Dispute – August 7 – Arrival Of Staffordshire Men

August 1885

August 7 th 1885.

The Denaby Main Dispute
Arrival Of Staffordshire Men

About twenty-five Staffordshire men arrived at Mexborough station at five o´clock yesterday afternoon, and were subsequently taken to the colliery. Anumber of miners who were loitering about the station road noticed the coach containing the new arrivals, and came to the station to have a closer view of them. Amongst the number were two women, who used the most disgusting language towards the Staffordshire men, threatening at the same time to wreak vengeance upon them on the first opportunity. They continued to threaten the occupants of the coach until it was lost to view.

During the past few days meetings of the Denaby Main miners have been held behind closed doors, for the purpose of making yet another attempt to arrive at a satisfactory settlement of the dispute. The result of their deliberations leaked out on Wednesday, but the leaders of the men express a wish that the representatives of the daily press would not damage their cause by publishing it to the world, thus destroying a chance of settlement.

One newspaper, however, disregarded the intimation given, and very much ill-feeling was aroused among the mining community yesterday in consequence.

Fears were expressed that now the affair has been made public prematurely, the men had not much chance of succeeding in their endeavour to lessen the misery and starvation now existing.

The facts of the case are these :

For some weeks past the opinion has been steadily gaining ground among the miners that if Mr. W. Chappell, the late secretary of the South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire Miners´ Association were entrusted with the management of affairs until the dispute was ended, his efforts would meet with more success than those which have been made by other parties. There are yet some miners in Mexborough who disapprove strongly of Mr. Chappell´s action, but these are in a minority, the general opinion being that the men would have been at work long since but for the outburst of feeling against their late leader on Easter Monday, which had the effect of breaking up the S.Y. & N.D. Association.

It is also considered by the more respectable portion of the Denaby Main miners that the correspondence which has appeared in the Press from time to time when the men have been on the eve of a settlement has done much to injure their cause.

Thus it was that the men decided to keep as secret as possible the circum -stance that Mr. Chappell had been asked to use his good offices with a view to arriving at a basis of settlement. To the spirit of the communication made to him, the late leader of the S.Y. & N.D. Association acceded willingly, expressing his desire to do all that he could to bring the unhappy struggle to a termination. He immediately paid a visit to the colliery and saw Mr. Chambers, the manager, from whom he ascertained that Mr. J. Buckingham Pope was absent, but that he be at Denaby Main on Saturday.

There is a widely expressed hope that negotiations about to be entered upon will prove successful.

A telegram was received yesterday from Barnsley enquiring whether the state -ments which had appeared in the Press on Thursday morning were correct.

There are at present two parties existing at Mexborough among the miners, one in favour of Mr. Chappell´s restoration to office, the smaller party in favour of turning to other means to obtain a settlement.

The Salvation Army announce that on Monday they will distribute 1,500 loaves of bread, 100 pounds of tea, and 225 pounds of soap.

A meeting of the men was held on Saturday morning, in the lodge-room, and a deputation was selected, which afterwards visited the manager, Mr. Chambers, at the colliery offices.

The total number of hands now at work at the colliery is over five hundred. The number employed previous to the stoppage was twelve hundred. There are from three hundred and fifty to four hundred Denaby Main men yet unemployed.

At the end of the present week the Staffordshire men will have to board themselves. The officials anticipate the arrival of a large contingent of workmen from Staffordshire at the end of the present week. Some of the new workmen have been heard to assert that trade prospects are exceedingly gloomy in Staffordshire that miners are clamouring to put their names down for work at Denaby Main.

It has been decided that only married men will be brought Denaby Main in the future, so that the company´s houses can be rapidly filled up. The large number of empty cottages yet remaining in the village must be a source of great loss to the company.

The police force at the colliery has been materially weakened of late, and excepting on Saturdays and Sundays, when the small body of constables is strengthened somewhat, there is nothing to show that any outbreak of lawlessness is apprehended either on the part of the Staffordshire men or the old workmen.

The distress existing among the Denaby Main miners, their wives and families is painfully apparent.

Those who are working are paid at the rate of 5s., 4s. 6d., and 4s. per day respectively, the two latter prices being paid to the fillers according to their capabilities.

The output of coal is now stated to be slightly over 500 tons a day. A great many places in the pit are now being worked on the `piece rate´ system, the prices being paid are 1s. 4d. for round and 6d. for small coal including packing. Many of the Staffordshire men have been accustomed to work on the rake and pan system, and some actually assert that they prefer it to the system of filling by shovel.

On Tuesday afternoon a train containing about thirty Staffordshire men arrived at Mexborough station.

Bread was distributed among the wives and families of miners on Monday by the Rev. T.J. Leslie.

The Denaby Main miners collected £61 9s. 9d. last week.

On Saturday the Rev. T.J. Leslie received a cheque for £20 from Miss Emma Reeve, Ipswich ; £5 11s. 8d. from Mr. J. Roberts, secretary of the Hull Trades´ Council ; £1 from Mr. H. Adams, Sheffield ; 3s. Norwood ; and 5s. J.J.H. Westall, Devon.