British Mining No. 115 – Female Employment at the Metal Mines of the UK and Ireland


Active member
Lynne Mayers, A5, Sb, 130pp, 28 illustrations. 5 tables. comprehensive index. £12.00 free to NMRS Members,

NMRS Synopsis
Women and young girls were employed in the metalliferous mining areas of the UK and Ireland from the times of the earliest records. However, this aspect of mining has received little attention from historians and therefore, this monograph fills a significant gap. Although some women were employed underground in metal mines, this was fairly uncommon, unlike the coal industry. Most found work as mineral dressers, who prepared the minerals for smelting and a few worked in or around the smelting mills. At the other end of the management hierarchy, some wives actively managed mines, often after the deaths of their husbands and others were engaged in assay houses.

The monograph covers the main non-ferrous industries of copper, lead, tin and zinc as well as minor metals such as arsenic, wolfram, gold, manganese, cobalt, nickel, uranium, antimony and alum. Mines, where iron ore was extracted alongside coal, adopted employment practices which closely followed those of the coal industry and where underground working was fairly common. In contrast, non-stratified iron mines came under different regulations and employment practices were similar to those of the non-ferrous industry.

Historical information on women in the mining environment is sparse and the author has, therefore, had to study a very wide range of mining history, together with extensive census research covering many areas of the UK and Ireland.