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Living conditions for a Bevin Boy
in the Second World War

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Lodgings

To begin with, I stayed with another Bevin Boy in lodgings run by a landlady. I had a bedroom, the use of a bathroom and toilet and other reception rooms.

After I started working on the night shift, though, this was not practicable and I moved to another lodging where I was alone.

The landladies washed my clothes twice weekly and provided clean sheets each week. My clothes and bedclothes were not especially dirty. Although coal got under my skin, due to knocking my knuckles etc., my body was clean after the daily bath.

The landladies also provided my breakfast and evening meals plus mid-day meals at weekends. They were normal wartime fare, dependant on rations, and were reasonably adequate.

The contents of my lunch box was mine. We collected a sandwich, normally meat, before going down the pit. I can't remember who paid.

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Travelling to and from the mine

I went to work in casual clothes and according to the weather either walked or went by bus to the baths which were almost two miles from my lodgings. There I changed into work clothes and left my travelling clothes in a locker. We miners and Bevin Boys were then taken by covered lorry to the pithead.

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There was no clocking in. Our lamps had to be collected before a fixed time and if we were there we could not go down the pit and hence got no pay.

At the end of the shift the whole process was reversed except that the journey from the baths to my lodgings was almost always by bus.

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Free time

I had always been a sporty type and played many ball games in and out of school. Accordingly I took any chance to get involved in any opportunities to play cricket or football, though these were fairly rare. I was able to watch both games throughout their playing seasons, though, and I also went to the cinema and generally socialised.

Page contributed by Peter Dickens

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.