On New Year’s Day in 1872 the miners at Wheal Basset near Redruth decided to take a day’s holiday. The following day the mine captain – Abraham James – fined them 2/6 each, the equivalent of around 10% of their weekly wage. All hands at the mine then struck work in protest. The West Briton reported that ‘this has caused a great sensation in the district, and the feeling is that the men rather than pay the fine, will leave the mine.’
In fact the miners returned to work on the 4th, ‘the committee having decided that the spall should not be enforced … It seems that for some years New Year’s Day has been considered a holiday in most mines, and if the men have worked on that day they have been paid extra.’
This was also a time of labour shortage and booming tin prices, one of the all too few periods after the mid-1860s when the balance of power leaned towards the working miner rather than the mine management and adventurers.