JF Ptak Science Books Post 2100
There is no doubt that the working life of the miner was and is a very dangerous, incredibly demanding job. Written descriptions and engraved and photographed and film images all will very quickly and profoundly depict the very demanding physical, psychological and medical demands that are made on the miner. (Perhaps one of the most demanding accounts of the life of the miner is told by George Orwell in his The Road to Wigan Pier, which I quote from in an earlier post to this blog, here; see also an associated post on Welsh mining boys, also drawing on Mr. Orwell, here.)
Even in a sympathetic publication like Mining People--published by the Miners' Welfare Commission in 1945--the idea of crushing proximity and indomitable closeness is present in almost every image, including those that have nothing to do with actually being underground.
There are a few images of miners at work, like so:
These would hardly have been investigative-style photos as the pamphlet was trying to sell certain ideas of the mining union for self-care and preservation, so I am guessing that the photos would be no more than "average". The odd bits come from the photos of miners out-of-the-mines, because there is no mistaking the extreme closeness of these men to one another in places where that didn't necessarily have to be the case. The locker room, for example, looks compact and tight, and unnecessarily so--I mean, why have men be compressed together in a changing room after having just spent 10 hours underground in tight and bunched quarters?
Since this was basically a trade publication extolling good works with union dues money, perhaps this locker room is an improvement--still, there are two sets of lockers that are about five feet apart, with two benches that seem to be no more than six inches wide.
After sending men down into the mines to work all day it seems that the least that could be done would be to allow a wide enough space to allow for people to sit moderately comfortably. The six-inch bench really bothers me.
Perhaps these showers were luxurious by those provided by other mines--perhaps other mines didn't even have showers for the miners. But again it seems to me another very cramped scene (and this one with the lead figure being a young boy).
AS I said, perhaps these after-work images were scene of comparative luxury. The degrees of cramped closeness though are inescapable.