Clackmannan Area Housing

The evidence given on the Clackmannan area consists of general descriptions of the housing conditions.

Evidence given by James Cook

James Cook was a Miners' Agent in Clackmannan

1. In this district there are nearly 400 houses supplied by coal companies, all of which are more or less unsatisfactory. In the town of Clackmannan I would mention the houses in the Pottery, Duke Street, The Green Square. In Coalsnaughton : Woodhead Row, Ramsay Street, Blackfaulds Street. In Devonside: Brick Row, Stable Row, Mission Row, Alexandra Street. In Sauchie : Crandra Row, Carsebridge Row, Water Wheil, Holton Square, Keilersbrae, and Halton Row. Sauchie Village : Fishcross, Devon Village, Black Row.

2. The houses enumerated above are typical of the housing accommodation provided for miners. They are built closely together, in rows with little or no privacy; sanitary conveniences are very defective where not non-existent.

3. Wages of miners may be put at 20s. to 40s. per week at the present time.

4. Rents vary from 1s. 1½d. to 3s. 6d. per week. The average weekly rent is about 2s. In some cases more might be paid for a better class of house.

5. The miners are housed partly in houses provided by coalowners and partly in houses belonging to private persons. Perhaps from 60 to 70 per cent, of the miners occupy houses provided by coal companies.

6. The houses provided by private persons are generally superior to the houses in the Colliery Rows, with better conveniences, etc. Several miners own their own houses, but not a very large proportion.

7. About 400 houses are provided by the coalowners. The houses are one-storey houses constructed of stone or brick, are of cheap construction, and are arranged in rows and squares. They consist generally of a room and kitchen, coal-house. There are no water-closets, although in many cases the houses are situated within the area of scavenging districts, as at Clackmannan and Sauchie. Frequently no closets of any kind are provided, and where provided one closet has to do duty for from 3 to 12 houses. No baths are provided anywhere. There are washing-houses to serve several houses. There is no scullery accommodation. Ash-pits are generally attached to closets, and are frequently erected about 15 feet from doors or windows of houses.

8. Rents are paid weekly, and are deducted from wages. Rent includes rates, etc. Fourteen days is the period of tenancy or let.

9. Houses are kept in fair repair by a staff of workers employed by the coal companies. Gardens are provided in the majority of cases and are usually cultivated.

10. I have no information as to the cost of construction of the houses provided by the coal companies, but it is not considerable, as the houses are constructed on cheap lines and with cheap material.

11. We are not troubled with subsidences, and I am not aware of any difficulty in securing suitable sites for the erection of houses.

12. In cases of large families overcrowding exists; there is a scarcity of houses provided to suit the requirements of large families.

13. Very few one-roomed houses are provided by the coal companies.

14. Water drainage and scavenging are provided by the Local Authorities, as are also roadways, footpaths, and lighting.

15. As to the arrangement of houses on the site, the reason for building miners' houses in rows is I consider to enable the houses to be run up quickly and inexpensively. I am decidedly of opinion that the "rows" should be condemned and prohibited, and that some regard should be had to the provision of modern sanitary conveniences. Houses should be built on the cottage system to secure privacy and decent accommodation. Some architectural taste should be displayed in the building of the homes of the workers.

16. Wherever new accommodation is required, I consider a superior type of house should be built; and steps should at once be taken to improve existing accommodation by providing sanitary conveniences for each individual house, etc.

17. No baths are provided at any of the collieries.

Evidence given by James Bain

James Bain was general manager of the Alloa Coal Company, Limited

1. The Alloa Coal Company, Limited, have four collieries in all in Clackmannanshire, viz., at Alloa, Sauchie, Devon, Tillicoultry, and Sheriffyards, and two in Stirlingshire, viz., at Bannockburn and Carnock.

2. The total number of workers employed is 2794 :-

(a) 2180 below ground, and (6) 614 above ground.

About 60 per cent, of the workers are married and 40 per cent, single.

3. Underground earnings vary from 45s. to 22s. per week, above ground from 49s. 7d. to 22s. 8d. per week. The average weekly earnings underground is 37s. 6d., above ground, 23s.

4. About one-fifteenth is estimated as the proportion of wages spent in rent. The rent varies from 34s. 8d. per year to £11,14s., according to class and size of house. The average yearly rent of all our houses works out at £6, 15s.

5. About 60 per cent of the miners are housed in houses belonging to the company, the remainder are housed in houses belonging to private owners outside, and in a few isolated cases they have houses from parties who have acquired houses which have been in connection with collieries at one time.

