heavy industry

Illustrations and descriptions of women dressed in the cloths worn when working at the heavier industries are rare. Women broke ore at metal mines and worked underground in some coal mines but generally they worked on the surface, sorting and scavenging. They were rarely picturesque and of little interest to the travellers who tended to avoid industrial areas anyway. The only people who took an interest in them where those who campaigned for better working conditions. Among these were correspondents of the Morning Chronicle who carried out systematic surveys of working conditions throughout Britain and published accounts in that newspaper between 1849 and 1851. Ginswick, J., (1983) Labour and the Poor in England and Wales: Letters to Morning Chronicle, 1849-1851

The coparledis (copper ladies) ‘showy and picturesque girls’, smashed rocks with small hammers… These women were famous for their Jim Crow Hats, the rings they wore to protect their fingers from the hammers, and the handkerchiefs over their faces to protect them from the dust.
Gwyn, David, Gwynedd, Inheriting a revolution, The Archaeology of Industrialisation in north-West Wales, 2006, pp. 84-85


Pit Hands, anon, print, published in Hall, Mr and Mrs, (1861), The Book of South Wales, the Wye, and the Coast, p. 282

The women are wearing a number of types of head gear.



[Tredegar patch girls] one of 49 photographs of Tredegar ‘patch girls’ taken by William Clayton, a commercial photographer operating in Tredegar (south Wales). The photographs are in Manchester City Gallery. The term patch used to apply to an area of land where cold could be found near the surface, but it is thought that it later applied to girls who worked in the iron industry.
Baylis, Gail, Visual Cruising in South Wales in the 1860s: Tredegar Patch Girls, Visual Culture in Britain, Volume 7, Issue 2, Winter 2006, pp 1-24; Tozer, Jane and Levitt, Sarah, (1983), Fabric of Society, A Century of People and their Clothes, pp 127-131 (includes photographs dated 1865); Angela V. John, By the Sweat of Their Brows. Women Workers at the Victorian Coal Mines.

Arthur Munby (1828-1910) was a Victorian diarist, poet, barrister and solicitor. He sketched and collected photographs of women who worked in hard and dirty occupations.
Two drawings by him of women at Dowlais works are published in Guest, Revel and John, Angela V., Lady Charlotte, A Biography of the Nineteenth Century, pp. 134-136.
Munby, Arthur, Faithful Servants: Being Epitaphs and Obituaries Recording Their Names and Services (1891).