Disobeying the Orders of a Deputy

September 1900

Mexborough and Swinton Times, September 7.

Disobeying the Orders of a Deputy.

Charge against  Two Cadeby Miners.

At the Doncaster West Riding Police Court on Saturday, two miners name Thomas Monaghan and Tom Peplow, living at Denaby Main, were summoned for having committed a breach of colliery special rule 106 at Cadeby colliery, where they were employed.

Mr Gichard, solicitor, Rotherham, appeared for the Denaby and Cadeby Collieries Ltd and Mr Baddiley, solicitor, Doncaster, instructed at the instance of the Yorkshire Miners Association, represented the defendants. Major Dove was the presiding magistrate.

Mr Gichard, in opening the case for the prosecution, said the special rule 106, provided that all persons employed in the mine shall be under the control of the manager, under manager, deputies, and shall at all times, obey their lawful commands.

On 24 August a deputy name Mosby, in the course of his rounds, went into the working place of the two defendants, and there saw a quantity of roofing, which was supported by timber. He told the defendants. They were to build a pack wall under a portion of the room before they drew out the timber. On the following day, deputy Mosby found the defendants withdrawing the timber without having all babies order. This was a very dangerous thing to do; it might have endangered the men themselves.

The deputy was appointed to see that the working of the mine was carried on safely. The timber should not have been withdrawn until the pack wall had been built.

Thomas William Mosby, Geoffrey, stated that when he visited the defendants working place on August 24. He told them that the timber should not be taken out until a proper pack had been built. On the following day he found them join the timber without having built the pack wall.

On cross-examination by Mr Baddiley, the witness said that in order to build the back wall, the defendants would have to get a quantity of dirt; the Park was made of fallen Earth.

Mr Baddiley: when you asked the men to make this back did they point out to you that some of the props of being taken away, and that the dirt would not come down?

The witness: they did not.

Did they point out to you it was unsafe? No.

Did they ask you to send dirt to make it? No.

Now is it not a fact that from the place where you awarded this pack to be made to where the earth had fallen there was a space between four and 6 feet where the props had be removed and the earth had not come down? No.

Supposing that there was a place where the props had been taken away and the dirt and not come down, would it have been unsafe for men to work under it?

It would if the roof was bad.

Birch, in any event, it would be unsafe, wouldn’t it?

Not altogether; it just depends.

Would you expect men to work in a place where the props and been taken out and the Earth and not come down? No.

Re-examined by Mr Gichard: if the place was unsafe the defendants could have put the props back and then made the pack wall. In the exercise of his duty and discretion he considered the proper thing to do was to build a pack wall and he gave them an order to that effect.

George Cutlow Stones, Deputy Under Manager at Cadeby main, said that the trace of August he was in company with deputy Mosby, when he visited the defendants working place. The men were in the act of drawing props from under the roof. The witness saw the chalk mark on the roof, which indicated that a pack was to be built there before any timber was drawn. An order not to remove timber until a pack wall had been built at that place would be a proper one. There was plenty of material close by with which to build a pack wall. The men were paid for doing that kind of work.

Daniel Henry Wright, an assistant deputy, said that on 25 August, he went into the defendants working place, and found that a quantity of the roof had come down. Apart from the earth that had recently fallen there was plenty of material there to enable the men to build a pack wall. Speaking from his own experience, he conceded it was a proper thing that a pack wall should be built at the place before the timber was removed.

Harry Sykes Witty, certified manager of the mine, said he knew the place where the defendants worked. It would be improper for them to draw the timber before a pack wall had been built, and the order given by deputy Mosby was a proper one. The object of having pack walls built before the timber was withdrawn, was to prevent large quantities of the roof falling, and let it settle gradually down.

Mr Baddiley, speaking on behalf of the defendants, said that what they contended for in that case was that they were perfectly justified in disobeying the order of the deputy, and the reason being that the order was not a lawful one, because it was unreasonable, and to have obeyed the order would have been unsafe. The witness Wright and fairly admitted that between the place where the deputy ordered the men to make a pack and the place where the dirt was which would make a pack. There was a part where the props had been taken away and the earth had not come down.

Mr Gichard: it is the duty of the men to build pack walls where they are needed, whether ordered by the deputy or not.

Mr Baddiley, continuing, said the men would have been endangering their lives if they had carried out the order. Their objection was not a frivolous one. The men thought seriously about it, and it was taken before the leaders of the Miners Union, and permission was obtained from Mr Chambers for a deputation representing the men to but the spot. The members of that deputation will tell the Bench that what the defendants did was a proper thing to do.

Tom Peplow, one of the defendants, said he worked along with Monaghan in stall 26. It was perfectly true that when Mosby came on 24 August, he ordered them to build a pack wall where he made a mark, and also said they were not to draw the timber. They told him it would not be safe to go underneath where the props had been taken away, and the dirt had not fallen, in order to get the dirt under the side with which to make the pack. The distance between the place where the pack was ordered to be made, and the place where the dirt was then lying would be about six or 7 yards. Monaghan told deputy Mosby it would be unsafe for them to get the dirt out of the back row, the timber that supported the roof between having been withdrawn Monaghan also said that if Mr Mosby will send a man with some dirt they would make the pack wall, but Mr Mosby said he would not send a man. There was no Earth with which to make the pack wall without going under the unsafe part. He would not have gone where Mr Mosby asked him to go through all the money in Denaby.

He asked Mr Mosby to send a man with some dirt, and he would put the pack up, but Mr Mosby did not give him any answer.

Charles Holmes (the Chairman of the Conisborough Parish Council) said he was one of a deputation to visit the working place, along with two other miners. He had heard the evidence of Peplow and Monaghan, and after having examine the place, he considered it was and unreasonable thing to asked the men to do. He had seen the pack wall the men had built, and he considered the men had done the work properly. He had had 30 years´ experience of mining work, and he did not consider the command was a reasonable one.

In answer to Mr Gichard, the witness said he had visited the place on the previous day (August 31). He did not cease on the 24th and 25th. He knew Mr Mosby to be a man of great experience, and he would take him to be a man what to know when a pack wall should be built. Mr witty was also a man of great experience.

Fred Wright, a number member of the deputation, said he himself would have objected to do the work order to be done by the defendant by Mr Mosby. The proper purses to give orders with those employed by the colliery, it is they ordered him to work in an unsafe place he would not do it.

William Berry, who was a member of the deputation, gave similar evidence.

The chairman (Major Dove) said obviously the rules were made to ensure the safety of the men in the mine. There were plenty of men in the pit, and if the defendants found they could not get the earth with which to make the pack. They could have reported the fact to someone in authority. That would have been a logical position for them to adopt, but they took the law into their own and, and by removing the props created another danger. Obviously there must be a conviction.

The cost were 19 shillings in each case, and defendants would each be fined 10 shillings and costs.

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