Dispute – July 24th – Return to Work – History of the Lock Out

July 1885

The Denaby Main Dispute.

On Tuesday morning a meeting of the late workmen at Denaby Main was held at the Mason´s Arms lodge-room, Mexborough.

The meeting was very orderly and unanimous, and after several short speeches had been made on the question at issue, it was determined to accept the terms offered by the employers. Subsequently a large number of Denaby Main miners applied for work at the colliery offices. They were received very courteously by the manager, who informed them that the rate of remuneration would be 5s. per day for colliers, and 4s. 6d. and 4s. for fillers, according to ability. Datallers were to receive within 10% of the wages paid to them prior to the commencement of the struggle.

The strike or lock-out commenced on the 31 st December 1884, on which day the men brought out their tools, the employers having previously stated that an alteration in the mode of filling the coal, and also in the rate of wages paid to the men, must be enforced. They desired to bring the hand-picking into operation, which the men opposed strenuously. For some little time after leaving their work the men received strike pay from the funds of the South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire Association, but these funds becoming exhausted, they were supported mainly by the contributions from their fellow miners in the district.

On the 5 th of April of this year a large number of miners, with their families, were evicted from the cottages they occupied under the colliery company at Denaby Main. This was considered by the partisans of the company to have been a masterstroke of policy, but in the end it proved to be the reverse, as the public sympathy was awakened to such an extent that the miners were for many weeks enabled to continue the struggle after the association had paid away all the money it had possessed.

Other evictions followed, until nearly all the mining population of Denaby Main had been driven from their homes in the direction of Mexborough, Swinton, and Conisbrough. A number of tents were obtained for the accommodation of some of the miners´ families, the remainder finding dwelling places at private houses in the vicinity.

Much misery and suffering were entailed on the miners who had been evicted, and for some weeks the struggle was continued in the teeth of many adverse circumstances, prominent amongst them being the eight week´s strike which took place in the district, and which consequently drew away a large measure of the support from the men of Denaby Main.

The South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire Association, with which the two miners´ lodges which existed at Mexborough were affiliated, was broken up by the effect of the two strikes which took place simultaneously in the district, the Manvers Main and Denaby Main miners being on strike together.

The Denaby Main miners subsequently seceded to the Yorkshire Association, but of late the money received has not been adequate to their requirements, so much so that during the past few weeks the miners and their families have had to subsist on a bare pittance, and had it not been for the Rev. T.J. Leslie, who obtained subscriptions from all parts of England in support of the men, coupled with the exertions of the inhabitants of Hull, who have sent large contributions towards the bread fund, the lot of the evicted miners would have been very hard indeed.

The terms offered by the employers at the outset of the struggle were 1s 4 ½ d for round coal, and 8d. for small ; in lieu of 1s 4 ½ d. for round, and small alike, and subsequently 1s. 3d. and 6d., or 5s. 6d. and 4s. per day were offered.

Yesterday afternoon about forty Staffordshire men proceeded to Denaby Main via the M.S. and L. railway, and another batch of workmen were taken to the Conisbrough station later in the evening, and walked from thence to Denaby Main colliery.

The old workmen cannot understand why the Staffordshire men still continue to arrive at the colliery.

The facts in connection with the part arrangement which has been arrived at are as follows :-

The men were informed on Tuesday that the manager would set on as many of them to work as he could.

On Thursday men and boys to the number of thirty were sent for, and it was understood that as many more as could be provided with employment from day to day would be set on.

On hearing of the fresh arrival of Staffordshire men, a miners´ meeting was held at Mexborough, when many expressions of regret were uttered at the sad circumstance. It is feared the dispute is far from ended.

” Well wisher ” forwards 10s. in stamps to the care of the Rev. T. Horsfall for the wives and children of the Denaby Main miners.

The Denaby Main miners collected £69 18s. 8d. last week.