Continuing the theme of occupations, this carte-de-visite puzzled me at first. It’s dog-eared appearance did not offer many clues, but persistence paid off; it is the image of a pit brow lass or pit brow girl.
During the second half of the 19th century, and as recently as 1960, female workers were employed by collieries to work at the surface of the coal pit. Their job was to sort through the coal, pulling out stones and separating the coal from dirt. The women generally stayed in the job from the age of fifteen into their early twenties, and while it is easy to imagine the task as heavy and dirty, an account by Frank Hird in 1910 records that the women themselves would dispute that it was ‘hard work’. They must have been made of strong stuff!
The following video shows the women at work in Wigan around 1911: