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The transition to industrial capitalism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was accompanied by a decline in irregular work attendance. The chronology of that decline is unclear due to a lack of quantitative evidence. This article examines detailed colliery records from a crucial period of industrial transition and shows that traditional patterns of attendance and work effort survived in one of the leading sectors of the industrial revolution well into the second half of the nineteenth century. The study shows how regional and local sources can throw new light upon problems for which national quantitative data are unavailable.