Mexborough and Swinton Times, June 14.
Foresters Visit to Cadeby Main Colliery.
Mr W.H.Chambers, manager of the Denaby and Cadeby Main colliery company, having very kindly granted a special favour of allowing the members of Courts. “Danum” and “Don” to visit the new coal pit of Cadeby Main, on Thursday last, they, along with a few friends, making a party of 22, including three ladies, preceded by the 1.40 train to Conisborough station, and were met at the entrance to the colliery yard by Mr Witty.
The party was made up as follows: Brother, E.L.Bingham, C.R.Court. “Don” and Mrs Bingham, Brother Al Smith, J.P.C.R.Court. “Danum,” Brother Mainwaring, FS, Brother Kinnear, Brother Close, M.W, Brother, A.A.Bell, Bros Snelling, Brother, Mike Smith, Brother Matthews, Brother Wood and Mrs Wood, Brother Stableforth, Mr S.J.Clark (Borough Accountant,) and Mrs Clark, Mr Farher, Mr Waterton, Mr Harry Bell
The visitors, after divesting themselves of all matches and other inflammable articles and preparing themselves for coal dust generally, and having signed the colliery register, made a move to the safety lamp department, close at hand, where each received a lamp carefully trimmed, which by the way are lit by means of electricity, a contact being formed by pressing the lamp onto a button and plate so arranged as to exactly fit the lamps bottom; and electric light quite close to the wick is the result, the latter immediately become ignited.
These boxes are also placed at convenient places in the mine itself, in case a lamp goes out, the miners relighting it without exposing any flame. From the lamp room to the pit head, up a long step ladder, brought the party together ready for the descent.
The cage accommodation is necessarily somewhat limited, but 12 ladies and gentlemen were closely packed round the sides and, all things being in order, Mr Witty, gave the word, and a start was made. It is not easy to explain the sensations of those who go down a mine for the first time, or only occasionally.
The first hundred yards you appear to have left a large part of your anatomy at the top;you, however, quickly recover yourself, and are conscious of dropping furiously through the air in a confined space. Very quickly there comes a change, and instead of going down the motion appears to be reversed, and you have a feeling that you will presently be shot out of the top of the shaft like a rifle bullet. Before however you come to any definite conclusion as to the direction you are travelling the cage gradually slows up and you find yourself stepping out at the bottom. The time occupied in descending was 65 seconds (being, we understand, a little under normal working).
The sight which met our view on leaving the cage was suggestive of a factory; the high roof with its electric lights, and the army of men and boys coming and going from unknown recesses, the rattle of moving corves full of coal and empty ones returning to be filled along the various routes, the occasional sounding of gongs – all went to make up a scene which was decidedly fascinating and interesting.
The next move was to the lamp inspecting room, where each amateur had his or her lamp inspected through an open window, passing in single file. A start was then made into the workings led by Mr Witty, two or three deputies guiding other sections of the party. Being a new pit, the coal has and is still being got in long drives, resembling narrow lanes, which, as the coal gets removed, is traversed by lines along which the full and empty corves travel to and from between the different coal faces to the shaft.
A fewminutes after the start we came into what we understood to be a timekeeper’s office; it was hard to imagine we were nearly half a mile underground – it was brilliantly lit by electricity, and excepting for the heat one could have been very comfortable there.
The stables were very close at hand, and certainly deserved a visit; the animals were sleek and fat, though, of course, some of them had that peculiar glint in the eye denoting blindness. Everything was clean and cheerful, and the light good. Stalls or breaks enclosed each pony, and their lives were made as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.
From this point onward towards the workings themselves in this particular direction the journey was necessarily laborious to the uninitiated – for the most part, the majority of the party could walk upright, but it required every care to protect your head in the sudden variations of the height of the roof (which was supported by props with steel girders across), and in many places the journey had to be made in a crouching position, the height being occasionally not more than about 4 feet; then the trolley lines, double on the main roads and corves had to be negotiated, as well as the travelling wire ropes, by means of which boys move the corves up and down the various galleries, as required.
This system appears to have superseded the all-time one of pony traction to a large extent, and is a great advance in the right direction; still, it is absolutely necessary to have the pony in places where it is impracticable to carry the rope system, and in conjunction with it at certain points.
The coalface visited, which was approached by a rather steep descent, was named number 22 West, where actual coal getting was witnessed. By the delight of the safety lamp, the miners, bared to the waist, could be dimly seen plying their picks in various attitudes. Some of them were undercutting the house coal, which lies below the steam coal, and were laid on their sides striking the coal horizontally – by no means easy work; and the visitors were thus favoured to witness the actual hewing of the coal will probably be ready to agree that it should have a minimum as well as a maximum price set upon it.
The ladies were willingly allowed to pick a piece for themselves, which will, no doubt, long be treasured as souvenirs of their “mining experience,” and we might add “pluck” for after all it is not every man who would go down a coal mine, and especially the deepest in the district, if he had the chance.
`Familiarity breeds contempt´ is an old adage and very true, and one can readily understand the miners themselves very becoming accustomed to their surroundings, and compared with all the pits the Cadeby mine may be described as luxurious – everything to preserve life and save time and trouble appears to be provided, and the men and boys were uniformly obliging and courteous to the visitors.
The return journey being successfully accomplished, after inspecting the Electrical Department, and numerous other interesting things, too numerous to mention, the ascent was made in 55 seconds, and brilliant sunlight once more greeted the return of the party safe and sound.
After sincerely thanking the management, through Mr Witty, and that gentleman and his subordinates for the very enjoyable two hours, the members and their friends (with the exception of three or fourwho hadto return for business reason) joined those who had remained at Conisborough, and had tea. Amusements in the way of photography, cricket, etc quickly passed the time until seven o’clock, 50 members and friends started by way of the Cliffs at Sprotborough, arriving there at eight o’clock, where a brake was waiting.
Refreshments at the pretty cottage at the bridge was the preliminary to an enjoyable ride back to Doncaster in the cool of the evening.
The arrangements were carried out by the joint committee of courts “Danum” and “Don” and every credit is due to Brother Wilson, D.D.H.C.R., court “Don”, who is the secretary, for the excellent arrangements made and carried out.