Dispute – April 17th – The Aftermath

3 April 1885

The Aftermath

The evictions were concluded by two o´clock in the afternoon. By three o´clock the excitement had somewhat abated. The people which the novel character of the proceedings had attracted to the scene were wending their way back home, earnestly discussing The evictions were concluded by two o´clock in the afternoonthe affair and sympathising with the most unfortunate families, who had been rendered homeless.

But for the preponderance of women in the living stream making it´s way towards Mexborough, an onlooker might have judged the crowd to be returning from some place of amusement, only the absence if that hilarity which usually marks such occasions quickly dispelled whatever similitude there was. Traps and carts and wagons, indeed almost every conceivable kind of conveyance were engaged in removing the household effects of the evicted ones to havens of refuge in Mexborough and Swinton, and whenever a load appeared to overtax the strength of a horse a score or so of miners would speedily attach themselves by means of ropes to the shafts and bend manfully to the work.

Nearing Denaby Main proper matters had become exceedingly quiet. The greater part of the police force had been marched back to Mexborough when the work of eviction had ceased, and only one or two members of the West Riding police were visible in the main thoroughfare.

A member of the Salvation Army, dressed in imposing uniform but certainly not of an imposing stature, here created some amusement by running down the road with a perambulator filled with a number of household utensils, and, as if afraid of passing unobserved, giving vent at every dozen yards or so to a sound resembling an Indian war-whoop.

Following him came a portly damsel carrying several household articles, among which was a lamp bearing the appearance of having undergone a faithful service, which she swung aloft and shouted, ” Trim your lamps and be ready,” seemingly oblivious of the fact that that injunction was first applied to the Ten Virgins.

We must here notice an act of kindness on the part of Superintendent Sykes. This gentleman, seeing that a cart load of furniture needed removal commissioned his groom to transfer the horse from his trap into the shafts of the loaded cart, which was subsequently transferred to it´s destination. By this and other acts of consideration, it is almost needless to remark that Mr. Sykes has obtained the respect and goodwill of everyone concerned.

In one of the houses which was emptied there lived a widow, who, it was stated, had been bereaved by an accident which befell her husband while working as a deputy for the company. She had since been supported by her sons, who worked at the pit, but in consequence of the step taken by the company she, in common with the other unfortunates, has been cast adrift into the streets. During the afternoon, Mr. C.B. Vincent, of Rotherham, secretary to the Railway Orphanage Society, paid a visit to the village with the intention of rendering assistance to any orphans who might need it, but although other cases of distress were abundant on every side, we understand that Mr. Vincent was happily not called upon to give any help.

The piles of furniture in front of the houses were gradually diminished, and although at one time fears were entertained that they would not be removed before nightfall, yet by that time owing to the exertions of the men no vestige of them remained.

In the evening the Rev. T.J. Leslie distributed a large quantity of bread among the miners´ wives. Previous to doing so he informed the crowd that he had seen

The Distress in Denaby Main.

First of all he would mention the letter which appeared from Mr. Chambers recently, in which he stated that miners could earn 8s. per day. He had been told by a great number of the wives of the miners, that the statement was not true, and he would like to know what the meeting thought about it. ( A Voice : ” It´s not true sir ; plenty of men work down the pit for 2s. filling coal.”)

He had been asked whether Mr. Chambers´ statement was true, and he had replied that it was rather a serious matter for him to say that a person in Mr. Chambers´ position would tell an untruth. He told his interrogator what the wives of the miners had told him, and wished to know if they endorsed his statement.

( Cries of ” Yes.” )

There was also a statement in the papers to the effect that the day labourers obtained 4s. per day. He supposed there were some labourers present.

( A Voice : ” My husband works at Denaby Main, and if he works as much as he can, he can only get 17s. 10d. per week and he gets wet through many a time.”) ( Another woman said her husband earned 3s.4d. per day and worked five days one week and six another.) There were reporters present who would take care that those statements were placed before the public. He thought the effect of Mr. Chambers´ letter, immediately after the report appeared in the newspapers concerning the evictions would be to stop any fountain of sympathy and charity among people who did not know the true nature of the distress at Denaby Main. He could only say that he very sincerely and fervently hoped that the strike would soon terminate. He did not know Mr. Buckingham Pope personally, he only knew him from having read of him in the newspapers. He certainly thought that he ought to allow the matter to be fairly tested and allow the matter to go to arbitration. He thought the men were perfectly right in the first instance, when they offered to submit the matter to be tested by a given number of men, and seeing that Mr. Pope did not accept this proposal, he ( the speaker ) thought that he was very much in the wrong. ( Hear, hear )

To his mind it was a most abominable thing for property owners to compel them to have gone into those houses, and in such a very short time after they had entered them, in some cases leaving other houses from which they would not have been evicted, that they should have been evicted. The conduct of their husbands and sons during that very trying time had been very commendable.

( Hear, hear )

He was talking with the Chief Constable ( Captain Russell ), and also with Superintendent Sykes that morning, and they both expressed themselves as being very highly gratified at the manner in which the men had conducted themselves.

( Applause )

He hoped that the same good spirit which had obtained among their sons and husbands would continue to obtain, and that good would arise from it. He recommended every miner – and he spoke advisedly – after that strike to join the Union.

( Applause, and a Voice : ” Then they cam mester the mesters.” )

” Union is strength, and they would find that their strength was in combination.”

( Hear, hear )

He hoped also that after they had passed through their troubles, which he was hopeful would be very soon, they would all be very thrifty, and he would be glad to see them wearing the blue ribbon. ( Applause ) Although, however, he was a very strong advocate for temperance, he had been exceedingly pleased with the generous conduct of Messrs. Lowe and Rogers, two local publicans, the former of whom had helped the men by giving contributions and opening his house for the reception of some of the families, the latter also having acted generously towards them. ( Applause ) He hoped the Christian churches would help them, and that they would have at least bread to eat. ( Hear, hear )

He had made provision to supply each of them with a 4lb. loaf.

He had to record an extremely pleasing feature. A working miner had walked from Lundhill, where they were on strike, and stated that they had collected 15s. for the support of the Denaby Main men. Captain Russell had also contributed £2 towards the bread fund. ( Applause ) He had received a letter from Sheffield, in which the writer enclosed 5s., and suggested that he should use his influence to induce the Congregational ministers in Sheffield and neighbourhood to hold collections next Sunday in aid of the Denaby Main miners.

The writer said the evictions were a disgrace to their common humanity. Men were something more, said the writer, than moneyearning machines, and had claims that had been smothered in the heat of covetousness. He trusted those deplorable means would be laid aside, and that masters would recognise that men had to live. There should be more economy in the high salaried officials – ( A Voice : ” That´s the thing.”) – for it was the top steps to be lowered, not those already underground. ( Applause )

Mr. C.B. Vincent, the secretary of the Miners´ National Orphanage, also addressed the meeting, stating that the miners had his deepest sympathy in their distress. He hoped the masters would in the future have the good sense and just bene -volence, and the men the good sense and patience to remedy the state of things together, so that a recurrence of any crisis of the kind would be impossible in the future. ( Applause )

The bread was then distributed to the large crowd. The women in their eager- ness to obtain the coveted morsel of bread frantically struggled to get a front place. Eventually, however, all the eager applicants were served and departed, calling blessings upon the heads of the Sheffield friends who had supplied the funds.