Destructive Fire at Denaby Main Colliery

December 1887

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Thursday 29 December 1887

Destructive Fire at Denaby Main Colliery

The disastrous fire at Denaby Main, which occurred on Christmas Day, and which caused an enormous amount of damage, will, there is only too much reason to fear, be one of the worst of many bitter memories associated with that colliery during the past ‘ few years.

The terms Denaby and disaster have come to be looked upon as almost synonymous. The prolonged strike of 1885 was a  very heavy blow to the Denaby Main Colliery Company. Now, just as the Company had recovered its lost trade, and at a time when the miners  were congratulating themselves upon the ‘ improved business prospects for the coming ‘ year, one of the most destructive tires ‘ which has ever ravaged a South Yorkshire ‘ colliery has broken out and destroyed in a few hours the labour of months.

Early the morning of Christmas Day, while the majority the inhabitants in the colliery village were asleep, and the silence of  the night was unbroken save by the voices of the carol singers, or the rougher noises  of those who had been engaged in a Christmas Eve carousal, a fire broke out in the hydraulic engine-shed, – one of a large group of buildings on the pit ‘ head. No sooner was it discovered by the engine-man on duty than the alarm was given, and yet, so inflammable was the material amongst which the fire had commenced, that – before help could be obtained the whole of the large block buildings, with its valuable hauling machinery, was destroyed.

The flames hissed and roared as if revelling in their work of destruction. All possible means were taken to extinguish the lire, and the colliery workmen fought with the determination of men who knew that most serious issues were stake. The fire brigades from Mexborough. Rotherham, and Doncaster appeared on the scene the disaster only to discover that their efforts, however gallant they  might be, were foredoomed to failure.

Baffled and beaten back in all directions it was not long before the extent of the catastrophe was  made known the hardy dwellers on the banks of the Don, and Mexborough, Denaby, and Conisborough awoke to the circumstance that three thousand persons dependent on one of the largest collieries in South Yorkshire will have to face the winter season without any of the comforts which even the poorest expect this time of the year. The only bright spot in the gloomy occurrence was the fact that no lives were lost. There will, however, much distress in the district during the next six months, and we hope that the purse-strings the charitable South Yorkshire will be freely unloosed.

This is no  case in which the fault can traced to either; employers or employed. Both are concerned in common catastrophe, and both must suffer, but the lot of the workmen, bereft of comfort, must be indeed be hard.

We shall be glad to receive contributions however small, towards the relief of those who are the more destitute, to supplement the efforts of the miners employed in other pits in the vicinity, who will only he too glad to render what small assistance they can. .Several hundred pounds will be required once, andj we shall be pleased to publish weekly a list of contributions towards the fund, if ever there I was need for assistance Denaby it is at the ‘ present time, and those who contribute will; have the grateful thanks of a whole community.