Sir, - In last week's Pacquet I observe a statement relative to the
late dreadful accident in Kell's Pit, which, I presume, is submitted to the
public as the defense of the colliery stewards.
Without offering any opinions of my own, permit me, Sir, to notice
those of very competent judges with whom I have conversed on the subject. It
seems generally admitted that accidents in the coal mines frequently occur from
the improvement system of robbing pillars, as it is technically called. Workmen
employed on such occasions, and in fixing up props to prevent the rood from
falling, are so annoyed with the fine dust which blocks up the safety lamp, that
they are induced to remove the cylinder, or to have recourse to candles in
order to see what they are about. It has been found too, that the plan of
robbing the pillars, instead of occasionally opening fresh bands, causes the foul
air to accumulate irregularly, and consequently renders the pit more dangerous.
Besides, the system is alike injurious to the proprietor and to the workmen:
the time of the latter is so much taken up with removing the slate, rubbish, &
c. that it diminishes their day's work; and in proof of the former assertion, I
need only remark, it is well known that in consequence of robbing the
pillars, the roof of old Scalegill Pit fell in some years ago.
However, frequent such accidents may have been in Newcastle, and other
places, it is equally melancholy to reflect that in the last three years,
between forty and fifty labourers have lost their lives in coal mines near this
town. Therefore in common with every friend of humanity, I rejoice that you
have so feelingly called the attention of the public to this distressing subject;
I rejoice, too, that the public have adopted your hint of subscribing towards
the relief of the poor families of the sufferers.
What ever may have been the cause, whether the workmen, the stewards,
or both or neither were to blame, I rejoice that an opportunity is at length
afforded to them, and to the rest of the inhabitants of this town, publicly to
discuss all matters in which their interests are concerned.
In truth where the heart alone is interested, and honestly interested,
it imports little what the subject is, perfect concord must be the result of
earnest injury, and of fair discussion.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE
Sir, Your correspondent P. P. in speaking of the coal trade has taken
a wrong view of the subject, which every unprejudiced person connected with
the trade will easily perceive. He says it is the fault of the Master's of
Vessels that a higher price is not got for the coals in Dublin. The Master, it is
true, might for one or two voyages obtain a higher price, but what would be
the consequence? The Scotch and Welsh vessels would again glut the market, and
the Master would be under the necessity not only of dropping the price, but
stopping longer at the market, and thereby increasing his disbursements.
It is evident the whole fault lies in paying too much for them here,
and while the two great coal proprietors on this coast persist in demanding the
same price, the Master may live by the wages he has at present, but the men
and their families must be half starved, and the ship owners will have the
mortification of seeing their property daily going to decay without receiving any
recompense; and while the coal proprietors are persuaded that the fault lies
in the masters it would be absurd to expect them to drop the price. Had the
price of coals never been raised, or moderately advanced, they would still have
found a market down the channel, but the enormous price to which they were
advanced, encouraged other collieries to open which have succeeded in completely
shutting the Cumberland proprietors out of Cork and Waterford; and had it not
been for the sacrifice they have been obliged to make in reducing them to the
present prices they would have lost Dublin also.