever carried out it will
need solid unions, and all men of one mind, or it will fail at the


As the period approached when the definite year of the scale would end
there were growing signs that the requisite six months' notice would
be given. At a meeting of the Federation Board held on May 23rd it was
decided to give such notice to terminate the scale at the end of the
year, and the Board prepared to meet the emergency, and if possible
renew the scale or modify it. A resolution was come to at their
meeting in October, expressive of their opinion that "a sliding scale
is the best mode of adjusting the wages questions." They further
resolved that each section should meet the owners for the purpose of
discussing any alteration peculiar to themselves. Acting on that
arrangement the Executive Committee sent out a circular urging the
maintenance of the principle. In addition they called a special
Council, and asked for suggested amendments. In response there were
seventy-seven suggestions returned, embracing every kind of
alteration or grievance, to be considered before the scale was
re-established. These were sent to the employers, who replied by
sending a counter list containing (if not as many) a very large number
of questions. The Federation Board asked why they were making so many
claims. These reasons were supplied, each section being taken
_seriatim_. The various Committees and the Federation Board were doing
their best to get the settlement placed in the hands of some body of
men, so that the scale might be rearranged. This advice was not
accepted, for at a special Council the power to settle was retained by
the county so far as the miners were concerned.

The reasons assigned by the owners in support of their claims were
unacceptable to the Board. They felt justified, they said, in
refusing, but were willing to meet to discuss the respective
alterations. The meeting took place, but it was found that the
representatives of the miners could not proceed, as their Council had
refused to accept the scale until all the notices of men who were
discharged for depression of trade were withdrawn and all the pits
recommenced. "The owners said that such a thing was an impossibility,
seeing that a want of trade was the only cause of pits being stopped
and men dismissed. If the pits could be worked they would work them,
but this they could not do in consequence of the terrible depression
of trade. It was nonsense to say that the pits were stopped by an
arrangement among the owners. That was a monstrous absurdity." These
remarks were sent out to the miners with a most earnest appeal not to
delay the matter any longer, because it could only result in danger. A
form accompanied the circular upon which the lodges were asked to
vote whether they would place the question of a sliding scale in the
hands of the Federation Board. This appeal was successful, and the
Board was instructed to proceed with it by a majority of 104. At the
earliest possible moment a meeting was arranged, and the scale agreed
to on the lines of the previous one, to commence on 1st August 1884,
and to continue for two years certain, subject to two calendar months'
notice. But such notice was to be given on a date to permit of a
termination on the 31st of July. This fourth sliding scale was similar
to the third one, which appears on page 177, so we need not reproduce


The formation of the Second Relief Fund was forced upon the county by
the fact that there were so many men out of work, and their poverty
was a peril to those who were in employment. Men's necessities are a
strong force, oft compelling them to do things they would otherwise
shrink from. It was thought, therefore, it would be sound economy to
ease off the poverty, if luxury could not be afforded, and thus save
men from overcrowding the labour market, or at least from accepting
conditions which, if once established, would prove a general injury.
Then there was a feeling of sympathy for the distress seen on all
hands, and a desire to alleviate, if not obliterate it; for the miners
of Durham may have little, but they never hesitate to share it. They
are not the men "who, seeing their brother in distress, shut up their
bowels of compassion against him." The sight of distress, or a
knowledge that someone is in danger, never appeals in vain.

The Council meeting held on May 3rd, 1884, dealt with the question of
providing for the relief of those men who were discharged through
depression of trade. It decided that a special Council should be
called on the 7th for the purpose of discussing the best means, and in
the meantime suggestions might be sent in--"motions of all kinds,
including levies, to be admissible." Without describing these in
detail, suffice it to say that there were eighty-eight in number,
covering all phases of the subject, both as to means of raising money
and amount of benefit. The Council decided for a levy of 3d. per full
and 1½d. per half member per fortnight. That £2000 should be
advanced from the General Fund, to be redeemed by the levy, and "that
the amount of money the levy will bring be equally divided by the
Executive Committee amongst the men idle or who may be idle." It was
soon found that the income from the levy would not give anything near
10s., and often it was found to run as low as 5s., per week.


As this, although belonging to an individual colliery, is yet of a
peculiar character, it will be well to note it here. On the pay Friday
falling on April 4th it was found that the company had become
bankrupt, and the wages of the workmen were not forthcoming. This
being the second occasion at these collieries, and only half the
amount for the previous occasion having been paid, there was great
consternation, and the presence of an agent was urgently requested.
The treasurer immediately went out, and found the people ready for a
riot. This, of course, was to be expected. Mr Ramsay, the agent of the
colliery, desirous to meet in part the wants of the people, sold a
branch engine, but when the N.E.R. engine came to take it away men,
women, and children commenced and pulled the rails up, thus keeping
both engines as it were in "pound." It was arranged that there should
be a mass meeting the next day (Saturday), and the treasurer was to
attend to persuade the men to allow the sale to proceed, and accept
the money as an instalment of their wages. The meeting was held in a
field. The day was fine, there was a large crowd, and the treasurer
was in his most eloquent mood, when a very laughable incident
occurred. There was a pigeon-flying match from Newcastle to Thornley.
It was about the time when the birds were expected. Some of the men
were watching the heavens more closely than they were listening to the
speaker or at the time thinking about their wages. Just when the
orator was in the midst of one of his best sentences a voice was heard
(which was the descent from the sublime to the ridiculous): "Haud thee
hand till th' 'Slate Cock' comes in." In a moment speaker and occasion
were lost, and the gathering generally watched the bird, hero of the
hour, as, like an arrow shot from some great bow, he came right on to
his "ducket." Then in deliberate manner the same voice was heard
exclaiming: "There, he's landed; thoo can gan on wi' thee speech." But
rhetoric and reason were both ineffective after the "Slate Cock" had

The Executive Committee, however, were quick in their action, and put
in men as bailiffs at each colliery to prevent anything being taken
away. After a year had been taken up by the process of law, and £1000
spent in money, the entire wages, slightly over £4724, with the
colliery pay sheets, were handed over to the treasurer. That sum
included the wages of Union and non-Union men alike, and was paid to
all with this difference, that the members got their money free of
cost, but the non-members were charged 7s. each towards the cost
incurred in procuring the money. This sum was all paid out as per the
pay sheets. The last man to turn up was five years after.


   Industrial Remuneration Conference--Extension of the
   Franchise--Labour Representation--Lloyd Jones

In January 1884 a peculiar but very useful conference was held in
London. It was, and is, known as the "Industrial Remuneration
Conference." In the preface to the proceedings, which were published,
we are told why the conference was called.

   "In the spring of 1884, a gentleman of Edinburgh determined to devote
   a considerable sum of money to the purpose of keeping before the
   public mind this vital question, viz.: What are the best means,
   consistent with justice and equity, for bringing about equal division
   of the daily products of industry between Capital and Labour, so that
   it may become possible for all to enjoy a fair share of material
   comfort and intellectual culture, and possible for all to lead a
   dignified life, and less difficult for all to lead a good life?"

For the purpose indicated he gave £1000, vested in seven trustees, Mr
T. Burt being one of them. To the trustees there was a Committee
added, and Mr Crawford was, by the consent of the Miners' Council,
amongst the number. That Committee considered that the best means of
carrying out the trust was by organising a conference and inviting all
sorts and conditions of opinion. There were two main branches of
inquiry: "Is the present system or manner whereby the products of
industry are distributed between the various persons and classes of
the community satisfactory; or if not, are there any means by which
that system could be improved?" These general propositions were
divided into many branches. The purpose of this historical outline is
served by mentioning the connecting link being Mr Crawford's
appointment on the Committee. The chairman of the conference was Sir
C. Dilke.

While these important industrial matters were taking place the
political affairs had not been neglected. The Franchise Association
had kept up a close and instructive agitation not only at home, but
outside the county, pressing the demand for an assimilation of county
to borough. They urged that it was a glaring anomaly for a man to be
eligible to vote in a borough, and because he passed over an arbitrary
line (yet in all respects the same man in trade and duties of
citizenship) he was not permitted to do so. At the Trades Union
Congress held in Nottingham in 1883 the following resolution was
proposed by the representatives from Durham:--

   That, without accepting an equalisation of the county with the
   borough franchise as a final solution of the great question of
   Parliamentary Reform, this congress is of opinion that the Government
   should lose no time in introducing their promised measure, and calls
   upon the organised trades of the country to assist by every means in
   their power in promoting the popular movement in support of this
   long-expected reform, and authorises the Parliamentary Committee to
   join with the Durham Franchise Association and other Associations of
   all kinds in the proposed deputation to the Prime Minister.

The result of this resolution was the reception by Mr Gladstone of a
very large deputation, representative of all the Trades Unions in the
country, on January 3rd, 1884. Three speakers--J. Arch, A. Wilkie, and
J. Wilson--were selected, and they received the assurance that the
Government would introduce the Bill. It was introduced, and occupied
nearly the whole of the session; was carried through the Commons, but
was defeated by the Lords, or as Mr Gladstone said, they put "an
effectual stoppage on the Bill; or in other words, they did
practically reject it." The Liberals, however, were determined that
the matter should be settled, and for that purpose summoned an autumn
session. By the tact and eloquence of the Prime Minister the great
measure was carried in spite of the most bitter opposition, in which
constitutional means were stretched to their utmost limit, and the
deepest depths of vulgarity were ransacked for the foulest epithets to
use against the working classes, some of whom appear to have very
short memories, as they forget this and other great acts done for them
by the Liberals.

The passing of the Act did not take the miners of Durham or their
colleagues over the Tyne by surprise, but found them expectant, and
ready to use their newly acquired power. The twelve years of the
teaching of the Franchise Association bore fruit at once. During the
summer of 1884 numerous district meetings were held. The Miners'
Executive and the Committee of the Franchise worked together. The two
great questions were the political right withheld and the action of
the irresponsible House of Lords in thwarting the will of the nation
as expressed by the duly elected representatives of the people. The
4th of October was the appointed day to hold district meetings
simultaneously all over the county. The people were urged to make them
a success. The Committee was appointed to take charge, and the owners
were notified that all the collieries would be off on that day. The
whole county was in a political fever. John Morley had uttered his
memorable words, which have passed into one of our epigrams: "End them
or mend them." The political creed of the progressives was "Down with
the Lords" and "Faith in Gladstone." One sentence may be quoted from
Mr Crawford's circular of that time:

   Mr Gladstone and the Government deserve the highest praise for their
   action in this matter, and with the support of the people they will
   yet carry the Bill against the organised and determined opposition of
   a class of men who have amassed immense wealth by, in past times,
   taking that which belonged to the people.

The practical effect of the Act in Durham was seen on January 24th,
1885, when the Federation Board called a special Council to consider
the following programme:--


   (1) Shall there be Labour Representatives?

   (2) If so, how many?

   (3) If it be decided to have Labour Representatives, who shall he or
   they be?

   (4) The ways and means of supporting such person or persons from the

   (5) What should the salary of such man or men be?

   (6) Should we nominate men other than Labour Representatives? That
   is, men who hold similar views to ourselves, but who will pay their
   own costs, both in contesting and otherwise.

   (7) If this be done, who should they be?

   (8) The selection of divisions.

The resolutions come to were--(1) there should be Labour
representatives; (2) there should be _bona fide_ Labour candidates
selected from the workmen, but run in connection with the Liberals;
(3) the candidates should be J. Wilson, W. Crawford, and L. Trotter;
(4) the ways and means should be left in the hands of the Federation
Board, and that the salaries should be £500 per year. On the same day
the Board met, and decided to select the Bishop Auckland, Mid-Durham,
and Houghton-le-Spring divisions--Mr Trotter for Bishop Auckland;
Mid-Durham, W. Crawford; Houghton-le-Spring, J. Wilson. They further
decided to inform the North and South Durham Liberal Associations what
had been done, and asked them if they would co-operate with the

A meeting between the representatives of the Liberal Associations, the
Federation Board, and the Franchise Association was held in the County
Hotel, Durham, when the following resolutions were agreed to:--


   That it is highly desirable for all sections of the new electorate to
   arrange for the object of securing the return of Liberal Members at
   the next election, and that this meeting is prepared to give support
   to the persons nominated by the Miners' Federation Board, providing
   their candidature is endorsed by the Liberals in each division.

   That this meeting requests the constituencies to form Liberal
   organisations, and that small committees from the South and North
   Durham Liberal Associations, the Federation Board, and the Miners'
   Franchise Association be appointed to aid such organisations.

   _January 24th, 1885._

So far as the Mid-Durham and the Houghton divisions were concerned,
all went on smoothly. The candidates were accepted with complete
unanimity, but in the Auckland division the feeling in some quarters
was in strong opposition. The Board were asked to withdraw Mr Trotter,
which they refused to do. There were other two gentlemen in
nomination, and he was asked to put himself in competition with them,
and if rejected retire. He refused, and they, the Board, approved of
his refusal, and arranged a meeting of the lodges in the division for
the purpose of explaining the situation. At this point there arose a
complication of a different order. At their meeting on October 22nd,
1885, the Board decided "that each candidate must be responsible for
the returning officer's fees in their respective divisions." Shortly
after this was made known Mr Trotter withdrew, the reason assigned
being the refusal of the Board to pay the returning officer's fees,
although all the candidates were treated alike. As a consequence the
division was vacant, and open to any candidate. This only need be
added, that at the General Election in November Mr Crawford and Mr
Wilson were both returned by great majorities--the latter being
defeated in 1886, but succeeding Mr Crawford in 1890 as the Member for

This may be a fitting place to try to remove a false impression, which
has lingered in some minds unto this day, as to what they are pleased
to call "the shameful treatment" of Mr Lloyd Jones, while in the
Chester-le-Street division, by the Federation Board. There never was a
grosser misstatement. The Board did nothing but what was fair and
honourable throughout the whole proceedings, although they were made
the object of a somewhat bitter attack by _The Newcastle Chronicle_,
which attack was entirely founded upon a too slight knowledge of the
facts. As mentioned above, an arrangement was made whereby the workmen
were to have their divisions undisputed, and with the rest there was
no claim for interferences set up. Mr J. (now Lord) Joicey was
selected by the Liberals for the Chester-le-Street division, the
Federation Board having no part or lot in the transaction. Mr Jones,
who was an intimate friend of Mr J. Cowen, was brought out, it is well
known, as Mr Cowen's nominee, and as such, contested the division.
The Board, as such, did nothing in it in any way. If they had, their
action would have been dishonourable in the light of the agreement.
This, however, they did do: as soon as Mr Trotter withdrew from Bishop
Auckland, they sent a deputation to interview Mr Jones and to make him
an offer of that division. The writer was one of the deputation, and
with the others did all possible to persuade him, but he refused. It
was felt he was not free, or he would have accepted. This can be said
without fear of contradiction: the Board as a whole regretted the
refusal, for Mr Jones was a great orator, respected very much by the
miners in Durham, as witness their continual choice of him for their
arbitration cases, and he could have had a safe seat.


   In Dark Days--The Eight Hours--The Sliding Scale--Advance of Ten per
   Cent.--Second Advance of Ten per Cent.--Death of the Scale--The
   County Council

The year 1886 passed over uneventfully, and in a routine manner,
except in the matter of trade, which continued very much depressed,
and wages very low. At the beginning of 1887 the average selling price
at the pit mouth was 4s. 5.56d. The Relief Fund (even with the
principle of division of income) was in debt to the General Fund
£3548, 4s. 11d. as per the balance sheet for quarter ending December
1886. The condition of trade was so bad generally that a Royal
Commission was appointed to inquire into it, the present county court
judge of Durham being one of the members. He differed from the
majority report, and signed a minority report. This objection was in
relation to the fragmentary character of the evidence. In the coal and
iron industries the witnesses were entirely from the employers.
Without stating the whole of his able report, dealing as it did with
every phase of our industrial life, a portion may be mentioned. Four
causes of depression and low wages upon which he laid emphasis, were
the land question and the royalties, way leaves and dead rents. Those
who hold the land, claim these from the employers and employed who
risk their capital and their lives to get the mineral which he, as
landlord, does nothing to assist. In the midst of the dark times the
Executive Committee was compelled to face two evils: a small banking
account, and a heavy expenditure. The banking account for the quarter
ending December 1886 was £16,000, exclusive of the deposit and shares
in the Industrial Bank, which amounted to £1841, but which were
nominal and, so far as use was concerned, simply on paper. In
addition, there was a sum nearing £900 invested in buildings. In a
short circular the Committee placed the whole financial position
before the members. For the year 1886 the income was £44,506, with an
expenditure of £54,126. "You will thus see that we cannot exist long
at the rate of £9620 on the wrong side of the ledger. Soon all our
funds will be gone, and nothing left for the members who have paid so
long." They were compelled by rule to keep £10,000 in the funds, and
were therefore driven to consider two propositions: either to increase
the subscription by 3d. a fortnight or reduce the benefits. For that
purpose they proposed to call a special Council to consider the
questions. The reductions suggested would reduce the expenditure by
£1600 per quarter. At the Council meeting an all-round reduction of
2s. per week for sickness, breakage, strikes, and sacrificed allowance
was made, and £1 off the death legacies, to take place from the rising
of the Council, which was held on 9th April. Happily, however, the
trade began to turn and the position of the Association to amend, for
on August 27th a slip was sent out informing the members "that the
funds have so far recouped as to enable the Society to pay all
benefits according to rule from Monday the 29th."


On October 11th, 1887, and three following days a miners' conference
was held in Edinburgh. The main purpose of the conference was the
limitation of the output. There were a large number and variety of
propositions discussed: five days per week, a week or fortnight's
holiday, and the eight hours per day. Part of the resolution on the
last question was in words that have become familiar to Durham in
these later years: "That no miner be allowed to work more than eight
hours in the twenty-four." The first resolution on the question did
not appeal to the State, but on the fourth day it was brought forward
containing an appeal to the legislature, and carried. The position of
Durham was the same then as now (1906), and the opposition of to-day
is based upon the thought of that day. Before the conference was held
the Executive Committee gave their opinion upon the various questions
on the programme of business.

On the eight hours they said:


   _Eight Hours._--This is to be sought for by Act of Parliament. To
   seek to fix the hours of men by Act of Parliament is, in the year
   1887, a monstrous and illogical proceeding. If you fix the working
   hours by Act of Parliament, why not fix the rate of wages also? In
   the old feudal times wages were so fixed by Act of Parliament. Under
   such laws, men were serfs and slaves, and became as much the property
   of their employers as the horses that filled his stables. To demand
   eight hours, and even less, is in the hands of all men if they will
   only utilise their own organised power.

   But if such an Act were passed, it would result in our own county in
   one of two ways, (1) the turning off of 10,000 or 15,000 hands; or
   (2) the adoption of two shifts of hewers, and two shifts of offhanded
   men and lads, and thus increase the hewers' hours by one hour, and,
   in many cases, one and a half hours per day. Again, if you seek by
   Act of Parliament an Eight Hours' Bill, it logically follows that you
   regard eight hours as the number of hours men should work. In such a
   case, you endanger your own position, and would strongly tend to
   bring upon you an eight hours' system. But why is this sought? It is
   sought because men are indifferent, apathetic, and consequently
   disorganised. If this law passed to-morrow, it would be an inducement
   to indifference and disorganisation, and as such materially injure

In September 1887 the Trades Union Congress decided to take a ballot
of all the unions on the general eight hours. The questions submitted
were: Should an eight hours' day be sought; if so, by what means, by
Trades Union effort or by law? Again the Executive Committee advised
the members to vote against it, which they did. "If this became law
to-morrow," they said, "you could not make it operative. To do so you
must turn off some thousands of coal hewers, or have two shifts of
offhanded men and boys, and draw coals sixteen hours per day instead
of as now drawing them ten and eleven hours. If this be sought it
follows by clear implication that the men voting for it regard eight
hours as a normal and fair time to work per day." The Congress of 1888
decided in favour of eight hours by law.

The question came again before a miners' conference held in Birmingham
on 8th October 1889. There were three items discussed: "The
International Miners' Congress, an advance in wages, and the eight
hours." The delegates from Durham, Mr J. Johnson and Mr J. Wilson,
drew up a report of the proceedings, which was sent out to the
members. They were sent to the conference with definite instructions
from the Council: "That we don't take any part in the agitation for an
eight hours' day for underground workmen." The representatives in the
report say:

   Beyond that we could not (nor desired to) go. When the conference
   came to discuss the question we laid our position before the meeting,
   and told them we could not take any part in the agitation. We make no
   remarks about the sarcastic reflections which were made by some of
   the delegates on our position. They were no doubt natural
   reflections, although their repetition was galling, and evoked from
   us replies which were not of the calmest order. We stood firm to our
   instructions, and abstained from either voting or speaking, except in

The conference resolved that on the 1st of January all men and boys
represented there should commence working eight hours from bank to
bank. Northumberland and the Forest of Dean voted against, with Durham
neutral. Then followed a resolution pledging all the districts to give
in notices to terminate with the year. This placed the conference in a
dilemma. They were ready to pass resolutions, but few were prepared to
say their members would give their notices in for it. Then it was
decided to take a ballot and hold another conference in November. At
our Council meeting on November 9th it was decided not to be


The programme for the Council to be held on February 2nd, 1889,
contained a resolution asking for a ballot to be taken for or against
the sliding scale. In their notes on the questions to be discussed the
Committee strongly urged the maintenance of the scale. It steadied
trade, made work and wages more regular than any other means. Where
sliding scales existed the districts were in better condition. They
(the Committee) were as much interested as the members. The gain or
loss was alike. Having fully considered the question they were
convinced that it was the most just and equitable way of fixing and
settling wages. The resolution to ballot was carried. About the same
time the mechanics decided to give notice to have the scale amended.
The Federation Board not only found themselves called upon to consider
the scale, but they had to deal with a demand for an advance in wages.
A meeting was held on June 17th. The employers placed before the Board
three propositions: arbitration, two and a half per cent. to commence
on July 1st, and two and a half on September 1st. These advances would
raise the wages to ten per cent. above the standard, or they were
willing to arrange for a new scale. The Board were reminded that the
scale would run until July 31st, and therefore their application was
in violation of that agreement. These offers were recommended to the
members, with a request that they, the Board, should be vested with
full power to negotiate a settlement, which should be submitted to the
county. The offer and request were refused, and another meeting took
place on July 9th. The employers then modified their offer, and were
willing to give five per cent. advance for the months of August,
September, and October, and a further five per cent. for November,
December, and January, or they would refer it to open arbitration.
Again the question was submitted to the members. The Board said:
"There were three courses to pursue: accept the owners' offer, go to
arbitration, or ballot the county." Of the three they strongly
preferred the offer, as to take the ballot was a repudiation of
arbitration as a means of settlement. Arbitration was a lingering and
uncertain course. It would last three months, and they would thus
lose for that time a clear five per cent., or something like from four
to five thousand pounds per week in wages. "Remembering all the
difficulties which now surround us, and looking at all the facts, we
would very strongly advise you, as men alike interested with
yourselves, to accept the offer the owners now make." The reply of the
county was to demand twenty per cent. advance. The Federation Board
was driven to take the ballot. The result of the ballot was for
pressing the demand, and the Miners' Executive made preparation for
giving in the notices on August 1st. The employers made another offer:
instead of giving two fives they offered a full and immediate ten per


   The Owners' Wages Committee is unable to recommend its Association to
   give an advance of 15 per cent.

   The actual invoice price of coals and coke has not yet materially
   advanced. Recent contracts at high prices can only have a gradual and
   deferred influence. The owners have already given a special advance
   of 10 per cent., which has been in operation less than four months.
   Any advance which they now give must, like that previous advance, be
   in anticipation of the higher prices which will alone allow of higher
   wages being paid.

   They are willing to stretch a point in this respect in the
   expectation that wages will be thereby settled for a period which
   will allow of equivalent prices being actually realised, but they are
   not prepared to do more than recommend a general advance of 10 per
   cent. on the basis rates, to take effect in the first pay commencing
   after the date of acceptance of this offer.


    _November 23rd, 1889._

The Federation Board urged the acceptance of that offer. "Everyone
(unless it be the unobservant and inexperienced) must be fully alive
to all the dangers to our social, and it may be our permanent
condition, which always follows a strike, such as we should have in
this county. It does not mean a few hands, but the entire county,
comprising 500,000 folks laid commercially prostrate; and who can
conceive the social and moral disaster arising from such a state of
things." They felt confident that it would be for the good of the
whole county, for they would reap an immediate and certain gain of
from £8000 to £10,000 per week.

The ballot was taken. The miners' vote was in favour of a strike, but
the whole vote of the Federation was in favour of accepting the ten
per cent. Within three months of the acceptance the Miners' Council on
September 14th decided that the Committee should demand a further
advance of fifteen per cent., to commence on November 1st; if refused,
the county to be balloted at once. That request was forwarded to the
employers from the Federation Board. They were informed that, after
very carefully considering the improved condition of trade and the
increased prices at which coal and coke were sold in the open market,
the Board considered that they had a just claim for an advance of
fifteen per cent. The reply of the employers was contained in the
following resolution:--

   The Owners' Association, taking an account of the fact that the
   ascertained price of coal for the quarter just ended is only 5s.
   2.93d. (or 4.44d. above the price of the previous quarter), is not
   prepared to give an advance approaching that which is asked, but is
   willing to appoint a Committee to confer with the Federation Board,
   having full authority to negotiate for a settlement of wages, to
   begin at such a date, and extend over such period, as may afford a
   reasonable opportunity of actually realising those higher prices
   which would alone allow higher wages to be paid.

The question arose whether the miners should seek the advances
themselves or through the medium of the Federation Board, as that was
the only regular and effective means. It was at the same time pointed
out to the workmen that their claim for the fifteen per cent. was in
violation of the understanding that three months must elapse from the
date of a previous change before a new application could be
considered. The voting on the body to negotiate resulted in favour of
the Board, but there was a further question to decide. What was to be
the line of procedure? Had the Board to make the best settlement, or
should they press for the full fifteen per cent., and, if refused, the
members be balloted? The miners' special Council voted by a large
majority for the full demand or strike, the voting being 297 for
strike and 45 for placing the power in the hands of the Board. It was
found that the other three sections had remitted the question
absolutely to the Federation by large majorities, and the Miners'
Executive naturally felt the advance was being delayed for weeks,
whereas the Board might have settled it, and the workmen have got an
early increase in wages. It was, therefore, felt imperative that the
miners should be asked to reconsider their position, seeing that in
the other sections there was unanimity. The Committee resolved to
again submit it to a Council meeting, but there was no change, the
instruction of the previous one being repeated, the majority being
slightly decreased. That Council was held on November 14th. The
Federation Board met the same night, and on the 15th Mr Crawford
handed Mr R. Guthrie (who had been appointed secretary as successor to
Mr Bunning, deceased) a request for a meeting. That was fixed for the
23rd of November. When the Board met the owners they were asked what
power they had, and the reply was simply to ask for the fifteen per
cent. Mr L. Wood, the owners' chairman, then said: "We only agreed to
meet the Federation Board on condition that they had power to settle
the entire matter. Have you that power?" The Board had to give the
humiliating answer: "No." An adjournment for three hours took place,
when an offer of ten per cent. was handed to the Board. They then
resolved to take a ballot of the whole of the sections, the decision
being to accept the offer.

