Denaby Miners ‘93 Strike Memories

July 1957

South Yorkshire Times, July 13, 1957

Denaby Miners ‘93 Strike Memories

The summer day in 1893 when trainloads of troops and police arrived in the pit yard at Denaby Main Colliery, and a man stood ready to read the riot act, is still remembering clearly by 79 year old retired miner, Mr Ernest Houlbrook of 3, Hirst gate, Mexborough, who, during the 93 strike, when coalminers wrecked property and plundered shops and public houses, was a pit lad of 15.

Mr Houlbrook’s memories on the 16 week strike came back to him when his daughter, Mrs Ruth Andrews of 130, Hirst Gate, read out a story of strike memories which appeared in their “South Yorkshire times” recently.

Up Mr Houlbrook remembered that he had a large picture of the end of the strike, depicting Lord Rosebery reading out the final agreement to miners and owners representatives at Downing Street, and he allowed a “South Yorkshire Times” staff photographer to photograph the large picture, which he believes to be the only one in existence in the area.

Mr Houlbrook started his career at Denaby main at the age of 12. “I told the under manager, Mr Soar, that I was 13 because you had to be 13 to work in the coal then. He asked me to bring my birth certificate next day, but I didn’t.” He said.

Like most pit lads, Mr Houlbrook was delighted when the strike began. It was July, and perfect summer weather. He remembers that after the strike had ended in November, South Yorkshire was frost bound for 16 weeks and it was possible to walk across the river Don.

One of Mr Houlbrook’s most vivid memories is the stationing of troops and police in Denaby pit yard after it had been heard that rioters from Wombwell were making their way to Denaby with the intention of wrecking the colliery

“When they got to Wath. Old Mr Whitworth rolled barrels of beer into a field and let them drink as much as they liked” he said. “The men stayed there quietly all night.”

After leaving Denaby Main, Mr Houlbrook went to Manvers Main where, in 1938, he had an accident and had to give up his job.