6. Houses belonging to private persons and occupied by miners are, as a rule, situated within the respective townships within two miles or so of our collieries, and houses in such districts are preferred where the miner has a large working family of girls, who may get employment in the mills in the various towns in Clackmannanshire.

7. Very few miners own their own houses ; we have only about six in our employment.

8. We have a total of 952 houses occupied by workers, 469 of these are situated in Clackmannanshire and 483 in Stirlingshire. The majority of the older houses in Clackmannanshire are built of stone, the roofs being tiled with slated eaves. The newer houses are built of brick, with slated roofs, and are laid out in rows or squares having ample open spaces.

9. There are very few single-roomed houses, and those we have are chiefly occupied by widows or old couples without family. The greater number are room and kitchen houses. We have built a considerable number of two-room, kitchen, and scullery houses since 1900, and also a number of room, kitchen, and scullery houses. The walls of the houses built since 1900 are built with brick, hollow walls, having the plaster directly on to the brick-work. There are no set-in beds in any of our houses; iron bedsteads are provided by the company. Earth-closets are provided for every four families, and an ash-pit common to the four tenants is attached. Drying- and bleaching-greens, fitted with poles, are convenient to all the houses.

10. The rent charged is inclusive of all rates and taxes, and is deducted from the wages of workers weekly. When workmen leave our service we insist upon them leaving the houses which they occupy belonging to us.

11. Supervision over the houses and tenants is carried out by our sub-factor and surface foreman, and all repairs are done by tradesmen in our own employment. We have little or no difficulty with tenants. The houses and conveniences are reasonably used, and the cleaning of conveniences is let to contractors.

12. Gardens are provided at nearly all our properties. These are taken advantage of by about 40 per cent of the occupiers. We give prizes in all the various sections annually to encourage the cultivation of the gardens, and about 25 per cent, of the tenants use the gardens profitably.

13. The average cost of houses amounts to about £45 per room. Room, kitchen, and scullery houses cost £112; two-room, kitchen, and scullery houses about £157.

14. Subsidences due to coal workings cause cracks in the walls and plaster, but after the subsidences have settled the cracks are easily filled up. All our properties are single storey or storey and a half, where there are attic rooms, and we do not find any such damage through mineral operations as necessitates the removal of tenants. We have no difficulty in securing sites for the erection of suitable houses. We have privilege in all our leases to acquire ground for such purposes.

15. We do not allow overcrowding. Whenever any case is reported by the factor the occupant has either to remove the excess occupancy or is served with a notice of ejection.

16. The few one-roomed houses which we have are mainly occupied by widows, and they sit rent free.

17. Water supply, drainage, and scavenging is under-taken by the Local Authority in the Alloa and Tillicoultry districts in Clackmannanshire, but at our Bannockburn Collieries in Stirlingshire we provide the water supply from our pit, this water being passed through a Bell's filtrating and softening plant, properly clarified and softened down to about 5 degrees hardness.

18. We provide the roadways from the public highway into our respective properties, and these are upkept by us except in a limited number of instances where our properties are alongside the public highway, in which case the roadways are upkept by the Local Authorities. Foot-paths are provided and upkept over the whole of our houses. Lighting, where ic is undertaken by the County Council through district schemes, is continued into several of our properties, but there are others that have no lighting scheme.

19. The two-room, kitchen, and scullery houses already referred to, together with three-room, kitchen, and scullery houses, are what we have been encouraging our workmen to take advantage of during the past ten years.

20. I am of opinion that the average miner prefers to have his house adjoining others, and this has led to the majority of mine-owners putting down their houses in rows. Until the miners are anxious to secure and maintain the respectability of a better class of house I do not consider that town planning would have any success in mining villages.

21. We have not experienced any insuperable difficulties in connection with the administration of sanitary laws or meeting the requirements of the local authorities generally. If these authorities propose any alteration on plans which we have submitted to them we have generally met such, unless where we were satisfied that by adopting their propositions the houses would be in a less sanitary state than by the method proposed by us. This was evident in the last houses we put down, where the authorities desired us to keep the ash-pit and privy accommodation closely adjoining the coal-cellars and dwelling-houses. We resisted this, having felt that the privies we had put down under such arrangement created in our mind a nuisance, especially in hot summer weather.

22. Where new collieries are being established it would be quite practicable to put down housing accommodation of an improved type, suitable for the tastes of the average workman, but it would be a waste of money to purpose remodelling existing collieries where the life of the mine was less than twenty years

23. We have not made bath provision at any of our collieries, and I venture to say that, even although such were available, there are few that would voluntarily take advantage thereof. A large proportion of our workmen are housed in premises closely adjoining the colliery, and, as previously stated, even where we have baths placed in their homes, there are few take advantage of them.