Denaby Main Miners and Restriction – Return of Mr Leslie

October 1887

Mexborough and Swinton Times October 28, 1887

The Denaby Main Miners and Restriction.
Meeting In the Lodge Room Last Night.

A meeting of the above miners was held last night to consider the proposals of the Edinhurgh Conference. Mr. W. Parrott, .of Barnsley; was expected to be present but owing to other engagements he was unable to attend. The question of restriction was discussed pro and con at length, after which the following resolution was moved, seconded and carried unanimonsly :—

That in the opinion of the Denaby Main miners the restriction policy proposed by the Edinburgh Conference is utterly impracticable at the present time, and, therefore, any further proposed conference should be deferred until a thorough organisation has taken place.”

Mr. Dixon said that at the last general meeting they decided to invite Mr. Leslie to attend the meeting that night. Most of them would remember the services rendered by him during the lock-out. He (Mr. Leslie) had to go away to recruit his health, and of course they decided to assist him a little. They had a balancewhich they wished to give him that night. While meeting him they thought they would like to hear him speak a little about his recent voyage, or anything he would like to speak about.

Mr. Leslie, who was received with applause said: I am glad to meet you this evening under more favourable circumstances than we were wont to do during the year 1885. I am thankful that happier and brighter days have come to your hearts and homes. It is no pleasure for me to recall the scenes of the past beyond the ever-occurring conviction that each of us endeavoured to do our duty. To-night I have no unkind wood to say about anyone at Denaby Main. The past is gone, and, we have to do with the present and the future. I may just say that I hope the future will be to you all that you desire and hope for. I have no sympathy with strikes or lock-outs—they are simply appeals to brute force, in which the strongest win. I hope the day will come when all such methods will be discarded, and when a more excellent way will be followed in the settlement of trade disputes. To this end you must have a strong and popular trades union under efficient and intelligent control. With such a union all trade disputes would be peacefully settled or referred to arbitration.

I would therefore strongly recommend all the miners’ of Mexboro’ and district to join the Miners’ Association. We are told that the best way to preserve peace is to be prepared for war. And I believe the best way to avoid strikes is for all the men to be in the Union. As a Christian minister,as one who has a sincere regard for the welfare of your wives and families, I have come here tonight with this message of peace and goodwill, not simply in your interest, but also in the interest of the colliery owners in the district. A strong Union will be productive of good to yourselves, your employers, and the tradesmen ‘of the district. Having said so much I have now a very pleasing duty -to perform, namely, to thank you very sincerely for your generous appreciation of my conduct and work on behalf of the women and children who were supplied” with bread daring the dispute of 1885. I did not seek the work—it came to me, and I took it up as from the Lord. It was a great work, and I hope never again to see so much suffering and to hear of so many tales of sorrow as I saw and heard during that time. As you all know I did not enter upon the work until I saw a number of children turned out of their homes into the streets, and then it came to me and grew upon me so that I was constrained to go forward until we had given day after day nearly £500 in bread alone. I shall always look back upon the work then done with satisfaction, for every day’s work brought with it its own reward. Every night I was conscious of having done the right thing during the day. I had many willing helpers, and the Lord sent me money from all parts of the country. I shall not soon forget the kindness you have shown in return. When my own health failed me at the beginning of the year you kindly sent two of your number to speak words of cheer, and to bring your contribution towards the expense of my voyage. It was a great satisfaction to ne at that time to be told by your deputation that you lied paid all the debts, amounting to over £400,which you owed to the tradesmen of the town.

I hope yet will, now go on and prosper, and that both your employers and yourselves will bury all the unpleasantness of the past, and that you may all have peace and increasing prosperity in the future. I rejoice that the Mines Act has become law, and I hope it will soon be amended so as to give entire satisfaction to all who are interested in it. In all probability we shall have a general election during next year, and we shall have to look out for someone to take the place of Mr. Shirley. I strongly advise you not to give your promise of support toany one until we have a thoroughly good man before us.

The Chairman said he was very pleased to see Mr. Leslie there as a congregational minister amongst working men. They were all very well satisfied with his address. The work that Mr. Leslie did for them during the strike was Christian like. He did not think that if anything occurred again that he would not do so much, or do what he could again for them: The little remuneration which they gave to Mr. Leslie would be as a present, not because he done something in particular, but because of their great respect to Mr. Leslie, and he hoped they would hold the name of Mr. Leslie in honour while they lived. (Hear. hear.)

Mr. Leslie in response, said he was very much obliged for the chairman’s kind remarks, and he was very pleased to see some of the old faces again, and they would still have a very warm place in his affections. He was very pleased with the appearance of their room.

In conclusion he hoped they would become ,stronger in the future than they had been in the past. Ha advised them to join the Yorkshire Miners’ Association, and prosperity would come to them. A vote of thanks to Mr. Leslie concluded the meeting.