There are two remarks necessary anent the industrial matters of
1889--first, the termination of the sliding scale, which happened on
the 31st of July; several attempts were made to revive it again. The
latest in the year was a new scale submitted by the Enginemen's
Association. It was drawn up by Mr T. Hindmarsh, the treasurer of
that Association (who was a very useful man), but it was never
proceeded with. The scales had been in existence twelve years. The
misfortune was that the trial of the system took place in a series of
years which covered the most unbroken period of depression within the
experience of the Association. The ascertainment showed that prices
never reached (except at the last stage) higher than 5s. per ton,
being most of the time below 4s. 8d. We are so much inclined to judge
from appearances and not righteous judgment that the blame for bad
trade was thrown entirely upon the scale, as if its existence or
non-existence could influence the coal markets and their prices. To
the superficial observer the collateral conditions of the scale would
appeal with force; but men who look at the fitness of things, and who
do not measure that fitness by a small period or single phase of our
industrial life, are fully aware that all kind of trade seasons are
required to supply a proper test--these recognise that the scale, with
proper adjustments, is bound to be an equitable means of adjusting
wages. There was this coincidence which strengthened the position of
the objector: the scale ended just when a boom in trade set in, and
many men believed that it had been the incubus which had in an evil
manner weighted the trade and kept wages down. "See," they said, "how
the conditions have altered since its removal, and shall we not be
foolish if we give it another lease of life?"

The second remark applied to the delay in securing the advance through
not trusting those at the head to negotiate a settlement, and this in
spite of urgent appeals. This remark applies not merely to the
distrust of that day, but to all such occasions. The foolishness is
not merely for a day, but for all time. It is a great check upon men's
ardour to find themselves doubted, and it is a grand incitant and
inspiration to feel they have the confidence of their people behind
them. If a leader is not such as can be relied upon to do his best he
is not fit to be in the position. Generals win battles most assuredly
when the men trust them. There is always danger when with suspicion
those in the ranks are watching the head.


For a considerable time prior to 1888 there had been a great desire
amongst the people for a more active part in local affairs. This was
running currently with the national and parliamentary idea. The
opposition which reared itself against the national was found striving
to prevent an extension of home affairs. It was in relation to this
that the Marquis of Salisbury, "that master of jeer and gibe," said
what the people wanted was a circus, as they were more eager for that
class of amusement than seriously taking part in the management of
parish or county business. However, as in the parliamentary suffrage,
so in the transferring of the local affairs from the parish magnates
and the petty sessions to the people; the spirit of reform, the
friends of freedom, and the trustees of the people were too strong.
Those who were in power--the masters in the art of "grasping the
skirts of happy chance"--those skilful plagiarisers of other people's
ideas, calling them their original property, those who have always
waited to be forced to do right, introduced and carried the "Local
Government Act."

As the men of Durham were eager and expectant in 1885 with reference
to the extension of the suffrage--not merely eager to receive, but to
use--so in relation to the county affairs, they were earnestly
desiring to receive the long withheld right and to put it into
operation. In this matter they were and are unique. The system of
political teaching carried on by their Franchise Association had not
been in vain. While in other parts of the country men had been at
fever heat until they were incorporated into the electorate, and then
lapsed into indifference or misuse, in Durham the same keen zest was
manifest after the passing of the Act as before. Between the Royal
assent being given and the time of operation a serious preparation
took place. A very large number of meetings were held, and in a
business manner the election was prepared for, with the result that
about one-fourth of the new-formed Council were working men, and fully
seventy per cent. of the parish and district councillors were from
their ranks. In this respect the county occupied a proud and peculiar
position, for in no other county was any such use made of the Act.
Instead of that, the lethargy seen in other counties was such as to
justify the Salisburian jeer as to the circus. It may be said without
fear of contradiction that no selfish or ill use was made of the power
thus gained. No county anywhere more needed reform in matters
pertaining to the home life of the people, for in matters of
convenience and sanitation the condition of many parts was deplorable.
There was a general idea that these working men when they were placed
in this responsible and new position, with the public purse to draw
upon, would act the part of prodigals, and run into all kinds of
waste. Those who said that, based their reasoning on a very false
position. They said (and no doubt believed) that the miners did not
contribute to the rates, and therefore would rush into useless
expenditure. Some of the miners asked where the rates came from if not
from them. The fear has been falsified. There was great need in the
home surroundings for rushing, but with all that, gradual reforms were
the order of the day, and no one suffered.


   Another Advance sought--Death of Mr Crawford--The Ten Hours' Drawing
   and Hewers' Hours--The second Advance--International Miners'

This year opened with another claim for an advance. In the Federation
Minutes for January 8th is the following:--

   That the secretary write to the secretary of the Coal Owners'
   Association asking a meeting requesting an advance of 15 per cent. on
   all classes.

That motion was the outcome of a resolution passed at the Miners'
Council on the 4th. Not merely was the amount of advance named, but
the 1st of February was to be the date of its commencement, with the
alternative that the ballot be taken if it were refused. The Board met
the owners on the 21st of January, when they were given the following

   The Durham Coal Owners' Association is unable to make any further
   advance in wages unless, or until, a much higher invoice price of
   coal is realised than has yet been attained. The owners' accountants
   have ascertained the selling price for the last three months (ending
   December 31st, 1889) and they certify the net average invoice price
   to be 5s. 9.88d. This, according to the recent sliding scale
   agreement, would make wages 13¾ per cent. above the standard of
   1879. Wages are, as a matter of fact, now 25 per cent. in advance of
   that standard brought up to this point, by the special advance of 10
   per cent. given only 5 or 6 weeks ago, in anticipation, as the owners
   then declared, of higher prices yet to be got.

   The owners invite the Federation Board to verify these figures, and
   to join in a further ascertainment for the first three months of this
   year, with a view to thus determining whether any advance in wages is
   justified, either now or in April next.

   The owners regard it as all-important that the men employed in the
   collieries in the county of Durham should be afforded, and should
   avail themselves of, an opportunity of correcting the serious
   misapprehension under which they labour from regarding the prices
   quoted in the newspapers for what is but a small proportion of the
   output as representing the entire volume of trade.


    Coal Trade Office, Newcastle,
    _January 21st, 1890._

The Federation Board resolved to submit the question to a ballot, as
it was found that the miners were not in favour of either joining the
owners in an ascertainment, or allowing their representatives to meet
the employers. The result of the miners' ballot was most perplexing.
At that time there were only 48,500 full members, and of these only
25,807 voted for a strike, those against the strike and neutrals
amounting to 22,708. Taking the Federation as a whole, the situation
was unsatisfactory. For a strike there were 29,048, and against
26,696. There were more than 15,000 unrecorded votes. Under these
circumstances they considered their best policy was to call sectional
councils, to be held on February 13th. The voting at the Miners'
Council was a very large majority for giving in the notices on the
24th. The Federation Board met on the same day, when it was found that
the enginemen refused to give in their notices; but the Board decided
that the other three sections should tender theirs, and the owners
should be informed of the same. Great regret was shown at the refusal
of the enginemen. Mr Crawford, acting on the instruction of the Board,
at once notified the employers, and received from them a long reply.
They were surprised to find no reference made, either in the letter or
in the submission to the members, as to the joint ascertainment of the
selling price of coal. They reaffirmed their statement that the
average price did not warrant the advance. If a strike were entered
upon, the responsibility would rest with the side which refused to
avail themselves of the full opportunities offered for ascertaining
the condition and prospects of the trade. They were prepared to
consider whether by arbitration, or by any other course, a strike
might be averted, and they invited the Board to meet them again on
February 22nd. At that meeting the owners offered an advance of five
per cent., making the underground men thirty, and the surface men
twenty-seven, per cent. above the standard of 1879. Another ballot was
taken--(1) upon this offer; (2) open arbitration; (3) strike. The
result of the ballot was to accept the offer of five per cent.

On the 9th of May another demand was made for fifteen per cent.
advance. This meeting was in response to a letter sent by Mr Crawford
from the Executive Committee notifying the employers of the demand.
This they could not accede to. Their reasons were the serious reaction
which had set in in the coal trade. Whether it would continue, or
there would be a recovery, was uncertain. The most they could offer
was to leave wages where they were, and reconsider them in a month.
For some time there had been a growing desire for shorter hours, and
it was felt by some of the leaders of the Union that instead of
pressing for wages it would be better to devote all their attention to
the shortening of the hours, and even going so far as giving up the
advance. In keeping with that idea the question was introduced to the
owners; but the Executive felt that these two subjects were too much
for successful consideration at the same time, and they therefore
asked the lodges to send delegates to a special Council on May 31st to
say whether--(1) they had to press for the entire programme--viz.
fifteen per cent., with ten hours' drawing and seven hours from bank
to bank; (2) should the cases be separated; (3) which one should be
preferred. Finally, it was agreed that the claim for an advance should
be withdrawn and the whole attention of the county placed upon the
shortening of the hours. A more beneficial decision has never been
come to in the whole of our history. In this case time has meant
money, and has proved the wisdom of applying the spirit of compromise
and arrangement to these matters by men who know the technicalities of
the trade.


We must stay our record of industrial changes to consider a serious
blow which fell upon the Association in the death of Mr Crawford on
July 1st 1890. It was a blow the force of which can only be realised
by those who were intimately acquainted with him, and whose good
fortune it was to be colleagues with him. Never yet had an Association
a stronger or more capable leader. To see him at his best one had to
be with him in a complex question and in a committee. He was not an
eloquent orator, moving men's minds by speech, but he was a pilot
skilful in guiding their affairs through the perilous times. No man
was ever more attacked by men who were never able to reach his
excellence in the sphere of life in which he was placed; but this was
always certain, those who made the attack were sure to receive cent
per cent. in return. His ability was only fully known by those who
were in close contact with him. His temper was sudden, fierce for a
short time, but soon burnt out. Ofttimes, therefore, he was apt to
give offence. He had his failings. Is he to be for that condemned, for
where is there a man without them? The Pecksniffs of life may pose as
being pure, but _men_ know how far they fall short of that state. Pure
spirits are a terror to common mortals, and beyond their reach, and
especially to men whose lives, like Crawford's, are cast amid the
complexities and complications of an earnest Trades Union leader.

Let us place on record the opinion of his colleagues in the circular
notifying the county of his death:

   "It is our sorrowful duty to announce to you that Mr Crawford died
   this morning at 6 A.M. On this occasion our words will be few, but
   they must not be taken as the measure of our feelings. We are in a
   position which enables us to form an estimate of his worth to us as
   secretary of our Association, and we are therefore the more fully
   conscious of the loss sustained. He has died doing his duty--as he
   was at Newcastle at Joint Committee on Monday the 30th of June, and
   took part both in discussions inside and settling cases outside. He
   went to that meeting in opposition to the persuasions of his
   colleagues, who saw the delicate state of his health, and how
   dangerous it was for him to go to the meeting."

He died comparatively young, aged only fifty-eight. If any of the
young men want to see his style let them turn to his circulars, which
are scattered profusely through our documents. He had been feeble for
some time before his death, but when in health he was ready and
vigorous with his pen. He passed from us, but his work still lives,
and will live so long as the Durham Miners' organisation remains; and
if the workmen in folly should allow it to fall, then the work he did
for them will be their greatest condemnation.

The vacancies caused by his death were filled up by Mr Patterson
becoming corresponding secretary, Mr Wilson being made financial
secretary, and Mr Johnson being elected treasurer. The political
vacancy was supplied by the nomination and election of Mr Wilson for

[Illustration: JOHN JOHNSON, M.P.]


At the Executive Committee meeting on July 3rd this matter was under
discussion, and it was resolved to ask for a meeting with the owners
"on the seven hours' and ten hours' drawing." The interview did not
effect a settlement, and the Committee decided to ballot the county.
It was submitted as "Strike," "No strike," and the result was, for
strike 30,484, with 2728 against. This result was sent to the
employers, with a request for an early meeting. It was held on August
14th. The original request was a reversion to the hours worked prior
to Mr Meynell's award:

   "Foreshift men to go down at 4 A.M., back-shift to be loosed to
   commence to ride at 4 P.M., and no colliery to draw coals more than
   ten hours per day, for two shifts of hewers. The drawing hours in the
   night-shift collieries to be in proportion to the day shift."

In that request there is no mention of the seven hours. This omission
the Committee explained. If they had asked for seven hours they would
have lengthened the hours of those men who were loosed by their
marrows in the face. In their opinion the plain request of seven hours
would have increased the hours in those cases on an average of at
least half-an-hour per day, and would have compelled a system of
overlapping in all such cases, because a signed agreement would
supersede all customs. As a counter proposal the employers submitted
the following:--

    _August 19th, 1890._


   The Owners' Committee offer as a settlement that hewers' shifts be on
   an average of foreshift, and back shift not more than seven hours,
   reckoned from the last cage descending to the first cage ascending,
   and from the last cage descending to the last cage ascending; the
   present coal-drawing arrangements remaining unchanged. The custom of
   shifts changing in the face to be maintained. Failing the acceptance
   of this offer, the Owners' Committee propose that the whole question
   of hours be referred to arbitration.

   You, on the other hand, have urged that there should be simply a
   return to the drawing hours, and arrangements consequent thereon,
   prevailing prior to Mr Meynell's award in April 1878.

   It will be the duty of the Owners' Committee to report this to a
   general meeting, but in order that that meeting may fully understand
   what such a proposal means, it is necessary to obtain information
   from each colliery as to its hours and arrangements prior to April
   1878. The Owners' Committee will proceed to ascertain this, and it
   suggests that your deputation meet the Owners' Committee on Friday,
   the 29th inst., at 1.30, for a further discussion prior to the
   owners' general meeting which will be called for this day fortnight.

    Yours faithfully,


The whole subject was placed before a special meeting, and sundry
questions were asked. Should the question stand adjourned as the
owners requested? Should the seven hours be withdrawn? Should the
owners' offer be accepted? Should arbitration be offered? Should the
notices go in; if so, when? The conclusions of the Council were to
wait for another meeting with the employers, and to withdraw the seven
hours as a separate question.

At the meeting held on August 29th the employers placed before the
Committee their proposals. Their chief objection lay in the serious
loss of output which would follow a reduction of one hour in the
coal-drawing time. In any case it would be impossible to bring the
change into operation till the contract engagements could be adapted
to new conditions; that the change should not take effect till the
first pay in January; that if there were a reduction in hours there
should be a proportionate reduction in wages; that the Committees of
the two Associations should have full power to settle certain points:
"Mode of reckoning the hours in ten and twenty hour pits; for coal
drawing; for offhanded men and boys above and below ground;
arrangements in cases of accidental stoppage; drawing hours on
Saturdays; changing at the face; 'Led tubs'; travelling time in
relation to distance; co-operation of miners in making the ten hours
of coal drawing as full and effective as possible." The Council
meeting before which these were placed decided to accept the owners'
offer of ten hours, to operate on January 1st, 1891, and that the
Executive Committee meet the owners, with full power to settle the

The appointment of the Committee resulted in the "Ten Hours'
Agreement," which need not be inserted here, but a difference arose
as to the number of hours the double-shift pits should draw coals.
Finding they could not agree, the Committees arranged to refer the
matter to an umpire, and two on either side were appointed to place
the case before him. The umpire chosen was Mr J. R. D. Lynn, coroner
in Northumberland. He decided as follows on December 22nd, 1890:--


   Whereas, by an agreement between the Durham Miners' Association and
   the Durham Coal Owners' Association, the question of whether the
   coal-drawing hours of double-shift pits should be 19 or 20 hours per
   day was left to my decision; Mr Hall and Mr Parrington on behalf of
   the Owners' Association; and Mr Forman and Mr Patterson on behalf of
   the Miners' Association.

   Now having taken upon myself the said reference, and heard what was
   alleged by Messrs Hall and Parrington and Messrs Forman and
   Patterson, on behalf of the said parties respectively, and having
   heard and considered all the evidence produced to me, and duly
   weighed and considered the terms of the request of the Miners'
   Association, contained in their resolution of August 14th, 1890--the
   terms of the offer of the owners--the terms of the agreement or
   qualified acceptance of the owners' offer by the Council of the
   Miners' Association--the agreed working hours of the datal men and
   boys--the time occupied by the different classes of men and boys
   descending and ascending the pits--the prevailing custom of the
   county and all the matters and things bearing upon the question
   referred to me--I am forced to the conclusion that the drawing hours
   of double-shift collieries can only be reduced in proportion to the
   agreed reduction of the drawing hours of the single-shift collieries,
   and not in proportion to the number of hewers' shifts; and now make
   and publish this, my award, in writing, as follows:--

   I do Award and Determine that the coal-drawing hours of double-shift
   pits shall be twenty hours per day.

    J. R. D. LYNN.

    _Dec. 22nd, 1890._

The negotiations were complicated and a settlement hindered by the
action of the Wearmouth Lodge. It arose out of the seven hours'
resolution. When the Council carried the resolution that the hewers'
day should be seven hours, that lodge, without waiting for any general
action on the question, commenced to put it into operation. We need
not mention the circumstances beyond saying that the colliery was on
strike, causing great friction between them and the Committee, and
delaying a settlement of the general question, although they were told
repeatedly that they were violating rule, and retarding progress.

Before the hours agreement was come to another advance was asked for.
As usual, it emanated from the miners. The amount claimed was twenty
per cent., and again the date was fixed for commencing, with the
alternative of the ballot, and notices if refused. The resolution was
brought before the Federation Board, accepted by them, and sent on to
the owners, with a request for an early meeting. The discussion on
the subject took place on October 27th, when the employers said: "As
the application was based upon an alleged increase in the price of
coal they must have time to verify the price by the accountants'
ascertainment, and as soon as this was done they would meet the Board
and give a definite answer."

The Federation Board, feeling the anomaly of their position, and being
loath to meet the owners with restricted powers, resolved to ask their
constituents to give them full power to negotiate as to the amount of
the advance. The result of this voting was a large majority in favour
of placing the whole matter in their hands. As soon as possible
(November 14th) a meeting with the employers was held. The first
question asked of the Board was what was the extent of their powers,
and they, the owners, were informed the workmen had placed the matter
entirely in the hands of the Board to settle. This, the owners said,
cleared the ground and prepared for a settlement, as they had resolved
not to make any offer if such had not been the case. It was, however,
ultimately resolved to give an advance of five per cent., making the
percentage above the standard of 1879 thirty-five for the underground
workmen, banksmen, mechanics, enginemen, and cokemen, and thirty-two
per cent. for the surface workmen, the agreement to take effect with
the pays commencing December 29th, 1890, and January 5th, 1891,
according to the pays at the various collieries. By that arrangement
the shortened hours and the increase in wages were simultaneous.

Before leaving 1890 we will notice a very important step taken by the
miners of Great Britain --the holding of the first International
Miners' Conference at Jolimont in Belgium. As this was the first of
the series it will be interesting if we give the origin.

   The first idea originated in 1889. In that year two Labour Congresses
   were held in Paris: the Marx or Socialist, and the Possibilist or
   Trades Unionist. To the latter the Northumberland miners sent Messrs
   Burt and Fenwick. Prior to the meeting of the Congress those
   gentlemen sent a joint letter inviting the miners' representatives
   attending either the Marx or Trades Union Congress to meet for the
   purpose of a friendly interchange of opinions on questions relating
   to the condition of the miners. Some eighteen delegates responded,
   and the meeting took place in a dingy coffee-house in a back street.

   The interpreter on that occasion was Miss Edith Simcox. The result
   was the miners of Great Britain were requested to take the initiative
   in the formation of an International. This request was conveyed to
   the Central Board of the National Miners' Union (Mr Crawford being at
   that time secretary). The matter was brought forward at a subsequent
   miners' conference at Birmingham. The outcome was the Congress held
   at Jolimont in Belgium in 1890.


   Silksworth Strike--Claim for a Reduction--The General
   Strike--Aftermath of the Strike--The Eight Hours again

The year opened with a strike at Silksworth. It is mentioned here
because of its being connected with, and being the last of, the
disputes about the deputies. In order that there may be a proper
understanding it will be necessary to retrace our steps a little. At
the Miners' Council held on August 16th, 1890, a resolution was
carried giving the Silksworth Lodge power "to take the ballot with a
view of giving in their notices to compel the deputies to join the
Union." The ballot resulted in the notices being tendered. They
expired on November 22nd, and on November 26th, at a Federation Board
Meeting, it was reported that the dispute between the deputies and the
lodge had been settled amongst themselves, and they were ready to
return to work. This had been forwarded to the employers by Mr
Patterson and Mr Forman, from whom they had received a reply
acknowledging the receipt of the information. They having, however,
been informed "that many of the deputies, non-members of the Miners'
Association, have been compelled by coercion and violence to join that
Association, are not prepared to take any further steps with regard to
the strike until they have consulted a general meeting of the owners,
and this they will take an early opportunity of doing." Mr Patterson
and Mr Forman wrote denying all knowledge of any force, reminding the
owners that in all previous cases, whether general or local, the
withdrawal of notices had always been mutual, and that they had
instructed the workmen to present themselves for work. This action
produced a deadlock, and three meetings were held between the
Federation Board and the owners--on November 29th in Durham, and on
December 1st and 2nd in Newcastle. The owners said they were convinced
that some of the deputies had been driven through fear to join the
Miners' Association, and therefore they could not sanction the
resumption of work at Silksworth until the Federation agreed to
provide for the security and freedom of the deputies who refused to
join the Miners' Association pending the consideration of the question
"whether it is consistent with the duties and responsibilities of
deputies to belong to the Miners' Association, and that the deputies
at Silksworth should have the opportunity, under proper safeguards, of
freely declaring whether they wished to remain in the Miners'

To these the workmen made reply that the action of the owners was
against all former arrangements made between the two Associations. "In
every case that has taken place the men either before or after giving
the notices have had to agree to resume work" before the Urgency
Committee was appointed, and yet the employers were asking, in the
Silksworth case, to reverse that well-established practice, and were
demanding that the pit should stand until a settlement was come to.
That course of action the Board repudiated, and expressed their
willingness to join any body or committee as soon as the pit started.
The employers then modified the claim, and asked that a Joint
Committee should be formed, and the deputies who had been compelled to
join the miners should be allowed to appear before that Committee, and
say whether they wanted to remain in such Association. With that
understanding the pit should go to work as soon as got ready, and the
Committee meet within the next three days, which would mean prior to
work being resumed, except very partially. The Board was willing to
agree to form the Committee. No settlement was come to, although
strong endeavours were made. At last the employers decided to evict
the men from the houses. The evictions commenced on February 19th,
1891, and in all there were 106 families turned out, many of whom
found shelter with their friends and in the places of worship. To
effect that purpose a very large contingent of police was drafted in
from other parts of the country, with the usual accessories to these
circumstances, the "candymen," to whom the occasion was a harvest, and
just the kind of work their natures were akin to, and their minds
eagerly desiring, and therefore ready to accept. There were most
serious riots, and at one time a violent collision took place, between
the crowd and the police. It was not the result of any action on the
part of the Silksworth people, but was owing to the presence of
strangers. It was customary for the police to escort the candymen out
of the village to a large house a short distance off, which afterwards
was given the name of "Candy Hall" because of the use it was put to.
On a certain night when the escorting took place, the police and their
charge were followed by a large concourse of people, some of whom
threw stones and various kinds of missiles. In a few instances the
officers were hurt. This they bore until they got outside the village,
when suddenly wheeling they charged with their batons upon the crowd,
many of whom were seriously injured. Before the whole of the people
were evicted negotiations re-opened, and the proceedings stayed, which
eventuated in the following agreement:--

   It is agreed that the Owners' Committee advise the Silksworth
   deputies who joined the Durham Miners' Association after the notices
   were handed in to pay up at once their arrears of subscriptions to
   the present date, on the distinct understanding that they are to be
   at perfect liberty from this date to be members or non-members of the
   Miners' or any other Association pending the settlement of the
   general question of deputies between the two Associations.

   On the arrears being paid work to be resumed at Silksworth, Seaham,
   and Rainton, all men being reinstated in the positions occupied by
   them before work ceased.

That ended the last of the privileges given to deputies.


In the beginning of July the Federation Board met the owners. The
employers had made a claim for a reduction on April 25th which the
Board met by asking for an advance. As this is the first of the series
of events and negotiations which led up to the strike of 1892 it will
enable us to better understand that occurrence if we record it in
detail. At the meeting referred to, the employers said that as the
Board had asserted that the state of trade did not warrant a
reduction, but, on the contrary, an advance, they would officially
ascertain present and prospective invoice prices, and would then ask
the Board to meet and consider them. If that did not lead to an
agreement they would ask that the question should be submitted to
arbitration. The matter was delayed until November 27th, when another
meeting took place. The following statement was handed to the
Federation Board:--


   The Durham Coal Owners' Association feel that the time has come when
   they must press for a substantial reduction of wages. They are paying
   35 per cent. above the standard rates, whilst the ascertainment of
   selling prices for the quarter ending September 30th last brought out
   results corresponding with wages only 23¾ per cent. above the
   standard. The excess measured in this manner is therefore 11¼ per
   cent.; but prices are continuing to decline, and this should also be
   taken into account in considering what reduction ought to be made.
   The last advance of 5 per cent. arranged in November 1890, to take
   effect from January 1st, 1891, was given in the expectation that
   prices were likely to rise; instead of this proving to be the case
   they have declined to an extent equivalent to a 5 per cent. reduction
   in wages, thus placing the owners in a worse position to the extent
   of 10 per cent. as compared with this time last year.

   This is the smallest amount of reduction that the owners feel ought
   to at once be conceded, and they are willing either to accept this as
   an instalment of the relief that the state of trade imperatively
   calls for, or to submit to open arbitration the question of what
   change in wages ought to be made.


    Coal Trade Office,
    _November 27th, 1891._

The Board promised to place the statement before the members as soon
as they had time to examine it, and at the same time they would send
the employers a statement with regard to the application for an

Nothing more was heard of the subject until the 19th of December, when
the owners wrote to the Federation Board as follows:--

   I am desired to ask you when the Owners' Association may expect the
   reply to the proposal as to the reduction of wages made to your
   Federation Board at the meeting on November 27th.

This was brought before the Board, when they suggested that the
questions should lie in abeyance until the New Year, after which they
would be prepared to arrange for an early meeting. On January 14th,
1892, the Board met the Owners' Wages Committee, when three
propositions were handed to them--(1) An immediate reduction of ten
per cent.; (2) to submit to open arbitration the question of what
change in wages ought to be made; (3) to submit any proposal the Board
might have to make to the Coal Owners' Association. Failing to receive
an intimation from the Board at the earliest date that they accepted
one of those propositions, then the Wage Committee must at once lay
the position of affairs before their Association, and obtain
instructions as to the steps to be taken to press for an immediate

These questions were at once placed before the workmen by the Board.
They, in the first instance, said they did not consider they had the
power to make any settlement, and therefore were compelled to take
that course. Then they reminded their constituents that when the
markets were advancing (and on sufficient reason being shown) the
employers gave advances by mutual arrangement, and therefore that
mutuality should be reciprocated. They hoped the members would not be
rash nor doubtful, for these were dangerous and destructive to their
interests. "We must meet these situations like business men. The
greatest safeguard is confidence in each other, and, as in the past,
we have done all we could to merit that confidence from you, so in
this most critical period, if you entrust us with the care of this
matter, we shall do all we can to bring about the greatest benefit for
our various Associations."

