Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Thursday 24 July 1919
Coal Miner’s Strike
Mines Quickly Flooding.
Messages from other correspondents throughout the district show how serious the situation. At the Mitchells Main Colliery, Wombwell, there is a tremendous inrush of water. That the situation is exceedingly critical may be gathered from the statement of a prominent local union official that, in order to keep the colliery free of water, the pumps have been lifting in normal times 500 gallons per minute. The pumps have been standing since Monday. No naval men have yet arrived.
The whole of the winders in the Doncaster and Mexbro’ district are out with the exception of Edlington and Brodsworth, where the men are allowed to work according to agreement, as the pits supply water to the villages for domestic purposes. The same applies to Arken, where there is no difficulty about water; the pumping is proceeding to keep the supply to the new village.
Twenty thousand men are out in the Rotherham area. Several pits in this district are liable to flooding.
At Messrs. Charlesworth’s Colliery, at Kilnhurst, the plant is wholly set down, but the necessity for pumping is not less paramount.
The Dislocation of Trade.
Besides the dislocation of work in the iron and steel trades in Rotherham, there are about 2,400 men unable to continue employment at the Parkgate Iron and Steel Works. Only one blast furnace is running. The large by-product works at Parkgate, belonging to Earl Fitzwilliam are also idle. There appears to be no uniform rule as to pumping.
Ventilation is being kept going at Cortonwood, and pumping from the Barnsley bed at the Denaby mine is being allowed, though curiously enough a similar concession is refused at the Cadeby pit, whiich is associated, and this mine is already suffering from flood.
Pumping also going on without interference Goldthorpe, a shallow pit which would be drowned in an hour or two if it were left alone. There are no bluejackets in the Mexborough district or in the Rotherham district.
Messrs. Kilner Brothers’ glass bottle works at Conisborough, closed down yesterday for lack of fuel. Most of the glass bottle works in the Mexborough district will be stopped this week if the strike is not settled.
The outlook for the South Yorkshire by-product industry is particularly gloomy. There are 35 first-class plants in South Yorkshire, and all have been stopped since Saturday. The coke-oven workers withdrew their labour in conformity with an arrangement with the miners but the coke oven men realise that the plants are in peril and that their livelihood is at stake. They are anxious to keep the ovens going but cannot without the approval the miners. The ovens are fast losing heat, and they go cold, they will in a few days, they will be ruined internally, and the operation of re-lining as well re-lighting them will take months.
The steel works will also be affected, for they are largely dependent on the by-product plants of South Yorkshire, and these two large groups of workers, the coking-men and the steel workers, are threatened with a long period of unemployment, no matter what the issue of the miners’ strike.