Pit Women

Book announcement: Merlin Press

Pit Women: Coal Communities in Northern England in the Early Twentieth Century
By Griselda Carr

Griselda Carr lives in Sheffield and was formerly a Lecturer in Social Studies at Leeds University

Life in pit communities was no bed of roses and women had to learn how to keep their men well fed and their children happy in difficult circumstances. In the years before nationalisation coal miners depended on their wives to help them recuperate from their hard labours underground, with baths, clean clothes, hot meals and rest. It was the women who kept up a routine of washing, cleaning and removing grime from clothes and boots to keep their shift working men productive. Women managed their households bringing up children and taking part in much of the community's informal social life. In good times there was the danger that some of the earnings might be leached away if miners went to the pub before bringing their wages home. In bad times, with strikes, closures, accidents or deaths there would be little money. Wives and daughters had to manage the family through thick and thin.

This book describes the history and culture of women and men in early twentieth century Northern England. It focuses on family life and on the coal communities of Yorkshire and the North East. It provides interesting perspectives on relations between women and men, on how girls grew up and on the culture of these communities.


  • Introduction
  • The coal industry in the early twentieth century
  • Mining communities
  • The Women's place
  • Housing, the encapsulating environment
  • Ill-health, the continuing worry
  • Children, the centre of their mother's world
  • 'Mothers' apprentices': the socialisation of girls
  • Women's networks: formal organisations for women
  • The Impact of some prolonged industrial struggles on women's lives
  • Conclusion

Order from Merlin Press, P.O. Box 30705, London WC2E 8QD
Fax: +44 [0] 20 7497 0309

Posted: 8 August 2001