Mexborough and Swinton Times August 14, 1885
Meeting of the Denaby Main Miners, Yesterday Afternoon
Mr Benjamin Pickard on the situation
a meeting of the Denaby miners will sell near the reverent T.J.Leslie’s house yesterday afternoon. There was about 250 men present.
Mr Pickard, secretary to the Yorkshire Miners Association, said he hoped there were reporters present as at last meeting they had someone on the platform to gave the information. This was a practical meeting, and meeting of the men, no hole and corner meeting (applause) and it was not to undo what the hole and corner men had done. (Hear, hear)
The men who had made the messes would have to wipe them up again. (Laughter) He deprecated the turn affairs had taken. It was just the way to smash up the best organisation working if there was no confidence in the men at the head of affairs. He proposed that Mr Leslie take the chair. (Applause.) This was carried unanimously.
The Chairman said he was not sorry that they had the opportunity of meeting together for conference that afternoon. Certain paragraphs appeared in the papers last week – on Thursday and Friday – in reference to Mr Chappell been sent for to bring this dispute to an end. He (Mr Leslie) had an impression when he read those paragraphs that they would stop the flow of Christian sympathy, and he expressed the fear to some of his friends who cooperated with him in this relief fund, and they were of the same opinion.
He should be exceedingly glad – exceedingly glad – if this dispute could be brought to an end on successful terms; terms that were just between them and their late employers. He was sure that no one would rejoice more heartily than he would. His work was simply one of benevolence. When he commenced the work it was not with any intention or desire to enter into a trade dispute. He simply enters upon the work to relieve them of a portion of the distress, and to overcome that which was necessary. As he stated last Monday at Barnsley yet nothing whatever to do with the lock out or the cruel evictions.
Mr Buckingham Pope and Mr Nicholas had charged him with continuing the strike. He need not refute that assertion. It was not until 8 April that he came forward to render what help he could. Since then day after day, he had been trying to get help for them and their families, and personally he should be exceedingly glad if they were at work again; and any settlement they might come to would not effect him – if they went in at 1 shilling a ton it will be their lookout, not his.
He would like to see such a settlement as be able to keep themselves and their families. He would only be too glad when his special work was not needed any longer.
In reference to some of the statements that appeared in that morning’s paper, he scarcely fell at all prepared to investigate them. All he could say was that if 1s 2 1/2d for round and 6d for slack, be a very small reduction upon what they had had, he had been very greatly deceived in the past, and he believed a great number of other people had been deceived. He had been given to understand that this was a very great reduction, and if they could take that money to live upon it, it was different to what he had been given to understand. (A voice: We can’t.)
He might just say that if they were prepared to make a settlement he was not desirous of interfering with it. They found that they could not continue the struggle, the most honourable way was to say so and to accept the best terms offered to them. He did not think that was the feeling of the men before him. There was a deputation appointed at the last meeting to go from that meeting to see the manager. Perhaps they had better have the report of the deputation, and see what the results of their deliberations had been. Were there any of the deputation present?
After a pause, one of the deputation was called upon. He said the question had been freely discussed by the men in the Lodge room, and he would not interfere with it himself.
Mr Pickardsaid all he knew was this. He never had received any communication from the secretary about it. All he knew was what he had seen in the newspapers, and he had come down to know if there had been a deputation sent for a definite purpose.the question with him was that he had not come to interfere with the branch if the branch and decided it. If the local secretary and the local committee had decided, he had nothing to do with it. The only thing was that someone was responsible, or a body was responsible, and the secretary was one of them. He had a letter in his hand that said that a letter be sent to Mr Chappell by the local secretary, therefore there must have been a connection between the secretary and Mr Chappell.
At the conference last week you met Miss Dixon, and had a conversation with him, in the course of which the word “umbrage” was used. Well, what he said to Mr Dixon appeared in the paper next my, and it was a singular thing that “umbrage” appeared in the report. He was not going to allow John Dixon to misrepresent him. To bring men to shore discord among them was a discreditable thing. He should have thought that if they belong to the Yorkshire Miners Association they should trust the leaders connected with it, and send them all the information so they could them to form a fair opinion of what was going on. But instead of that, unless they sorted themselves, they never had any information about matters going on. As he said he was very much afraid that someone had been leading them astray ever since the commencement. Some of them no doubt had read Friday morning’s papers. He was surprised that the conversation between him and Mr Dixon was disclosed, and also when he received a letter from Mr Chappell on the same subject, seen that Mr Dixon said that he knew nothing at all about it.
He was going to read Mr Chappell’s letter so asked him keep himself right about any statements he might make. This was the letter he received last Friday morning, the day after he had spoken to their secretary:
“Sir, You need not take umbrage! (This was the very word that appeared in the Sheffield independent)-course at my action in the Denaby case. You must remember that I have more at stake than you (laughter) in the matter.” He did not know what he had at stake. “I trust you will not cease helping the men because of any steps I may take for their welfare.”
