The Principle CODE of RULES as framed and approved of for the LANCASHIRE, CHESHIRE and

(Note. – The provision as to Charter Masters is confined almost exclusively to North Wales.)

GENERAL RULES to be observed in every Coal Mine and Colliery, by the Owner and Agent thereof, as required by 18 and 19 Vict. c108., s. 4.

  1. Adequate ventilation shall be consistently produced at all Collieries, to dilute and render harmless noxious gases to such an extent as that the working places of the pits and levels for such Collieries shall, under ordinary circumstances, be in a fit state for working.
  2. Every shaft or pit which is out of use, or used only as an air pit, shall be securely fenced.
  3. Every working and pumping pit or shaft shall be properly fenced when not at work.
  4. Every working and pumping pit or shaft where the natural strata, under ordinary circumstances, are not safe, shall be securely cased or lined.
  5. Every working pit or shaft shall be provided with some proper means of signalling from the bottom of the shaft to the surface, and from the surface to the bottom of the shaft.
  6. A proper indicator, to show the position of the load in the pit or shaft, and also an adequate break, shall be attached to every machine worked by steam or water power used for raising or lowering persons.
  7. Every steam boiler shall be provided with a proper steam gauge, water gauge and safety valve.


SPECIAL RULES for the Conduct and guidance of the Persons acting in the management of the Coal Mine or Colliery, belonging to and for all persons employed in or about the same.
Special Rules for Colliers and other workpeople.

1. Every collier and other workperson shall receive a copy of the General and Special Rules from the manager, underlooker, overlooker, (or chartermaster) who may engage him.

2. No collier or other person shall ascend the pit contrary to the directions of the banksman, nor ascend contrary to the directions of the hooker-on.

3. Every collier to obey strictly the directions of the underlooker, and, in his absence, of the (chartermaster,) fireman, or other officer under whose control he may happen to be, as to the part of the workings of the pit in which he is to work; and he is not to work in, or go into any part of the workings, except such as he may necessarily traverse in passing to and from his work, between the part of the workings assigned to him by such underlooker, and the pit’s eye.

4. If firedamp (explosive gas) be found to prevail in any of the shafts or workings, (the chartermaster) or fireman will be appointed, whose duty it will be to go further through the workings before any of the workmen are allowed to proceed further than the place appointed from time to time, and to examine all the working places, and ascertain that they are in a safe condition; and in he found any part thereof unsafe from firedamp, he will put up in some conspicuous place, at a sufficient distance from the point of danger, a board on which shall be legibly painted the word “FIRE,” facing the entrance, or some other well-understood signal, such as props or rails placed across the entrance, beyond which no workman shall pass, unless under the special directions of the underlooker, (appointed charter master,) or fireman; and in case the place be safe, he will place the blank side of the board, if any be used, facing the entrance, or use some other well-known signal, by which the workmen may know that the place has been examined and found safe for him to enter; and if the place be safe, the workman shall, on entering, lay aside the board, if any, to a place appointed by the fireman for the next day.

5. That any workman opening any gate or removing a rail or chain at a mouthing or opening into the shaft, elsewhere than at the bottom of the shaft, for the purpose of passing through or otherwise, shall immediately replace the same.

6. Every collier, drawer, and other workman shall, on being ordered by he underlooker, (appointed charter master,) or fireman so to do, cease to use in the pit in which he may work, any candle, or naked light, and shall provide himself with a good safety lamp, with a proper lock attached thereto, and which shall be kept locked if ordered by the manager, underlooker, (appointed charter master) or fireman, and shall not proceed to him work without first having given such lamp to the appointed lampman for his examination; and in case of such lamp becoming damaged or extinguished, he shall not open it, but shall proceed to the pits eye, or to some other appointed station, and the proper officer shall either provide him with a fresh lamp, or unlock, and relight it for him, and in the event of the gauze of his lamp becoming smeared with oil, or clogging with dust, he is to cease working by, or using the same until it shall have been cleaned; and no error or oversight on the part of the lampman shall be taken as an excuse for any workman having in the mine an open, unlocked, or insecure, or defective safety lamp; and in those places where lamps are exclusively used, no person shall smoke tobacco, or take any lucifer matches into the pit, or on any pretence open, or uncover his lamp, nor on any account to try a place with a candle, or other open light, to see if it contains fire-damp; nor, where prohibited, use gunpowder for blasting, or do any other thing to endanger the safety of the mine. Places out of the air current in mines where fire-damp prevails, must not be re-entered after any absence for dinner or another purpose, with a naked light, until they have been examined with a safety lamp.

