Annbank - Extract from Truck Report 1871

Annbank collieries are in Ayrshire, about four miles from the town of Ayr. These collieries have been in the hands of several owners within the last few years and are now in trust. The numbers have fluctuated from 900 to 200 men. Incidental evidence was obtained regarding the operation of the advance and store system at these collieries, to the effect that the arrangements for compelling all the workmen to go to the store were strict, but the most direct information was furnished by Mr. Eadie, a former storekeeper, and Mr. Robertson the present book-keeper. Mr. Eadie has had experience as a store-keeper at many different works, at Mossend, Gartsherrie, Newarthill, Annbank, Barkip, and Benhar, but when Annbank was in the hands of George Taylor & Co., "it was more severe than any of the others." The men who did not take advances were compelled to leave part of their pay at the store, otherwise they were dismissed. During the four years and a half that Mr. Eadie, was there- from 1859-1863 - cases of dismissal were frequent. "You may say 50 with safety. Some of them would be advance men for taking away all their money, but the majority of them would be pay men." The period of pays was monthly, but he remembered one or two instances when it extended to six weeks. After he had left be believed it had occasionally been 12 weeks. In 1865 the system was altered, and the men who had previously been allowed to carry away only 1d. in the shilling were allowed to go free. The reason of this change appeared to be a want of men. The complement of workmen appeared in 1868, to be sufficient for the wants of the works and the old system was revived. "They marked the money that was left in the store by the workmen, and the books were checked as formerly, and the men were allowed to take away only 1d. in the shilling again." This second change lasted till February 1869, since which date the men have been free to do what they like with their money, though the store is still kept up. No formal notice was ever given to the men of this reform in the system. "They see very well," said the book-keeper, "that we don't mark it down." The store has not suffered.

Annbank accordingly has been an instance of works at which the pay men as well as the advance were obliged to take their money to the store, and in default were frequently subjected to dismissal. Lines or notes were not given, but an accurate record seems to have been kept of the money paid out, and to have been inspected by the manager, who had the dismissal of the men in his power. Owing to the fact that a good many of the men lived at Ayr, and had to carry their goods from the store all the way, the system operated severely. "It was a system," said Mr. Eadie, that "caused very 'great hardship and distress"

Abstract of Evidence

Thomas Smith

I am a miner. I worked at Annbank 10 or 11 years ago. At that time there was the usual store system, but I believe there is now weekly payment and no compulsion. At Annbank men have been discharged within the last 5 years, as I am informed, for not dealing at the store.

William Eadie

I have had experience as a storekeeper at many different works, Moss End, Gartsherrie, Newarthill, Annbank, Barkip and Benhar. Annbank was the severest of all. The men who did not take advances were compelled to leave part of their pay at the store, the same as the advance men, or else they were dismissed. There were instances in my time of men being dismissed for that, pay men who did not take advances at all. During the four and a half years I was there these cases were quite frequent, you may say 50 with safety. Some of those would be advance men, but the majority would be pay men. There were monthly pays. When I went there first there would be about 800 hands but the works gradually decreased to about 400. I remember one or two instances where the pays were six weeks. They were never so long as 12 weeks whilst I was there, but I believe they have been that since. The clerk used to keep a book, which showed what men were leaving their money in the store. The manager would look over this book. His name is Wright. Men were not pressed to go for advances if they left a good share of their pay at the store ; but if they did not they were paid off. I have seen a good many instances of considerable personal hardship. It was a system that caused very great hardship and distress. Many of the men resided at Ayr, at a good distance from the store, and they had to carry away all their goods there. I suppose the reason the pays were made longer at Annbank was for the purposes of the store. The system there was there were no lines. It was all cash which the men could keep until it was spent. They did not need to leave it with the storekeeper until they required to spend it. I suppose the reason was to evade the Truck Act. I left in 1863.

James Stewart

I have heard fearful tales of Annbank. I consider it to be a fearful thing for a man to go and get money for the purpose of being married, or something of that kind, and then have to go the store with it. That happened when I was at the work. It was understood that if men did not go the store they would be dismissed. It was often talked about amongst the men, and I am quite certain it was so.

George Robertson

I am book-keeper at Annbank. The place was put under a trustee some months ago. Before that there was a system of expecting the men to leave a part of their advances in the store. They were allowed to take away 1d. in the shilling. We never found a difficulty in getting men. The system was changed in 1865, when the men were allowed to get their advances and take them where they pleased. That lasted till November 1868, when the books were checked again as formerly, and the men were allowed to take away only 1d. in the shilling. I am not aware of men ever having been dis­missed for sloping the store. It is my impression that they would not be so dismissed. That was a matter be­longing to the underground manager, and I knew nothing about it. Up to 1865 we. always stopped their books for sloping. We kept a record. People may form any opinion they like about whether the men were dismissed for sloping. I cannot tell. I think not. They may have been. Mr. W right never told us what the men were dismissed for. We never had lines at Annbank. The men have been free since the change in the manage­ment, 12 months ago. The store has not fallen off in the last year. The men still go there, but they are not expected to do so