"Our Rose gives a little squeal as she spots him lathering down in the pit baths."
Bathing at home - Credit: Pete C
Pithead baths were unknown before the 1930s; before that men would go home blackened by their work and wash in a tin bath in front of the fire, with their wives washing their backs with the smelly carbolic soap. The first pit baths were provided by subscription from the men themselves - before nationalisation in 1947 the mine owners refused to go to the expense of baths. Some mines did not have baths until the 1950s, and even then a few workers chose to continue the practice of travelling home dirty to wash in private.
At the pithead baths - Credit: Pete C
The baths were a largely public affair; though there were a few single cubicles (and deputies and officials had their own separate showers) most bathing was done as a group and involved a certain amount of teamwork, with the men helping to wash each other's backs. Some miners insisted on leaving a thin streak of coaldust down the spinal area because of an old myth that washing weakened the spine.