What is a coal hewer ? (General)

by rosalind, Thursday, March 12, 2009, 23:16 (5081 days ago)

My grandfather is described as a " coal hewer " - is this different to a coal-miner ? He lived in Lower Lydbrook - where would he most likely have worked , between 1885 and 1910 ?

What is a coal hewer ?

by slowhands, proud of his ancient Dean Forest roots, Thursday, March 12, 2009, 23:54 (5081 days ago) @ rosalind

one who cuts Coal <- aka Coal Miner>

The hewer is the actual coal-digger. Whether the seam be so thin that he can hardly creep into it on hands and knees, or whether it be thick enough for him to stand upright, he is the responsible workman who loosens the coal from the bed.

associated "job titles" :-


Ἀριστοτέλης A Gloster Boy in the Forest of Dean ><((((*>

What is a coal hewer ?

by norman @, Malvern Hills, Friday, March 13, 2009, 01:52 (5080 days ago) @ slowhands

I'm reluctant to argue with other posters , but I believe that , while "miner" is generic and covers most underground workers , a "hewer" actually cuts coal at the working face (or cut it before the days of machinery)

What is a coal hewer ?

by maurice @, Friday, March 13, 2009, 02:37 (5080 days ago) @ norman

I agree with you Norman.My father was variously described as a coal hewer,shotfirer,coalcutter, and deputy.A coal hewer was a coalface worker and in the early days worked on the butty system.The leading man of a team would negotiate with the manager/owner for a price for removing coal and spoil and would be paid by the owners,he would then pay out his team based on the value of each of his team to the team.This system was often abused.I once went with my father to collect his pay and was amazed when having received a large envelope containing money,he then met his team [about 5] and then squatting on their haunches he proceded to pay out each man.Having done this he asked them if they were satisfied with their pay,it seemed they were all happy,they then went on to discuss future work they were being asked to do and what Dad should negotiate for them.In later years my father became a shotfirer and then coalcutter using the more modern ways of extracting coal.To become a Deputy he had to have both of these skills and pass an exam to get his "papers",one other skill he had to pass was ambulance exams on an annual basis.
Hope this clarify some of the terminology used in the mines.

What is a coal hewer ?

by Celia61, Friday, March 13, 2009, 04:25 (5080 days ago) @ maurice

Thanks Maurice, this is really interesting, and has clarified occupations for me.
My G-Grandpa was described as collier on his death cert(registered by a non-family member), but as Coal Hewer on his widow's death cert (registered by his son) The family obviously had more detailed knowledge!
Cheers, Celia

What is a coal hewer ?

by cmfenton @, Ferndown, Dorset, Friday, March 13, 2009, 22:56 (5080 days ago) @ maurice

This of course is the origin of the Forest term "butty" for a friend or team-mate.
The butty-man was the team leader (and not always a popular man since he controlled the wages of the team), but the men in the team were butties and so would call each other "butty".

I remember an uncle of mine who was an engineer at the Northern United colliery would often call me "me ol' butty".


What is a coal hewer ?

by robdavis @, Wednesday, March 18, 2009, 08:56 (5075 days ago) @ cmfenton

I think this term may be a general one used by all colliers and not just used in the Forest. Butty is popularly used to describe a best mate in the South Wales mining valleys too.

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