Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 17 July 1891
Breaches of Colliery Special Rule 4 – Peggy Marks
Richard Leeke, Joseph Bailey, Thomas Stonehouse and Thomas Drakeley, youths from 15 to 17 years of age, were summoned for a breach of Special Rule four at Denaby Main Colliery on July 3.
Mr Hickmott prosecuted and Mr Hattersley defended by structures of the Yorkshire Miners Association.
Mr Hickmott, in stating the case said on the day in question a message was taken to a corporal that in a pass by the Denaby pit the roof was on the “way” and that a bar was loose. On going to the place the Corporal found on the bar eight or nine peggy marks caused by some person’s eating it, evidently with the object of knocking it out. There was a quantity of just about, about two tons of stuff having come down. The Corporal said it was perfectly clear that someone had been trying to knock the bar out, and he told the defendants that he should report it to the deputy.
Leeke, thereupon said “We had better speak the truth about it. We all had a share in it.” The other defendants admitted having taken part, but when the deputy arrived on the scene they at first denied it, but afterwards said “it’s no use lying about it.” They then admitted to the deputy what they had done.
A quantity of dirt, wearing nearly 2 tons, and fallen from the roof, blocking the past by, which was an intake air course, and consequently affecting the ventilation of the mine to some extent. The only object of the defendant’s action was to secure a few hours rest from work. As a matter of fact the lads could not do any work until a fresh pot was put in. He could not understand why, in a case like this, where the men were simply brought there for their own safety, the Miners Union to take up the case.
John Whitehouse, corporal at Denaby, said on 3 July, shortly after 7 o’clock, in consequence of a communication made to him he went to the pass by and examined the bar and found that it was nearly down. When anything was wrong with the roof it was the duty of the lads to report the matter to the officials. Defendant had never made any report to witness. On examining the bar in question he found eight or nine peggy marks upon it. He told the defendant that they had been trying “to do a good thing” by trying to knock the bar out. Defendant first of all denied it, but on saying he was sent for the death do they admit it, remarking “they all had a hand in it.”
Defendant also stated to the deputy (Jonathan Cooper) that they “had a hand in it.” Before fresh timber could be
set witness had to get about tone of roof down.
Cross-examined by Mr Hattersley, witness admitted that the full corves caught the prop every time they pass. When the bar was finally removed no dirt fell.
Jonathan Rogers said he examined the bar at 5 o’clock and it was perfectly safe and secure in every way. There were no Peggy marks upon it at that time. Shortly after 7 o’clock witness was sent for by the Corporal. He then found the bar and a quantity of roof down.
Mr Hattersley said he was instructed that the defendants did not do anything to bring the dirt down. Bailey had been to fetch some corves and when he came back he found that a great deal of dirt had fallen from the prop. Drakely next arrived and Bailey asked him to fetch the Corporal. Leeke soon afterwards came and admitted he struck the bar with a peggy for the purpose of trying if it was safe or likely to fall down. Defendant contested that it was accustomed to test the safety of bars in this way. Finally the lads knocked the bar out by the instruction of the Corporal. They denied they had knocked any dirt down.
The defendants were called on their own behalf. They said they would have assisted in removing the dirt, and would not have had a holiday.
The magistrates said the evidence was not strong enough for a conviction and they dismissed the charge.