There were three modes of settlement open to them: the first to grant
the immediate reduction of ten per cent.--this they would not
recommend; the second was arbitration; and the third to place the
matter in the hands of the Board to negotiate the best settlement
possible. They pointed to the last advance of five per cent., which
was got so speedily by acting in the latter manner. Upon these three
questions the ballot would be taken, the papers to be returned on or
before February 3rd. The voting was: for accepting the ten per cent.,
605; arbitration, 2050; Board to have power to settle, 7102; for
refusing the whole, 41,887.

The Board then put in operation Rule 14, which gives them power to
call the Committees of the four sections if they deem it necessary.
They arranged for such a meeting, and laid before it an amended offer
made by the employers: an immediate reduction of seven and a half per
cent., or five per cent. immediate, and five per cent. on the first of
May. If neither of these was accepted then notices would be given on
February 27th. With these offers the united Committees sent out a
circular. In it they supplemented the one sent out by the Board in
January, prior to the last voting being taken, and they warned the
county not to be deceived, because it was quite clear that the owners
were in earnest, and resolved not to be put off any longer. The
question had waited six months. If they accepted one of the
alternatives the dispute would be arranged. If they chose a strike,
then they must prepare for taking the consequences. On the 27th of
February, the day upon which the notices were given, they met and

   "That all members of any of the four sections who have not received
   notice from the owners must put them in at once, except the
   collieries who are not associated with the Durham Coal Owners'
   Association, who must work on, providing their wages are not
   interfered with."

These instructions were altered three days after, and the members were
informed that "all workmen, whether employed at associated or
non-associated collieries, and who have not received notices, must
give them in at once."

The voting on the amended proposals of the employers was largely in
favour of a strike. For agreeing to the seven and a half per cent. 926
voted, for the two five per cents. 1153; for giving the Board full
power 12,956, and for strike 40,468. It was then resolved to submit
the two highest to another ballot. In the meantime the Board
endeavoured to induce the owners to modify their demand still further.
On the 10th of March, two days before the notices expired, numerous
telegrams passed between the two parties. Those from the Board were
urgent; those from the employers as if inspired by indifference, the
last one reading: "Owners regret position, but have no suggestion to

The Board then turned their attention to the prevention of the filling
of the coals that were stacked, and they promised that, if any man or
men refused to fill at the pits in the county during the strike, they
would see them reinstated into their former work. In some places the
colliery officials interfered with the enginemen. The Committee of
that Association entered their protest, and brought the matter before
the Board, who decided:

   That we endorse the action of the Enginemen's Association in the
   prompt means taken by them in reference to officials of collieries
   tampering with the enginemen, and should any action be taken against
   the enginemen they will have the protection of this Board.

On March 11th the Miners' Executive decided to call a special Council
meeting of their members on the 12th to consider the situation, and
informed the Federation Board of their decision. After a long
discussion the Council decided against any reduction, and on the 16th
the votes of the whole Federation as per ballot showed:

                 Strike   Federation to Settle
    Miners       39,390         8,473
    Enginemen       664           821
    Mechanics     1,875         1,122
    Cokemen       1,127         1,440
                -------        ------
                 43,056        11,856

In spite of all these efforts to prevent the strike and induce the
members to settle there were some who charged the leaders with not
giving the members full information and not daring to put the matter
as clearly and as forcibly as they should. In defence they asked the
lodge secretaries to look at the circulars and minutes which had been
sent to them, and they would find these people were speaking either
without full knowledge of the facts or maliciously stating that which
they knew was untrue. The Board had placed before the members the
various offers, and had in an unequivocal manner advised them that the
most beneficial mode of procedure was to give the Board power to

   "To this we still adhere, as the wisest, surest, and best course to
   be pursued, and we have no doubt that, were it adopted, a speedy
   settlement might be arrived at, and all the misery and hardships that
   are necessarily attached to a strike or lockout, whether it be long
   or short, would be obviated."

The question of the sick members was somewhat perplexing, for the
members of the sick department who were not receiving anything beyond
the small amount of strike pay, found they could not keep their
payments up, and the question was brought before the Council, when the
following resolution was carried:--

   This meeting deems it advisable to let the sick members who are now
   on strike cease paying their contributions for the present, and at
   the same time they be not allowed to come on to the Sick Fund. But
   those who are now on the Sick Fund have their sick pay continued
   until they recover from such illness, and at the same time they will
   have to continue paying their contributions, but death benefits to be
   paid to all.

The banking account as per the balance sheet for December 1891 was
£36,000. There was £15,834 in property in the various halls in the
county, and there had been so much money spent in local strikes that
it had been impossible to accumulate money to the extent they should
have done. The members were informed that the amount available would
only enable the Committee to pay 10s. to each full member and 5s. to
each half member, for they were compelled by rule to reserve £10,000
for the Sick Fund.

The strike being fairly started the Federation Board found themselves
in a position analogous to that of 1879. The best they did receive
(from a large number of people) was slander and vile names, and all
because they, realising the dangers of the situation, dared to advise
the county and take an unpalatable but manly stand. Meetings were held
everywhere, and the speeches delivered were interlarded with epithets
of the lowest order; and if the estimate of the agents was even only
approximately true they were fit for no place outside a prison, for
the most corrupt motives were attributed to them. They were betrayers
of their trust, and were selling the interest of the men for their own
gain. The main spreaders of those untruths were men from the outside:
sailors who loved to sail on land better than sea, and coal porters
from London, who thought they knew more about the miners' affairs
than the men of the county did. In addition, there were those who
believed in brotherhood, and thought the most effective means to
establish it was by sowing discord broadcast among a people engaged in
an industrial death struggle. The severity of the struggle may be
gathered from the fact that 10s. per member and 5s. per half member
was all that was available in the funds, and after being off nearly
eight weeks the money gathered in from helping friends amounted to 5s.
and 2s. 6d. respectively. It took £1000 to give each member of the
Federation 4d. each.

After being off work close upon eight weeks the Federation Board
sought a meeting with the owners for the purpose of talking "over the
situation with a view of putting before the members of the various
Associations any suggestions that might arise." Three days after the
parties met, when the whole question was fully discussed. The position
taken up by the Board was that, according to Joint Committee rules, no
question could be negotiated during a stoppage, and therefore the
owners should open the pits, after which the men would consider their
demands for a reduction. That offer was refused, and a reduction of
2s. in the £ was pressed. In connection with it they suggested the
formation of a Wage Board as a means of preventing the recurrence of a
suspension of work. They were then asked if they would refer the
question to arbitration. Their reply was very short and decisive: "No;
thirteen and a half per cent. reduction must be conceded before we
will agree to open the pits." When asked why they increased their
demand they said they had done so because the stoppage of the pits had
entailed a great loss upon them, and they thought the men should pay
for it. In addition, they chided the Board with simply being message
carriers instead of men of influence.

There were three results from the action of the owners. The first was
to bring the Federation Board and Committees into closer relations
with the people as a whole. There had been a tendency towards peace,
when the employers took the false step. They had an idea that the
workmen were beaten, and there is no doubt there would have been a
much earlier settlement but for that mistake. Before, the leaders were
doing their best to persuade their people to let them settle the
dispute, but afterwards they were in determined opposition to the
settlement on the lines of the increased demand.

The second result was to throw public sentiment against the owners. It
was very clear that, so long as the employers stood by their original
demand, there was at least a silent condemnation of the workmen for
refusing to place confidence in their leaders, but after the thirteen
and a half per cent. was asked for the public veered round to the side
of the workmen.

The third result was to change the feeling of the miners in relation
to their trust in the leaders. What persuasion could not do the
extreme demand did. At a Miners' Council held on May 7th it was
decided to leave the entire case in the hands of the Board. On the
9th, at a united meeting of the four Committees, the subject was
discussed for a considerable time, when it was decided that the Board
meet the owners, but the Committees to be in attendance. A telegram
was sent to Mr Guthrie informing him that:

   "The Federation Board having received full power to settle the wages
   question, can you fix a day as soon as possible for us to meet your
   Wages Committee? Board waiting reply."

To this Mr Guthrie replied that he would call a meeting for the 11th,
and lay the message before their members. The meeting took place on
the 13th of May. The owners stood firm to their thirteen and a half
per cent. The united Committees offered to give five per cent. That
offer was refused. The Committees then proposed the following:--


    _May 13th, 1892._

   That we, the united Committees, representing the four sections of the
   workmen employed in the county, cannot accede to the demands of the
   owners for a thirteen and a half per cent., but in order that we may
   end this dispute, with the consequent stoppage of trade and
   deprivation amongst the people, we are willing to accept an immediate
   reduction of seven and a half per cent. from the thirty-five per
   cent., leaving the wages twenty-seven and a half per cent. above the
   1879 basis; and further, that we are willing at the earliest moment
   after the starting of work to recommend to our members the formation
   of a Wages Board for the settlement of all county wage questions in
   the future.



   The Owners' Wages Committee regrets that it is impossible to accept
   the offer of the united Committees for an immediate reduction of
   seven and a half per cent. only. In other respects the Committees'
   proposal is acceptable.

   The Wages Committee must again point out that the ascertainment of
   selling price for the month of February showed that the owners are
   entitled--according to the relation of wages to prices that so long
   prevailed, and which the owners still regard as fairly and fully
   measuring the rates that can be afforded--to a reduction of fifteen
   per cent. from the standards. In asking for thirteen and a half per
   cent. only the owners feel that this is the smallest reduction that
   they would be justified in accepting. They believe, having regard to
   the deepening depression of trade, that any higher rate of wages than
   would be thus established must lead to a serious diminution in the
   amount of employment that could be afforded.


These were sent out with a statement of the case, with three questions
upon which the members were asked to vote: Should the owners' terms be
accepted? Should the strike continue? What suggestion had they to
offer? In the circular sent out four days after these questions the
Federation Board pointed out the seriousness of the position. It was
difficult to carry on the struggle much longer. Arbitration had been
offered to the employers, the pits commencing at the old rate. That
had been emphatically refused, although it might have been accepted,
if agreed to at the first. One suggestion had come to them--viz. to
offer to accept a reduction of ten per cent. This was sent out as from
themselves, and was carried by a majority of nearly four to one. When
forwarded to the owners it was refused. The following is the

    _May 23rd, 1892._


   That we, the united Committees, representing the four sections of the
   workmen employed in the county, adhere to our refusal to accede to
   the demand of the owners for a thirteen and a half per cent.
   reduction, but in order that we may end this dispute, with the
   consequent stoppage of trade and deprivation amongst the people, we
   are willing to accept ten per cent. reduction from the thirty-five
   per cent., leaving the wages twenty-five per cent. above the 1879
   basis; and further, that we will at the earliest moment after the
   starting of work recommend to our members the formation of a Wages
   Board for the settlement of all county wage questions in the future.

   Seeing the Owners' Committee have refused our offer of ten per cent.
   reduction, and press for their full claim of thirteen and a half per
   cent. in wages as a settlement of the present dispute, we offer to
   submit the whole question to open arbitration, providing the pits be
   opened out at once.

On the refusal of this offer it became clear to the workmen that they
were being most harshly dealt with, and as a natural consequence there
were a few outbursts of temper and disturbances. There were numbers of
policemen imported into the county. Against this the united Committees
protested, and pointed out that the massing of these men was likely to
cause disturbance, where otherwise there would be peace. They likewise
thought the rate-payers should demand the withdrawal of the policemen,
as they were an unnecessary burden upon the county. At the same time
they placed before the county a detailed account of the whole
proceedings from the initiation of it. They showed that they had done
all they could in the interests of peace. They had offered to submit
to a reduction, the justice of which had never been sufficiently
proved; in fact, they were willing to give two and a half more than
the owners asked for when they came out, which was equal to the
fullest demand before the stoppage. They concluded by saying:

   The future of this awful struggle is with the owners. We have done
   our part. We cannot and do not ask you to accept the unjust and
   exorbitant demand made upon you. So far as we can see, the struggle
   must continue, that is, unless you are prepared to submit to the
   unjust demands of the owners. Are you prepared to do this?

   We implore you to be patient under the strain placed upon you by the
   latest action of the owners, from which it is evident that they would
   crush you, and reduce your manhood to the level of serfdom. We urge
   you to be law-abiding and still continue to show, as you have done in
   the past, that the men of Durham are a credit, not only to Trade
   Unionism, but to the country at large.

   The owners are aware that our ability to successfully resist their
   demands depends upon our being able to procure the necessaries of
   life. It is a matter which they have no need to personally fear, but
   which they appear determined to use as a weapon to force us to accept
   their terms. We must all do our best to defeat their projects, and
   nothing shall be left undone that we can do to secure subscriptions
   in order that our people may have food. We are thankful to those
   friends who have helped us, and we hope that workmen and all lovers
   of justice will respond to our appeal.

   As Committees, we tender our thanks to the leaders and friends at our
   local lodges, who have so untiringly and unceasingly given their
   labours for that purpose. They are in a good cause, and we are sure
   they will not weary in their well-doing. Their action is made more
   necessary by the determination of the owners.

The offer of the employers (thirteen and a half per cent.) was
submitted to the county along with the alternative of strike, with the
result that every section voted by large majorities for a continuance
of the strike, the least majority of any section being near four to
one, and in one section nine to one. The resources of the men were
gone, but their spirit of determination was strong. The owners by a
statement tried to put themselves right with the public, but the Board
replied by a counter statement. Then some of the influential men in
the county (including Bishop Westcott) thought it was time to
interfere, and letters were written by them to the Board, for which
thanks were sent in reply. Among the communications was one from N.
Wood, Esq., M.P., in which he expressed his regret at the failure to
settle and the great misery among the people, and suggested that the
Board should make an offer of eleven and a half. A letter of thanks
was sent to him, expressing surprise that he should make the
suggestion, and informing him that they would feel glad if he would
try to get the owners to see that they were preventing a settlement by
their stubborn refusal to shift from their demand for thirteen and a
half per cent. The good Bishop, however, was not satisfied, and
persisted in his endeavours to get the parties together. He was told
that as soon as the owners were willing the Board would meet, and an
arrangement was made on June 1st at Auckland Castle. A very long
joint meeting took place, and then each party met in a separate room,
the Bishop passing from room to room, full of solicitude for a
settlement. At nearly the final stage of the proceedings he tried his
best to persuade the workmen to offer eleven per cent., and he was
told that, while he had their most profound respect, and they were
sorry to refuse him, yet if they thought ten and a half would settle
the dispute they would refuse, and continue the strike. At that point
the parties met jointly again, when the following resolution was
handed to the workmen:--


   The Federation Board have offered explanations as to the
   establishment of a system of conciliation in the future, which the
   Bishop of Durham recommends the owners to accept as satisfactory, and
   the Bishop having strongly appealed to the owners--not on the ground
   of any judgment on his part of the reasonableness or otherwise of the
   owners' claim of 13½ per cent., but solely on the ground of
   consideration for the impoverished condition of the men and of the
   general prevailing distress--to reopen the pits at a present
   reduction of 10 per cent. (that is, from 35 to 25 above standard),
   with the full expectation that wages will hereafter be amicably
   settled by the system of conciliation contemplated, the owners yield
   to the Bishop's appeal on these grounds, and assent thereto.

    Bishop Auckland,
    _June 1st, 1892._

It was thought desirable to settle certain details before work was
resumed. Amongst these was the restarting of all men as they came out.
Some of the owners demurred, and thereupon the meeting broke up, and
adjourned until Friday, the 3rd. The workmen at that meeting asked for
a plain statement that every man would be engaged at his own work. The
proposal of the owners was as follows:--


   1. The Owners' Association have decided that no person shall be
   refused employment in consequence of having taken part in the affairs
   of the Workmen's Associations during the strike; they cannot,
   however, give a pledge to re-employ all their workmen, but they will
   recommend their members to employ as large a number as possible, and
   that the re-engagement of hewers be as follows:--That the places in
   each pit be cavilled for according to the last cavilling sheet, and
   that men cavilled to the places not intended to commence again shall
   be the ones not to be employed, it being understood that one hewer in
   a family being cavilled to a place that is to work is equal to the
   engagement of the whole family. In cases where a whole seam is
   stopped, it having been previously cavilled separately, the men
   belonging to such seam shall not be entitled to have a cavil put in
   for any other seam. This mode of re-engagement shall not be adopted
   as precedent in future cases, either in discharging or employing

   2. That the owners are not prepared to discharge or remove the
   workmen whom they have employed during the strike for the purpose of
   reinstating other workmen who were previously employed, but will use
   their best endeavours to re-engage those previously employed as
   vacancies occur.


    Durham Coal Owners' Association,
    _June 3rd, 1892._

The united Committees objected to the second portion, but were willing
to accept the first. No definite agreement was come to, but there was
an understanding that the matter would be allowed to adjust itself
smoothly, which it did, and no disturbance whatever took place in the
absence of an agreement. The united Committees guarded themselves by
drawing up a resolution, in which they interpreted the owners'
resolution to mean that every man would be re-employed as before the
stoppage. At the same time they informed their members that if any
case of refusal took place, then all the other men must refuse to

Thus ended one of the most memorable strikes in this or any other
country, not on account of its length, but the circumstances which
were connected with it. The workmen were poor in funds at the start,
and the help (although generous from some quarters) was small per
individual; the total benefit for the three months did not exceed 25s.
each full member. With these poor resources and prospects they entered
upon what was felt would be a strike of a very determined kind--this,
too, with the minimum amount of friction. The only event of much
importance happened at Castle Eden. The disturbance took place on May
7th. It arose in reference to a man named Stogdale, who would not
abstain from working during the strike. Four of the workmen at Castle
Eden were tried for intimidation. Their names were Michael Forbes, W.
R. Robbins, T. Jones, and T. H. Cann. They were tried at the Durham
Assizes in July 1892, before Judge Day. They were tried under the
Intimidation Act. The judge summed up in a very strong manner against
all the men except Robbins, who was discharged, but the other three
were sent to prison. The judge said they had been found guilty by the
jury of the offence with which they were charged--namely, with the
object of preventing a certain person from pursuing his legal
occupation "you in a disorderly manner, with other people, followed
him along the road." After making a long speech in a similar strain,
to show how beneficent the law was in his opinion and what a trio of
desperadoes they were, he sentenced Forbes to a month, Jones to six
weeks, and Cann, because the judge thought he was the ringleader, to
two months.


If the strike was unique in its endurance and order it was none the
less important in its lessons. In it, as in 1879, was seen the result
that followed the lack of confidence. A strike is the harvest field of
the agitator, who cares not what is destroyed so long as he prospers.
What would have been the gain to the individual member and to the
Association if the resolve taken in the last few weeks had been taken
before the tools were brought to bank? The funds, such as they were,
would have been kept intact instead of being wasted. The great loss in
individual income would have been avoided; in that respect the savings
banks and co-operative societies (which in many cases are the poor
man's bank) could have told a tale of hardly saved stores used up
which had been kept for a "rainy day" of unavoidable troubles. The
unnecessary and destructive friction which is sure to arise in these
matters, no matter how peaceably the struggle be conducted, would
have been avoided. Two great bodies, such as the two great
Associations in Durham, are two great armies, and in the struggle and
strivings anger will arise, and regrettable things will be said in the
heat of the moment. These have a more far-reaching effect than people
are apt to credit.

Then the loss in wages. This was twofold. There was the three months'
irredeemable loss and there was the lessening of the reduction. It was
admitted on all hands that less than the ten per cent. would have kept
the pits working if the Federation Board had been trusted with power
to settle, even up to the eve of the strike. In saying this there is
no intention of measuring the result of a strike by the money loss or
gain. The world would not have been so far as it is in the path of
reform and better life if the forlorn hopes of labour had not been
fought, but it would be a piece of false logic if we were to infer
that strikes should, therefore, be entered upon at all times. And
certainly no one who in 1892 was able to appreciate the situation then
would say it was one of those necessities of our industrial life. It
was far from that; the gain would have been greater by the avoidance
of the quarrel. If in writing our history this is emphasised, it is
not in the spirit of reflection, but rather that we may learn wisdom;
for in these matters it cries aloud in the street, and we can from a
remembrance of such events escape the like evils. If this be done,
then the strike of that day will be useful in the greatest degree to
those of us who are active in this. Using Longfellow's figure, it is
part of our dead selves, of which we can make a ladder, by which we
can rise to higher things.

Another part of the aftermath was the burden which was thrown upon the
funds. This was twofold. There were the men who could not get
started, in the first instance, because of the state some of the pits
were in; and second, because of the dislocation of trade, which was
sure to follow a stoppage of work for three months. Business
connections are liable to break, and the difficulty is to heal them
again. The consequence was that there were men out of work for a long
time after the actual strike was settled, and these were to maintain
for a considerable time, many of them so long that they had to be
transferred to the Relief Fund. The money paid to them was the outcome
of a levy, which pressed heavily on those at work.

Then there was another burden, the result of the strike, but which was
not any portion of the obligations of rule, the payment of the back
rent of those who were living in rented houses. There was one peculiar
and pleasing feature in connection with that strike, as with that of
1879, there was no interference with the men who were living in the
colliery houses. There was in one or two places some little talk of a
rent obligation from such men, but it came to nothing. Perhaps it was
never intended that it should. This much it is our duty to state, to
the credit of the employers: the men who were in battle with them were
allowed to live in their houses, and were not prevented from gathering
coal wherever such was lying about. To the men who were in rented
houses the case was vastly different. Every week off work added to
their debt, which they were bound to pay when they resumed work. With
a spirit of generosity which is not restricted the whole of the
members recognised the debt of those men as belonging to the whole
county, and resolved to pay a levy for the purpose of paying the back
rent. The resolution was carried at the Council meeting on June 18th,

   "That a levy of 3d. per full member and 1½d. per half member
   throughout the county be made to help to pay the house rent of the
   members living in rented houses."

At the same meeting the present (1906) Relief Fund was formed, to
support men who were out of work. The system adopted in paying rent
was to cavil the collieries, and pay them as they were drawn, with
this provision, that if any colliery were drawn, but had not paid the
levy, no rent was allowed until the levy was paid.


The only remaining subject in 1892 was the ballot on the legal eight
hours. We have noted previously how and when this was first
introduced, with some plain advice given by Mr Crawford--advice which
has never been shown to be wrong. It was decided at the Council
meeting held on August 13th "that the county be balloted for and
against the eight hours." On September 21st the Committee took the
ballot, and issued a circular setting forth their views on the
subject. As we have now (1906) reached a crucial stage in the
discussion, it will be useful to place on record what the Committee of
that date thought of the question and the difficulties it involved. In
their opinion there were two modes of procedure by which the hours of
labour might be shortened: legal interference and Trades Union effort.
The latter was the one they had adopted, and it had been successful.
No man could think they were against short hours; any opportunity to
shorten them would be welcomed. They referred the members to the
action in 1890: how they had given up a claim for ten per cent. and
accepted a shorter day. "We are not now to set up a show of weakness,
and sacrifice our manhood and independence, by handing ourselves over
to the supervision and control of the House of Commons, which is not
acquainted with the peculiarities of our occupation."

If it were the function of the State to fix hours of labour, was it
not logically its function to fix the wages of the workman? "It is
said that some of the organisations are weak, and therefore the State
should protect." The reply was: "Where weak organisations exist low
wages are found. It is therefore necessary for the State to fix the
amount of wages men should be paid, for men require bread as well as
hours." They then turned to the difficulty.


   Those who favour legal eight hours must consider how it would work.
   There would be serious alteration needed in our present mode of
   working. We must either have two shifts of 8 hours, making 16 hours'
   coal drawing and 8 hours' shifts, increasing the hours of hewers by 1
   to 1½ hours per diem, and deputies half hour per day. This would
   increase the output, and consequently the price of coal, and
   necessarily the wages of all men. The other alternative is an 8
   hours' shift for all men and boys, which would throw into the labour
   market thousands of men. Consequently, competition amongst ourselves
   such as we experienced in '76 and '77 would arise, and thus we would
   have a repetition of the hardships we underwent in those disastrous
   times. Much is made of the hours of boys; these we will shorten at
   the earliest opportunity. Under our present system, and taking a
   number of years, we work less than we should do under eight hours by

   We therefore strongly urge on you to vote to a man against any
   Parliament fixing the hours of labour, as in our opinion it would be
   injurious to the working classes generally, and to ourselves in
   particular. Do not be led away by the idea that the short hours we
   have obtained for the hewers will be maintained. The request is eight
   hours from bank to bank for all and every man who works down the pit.
   To this, it may be said, it is a maximum number of hours, and that,
   therefore, some might be allowed to work less. That will depend upon
   the arrangement. If the employers get the sanction of the law, and
   they require us to work eight hours, we shall be expected to so work.

   There is another point which demands consideration. It is a question
   of wages. Let us suppose the Act passed, and those who work ten hours
   (both below and above ground) were reduced to eight, how much should
   the wages be reduced? If we shorten the hours by negotiation, it will
   be done gradually, and wages could be arranged.

The result of the ballot was: for parliamentary eight hours, 12,684;
against it, 28,217.


    The Wages Board--The Miners' Federation


During the negotiations for a settlement of the strike in 1892 the
employers laid emphasis upon what they designated the Wages Board, but
which afterwards was known as the Conciliation Board. Their idea
(commendable in every point) was to bring the parties closer together,
and avoid the recurrence of the stoppage, which they felt (as all must
feel) had been a disaster to the whole of them. The question rested
over until the beginning of the year, when the owners made application
for a reduction in wages, and at the same time asked that the
formation of the Board might be taken into consideration. The meeting
took place, and on February 27th the Executive Committee issued a
circular, putting the whole position before the members. The miners at
the time were in a complicated position, being connected with the
Durham Federation, and they had a short time before become members of
the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. Under Rule 20 that Federation
claimed to have control of the wages disputes in all the districts
identified with them. In order that the position may be properly
understood we will insert the rule.

   20. That whenever any county, federation, or district is attacked on
   the wage question, or any action taken by a general conference, all
   members connected with the Society shall tender a notice to terminate
   their contracts, if approved by a conference called to consider the
   advisability of such action being taken.

The application of that rule to Durham, in the situation it was in,
would have been to leave the whole matter in the hands of the Miners'
Federation, which would have taken full charge of the question, and
have told the Durham Association what they must do--whether to accept
or reject. The complication arose from the fact that they were members
of the home Federation as well, and there would be confusion if two
bodies, one in the county and the other at a distance, were to have
supervision. It was impossible to go on in that state. One body was on
the spot, and knew the whole bearings of the case; the other was at a
distance, and therefore bound to be in comparative ignorance of the
facts of the situation.

The Executive Committee felt they were compelled to put the position
clearly before the Federation Board and the county, and inform them
they were members of the Miners' Federation. In addition, they
resolved to call a special Council, and place before it the plain
issue. "Let us state the position to you," they said. "Prior to our
becoming members of the Federation of Great Britain we acted on all
general and wage questions with the Durham Federation Board. Our
action was a whole one with the cokemen, mechanics, and enginemen, the
last strike being the most recent and clearest illustration of that.
You will remember with what loyalty the four sections worked together
on that occasion."

If they were resolved to remain members of the Miners' Federation, and
accept Rule 20, they must prepare for leaving the county Federation.
That would result in sectional action in Durham, for the other
sections would naturally seek to make the best of themselves they
could. It was not reasonable to ask them to wait until the Miners'
Federation had decided, as per Rule 20, for Durham to strike, and then
ask the cokemen, mechanics, and enginemen to join in it. There was
needed some definiteness on the point, and the Council would be asked
to decide two questions: First, "Shall it be settled by the Federation
of Great Britain?" Second, "Shall it be settled by the Durham
Federation Board and the united Committees?" At the Council held on
March 6th the decision was in favour of the latter question.

In accordance with that resolution the united Committees met the
owners on March 13th, and asked them to reduce their demand for ten
per cent. to five, and they (the Committee) would at once accept it.
The employers accepted the offer, the following being their

   The Durham Coal Owners' Wages Committee feels the responsibility of
   accepting a less reduction than the 10 per cent. claimed, because
   upon an adequate reduction really depends the extent of employment
   that can be afforded. Whilst, therefore, the owners' judgment is that
   the true interest of both parties lies in at once bringing into
   operation a reduction of at least 10 per cent., the owners, desiring
   to show a spirit of conciliation, accept the Federation Board's offer
   to submit to a reduction of 5 per cent., to come into operation from
   the next pay of each colliery; but in doing so the owners feel it
   their duty to point out that so small a reduction as 5 per cent.
   falls far short of meeting the urgent necessities of the trade, and
   can therefore be regarded only as a temporary settlement.

This reduction brought the percentage above the standard down to
twenty. But the employers were not satisfied; they pressed upon the
Board the formation of a Wages Board. On May 27th Mr Guthrie wrote to
Mr Patterson as follows:--

   I am directed by the Durham Coal Owners' Association to press
   strongly upon you the honourable obligation we come under to the
   Bishop of Durham, and to each other, to endeavour to establish a
   Wages Board which would secure by conciliation or arbitration the
   pacific settlement of all questions outside the jurisdiction of the
   Joint Committee. That honourable obligation has been more than once
   reaffirmed by your Federation Board, but no steps have been mutually
   taken to give effect to it, and my Association feels that such steps
   should not be longer delayed, and therefore instructs me to ask your
   Board to meet the Owners' Committee in order to advance the matter.

The members of the Federation Board were eager, as individuals, to
come to an arrangement, but were not sure how the membership would
receive it. It was a new but necessary departure in an industry such
as the Durham coal trade, but in order that it might be acceptable
they were desirous that some scheme (beyond a mere name) should be
outlined at least, and placed before the various sections for
consideration. They asked the owners, therefore, for certain

   "(1) The allocation of the 3s. 10d. basis price of coal under the
   following heads:--wages, salaries, material, royalties, and profits.
   (2) The proportion of coal required to make a ton of coke in 1893 as
   compared with 1877. (3) The cost of producing a ton of coke in 1893
   as compared with the same in 1877. (4) A statement setting forth the
   various objects to which the 2d. per ton was allocated. (5) A
   statement showing the percentage of steam coal, gas coal, household
   coal, manufacturing coal, and coal converted into coke. (6) The
   average lengths of contracts, with the periods when they are
   ordinarily made."

A reply to these questions was received on December 7th. This was in
conjunction with an application for an advance made by the Federation
Board. They were informed that the Owners' Committee was willing to
meet and discuss the question at the same meeting when the proposed
Wages Board was considered. In reference to the list of questions the
letter contained the following:--

   "The meaning of some of your questions does not seem clear, and
   generally my Committee failed to understand how they bear on the
   expediency or otherwise of forming the proposed Board, or arise prior
   to its establishment, but the Committee accepts your suggestion that
   a meeting should be held to discuss your communication."

The meeting was held on December 19th. Nothing was done in relation to
the Wages Board, but an arrangement was made with respect to the
advance. The Owners' Committee were convinced that the tendency of
prices was downward. These had been somewhat higher during the strike
in the Midlands, but the effect of that was passing away, and they had
very grave reasons to doubt whether the first quarter in 1894 would
justify the rate of wages then paid. They had given a temporary
advance in October for six pays only, and they were prepared to make
that permanent, and bring the wages to twenty-five and twenty-two per
cent. respectively above basis rates.


In order that we may make the chronology of our history as close and
sequential as possible, we will postpone the Wages Board until 1894,
and take up a subject which is within the year we are dealing with. In
the autumn of 1892 Durham decided to join the Miners' Federation of
Great Britain. The membership continued without any difference (except
that arising from the eight hours, and the case of the reduction in
Durham mentioned above) until the month of July 1893, when a demand
was made upon the Miners' Federation for a reduction of twenty-five
per cent. In connection therewith a conference was held in Birmingham
(the proverbial Hen and Chickens' Conference) to consider the
situation. Two delegates were sent from Durham (Mr J. Johnson and Mr
J. Wilson). It was found that in some districts organisation was in a
very poor condition. The delegates from Durham were sent to move the
whole question be referred to arbitration, but when they brought it
forward as the best mode of procedure, they were prevented for some
time, but finally were permitted, with the result that, by a majority
of four to one, they were outvoted. A resolution was carried pledging
all the districts within the Federation area to give in notices. If
they had suffered reductions within two years, then they had to apply
for an advance equal to the amount lost, without regard to the state
of trade or any other consideration. The absolute order was to give in
notices, the aim being to bring all into the struggle which was
impending, and these had to be given within a fortnight. When these
proceedings were reported to the county a circular was sent out by the
Executive Committee, in which they commented upon the situation, and
asked the members what should be done. They said there were two
questions for them to decide upon--first, the position in the south;
and second, the demand they had to make for fifteen per cent. advance,
as per the Birmingham resolution. These could have been sent out in a
bald form, but it was their duty to give the county guidance, for if a
Committee be appointed for anything at all, it is to watch, warn, and
guide the members of the organisation. There could be no doubt but
that Durham was in favour of arbitration, for the last vote taken on
the instructions to the delegates proved that. This was refused, and
instead they were ordered to make a demand for fifteen per cent.
advance. The question which they must answer first was: Is trade
favourable for such a demand? Unless trade is prosperous now, could
they expect to succeed in such a claim? What support could they get?
Their own funds were gone entirely. If the Federation strike took
place, then there was no source of income anywhere.

There were at that moment 5000 men out of work, some of whom had never
started since the late strike. The small support these men had been
receiving would be cut off. They would have to commence a strike, not
in comparative, but absolute poverty. Where, then, was the hope?

But suppose notice was not given in for an advance, then Durham must
give in notice to terminate their engagement when they had no dispute
with their employers. If they were asked "what they were striking
about" what answer could be given, except the following:--"Nothing
whatever in our own county; we have no difference." Further, if the
employers were to offer a ten per cent. advance, it could not be taken
without the leave of the Federation. Neither could they accept
arbitration, for they had been told the No. 20 Rule of the Federation
would not admit of it. Therefore they must strike, or be expelled from
the Federation. But, said the Committee, "much as we desire national
federation, and may regret our expulsion from that body, we cannot
urge you to a course that would in our opinion be disastrous."

The questions involved were then placed before a special Council, when
it was decided to ask for an advance of fifteen per cent., but that
they would not join the Miners' Federation in the strike. The Council
likewise resolved to ask the cokemen, mechanics, and enginemen to join
them in their demand for the fifteen per cent. If not, then the
Miners' Executive should apply themselves. The Federation Board
considered the decision of the miners. They regretted the
circumstances which had led to the great dilemma in which they were
found, but, having a desire to keep the solidity of the Board, they
would accede to the request, and meet the owners, but if it were
refused, it would be desirable to refer the question to their
respective sections for further instructions, and at the same time
they would ask the united Committees to accompany the Board. The
owners could not accede to the request, and it was necessary that the
will of the members should be ascertained by the miners. This was the
position: they had been ordered by the Birmingham conference to make a
demand for fifteen per cent., and if not conceded, to give in their
notices. None of the other sections had received the same orders. The
questions were: Should there be a strike to force the demand, or
should they work on? But before that stage was reached, it was
necessary that they should ascertain whether the ballot should be the
whole of the Durham Federation, or simply the miners. The voting was:
for the whole Federation Board, 267; for the miners' vote alone to
decide, 167. It was then found that the other sections could not join
the ballot until they had consulted their members, and the Executive
Committee determined to take a ballot of their members alone. The
result of the ballot was: for a strike, 20,782; against, 19,704. The
rule, therefore, was against a strike. The consequence of that vote
was to place Durham in direct conflict with the Miners' Federation.
That body had a conference arranged for August 22nd in London. Messrs
Johnson and Wilson were sent to it by a nearly unanimous vote. The
first business of the conference was to consider the action of Durham,
and the following resolution was moved and carried with great

   That we, the representatives of this Federation, cannot allow the
   Durham delegates to sit in this conference, seeing that this district
   through its officials has not carried out the resolution of the
   Birmingham conference.

There are two very notable things in the resolution and its setting.
Durham was expelled from the Federation, and the officials of that
organisation were charged with preventing the carrying out of the
Birmingham resolution. The first of these is very clear, for on that
point the motion is specific; but it will be seen the second is not
correct when we consider the two votes recorded above--the first
placing it in the hands of the Federation Board and the second by a
ballot being against the strike. This is a history, and not a record
of any man's opinion. It is necessary that the state of things that
existed should be recorded, not a mere theory as to how things should
be. The history would be incomplete if we were not to follow the
sequence a little further. No sooner had the expulsion taken place
than there was an introduction of speakers from the Miners'
Federation, who came with the avowed object of trying to induce the
county to continue its membership. The only complete illustration of
that circumstance would be for a man to kick another out of his house,
and the next minute go himself, or send some of his relations, to ask
the man to come in again, doing his best to show that he who was
kicked out was the offender, and ought to feel thankful for the usage
he had received, and to supplicate to be taken in again. It was a
curious mode of procedure, to say the least, and, most surprising of
all, they were assisted by some of the people in the county, who did
not feel the slightest ignobleness in the treatment they had received
by the expulsion.


    The Conciliation Board--Lord Davey's Arbitration

The formation of a Conciliation Board was again brought forward by a
request from Bishop Westcott to the Federation Board asking them to
meet him for the purpose of discussing the subject. The Board acceded
to his request, but did not appoint a definite deputation except the
four secretaries, leaving any others to join them who thought proper.
The result of the interview was the calling of the four Committees to
discuss the proposal. The decision of the Miners' Council on March
10th was:

   That the Committee meet the owners and discuss the advisability of
   forming a joint Board for fixing the correct selling price of coal,
   and the other sections of the Federation (county) be asked to join
   the negotiations and report to the county; that there be a
   Conciliation Board formed, to consist of members from the owners on
   the one part and members of the Durham Federation Board on the other
   part. The said Board shall be formed of equal representatives of the
   before-named parties, who shall meet on terms of absolute equality.

This resolution was brought before the Federation Board, when it was
found that the other three sections had not been instructed by their
members, and it was resolved that the question be deferred until "they
had an opportunity of bringing the matter before their Associations,
and that the Board recommend the acceptance of the principle for their
adoption, and the four secretaries meet and draw up a code of rules
for the guidance of the Conciliation Board." A difficulty arose from a
resolution passed by the Cokemen's Association.

Dr R. S. Watson had given an award in a cokeman's case shortly before,
which in the opinion of the cokemen was not being carried out by the
owners, and therefore, while they were in favour of the principle of
conciliation, they decided not to take any part in the formation until
the owners brought the award into practical operation. The Federation
Board regretted the action of the cokemen, as in their opinion "such a
Board would be the most effective means of bringing a full recognition
of that award. As, however, the other three sections were in favour of
proceeding with the formation of the Board, we ask the employers for
an early meeting, and we would urge upon the cokemen to reconsider
their resolution of March 31st, and give their representatives power
to proceed with us in that formation."

The owners were desirous that the Board should join them in meeting
the Bishop, but they were informed that a previous understanding had
been come to, by which it was arranged that each side should meet him
separately, and then the joint meeting should take place. They had
carried out their part of the bargain, and were ready to meet jointly
as soon as his lordship should ask them, as they were very wishful not
to throw any obstacle in the way of the formation of the Board. On
July 27th the formalities were settled, and the rules were left to
the four secretaries, with instructions to draw up a circular
recommending such rules to the members.


   Gentlemen,--We hereby desire your attention and consideration to the
   rules of the "Proposed Conciliation Board," which you instructed us
   to form. We have always told you that, however carefully we might
   draft such rules, the acceptance, amendment, or rejection thereof is
   with you. We were proud to receive the commission of the duty, and we
   place before you the result of our work, and are hopeful that great
   benefits will accrue to the trade of the county if these rules are
   adopted. We do not claim perfection for them, but we do assert that
   they are in advance of any method ever arranged here for the
   settlement of disputes.

   We will not trouble you by any lengthy statement by way of urging you
   to accept the rules, for in our opinion their fitness is clear, but
   we will in as brief a manner as possible draw your attention to three
   of their leading features or principles. First, the scope of the
   operations of the Board; second, its duration; and third, the
   machinery by which it arrives at its decisions.

   The scope of the Board is set forth under the headings of "Objects."
   We do not quote those objects, but ask you to refer to and consider
   them carefully. They are clear in their intention and comprehension.
   What can be more interesting and important to us than the prevention
   of disputes? We speak for you, as well as ourselves, and say we
   desire them not, and welcome any mode of settlement which will
   minimise friction, and help both employers and employed to avoid any
   irritating action, while it does not interfere with the right of and
   justice to either party. You will observe that the Board is intended
   to be _more than a Wages Board_. It will take into its cognisance and
   decision any questions which may arise and for which the Joint
   Committee rules do not provide.

   You know as well as we do the numerous cases that arise which have no
   standing at the Joint Committee, and you will, therefore, easily
   recognise the value and importance of any tribunal which will deal
   with such matters in a ready and expeditious manner. There is no need
   to enumerate those questions. We hope you will not merely glance at
   the latter portion of the "Objects," but give it your careful

   The duration is fixed by rule three. The limit is 1895, and,
   therefore, if the rules should fail to meet our views, we can
   terminate the existence of the Board in less than a year and a half
   from now, which is a short time in the history of our industrial
   relations. A shorter time than this will not give us the opportunity
   of testing the usefulness of the arrangement, neither is it long
   enough to allow any serious evil to arise therefrom.

   The machinery or mode of operation is contained in rule four and
   subsequent rules. If you examine these rules you will see, that while
   they provide for the appointment of an umpire (which is necessary),
   yet his services are not to be called in until the Board have tried
   to settle by negotiation and conciliation. We recommend to your
   special notice the main features of this portion of the rules. These
   are the provisions for the play of conciliation and mutual
   confidence. Anything that will beget a feeling of trust and
   mutuality, that will remove the desire to overreach and withhold on
   the one hand, and of suspicion and doubt on the other, should be
   welcomed and tried, and if possible strengthened.

There were a number of suggested objects and provisions sent in,
which were afterwards commented upon by the united Committees. Amongst
these was a minimum wage. The Committees, in relation to that
question, drew attention to the period between 1877-79, when, in
little more than a year and a half, the miners spent £23,000 in the
maintenance of men out of work; that, so severe was the pressure, they
were compelled to abolish the Relief Fund; that there were collieries
where the men asked to be allowed to work at twenty per cent. below
the minimum; and that the actual average went down to nearly 6d. per
day below the minimum. The second suggestion was "a voice in the
selling price of coals." This, the Committees thought, was a very good
ideal, but it was yet a great way off. It implied more mutuality than
was in existence, and it was a state which must evolve, rather than be
fixed arbitrarily. "The voting to be by ballot at the Board meetings."
This was thought to be unbusiness-like, as secret voting was a strange
thing for a business meeting. Then it was thought by some lodges that
the question of sacrificed men, and arranging for all men to be in the
Associations, were matters to come within the purview of the Board,
but it was found that they were not compatible with its objects. The
rules as framed were not perfect, but were far in advance of any to be
found in the country. "Many other districts and trades have adopted
the principle, but we venture to say that in no instance has a
Conciliation Board been formed which, for breadth of scope in its
operation and dealing with questions that can arise, is in any way
equal to that proposed for this county. We have had the opportunity
of studying the rules of all the Boards already formed, we have
watched the work of those, and we unhesitatingly declare that in no
single instance have such equitable rules been found."

When these views were put before the four sections they were accepted
by the other three, but the miners hesitated. The Executive pointed
out to them that by a Council resolution the power had been given to
the Board to arrange rules and conditions, and therefore theirs was an
anomalous position for them to take up by their objection. Under the
circumstances they had resolved to call a special Council, in order
that the matter might be fully considered. They were confident that if
the common good were the aim, and all were imbued by that idea, the
Conciliation Board would be formed on the lines suggested by the
united Committees. The result of the Council was the acceptance of the
proposed constitution, with the alteration of the number of members
from fifteen to eighteen on each side, and the owners were informed
that the Federation Board was ready to meet and sign the rules. The
rules were signed on the 18th of February 1895.

There is no need to insert the rules here, as they can at all times be
seen in the office, if any person feels desirous of doing so. The
election of the first members took place on the 12th February 1895,
the following persons being elected:--

    J. Wilson.
    J. Johnson.
    J. Forman.
    W. H. Patterson.
    T. H. Cann.
    W. Golightly.
    S. Galbraith.
    W. House.
    H. Jemison.

At the first meeting of the Conciliation Board the employers asked
for a reduction of wages. Many people thought they were in a hurry.
Such a conclusion was hardly justifiable when we remember that they
had been pressing for a reduction for some time, and the delay had
arisen from the length of time taken in the negotiations to establish
the Board.

The employers felt themselves injured by the delay, and therefore took
the first opportunity of having their claim put forward and settled.
The Federation Board in their circular on the situation acknowledged
that, for they said:

   We cannot but regret that the first meeting of the Board should have
   been convened to consider a reduction of wages, yet we feel confident
   that, however distasteful and unpleasant it may be to submit to a
   fall in percentage, all who have observed the condition of trade,
   taken note of the prices prevailing generally, and the serious
   lessening of the number of hands, during the past six months, could
   not be otherwise than prepared for a reduction in the rates of wages
   which were got when the condition of trade was different and prices

While the Board were prepared for a demand for a reduction they were
not prepared for the amount asked. The demand was for fifteen per
cent., which would bring the wages down to a point to which the scale
of 1889 would have brought them. The price of coal in 1889 was 4s.
8d., in 1895 it was 5s. 2d. Wages had risen thirty-five per cent., and
therefore they had a claim (said the owners) for at least fifteen per
cent. The arguments against that claim we need not state in full. The
main one was that, taking the whole period since 1889, wages had been
between seven and nine per cent. higher than the periodically quoted
net selling prices would have given. That argument, as all are aware,
was of great weight, and that it influenced the decision, there is not
the slightest doubt. The decision of the umpire was a reduction of
seven and a half per cent., but it left the wages higher by that
amount than the old arrangement would have done. Under it 5s. 2d. per
ton would have given a wage ten per cent. above the standard; the
award of Lord Davey in May 1895 left it seventeen and a half above the

Although they had been called upon to suffer this reduction so early
in the era of conciliation, the Federation Board did not lose faith in
it as an advance in wage settlements. They said:

   It may not be out of place to allude to a feature or two of the newly
   adopted method of dealing with wages regulations as disclosed by
   recent applications, and we may modestly, yet rightly, claim for it a
   superiority of character and practice over preceding modes. As
   already stated, it has by its earliest results confirmed the
   conviction previously held, that the standard relation of wages to
   prices governing previous methods was not correct, and established
   the increased average amount obtained by the negotiations of the past

At the next meeting of the Board the owners made another application
for a reduction. When the July meeting took place the claim was
brought forward. It was objected to at first, on the grounds that
there had not been sufficient time, seeing the three months had not
elapsed. The notice was withdrawn and renewed. The reasons assigned
were the declension in the markets and the inadequacy of the previous
reduction. These reasons were not accepted, and the umpire was again
called in. His decision, after two days' hearing, was a reduction of
two and a half per cent. In spite of this adverse circumstance the
Federation Board were still strong in their belief in the utility of
the system. They said:

   We are not going to say that its course, so far as it has gone, has
   been pleasant, for there have been two reductions, but these do not
   shake our confidence in it. It is an unfortunate coincidence, the
   initiation of a new system when circumstances are unfavourable and
   its changes are downward. The true test of institutions, as of men,
   is their action in a variety of conditions. No arrangement can make
   trade prosperous. They are dreamers who think so, and are liable to a
   rude awakening. Wise men recognise the ever-recurring changes, and
   employ the means which are most expeditious, easy, and equitable in
   their responses. Friction between employer and employed is a foe to
   any trade, uncertainty is a sure and hurtful detriment, hastening and
   enlarging the times of adversity. Our opinion is that, if we have not
   the best system, we have one which will ward off friction, allay
   uncertainty, and induce steadiness in the trade of the county.

That clear and bold statement of their confidence in the Board was not
effective in maintaining it, for at the Miners' Council held on
November 16th it was resolved to take a ballot to test its
continuance. The Federation Board, on being informed of that action,
resolved to take it of all the sections. They at the same time advised
their members to keep it intact. They did not find fault with the
decision to take the ballot. Their advice was therefore not prompted
by a spirit of complaint. It was right that these matters should rest
on the will of the members. Their duty, however, was to guide the
members and advise, even on subjects that were unpalatable. In October
they placed before them their views in as clear a manner as possible.
Those views they adhered to, and did not swerve from their belief in
conciliation as the best system yet tried. It was condemned, because
there had been reductions. If advances had come there would have been
loud praise. Would wages not have been reduced if the Board had never
been formed?

   "Without hesitation we tell you that, in our opinion, he is a foolish
   or a designing man, or ignorant of commercial relations, who attempts
   to teach such a doctrine. We have never told you such an absurdity.
   When we asked you in the spring of the year to adopt conciliation we
   never dreamt of it as a fixed, immovable machine. To us it was (and
   is) a more mutual, closer, and smoother principle than we have ever
   had, taking within its comprehension other and important matters
   outside wages."

In spite of this pleading on the part of the Federation Board the
voting was: for the Conciliation Board, 11,974; against it, 29,000;
neutrals, 17,000, as a result of the miners' vote. The whole
Federation vote was: for, 14,894; against, 30,587; neutrals, 20,000.

On the strength of that vote notice was given to terminate the
Conciliation Board in accordance with rule.


    The Conciliation Board--Death of Mr Patterson

The Federation Board were still in hope that the decision to terminate
the Conciliation Board might be reconsidered, and they again brought
the question before the members. They asked what system was to be
substituted for it. They were firm in their belief in conciliation,
but, if the members still persisted in abolishing it, what other form
was to be adopted?

   "The situation in which we as a county find ourselves makes it
   imperative that we should address you. We do not refer to our own
   organisations, for these are strong, but to our relation with the
   employers and the settlement of our transactions with them. How are
   these to be managed in the future? Has our attitude to be one of
   repulsion or attraction? Have the employers and ourselves to act like
   two antagonistic forces, looking with suspicion upon each other, and
   ready to take every advantage, as if we were in a continual wrestling
   match on the catch-who-can principle, where those who get the hold
   win, whether their cause be righteous or not? If the members
   persisted in their resolve to have no Conciliation Board, or some
   substituted machinery, who would suffer most? If there were two
   parties before you of equal strength and similarly conditioned, then
   the issue would be uncertain, and the victory would depend upon some
   unforeseen circumstances.

   Such is not the case with us. Given a solid organisation of labour,
   and the same of employers numerically--still the balance of the
   chances in a wear-and-tear and struggling policy will he on the side
   of the party who is the best ammunitioned and provisioned. In this
   case, which in your opinion as the advantage?"

They pointed out that they were mutual sufferers with the members, if
there were suffering; that there was not time in the lodge meetings to
discuss the utility of such a system; and that as a consequence they,
as one of the obligations of their office, were bound to have a fuller
knowledge of the subject than the members. It was an unfortunate
circumstance that the system had been tried in a receding market, but
the proper test was not by one condition of trade. If conciliation
were tested by an increasing as well as a falling market it would then
be seen how useful it was. Some people seemed to charge the
Conciliation Board with being the cause of the depression.

   "There cannot be a greater fallacy. The causes of the reductions lie
   outside the purview of any system yet arranged, and the control of
   them is not within the possibility of an arrangement yet thought of.
   But the question that faces us now, and demands an answer from us,
   is, would they have come if the Board had never been formed? There
   needs no philosophical knowledge to satisfy the mind on that point,
   except it be the philosophy of matter-of-fact, everyday life, which
   in these matters is not an unsafe test. Let experience guide, and it
   will afford a sure refutation of the unfounded idea that it is
   possible to fix, firmly and permanently, wages by any scheme within
   the knowledge of man."

They were desirous of giving them another chance, as the ballot on the
previous occasion was very unsatisfactory, and some of the sections
had made a request for such to be done. And they were hopeful that,
before the notice of termination ran out, the Conciliation Board would
be reaffirmed, as "the hope of all true reformers is centred in the
cultivation of amicability and friendly intercourse between employers
and employed, with a conciliatory method of settling any difference
that may arise, monetary or otherwise, and in the ultimate blending of
the two forces--Capital and Labour--for the mutual and equal benefit
of all concerned. Consider seriously every step we as an organisation
take, and let all we do tend towards the attainment of the much-needed
object." The result of the second ballot was against the Board, the
numbers being in close similarity to the previous vote--the miners
being very largely against, while the other three sections were in
favour. We may add here that it terminated on August 4th, and for a
short time the county entered the region of uncertainty again, which
all must acknowledge is no help to trade or district.


The month of July had been fatal to the organisation, for in it, in
1890, Mr Crawford died, and on July 16th of this year Mr Patterson
passed away from the labour to which he gave his youth and manhood. He
had filled the position of agent and financial secretary for
twenty-five years.

It will not be out of place if we insert a portion of the _Monthly
Circular_ for the month in which he died. It contains the sincere
estimate of one who knew him intimately, who had the highest respect
for him while he lived, and who now has pleasant recollections of his
manly and reliable actions. He was no self-seeker or panderer for
self-profit; he was the antipodes of that mean and despicable
character. You might have difference of opinion with Patterson, but
you could at all times depend upon the open honesty of his nature.


    _July 1896._

   My first word must be a note of sorrow. July to us, as regards the
   agency, has been a fatal month. In it we lost Crawford, and now
   Patterson has joined the great majority. This is the common lot of
   all. Happy is the man who leaves this world for the next without
   regret, feeling that his life has been of some service to his kind,
   and that the people amongst whom he has lived express their
   recognition of his worth by their sorrow and appreciation of his
   labours. Such was our friend. If we, who stood by his bedside in the
   last moments of the final struggle, could have been cognisant of his
   thoughts there would have been no regret; for W. H. Patterson was the
   enemy of no living man, but the friend of all. We were not so
   privileged, but we were so glad to see the large crowd of people who
   gathered to pay a tribute to his memory. The gathering was
   diversified in its character, spontaneous in its gathering, and truly
   sympathetic in its manner and spirit.