7. Where safety lamps are ordered to be used and blasting is permitted, the collier is not allowed to fire his shot until he shall have first carefully examined the conditions of the air in that particular place; and should it appear, in the least degree, inflammable, no blasting shall take place until the cause of danger has bee completely removed.

8. Every person getting into a body or current of fire-damping which continues to burn in the lamp although the wick is drawn down, shall not throw away his lamp, or attempt to blow it out, as the flame may get through the gauze and cause an explosion, but shall hold the lamp near the floor, and avoid jerking it, and steadily retire into the fresh air. No lamp to be blown out at any time, but the flame to be extinguished by drawing down the wick with the picker.

9. Every collier and drawer shall, on leaving his place of work, take care that no lighted candle or lamp be left therein, or in any part of the workings he may pass through or by unless it is under the care of some other person remaining therein; nor shall such collier or drawer, on any pretence, light any blower or accumulation of gas.

10. Every collier shall set sprags during holing when necessary, and shall securely prop, where necessary, the roof of the place where he works, and should not be provided with sufficient props for that purpose, he is to cease working and report the same to the manager, or at the Colliery office.

11. Every collier shall work according to the directions of the underlooker, and in a case where lines are suspended from the roof, to show the course of any level, end, or drift, every collier shall work according to such lines,and shall, on the sides of his place of work as may be prescribed by such underlooker or fireman.

12. Every workman employed in any pit or mine shall be bound to give information of to the underlooker, (charter master), fireman, or other person having for the time the underground charge of the pit, of the existence of any fire-damp, or of any insecurity of the roof, shaft, or another part of the workings, or of the ladders, or stages, or of any air door being left open, or partially so, or on cutting into old workings, immediately on its being observed by him: and on any workman observing the presence of fire-damp, or on its existence coming to his knowledge, he is especially prohibited from entering in the place where it may have been observed, or reported to be, with any other light than a safety lamp, and them only in company with, or under the special directions of the underlooker, (appointed charter master), fireman, or other person having charge of the pit for the time being.

13. No workman shall be allowed to ascend a pit on the top of any cage, or in any cage containing a full load of tubs, or where cages are not used, upon a full tub; nor shall any workman at any time descend any pit against a full tub, nor until they have signalled the hooker-on to send up the empty basket, nor shall they ascend the pit in greater numbers at a time than the number which shall be specified upon a board placed near the top of each pit. And no person shall cross the bottom of a shaft under the pit’s eye when a load is in motion.

14. No workman shall be allowed to ride on any tram waggon, horse, or donkey, without the special consent of the underlooker, (or charter master,) nor shall any workman proceed along any jigbrow, break road, or enginebrow, whilst the rope or chain is in motion; nor shall any workman interfere with any underlooker, or another officer in the discharge of his duties.

15. No collier of other workman shall injure any air-course,m brattice, or stopping; or leave open, wholly or partially, any door; or do any other thing whereby the ventilation of the mine shall be affected, or the property of the owner endangered.

16. No collier shall take down the pit any gunpowder or blasting powder unless it is properly secured in a metal or horn flask.

17. Every furnaceman shall carefully attend to the furnace under his charge, keeping, under all possible circumstances, a clean brisk fire, so that the ventilation of the mine be efficiently maintained. Where day and night furnacemen are employed, the one shall not leave the furnace until relieved by the other, except to give information of the nonattendance of the latter, in which case he shall return with all speed until a substitute be appointed.



18. Every banksman, hooker-on, and engineman is to prevent from descending any pit at which he may be employed, any collier, drawer, or another person not employed therein, without either a written order from the manager or the personal diction of the underlooker of that pit.

