1872 – The Homes of Colliers


1872 June 24th Sheffield Independant

The Homes of Colliers

The mining Journal says:

The South Yorkshire miners Association, it appears, number 9000 members, and pays a large sum annually to its sick and disabled, as well as for deaths and is, therefore, interested in keeping those connected with it in health, so that they can add to the fund, instead of diminishing it through sickness.

Recently, the executives of the Association, having had their attention drawn to the state of some houses where smallpox made its appearance, determined to take action in the matter – and that, in a manner ensuring greater freedom from disease for the future, a pecuniary saving to the Association, and giving increased comfort to the miners and their families. The first complaint received was from a small town about eight miles from Doncaster, named Mexborough, the seat of some large pottery works, and where about 400 colliers also reside. Many of the houses were in a fearful state, and has no steps had being taken by the local authorities for abating nuisances that were too apparent to require searching for, Mr J Normansell, one of the secretaries of the South Yorkshire miners Association, it appears, visited the town a few days ago, and inspected a great many of the houses occupied by the colliers and their families.

He found them in a deplorable state, the cesspools and ash pits being close to the doors, and the sewage matter running over. That there had been disease and death around such places was just what might have been expected. That there could be a healthy community inhaling such holders was simply an impossibility.

Aided by Mr Pope, the managing director of the Denaby Main colliery, Mr Normansell, it further appears, took steps immediately to improve a great many of the houses inside and outside. A body of whitewashers was improvised, and the houses were attacked by them, some of the ash pits etc, were emptied there and then, while steps were taken to enlarge some cottages by throwing two into one, as the only means by which the sanitary conditions could be improved.

Medical aid was also invoked my Mr Normansell, and arrangements made for calling the attention of the Government Department of Health to the present sanitary state of the town of Mexborough with a view to an inspector been sent down to make a complete and searching enquiry, to suggest the necessary remedies, and how and by whom they are to be carried out. That such an investigation will be made, and that in the course of a few days, the promoters have no doubt, with the result that the local authorities of the town will be obliged to adopt such measures as may be considered necessary for securing the health of the inhabitants, without considering the question of cost.