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18. Cramped Cottages

I sincerely hope they had their gloves on!

Talking about Shale Miners' cottages


Living in one room

Early shale miners' rows had one room for the whole family. It would probably been about 5 x 5 metres. That's a pretty small room. You would eat there, sleep there, wash there and there was little privacy. The room would be lit by an oil lamp or candles, so that it was hard to see well enough to mend clothes or read. Homework would have been almost impossible and many children never learned to read.
Houses had a nice range to keep them warm BUT you needed to heat stuff up on it, boil your water on it, cook on it, heat your bath water up on it and probably have your bath near it.

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The Tin Bath

In those days they had little tin baths. You had to have your bath in front of your whole family and you'd have to see everybody naked! They had a steel bath and once their dads got home from mining, they got the first bath. Then the oldest child would go in next in the same water as your dad. If you were the youngest out of 10 people you would have to go last. There were little trolley beds in the wall. It wouldn't be comfy. People would have a double bed fitting about 5 children.

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The Shunkie

They didn't have a bathroom in those times - they had a hole in the ground outside called the shunky. they had to go outside and do their business in it. 4 or 5 other families had to share it - that's about 50 people! Some people's job was to empty the shunkie. I sincerely hope, fingers crossed that they had gloves on! It would be terrible if they didn't! To wash their clothes they had a big iron bowl with a big stick and they pummelled them with a big stick. Then they hung the clothes on washing lines with wooden pegs and it was very polluted then so if you were putting white clothes out, prepare for them to get black.

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Nae boots!

Some people didn't have shoes and had to walk everywhere without shoes. If you were the youngest person in the family, your biggest brother or sister would have to pass down their shoes. They would have so many holes in them. It would just be terrible! If your dad had a job, half of his weeks' wages would go on buying a new pair of boots. It was so bad. Today it had been snowy so walking to school with no boots, my feet would have been absolutely freezing and soaking, and I'd step on every stone available. I can't imagine it! Luckily I've got nice boots on today.

Shale trail map

Kids' Shale trail map

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