   But from our regret for his loss let us turn to the influence of his
   life. The true test of a man is his work. Our friend stood the test.
   The real measure of a man's life is its actions; he was full measure.
   He was not showy, but solid, and as such, being dead, yet
   speaketh--speaks in no uncertain sounds; let us turn no indifferent
   ear. The main work of his life, in conjunction with others, was the
   inception, promotion, and solidifying of our organisation. It will
   be the most real expression of our sorrow if we do our best to carry
   forward that upon which he set his mind, and which he endeavoured on
   all occasions to enforce. Would it not be sham sorrow and unreal
   regret on the part of a son who on the death of a father ... a father
   who by the toil and care of his life had made a position ... if he
   were careless of that work, and had regard only to self-indulgence?
   Little as we may think of it, there has a fortune come to this
   generation and a position been gained for it by the labours of our
   friend and others which cannot be estimated in money. We are apt to
   test everything by a monetary standard, but in this case the test
   fails. Within the life of Mr Patterson there have been effected
   changes which he outside the range of wages, but which are none the
   less valuable to us. These are only known to those whose working life
   commenced anterior to thirty years ago. There are many who have not
   the experience, and who cannot, therefore, realise to the full, the
   contrast. Lightly as these may be inclined to look upon the changed
   conditions, and think because these conditions exist now they have
   always existed, there are numbers who know, and who are able to
   compare, and rejoice in the change made.

   I would not say that all is attributable to the labours of our lost
   friend. No man would have protested more strongly against such an
   idea than himself; but he did what he could; he never devolved his
   share of work upon others.

   He was earnest and determined at the foundation of the Society, and
   anxious for its welfare during the whole course of our existence. We
   shall best show our respect to his memory by doing what we can to
   preserve and perfect the Institution.

The loss of Mr Patterson was followed by the election of Mr T. H.
Cann to the office of treasurer, Mr Wilson being appointed
corresponding secretary, and Mr Johnson financial secretary. We will
close our reference to our friend by placing on record the estimate
placed upon him by the Committee who knew him.

[Illustration: T. H. CANN]


    (_Death of Mr W. H. Patterson_)

   Gentlemen,--It is with very great regret that we announce to you the
   death of Mr W. H. Patterson, which took place at 6-15 P.M. on July
   16th. Our regrets on this occasion are not those of formality, but
   are prompted by a recognition of his worth as an official of our
   organisation and his character as a fellow-worker and a man. Never
   yet had any organisation a more earnest officer, nor any body of men
   a more willing colleague, nor any community a more upright, honest,
   and straightforward man, than our friend who has been taken from us.
   He has not lived the years allotted to man, but the best part, and by
   far the largest part, of his life has been spent in the cause of his
   fellows. He has gone to his rest at the age of forty-nine years.
   Twenty-eight of these have been spent in active, diligent
   service--and useful service. He was one of the band of men who
   twenty-seven years ago, in the face of difficulty, laid the
   foundation of our organisation; and since that time he has been
   watchful over its interests, consistent in his desire to benefit the
   members, and unwearied and uncomplaining in his endeavours to
   strengthen the structure he helped to rear. It was not his privilege
   "to die in harness," as we are confident it would have been his
   pleasure; but those of us who had the opportunity of judging know how
   anxious he was, so long as he could get about, to do and advise
   whenever he could. The name of W. H. Patterson is wove into the web
   of our Institution, and his life will be a blessing after he has gone
   from our midst. The good that he has done will live after him. Happy
   shall we be if the same be said of us when Death gathers us in.

    _July 17th, 1896._


    Miners' Federation--Washington Strike

The year 1897 was memorable for two things: the refusal of the Miners'
Federation to accept Durham as a member unless the county would agree
to support a legislative Eight Hours' Bill, and the conflict between
the Executive Committee and Washington Lodge, which settled the
question once for all whether money could be paid if a colliery were
stopped illegally, even if the Council decided to pay. These we will
take in the order stated. Towards the end of 1896 it was decided to
join the Miners' Federation. The information was sent to Mr Ashton,
the secretary of the Federation, and the application was accepted.
Then arose the question as to the meaning of Object 5:

   "To seek and obtain an eight hours' day from bank to bank in all
   mines for all persons working underground."

In order that the intention might be made clear the Executive passed
the following resolution:--

   That Mr Ashton be written to, asking whether Object 5 in the Miners'
   Federation Rules means that the eight hours have to be obtained by
   State interference alone, or by organised efforts, and whether the
   districts have any option or choice in the matter.

Mr Ashton replied that Object 5 was to be brought about by organised
effort or legislation, or both. As far as the district having option
or choice was concerned all members were expected to be loyal to the
Federation, to be guided by the rules, and assist in carrying out the
resolutions passed at the conferences of the Federation. That was
interpreted to mean that if Durham became a member, as all the other
districts were voting for legislative action, it would be virtually
bound to join in the demand for eight hours by State, and the
Executive placed the question on the programme for the Council held on
February 6th in the following form:--

   That the county having decided to join the Miners' Federation, and we
   having been informed that we must agree to support a legislative
   eight hours as a condition of membership, and as we remember that the
   county has decided, by ballot in 1892 and by resolution in 1895, not
   to support such a measure, we cannot agree to accept that condition
   until the county alter the previous resolution on the question,
   either by Council, motion, or ballot.

   Will delegates come prepared to say what shall be done in this

      (1) Shall we rescind the previous resolutions?

      (2) Shall we support an Eight Hours' Bill?

      (3) Shall a ballot be taken on the subject?

The Council passed a general resolution:

   "We adhere to the resolutions now standing in the Association's
   minute-books--viz. that we do not go in for the parliamentary eight
   hours' day, and that there be no ballot taken on the question."

That decision was sent to Mr Ashton on February 10th, the following
being the letter:--

   At our Council meeting held on February 6th our members decided to
   abide by their previous resolution to oppose any State interference
   with the hours of labour. I am instructed by our Committee to inform
   you of this decision and to ask you to let us know whether under
   these conditions your Executive Committee accept us as members of the
   Miners' Federation of Great Britain. On the presumption that you will
   accept us as members on those conditions, I enclose you a cheque on
   the National Provincial Bank, value £59 (fifty-nine pounds), being
   our entrance fee at one pound per thousand members.--I am yours,


The receipt for the entrance fee not being sent the Executive
Committee wrote again on February 18th:

   If you do not send the receipt the inference on all sides must be
   that you do not accept us on the conditions stated (our opposition to
   State interference with hours). If you do send a receipt, then we
   shall conclude that you do accept us on the conditions, and there
   will be no need to repeal the resolution of exclusion of 1893.

Two days after that was sent Mr Ashton sent a receipt, and said:

   I have no desire to delay the matter of your district becoming
   connected with the Federation. I enclose receipt for the entrance

As this was written two days after the Committee placed the
alternative before the Federation it was assumed that Durham was not
to be bound to the legal eight hours. This impression was communicated
to Mr Ashton on February 25th, and on the 27th the Committee was
surprised to be told:

   "In reply to your letter of yesterday, Durham has been accepted into
   the Federation as all other districts have been. Whatever resolutions
   you may pass on general questions in your Council or Committee
   meetings you must be governed by majorities at the Federation."

Then there arose a dispute about some contributions which were sent to
Mr Ashton. The amount was £245, 16s. 8d. The dispute was as to the
period which was covered by the payment. On June 30th, in a letter
dealing with the disputed point, Mr Ashton said:

   I think you will agree with me that the difference on the hours
   question is so great that until Durham can agree to withdraw their
   opposition to the Miners' Eight Hours' Bill, it is most unwise to
   keep their connection with the Federation.

And on July 10th the cheque for the £245, 16s. 8d. was returned to
Durham, and the separation mentioned above was effected by the return
of the contributions.

The Executive Committee then summarised the situation as follows:--

   We decided to join the Federation. We then found that we had
   resolutions standing against the eight hours. By our own decision of
   February 6th we resolved to abide by those previous resolutions. We
   then informed Mr Ashton, as secretary of the Federation, that we had
   so resolved, and enclosed the cheque for our entrance fee, with the
   understanding that if the receipt were sent we were accepted on those
   conditions. Our Council again on May 29th reaffirmed our opposition
   to the eight hours, and we wrote to Mr Ashton and sent our quarter's
   contributions, and said we were desirous of remaining members on wage
   questions. We were then asked to say whether we could pledge the
   county to come out on strike, which we could not do. The conclusion
   of the whole matter then is, because we could not give a pledge to
   come out on strike on every occasion when so ordered, and because we
   were resolved to oppose the eight hours by State interference, our
   contributions are returned, and we are told by actions--which speak
   louder than words--that we are not to be members. We are not to be
   allowed to judge of our own circumstances and peculiarities, but must
   submit the most important part of the conditions of our labour to
   those whose conditions are widely different from ours, and who,
   knowing nothing of our circumstances, would force us to be guided by
   the changes they require in the hours of labour.


It will be observed that there has been no mention of local strikes
except there be some peculiarity related to them. There is such in
connection with this strike. It was of great importance to the
Association and the maintenance of the rules. There had been numbers
of illegal stoppages, and although the leaders and members at the
lodges affected knew they were breaking the rule, yet they persisted,
and were enabled to carry a vote in Council that they should be paid
from the General Fund. It was felt that once and for all the question
should be decided, and it should be shown that where the constitution
of the Association was violated the violation should entail forfeiture
of benefit, or else of what use was it to have rules or Committee of
Management? To go on in such a loose manner was to make the rules a
byword and a mockery. It was time they should have the seal of
reality, and be placed on a sure foundation, so that order should be
maintained, or at least those who with open eye did wrong should know
that their action would not receive condonement, and they be paid the
benefit of the Association, as if they had obeyed its provisions.

That was the question to be decided. Should the rule be the guide, and
the Executive Committee have the management, or should lodges be
allowed to stop their colliery in opposition to the constitution, and
suffer none of the consequences? The Washington case afforded the
opportunity for the settlement, and that is the reason why it is made
part of this history. The dispute arose about the application of an
agreement made by themselves. The nature of the agreement is of no
import now. The action of the lodge and its relation to the rule is
what we have to consider. The manager put one interpretation on the
agreement, the workmen another, and they were the signatories. Numbers
of agreements had been disputed prior to that, and had been brought
before Joint Committee or some other properly arranged tribunal, and
managed by the agents, or Executive, in accordance with rule.
Washington, however, set rule aside, disregarded the Committee, and
stopped the pit on the 10th of August. On the 11th the corresponding
secretary met their deputation in Newcastle, and told them they were
acting illegally, and that they could not be paid from the funds. The
deputation, however, were confident the Council would grant them
strike pay, although they admitted they were breaking the rule. Other
means were adopted to induce them to resume work. The lodge appealed
to the Council for a grant; it was not put on the programme. The
trustees objected to the treasurer paying the money. They had taken
the opinion of Mr Atherley Jones previously. The question submitted to
the Counsel was: "Supposing a lodge came out on strike in violation of
the rule, without first having obtained the permission of the
Committee or Council, would the fact that the Council, after the men
came out on strike, approved of their action alter the position or
liability of the trustees?"

The opinion was as follows:--


   _August 30th, 1897._

   With regard to the question raised, whether, under the circumstances
   described, the trustees have power to allow payments to be made to
   the men on strike who have violated Rule 50, I am of opinion that
   they have no such powers, and any payment so made would appear to be
   a direct breach of trust. Nor do I think the position or liability of
   the trustees would in any way be altered by the subsequent vote of
   the Council approving such payments. The wording of Rule 51 is quite

   "Any lodge ceasing work" "under the circumstances which have
   happened" "shall forfeit all claims on this Association"; and even
   though the whole Association were to vote in favour of strike pay
   being granted, I cannot see how the effect of that rule could be

Standing upon that advice, the trustees refused to allow the money to
be paid. The lodge requested the Executive to call a special Council
to consider whether a grant should be given them. The request was
refused, because, as the rules had been violated and the trustees had
decided that no money should be paid, it was no use calling the
Council, seeing, if the vote were given to pay, the decision could not
be carried out. However, the question was brought forward at the
conclusion of a Council, and the delegates decided to pay a grant
equal to strike allowance, but the trustees refused to allow the money
to be drawn from the bank.

The Executive then placed the position before the members. They said
the giving of a grant was but a form of evading the provisions of the
constitution. The decision of the Council placed the treasurer in a
dilemma: either he had to refuse to pay, or face a prosecution in
court for paying money contrary to rule. The Committee had, therefore,
either to leave the treasurer to his own devices, or call the trustees
together, and place the whole question before them. The meeting was
held in the office of Dr R. S. Watson, who was one of the trustees.
They decided to take the case to the Court of Chancery, and to inform
the Washington Lodge of their intention, and give them the
opportunity of being parties to the case. Mr Isaacs (the Association
lawyer) was instructed to write the lodge, which he did. He said he
was instructed to inquire whether they wished "to be a party to the
proceedings, and if so, to kindly supply me with the name and address
of any one of your members whom you may appoint to represent the

After some negotiations, and with the view to make the matter mutual,
the Executive agreed to bear the cost of the trial for both sides. The
hearing did not take place until the 8th of February 1900, but in
order that we may keep it in close connection it will be well to
consider it here. It was heard in the Chancery Court, before Justice
Cozens Hardy. The Association was represented by Mr I. Isaacs, its
legal adviser, and the lodge by Mr C. W. Newlands of South Shields.
There were able barristers on both sides. The judge decided:

   If these men came within Section 22 it must be because these
   particular men must be considered deserving, and also within the
   objects of the Association. He thought unless there was something to
   strike them out the argument on their behalf was well founded. The
   real question was whether, although the language of Rule 3 defining
   the objects of the Association included them, they had not by 51 been
   removed. He thought that was the case. He did not think he could
   limit the effect of that rule so as to make it mean that they should
   forfeit only the absolute right to have 10s. per week under Rule 52,
   which it was admitted they had lost. He thought the exclusion applied
   not merely to claims as of right, but to all protection from the
   Association, and they could not be deemed legally or properly objects
   of the benefits of the Association.

So far as the Executive and trustees were concerned that trial and
decision were satisfactory, but the lodge said they wanted it taken to
the Court of Appeal. So far as bearing the cost of the trial was
concerned the pledge had been carried out, and the Committee were
surprised when it was suggested to carry the case to a higher court.
However, as they were desirous to have the case properly decided, and
that there should be no room for doubt (the welfare of the Association
being their great consideration), they agreed, and guaranteed the
payment of the entire costs. The appeal was heard on November 11th and
12th, the Judges being Rigby, Romer, and Vaughan Williams.

   A strong effort was made to reverse the decision. All the skill,
   plausibility, and sophistry of very able lawyers were used. The rules
   were purposely disparaged and travestied, in order that a prejudice
   might be created against them, but the judges unanimously agreed with
   the finding of the Court of Chancery.

This is a bare record of facts of a dispute and trial which was
fraught with importance to the Association. It generated a great deal
of bitterness. The leaders could have had no personal ends to serve.
Their aim will be truly set forth by a quotation from the _Monthly
Circular_ for November 1900.


(_The Lessons of the Trial_)

The trial is over, and, so far as any personal feelings are concerned,
the sooner it is forgotten the better it will be for our Association.
To guard and strengthen that should be our first thought and care. But
while it will be beneficial for us to forget any attribution of ill
motives, and evil speaking or ruffled feelings consequential thereto,
we shall be wise men if we gather up the lessons which come to us.
This battle has been fought for one purpose only, and that is to
support the authority of the rules. To that end, and that alone, have
our efforts been devoted. The great question at this moment is:

   Whether it is better to have a set of rules which requires that the
   Committee of picked men (responsible year by year to the will of the
   members) should have a knowledge of, and be called in to assist in,
   the settlement of disputes before a large colliery is stopped, and a
   serious expenditure thrown upon the Association; or whether a lodge
   shall have a free hand to stop a colliery at will, and then run a
   chance of creating a favourable feeling, and receiving large sums
   from the funds, when, if the Committee had been consulted, the matter
   might have been settled; or if not, a strike entered upon legally.

Another lesson is that, having received the sanction of the courts to
our rules, and having lifted them out of the uncertainty by which they
were surrounded, we shall do well to keep them in the certainty in
which they have been placed. It is very clear that an attempt will be
made to alter the rules which guide this matter. If so, a lax (and
ruinous) state of things will be introduced. For the last two or three
years the same attempts have been made, and again this year
resolutions with the same object are sent in. The rules which place
the affairs of the Association in the hands of the Committee (before a
stoppage) have to be erased or mutilated, and rendered useless. Surely
it is better, and more conducive to the welfare of the Society, to
have our affairs placed on business lines, than to have a code of
rules which will admit of loose procedure, and spending illegally
large sums of money, which will be wanted whenever the depression of
trade sets in.

My advice to you is to consider carefully every amendment which may
come before you. Trades organisations will prosper most when they are
founded upon, and guided by, business principles.


    The Wages Question--The Compensation Act

The uncertainty which the Federation Board had pointed out as the
inevitable result of the abolition of the Conciliation Board soon made
itself manifest. There were continual demands being made upon the
Federation Board to seek advances, but they felt how difficult it was
to get reliable data upon which to found a claim. On March 22nd they
gave the county an account of an interview they had with the employers
on the 12th of that month. The suggestion as to the claim for an
advance being made was not supported by any data, and when they met,
the employers pointed out that the indications were in the direction
of depression more than the expansion of trade, and therefore the Wage
Committee could not recommend to the owners to concede an advance.
That refusal the Board advised the workmen to accept until there was
some better trade prospects.

   "Like prudent men, and, acting upon the lines you would have us
   proceed upon, we are convinced it will be more hurtful than useful to
   initiate or press a demand for an advance unless the state of the
   markets warrant such a course."

Another meeting on the wages question was held on May 25th. A strike
took place in South Wales in the beginning of April, the effect of
which was felt in an increased demand for the class of coal produced
in this district. Their supply being cut off consumers turned to other
sources, and as a consequence there was a natural feeling of unrest in
Durham among the workmen. They had the impression that the whole of
the produce of the county would be affected by the demand, and
therefore the increase in price would be an all-round one. The
Federation Board met that "false impression which we fear rests in the
minds of many of our members" in a statement they sent out on the 26th
of May. They pointed out two very important considerations, which the
generality of members would lose sight of. There was a large amount of
coal sold under contract, which would not be affected by the
temporarily increased price, even if all the output of Durham had been
steam coal, but it must be remembered that only nine per cent. was of
that class. They then gave a calculation to show how a rise on a
small percentage would affect the whole. The steam coal being the only
part feeling the increase, and that class forming only nine per cent.
of the total, what would be its universal effect?

   "Without contending for the accuracy of the quantities let us give a
   calculation which may suggest a key to the position. Of the nine per
   cent. of steam coal let us suppose two-thirds of it was sold under
   contract at a normal market price. We should then have only three per
   cent. of the entire output getting a higher price. Let us further
   suppose that this three per cent. secured an advance in the abnormal
   state of the market of 6s. per ton during the strike; we should only
   have realised a general increase equal to, say, 2.16d. per ton over
   the whole of the coals produced."

Considering, then, the purely temporary nature of the rise in price
the Board agreed to accept an advance of five per cent.--two and a
half on basis rates under the usual conditions, and, with the view of
meeting the exceptional circumstances, a temporary advance of two and
a half for six pays. The advances were to date back for a fortnight in
each case, the understanding being that if the prices fell at the end
of the six pays the temporary two and a half would be discontinued. On
July 22nd the Board met the employers, when the temporary advance was
continued for other six pays. A subsequent meeting was held on October
29th. The employers offered to increase the temporary advance of two
and a half to five for a further period of six pays. The Board was
willing to take the five per cent. if it were considered a permanent
advance. The settlement agreed to was an advance of two and a half,
and a continuance of the temporary advance of two and a half for six
pays more.


During the Parliamentary session of 1897 the first Compensation Act
was passed. The date of commencement was fixed for the 1st of July
1898. While the Act was under discussion the representative of the
Durham Miners in Parliament urged strongly that, not only should
facilities be given for the formation of Committees, but means should
be adopted to induce employers and employed to take steps in that
direction as a means of avoiding the friction and litigation which the
new law involved. The idea of a Compensation Committee was from the
very commencement very favourably received by the members of the
Association, and the employers were as desirous on their part to join
in the endeavour. There was a natural desire on the part of the
Permanent Fund officials to formulate a scheme to strengthen their
fund. It was found that the attempt between the Trade Unions of
Northumberland, the Federation Board, and the Permanent Relief Fund to
arrange a Scheme was a failure. A number of meetings of Joint
Committees and Sub-Committees, representative of the various
Associations, and between those Sub-Committees and the Employers, were
held. The failure arose from the character of the proposition--that
there should be an Insurance Fund, which would take over all the
liabilities of the owners, and insure all the workmen, which, said
the employers, was the primary condition. The Miners' Executive in
Durham could not accept such a scheme, and they turned to the
formation of a Committee representative of their Association alone,
and the owners. Negotiations went on with the owners, and finally the
Executive Committee asked for full power on lines which they
indicated. This the county agreed to give, and an agreement was come
to in time for the commencement of the Act on July 1st. The system of
class average obtaining in the county lent itself to the formation and
working of such a Committee. This the men readily adopted, and it was
another illustration of the hold mutuality and compromise had on the
men of the county as a whole. Some men would have made above the
average wage, and have worked more than the agreed number of days, and
as a consequence their compensation would have been greater, but it
would have entailed a large amount of labour if it had been on an
individual basis. But by the Committee arrangement the system worked
automatically. In the formation of the Compensation Committee Durham
stood alone. There was nothing like it in any other district or trade,
and its action was of the greatest benefit to employers and workmen


   Election of Mr House--The Wages again--The second Conciliation
   Board--The Aged Miners' Homes--Deputies' Basis Wage

For some time there had been a growing desire for a further
subdivision of the labour in connection with the agency. It was
thought that it might be useful if, instead of the Joint Committee
business being in the corresponding secretary's department, an agent
was appointed, who should have sole charge of that Committee. This
rearrangement was hastened by the passing of the Compensation Act. The
work thrown upon the organisation as a result of that measure was
immense owing to the very great liability there is to accidents in the
miners' occupation, and consequently the large number of delicate
questions that were sure to arise in the application of a complex and
complicated measure such as the new Act. The Executive Committee felt
that it was imperative something should be done, and, acting on their
suggestion, a new department was formed. Mr W. House was the gentleman
selected to fill the new office. Mr House brought to the work a very
essential qualification. His ability was unquestioned, but he was also
experienced, having served on the Executive and Joint Committees for
some years, and was thus thoroughly prepared for taking upon himself
the duties of the new office.

[Illustration: ALDERMAN W. HOUSE]


In considering the wage negotiations for 1898 mention was made of a
temporary advance of two and a half per cent., which was given for six
pays, and then carried forward other two periods of the same duration,
and extended into 1899. On the 14th of January the Federation Board
met the owners, their errand being to get if possible the temporary
advance (which would terminate on January 21st) incorporated into the
ordinary percentage. That request the employers could not grant, as
the ascertained price for October and November was less than for the
three months previous.

   "They are willing, however, to continue the temporary advance for a
   further period of six pays, or as an alternative they suggest that
   this meeting be adjourned until Saturday, the 28th inst., by which
   time the selling price for the quarter ending 31st of December will
   be ascertained."

The Federation Board chose the extension for a further six pays, as
they believed it was the most beneficial course.

The next meeting was held on April 5th. Nothing was arranged, and
there was an adjournment for three weeks. At that meeting the owners
said there had been a declension in the prices. After a long
discussion they offered an advance of three and three quarters,
bringing the percentage above the standard up to twenty-six and a
quarter; and, in consideration of special circumstances, to give a
temporary advance for three months of one and a quarter, and they were
prepared to date it back a fortnight. The arrangement was a very
unique one, and, said the Federation Board in their explanation to the
members, "it arises from the operation of the two and a half temporary
advance, and the fact that the adjourned meeting was not held until
after the dates fixed for its termination."


The delay and uncertainty, both as to time for making application for,
and the data upon which to found, the claim, turned the minds of the
members to a renewal of the Conciliation Board, or some similar system
by which wages could be regulated more smoothly and expeditiously than
the policy they were pursuing. On the programme for the Council held
on May 27th there appeared a resolution from Marley Hill:

   "We move that the county be balloted for and against forming a
   Conciliation Board."

The Executive Committee in their note on that resolution strongly
recommended its adoption. It was highly desirable that the feeling of
the county should be ascertained. They said:

   We have previously expressed the opinion that the steadier we can
   make our trade, and the more certainty we can infuse into our
   industrial relationship with our employers, the better it will be for
   the workmen; and there is nothing more calculated to foster this
   desirable condition than the principle of conciliation. It was a
   mistake when we terminated the previous Board, and this has been
   revealed more fully in our negotiations with the owners in a rising
   market. We feel sure we would have done better, and it would have
   saved a great deal of friction, if we had had the Board. There are
   other questions of great importance besides the wage question which a
   Conciliation Board could deal with. We therefore advise that you
   carry this resolution.

Acting on that advice the Council adopted the ballot, and by a
majority of 580 in a total vote of 39,713 the Board was
re-established. The Bishop (Westcott), who had been anxiously watching
the course of events, came forward to offer his congratulations and
assistance if required. No time was lost. The four sections were
called together, and they recommended that the old rules should be
adopted, and that a circular be sent out urging the acceptance of the
same as the constitution of the new Board. The objects may be inserted

   "By conciliatory means to prevent disputes and to put an end to any
   that may arise, and with this view to consider and decide upon _all
   claims_ that either party may, from time to time, make for a change
   in county wages or county practices, _and upon any other questions_
   not falling within the jurisdiction of the Joint Committee that it
   may be agreed between the parties to refer to the Board."

The following was the voting on the adoption of the old rules:--

        For the old Rules    Against    Majority
    Miners            258       125         133
    Enginemen         125        --         125
    Cokemen            52         3          49
    Mechanics          75        --          75

At the earliest moment after the result of the vote was known a
meeting was arranged with the employers. At that meeting the employers
wanted to alter the rules in one or two particulars, but the
Federation Board informed them that their powers only extended to the
adoption of the old rules, and if any alterations were made they would
have to be referred to the members for sanction.

   "It was agreed that the employers should take the statement to a full
   meeting of their members, and if they persisted in desiring
   amendments a further meeting should be held, but if not, then the two
   secretaries should get the rules signed by the Owners' Committee and
   the Federation Board."

The latter alternative was adopted. The old rules were signed as
suggested. The first meeting of the Board was held on November 4th.
The officers elected were Sir David Dale, Chairman; W. H. Lambton,
Vice-Chairman; R. Guthrie and J. Wilson, Secretaries of their
respective Associations; and Lord Davey, Umpire. It was further

   "That with pays commencing 6th and 13th of November 1899, wages
   should be advanced by 3¾ per cent., making the wages of
   underground men, mechanics, enginemen, cokemen, and banksmen to be
   33¾ per cent. above the basis of 1879, other classes of surface
   labour 30¾ per cent. above the basis."


