Review of the Year – Cadeby Disaster – Coal Strike – Royal Visit – Titanic

December 1912

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 28 December 1912

Review of the Year
Battle, Murder, and Sudden Death
A Remarkable Record
Sunshine and Shower

The year 1912 goes down to history as a very remarkable and a very eventful one.

It has many peculiar claims to distinction, and while it bears some dark, ugly blots which will never be wholly eradicated, taking the 12 months as a whole just prove beneficial and full of good influences.

It contains the greatest shipping disaster and one of the largest colliery disasters, on record — the latter, unfortunately being peculiarly interesting to this district. It has not been immune from European more; but even in this direction its influence has not been wholly corrupt, for as a result of the cyclonic attack on Turkey by the Balkan states, the latter have achieved freedom from the semi vassalage which bound them to the fierce Ottoman. Indeed, it has been left to 1912 to strike a blow at the great Ottoman Empire, which shivered it to its foundations, and within a month reduced it to the rank of a third-class military power.

The shipping disaster referred to is the never-to-be-forgotten wreck of the Titanic. the mightiest liner afloat, the great White Star triumph which, while galloping across the Atlantic on its maiden trip, for a record, struck the spur of an iceberg full tilt, one dark April Sunday night. and sent 1,500 passengers to death, including several financial magnates, and two world-wide notables in Colonel J. J. Astor, the railway king, and Mr. W. T. Stead, the most remarkable journalist of his age. That disaster has resulted in the tightening of the Board of Trade’s shipping regulations, so that even here, in the midst of one of the darkest and most saddening of holocausts, there is a tract of good influences. But it was an exceedingly ill wind, none the less, and the very recollection of it shocks the civilised world to-day.

The Cadeby Disaster.

Then the colliery diameter at Cadeby Main, at our very door, full of sinister and sensational features. carrying off some of the brightest and best of our Yorkshire mining engineers, and bringing to the front the oft praised but never fully appreciated bravery of the underground worker, the quiet, humdrum courage which led nearly sixty men to go down to their deaths in a pit which was “going off” like a repeating rifle, in order ‘that they might recover the bodies of some ‘that poor fellows who were swept out ;existence by an early morning flash from a reservoir of gas which was lit by a newly ignited gob fire. Terrible as was the tragedy of the Titanic to the whole world, its intenisity was not greater than was the Cadeby disaster to this immediate area. It called forth the spontaneous sympathy and sorrow of the whole of England and of many of her sons, some of whom had worked in the fatal pit, across the seas.

Eighty-nine lives were lost in the two explosions, and only by splendid self-sacrifice and cheerful devotion to duty was the pit saved from greater disaster still. As it was the ill effects of that terrible affair at Cadeby cannot be properly estimated. Three inspectors, including the district chief, Mr. W. H. Pickering, one of the most valuable inspectors the Rome Office had, two mine managers, Mr. Charles Bury and Mr. Douglas Chambers, both clever and promising young men, and a number of capable officials were swept away in the disaster. The only good influence which this disaster might be said to have bred was the bravery and devotion of the men who undertook the task of the recovery of the bodies, a task which occupied the greater part of three months, and of making the pit safe once more.

General Trade.

Turning to the general trade of the country we find it steadily prosperous. Indeed the progress of its prosperity is more than merely steady at the present time, when we are enjoying the benefit of a trade boom, when the collieries are pouring out their coal as fast as the limitations of the Eight Hours Act allows them to do, when the shipyards, the docks, the iron and steel, glass and metal industries are working to their utmost capacity. In normal times there would scarcely have been this pronounced ‘ country’s trade, and we may take it that some of the increased business is due to the reaction from the national coal strike.

The Coal Strike.

Here again is a point of distinction which the year 1912, which is just roiling past into eternity, will carry with it. For the first the coal industry in England we had a national coal strike, and for six weeks scarcely a spadeful of coal was turned in any corner of the kingdoms of which call is a staple industry. There has always been more or less unrest in the country, and the present unrest is scarcely less pronounced than that which led up to the strike which commenced in on March 1 and concluded on Easter Tuesday.

The strike did not last long enough to paralyse completely British Industry, but business was undoubtedly suspended for a longer time than the Economist imagine was possible, consistent with the continued solvency of the country.

The result was a moral victory for the miners, for the Government, after undergoing a strain and tension which spoke volumes their stability and balance prior to the crisis, gave them the Minimum Wage Act, which in turn has caused endless dissatisfaction and outcry among the men.

On the whole, the victory for the men was little more than moral. In the other industries, trade unionism has been almost quiescent, though we have just emerged from the danger of repetition of the railway strike of 1911, differences on the North Eastern Railway which bid fair to spread over the whole of the railway system the country in the course of a few days, being happily settled.

