George Orwell – “Down the Mine”

An essay about coal mining:

When you go down a coal-mine it is important to try and get to the coal
face when the ‘fillers’ are at work. This is not easy, because when the
mine is working visitors are a nuisance and are not encouraged, but if
you go at any other time, it is possible to come away with a totally
wrong impression. On a Sunday, for instance, a mine seems almost
peaceful. The time to go there is when the machines are roaring and the
air is black with coal dust, and when you can actually see what the
miners have to do. At those times the place is like hell, or at any rate
like my own mental picture of hell. Most of the things one imagines in
hell are if there–heat, noise, confusion, darkness, foul air, and,
above all, unbearably cramped space. Everything except the fire, for
there is no fire down there except the feeble beams of Davy lamps and
electric torches which scarcely penetrate the clouds of coal dust.

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