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World War Two: The beginning

life as a
Bevin Boy

Life outside the mine as a Bevin Boy in WW2

Guest contribution by Peter Dickens, former Bevin Boy

Lodgings as a Bevin Boy

At the outset, 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.

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.

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.

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.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.

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