A Good Meal for 1500 Little Ones – Feeding the Hungry.

January 1903

Mexborough and Swinton Times, January 2 1903.

Feeding the Hungry.
A Good Meal for 1500 Little Ones.
The Reverent Jesse Wilson’s Laudable Effort.

The promised feeding of thehungry children of the strikers materialised on Tuesday afternoon, and was responsible for a scene that will long linger in the memories of those present in attendance on the little ones. Tickets were previously issued to the number of 1000, but this proved totally inadequate to meet a monster juvenile rush which totalled fully 1500, and every child that presented itself at the Primitive Methodist Schoolroom, whether holding a ticket or not, was admitted, and a staff of 60 helpers under the superintendence of the reverent, J.Wilson organised the effort, had their hands pretty full to meet the exigencies of the moment.

The reason that the tea was held in the aforementioned schoolroom was simply for the sake of convenience, and it in no way partook of the nature of a denominational effort, for the reverent Jesse Wilson’s appeal for financial help had been generously responded to by the general public.

He was presented with a Christmas morning donation of £4 12s 10d, from the Wath Free Church Council, and on Saturday as a result of the collection at the Sheffield Wednesday football ground, he was helped further by the handsome sum of £8 2s 6d, whilst private subscriptions have swelled the necessary funds; which had such happy results on Tuesday.

And could those who contributed had seen the gladness and eagerness with which the children partook of the good things provided, they would have felt more than repaid. The idea of giving all the children a tea arose in the reverent Wilson’s mind as he daily witnessed the sight of pinched and hungry little ones, a condition of things brought about through no fault of their own, and no sooner had the thought come than action followed, and, as a result of his public appeal, the reverent gentleman achieved a conspicuous success.

The tea for the Denaby, Cadeby, and Conisbrough children was time to start at four o’clock, but fully half an hour previous 700,who hadmade an imposing procession marching in row of three, arrived from those villages, and their wants were immediately attended to. The rush for the doors was truly remarkable, and our reporter had a deal of difficulty in getting through the crowds of children; 1,500 children at any time would be a striking sight, but when hundreds of them are wearing that look which hunger paints only too well, the spectacle becomes far more impressive.

It is true, all were scrupulously clean face and hands, and the animation of anticipation sheds a certain amount of brightness upon them all, but there werefar too many cases where poverty called for a speedy strike settlement and was noticeable in the rugged clothes and the wan and pinched character of the features, a look which rapidly puts an old appearance on a young face.

800 came from the villages, and 700 from Mexborough, and the task of giving such an Army a real, good tea, was enormous; but, thanks to the method and cordial agreement that prevailed amongst the helpers it was done, and every child went away satisfied.

Buttered bread, spice and seed cakes and buns, were to be had in abundance, and a striking indication of the hunger of the children could be found in the fact that the bread and butter was the most sought-after, for when a youngster is happy and well fed it generally prefers cake to the other.

All the incoming children went in one way and out another, and as each left they were presented with a bun, and orange, and 2 ounces of good sweets, although so unexpected was the number that this parting gift hardly ran out for all of them.

Three baskets of provisions that were leftover were afterwards sent out by the reverent Jesse Wilson for distribution to the most deserving families. The constant coming and going of the children extended from half past three until seven o’clock, during which time the reverent and Mrs Wilson, the reverent and Mrs C Mathieson, Mr and Mrs G Squires, Mr JA Atkinson, Mr J. E. Cliff (chairman of the Mexborough urban district Council) and Mrs Cliff, Mr and Mrs Sutton, Mrs Tyers, Mrs R Adamson, Mr H Tyers, Mr Brown and a host of helpers, together with a number of ladies, who brought the children in from the villages, worked indefatigably to see that all wants were attended to.

It certainly was a memorable feast, and the little ones did full justice to it.