Sunday, 30 August 2015

The National Coal Mining Museum. The Pithead Baths.

This is the last set in the Mining Museum series.  When the miners had finished their shift below ground they'd be really black and grimy from the their work.  Many years ago they would go home to bath in a tin bath filled with water heated by the fire and, if they were lucky, would get their backs scrubbed clean by their wife.

The introduction of the pithead baths, actually communal showers, would have been a rare luxury with unlimited hot water and the chance to get clean before leaving the colliery site and returning home in clean clothes.

I decided to show these images in B&W as I feel that reflects the dour way of life the miners had and it depicts the basic facilities better than colour might do.  It was quite gloomy in the baths, now deserted and silent, and I had to use 1600 ASA for most images to get a decent exposure.

Each miner had 2 lockers placed back to back, more of which later.  At the end of this row can
be seen the Baths Superintendents' office. The sign on his door is quite clear! 

No exceptions I presume?

The showers, quite basic.  At shift end they would be filled with miners laughing, joking and
pleased to be getting ready to go home.

Each shower had it's own control.

As can be read on the left hand notice, the miners had a change of clothes. A dirty set & a clean
set, so they didn't go home wearing dirty clothes. 

Although all the shower heads are gone the taps still remain.  Here you can see the miners could
choose from Hot, to Tepid and down to cold (out of site on the further side).
I wonder how many times they would spin the tap over to cold on a mates shower before running
off to the lockers?
 I enjoyed the trip around the Mining Museum, it was well preserved  and kept more or less as it would have been when fully operational.  Although there were people on site, ex miners, to answer questions and a wealth of informative notices I didn't get a feel for the real everyday life of the pit and it's workings.......  

Except for the Pithead Baths.

In the baths, although they were empty and the last miner had long since gone home at the end of his shift, I had a strong feeling of an atmosphere, with the miners, laughing, shouting, singing and swearing too!  It was very quiet, in fact silent, but it was the one place I could still imagine the comradeship and camaraderie that was the miners way of life.
All images taken on a Panasonic G6 Camera + 14-140mm Zoom.