Simpson's (Wishaw & Carfin) - Extract from Truck Report 1871

Mr. Simpson is the provost of Wishaw, and has two works, one at Wishaw and one at Carphin. The shop at Wishaw was closed a few weeks before the Commission sat. While it lasted the system was severe. The following description of it was given by a witness who had been there for a few weeks in 1868 or 1869 :-

Q What was wrong about the store ? - You sometimes got money, and you sometimes got none. The clerk just led you away across to the store when he pleased; he drove you at one time, and he led you at another.

Q I don't quite understand you. Would you explain what you mean ? - The clerk who gave out the money would wait until he got a number of the men together, and then we would have to follow him into the store, and he would tell the storeman what each of us was to get.

The Wishaw pay clerk who officiated both in the pay office and the store acknowledged both that the advances of slopers were stopped, and that occasionally he had given lines without any money passing. Recently weekly pays were started, and advances were no longer given; the men in consequence gave up dealing in the shop, and the shop was stopped.

At Carphin the store goes on. About 500 men are employed at the works, and the system seems to be prosecuted with rigour. The usual practice is for the advance clerk to give the men their advance cash in the cash office, and then to go over to the store with them and receive it back again. But even this formality is not always performed. The store is opened at 7 in the morning, and the cash is sent from Glasgow by a train which arrives at midday. If the men should want an advance between these hours they have to take it in the form of a line. The advance clerk and the storeman check the books at night, and then frequently talk about the men sloping the store, and as the advance clerk serves in the store as well as in the office, there is no difficulty in identifying slopers. To make the matter doubly secure, lists of the slopers are kept.

The history of the subscription of Dodds, a Carphin workman, is related in the general pages

Some evidence also of the pressure put upon workmen to deal in the store by the oversmen was elicited. Dodds had received 9s. in advance when he first went to the works, but had never spent it in the store. Next day the manager in the pit in which he was working told him that any cash which was lifted in the office was to go to the store, otherwise Dodds would get none except on the paydays. The manager on being confronted with Dodds admitted that the conversation had occurred, as also that the story told by Dodds relating to the subscription was correct.

Abstract of Evidence


Thomas Law

I was formerly at Cleland belonging to Mr Stewart. There was it store there, and it was understood that the men should go to it; if they did not they were stopped. I am now an oversman at Carphin. I do not know William Dodds. Yes, I know him. I have not spoken to him about going to the store. I have never spoken to any man at Simpson's about the store. I have never spoken to any of them about getting cash. (Pressed.) I might have had a conversation with Dodds about the store, about the articles in it, and about the shop he was dealing with. I told him that I saw very little difference between the stores and the shops here. I cannot tell you what passed between Dodds and me.

William Dodds

I am a workman at Carphin. The first time I went there I got 9s. in advance and took it away. The manager, Thomas Law, spoke to me about it next day in the pit. He said the clerk had told him that I had got cash and had taken it away. He told me that any cash that lifted in the office was to go to the store, otherwise I would get none except on the pay days. A good long time afterwards I asked for 1s. but they would not give it. This would be about nine months ago. When I asked the reason, the clerk said I had taken away the last, and I would get no more. The clerk's name is John, and he is still at the works. The next time I went was last May, when I had a boy died. The men gathered a subscription for me according to the rule in the pit, when people were in trouble. The subscription came to £1 4s., but when I went to the clerk he would only give me 12s. in cash and a 12s. line, and nothing else, and I had to take that. The same month about a fortnight afterwards I had another boy that died. The men made another subscription on that occasion, which came to £1 1s. 6d. When I went to the clerk he would give me nothing but a 15s. line and 6s. in cash. I told the clerk the line did not answer me, it was money that I was laying out. I had to keep my money in order to pay the funeral expenses. I wanted the money to bury my child, and I told the clerk so. He still declined to give it to me. He would not give it to me, even on the payday. He said if I would not take the line I might go and gather the money myself if I liked. He said it was all humbug, and he was not to be bothered by it. I must either take the 15s. in cash and the lines or want. He said, if I had been regular in going to the store he might have given it to me in cash.

