Mine workers: around the slaughter

Mine workers: around the slaughter

  • Underground miners: Drilling.

    QUENTIN Joseph Philibert (1857 - 1946)

  • Miners timbering a pruning.

    QUENTIN Joseph Philibert (1857 - 1946)

  • Rise of miners.

    QUENTIN Joseph Philibert (1857 - 1946)

To close

Title: Underground miners: Drilling.

Author : QUENTIN Joseph Philibert (1857 - 1946)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 18 - Width 13

Technique and other indications: Positive image with silver bromide gelatin on a glass plate.

Storage location: Arras Museum of Fine Arts website

Contact copyright: © Arras Fine Arts Museum

Picture reference: inv. 946.1.8

Underground miners: Drilling.

© Arras Fine Arts Museum

To close

Title: Miners timbering a pruning.

Author : QUENTIN Joseph Philibert (1857 - 1946)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 18 - Width 13

Technique and other indications: Positive image with silver bromide gelatin on a glass plate.

Storage location: Arras Museum of Fine Arts website

Contact copyright: © Arras Fine Arts Museum

Picture reference: inv. 946.1.1

Miners timbering a pruning.

© Arras Fine Arts Museum

To close

Title: Rise of miners.

Author : QUENTIN Joseph Philibert (1857 - 1946)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 13 - Width 18

Technique and other indications: Positive image with silver bromide gelatin on a glass plate.

Storage location: Arras Museum of Fine Arts website

Contact copyright: © Arras Fine Arts Museum

Picture reference: inv. 946.1.5

© Arras Fine Arts Museum

Publication date: August 2006

Historical context

Miners at the turn of the twentiethe century: an identity under construction

With nearly 300,000 workers at the start of the XXe century, mines come eighth in terms of the number of workers employed in French industrial branches. In the Chamber, they pushed for social advances in mining: minor delegates (1890), pensions and health insurance (1894), eight-hour day (1905 for the slaughterers, 1912 for the other categories). Despite wide variations, their organization never again fell, after 1890, below 21% of union members, with a peak of 66% in 1901.

Image Analysis

Work at the bottom

These three photos taken underground show three peripheral activities of the slaughter. The tall, wide saloon hanging room is bathed in the artificial light of electric lighting reflected by the white plaster of the masonry. In contrast, only the Davy lamps attached to the barrettes - flat hard leather hats - miners manage to pierce the darkness that envelops the waistline. There, the opening of the galleries planned for the removal of the coal is the business of bowitters and blasters. Assigned to the pre-blasting drilling, the three men pierce the top of the rock face using a helical foil mounted on a metal foot. The worker on the left guides its penetration. Perched on the overturned sedan against which other foils await, a second miner monitors the foot / drill joint while helping his colleague who, below, operates the crank. All around them, pieces of wood reinforce the stability of the gallery.

Their installation is the work of the woodworkers (second photograph), sometimes confused with the fellers. It is moreover by means of a pointerolle that the squatting worker cuts the base of a wooden log held by a team member. The work becomes more complicated in the background where the height of the gallery is halved. Shorter and narrower, more wooden props stand up to support the horizontal "extenders" that support the logs wedged in contact with the roof in order to contain spalling.
At the end of their shift, the teams return to the rigging room (third photo). In the center, two sedans loaded with seated or squatting minors whose blackened faces are not visible are already engaged in the cage. On the right, the older maneuvering man brakes and steers empty sedans, which he has to push with gloved hands. On the left, a supervisor, distinguished by his clothing from the other workers in the background, checks the closing of the cage before giving the signal for the ascent.

Interpretation

Miner, a risky profession

Joseph Philibert Quentin (1857-1946) was the first, in 1900, to photograph the bottom work. The difficulty lay in the danger of lighting a flash in gassy galleries. The fact that the Pas-de-Calais galleries presented less risk of explosion led companies to allow certain photographers to enter them, which remained impossible elsewhere until the invention of the explosion-proof flash in the 1950s. The deaths of Courrières in 1906 are a reminder that these risks were not, however, zero in the basin. At the end of the XIXe century, the misdeeds of gas are not limited to the firedamp: asphyxiation is even more numerous among mining accidents. However, they come far behind falls (17% of accidents) and landslides (42%). If the documents hint at the heat that brings men to work shirtless, they say little about the dust that fills the atmosphere at the time of blasting and blasting, sticks to swimming bodies, penetrates and mineralizes the lungs. . Identified in 1860, silicosis was not recognized as an occupational disease until eighty-five years later. In significant decline until the 1880s, the accident mortality rate peaked at 1.2% at the beginning of the 20th century.e century. Opportunity for an exceptional dive into the usually invisible bowels of the mine, Quentin's photographs highlight the contrast between the mechanized, if not sanitized, setting of the hanging room and that, artisanal, both fragile and hostile, of the movable edges of the waist. The educational representation of work here freezes the workers, who seem to pose to mimic their gestures. Designed to reduce the impression of hardship, this promotional bias, in line with the expectations of the order placed by the concession company, does not erase the basic inhospitality of an environment with which men must constantly contend.

  • mine
  • workers
  • industrial Revolution

Bibliography

Diana COOPER-RICHET, Le Peuple de la nuit. Mines and miners in France, 19th-20th century, Paris, Perrin, 2002 Joël MICHEL, Le Mouvement ouvrier chez les mineurs d'Europe occidentales (Great Britain, Belgium, France, Germany). Comparative study of the years 1880 to 1914, thesis for the state doctorate, University of Lyon II, 1987. Michel PERONI and Jacques ROUX, "The documentary validity of photography. Le travail au fond de la mine", in Noëlle GEROME (dir.), Sensitive Archives.Images and objects from the industrial and working-class world, Cachan, Éditions de l'École normale supérieure de Cachan, 1995.Michel PIGENET, “Between reality and stereotypes, the fleeting images of the working world at the industrial era ”, in Audiovisual files, n ° 84, March-April 1994.“ Joseph Quentin, artésien photographer (1857-1946) ”, in Gauheria's files, n ° 3, 1991.

To cite this article

Michel PIGENET, "Mine workers: around slaughter"


Video: Slaughter Stands Up for Mine Workers