I am a Grosmont miner,
I work in the Pecten Seam.
My tools are a pick and a candle
As I hew the workings clean.
I'm up in the early morning
Before it's getting light.
I walk from Beckhole to Grosmont.
I'll not be back afoor night.
Watch out for the tubs a-rolling,
They'll take your breath away,
And the Doctor has no med'cine
To save your life today.
We work the Bord and Pillar
Where the rock is blasted out.
When you hear the shout of, ‘Fire!’
You'd better heed that shout.
You can't see the tubs a-rolling
In the black dark of the pit.
If a sprag flies out it'll break your leg
And the wheels chop your body in bits.
Well, Grosmont miners went on strike
For what’s called ‘parity of pay’.
They wanted same as Cleveland lads
But Union sold them away.
So now I’ve got to find more work,
And mining’s what I do,
So I’m off to North to Trimdon
Where it’s coal that I will hew.
This is a contemporary song about Yorkshire.
Grosmont Miner, or a version of it, is on the Trappy Lad album as Wagon Rule. I wrote the album version as my research showed deaths caused by tub accidents were common in the ironstone mines. Newspaper reports tended to refer to ‘tubs’ as ‘wagons’ but ‘tub’ is a more correct name. Linked together and pulled on rails by shire horses this was the means of transporting hewed ironstone from pit face to surface.
While I was driving to Saltburn Folk Club one evening in 2008, I re-made (‘wrote’ is inappropriate here) the song and turned it into The Grosmont Miner, which is based on that period of my great-grandfather, Robert Mutten’s life. I sang the new version from memory when I got to Saltburn and wrote it down later. I have sung it this way ever since. I have a habit of changing songs as I go anyway. This song is allied to the final song on the Trappy Lad album, Robert Mutten’s Journey, which I have altered slightly and now perform as a recitation.
A mine had been started at Beckhole near Goathland and miners’ dwellings built in Bluber Wood alongside the path that leads along the river to Grosmont. It only survived for a couple of years being closed by 1871. There were 3 mines in Grosmont.
Around 1880 the Grosmont Miners joined the Cleveland Ironstone Miners Association, founded in 1872, and went on strike for parity of pay with the Cleveland Miners. In those days in order to go on strike legally each miner had to give the appropriate legal notice to his employer that he was leaving his job. If this was not done he could be prosecuted and fined. The Union Officers sent the notices on behalf of each miner in the form of letters to the Company. They got it wrong by a day and the miners were hauled before the Whitby Magistrates. The Union Officers gave evidence against the miners.
On my Grandmother’s marriage certificate in 1880 her father, Robert Mutten’s occupation is given as ‘seaman’. In the 1881 Census his occupation is given as ‘coal miner’ at Trimdon Grange Colliery.