A friend came across these newspaper clippings during some house history research – she lives now in what used to be the Pick and Gad, a pub frequented by miners working in the Redruth area. Watch out for future songs from us about the extraordinary woman depicted in these portraits!
Her story is fleshed out in more detail by Lynne Mayers in her books about bal maidens (women mine workers) but here’s a quick summary:
Grace Hitchens was brought up in the workhouse. From a young age she was sent to work in the mines and was given the task of working the horses while the kibble was landed (a complex and skilful operation raising the kibble (bucket) of ore from the mine to the surface). Gracey fell pregnant; it is not known what became of her child. After that time she had a personality change and emerged as the strong, eccentric and unconventional woman described in the news cuttings. She moved from working the horses to becoming the kibble-lander herself, at the other end of the same task, a job usually reserved for men. Women often worked at the mines (they were known as bal maidens) but were usually restricted to work on the surface, breaking up lumps of ore and preparing them for market or working in the counthouse. There is plenty more information about women in the mining industry here: http://balmaiden.co.uk.