Songs about coal miners

Songs about the working life of coal miners and about their families and communities

By Ann Donlan

The Testimony of Patience Kershaw

This recording is by The Unthanks who have given us permission to include it on our site.

This song is about Patience Kershaw’s working life down the mine. She is singing about the harsh conditions and trials of her job where she has to push the tubs full of coal. She says, “I push them with my hands and head and so my hair is worn away. You see this balding patch I’ve got, it shames me sir I just can’t say ……..”

This song is from the time when women and children worked down the mines just before Parliament passed the 1842 Act which made it illegal for women, girls and boys under 10 to be allowed to work underground.

This page was added on 21/11/2012.

A beautiful and moving song and set of images. Especially the end which shows that the hardships and inequalities people worked so hard to overcome still go on in other parts of the world.

By Michele Allen
On 13/03/2013