Still we have not heard the last of the trouble on the railway, and the year for which you are now engine will be delicate one the railway companies, as also for the call owning interest. Granted freedom from wall, whether industrial or Imperial, the present trade boom ought to cover the coming year comfortably


Though we have’ bad but few of the “causes celebres” with which the British courts of justice have from time to time startled us, I am afraid we have no tangible indication that the crime of the country in on the wane. Indeed, with heavy increases in the population, and with certainly no corresponding increases in the influence for good among us, it was hardly to be expected.

The problem of criminology is vexing our experts as much as possible, and the penal experiments which have been tried have scarcely yet had time to bear fruit.

The Royal Visit.

To localise the review a little. we find in that portion of South and West Yorkshire in which this journal circulates, that the people have enjoyed a peaceful, prosperous, and fairly happy year, despite the coal strike, which, while it crippled the district and brought it to a standstill, did not produce lasting effects, and the trade was set in its normally smooth course with surprising facility when the deadlock was removed.

The Cadeby disaster was a great blow to the district and devastated the area of the pit in such a way that the villages of Conisboro’ and Denaby will for many years to come carry a sinister atmosphere of association with one of the most deadly and sacrificial disasters on record. We have had a great occasion for rejoicing, too, during the year, far we have had a semi-official visit from the King and Queen, such a visit as has not been paralleled in the district throughout history. The visit of their Majesties to Conisboro’ Castle on the first day of their South Yorkshire “week” may be ranked as one of the mouse historic, end at the same time one of the happiest, in a village rich with antique Association and crowded with recollections of many remarkable gatherings. The delight of the South Yorkshire people with the remainder of the visit was little tempered by the gloom which was thrown over the district by the colliery disaster, and no doubt that alerted their Majesties very considerably, especially as they took the opportunity of associating themselves definitely with the prevailing sorrow by personally visiting the stricken pit–a circumstance which is without parallel in the annals of the British monarchy. Nevertheless, it was an epoch-making visit, and the King was good enough to impress his admiration for the general atmosphere of industry which overhung the area which he visited, and for the loyal character of his subjects in this corner of his kingdoms. Without doubt these, combined with the coal strikes, were the leading events of the year so far as local history is concern.

Another interesting event occurred in the first, week in July—the Royal Agricultural Show, which was held at Doncaster, but was most unfortunately ruined by a combination of the wretched weather which marred the whole summer, and an eleventh-hour outbreak of the foot and mouth disease, which caused the cancellation of the live-stock classes.

Municipal Progress

Municipally, almost solid progress has to be reported throughout the district. There is, however, one rift in the lute here. A town planning scheme on co-operative lines was established in 1911 with Bolton-on- Dearne as the centre, but owing to differences, one constituent authority after another has seceded until the Bolton and Thurnscoe Urban District Councils are alone interesting themselves in the scheme. Nevertheless the discussions et the Bolton conferences have been productive of good effect, for each urban district is alive to the possibilities of the Act, and the whole of South Yorkshire is operating in the direction of sound town planning principles, urged on very largely by the Town Planning Association, who have found somewhat unlooked for, but none the less powerful and welcome advocates in the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Wakefield. The latest phase of this matter is contained in the possibility of a very large scheme which is at present being contemplated, with Doncaster as the centre.

Also, under the heading of municipal may be mentioned the Mexborough and Swinton Tramways Company’s Bill for a trackless trolley omnibus service in the Mexboro’ district, for the local authorities are taking no inconsiderable hand in this matter, and there is a distinct possibility that a joint municipal scheme will be substituted for the one at present before Parliament.

Religious work has been going on steadily, but the need for it increases very quickly. Most of the religious organisations are making some special attempt to get a grip of the new Doncaster coalfield and the growth of churches and chapels in the neighbourhood is abnormal.

Socially there has been a period of dullness. There have been two society weddings of note, the marriage of Miss Mary Montagu, of Melten Hall, and of Miss Dorothy Sorby, of Darfield Rectory.

Generally speaking we have good reason to look back upon 1912 with feelings of regret. It contains the one dark blot to which have referred, and it has been a year of very variable and unpleasant weather. Indeed, from the point of view of the agricultural interest it has been the blackest year experience for half-a-century. The rainfall was extraordinary, and the British crops were in many parts of the country almost wiped out. But from the point of view of general industry, notwithstanding the great handicap of a general and altogether unprecedented coal strike, following hard upon a national railway strike, the results have been good, and looking into the future, we see the brightest prospects of increased prosperity, always granted unity, peace and concord.