19. No banksman or engineman is to allow any collier or drawer to descend any pit after any time fixed and notified to them by the underlooker of that pit; nor shall any person be allowed to descend any pit in a state of intoxication; or to take intoxication liquor down the pit, or to be drunk upon or shall they themselves drink it upon the works, except by the direction or consent of the manager or underlooker.

20. The head banksman is to examine daily the ropes, chains, and carriages or cages of the pit at which he may be stationed, from one end to the other, partially examining the attachment of the ropes and chains to the cages or carriages; and shall report any defect in the same to the underlooker of the pit; and if the defect is of such a nature as to endanger the safety of the workmen employed in or near that pit, he must immediately give notice to the engineman, who shall cease using that rope for drawing up or letting down any person until the defect shall be remedied; and the banksman shall then immediately give notice to the underlooker of that pit, who shall forthwith examine and, if necessary, repair the defect, or substitute a new rope or chain as soon as possible. The frame and surface near the pit’s, mouth to be kept by the banksman free from coal, stones or loose materials, which might fall down the pit.

21. The following signals, or some other equally efficient signals, to be observed by the banksman, hooker-on, and engineman:

  • One knock – To stop when the engine is in motion.
  • One knock – To go on when the engine is standing.
  • Two knocks – To lower.
  • Three knocks – When any person is going to ascend or descend.
  • Other signals may be appointed for special occasions.

22. Every hooker-on or banksman is to give the proper notice or signal to the engineman, to raise or lower the cages or baskets of coal, or for any person going up or down the pits, and shall take care that no greater number of persons shall be allowed at the same time to ascend or descend the pits that shall be prescribed by the underlooker, and set forth on a board at the top of each pit; and shall give notice to the underlooker of any person who shall disregard his directions. Where baskets or tubs without cages are used for winding with, or the cage is not a roomy one, boys must not be permitted to ride alone.

23. No banksman shall allow any person to descend any pit, at which coal is being raised, without first giving the signal to the hooker-on at the bottom of the pit, of somebody being about to descend, and receiving the corresponding signal back, when the hooker-on shall send up at the next winding the empty cage or basket, in cases where more than one rope is worked in the same shaft.

24. No banksman or hooker-on shall allow any person to ascend or descend the pits with tools, implements, props, or other things without first seeing that the same are securely placed in the cages, tubs or baskets, as to avoid danger of their falling out during their ascent or descent, or of there coming into contact with anything in the pit. and no person shall be allowed to get up on or off the cage at the pit top, unless it is stationary, or at a mouthing. or with baskets or loose tubs, without first giving and having the signal repeated, in order to ascertain that the engineman is at the handles of the engine, as a person’s weight might set the engine in motion.

25. Every hooker-on, on being required to do so by the underlooker, shall examine and, where required, lock the safety lamps of the colliers, drawers, and other workpeople, who may be ordered by either of them to provide themselves with safety lamps, and shall not in any cases allow any such colliers, drawers or workpeople to proceed from the pit’s eye into the workings unless they are provided with a good safety lamp, capable (if required) of being locked, nor unless they shall have first examined, and ascertained that such lamps and gauzes are in a safe and proper state, and when required, shall have locked them.

26. Every engineman to maintain a proper depth of water in his boiler under all possible circumstances, and when anything shall happen to prevent it, he is immediately to damp the fire under such boiler, and report the fact to the underlooker or superintendent over him.

27. Every engineman shall daily see the ropes of the pit he attends to, run up and down the shaft each morning, before allowing any person to go down; and is to examine at every opportunity, during any temporary cessation of winding, at the dinner hour, and after the winding shall have ceased every day, the state of the engine, machinery, and the boilers in his care, and shall report any defect therein to the underlooker or superintendent as soon as possible, after he has discovered the same; and if such a defect be of such a nature to endanger the safety of the workmen employed, he is to discontinue working the engine until it is repaired, and he is in such a case to give immediate personal notice to his underlooker or superintendent.

28. Every engineman shall, on perceiving or on receiving notice from the banksman of the pit, cease to work any rope that may be unsafe, and shall assist to repair it, or to substitute a new rope or chain if necessary, he shall also carefully examine at the time all the ropes and chains put upon the verticals, or drums, and see that they are properly fastened thereto, and that, in all cases, the arms or sides of the drum project above the outer coil of the rope, and at least once a week afterwards he shall examine the fastenings of both ropes and take care that they are kept sound and safe, and he shall not, without the express permission of the underlooker of the pit, or superintendent whereat the engine may be, allow any other person whatever to work or handle the engine in his charge.

