Pit brow women or pit brow lasses were female surface labourers at British collieries.
They worked at the coal screens on the pit bank or brow at the shaft top until the s. Their job was to pick stones from the coal after it was hauled to the surface. More women were employed in this capacity on the Wigan girls Coalfield than in any other area.
In the early coal industry women and girls worked underground alongside men and boys Wigan girls small coal pits. From the s in Lancashire it was common for whole families to be employed in the pits.
Colliers relied on their wives, sons and daughters who were employed as drawers.
The daughters of colliers usually married within the mining community. As the industry grew the population expanded and more members of extended mining families obtained work.
Pitwork in south-west Wigan girls resulted in the area around Wigan having the highest rates of female employment in the country in the 19th century. On 4 Julya flash flood at the Huskar Pit near Silkstone in Yorkshire caused the deaths of 26 children aged from seven to 17 who were drowned while trying to escape.
Children as young as five or six worked as trappers opening and closing Wigan girls doors before becoming hurriers, pushing tubs of coal to the shaft bottom. The prohibition of underground female labour caused much suffering and hardship and was greatly resented in south-west Lancashire.
Penalties for employing women were small and inspectors were few and some women were so desperate for work they willingly worked illegally Wigan girls less pay. At Coppull Colliery's Burgh Pit, three females died after an explosion in Novemberone was eleven years old.
Not Wigan girls women who had worked underground gained employment as surface workers. Lighter work on the surface had traditionally been reserved for older men and men who had been injured below ground and some colliery owners considered pits unsuitable places for women.
Other colliery owners were happy to employ women who had proved themselves reliable and strong workers and were used to the language and habits of the miners. Pit-brow women working outside in the cold and dirt developed a Wigan girls "uniform", they wore clogstrousers covered with a skirt and apron, old flannel jackets or shawls and headscarfs to protect their hair from coal dust.
Photographic studios in Wigan which produced such work were Louisa Millard in the lates Cooper between and  and Wragg which produced a series of at least 18 studio images. Munby visited the Wigan area many times over many years, interviewing Wigan girls women and recording in his diaries what they had to say about their jobs, pay and living-conditions.
Victorian sensibilities were outraged by women working at pits and dressing in trousers was considered [ by whom?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.
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