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Industrial Revolution - White Slaves in 19th century England by Dennis Melling

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A digital painting, using Bierstadt DAP, of a Hurrier and accompanying thrusters in a 19th century Lancashire coal mine.
All my ancestors worked in the coal mines – 635 views on 02/06/2012.
The original photograph used was a PD copy of a 19th century original by J Cobden, uploaded by: Violetriga from Wikimedia Commons
Information from wikipedia.
A hurrier, also sometimes called a coal drawer or coal thruster, was a child or woman employed by a collier to transport the coal that they had mined. Women would normally get the children to help them because of the difficulty of carrying the coal. Common particularly in the early 19th century, the hurrier pulled a corf full of coal along roadways as small as 16 inches in height. They would often work 12 hour shifts, making several runs down to the coal face and back to the surface again.
Some children came from the workhouses and were apprenticed to the colliers. Adults could not easily do the job because of the size of the roadways, which were limited on the grounds of cost and structural integrity. Hurriers were given candles as it was too expensive to light the whole mine.
Children as young as three or four were employed, with both sexes contributing to the work. The younger ones often worked in small teams, with those pushing the corf from the rear being known as thrusters. The thrusters often had to push the corf using their heads, leading to the hair on their crown being worn away and the child becoming bald.


white slaves, coal mining, lancashire, england, hurrier, thruster, 19th century, coal, transport, corf, workhouse

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  • linmarie
    linmarieabout 3 years ago

    this is an amazing piece Dennis and I love the treatments given to get to this look,, awesome, peace and love linmarie

  • Thank you linmarie :)
    This is all very personal to me because all my ancestors were buried in this abstract poverty and many were killed and maimed because of the conditions.
    In the 19th century one of my grand mother’s uncles escaped to America and did pretty well.

    – Dennis Melling

  • linmarie
    linmarieabout 3 years ago

    thats awesome info and sharing, thank you for sharing your story Dennis.. this is a very emotional piece I am sure for many,, peace and love linmarie

  • Thank you linmarie :)
    All the Yorkshire coal mines are now closed and 3 to 5 year olds now live beyond the age of 20 but, times are still hard since 100% of the labour force relied on the now closed mines and mills :(

    – Dennis Melling

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