29. No engineman shall, during the time anyone is ascending or descending the pit, leave his engine for any purpose whatsoever.

30. The engineman shall attend to the signals, and if they are not distinctly given, he must wait till they are repeated. No person in charge of an engine or horse gin used for raising or lowering persons to be under 15 years of age.


(iv) — Special Rules for Underlookers (Charter Masters), Firemen, and Superintendents.

31. Every underlooker (chartermaster), and superintendent, upon employing any person, shall deliver to him a copy of the general, and also the special rules, which he will be required to observe.

32. Every underlooker shall specify from time to time, according to circumstances, the number of persons to go down or come up each pit at one time, and shall cause a board indicating the same to be put up, and maintained in a legible state, at the top of each pit.

33. Every underlooker, or other appointed person, shall examine frequently the state of every engine and boiler, and of the winding machinery, and winding ropes or chains, and other apparatus at every pit under his control or supervision; and shall, on perceiving or receiving notice from the banksman under him, of any defect therein, immediately examine and, if found dangerous, immediately take precautionary measures with respect thereto, and shall see that each tubular boiler had a lead rivet at the top of the tube over the fire.

34. Every underlooker, or, in his absence, the (appointed charter master or) fireman, shall see that there be proper air holes in the scaffolds over the sump-holes, or space at the side of the scaffold, be not closed up with mortar or rubbish, so as to occasion firedamp to accumulate underneath it. The sump to be kept covered or fenced off when water is not being wound, or the sump required to be open for some particular purpose.

35. Every underlooker shall frequently and carefully examine the workings of the pits in his charge, the state of the ventilation, and of the furnace (if any), the air-doors, and roofs, and the direction and width of the drifts; also the pit shafts, and the conductors therein; and that no loose stones, coals &c., remain on the bearers or horse-trees, or near any opening into the pit

36. Every underlooker is to see that all air-doors are so fixed as to close of themselves, and not to be capable of standing open unless wilfully propped or fastened back, and that, where necessary, double sets of doors are fixed.

37. Every underlooker (appointed charter master), or fireman shall in all parts of the mines under his charge, which may be near old falls or old workings, producing, or likely to produce and retain fire-damp,or where props likely to occasion a fall of roof and give off fire-damp are being drawn , or where such a fall of roof likely to give off firedamp is falling, or likely to fall, particularly if it be the first fall of roof in that part of the working, order all the colliers, drawers, and other workpeople working in those places, to desist from using candles or any other naked light in such places, and shall order them to be provided with safety-lamps, with locks attached thereto, it required, and shall prohibit them from taking any light other than such lamps into the workings, and not even those until they shall have been previously examined and approved by the underlooker (appointed chartermaster), or fireman, or another appointed person.

38. In approaching a place likely to contain a dangerous quantity of water, or where a dangerous accumulation of gas is known to exist, the underlooker or fireman shall see that boardings be kept in advance, and if necessary , on both sides, sufficiently far to discover its existence before the barrier of coal has been so weakened as to render a dangerous influx possible; and that pits and all other entrances from the surface, shall be protected from the effects of sudden floods, including the bursting of large water pipes.

39. Every underlooker, or, in his absence, the (charter master), or the fireman, shall personally see that the air furnaces at the pits in their charge are kept in good repair, and carefully attended and fed at all times; and shall examine, as often as practicable, the state of the roof in the travelling roads, and in the work-places of the men, and also the state of the pits themselves, and the conductors therein; and shall clause the roof to be secured, where necessary, with props or by other means; and they shall also see that sufficient props are provided.

40. If any (chartermaster or fireman) finds any workman habitually careless, or who wilfully does any act by which an explosion might occur, or if any (chartermaster or fireman) requires the assistance of a carpenter or bricklayer, or another workman, he shall immediately inform the manager or underlooker.