How did Mr Chappell get any idea that he would take any umbrage in the matter will stop accept this, if the men did not want them it was only fair that he should get a communication from Mr Chappell. He was certain that if the Denaby Main men showed such changeable view, belonging to one society one day and another the next, the Yorkshire Miners Association would want to know what sort of men they were.
This was quite clear to the Denaby Main men, only that John Dixon could go straightaway to Rotherham that night and tell Chappell.
Mr Dixon: I did not stop
Mr Picard: All right my lad
Mr Dixon: I will explain it when you are done
Mr Pickardcontinued reading Mr Chappell’s letter:
“I need not remind you you have no access to the Company (laughter) nor need I remind you of the cause of the attitude of Mr Pope towards you. Further you did all you could to decry men away from us, and the action of some of you lies at the root of the men refusing to adopt the suggestion of Easter Monday, which is a true solution of the prices at Denaby Main.” Mr Pickardasked if he ever was near to the men on that day, continuing: “I have no more intention of reorganising the district than I had 12 months ago, and therefore do not turn the men over to us, but do what you can. I have not yet seen Mr Pope, Yours truly, W Chappell
Mr Pickardasked just one question about this letter. On the morning he received it he white to Mr Dixon asking an explanation and paid for a reply, but was informed that Mr Dixon had gone to Leeds. He happened, in company with Mr Cowell, to have business in Leeds that day, and they met Mr Dixon. He put a question to Mr Dixon and his reply was, “I do not know anything at all about was seen Mr Chappell.” He (Mr Picard) said he ought to have let him know all sent for Mr Chappell. He wished it to be clearly understood so far as the Association was concern, that if they took them away from Mr Chappell they did not take any steps to do it. If there were decoyed, who brought them.
Mr Pickardcontinued to speak of the last council meeting at Barnsley and the action of the delegate who represented the Denaby Lodge. The secretary (Mr Dixon) left before the matter relative to Denaby was discussed, and after the meeting he found a letter from him, addressed to him, and asking the Association to make a grant towards the Denaby men. That was how the question of money was started. He wanted to know if that was confidence. If a resolution was passed why did they not send to him? Ali wanted to say was, you did not want to be made a fool of. If they treated him roughly he could give it them back. Well, Mr Leslie had been open to abuse, ridicule and condemnation. The statements in the Press and in their own circles during the past quarter showed that the men had been going on criminally – if it was to be believed – ever since the dispute commenced and that put Mr Leslie in a queer position.
You wish them to understand that he was not responsible for the coming out on strike. The shopkeepers without jubilant, and the workmen rejoicing, at the prospect of going in. He noticed that it had been arranged that Mr Chappell should Telegraph to North Staffs to stop the men from coming. He also noticed according to the report, that a list of 65 colliers had been delivered and were about to be engaged. He would like to know to whom that list was sent. Who were the men included? Was for instance, Peter Hatton left out, and certain other men? They seem to think that he (Mr Picard) came there to make mischief. It was themselves that made the mischief. The first thing that made anyone throw a shy look at him was when he asked how it was that the money from Barnsley was not accounted for, and since then they had gone over to others.
They had allowed Mr Chappell to go to the colliery and asked the company for their terms. He could settle all disputes in the country in a month if they would let him do that. The owners did not mean what they said, and were not prepared to carry out their proposals. They never intended having them back, unless at their own prices. If it was 33% reduction before, you would ask those men what it was now, if they knew anything at all about figures. It must be 50%.
The Barnsley association said to them “You have now made your bed and you must lie upon, or go and try to make the best of their difficulty you have made of it.” They would accept no responsibility for it.
Mr Leslie proposed that they should all register their names as members of the Barnsley Miners Association.
Mr Dixon said he had had some heavy shots fired at him. Mr Pickardasked him aptly if there was any truth in that (Friday) morning’s papers. He said there was a bit of truth in it. Mr Cowie was also present. Mr Chappell was connected with them because he had intimated to the men that he could bring about a settlement. In accordance with the decision of a general meeting, E Telegraph for Mr Chappell. Mr Chappell came down, so the money, and afterwards reported arrangements yet come to a deputation.
With respect to the Barnsley Association, the all thought they were financial members and they were dealt with assault. They went on like that for some time, and then Mr Pickardtold them of the rule that the could not receive until they had paid. All that had taken place he had not done upon his own book. Mr Dixon said he told the members of the committee when he got on as he thought it was his duty to do so. The real question was “Are you prepared to continue the struggle?”
Mr Astbury, the delegate referred to, denied some of Mr Pickardstatements respecting the council meeting at Barnsley.
Mr Dixon said it was misunderstood that the invitation Mr Chappell had been sent by a committee. It was sent by a general meeting.
Mr Leslie then proposed that the men joined the Barnsley Association, and Mr P Hatton seconded, and it was carried.