Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Beamish - Part V

One of the more 'fun' -- OK, maybe it's a grim sort of 'fun' things I saw at the museum was this little canary cage.

In addition to methane, coal workings were also known to release stythe gas, mainly carbon dioxide. Two hazards of building a house near coal mines are having this gas leak into your house and suffocate you; another is for the whole thing to cave in, which is why part of every house purchase includes a search of coal mining records for the area.

Anyhow, the sign next to the canary cage indicates the birds were worked pretty hard as well:

Cage - a cage used by rescue workers for canaries or other small birds. A small bird would be overcome by gas faster than a man. If the bird fell off the perch the men would leave the area. If they left fast enough the bird would come around and could be used again.

No doubt the animal rights people would have something to say about that these days.

I took away any number of other ideas from our visit to Beamish.

Despite awful working conditions and poor pay, many coal miners say they loved working at the pit because of the sprit of brotherhood this hard work created. Marra is a word to describe a man in your team at the coalface. It grew to mean all the men in the pit, and it is still used today to describe a good friend.

Away from the coal mine, in the rows of terraced houses built by the coal industry for their workers, the coal industry created close communities where people helped each other out.

Sounds like another one of those silver linings to me.

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