The Manager: Mr Pooley, Morfa Works

Author: Dr Louise Miskell, Narrated by Gareth Beynon

‘I have now been for thirty years an agent of the mines and smelting works, having from 25 to 1,000 men under my care during the whole of that time… We have made no reduction of wages here for the past six years. I never hear the slightest complaint as to their wages, or any expression of discontent on other subjects.

We have here no ‘truck’ but pay the men every Friday afternoon between two and three o’clock, so that their wives may go with cash in their hands to market on the Saturday.

A few of the men, and only a few, lose the Monday sometimes in drinking. They are mostly furnace-men who are thus intemperate; but we suffer no inconvenience by it, for there are always some ‘hangers on’ waiting an opening for steady employment, whom we put in the places of such as are absent until they return to their duty. As vacancies occur these hangers on are taken in as regular workmen.

The health of the men as a whole stands good. Drinking variously affects different classes of the workmen – for instance, refiners can bear almost any quantity of beer, they perspire so copiously at the furnaces. They drink beer chiefly – they rarely touch spirits.’

Source: Letters of the Morning Chronicle correspondent in South Wales. They were published as part of a series in the Morning Chronicle newspaper between March and April 1850.

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