Miners' Health and Welfare: Care and Compensation in the Durham Coalfield, 1870 to 1920

Donald, Amanda (2019). Miners' Health and Welfare: Care and Compensation in the Durham Coalfield, 1870 to 1920. Student dissertation for The Open University module A826 MA History part 2.

This dissertation was produced by a student studying the Open University postgraduate module A826 MA History part 2. The research showcased here achieved a distinction.
Please note that this student dissertation is made available in the format that it was submitted for examination, thus the author has not been able to correct errors and/or departures from academic standards in areas such as referencing.
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This dissertation looks at the relationship between industrialisation and welfare by asking what arrangements were in place for miners’ financial welfare in the Durham coalfield between 1870 and 1920, in the event of work-related accident or injury. It considers changing attitudes to poverty and the ethos of self-help which prevailed at this time. This is contrasted with the assistance provided by the state. The degree to which the Durham miners were willing to make their own financial arrangements for welfare is assessed and compared with the relationships they formed and support they received from the local coalowners and their communities.

The impact of the extension of the franchise and its effect on the drafting of the Workmen’s Compensation Act is considered. The implementation and impact of the Act on the miners of the Durham coalfield is assessed in conjunction with the relationship which formed between the Durham Miners’ Association and the Durham Coal Owners’ Mutual Protection Association. This study asks if the Act was of benefit to the miners and assesses if it made any changes to their welfare arrangements and if it had any impact on workplace accident rates.

Local colliery, trade union and employers’ association records, parliamentary records and local newspaper reports are considered. The study concludes that a complex, often paternalistic, relationship existed between employer, employee and community. The miners preferred to take a proactive approach to their own welfare but accepted assistance from state legislation. Many miners benefitted financially from the Workmen’s Compensation Act, which was effectively implemented, but did not reduce accident levels.

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