I am a fearless collier lad as brave as brave can be,
And let the times be good or bad it’s all the same to me,
It’s little of the world I know and care less for its ways,
For where the Dog Star never glows it’s there I spend my days.
Down in the coalmine, underneath the ground,
Where a gleam of sunshine never can be found,
Digging up the dusky diamonds all the seasons round,
Deep down in the coalmine, underneath the ground.
Me hands are horny, hard and black through working in the vein,
And like the clothes upon me back me speech is rough and plain,
And if I stumble with my tongue remember what I say,
It isn’t that my heart is wrong or weak, or gone astray.
How little do the great ones care who sit at home secure,
What hidden dangers colliers dare, what hardships they endure,
The very fire they sit beside to cheer themselves and wives,
Perhaps was kindled up at cost of fearless miners’ lives.
This is a traditional song about Yorkshire, collected in Yorkshire.
This song is based on Down in the Coal Mine written and sung by J. B. Geoghegan who wrote several songs that entered oral tradition and are still sung in folk clubs. See Glossop Road, (TYG 72) on this website. For more information on Geoghegan go to www.oldtimemusichall.net/JBGeoghegan.
It is included here as July 4th 2008 was the 170th Anniversary of the Huskar Pit tragedy in which twenty-six children died during a flash flood. Sylvia le Breton wrote a play to remember the occasion which was performed at Silkstone Church in July 2008 by local children and parents.
The events surrounding the Huskar Pit tragedy led to a Government Commission of Enquiry into Child Labour in 1842. As a result of the enquiry in that same year an Act of Parliament prohibited the underground employment of women, and boys under ten years of age.
The original text of Down in the Coal Mine was altered slightly and a new tune adopted for the occasion. The original sheet music can be viewed at www.freehandmusic.com/productdetail.aspx?prodid=268961.
See also The Testament of Patience Kershaw, written in 1972 by Frank Higgins.