Dispute – May 22nd c – More Cornish Workmen

May 1885

The Denaby Main Dispute
More Cornish Workmen

Late on Saturday night a Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire engine, with two Midland passenger carriages and two brakes, passed through Mexborough station at a high rate of speed. Before entering Mexborough the lights in all of the carriages were turned down. On reaching Denaby Main the train was backed into a siding, and twenty-five new workmen emerged from it. With the exception of a few persons who were at Mexborough station, the arrival of the `knobsticks´ was un-noticed. The news leaked out early on Sunday morning, but before the majority of the inhabitants of the town were astir five of the workmen, in the company of one of the men who were engaged by the company last week, made their way to the colliery gates, which were locked, and attempted to open them. Finding this impossible they scaled the wall, taking their bundles with them, and walked into Mexborough. They quickly made their errand known to the officials of the miners´ lodge. They stated that they had come from Camborne and Redruth in Cornwall. At the latter place a man who united the business of immigration agent with his profession as a barber, had a notice in his window, a copy of which was possessed by the workmen.

The notice ran as follows :-

” To Miners, – More men still wanted the Denaby Main Colliery, £6 to £8 per month can be earned at the price given for getting coal. Wages paid weekly. Telegram received from the first lot, who arrived safely and have gone to work. ` Men arrived safely and feel comfortable.´ Urge forward as many more as quickly as possible. The next lot will leave by the first train on Saturday morning.”

The prices offered to the new workmen were 1s. 3d. per ton for round and 6d. per ton for small coal, and they were informed that they could earn from £6 to £8 per month at those rates. Day workmen were to receive 5s. per day – by `day workmen´ was meant men who used the shovel.

Horsemen, they were informed, would receive 5s. 6d. per day. They were told that there had been a strike, but that it had terminated, and that half of the men had remained at work and the other half had obtained work elsewhere.

The man who brought them to Denaby Main went by the name of `Smith´ whose residence it was guessed was at Doncaster. They were told that they would have plenty to eat, and the new workmen found that to be correct. They were taken into a wagon shed on their arrival, which was neither air-tight nor water-tight, or wind-tight, and their beds were made with a fork. One man said that he was not used to lying on a straw bed. The remainder of the men were in an `awful state of mind´. Some of the men had not been in a coal-mine. He supposed all the men would come out if the Denaby Main men would pay their fare back again. If they could get work at a quarry they would stop in the area as they were used to `blow and blast´. There were one hundred and fifty men ready to come from Cornwall on Wednesday.

A telegram was sent to Redruth by the officials of the Denaby Main lodge, stating that the men had been misled by the agent and warning others not to be deceived.

Great kindness was shown to the six men who had left the colliery premises. One of the Denaby Main men, whose tattered raiment´s made him an object of commiseration, offered a Cornishman 6d., but the latter refused, telling him he could take nothing from a man who had been on strike twenty weeks.