A Day in the Life of a Greenside Miner, circa1851
by Emma Bray
My name is John Thwaite. I am 18 and work at Greenside down the mine. My day started early this morning. As it is Monday, I woke my little brother Thomas at 5am so we could walk from our home in Matterdale a couple of miles to the mine. There’s a group of us walk from Dowthwaite Head - James Kilgour, the Bowman brothers and John Airey and we see the lanterns of others walking from Dockray on the way. Our Thomas is the youngest – he is 13 and washes ore at the mine. Mam sent him out to work after Dad died. Mam packs us our bait for the week – oatmeal, potatoes, bread and a bit of bacon and she gives Thomas some mutton fat to rub on his hands. The skin on his fingers cracks from the cold water he washes the ore in.
Report of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the condition of all mines in Great Britain to which the provisions of the Act 23 & 24 Vict. c. 151 do not apply, British Parliamentary Papers, 1864 (3389) (Kinnaird commission)