Park and Playground – Denaby Collieries Company’s Proposal

September 1920

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 25 September 1920

Park and Playground
Denaby Collieries Company’s Proposal
Mr WH Chambers Talk to Parishioners
The Urban Powers Contingency

on Wednesday evening Mr WH Chambers, managing director of the Denaby and Cadeby Main Collieries, address the meeting of Denaby Main parishioners in the Large Hall on the subject of the proposal to provide a recreation ground in War Memorial Park for Denaby Main. There was a disappointing attendance.

Mr Chambers said that for some years past it had been in the minds of the directors of the collieries to provide a playground for the children of Denaby Main, the directors recognising that it was desirable that the children should have some resort other than the streets and yards of the village.

The project, however, had been hung up from time to time, owing to various causes. First there was the original application for Urban Powers. The company hesitated to do anything in face of that, for they felt that if urban powers were granted the duty of providing recreational grounds and other amenities of the play should be left to the body that will be set up under these powers.

Then there was the Cadeby disaster, after that the war, again the resuscitation of the Urban Powers movement, and finally the uncertainty and doubt which brooded over the coal industry. All these combined to delay or deter the project of a recreational ground for Denaby Main.

The Conisbrough Parish Council, which was the would-be Urban District Council of the district, had now made a move in the direction of providing a recreation ground, and he (Mr Chambers) had called that meeting for the purpose of ascertaining, if possible, what Denaby people would like to have done in this matter, and whether they would like to do it themselves, instead of opening their mouths and waiting to see what the Conisbrough Parish Council will drop into it.

The Conisbrough Parish Council proposed to purchase a piece of land near the Balby street schools. So far as Denaby was concerned, a recreation ground in that position will not, he thought, said the place conveniently, and would not be used. The Denaby children would play in the streets as heretofore rather than go there. What was in the mind of the Denaby company, long before the Conisbrough Parish Council took up the question, was that the open space lying between the churches and the main road should be utilised for this purpose. It was the most central and accessible site in Denaby Main.

The colour scheme will be costly. The expense of fencing the ground alone will be £500 or £600, and the costs of the kind of proposal would fall on the rates, and therefore on the rent, whereas what the company had in meditation will be provided free of cost to the public.

The land was already in the possession of the company, it was naturally divided by an existing road for purposes of recreation on the one hand, and quiet resort on the other. It would be fenced, laid out and maintained, at the expense of the Company.

The Denaby committee which had been considering the question of providing a war memorial had decided in favour of acquiring the triangular piece of land between the Wesleyan Chapel and the Picture Hall and Lane it out as a park. That was a wise choice, providing always that there was a suitable playground in the vicinity, so that the children were provided for, and were not tempted to overrun the park, which should be a place of quiet retreat. The company’s proposal would fulfil that requirement, and would fit in with the Memorial Committee’s proposal perfectly. The proposed park would be about 4 acres in extent, and the adjoining recreation ground, cut off from it by the diagonal road from the main highway to the school, would be rather larger.

Proceeding, Mr Chambers said he was not authorised to make any promise in the Company’s behalf. The scheming an outline would, in any case, be in abeyance until the final result of the urban powers application was known. If those powers were obtained, the Urban Council would be left to do what it chose, and said that the Company and absolute power to prevent the Conisbrough people from carrying out the Loversall Street scheme, which he considered unsuitable and inconvenient. He wanted however to be in a position to tell the Company what the Denaby people would like to have done, and it was for this purpose that he had called the meeting.

He designed a frank exchange of views on the subject. As an instance of the folly of selecting suitable site for a recreation grounds, he mentioned the Pygotts, Conisbrough, Hexthorpe Flatts, Doncaster and Castle Hills, Mexborough – recreation grounds which, by reason of their inaccessibility, were not sufficiently used.

Mr S Spruce said he thought they would be foolish not to fall in with the scheme outlined by Mr Chambers, and he hoped the meeting would decide unanimously to leave the matter in the hands of the Company, since in one case the recreation ground would be provided at the expense of the public, and in the other, it will be provided at no expense to the public. He agreed that recreation grounds must be as central as possible, and though the Conisbrough people might claim that in selecting the site near the cliff they were considering public health, it was no use selecting a healthy site to which no one would resort, and beside the other site was equally healthy, as well as more convenient.

Mr H.L.Smethurst said he had considerable local experience of recreation ground. By the munificence of a well-known lady, several had been provided at Conisbrough. Two of them, the Agates and Highfield were finally situated in one respect but, but their situation was so accessible and remote that they were rarely used by the children, who all crowded down to the third and smallest, the Coronation Park, now known as “Sparrow Park,” which was in the centre of the village. The “Conisbrough Parliament” and everybody else in Conisbrough met there. He was at first against Mrs Walker scheme for a central park, but he now so that it was what Conisbrough wanted, and he was satisfied that it was useless to provide recreation grounds anyway but in the centre of the community where they were intended to serve.

Mr Tom Clayton, Mr T.H.whole cough and others spoke in favour of Mr Chambers proposal, and Mr Chambers then invited the meeting to signify which of the two sites are preferred. 31 persons signified their approval of the site suggested by Mr Chambers, and no hand was shown the site contemplated by the Conisbrough Parish Council.