Apr 9th – Denaby Riots – 122 summonses for Intimidation

April 1877

Sheffield Telegraph – April 9th
The Strike at Denaby Main Colliery
122 Summonses for Intimidation

Yesterday a special police court was held at Rotherham, to investigate 122 charges of “intimidation and unlawfully following,” which had been preferred in the name of Henry Walters, an underground manager, against about 80 men and women, residing at Denaby.

The charges were the result of someriotous proceedings which took place at Denaby on Tuesday, the 20th, and Wednesday, 21 March. It will be remembered that about three months ago, in consequence of the depressed state of trade, the Denaby Main Colliery Company found it necessary to commence arrangement for closing a portion of their works, and that at the beginning of February, they did so, and sold a number of horses for which they had no use. When the movement for a reduction of 6 ½ per cent in miners wages was made by the call on, the Denaby Main Co. Give them a notice for a similar reduction, which was accepted after an understanding had been come to in reference to some matters of detail. The company were still unable to find employment for the whole of their late employees, and they gave the preference to those with wives and families, without taking into consideration the question of unionist or non-unionist. This led to a series of minor annoyances, and ultimately to a riot which took place on the day’s named. Since then matters have been amicably arranged, and the dispute itself is settled.

The summonses were divided into four batches of 47, 14, 42, and 14, respectively. The first two batches related to offences committed on the 20th ult., and the last 2 to offences committed on March 21, and on each day two separate offences were committed, viz, “intimidation and unlawfully following.” The 47 summonses, which are for “unlawfully following” on March 20, as were taken first.

The magistrates present were Mr G.W.Chambers and Mr H.Jubb. – Mr F.Parker Rhodes, instructed by the Denaby Main Colliery Company, prosecuted; and Mr Clegg defended.

Mr Rhodes, in opening the case, said that the 47 defendants were charged under the fifth section of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, that they did. “Unlawfully, wrongfully, and without legal authority, follow George Wilson, Isaac Gregory, John Goulding, Joseph Urwin, and others, in a disorderly manner, in and through a certain street or road at Denaby on 20 March.”

The persons were working at the Denaby Main Colliery while the workmen who had been previously employed there were on strike, and when they were going from the colliery on the 20th ultimo they were followed by a crowd of persons, who hooted and shouted at them, calling them “black sheep” and other similar epithets, and using such phrases as “go into the black sheep,” “knock their heads off,” and “stone them.” The crowd also followed them in a tumultuous and disorderly manner for a considerable distance. He proposed to prove that the workmen were coming from the pit on the day in question in their working clothes, that the crowd stood as he had described, and followed the men on the road, and that the defendants, then before the magistrates, were taking part in the proceedings of the crowd.

Police Constable G.Midgley said that on the date in question he was on the road leading from the colliery to the new buildings. The men who were working left the pit at about two o’clock, and at that time he saw a large crowd of persons on the road opposite what was called “pit row.” He noticed that the crowd allow the workmen to pass through, but they shouted, “hurrahed,” and “bah´d.” After the workmen are gone through, the crowd followed, still shouting, “hurrahing,” and “bahing.” They also shouted, “don’t let `em go,” and pushed. He then identified 13 men and 11 women who were in the crowd, and, amongst whom were the defendants. There were 200 or 300 persons in the crowd. The tumult lasted for about two hours and he was the only policeman present.

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