Chapter 7 Pubs, Cinemas & The Christian Budget

In 1867 the Reresby Arms, known locally as `The Pig” was re-structured from farm buildings and the site of a former beer house. It was a popular meeting place for the men who would gather there, still in their “muck” to play card games, dominoes, and to drink. Beer at that time was 1/2d per gallon and porter 1/- per gallon. The Reresby Arms was an independent public house, not tied in any way to the colliery company, but in 1894 the Denaby Main Hotel or “Big Drum” was built in opposition by the company. It was they who appointed the landlord and made him answerable to the owners.

Wages in these early days were paid out at the Denaby Main Hotel and much of the money was spent on beer before it reached the wives and families. The public house was closed for one hour at 5pm to enable the men to take home their wages. The wives would then shop for weekly groceries and attend the markets. In 1896 the landlord was Mr. W. Atkinson, and meetings of the Druids Lodge were held there under the secretaryship of A. Hammond of Cliff View.

Most of the clubs and public houses, had “bookies runners” who collected bets for recognised book-makers, even though this was illegal. The front rooms of many houses were also used for the taking of bets, not just from men, but also from women, who could also be responsible for the loss of the house-keeping money. Children were sometimes used as lookouts to give warning of the approach of police. During the 1926 strike, Dan Dalton a Denaby bookmaken gave ten shillings (50p) per week to many Roman Catholic families.

There was much gaming and betting carried on in the clubs, and out of doors, generally on the “Crags”. In 1897 the last bare knuckle fight, lasting fourteen rounds took place there, with much gambling on the winner. Pitch and toss in the “Big Entry” near the “Drum” was commonplace. At Doncaster West Riding

Police Court in 1900, five men were fined 2/6d each with 5/- costs for gaming (tossing) in Sprotborough Street. Two other miners Thomas Gallacher and William Jones were each fined 5/- with 11/- costs for using obscene language, Jacob and Abram Crookes, Harry Ward, James Harrison and Joseph Brewin, all miners from New Conisboro were fined 7/- with 9/- costs, for obstructing the highway and fighting.

In 1899 the Christian Budget, condemned the village as being “the worst village in England”, and it stated that instead of being an ideal community with plenty of work and new housing, it was “a hell upon earth”. The report aroused great indignation, and many influential locals said the description was “a gross exaggeration” The colliery company instituted proceedings against the publishers, forcing them to make a public apology and pay legal costs. The same Christian Budget had also reported that one third of the profits from the village Co-operative Stores, came from the sale of beer and spirits. The “Drum” as rumour says, made enormous profits too, sometimes as high as 50%. The already extensive premises were further increased about 1899 with the addition of a great tap room, or “boozy”. It was also reported that a wife could be bought for 1/-. 0n Mondays the drinkers generally stayed away from work, but wives would begin their weekly procession to the pawnshop, where clothes and even bedding was pawned. Rents were 4/- to 5/- per week, stopped at source by the company, so they ran no risk of having bad debts.

Wages at the turn of the century were 7/- and 8/- per day and when they were received the housewife would take her weekly order to the grocers, or the Co-op for weekly supplies. Groceries were delivered by horse and dray, but much use was also made of the little corner shops. These were usually in the front rooms of the colliery houses, where more enterprising housewives would try to make a few extra coppers to feed and clothe the family. Goods bought during the week were often “on tick” and not paid for until the next pay day. Sometimes even then, only part of the debt would be paid. Lf it had not been for these traders many of the children would have gone hungry. It was especially during strikes that small shopkeepers were much appreciated, because they extended credit to the point of bankruptcy. The same cannot be said of the supermarkets of today, as evinced by the last miner´s strike of 1984/5.

In 1866 the colliery company financed the building of the Denaby Main Institute, which was to become the first recreational centre for the village, with a library of 1400 books, a reading room, and billiards rooms. The colliery helped to pay the upkeep, but members assisted by their weekly subscriptions. In 1909 a girls´ institute was opened in Cliff View, later to become the “Blood and Bandage”, headquarters of the St. John´s Ambulance Brigade.

By 1912 there was an open air swimming bath on the “rec” at the rear of the Reresby Arms. 0ver the next few years other workingmen´s´ clubs made their appearance, including the Miners Welfare, St. John´s Ambulance Club, Comrades Club, St. Albans´ Social Club and the Northcliffe Club.

The Empire cinema was opened in 1913, with Mr Goodison as one time manager. He was a very strict disciplinarian, and would walk around carrying a stick. Any misbehaviour resulted in the miscreant being ordered out and not allowed back without permission, and he had a very good memory for faces!

The “Large Hall” of Rossington Street School was a cultural centre for the village as well as being a church and church hall, before the building of the parish church. Weekly violin and orchestral classes were held there under the auspices of Moses Soar and his wife, often with more than 60 pupils per session. Dances took place every Saturday evening, and there were temperance meetings in the hall although it is doubtful if the latter were as well attended. The St.John´s Ambulance class at one time met there for instruction from Dr Twigg, and there were concerts, graced by the presence of well known musicians and vocalists from as far afield as Sheffield and Manchester. Its uses as sports and exhibition hall as well as a place of worship and education, are well known. The altar was in the present dining room and a concert stage was built in front of the altar.

Dr MacArthur, who lived at Red House, was well known for his dedication, to the village, as was his son Ian. They are both buried in Denaby Cemetery and in the parish church is a memorial window, which was installed as a gift from local residents.

They both attended patients at Fullerton Hospital which had been built in 1905 on an acre of land donated by I.S.H. Fullerton Esq. of Thrybergh, at a cost of £3,000. The upkeep of the hospital was funded by weekly donations from the Denaby and Cadeby miners and colliery workers. The hospital is now in 1989 being considered for closure and patients transferred to the nearby Montagu Hospital at Mexborough.

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