The tunnel was narrow, and a mere 16in high in places. The workers could barely kneel in it, let alone stand. Thick,choking coal dust filled their lungs as they crawled through the darkness, their knees scraping on the rough surface and their muscles contracting with pain.19th century Britain was hardly a backward country; it was at the time the acme of capitalism. Is it any wonder that Marx believed we could do better?
A single 'hurrier' pulled the heavy cart of coal, weighing as much as 500lb, attached by a chain to a belt worn around the waist, while one or more 'thrusters' pushed from behind. Acrid water dripped from the tunnel ceiling, soaking their ragged clothes.
Many would die from lung cancer and other diseases before they reached 25. For, shockingly, these human beasts of burden were children, some only five years old.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Britain's child slaves
Britain's child slaves: