Reports from the Coal Fields – In the Don Valley

March 1912

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer – Saturday 02 March 1912

Reports from the Coal Fields

In the Don Valley

The Don Valley is accustomed to colliery strikes, for was here that, ten years ago, the great battle over the “bag dirt” question was fought out at the Denaby and Cadeby Main Collieries—a struggle which cost the Yorkshire Miners’ Association some £480,000. The effects of that long and bitter strike are even now felt the district, and many men are still struggling to pay off debts then incurred.

The direst distress was brought upon Conisborough, Denaby, and Mexborough, and the evictions aroused the attention of the whole country. The subsequent litigation had a great effect upon the passing of the Trade Disputes Act. In the present struggle, however, the miners of the Don Valley take very lukewarm interest. They have come out sympathy with the rest of the country, but the objects of the strike do not concern them directly, as it happens that the pits in this district are good pits, in which the men can earn good money.

At Manvers Main, Hickleton Main, Wath Main, and Denaby and Cadeby, the men would think they had done very badly indeed if they did not earn more than 7s. 6d. per shift. The average is nearer 10s. or 12s. per shift, and the butty men in the Denaby and Cadeby pits probably earn a good deal more. At all these pits the men have left work on the best of terms with the employers, and are prepared to arrange for all necessary work to be done to keep the workings in order. In this district the ponies have been left below, the general is that the strike will not last very long.

The men appear to be pleased with the idea of a week or two of holiday, and are enjoying themselves in their own ways.

At Cadeby the men ceased work at the end of the Wednesday morning shift, some 3,000 men and boys being thus thrown idle. A very small proportion of these workers belong to the union, and they are not particularly keen on the strike, but they realise that they have to fall in with the general movement. On Thursday the 1,500 hands at Denaby ceased work. In both cases many of the colliers had not taken the trouble to hand in formal notices. A small number of men will be engaged during the strike upon the extinction of “gob” fires at Denaby, but it not expected that any objection will be made to this on the part of the strikers. Wages were paid up to date on Thursday, and to-day the company will pay the men tool money.

At both pits there a large amount of coal the surface which is being sent away to customers with much despatch as possible. Apart from hundreds of loaded trucks in the sides, there is a huge stack of washed steam coal at Cadeby containing at least ten thousand tons, and another very large stack at Denaby.

The  Denaby and Cadeby Company own about 1,700 houses, which accommodate a population of nearly 9,000 persons, but up the present notices quit have been served upon the men on strike.

At Manvers Main, whore there are some 3,500 men employed the proportion of unionists is greater than Denaby, but here again the men have no grievance whatever against their own employers. They ceased work Thursday afternoon, and left the colliery premises in a perfectly quiet manner and on the best terms with the colliery officials. The ponies have been left in the pit, and will not be  drawn up unless the strike prolonged beyond present expectations, The men here have formed strike committee, and the view their officials that the struggle will be short and sharp. One of them stated yesterday his view that “there will be no strike worth mentioning,” by which he meant that there will be no protracted struggle, such those which they are accustomed in the Don Valley.

At Hickleton Main the same quiet, peaceful state affairs prevails, and arrangement has been come to between the colliery officials and the men for the mines to kept in proper working order during the strike.

The other industries in the Don Valley have already begun to suffer. The Don Glass Works at Mexborough had to close down on Wednesday, and largo portion of the Kilnhurst Steel Works will cease to-day for lack of fuel. Other glass works will have to stop in a day or two, and some Messrs. Kilner’s furnaces at Conisborough have had to damped down.

It is estimated that the Mexborough Urban District Council’s electricity works can continue for about eight or nine weeks.