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January 18 , 2009

From the Cradle to the Coalmine

The Story of Children in Welsh Mines


It is widely believed that the employment of children underground in coal mines ended in 1842. This book, in contrast, shows that young people remained an important part of the workforce up until the virtual demise of the industry in the late twentieth century. The Children’s Employment Commission was established in 1840 to expose the conditions under which children had to work underground; as we might expect, public opinion was outraged by what came to light, and a law was passed to prevent all females and boys under the age of ten from working underground. However, the lack of inspectors made the law difficult to enforce, and many females and boys under ten continued to work illegally until Parliament made school attendance compulsory in the 1860s. This popular and accessible book is a rich source of information about the working lives of children and young people in the Welsh coalfields, richly illustrated to include extensive work from Amgueddfa Cymru’s photographic archives.

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