In October 1899 was initiated a movement of which Durham may justly
claim to be the pioneers--viz. the provision (as far as it can
possibly be done) of free houses and coal for the aged mine workers.
For a few years the subject had been assuming shape. Vague in its
inception, by the perseverance of the originators it was inaugurated
in this year. The first to make mention of such a movement was Mr J.
Hopper, who subsequently became Secretary and Clerk of the Works. To
him was soon joined Mr H. Wallace, land steward to Earl Ravensworth;
and then other three: the Rev. Canon Moore Ede, J. Johnson, and J.
Wilson. Their first step was to secure a large hall and two acres of
ground near Boldon which could be made into tenements. The building
was the property of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but was rented
at an easy rent. That was taken over by the Boldon workmen for their
own old men. Then the Committee turned to the Ecclesiastical
Commissioners again. Without entering into all the stages of the
negotiations, the final result was the renting of nine acres of land
in three plots situated in three different parts of the county. Just
at this juncture there was an opportunity to purchase the colliery
village known as Haswell Moor, consisting of 112 houses, to each of
which was attached a garden. The whole of it was freehold. This
fortunate bargain gave inspiration to the Committee, as it was very
cheap, and an impetus to the effort, as it formed a very nice colony
of old people, the cost per house being about £25.

The scheme rested on a voluntary basis. The Committee in initiating
the movement resolved to keep it clear of all compulsion. Their
proposition was 1s. per member from all in the Miners' Association per
year, which would give £3000. The lodges responded very readily to the
appeal, and were soon joined by the other three sections of the
Federation Board and the deputies. In addition, the outside public
sent large and generous help. One very striking letter was received,
enclosing a cheque for £25, which we will record.

   "Mrs Graham and I are very pleased to find that you are making such
   good progress with this most useful and laudable scheme. We are quite
   sure that the old folks would be more at _home_ and more comfortable
   in cottages such as they have been used to all their lives instead of
   being placed in specially built almshouses or hospitals.

   "We would like to feel that we have made one old couple happy by
   paying the cost of one of the Haswell Moor cottages, as intended to
   be made fit for habitation, and therefore propose to subscribe £25."

That encouraging letter and generous gift were from Coroner Graham of
Findon Hill, near Durham, and was soon followed by other expressions
of sympathy and substantial help. Bishop Westcott rendered great
assistance, and opened his castle at Auckland for one of the sectional
meetings the Committee called as a means of bringing the question
before the lodges. His lordship allowed the use of his splendid
drawing-room, and presided over the meeting, and on every hand the
workmen were praised for their grand work. The best commendation,
however, was the comfort of the old people, and when the opening day
came there could not have been found prouder men anywhere than the
Committee of Management.

The opening of the first batch of houses took place at Haswell Moor in
October. The ceremony was performed by Mr J. Wilson, the chairman of
the General Committee, and the inaugural address was delivered by the
Bishop. A quotation from the _Monthly Circular_ giving an account of
the proceedings will be fitting here.

   It was a great occasion, and the address was worthy of it. There was
   a very large company in the tent to listen to the eloquent remarks,
   but there was a larger outside who were excluded from the privilege.
   To the men of mature years there was the rejoicing coming from the
   past, and an exhortation to act in unity, and not to be simply
   receivers, but givers of strength to the common cause. They were not
   alone, not isolated separate units, but members of the great body;
   strong with the strength of all, and glad with the service which they
   could render to their fellows. A man who received all and gave
   nothing was like the Dead Sea. However rich the floods might be that
   flowed into it, it retained no life-giving, no glad force--all was
   lost. In addition, there was the urging to avoid despair and have
   hope. Nothing could be more fatal than to declare that, because we
   were not moving with greater rapidity, the goal was unattainable. "Do
   not listen to such a vision of despair, cherish the full vigour of

   Let me finish with the words to the young men. I wish all could have
   heard the words of wisdom as they fell from the lips of our respected
   and honoured Bishop. As they could not, let me quote them, "they had
   received a splendid inheritance, splendid with noble achievements and
   noble traditions, and they--as men who had mastered themselves and
   realised their obligations--would use it well, guard it well, and
   hand it down to those who came after, enriched by the fulfilment of
   hopes cherished long ago, and illuminated by the brightness of hopes
   which those who came after them would perhaps be allowed to fulfil."

On that day, by the inauguration, the Durham miners took a long step
in the path of benevolence, and raised themselves to a proud and
prominent position amongst true reformers. It was a grand illustration
of the truth that they who most practise self-help are best able and
most eager to help others. A working man's income limits the
possibility of giving large sums; but the many small rills make the
large river. There is large philanthropy in a small gift. The volume
and value of it lies in the spirit and intent which prompts it; and
the ultimate success of a movement like the Aged Miners' Homes Scheme
lies in the willingness of the thousands of workmen in and about the
mines to assist. Based on that, the county can be studded with homes
where the aged and worn-out miner and his partner can find home
comfort and warmth when the sun of their life is nearing the setting
and the shadows of life's evening are gathering thick around them. No
young man can measure the full meaning of such provision, but all can
feel the rich mental luxury which will assuredly result from taking
part in the providing.


We will close this year by a reference to a settlement made during it.
This was in respect to the fixing of a basis wage for deputies. Prior
to the agreement there had been a fixed wage, which was altered by
adding a penny or twopence, or more, to it, or reducing in that way if
the wages were decreased. It was a very unsatisfactory mode of
procedure, and always involved a meeting between the Owners' and the
Deputies' Association after the Federation Board had dealt with the
wages. For some time there had been a strong desire on the part of the
deputies who were in the Miners' Association to have their wages
regulated by a percentage, the same as the other classes of workmen.
In July the following agreement was signed:--

   It is hereby agreed that with pays commencing 24th and 31st of July
   1899 the basis wage of deputies shall be fixed at 4s. 8½d. (four
   shillings and eightpence halfpenny) per shift for back-bye shifts,
   and that these basis rates shall be subject to the same percentage,
   advances, and reductions as may be from time to time arranged with
   regard to the wages of the miners.


    Death of Mr Forman--Election of Mr Galbraith--Agreements made during
    the Year

On the 2nd of September death made another inroad upon the original
leaders of the organisation by carrying off the president, Mr J.
Forman. For over twenty-seven years he had been in that position, and
from first to last he carried out the obligations of the office in a
manner equalled by few and excelled by none. He was fitted at all
points for being president of an organisation of workers such as the
Durham miners. The best estimate of his character will be found in
quotations from the _Monthly Circular_ and the Executive Committee's


   I am sorry to say Death has made one of its most serious inroads into
   our ranks, and taken from us one of the most prominent figures in our
   Association. Our much respected and gentlemanly President is no more,
   and his services, over more than the average length of a generation,
   are ended. We long for the sound of a voice that is for ever still,
   and the touch of a hand that had a friendly grasp. For nearly thirty
   years the name of Forman has been a household word amongst the
   miners of Durham. He was not ambitious of "spreading a sounding name
   abroad," but he had a deep desire to do his duty to his own people.
   His was a quiet nature; but among men, as in nature, the quiet forces
   are the most productive of good. In the movements that make for
   progress in men, as in our physical surroundings, the clamour of
   violent action and noise are not the most useful. In the history of
   our Association, from its very commencement, our departed friend has
   been one of the binding and consolidating influences. Wise in
   counsel, when a spirit of rashness and impatience seized some of us,
   he has many a time helped to steady the mind and temper, and tone the
   action. Prolific in suggestion he has oft pointed a way out of
   difficulty in the time of stress and strain; in fact, he was well and
   amply equipped and qualified for the important position he filled
   amongst us. He took upon himself the office when times were vastly
   different from what they are now; when capital and labour were in
   this county like two opposing forces, separated by a spirit of doubt
   and animosity; and he has done much to establish a better feeling
   between employers and employed. He knew by experience the position of
   inferiority and harsh conditions in which our lot was cast before the
   foundations of the Society were laid. He has assisted and rejoiced
   over every step towards equality and relationship, and he was very
   anxious lest anything should be done to mar our usefulness.

   Mr Forman was more than an agent, he was a friend and an example. A
   man may be appointed to a position and do his work in a mechanical
   and perfunctory manner, like a hireling waiting for the shadow of the
   day, but that is not sufficient, and it did not satisfy him whose
   loss we mourn. He was an example in conduct and in mental
   cultivation worthy of imitation by all our young men. He looked upon
   the workmen as something more than machines, and he was desirous that
   they should pay more attention to the improvement of their minds, and
   the formation of thrifty and studious habits. In that he was no
   theorist, for he was a man of very extensive reading, especially upon
   scientific subjects, and, as a consequence, he was able to approach
   and deal with our questions in a most intelligent manner.

   He has gone, but his work is with us. It is our heritage, not merely
   for enjoyment, but for employment. We can best show our respect for
   his memory by our acceptance and proper use of that legacy. These men
   whose lives like his stretch back into the dark days are decreasing
   in number year by year. Let us do nothing to damage the Institution
   they helped to establish and consolidate, and let our effort be to
   strive for the goal they sought to attain.


(_Executive Committee's Notice_)

    _September, 1900._

   Our regrets on this occasion are not those of formality, but are
   prompted by a recognition of his worth as an official of our
   organisation and his character as a fellow-worker and a man. Never
   yet had any organisation a more earnest officer, any body of men a
   more willing colleague, nor any community a more upright, honest, and
   straightforward man than our friend who has been taken from us. He
   was privileged to live to the ripe old age of 77 years, and for more
   than a quarter of a century has devoted the whole of his time and the
   best of his energies to the upbuilding and consolidation of our
   Society, and the betterment of the working classes generally. We
   shall miss his genial presence and guiding counsel from all our
   business meetings. He was on all occasions a reliable guide and
   counsellor in our deliberations on complicated questions, and in the
   general matters pertaining to the work of the Association in the
   midst of dark times and difficult circumstances. We feel that by his
   death we have not only lost an able and efficient President and
   colleague, but the workers in and about the mines in Durham have been
   deprived of a friend whose lifelong services have been devoted to the
   bettering of their conditions as wage earners.

   And further, we would tender to the family our sympathy in the great
   bereavement which has fallen upon them, and the hope that they may be
   strengthened by the assurance that, although dead, he still lives in
   the grateful remembrance of the people amongst whom he lived, and for
   whom he laboured.


The vacancy caused by his death was filled by Mr House being
transferred from the Joint Committee agency to the presidency, and the
election of Mr S. Galbraith as his successor in the Joint Committee.
In the election the county chose a well-tried and very trustworthy
man. He had been checkweighman at the Browney Colliery for twenty-one
and a half years. Those workmen placed absolute reliance in him, and
without reserve allowed him to manage the affairs of the lodge. The
condition of the colliery, the peace and harmony which obtained, and
the fact that only one deputation visited them to make inquiry into a
grievance during the whole time he was there, are clear proof that he
had great care for the interests of the men, and that they were well
repaid for their confidence in him. His tactful management of the
local business specially fitted him for the wider sphere of labour.
The members reasoned safely when they concluded that he who had been
faithful in the local would be faithful in the general. Those who knew
Mr Galbraith were in perfect agreement as to the opinion formed by the
men who had been in such long and profitable business contact with


Screenmen--Labourers--Datal Wage--Hewers' Datal--Houses and House
Rent--Boys' Advance

The first of these was the raising of the basis wage of the screenmen
and labourers. That wage was fixed by an arbitration at 2s. 7½d.,
but was never quite accepted by the county. Negotiations had been
proceeding, and on 31st March 1900 it was agreed "that the basis wage
of _bona fide_ screenmen and labourers on and about the pit-heap and
on the colliery branches should be 2s. 10d. per day." This was a clear
advance of 2½d. per day, and meant nearly a day's wage increase in
the fortnight.

The second was in reference to the hewers' datal wage. There was no
settled or uniform principle of payment for the back-bye work. On
August 16th it was arranged that:

   "When coal hewers are taken from hewing to do other work for a shift
   or shifts (or portions of a shift), during which they would otherwise
   have been employed at coal hewing, they shall, for not exceeding
   three consecutive shifts employed at such other work, be paid the
   hewers' county average wage."

The third settlement was the "Houses and House Rent." This had been on
hand for six or seven years. It was placed on the agenda of the
Conciliation Board in 1895. After that Board terminated the question
lapsed, but was brought forward by the owners at the Board meeting on
May 1st, 1900. It was at first part of a general application, but
shortly before the meeting the mechanics introduced a house question,
and therefore the request of the owners was made to apply solely to
miners. The subject was adjourned to give the employers a chance to
rearrange their claim.

Before the meeting held on August 3rd the Owners' and Miners'
Committee held two meetings, and an agreement had been come to,
subject to the approval of the miners' lodges. The Conciliation Board
was informed of this; further, that a return was being taken, and that
the agreement was being strongly recommended. It was adjourned on the
understanding that the owners could put it on the next agenda, if not
settled in the meantime, and could then ask the Board or umpire to
decide. The request of the owners was as follows:--

   That the general question of the supply of houses and coals be
   considered by the Board of Conciliation with a view to the points of
   difference between the Owners' and Miners' Associations being decided
   by the Board.

The return mentioned above resulted in a refusal of the agreement,
although large material changes had been made in it to the advantage
of the workmen. The return was most unsatisfactory, as fifty-two
collieries, representing 112 votes, did not vote. The Executive
Committee decided to call a special Council, and informed their
members of the position. The subject was sure to be settled at the
next Conciliation Board meeting.

   "We have pointed out to you on one or two occasions that if it is not
   settled by us it will come before the next Conciliation Board, who
   will be asked by the owners to deal with it or refer it to the

The special Council was held, and a discussion took place on the
agreement, but no vote was taken. In due course the subject came
before the Board. It was felt that the refusal was caused by the
exclusion of the shifters and wastemen. The owners were willing to
include these, and the Board agreed to the list of classes and
conditions contained in the agreement of November 1900.

The agreement settled a long-standing dispute, and established for
twelve classes the right to a free house, or rent if houses were not
found. In respect to the other classes not specifically named in the
list, their right would rest on the custom of the colliery obtaining
on the 1st of June 1900. Under the circumstances the agreement was the
best that could be got, and was a very long way ahead of the uncertain
condition of things which existed prior to its signing. There was this
to be considered: if the Board had not settled it then the umpire
would have been called in, and there was no assurance that he would
have gone so far. With respect to the rent, which was dependent upon
the custom of the colliery, the right of the classes named to a rent
(if not the amount) was guaranteed. Before the arrangement was made,
if there were not sufficient houses, the men belonging to the colliery
had to prove, at Joint Committee, it was the custom to pay rent at
that colliery. If they failed to establish the custom, then they were
non-suited, and without rent. That which was indefinite and uncertain
was lifted out of the region of contention once and for all, and that
in itself was no small advantage. In judging of the merits of the
"Houses and House Rent Agreement" it must be remembered that the
Executive Committee and Federation Board had to contend against time
and precedent. These were no mean forces. Practices which in some
cases had existed for thirty years were difficult to alter by the
party seeking the alteration. If the effort had been made twenty-five
years before it would have been comparatively easy: "Customs would
have admitted of easy proof, and the data would have been new and
readily substantiated." Keeping those things in remembrance, the
conclusion will be that the agreement was a good one.

On the 29th of December other two small agreements were signed. One of
them had reference to boys whose wages were below 1s. and those having
a basis wage of 1s. and 5d. or less. The former were raised to 1s.,
and the latter had to have 1d. increase. The other change was in
relation to smart money for beat hands. It was agreed that, as the
Compensation Act did not cover that injury, the smart money should be
continued where it had been the custom to pay it before the Act was


    The Coal Tax--The Death of Bishop Westcott--The Appointment of an

In the spring of the year the whole of the mining industry was
startled by a proposal made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to
place an export duty of 1s. per ton upon all exported coal. It was
done to enable him to meet the heavy expenditure which had been thrown
upon the nation by the Boer War. The entire cost was over
£250,000,000. The year or two previous the coal trade had been
prosperous. The profits of the employers and the wages of the miners
loomed up very large, and he being in a desperate position (having a
deficit of £50,000,000 to meet) thought it safe to make an attack on
the trade. His proposition was a very disastrous one. The arguments
advanced in support were uneconomic and fallacious, but were forced
upon the House of Commons by the sheer weight and force of a great and
obedient majority--a majority whose party loyalty covered a large
number of political sins.

His main arguments (upon which the changes were rung) were as
follows:--Coals were a great national asset, and the exportation
should be checked, and even if exported under the 1s. tax the
foreigners would pay it. To say the least, the former of these
arguments was too narrow to be considered at all seriously, because if
the necessities of the nation demanded a preservation of our coal
supply, then it could only be done by a total prohibition of the
export. Further, it lost sight of the large mining population, the
amount of capital sunk in the mines, the ships and sailors employed
in the carrying of coal, and the interchange of trade, which would be
interfered with if the policy were effected. The argument as to the
foreigners paying the 1s. was fallacious and selfish; fallacious
because it assumed the foreign consumer would not seek the cheapest
market, which would be opened out to him by the development of the
Continental coal fields; and selfish because, if correct, it was an
endeavour to throw upon him a part of the cost of a mad and wasteful
war, when he took no part in the initiation of it.

His proposal was met by fierce opposition in all the mining districts,
both exporting and non-exporting, but in none more than in Durham.
Employer and employed united in opposing it. To such an extent was
this joint action carried that the pits were all laid idle for the
purpose of affording the workmen an opportunity to hold mass meetings.
In a circular issued on April 22nd the Executive Committee informed
the lodges that they intended to hold seven simultaneous meetings, and
to join the Northumberland miners on the Town Moor, Newcastle. In the
circular they said:

   The occasion is important. Time is short. The question is urgent. A
   more injurious tax was never proposed. If carried, it will cripple
   our trade, but more especially that of Northumberland and South
   Wales. Our export trade is not so large as theirs, but we are so
   closely bound together that we are sure to suffer with them. Let our
   protest be as large and emphatic as the tax will be injurious, and
   then the pressure of public opinion will compel a withdrawal of the
   Chancellor's proposal.

In connection with the national protest large conferences were held.
The first of these took place on April 25th and 26th, at which a
deputation was appointed to meet the Chancellor on the 29th; but he
held out no hope. The conference was resumed on the 30th, and on May
1st. There was a very strong feeling in favour of stopping all the
mines in the country, and a resolution in that direction was adopted.
The main obstacle to an immediate stoppage was the fact that certain
districts had not considered it, and the conference was adjourned for
a week to give them time to call Council meetings and consult their
members. The adjourned meeting took place on May 7th, but it was found
that there was a more peaceful spirit abroad. Durham was in favour of
the stoppage, and the delegates, acting on instruction from the
Council, voted for that course of action. The conference was against
it. An arrangement was come to in view of any district being asked to
submit to a reduction in consequence of the coal tax. If that
occurred, then "another conference should be called to consider and
determine whether the whole of the mines of the country should be laid
idle until such intimated reduction is withdrawn."

So far as any stoppage of work was concerned, the agitation was at an
end, but the protest did not cease with it, for year after year it was
brought forward, and at all the galas it was made part of the
resolutions. Deputations met the Chancellor, and in Parliament the
spokesmen of the miners brought forward the question on every
opportunity. At the very outset they compelled him to exempt all coals
sold for 6s. per ton and under. And (to anticipate a little) one of
the first effects of the return of the Liberal party in 1906 was the
removal of the tax, to take effect on the 1st of November that year.


The history would be incomplete if we did not make a reference to the
death of Bishop Westcott. He was known amongst us as "The Pitmen's
Bishop," and well he deserved the designation, for from the time of
his coming to the county he sought on all occasions to make himself
acquainted with our conditions, and was ever ready to assist in the
work of amelioration. In every effort in that direction he was ready
to counsel. He was one of England's greatest scholars, but his
learning did not blunt his sympathies nor check his desires to help
the people in their struggles. He was highly religious, but it was not
the religion of the visionary. It found expression in actions. He
proved his faith by his works, and demonstrated it by that higher and
truer exponent of a man's creed, his active participation in every
movement which tended to purify the conditions of our working and home

His death was a unique circumstance. At the gala held on July 20th he
delivered a masterly address in the cathedral. His closing words were
prophetic. He informed the large gathering, mainly miners, that it
would be the last time he would address them. Whether this was the
presentiment of the coming of the last messenger or not we cannot
tell, but it is certain that the kindly heart and eloquent tongue
were both stilled by death, and the miners were in sorrow longing for
the sound of a voice that was gone, within a short week after he had
thrilled the hearts of his hearers, and a great sorrow fell upon the
county without regard to class, creed, or social status.

The following resolution passed by the Executive Committee will show
the appreciation of his worth expressed by them in the name of the

   That we, the Executive Committee of the Durham Miners' Association,
   in the name of our members, express our universal sorrow at the death
   of our respected Bishop and friend, the late Bishop Westcott. We
   recognise that we have lost a sympathiser, counsellor, and helper in
   all our efforts for better conditions both in our home surroundings
   and our working life. From the first day of his residence amongst us
   we felt that it was his desire to be the Bishop of the diocese in the
   truest and best sense of the term; and as the years have passed that
   feeling has been strengthened by the words of kindly counsel he has
   given us and by his generous and helpful actions. While, therefore,
   we share in the loss that has fallen upon the whole community we join
   in the expression of regret and sorrow which will be felt in every
   portion of the sphere in which he moved, and we tender our sympathy
   to the relations of the truly great and kindly Christian, who has
   been taken from a life in which he lived usefully and well to a
   reward which awaits all who try to correct the wrongs and brighten
   the darkness of this life.


Under the sliding scale there were joint ascertainments of prices by
each side having a firm of accountants, who agreed to the average
realised selling price of coals. When the scales terminated the
services of the accountants on the miners' side were dispensed with,
and the selling price was gathered by the Federation Board visiting
various depôts, the ports whence coal was exported, and the coal
exchange in London. Now it was obvious that such a system was at its
best very uncertain, and while the data gathered might be asserted it
never could be put forward as accurate. Without the accountants, the
mode adopted was necessary, but it was difficult, expensive, and
unreliable. The Federation Board, upon whom the burden of seeking the
prices fell, was never satisfied, and in the end the members came
round to that way of thinking. On the Miners' Council programme for
September 28th the following resolution appeared:--

   Accountant be engaged for the purpose of ascertaining the price of
   coal, the mode of procedure to be arranged by the Executive

The resolution was carried, and was sent to the Federation, and by
them placed before the other sections, and finally adopted. At the
Board meeting held on November 28th it was decided "that Mr E. Sparks
be appointed as the accountant for the Board in the ascertainment of
coal prices on the terms which obtained under the sliding scale, and
that he be asked to meet the Board at the next meeting."

Between the loose system which obtained prior to his appointment and
that which resulted from it there was a very great contrast. Without
the definite figures he was able to supply the workmen were always in
an atmosphere of uncertainty on two points--first, the time when to
apply for an advance; and second, as to the amount to ask for.
Further, whatever demand the owners might make it was a matter of
guesswork as to the accuracy of the change in the markets. With the
quarterly ascertainment the state of the trade was given to the very
smallest decimal, it gave reliability as to data, and guaranteed the
stability of trade and the regularity of work, which is a great
consideration to the workmen.


   Hours of Datal Boys and Firemen--Bank Holiday--Mr Patterson's
   Statue--Ballot on Eight Hours--Coal Drawing after Loose--Agreement of
   15th August--Surface Firemen's Wages

On Monday, the 27th of January, the Executive Committee met the
Employers' Committee on six requests. Three of them were the hours of
timber leaders and others, putters at datal work, and the hours of
firemen at the week-ends. Those three were settled by the allowing

   It is hereby agreed between the Durham Coal Owners' Association and
   the Durham Miners' Association as follows:--

   _Putters at Datal Work._--That the hours of putters when sent to
   datal work shall be those applicable to the particular class of work
   which they are required to perform.

   _Firemen's Week-end Shifts._--That the hours of firemen employed at
   boilers attached to stationary colliery engines which work
   continuously between 6 A.M. on Saturday and 6 A.M. on Monday shall
   be eight per shift between these hours.

   _Timber and Water Leaders._--That the hours of the following classes
   of boys shall be in future eight per day--namely, timber leaders,
   stone putters and water leaders, and those boys who for a full
   shifter's shift may be working with shifters whose hours are eight.
   Those whose hours are reduced to suffer a proportionate reduction of

   This agreement to take effect with pays commencing the 3rd and 10th
   February 1902.

   For the Durham Coal Owners' Association,


    For the Durham Miners' Association,

The result of the settlement so far as it affects the young men will
be seen by the following table, and it must be remembered that the
total number of days reduced was for any one day, and not for a

    Timber leaders                                      80
    Water leaders                                      234
    Stone putters                                       76
    Number of putters at datal work on any given day   220
    Other boys so engaged                              220
          Total days reduced                           830

These figures were taken from the Associated Collieries. There were
a number of others, which would increase the total somewhat. It will
be observed that the hours shortened did not in any way affect
the coal-drawing time, and were indications of the willingness
to meet the shortening of the hours if it were expedient to do
so. It was in complete harmony with the general policy of the
Association--self-effort even if the end were a little longer in being
reached, and negotiation in preference to an appeal to the legislature.
Further, the settlement proved that the inexpediency and difficulty of
applying the eight hours a day was the only obstacle in the way of the
Durham men, and not their unwillingness to shorten the working time, as
was alleged by many outside the county.


For some years there had been complaints from the employers in
reference to the pits being laid idle on Bank Holidays, without any
arrangement being made for the same. The logic of their position was
incontrovertible. They stated it in the following manner:--

   As Associations we have had business relations for over thirty years.
   We have in that time made many agreements, and have arranged
   tribunals for every class of difference, and yet you, one of the
   Associations, have deliberately set all that machinery to a side,
   have ruthlessly broken all precedents and procedure, and have for
   some years laid the pits idle, without even consulting the owners'

They then brought the subject before the Conciliation Board in August
1902, but while they were wishful to call in the umpire they agreed to
defer it for three months. Their request was in the following form:--

   The owners complain of the action of the workmen in laying collieries
   idle on August and December Bank Holidays, and ask that the
   Conciliation Board take this matter into consideration with a view of
   requiring the workmen to continue previously existing county
   arrangements until such are altered, either through negotiations
   between the Owners' and Workmen's Associations or by the Conciliation

After being discussed it was decided that:

   The claim of the owners, that this Board shall restrain the growing
   practice of laying pits idle on the August and December Bank
   Holidays, is to be considered and dealt with at the November meeting
   of the Board.

At that meeting the question was again brought forward; but it was
thought desirable that the miners and the employers should have a
chance of settling without a reference to the umpire, and for that
purpose another adjournment took place, it being understood that if no
arrangement were come to the reference should be made as soon as
possible. The umpire was not called in until the 8th of July 1903. The
hearing of the case took place in London in the Westminster Palace
Hotel. On the 13th Lord Davey gave his award: "On the question
referred to me at the meeting on July 8th I award that the workmen be
allowed the August Bank Holiday, but go to work on the day after
Christmas Day."


The statue was unveiled on Saturday, 31st of January 1903, at two P.M.
The ceremony consisted of a formal unveiling in front of the Hall,
and a meeting in the Council Chamber immediately after. The Executive
Committee, in a short circular sent out to inform the members of the
event, said:

   It will not be necessary to urge upon you to send a deputation to
   represent you, and thus show respect to a man who did as much as he
   could to establish our Association and to promote its usefulness.
   Don't let this be a mere ceremonial function, but let us show by our
   presence as much as by the statue we are placing in front of the Hall
   how we appreciate the labours of men like our departed friend.