Thomas Law, recalled

I have seen William Dodds before. I know him perfectly well. What he has now said about me is true. On the morning after Dodds cashed the 9s., the clerk told me that Dodds had taken it away, and when I went down in the pit I said to Dodds, "So you sloped the store with that money." Dodds answered, " Yes, I did not get it to leave it in the store," and I said, " It is understood that when men cash here they are to go the store with it, else they get no more cash till the pay-day." I believe the pay clerk has several times spoken to me about men sloping the store. It is quite correct what Dodds said about the subscription. I went to the clerk that night and told him Dodds had a child dead, and that I wished some cash given to Dodds, and he said he was scarce of cash, and could not give it that night. I also said that if he was short of cash 1 would give 10s. Myself and get it back from the clerk. He thanked me and said he did not need it. I should also say with regard to the collections it is the rule that if a man does not like to take a line for one half of the money that is collected, or a. line for any part of it, then if he allows it to stand till the pay-day he gets it all in cash along with his pay. The money subscribed by the men would be stopped off their wages.

Alexander McMillen

I am storekeeper at Carphin, and I have been so previously. The men were obliged to go to the store with their money, but got 1s. out of 5s. The men would get the cash and take it to the store clerk and get a line. I was in the habit of keeping a note of those who got the cash, and of what they left. I did not buy my own goods at the store because I lived a good piece away from it. The advance men who lived as far away as I did had to go to the store. I never heard the storeman at Carphin speak to the men.

Charles Law

I am working at Carphin. There has been a talk about my dismissal, but I was never told anything about it myself. [brother of Thomas Law, above]

Duncan Mackenzie

I am cash advance clerk at Carphin. The men are expected to leave in the store 4s. out of 5s. that they cash. If they do not, their books are stopped. After I cash the men, I go over to the store and serve in the store, and take the money from them again. That is the usual practice. The storekeeper has spoken to me frequently about the men sloping the store. We check the book at night after we have done cashing. He has never spoken to me about the men not going often enough for advances. I have sometimes, when there was no cash in the office, given a man a line direct from the store. That would be only when we were short of cash. I have never refused men an advance unless they would take it in whiskey. We have about 500 men at Carphin. The person who dismisses the men there is Mr. Stevenson. The storekeeper used occasionally to come over and see how the men were cashing. We keep any subscriptions made by the men amongst themselves off their pay at the pay-day, and if a man's child were to die and the workmen were to subscribe for him we should stop their subscriptions off at the pay. We should give the man for whom they had subscribed generally one half in money and one half lines. We should always give him some of it in cash. I remember William Dodds having two subscriptions. I gave him on the first occasion I think 16s., but I could not be certain. I think he would get 15s. or 16s. in money, and the rest in lines. I did not hear him examined. He told me he wanted the money to bury his child. It is not uncommon if several men come to me before 12 o'clock, when I get the cash from Glasgow, for me to take them to the store, and tell the storeman that they are to get such-and-such goods.

William Watson

I worked to a contractor at Carphin at one time. He told me that they requested the men to take a little out of store. The men did not like the store. It was as bad a store as any man can go to. They used to give lines without cash.


James McLachlan

I am a miner at Wishaw. Parties taking money are compelled to go to the store. A man who draws his pay in full without taking any advances is most taken advantage of when work becomes slack, because the advance man leaves the interest of his labour at the store. When work is slack they knock off the men who let their money lie. It is generally understood that if slackness takes place those are the men who are generally picked out. They are not considered directly interested in the works. I have understood myself to be dismissed from Simpson's works for not going to the store.

Alexander McMillen

I was storekeeper at Simpson's till last Saturday. The men were stopped there for sloping. I have occasionally given advances at the store, instead of at the pay clerk's office. It was not the habit to give lines without money passing, but I believe I have done it; not frequently, but occasionally. The books ware never stopped if a man left 4s. out of 6s. at the store.

John Stark

I was at Simpson's for a few weeks. I left there because I did not like the store. You sometimes got money and you sometimes got none. The clerk who gave out the money would wait until he got a number of men together, and then we would have to follow him into the store, and he would tell the storeman what each of us was to get. We got no money.