‘Coal Getting’ in Wyke

Wyke is an area to the east of Halifax in Yorkshire. This photograph from the 1890s shows the practice of ‘coal getting’ in Judy Wood nearby. ‘Getting’ involved sorting through the waste from coal mines for the tiniest scraps of coal that remained after the pit had taken everything that it considered to be useable. In other words, these people are living on the edge of existence, searching for anything that might fuel a fire for cooking or warmth, or that they can sell to others. There’s nothing romantic about this scene of poverty.

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