41. The underlooker, or, in his absence, the fireman shall see that every mouthing or opening into a shaft, elsewhere than at the bottom of the shaft shall be provided with a rail, chain, or gate, to be kept closed when a hooker-on is not at the mouthing.

42. Every underlooker, in the exercise of his duties, is hereby expressly ordered, in all cases, to give his first and chief attention to ensuring the safety of the lives and limbs of those under his respective charge, and to suspend any and all operations attended with unusual risk, until he shall have received special directions thereon from the manager, and to stop the working and use of any pit, engines, rope, machinery, or apparatus, that may appear not sage, until the removal of the danger.

43. Every underlooker or superintendent on the surface shall inspect, as often as practicable, the state of every water-gauge, steam-gauge, safety-valve, and boiler, and cause them to be kept in good repair.

44. The underlooker shall inform (any appointed charter master or) the fireman what portion of the workings is to be under his charge, and such the charge, at any time appointed by the underlooker, every morning, and shall, before any of the colliers, drawers, or other people go to their respective places or employment in the pit, and shall descend such pit, and carefully examine, with a safety lamp, the state of the ventilation in all such places of employment, and ascertain that they are in safe condition for the workmen to enter. And in case he find any part thereof unsafe, he shall put up in some conspicuous place, to be appointed from time to time by the underlooker, at sufficient distance from the point of danger, a board, with the word “FIRE” upon the side facing the entrance; or if a board be not used, he shall set two or more props or rails across the entrance, or use some other well-known signal, and shall send the workmen up the pit, if any have descended, until a proper and safe state of ventilation shall be restored. Should the place be found safe, the (appointed charter master or) fireman shall place the blank side of the board, if any be used, facing the entrance, or set some other well-known signal, to show that they place has been examined and found safe.

45. Every underlooker, (charter master) and fireman shall take special care that all air-doors, stoppings, and brattices, in the pit, in their care, are in the proper and efficient repair and condition.

46. The underlooker shall specify to the ( charter master or) fireman, or other person in charge of the air-ways, a minimum size for each principal air-way, or a minimum quantity or air for each principal split or division, and every such (charter master or) fireman shall frequently examine all parts of the mind in his charge, that may be accessible, whether frequented by workmen or not, so as to make himself certain as to the state of every part of such mine, and he shall instantly give notice to the underlooker or manger of the existence of any fire-damp, or insecure state of any part of the workings therein.

47. Every (appointed charter master) fireman who shall be unable to attend his work, shall cause the underlooker to be informed in sufficient time to enable him to find a substitute.



Any owner or principal agent or viewer neglecting, or willfully violating any of the general rules, or such of the special rules as ought to be observed by him, such person shall be liable to a penalty of not exceeding five pounds; and to further penalties in case of the default or neglect be not remedied with all reasonable despatch after notice in writing thereof shall have been given to him by an inspector of coal mines. Penalties are also attached if the special and general rules are not painted on a board, or printed upon paper to be pasted thereon and hung up or affixed in some conspicuous part of the principal office or place of business of the coal mine or colliery, and maintained there in a legible state, and a copy supplied to all persons employed in or about the colliery.

Penalties are also attached if proper plans be not kept up every six months; and if loss of life to any person employed in or about the colliery, or any serious personal injury from an explosion, not, within twenty-four hours after loss of life, reported to the secretary of state, and to the inspector of coal mines for the district in which the colliery is situated.

Every person (other than the owner or principal manager) employed in or about a coal mine or colliery, who neglects or willfully violates any of the special rules, established for such coal mine or colliery, shall, for every such offence, be liable to a penalty not exceeding two pounds, or to be imprisoned, with or without hard labour, in the common gaol or house of correction, not exceeding three calendar months, or to be proceeded against and punished according to the provisions of the Act 4th George IV., chapter 34.; and every person who pulls down, injures, or defaces any notice hung up or affixed as required the Act for the Inspection of Coal Mines (18th and 19th Victoria, chapter 108) shall every such offence be liable to a penalty of not exceeding forty shillings. Any person willfully obstructing an Inspector in carrying out the Act shall, for every such offence, be liable to a penalty of not less than five pounds.

Inspector of Coal Mines


Information supplied by Ian Winstanley and the Coal Mining History Resource Centre.

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