Free Day at Denaby – Munificence of Colliery Company

June 1887

Mexborough and Swinton Times June 24 1887

A Free Day at Denaby
Munificence of the Colliery Company

The term “red letter day” has been used so often that it has lost a great deal of its original meaning – “a day to be remembered, above all things” – but in describing the scene at Denaby Main on Tuesday last it was a “red letter day” in the widest sense imaginable.

It was a day which will never be forgotten by anyone who took part in it, and the fact it was “free” all round makes it almost unique even amid the many generous actions and munificence gifts which have characterised the Jubilee week. It is a pleasing thing on which to reflect when one finds that a whole town, and for the matter of that a considerable portion of the places adjoining, are invited to join en masse in festivities in which every thorough going Englishmen takes such an earnest delight, by a company of gentlemen who can only in times like the present show this the work people their real desire for their welfare, and the gold hearted feeling by which they are actuated.

For the nature of the place it could hardly be expected that the inhabitants of Denaby, the vast majority of whom are dependent for their bread on the colliery, could get up a fitting celebration of the Jubilee, and the company, desirous of showing the neighbourhood that the working men of Denaby were not behind and them in their devotedness o the Crown, and their reverence for this Sovereign, decided to institute arrangements, which resulted in the celebrations of Tuesday.

Towards the success of the affair, Mr WH Chambers, manager of the colliery, has greatly contributed, and he has been ably assisted by Messrs Rose, E Mountford, all right, saw, H Schofield, Hoyle (schoolmaster) etc.

The pit was set down on Monday morning, and the holiday extended to Tuesday and Wednesday.

Early on Tuesday morning the children assembled under the management of Mr Hoyle and Mr Rose, and paraded through the street to the colliery recreation ground to the number of about 800. Arriving there they sang several Jubilee hymns. They were afterwards taken into the school room adjoining and a large bun was given to each child for luncheon, with lemon water to drink.

Afterwards a children’s sports were held over which Messrs Hoyle, Hawkins and Ross presided, and then the cricket match came on for decision. Sides were chosen by Messrs Kaye and Mountford and prizes were offered for batting and bowling. A start was affected promptly at 11 o’clock and the stumps were drawn at 2 o’clock.

Kay’s side won somewhat easily; the scores were; Kay’s side 88 (F Hoyle and 41 and Roper 17, prizes; Mountford side 27 (Beardsley and Blunt prizes.” The bowling prizes were taken by Beardsley and Pat Aylward.

During the afternoon the Conisborough Brass Band attended and played several selections of music and also played for dancing. About this time the attendance had become considerable increase, and to give some idea of how many people there were in the field we may state that the 2500 medals which were opting for distribution were all gone early in the afternoon.

It is computer that at one time during the afternoon there were 5000 people, a large number of spectators been strangers. There were in addition to the sports several attractions on the field.

The Sheffield Perseverance Minstrels gave open-air performances throughout the day, and there was always large crowd collected round who are highly delighted with the antics of the performers.

Horton’s Punch and Judy Shaw was also present, but a special feature was a performance by a “Mr Blondin,” who, we believe, hails from Mexborough. He afforded considerable entertainment by his performances with his “wonderful dog,” whose tricks were decidedly entertaining, and far exceeded the expectations of the spectators. “Blondin” himself perform some clever feats very creditably on the trapeze, and his contribution to the programme was pronounced a success.

During the afternoon the sports took place. Mr Chambers was the starter, whilst Mr E Mountford was responsible for the handicapping of the men, and the management of the racing.

The following is a return of the races:

120 yards handicap: 1. J Wingfield; 2. W Soar; 3. R Leivers

120 yards handicap for boys under 16: 1. E Hatton; 2. W Humphreys; 3. John Slater.

200 yards hurdle race: 1. W Soar; 2 W Hoyland; 3 J Beardsley.

440 yards handicap flat race: 1. W Soar; 2. Thomas Holmes; 3. R Leivers.

Medley race: 1. J Beardsley; 2. J Cook; 3. Hoyland

100 yards old men’s race: 1. J. Antcliffe; 2. S Bamford; 3. G Beckett

Obstacle Race: 1. M Coyne; 2. WH Briggs; 3. J Cooke

Tug-of-war (winning team): J Cook, Watson, Smith, Allsop, new Brown and Blunt

Basting the duck: 1. J Scott 2. J Cooke, 3. D Ferrady.

The prizes were of various kinds and included a number of cabinets, cricket bats, walking sticks, albums, tablespoons, teaspoons, knives and forks, pocket knives, writing desks, toilet case, four timepieces, watches, three splendid cases of carvers, case of desert spoons, copper kettles, lanterns, toys of various descriptions etc.

The prizes were distributed to the successful competitors at the colliery offices at 12 o’clock Wednesday morning.

At the close of the sports on Tuesday night a vote of thanks to the Company was proposed by Mr Marsh, and seconded by Mr Crofts (both miners), for the splendid treat which had been provided, and Mr W H Chambers acknowledged the vote, which was enthusiastically carried, on behalf of the company.

Afterwards a splendid display of fireworks took place, provided by the celebrated firm of Pain and Sons of London, and during the evening a balloon was dispatched.

Mr Slater, of the Reresby Arms, had a booth on the ground for the sale of refreshments. Tea etc were to be obtained close at hand at the school, where, we have omitted to mention, all the children partook of tea early in the afternoon.

Mr Rose, Mrs Rose and the Misses Rose had the management of refreshments in the school, and gave great satisfaction.

It is a noteworthy incident and one calculated to reflect the highest credit of the Denaby Main miners that the police never had the slightest occasion to interfere in any way during the day, and it should be mentioned that an inebriated person was not to be seen, so exemplary was the behaviour of the men.

The children’s sports, which were postponed on Tuesday on account of the lengthy nurse of the programme were continued on Wednesday.