Mining Homes

The most important room in a miner’s home was the kitchen and it was where the a miner’s wife would spend most of her day.  This was because the kitchen housed the fireplace which was essential for every household task that would need to be completed each day.

Miner’s wives worked around the clock to keep the home up and running and to ensure that jobs were completed, tasks were assigned a day to be completed. Monday was washing day. Washing would be completed in a poss tub filled with water, heated by the fire, and shavings of carbolic soap. The laundry would then be put into the tub and washed using a poss stick that the miner’s wife would move up, down and twist around with great degree of force to ensure that the clothes were cleaned properly. The clothes would then be rung out and hung above the fire to dry.

Washing done, next was ironing. A mining home would be equipped with three irons which had a permanent place next to the fire in order to keep them hot. While ironing, the miner’s wife would constantly have to swap irons as they cooled down quickly and with an entire family’s clothes to wash and iron, to complete the chore in one day was no easy task.

As well as the daily chores, the miner’s wife would constantly be cooking . It would take all day to cook an evening meal for the family and with shifts ending at all hours of the night, the wife would often have to stay up to ensure that food was ready for hungry miners returning from the pit.

Peggy mats were a big part of mining homes. They were easily made, a base of hessian with old rags and clothes torn up and pushed through holes. The floors of mining homes were stone and cold so peggy mats were laid to cover up the floor. Peggy mats were durable and long-lasting. A brand new peggy mat would be put on the master bed for extra warmth. It would then be moved onto the floor, gradually making its way to the back door, where her husband would come in in his mucky boots after a long shift. Even after the peggy mat was too mucky to use, it would be cut up and be used as fuel for the fire to save on coal.

Miners lived in houses built and owned by the mine owner so if the miner died, quit or retired from his job at the mine, he, and his family would be evicted. Joseph Hopper believed that miners and their families deserved better so began working to provide miners who had been evicted from their homes with accommodation. Joseph began work by using  donations of money, time and land to build houses for the ex-miners that were let free of charge.