Dispute – July 17th – Rake & Pan system

July 1885

Introduction of ` Rake and Pan´ System.

The announcement made on Wednesday to the effect that the `rake and pan´ system of working was about to be adopted at Denaby Main colliery has created a profound impression. The strike hands are eagerly discussing the altered position of affairs and anticipate that new terms will be offered. The `rake and pan´ system is preferred by many to `hand-picking´ and provided that a good price is offered there should not be much difficulty in the matter of arriving at a satisfactory settlement of the dispute.

It is thought possible that as the leaders of the men are under lock and key or have departed from the district, it will not be long before the Denabyites are allowed to resume their accustomed position.

The distress in Mexborough amongst the families of evicted miners has assumed alarming proportions. Children are seen in the streets by the score asking for `snap´ or the coveted half-penny with which to obtain food.

Expressions such as ” if Chappell had had the management of affairs we should not have been in this fix,” are by no means infrequently heard, but the general impression is that it is too late now to solicit his interference on their behalf. Little or no help has been coming of late from Barnsley, and were it not for the subscriptions which are obtained by the Rev. T.J. Leslie for the bread fund, the miners and their wives and families would be absolutely starving.

The men have signified on more than one occasion their willingness to resume work on the terms offered by the management some few weeks ago, but through some unexplained cause they have not been allowed to return to their employment. Without exception this strike is the longest that has occurred at this colliery, and everyone concerned from the miners to the poorest tradesman is thoroughly weary of it. The opinion in Mexborough is that strong effort should be made to induce one or more influential persons to act as arbitrators on behalf of the men, so as to terminate the present absurd struggle.

The fire which broke out in the east plane of the colliery some time ago has been thoroughly subdued.

The colliery officials state that Whitehurst was dissatisfied with his post at the colliery, and not being able to obtain a situation as a deputy, he revenged himself by using his influence with the men to leave.

A number of Staffordshire men have been expected at Denaby Main for some days ; but it appears that the movements of the Company´s agents in the Potteries are closely watched, and the attempts to send a further supply of men has been so far frustrated. Owing to the exertions of Mr. Edwards, Mr. Brown, and the two Denaby Main men ( Hatton and Birks ), who are nightly in the habit of addressing meetings, it is said very few Staffordshire men can be obtained for work at Denaby Main.

A letter from Mr. P. Hatton, late chairman of the lodge, was received yesterday. In it he states that at the time of writing he was in the company of some of the men from the Potteries who had returned from Denaby Main.

On Wednesday, a raid was made on the headquarters of Mr. Whitehead, the agent employed by the Denaby Main colliery company to obtain men to work at Denaby Main. Mr. Whitehead, however, did not make his appearance, as the place was getting too hot for him, those men who returned from Denaby Main vowing vengeance against him. Some Staffordshire miners, a hundred strong, proceeded to the spot from where a hundred men were to be sent to Denaby Main, but only six were to be found. At last Mr. Hatton stated that he had got amongst two or three of Mr. Whitehead´s haunts, and would try to prevent the departure of a further batch of workmen yesterday ( Thursday ). He said the men who had returned from Denaby Main gave graphic details of a comport which took place at the colliery, and of Sunday´s battle.

On Wednesday he ( Mr. Hatton ) had two hundred men around him vowing vengeance on those miners who were about to depart for Denaby Main, and who were thereby `degrading´ the Staffordshire men. The crowd, he said, stated that they would take the matter into their own hands.

One of the men who had returned from Denaby Main, a mussel hawker by trade, informed Mr. Hatton that he obtained 8s. for four days work, trousers, a shirt, and stockings, and that many of his companions obtained wearing apparel.

A telegram was received yesterday, stating that two hundred men who were to have left for Denaby Main had been stopped, and that Mr. Whitehouse was in a house, besieged and frightened to show himself. The Denaby Main miners, on hearing the news, were extremely jubilant at the success of their emissaries.

The Denaby Main miners last week collected £68 12s.