There was a great response to the circular, and both the unveiling and
the meeting inside were well attended. The ceremony was performed by
the corresponding secretary (J. Wilson), who gave the address. The
proceedings were presided over by Mr W. House, the president of the
Association, and a number of speeches were delivered by representative
men, and many who had been with him during the greater part of his
life, and throughout the highest testimony was given to the good
qualities and disinterestedness of Mr Patterson.

His would be a narrow mind who could say anything else. If true virtue
consists of desire to do good, and he is only great who loves his
fellow-men, then Patterson was truly great. And that was the standard
by which the county judged him, and on that he carried their
appreciation. It will be fitting to quote in connection with the
unveiling a portion of the _Monthly Circular_ written by one who had
lived and worked with Mr Patterson and knew him.

   But the most cheering part of the unveiling to me does not lie in the
   appreciation as expressed by the marble, but in the numbers who
   attended the ceremony and the feeling manifested during the whole of
   it. If it showed our respect for a colleague and friend, it reflected
   honour upon us because there was nothing of the cold and formal about
   it. The gathering was truly representative, and from first to last
   friendship was in the air and in every heart. There were very few
   lodges (if any) that were not represented, and in addition there were
   gentlemen who, although outside our ranks as Trades Unionists, came
   uninvited to pay a last tribute to a man who in life they had known
   and learned to respect, and warm were their words in reference to


This question assumed a new and more prominent shape at the annual
Council meeting in 1903. It was decided "to seek for a living wage for
all workers in and about the mines and for no man or lad to be more
than eight hours from bank to bank in one day." It will be observed
that the county had to seek, but it did not define by what means the
object had to be sought. The Executive was in a strait between the
legal eight hours and negotiation with the employers. They therefore
resolved to take the opinion of the county by submitting the question
to the ballot. On June 25th they issued the voting papers, accompanied
by the following circular:--

   Gentlemen,--It will be observed that the word "seek" is the word we
   invariably use when we send cases before the owners for negotiation.
   It would have been competent for the Executive Committee to have
   interpreted the new object in that light, and have looked upon it as
   being a point to aim at, rather than take it as absolute, and
   especially when you remember that, recognising the evils of a sudden
   introduction of a shortening of the hours from ten to eight hours, we
   have always been against the State regulation of hours, and by ballot
   before we have so decided. The Committee, however, think it will be
   best to submit the question to you to say whether we are to proceed
   by negotiation, or by an appeal to the State, and for that purpose
   the ballot papers have been drawn up, so that we may have a plain
   issue upon the two methods. There can be no mistake.

   There are three things I would like to mention. First, let every full
   member (and no other) vote, as it affects all, and will affect all;
   second, I ask the lodge officials to let the ballot be such in nature
   more than name. Let it be as secret as possible; and third, let me
   urge upon you not to be led away by sentiment, but consider the
   effect it may have upon the position of every man, lest we may make
   things worse than they are. It will be too late to regret after. We
   had better weigh well the result before the step is taken.

    J. WILSON.

    _June 25th, 1903._

The result of the ballot was as follows:--for Trades Union effort,
30,841; for State interference, 12,899; majority, 17,942.

There were 161 lodges voted. Some lodges refused to vote, expressing
their opposition to any change in the hours, but some refused without
assigning any reason. The vote, however, was very decisive, and
reaffirmed the opposition to legal enactment in respect to the eight


The question of drawing coals after loose had been for some time in
dispute between the two Associations. A number of meetings were held.
In the discussion the employers claimed the right to draw coals, if it
suited their convenience, at any time. This could not be granted. Then
they asked for an arrangement which would allow them to draw coals if
it were the custom prior to 1890, and in case of a break up to draw
coals to make up the loss. If this were granted they would concede
four of the requests the workmen were making. The Executive Committee
was not willing to retrospect so far as 1890, but was willing to date
back to 1900, and to allow the employers the opportunity for proper
preparation for the pit starting the day after an accident, if it were
long. This concession formed the basis of settlement, and the
following agreement was made:--

   It is this day agreed between the Durham Coal Owners' and the Durham
   Miners' Association as follows:--

   1. That at all collieries where at the end of December 1900 it was
   customary for coals to be drawn at other times than the ordinary
   coal-drawing hours, such customs shall continue to the same extent.

   2. That at all collieries the owners shall have the right of drawing
   after the 10 or 20 hours' coal drawing time, as the case may be, such
   of the coals standing in the shaft sidings as owing to accident it
   may be necessary to send to bank for any of the following

      (_a_) To enable stones to be drawn;

      (_b_) To enable pit timber or other material to
      be got down and clear of the shaft sidings.

   3. That at all collieries, in case of an accident or breakdown which
   is not remedied one hour before loose, such coals shall be drawn as
   may be necessary to prepare the pit for working the next shift, such
   preparations to mean drawing such a quantity of coal as will enable
   one empty set (or 45 tubs where endless rope haulage is employed) to
   be taken to each landing affected by the accident.

    For the Durham Coal Owners' Association,

    For the Durham Miners' Association,

Three of the concessions on the part of the employers are contained in
the following agreement:--

   It is hereby agreed between the Durham Coal Owners' Association and
   the Durham Miners' Association as follows:--

   _Hand Putters' Basis Wage._--That the basis wage for hand putters
   when employed on datal work shall be 3s. 4d. per day.

   _Stone Putters' Short Shifts._--That stone putters when working with
   stonemen and shifters shall be allowed the same short shifts as those
   granted to the men with whom they are working.

   _Boys' Minimum Wage._--That the minimum basis wage of boys employed
   at bank shall be one shilling per day.

    For the Durham Coal Owners' Association,

    For the Durham Miners' Association,


There was a fourth question which was not put in the agreement because
it was so complicated--viz. the fixing of a relative price between the
whole and broken prices. The custom at some collieries had been to fix
a whole and broken price for the seam, the definite figure being named
of, say, 2d. per ton difference. In every case where a future broken
started it was at the original price, no matter how much the whole
prices might have increased. The effect was that there were men who
might be working at 2s. or 2s. 6d. per ton on the Saturday, and
through the area of goaf being taken out they would have a reduction
of in some cases 1s. and 1s. 4d. per ton on Monday. It was always
difficult to get a rectification at Joint Committee, and it was
thought best to arrange a uniform or relative price between the whole
and broken prices, so that, no matter how the prices in the former
might alter, the relative difference would never vary. The arrangement
removed a very great anomaly and grievance, it being left to the Joint
Committee to decide.


This was a settlement made by the Conciliation Board. Some years
prior, by an arbitration, it was decided "that the standard or basis
average wage of firemen at bank working twelve hours per day is 3s.
3d. per day of twelve hours." The operation of that award was that
before a man could claim the 3s. 3d. he must be working the full
twelve hours per day; if not, the employer could claim a
proportionate reduction. The arrangement made on November 6th, 1903,
reduced the time to eleven hours for the 3s. 3d., those above that
time receiving an advance of 3d. per day. By a return taken at the
time the number of men and hours at the Associated Collieries was
found to be as follows:--

    12   hours per shift     506 men
    11½   "     "     "        1 man
    11    "     "     "       37 men
    10½   "     "     "       78   "
    10    "     "     "       38   "
     8    "     "     "        3    "

Average hours per shift, 11.63; and the result, therefore, was an
all-round increase of 3d. per day.


   Labour Representation--Mr Johnson and Gateshead--Suspension of Joint
   Committee--Conciliation Board--The Fillers' Agreement

It will be necessary to retrace our steps a year or two to keep this
question in consecutive order. The action taken in 1885 has been set
forth, with the result thereof. The matter rested with one
representative until the Council meeting held on June 7th, 1902, when
the Executive Committee placed on the programme the following

   The time is now opportune for considering the question of increased
   Labour representation in Parliament for the county of Durham.

On the Council programme for September 12th, 1902, the Committee
placed another resolution:

   With a view of giving effect to Council resolution, with regard to
   further Labour representation, we ask that the whole matter be
   relegated to the sections comprising the Federation Board.

On November 1st that resolution came before the Federation Board, when
it was resolved as follows:--

   That we express our belief that the time has fully arrived when we
   ought to have increased Labour representation in Parliament, and that
   the other three sections be requested to consult their members on the
   subject, and as soon as they intimate their decision to the secretary
   a meeting of the Board be called.

The course of action indicated in that resolution was followed. The
idea was accepted nearly universally. The Federation Board, therefore,
resolved to place the matter before the four Committees on January
31st in the Miners' Hall, Durham. It was decided to call a special
delegate meeting, to be held in the Town Hall, Durham, the following
programme to be submitted:--

   (1) Shall there be an increase in the number of Labour
   representatives in the county?

   (2) If so, how many more shall be chosen?

   (3) Who shall they be?

   (4) That the selections of divisions be left to the four Committees.

   (5) Ways and means.

The united Committees advised that there should be an increase of
two. This was not done because they believed it to be a mathematically
fair proportion of the county, but because it was best to move safely.
They left the choice of candidates to the Council, but suggested that
the selection of divisions should be remitted to them (the four
Committees), and that as regards the ways and means the same system as
obtained in the case of Mr Wilson should apply to those chosen.

Having regard to our space we need not enlarge upon the various steps
in the procedure. It will be sufficient to say that the Council
accepted the advice, leaving the carrying out of the details to the
four Committees. The candidates selected were Mr J. Johnson and Mr J.
W. Taylor. Shortly after the selection was made, and while the
Committees were trying to arrange for the division, a communication
was received from the South-East Durham Liberal Association asking
that Mr J. Johnson should be sent there as a candidate. In the end the
request was acceded to, but before much was done beyond the acceptance
Sir W. Allan, M.P. for Gateshead, died suddenly, and within a day or
two the Liberal Association made overtures, and invited Mr Johnson. A
meeting was called, and in response he was transferred to Gateshead.

It would not serve any good purpose nor assist our history if notice
were made of some objections and some objectors. It will be sufficient
if we record that he was returned on January 20th, 1904, by a majority
of 1205, and we make mention of two matters--first, a resolution of
the Federation Board:

   That we, the Federation Board, representing the whole of the workers
   in and about the mines in Durham, desire to tender our thanks to the
   electors of Gateshead for the splendid majority with which they have
   returned Mr Johnson as Member of Parliament for their borough, and
   all who worked to secure his return.

Second, a portion of the _Monthly Circular_ for January:

   There are many matters worthy of notice this month, but the one
   nearest your hearts and mine is _our_ success at Gateshead. Mr
   Johnson is the M.P. for that borough, but the victory is _ours_. I
   have no envy for the state of mind of any man or men who can find
   room for carping or faddism in connection with the election. We are
   the last people among whom such should be found. The invitation to
   contest the seat was spontaneous. The workers were numerous,
   energetic, and of all classes, and the rejoicing when the result was
   known was of the most enthusiastic nature. It was encouraging to
   receive from a number of our lodges good wishes during the contest,
   and their congratulations since the victory was secured.


Through a dispute which arose over a decision given by the chairman of
Joint Committee the meetings were entirely suspended, the employers
alleging that the decision was against the rules of the Joint
Committee. This objection was not taken until after the decision was
given. The Federation Board, as the authority dealing with the Joint
Committee, considered the question, and decided:

   That in the opinion of this Board the protest entered by the owners'
   side of the Joint Committee on January 15th, 1904, is entirely in
   opposition to the tenth rule of the Joint Committee constitution, and
   that whatever stoppage there may be in the proceedings of that Board
   the blame rests only with them. And further, we protest against the
   refusal of the owners to meet the other sections of the Board, as in
   our opinion it is in violation of all past procedure, and cannot
   conduce to the harmonious relation between the Employers' and
   Workmen's Associations; and we hope that, whether the difference
   between the miners and employers be settled or not, no objection will
   be raised to the business of the other sections being proceeded with.

In the opinion of the Federation Board there was something lying
behind the objection to the decision. "If," said they, "that was the
sole cause for the suspension, why not go on with the other sections?"
They felt (rightly or wrongly) that the main objection was against the
chairman. It was time for the appointment or reappointment of the
chairman, and by the refusal of the owners to reappoint Judge O'Connor
the Board was strengthened in their opinion that it was the man--more
than the single decision--the objection was taken to. The secretary
received a letter from Mr Guthrie asking the Board to meet for the
purpose of appointing a chairman, and he was instructed to say they
were ready to meet at any time convenient to the owners. That reply
was repeated again on April 6th. The business was suspended from
January 15th until July 4th, when it was resumed, the chairman being
appointed _pro tem_. until the appointment of Colonel Blake, who
occupied the position for the first time on October 31st.


A mention of this is made here because of a unique circumstance which
arose at the August meeting of the Board. The ascertainment showed a
fall in price sufficient to warrant a reduction of one and a quarter
per cent. The Federation Board objected to it. Then the employers
asked for the umpire to be called in, and requested it should be done
as speedily as possible. There was a difficulty in the way. Mr Wilson
was arranging to go to America, and had paid an instalment of his
passage money. Either he must forfeit the money he had paid or the
meeting must be delayed. In their circular for November the Federation
Board placed the following statement of the case:--

   Neither of these alternatives was acceptable, and in order to meet
   the situation the following resolution was submitted by the owners
   and accepted by us:--

      In order to meet the convenience of Mr
      Wilson it is agreed that consideration of the
      claim for a reduction of wages be postponed
      until the meeting of the Board in November,
      when Lord Davey shall be invited to attend
      and, failing agreement, to decide on the claim
      after consideration of the information which
      may then be put before him as to the state of
      trade, a preliminary meeting of the Board to
      be held on October 29th, in order if possible
      to effect a settlement without the intervention
      of the umpire.

   In harmony with that resolution we met on the 29th of October. There
   were two courses open to us, as you will see: either we must consider
   the circumstances warranted the reduction asked for, or on the 5th of
   November--which is the date of the ordinary quarterly meeting--meet
   the umpire. One thing more let us point out: on the 24th of October
   we received the accountants' ascertainment for the quarter ending
   September, which showed a further fall in the realised selling price
   of coal. You will easily perceive the force of the situation which he
   had to meet. Let us enumerate the circumstances. In August the
   employers claimed a reduction on the result of the ascertainment then
   obtained. Although they were (as they said) convinced of the validity
   of their claim, we have kept the higher wage for three months, and
   you will know how much that means to us as a county, with our large
   wage fund and the thousands of men and boys employed. Furthermore,
   there had been another fall in price. If we had gone to the umpire
   these facts faced us. These facts were fully considered, and the
   probabilities of the case carefully investigated, and we were
   convinced that the course most conducive to the best interest of
   those we represent was the acceptance of the one and a quarter per
   cent. reduction, and we are as fully convinced that the action will
   carry your general approval.

   As is seen by the circular, a settlement was made without the umpire.
   Lord Davey was informed, and replied as follows:--

    86 Brook Street, W.,
    _October 30, 1904._

   Dear Sirs,--I deplore the existence of the circumstances which have
   admittedly rendered some reduction of wages necessary. But I
   congratulate both parties on having been able to settle the question
   themselves by amicable discussion without the intervention of a third
   party. Nothing affords me greater pleasure than to hear that they
   have done so. I say this not from any desire to spare myself any
   trouble in your service, but because it is the best earnest for
   future harmony and co-operation in which the joint claims both of
   capital and of labour will be recognised.--I am, dear sirs, yours
   very faithfully,


    The Joint Secretaries,
    Durham Board of Conciliation.


With this notice we will conclude our history. For some time there had
been a gradual introduction of "Mechanical Coal Cutters," and it was
necessary that an arrangement should be made for a new class of
workmen known as "Fillers," whose work consisted solely of filling the
coals after they had been got down. One main feature had obtained from
the commencement in the policy of the Association--viz. the permission
to the employers to work the mines as they thought proper (consistent
with the safety of the workmen), providing the workmen were paid a
recognised wage; and second, no objection was ever raised to the
introduction of new machinery, if regard were had to safety and wage.
When these machines were brought in their utility was recognised. It
was seen they were to ease the heaviest portion of the hewers' work,
and the attention was turned to the two considerations named. After
many meetings and much negotiation the following agreement was

   Agreement made this day, 26th day of November 1904, between the
   Durham Coal Owners' and Durham Miners' Association:--

   1. That the standard basis piece rate of wages for "Fillers" who
   follow mechanical coal cutters shall be four shillings and sixpence
   per shift, and that the length of shift shall be eight hours from
   bank to bank, except on Saturdays, when it shall be less in
   proportion to the reduced coal-drawing hours on that day at the
   respective collieries.

   2. That the above standard piece rate shall be the basis for Joint
   Committee purposes, or for the purpose of any adjustment of "filling"
   prices, either as to advance, reduction, or revision thereof as the
   case may be, provided that each one and a quarter per cent. advance
   or reduction in the county percentage shall be held for Joint
   Committee purposes to vary the wages of "Fillers" by three farthings
   per shift.

   3. That the duties of "Fillers" shall be held to embrace, according
   to the requirements of the management of the particular colliery
   concerned, breaking up, casting, and filling (into such receptacle as
   may be provided by the said management) coal kirved by mechanical
   coal cutters; the squaring of the coal face so as to leave it
   straight and perpendicular; the picking out and casting back under an
   agreed "laid-out" penalty of all material which the hewers are
   expected to pick out at the respective collieries; timbering in the
   absence of the deputy and according to the special and timbering
   rules; preparing the face and leaving it clean and free for the
   subsequent operations of the coal cutter.

   4. That the "Fillers" shall be included among the classes of men
   entitled to free houses or the customary allowance for house rent
   under the conditions of the Conciliation Board resolution of
   November 5th, 1900, regarding "Houses and House Rent."

    For the Durham Coal Owners' Association,

    For the Durham Miners' Association,

The noticeable features in the agreement are--first, the wages, which
are 4d. per day (as a basis wage) higher than those of the coal
getter, the hours being eight from bank to bank; second, the
percentage is regulated as it is for the hewers, five per cent. in
price meaning 3d. per day in wages; third, the duties they are called
upon to perform are plainly set forth; and fourth, they are entitled
to free houses or the customary allowance for rent as the other
acknowledged classes.

       *       *       *       *       *

_P.S._--Inadvertently the death of Mr Meynell, chairman of the Joint
Committee, and the appointment of Judge O'Connor to that office has
been omitted and this _P.S._ supplies the omission. The last meeting
at which Mr Meynell presided was held on December 14th, 1900. The
first under the presidency of Mr O'Connor was on April 9th, 1901; the
chair in the _interim_ being filled _pro tem_.


The Lawyers--The Changes

We leave the history of the organisation for the time being, but
before closing the volume, it would leave a vacuum if there were not
some mention (even if it were little) of the legal advisers who have
been connected with the Association, and have helped it in the
questions of law which from time to time are inevitable in such a
large organisation. The first regular lawyer was Mr "Harry" Marshall,
the leading solicitor in the city of Durham. He was well on in life
when the Association was founded, but he was retained until the time
of his death. His offices were in the Market Place, Durham. He was
followed by Mr H. Forrest, who was heir to the business and offices of
Mr Marshall, and by a natural sequence the legal matters of the
organisation fell into his practice; but they did not remain there
long. Gradually Mr I. Isaacs of Sunderland was called in, until
finally he was appointed officially to the position. In Mr Isaacs the
Association had a very skilful and painstaking adviser, and a
gentleman who stood well with the magistrates in every district in the
county. He died a young man, but he had attained to a position which
was one of the envied positions by the whole of the legal gentlemen in
the county. He was made clerk to the Castle Eden magistrates, but,
unfortunately, died shortly after; in fact, before he had rightly
taken over his duties. He was a man of the highest type, a Jew by
religion, upright in all his dealings. The standard he lived up to was
high enough for all to aim at.

[Illustration: H. F. HEATH]

To keep the succession complete we may insert here a notice of his
successor, Mr H. F. Heath. He was in Mr Isaacs' office until a very
short time prior to the decease of the latter, and from the time of
his appointment has proved himself a reliable guide. His advice is
given for the good of the Association, and not on the low ground of
personal profit. He is as skilful in the stating of a case, or
detecting the weak places in the position of his opponents, as he is
versed in law. Having to deal with mining matters he has made himself
thoroughly acquainted with the technicalities of the mine, and is most
desirous for the success of the business which is placed in his hands.
No member of the Durham Miners' Association has more regard to its
welfare and prosperity than has the miners' solicitor and advocate.


Within the period of our associated life there have been many changes,
a few of which we may with profit enumerate. The "Yearly Bond" has
been dealt with as one of the first actions of the Associations. It
was considered a species of slavery, and a remnant of the old feudal
times when men were part of the estate. We need not dwell further upon
it nor its abolition.

The change in the "First Caller" is no mean one, apart from its
implied shortening of the hours. It uniformed the time for men
commencing work in the foreshift, and it gave them two or three hours
more time to rest when it was most natural and most needed. The writer
of this (as all men who were hewers at that time would go) went to
work, if in the whole, at one in the morning. The "caller" made his
rounds then, but there were many men who never waited until he came.
They were at the pit and down before the time. At some collieries the
back shift men went in at six or six-thirty A.M. If they were out until
the latter time they were the last to go in. It was not considered
necessary to suspend the coal-drawing to send them down. The man and
his picks were put into an empty tub, and went down against the full
tubs coming up. The engineman was told there was a "man on," and the
only difference in the running was the easing up a little at the
bottom. When the back shift hewer got to the face he had the company of
his marrow for some two or three hours. In 1872 the calling time was
changed, and the loosing in the face established.

Take the position of checkweighmen. Prior to the commencement of the
Union (and at the time) the workmen's choice of their weighman was
merely nominal. They selected, but the selection was subject to the
approval of the employer or manager, and he was at all times liable to
receive his notice, not from the men for whom he worked, but from the
manager--and it could be given for anything which did not harmonise
with the will of the manager. A breach of the law was not considered
except it was colliery-made law.

It will be obvious that his freedom of action (so far as the advocacy
of the rights of workmen was concerned) would be very much restricted.
In the generality of cases the policy was to "lie low." In this there
has been a great and useful change. Now the checkweighman is employed
by the workmen, and can only be removed by them, except he violates
the conditions of the Mines' Regulation Act; and now he is (with rare
exceptions) the mouthpiece of the men when meeting the manager, the
leader in public movements, and the most prominent in matters relating
to the Association.

No less important is the facility for meeting the employers, and the
spirit of equality which obtains. What a contrast between 1869 and
1904! Then it was truly a meeting of the superior with his inferiors,
and as a natural consequence there was an absence of free discussion,
which is so essential to the proper settlement of the questions
arising between employers and workmen. Happily, that feeling has died
out. There is less of the dictator and dictated to, and more of the
meeting of equals. Then it was thought to employ men was to confer a
favour upon them, and that consequently they were to consider
themselves under patronage, and be satisfied with the treatment meted
out to the patronised. Now it is realised that if the employers employ
a man's labour the workmen employ their capital, that reciprocity and
mutuality form the platform upon which the two sides can meet, and
that free, unrestrained, courteous expression is not merely the right,
but the safest and most beneficial course.

There has not only been an economic benefit accruing to both sides
alike, as a result of this equality, but there has been a mental
stimulus given to the workmen. It is true that, concurrently with the
life of the Association, the schoolmaster has been more abroad amongst
the people. The boys commence work later in life, and with a larger
mental capital, and that as a consequence there is more ability at
command for the use of workmen, but it is a safe assertion that the
fact of the organisation operating in our midst has been no mean
factor in stimulating the use of the learning so acquired. The young
men think it no small attainment to take part in the various offices
which are held out to them in the Union, and they know as well that
they must be prepared to fill those offices in an intelligent manner.
It would be a difficult, but yet a most interesting, calculation if it
could be shown how many men have been incited to mental activity in
the manner indicated. From the very inception the Association has
demonstrated that the industrial relations in this county were passing
out of the region of brute force into that of reason, and the play of
mind against mind, and that the body of working men who desire to hold
their own, and progress, must do so by the mental force they could
command. The greater that force the safer the position, and the more
assured the amelioration of their conditions. By that will they
conquer. The contrast between the number of able men now and in 1869
is encouraging. It gives the young assurance, and rejoices the heart
of the aged, who in their youth saw this day as in a vision, but
desired it.

A natural corollary from the equality in meeting and the mental
impetus is the amended mode of settling disputes and conducting our
negotiations. We have come from a chronic state of open and avowed
antagonism to (if not complete conciliation) at least a great approach
to it. The history in describing the various stages in our path, will
prove that the old era of contention was wearying and wasteful, as it
was sure to be when the two parties considered themselves as two
armies, and their strength of numbers and increase in capital were for
purposes of crushing the other side. These ideas, like that of
national superiority and large armaments, were hard to destroy on
either side. Their presence made the attempts at compromise more
difficult, and often helped those who were wishful to retrograde. They
brought about the abolition of the sliding scales and the first
Conciliation Board. It may be at some future stage they will effect
the same with the second. This will not be, if the past teaches any
lessons and the workmen of Durham recognise the tendency of the times.
That is towards conciliation, and no step should be taken except to
perfect it. If wisdom rules, that backward action will be avoided as a
great danger.

A very pleasing change is the greater care for life manifest during
the last thirty-six years. The county has had its share of explosions
in the period indicated. The following table will give us a view as to
the extent of the life-saving in the mines of the nation. The table
deals with three decades, and 1905 singly, and gives the deaths per
year, the numbers of persons employed, with the number of tons, the
average of each ten years being taken.

    Ten Years   Deaths per    Number of      Number of
     ending       Year     Persons Employed    Tons

      1882        1129        558,816       152,221,629
      1892        1032        614,200       182,646,507
      1902        1015        666,060       215,790,835
      1905        1159        887,524       249,782,594

The table is very cheering. The full value of it will be realised if
we take the decade ending 1882 and compare it with 1905. There we have
thirty more deaths, but we have 300,000 more people employed, and an
increase of over 97,000,000 tons in output. The proportionate
reduction in the saving of life is great.

Three more changes remain to be noted. First, the political change. In
1869 the political power in the hands of the miners (as of all county
dwellers) was a very small quantity. The logic of the situation was
curious. Above a certain monetary position or size of a house, or
possession of land, or living on one side of a line, men were allowed
to vote; without those, and being over the line, they were prohibited.
The law of England was an open declaration that houses, money, land,
all insensate, could guarantee a man a qualification for doing that
which alone can be done properly by the operation of mind, and living
within an arbitrary area imparted to him full competency for the right
of citizenship. He might have them to-day, and live on the borough
side of the line, and be qualified; but the vicissitudes of life might
strip him of his possessions--or the necessities of his occupation
might compel him to move to-morrow--and he would be considered unfit
to take part in the election of those who had to make the laws he was
bound to obey, which is certainly a most sacred right. That anomaly
was swept away. The Durham miners took their share of the work, and
set the example as to the proper use of the power.

Another of the changes we note is the strong desire there is for an
improved home life. It is not an extraneous feeling forced upon the
miners by outsiders, but is within them. There is a great change in
that respect. There has been much done in the direction of the
much-needed reform. The present is a long way from being satisfactory,
but it is far in advance of the state at the inception of the
Association. That only existed because it was born of use. The
old-time houses are a standing witness of the opinion those who built
them had of the workmen. How should we know that the merciful man
regarded the life of his beast except by the manner of his feeding and
_housing_? There is a change in that respect, but there is a more
hopeful one, and that is the desire on the part of those who live in
them for betterment. The man who is _content_ with a hovel, or room in
a slum, will never look higher. To be dissatisfied with them is
healthy, and is the sure road to a better state. May the feeling grow
until bad houses and insanitation are removed; but it should never be
forgotten that a house itself does not make a home--the life in it
alone can do that.

The last of the changes, but not the least, is the altered opinion
about, and the more accurate knowledge of, the miner there is in the
country. Forty years ago, to many of the people of London the
northern miner was a dweller in remote regions, and a man of uncouth
and rude speech and habits. Some believed he remained down in the
mine, never coming to bank except for a holiday. The writer was once
asked by a man not far from London how long he had been in the mines.
He replied eight or nine years. Then said the querist: "Have you never
been up till now?" He was informed that the miner came up every day.
With surprise he exclaimed: "I thought you lived down in the mines
altogether." That is only one of the numerous instances which could
safely be quoted expressive of the ignorance about the miner and his
life. They knew his product because it warmed them and cooked their
food, but that was the extent of their correct information.

But the change in the geographical and domestic knowledge is not all,
nor the most important; the altered opinion of the miner as a man is
more. The common name was the "Geordies," and that was used as being
indicative of something low rather than a class cognomen. It was the
idea as seen in the attitude of many in Durham when the first gala was
held--as stated above. That is all changed during the thirty-six years
we have existed as an Association. The man who speaks lightly of the
class does it in the face of the clearest light, and from malice. It
is of the class we speak here. If we reason from the individual our
logic will be unsound, and all classes stand condemned. Taken in the
bulk, as compared with our start, the miner has been raised on to a
pedestal of respect. That is a result of his own self-respect. Without
the latter the former will never be attained. It is the compelling
force. It is the philosophy of Shakespeare's "To thine own self be
true," which finds exemplification in every sphere and grade of life.
The Durham miners have shown this in a marked degree. They may be void
of some of the polish which is to be found amid the complaisances and
conventionalities of the finer trades or higher walks of life--their
battle for bread is a rough one--but he who wants honesty,
uprightness, and bravery will not be disappointed if he turns to them.
He need not seek far.


We have finished our history for the present, and traced it in rapid
outline for thirty years. With the benefits we are enjoying from it,
the enjoyment must not induce forgetfulness of the brave men who laid
the foundations of our little kingdom, for such it is. We enter into
their labours, but we will do so with gratitude, and not indifference.
Their memory deserves more than a mere casual place with us. We should
not be true men if we gave it only that. Let us remember that in
reality the position we have realised and the solidity of our
Association have been won and made possible by their spirit and
foresight, and because we have kept ourselves close to the lines of
their procedure. Ours is a great organisation, not because of its
numbers (bulk may be weakness), but because of its principles. If it
were not so, instead of standing out prominently as we do we should be
in a dwarfed and stunted condition, and comparatively useless. The
structure we now possess has risen by slow growth from very small
beginnings and opposing forces. Every new idea, all the teaching of
experience, were used as blocks by those patient builders laying the
foundation for those who were to follow them. It is true there might
be some mistake and bungling in the building. But in spite of these
the structure has arisen with solidity, and from the rubble of that
time we have reared up great walls and fair outlines, giving promise
of future strength, durability, and usefulness. Truly the little one
has become a great nation, and the weak one a strong force, and as
long as we do not harm ourselves no power outside can.

How shall we show our respect for them? We have no possible way except
by carrying on their work and seeking to give effect and volume to it.
The end of their policy was reform, not revolution--not only in a
political way, but in every direction where it was needed. Every
hindrance in the whole round of working conditions was to them an
evil, and as such should be removed. Where immediate abolition was not
possible they tried to reduce its magnitude. They preached the ideal
life, seized the possible, and made the best of circumstances. And is
the wisdom of their action not evident? The spasmodic has been
succeeded by the settled and the orderly. Where hate was endangering
the general weal by its unreasoning action we now have regular
business relations. No doubt to many whose main feature is ardency and
rush they were slow-paced. These would have gone faster, but there
would have been slower progress. To the Israelites Moses was
slow-paced, but the wilderness was their portion as a result of their
grumbling. There were grumblers in our start from Egypt to a better
position (some of them remain to this day), but these are not the
spirits who would either lay foundations or rear structures. The live
men before us now were not grumblers. They were too busy; the work
before them was too imperative. They were discontented; but in essence
there is a wide difference between that and a grumbler. Never since
the world began has any grievance been removed by the latter class.
They may have hindered, but never helped. They are the drags on the
wheels, and complain because more speed is not made. The men of 1869
were men of different mettle, or the fear is we should never have had
the Association we have, nor stood in the proud position we enjoy
among the trades organisations of the nation. We are reaping where
they sowed, and while we enjoy the harvest let us remember the sowers.

We have placed their statues in a prominent position; but what do they
mean to us? They are reminders of a state of things in a large part
passed away, and as suggesters of a hope of a larger life in the
future they contain a recognition and a resolve--a recognition of
their work and a resolve to carry it forward: a recognition of the
debt we owe to them, which can only be paid by service rendered to
others. It is a debt which no statue, no matter how costly or
lifelike, can liquidate. It can only be paid in kind. That is a truth
we should not forget, but on all occasions give expression to. It is
that expression which stamps real dignity upon the life of any man.
Position, rank, title, wealth are all useless, for the true index is
manliness and useful service. The true reformers have been (and are)
men who assisted the good and resisted the evil, not simply because it
would pay or bring preferment or popularity, but because they felt in
their hearts the impulses (and compulsions, if you will) of duty. The
love of man constrained them, and the imperative _I must_ forced them
onward. The world's progress has not depended on the acts of the
so-called great men, but on the endeavours and self-denials of men who
were lost often amid the mists and struggles and poverty of life, and
to whom its heavy burdens were not theoretical, but terribly near in
their contact, and fearful in their weight and trial.

The deeds of the workers of the race are not recorded to decorate
history, but for strengthening the generations to come. For such
purpose has prominence been given here to our workers. "The measure of
a nation's civilisation is the number of the brave men it has had,
whose qualities have been harvested for children and youth." We have
had our brave men. They did not live to themselves. In this we must be
their imitators.


I have had many pleasant occupations in connection with our
Association, and the writing of this outline of our history is not the
least pleasing among them. It has taken much time, but the result has
been (not to be burdensome, but) to impart a somewhat hurried and
loose character to the writing, and perhaps some slight omissions of
facts, not material to the general course of the history. It has been
compiled in the rush of other matters, and in odd minutes as they
offered themselves, but its purpose will be attained if a desire to
form a closer acquaintance with our growth and transactions be
provoked, especially in the minds of our young men, in the hope that
they may be rooted and grounded in their faith in Trades Unionism. The
dependence of the future is upon them. What is more important than for
them to have a full knowledge of our policy and procedure?

The subject is to me of the most interesting nature. From start to
finish it has been running the current of my own life, because in
nearly all the incidents I have had some small share--as one in the
ranks at first, and in these later years as one of the officials. I
saw the start, have seen the growth, and feel proud of its position.
With those who helped to form it I shared the evil speaking and unfair
treatment when we made the attempt, and have never hesitated to be a
partner in the blame and slanders which small-minded men have seen
fit to bestow upon those who were doing their duty. The narrow mind
always feels a pleasure in censuring others. I say nothing of the work
which has been done except this: in all I have had any part in there
has been pleasure, and none of the hireling waiting for the shadow of
the day. I have shared the regrets of those who regretted the
failures, and now I am thankful there is large room to rejoice over
the progress made and the position attained. This feeling, you will
permit me to say, is bound to be stronger in me than in most men. It
is part of my life. Thirty-seven years is a long time. A man is a
fool, or worse, if, living in contact with an institution (one in
which he has lived and moved and had his being), it has not made more
than a mechanical impression upon him. I have passed from youth to age
in that contact. It commenced in the prime of manhood, and continues
when life's day is declining, and the gathering shades indicate the
sun has dipped far to the west, and to find myself in active service,
even with the limited powers resulting from the weight of threescore
years and ten, is the crown of my rejoicing.

I have been a long time the colleague of some of you. In the battle we
have been shoulder to shoulder, and our hair has turned grey in the
fight. We have been together in good and evil, for the web of our life
has been of mingled yarn. Good and evil together have been mixed, but
the good has predominated--how much we alone can tell. I rejoice with
you that we have lived to see this day, and that we are still fighting
the good fight, with the hopeful spirit, if the physical energies are
less than when we commenced. There is a great distance between the
point we have attained and the valley whence we started--a distance
not measured by time. The true standard is an experience such as our
life alone can supply.

My final word is to my young brothers. It is that of exhortation to
appreciate not merely the conditions you enjoy, but the possibilities
opened out to you. The thought of these should stir you up to the
enjoyment of one and the use of the other. Believe me, about this I am
very anxious, and shall rejoice if something in this book, or
suggested by it, tends to stir you to good and profitable use of the
facilities and time the Association has opened out to you. The opening
out of these devolves upon you a twofold duty: to yourselves first,
and then devoting yourselves to the improvement, solidifying,
strengthening, and perfecting of the organisation. Let me quote a few
words I have written to you before:

   To omit the duty you owe to yourselves; to neglect the opportunities
   which are open to you; to think all of pleasure and sport, and
   nothing of mental culture; to leave the institutes which are opening
   out to you, with their libraries, and which with their stores of
   knowledge bring you into living, thoughtful contact with the mental
   giants of the race; to live only for present enjoyment, with no
   preparation for to-morrow, which will need and make demands upon you,
   is surely a lack of forethought, which is condemnable for two
   reasons, because it stunts your own nature (for no uneducated man is
   complete), and hinders your usefulness when matured manhood calls
   upon you to take your place in the affairs of your class and nation,
   to assist in the progress of one and the rectification of the
   national evils. Put not your trust in other people entirely; look not
   to some power outside yourselves to raise you higher in the social
   scale, whether it be parliamentary or otherwise. The most effective
   means for further progress lies in us. We want to be true to
   ourselves, resting not satisfied with foul conditions and
   surroundings nor ignorance. An educated people is a powerful people;
   for where is there a man who knows what is due to a man who will be
   satisfied with less than what a man requires and deserves?

These thoughts form the _raison-d'être_ of this history. The aim is to
make it a reliable record of facts and an inspiration to those who
read. There has been no attempt at literary display. There has been a
desire to give prominence to the principles of the founders, and to
urge adherence to them, for by them we have come, and by them we shall
progress. Our course has been gradual, but it has been safe. We have a
record of which all may justly feel proud. It has not been rushing nor
spasmodic. In these ofttimes lies ruin, and this we have found when we
as an Association have tried that method. Carefulness and caution are
not cowardice. These feelings may not be heroic, but they have proved
their fitness in the years that are gone. "Discretion is the better
part of valour."

      "More firm and sure the hand of courage strikes
      When it obeys the watchful eye of caution."

This was the leading feature of those who made our present possible.
No one would dare charge them with lack of true heroism. Let me urge
upon you the same spirit. The road may seem longer, and the processes
more painful and slow, but these need not damp your spirits. They
should brace you for the struggle, strengthen your purpose, fix more
firmly your hopes, give you larger faith in the future, induce you to
realise your place in life and not be drifters with the current. There
are too many who are satisfied to merely exist. They have no
aspiration nor ideal nor hope. No man has a right to pass through life
indifferent to the wrongs around him. Two things we must avoid:
impetuosity in associated work and stagnation in the individual life.
Each life should be a clear current, invigorating, not a mere moral
miasmatic pool, but cleansing, elevating, ennobling. There are three
voices calling upon this generation: the past with the work done for
us; the present with its demands upon our help for rectification; and
the future with its possibilities of a better and purer life. There
are many powers opened out to you, but there are three which stand out
prominently: sobriety, education, association. These used, the
darkness will disperse, the downtrodden be raised, and England made
truly a home for her people. The continuous sunshine in which some
dwell and the dark poverty in which thousands exist will be blended,
every soul-enslaving fetter be bruised and broken and cast away, and
the world be brighter for our living in it; and we, when called to our
account, will feel cheered that we have done what we could to cast out
the old and cruel conditions and ring in the Christ that is to be,
when want and hunger shall be no more and that state which the rich
provision in nature and the wonderful production around us provides
for shall be realised.



    1871  Saturday,  August 12th, at Wharton Park, Durham.
    1872     "       June 15th, on Race-course, Durham.
    1873     "       June 14th       "            "
    1874     "       August 15th     "            "
    1875     "       July 3rd        "            "
    1876  Monday     July 3rd        "            "
    1877     "       July 16th       "            "
    1878  Saturday   July 6th        "            "
    1879     "       July 5th        "            "
    1880     "       July 31st       "            "
    1881     "       July 30th       "            "
    1882     "       July 1st        "            "
    1883     "       July 14th       "            "
    1884     "       July 5th        "            "
    1885     "       July 25th       "            "
    1886     "       July 31st       "            "
    1887     "       July 23rd       "            "
    1888     "       July 14th       "            "
    1889     "       July 6th        "            "
    1890     "       July 12th       "            "
    1891     "       July 4th        "            "
    1892     "       July 23rd       "            "
    1893     "       July 29th       "            "
    1894     "       July 21st       "            "
    1895     "       July 27th       "            "
    1896     "       July 18th       "            "
    1897     "       July 24th       "            "
    1898     "       July 16th       "            "
    1899     "       July 22nd       "            "
    1900     "       July 28th       "            "
    1901     "       July 20th       "            "
    1902     "       July 26th       "            "
    1903     "       July 18th       "            "
    1904     "       July 23rd       "            "
    1905     "       July 29th       "            "
    1906     "       July 21st       "            "



    Date of change          Advance     Reduction
    taking effect          per cent.    per cent.

    February 1872              20          --
    July 1872                  15          --
    February 1873              15          --
    April 1874                 --          10
    November 1874              --           9
    April 1875                 --           5
    February 1876              --           7
    September 1876             --           6
    April 1877                 --           7½
    May 1879                   --           8¾
    July 1879                  --           1¼
    December 1880               2½         --
    April 1882                  3¾         --
    August 1882                --           1¼
    November 1882               1¼         --
    February 1883               1¼         --
    August 1884                --           1¼
    May 1885                   --           1¼
    May 1886                   --           1¼
    February 1888               1¼         --
    May 1888                   --           1¼
    August 1888                --           1¼
    November 1888               1¼         --
    February 1889               1¼         --
    August 1889                10          --
    December 1889              10          --
    March 3-10, 1890            5          --
    December 29, 1890           5          --
    January 5, 1891            --          --
    June 1, 1892               --          10
    March 1893                 --           5
    [1]October 16, 1893         5          --
    May 6-13, 1895             --           7½
    October 7-14, 1895         --           2½
    August 14-21, 1897          2½         --
    [2]May 16-23, 1898          2½         --
    May 16-23, 1898             2½         --
    Oct. 31-Nov. 7, 1898        2½         --
    [3]April 17-24, 1899        2½         --
    July 24-31, 1899            2½         --
    November 6-13, 1899         3¾         --
    February 12-19, 1900        5          --
    May 14-21, 1900             7½         --
    August 13-20, 1900         10          --
    November 12-19, 1900       10          --
    February 11-18, 1901       --           1¼
    May 13-20, 1901            --          11¼
    August 12-19, 1901         --           7½
    November 12-19, 1901       --           5
    February 17-24, 1902       --           1¼
    May 12-19, 1902            --           2½
    August 11-18, 1902         --           2½
    February 9-16, 1903         1¼         --
    May 11-18, 1903            --           1¼
    August 10-17, 1903         --           1¼
    February 8-15, 1904        --           1¼
    May 16-23, 1904            --           2½
    November 7-14, 1904        --           1¼
    February 5-12, 1906         1¼         --
    August 6-13, 1906           2½         --
    November 12-19, 1906        1¼         --

[Footnote 1: Originally given as a temporary advance for six pays,
afterwards converted into an ordinary advance.]

[Footnote 2: Originally given for six pays, afterwards continued for
further period of six pays, and again extended until pays ending 15th
and 22nd April 1899; it was then continued as an ordinary advance.]

[Footnote 3: Of this advance one and a quarter per cent. was given for
seven pays, and afterwards merged in the ordinary percentage.]


Table showing the explosions and inundations, with the date and number
of lives lost, since the beginning of 1869, in Durham, brought down to
the end of 1906, with two statements on the dust theory by Mr J.

                                                Lives lost
    1869--May 25, Monkwearmouth                       7
    1871--October 25, Seaham                         30
    1878--July 6, Craghead exploded                   4
    1880--September 8, Seaham Colliery exploded     168
    1882--February 16, Trimdon Colliery exploded     74
    1882--April 18, Tudhoe exploded                  36
    1882--April 13, West Stanley exploded            13
    1885--March 2, Usworth exploded                  41
    1885--June 3, Houghton-le-Spring                 12
    1885--December 2, Elemore                        28
    1889--November 2, Hebburn                         6
    1895--December 13, Eppleton                       3
    1896--April 13, Brancepeth A Pit                 20
    1897--May 6, East Hetton, inundation             10
    1899--August 15, Brandon C Pit                    6
    1902--May 20, Deaf Hill                           1
    1903--November 16, Sacriston, inundation          3
    1906--October 14, Wingate, explosion             24
    1906--December 17, Urpeth Busty, explosion        4


In the first place, there must be a considerable quantity of very fine
and dry coal dust in the immediate proximity of a shot when fired; and
if the shot is a strong one the concussion will be very great.

This force, acting on the air, throws the finest particles of coal
dust into the circulating current, in a finely divided state, with
orbid motion, thereby causing each particle of coal dust to be
surrounded with air, and these particles of dust in this condition
coming in contact with the flame of a shot, are easily ignited.

At the moment of ignition the temperature of the particles of dust is
low, but as the ignition extends to other particles, and they become
ignited in quantity, the temperature rises, so that the motion of the
heated particles becomes more rapid by expanding and compressing the
air, until their velocity is so great that the temperature of the
burning dust is raised to the temperature of gas flame, exploding the
coal dust in its course.

At this high temperature, the expansion of the air will develop great
force, which acting on the dust at rest, will whirl it into the air
current, and this will be continued so long as there is a sufficient
quantity of coal dust and air to feed the flame.


       *       *       *       *       *

    To J. Wilson, Esq.,
    Secretary to the Royal Commission on
    Explosions from Coal Dust in Mines.

Dear Sir,--In October 1871 an explosion occurred at Seaham Colliery,
and my attention was called to it; and, after considering all the
circumstances of the case, I eventually came to the conclusion that
the shot fired by the two Simpsons ignited the coal dust and caused
the explosion.

In September 1880 another explosion took place at Seaham Colliery. I
went down the pit in the evening of the day of the explosion with Mr
Stratton (the manager) and other Mining Engineers, and I remained at
Seaham Colliery for 12 months, until the last body was found, and was,
during that time, down the pit almost every day as an explorer. I also
attended the inquest and gave evidence. I was satisfied from what I
saw that the shot fired by Simpson and Brown ignited the coal dust and
caused the explosion.

In February 1882 an explosion occurred at Trimdon Grange Colliery. I
went down the pit and attended the inquest, and from what I saw and
heard I concluded that the explosion was caused by a flushed kitty or
straw at Maitland's shot firing a small quantity of fire-damp, which
ignited the coal dust and caused the explosion.

In April 1882 an explosion occurred at West Stanley Colliery. I
attended the inquest, and from what I could learn the shot fired by
the two men (Douglas and Hutchinson) ignited a small portion of
fire-damp, which fired the coal dust, and brought on an explosion.

In March 1885 an explosion happened at Usworth Colliery. I attended
the inquest, and came to an opinion that the shot fired by the two
men, named Brown, ignited the coal dust, which produced an explosion.

In December 1886 an explosion occurred at Elemore Colliery. I went
down the pit and attended the inquest. I was satisfied, in my mind,
that the shot fired by the three men (Johnson, Appleby and Luke)
ignited the coal dust, thereby causing the explosion.--Yours, etc.


    _December 1886._



    Accountants, 128, 164, 314

    Aftermath of 1892 strike, 245

    Agents' districts, 23-24

    Alteration of the "First Caller," 59, 337

    Amicability in disputes, 340

    Arbitration, Deputies', 170

    -- earliest, 33

    -- first general, 85, 103

    -- second, 109

    -- third, 113

    -- fourth, 118

    -- owners refuse, 152

    -- working hours, 169

    Armstrong, W., 103, 109

    Attempts to form Union, 6

    Average, county, 162

    -- theoretical and real, 147

    Award, 1879, _pro tem_., 157

    -- J. R. Lyn's, 220

    Awards, Lord Davey's, 1895, 267-269

    Award, Lord Davey's, 1902, 319


    Bank Holiday, 318

    Banking account, 18

    Benefits, reduction of, 199

    Blagdon, Rev. M., 26

    Bond, yearly, 17, 47, 49

    Boys' wages, 309, 324

    Broken price agreement, 325

    Brown, W., 8, 35

    Building, the, 16

    Bunning, T. W., 47

    Burt, T., 8, 20, 103, 182


    Cairns, A., 23, 26, 32

    "Caller, First," 59, 337

    Candymen, 96

    Cann, T. H., appointed treasurer, 276

    Care for life, 341

    Changes, 337

    Checkweighmen, 73, 338

    Clerk, first appointed, 105

    Coal-drawing agreement, 323

    Coal Owners' Association formed, 46

    Coal Tax, 310

    Commission, Royal, 86

    Committee, 1879, 160

    Compensation Act 1897, 291

    Conciliation Board, 263

    -- first members of, 266

    -- renewed, 294, 331

    Co-operative colliery, 90, 110

    -- Committee, 110

    County Council, 209

    Crake, W., 7, 13

    Crawford, W., 6, 9, 23, 26, 31, 33, 37, 103, 109

    -- attack on, 80

    -- censure on, 84

    -- candidature of, 88

    -- death of, 215


    Dale, D., Sir, 103, 109, 157

    Dark Days, 197

    Deputies' basis wage fixed, 301

    -- difference as to, 120

    -- hours, 1870, 121

    -- wage, 1870, 121

    -- wage, 173

    Derby, Lord, 160

    Desire for better houses, 343


    Educational benefit of Union, 340

    Emigration, 131, 165

    Employers' Liability Act, 172

    Entrance fee, first, 18, 121

    Equality, 339

    Evictions, Wheatley Hill, 96

    Ex-Committee condemned, 145

    -- expelled, 114

    -- rules, 114


    Federation Board formed, 140

    -- condemned, 145

    -- first members of the, 141

    Federation, Miners',

    -- Durham miners and the, 251, 256

    -- expulsion from the, 259

    -- refuses Durham, 277

    Fillers' agreement, 333

    Firemen's week-end shifts, 316

    Five days per week, 183

    Forman, J., 36, 38, 103, 105, 119

    -- death of, 302

    Forsters', W. E., award, 109

    Fowler, J., 61

    Franchise Association, 88

    -- extension of, 191


    Gala, first, 31-34

    -- first on the race-course, 59

    Galbraith, S., appointed, 305

    Golightly, W., 105

    Gordon, W., 114, 118

    Graham, Coroner, 298

    Gurney's, Russell, award, 103

    Guthrie, R., 207


    Hall, the new, 82, 118

    Hand putters' basis wage, 324

    Heath, Mr, 337

    Hewers' datal wage, 306

    Homes, Aged Miners', 297

    Hopwood's, C. H., award, 113

    Hours arbitration, 132

    Hours', arrangement, ten, 214, 217

    -- eight, 199

    -- ballot on, 248

    -- second ballot on, 321

    -- of boys, 32, 48, 74, 77, 83

    Houses and house rent, 307

    Housing condition, 104, 110

    House, W., appointed to Joint Committee, 292

    -- appointed President, 305


    Imprisonment of Messrs Cann, Jones, and Forbes, 244

    Increased knowledge of the miners, 343

    Industrial Remuneration Conference, 190

    Isaacs, Mr, 336


    Johnson, J., appointed treasurer, 217

    -- fin. secretary, 276

    Johnson, Mr, and Gateshead, 328

    Joint Committee, formation of, 66

    -- first meeting, 69

    -- suspended, 164, 329

    Jones, L., 83, 103, 109, 119, 196

    Judge, a, puzzled, 30


    Labourers' basis wage, 306

    Labour representation, 194, 326

    Leaders, the first, 37

    Lords, House of, 192


    Macdonald, A., 17

    -- death of, 180

    Meynell, Mr E., 112, 335

    -- award, 134

    Miners' demand for trained miners, 90

    -- International Congress, formed, 223

    -- National Conference, 25, 124

    -- Act 1861, 1

    -- Act 1871, 71

    -- Act 1872, 71, 72


    Negotiations of 1890, 211

    Notices given to enforce a reduction, 101

    -- again given by owners, 107


    O'Connor, Judge, 197, 335

    Officers, first, 14

    Opposition, 41, 42, 43, 44


    Patterson, W. H., 8, 13, 26, 39, 113

    -- appointed corres. secretary, 216

    -- death of, 273

    Patterson's, Mr, statue, 319

    Political power, 342

    Position of the Association, 136

    President, first, 19

    President, permanent, 105

    Putters' hours at datal work, 316

    -- short shift, stone, 324


    Ramsey, T., 8, 25, 80

    Reduction, first, 89, 91

    -- second, 98

    -- third, 105

    -- fourth, 111

    -- fifth, 115

    -- of bankmen, 104

    -- of 1879, 141

    Reductions, private, 148

    Relief Fund, first, 129

    -- second, 187

    Rent paying in 1892, 247

    Resolutions, first gala, 61

    Restriction of output, 167

    Rhymer, E., 6, 84

    Richardson, J., 7, 11

    Rocking Strike, 2


    Salary of first treasurer, 25

    Sanderson, R. B., 68, 112

    Screenmen's basis wage, 306

    Seaham strike, 55

    Shaw Lefevre's award, 119

    Simpson, C., 114

    Sliding Scale, first, 124

    -- second, 163

    -- third, 174

    -- fourth, 185

    -- abolished, 202

    -- violation of, 167

    Smart money, 309

    Stobart, W., 46

    Strike at Silksworth, 223

    -- at Wheatley Hill, 95

    -- of 1874, 93

    -- of 1879, 154

    -- of 1892, 231

    Strikes illegal, 24

    Surface firemen's wages, 325


    Taylor, Hugh, 47, 63

    -- J. W., 328

    Thornley meeting, 13

    Timber leaders' hours, 317

    Trotter, L., 197

    Trustees, first, 14


    Wage Board, first mention of, 235, 251, 254

    Wages, advance in, 48, 50, 63, 71, 76

    Wages in 1898-99, 288, 293

    Washington strike, 281

    Water leaders' hours, 317

    Wearmouth strike, 3

    Westcott, Bishop, 241, 262, 299

    -- death of, 313

    Wheatley Hill inundation, 28

    -- "Putt Pay," 188

    Wilkinson, N., 8, 14, 38, 113, 119, 182

    Wilson, J., 114, 118, 182, 192

    -- appointed fin. secretary, 217

    -- appointed corres. secretary, 276

    Wood, Lindsay, Mr, 68, 83, 157, 207


       *       *       *       *       *

  Transcriber's Notes

  Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected.

  Hyphenation has been rationalised.

  Variations in spelling and punctuation have been retained.

  Words in _italics_ are denoted thus.

  The repetition of the title on page 1 has been removed.

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