The Development of Cadeby “Rattles”

June 1891

Mexborough & Swinton Times, June 12, 1891

The Development of Cadeby “Rattles”

The enterprise of the Denaby Main Colliery Company proved equal to the occasion.

On the death of Miss Copley, of Sprotbrough All, negotiations were entered into an complete with Lady Watson Copley, who ultimately came into possession of the Sprotbrough estate, for a lease of 4000 acres of coal bearing measures.

By this means the company extended their coalfield from the Swinton MS and L railway station to Doncaster Bridge, in one direction, a distance of over 7 miles; and the other from Conisbrough and Denaby to Scawsby, a distance of 3 miles.

With this vast addition to their sphere of operations was found impossible to work the newly acquired measures from the existing shaft at Denaby Main, which already opens up ramifications in various directions, some of which have already reached points directly under Melton on the hill, Barnburgh, Denaby Rage farm and the Mexborough ferry.

The project was then discussed, though at first received with incredulity, of opening up another shaft at Cadeby from which the coal under the Sprotbrough estate could be worked. As a  preliminary, however, it was thought absolutely necessary to devise an alternative route to Hull than that provided by the M. S. and L. and Great Eastern systems, and no time at all was lost in, rerouting a Bill before Parliament for the construction of a new line, which, commencing at the present Denaby Main sidings, running past the site of the present Cadeby workings, and then turning to the north, passed through the villages of Pigburn and Marr, and joined the Hull and Barnsley line at Wrangbrook, a distance, altogether, of about seven mile,. A junction was also proposed to the made with this line near to Sprotbrough Hall, which, by way Hexthorpe and Balby and should effect a connection with the Great Northern and Great Eastern systems at Black Carr. These propositions were strenuously opposed by the railway interests affected.

The Bill came before a Select Committee of five of the House of Lords, in 1889. During its consideration Lord Jersey, the chairman, was taken ill and his place was filled by Lord Cork, who, by his casting vote, declared that the Bill was not proved. This incident was very unfortunate for the promoters, for Lord Jersey was believed to in favour of the undertaking, and one of the members of the committee expensed the general feeling when he observed that the defeat of the kilt was a public “misfortune.”

Nothing daunted, however, the promoters the following year returned to the attack, and this time they were eminently successful, for the Bill, with but few alterations, passed through Parliament.

The way was now cleared fur the commencement of sinking operations in earnest. The site of the new shafts is on the north side of the river Don, almost directly opposite the Conisborough railway station.

The Denaby Main Company are not accustomed to do things by halves, and in a very short time what hail been known as Cadeby “Rattles” which hail hitherto been given up to agricultural pursuits, was alive with workmen, all busily engaged in bringing about a complete transformation of the scene.

Quarries of limestone and quarries of building stone were opened up near at hand, and every appliance that modern ingenuity and mechanical contrivance could invent was requisitioned. The two shafts are of 16 feet diameter, and as now reached the depths of 104 and 106 yards respectively.

Difficulties which would have dismayed meet men were met and overcome by the manager of the company, Mr. W. H. Chambers, upon whom has devolved the responsibility the undertaking. Before the sinkers had fairly got to work water was met with in immense quantities. The strata was found to be most unfavourable to the work. Seams of sandstone rock intersected layers of blue clay which, once the water got in, ran like mud. The ordinary pumps used for the purpose were found to be useless.

It was found impossible to keep pace with the constant inroads of the water, and great care had to be exercised lest the shafts should be lost altogether. At times sinking operations were suspended for weeks. At last a pump was designed by Mr. Chambers was made by Bailey, Manchester, which answered its purpose admirably, and which has obtained such a repute that it is now used for a similar purpose in Lancashire, Northumberland, Wales, and Scotland.

They are a great improvement on the ordinary lift pumps, and this can be easily gathered from the fact that one of the new pumps can raise as much water as four of the others, with the additional advantage of being four times lighter, which on such a shifty foundation as was found at Cadeby is a highly important consideration. Wo Lolo to establish rking at a normal speed of 23 strokes the new pump raises 70,000 gallons an hour, but even with this capacity the water frequently gained, and at times the pumps were worked at 45.

As the sinkers gradually made their way down at step the sides of the shafts were secured against the water by iron tubbing, and the paramount necessity of this can be inferred when it is no that even now, at a depth of over 100 yards, water has risen inside the tubbing to a height of within 15 feet of the top. There are two sets of pumps in each shaft. At a depth of 70 yards the pressure in the pipes was so great that the joints gave signs of yielding, and the expedient was resorted to of putting down a tank and another pump at that distance, and thus getting the water out as it were, by means of relays.

The sinkers have often had to work up to their waists in water, and now and again, whenever anything has choked the topes or there has been a sodden inrush, the men have had to hastily scramble out of the way, clambering up the chains and ropes used for hoisting the material. But though attended with so much danger the sinking has been singularly free from serious accident.

The depth of the water-bearing strata at Cadeby is without precedent in precious operations of the kind in South Yorkshire. At Denaby Main water was done with in any considerable quantities 50 yards down, while at 70 yards there was little or no trace, and there the tubbing ceased.

The sinking at Cadeby will be comparatively easy once the water has been passed and it is computed that then progress will be made at the rated of 10 yards a week, and that within 12 months of that time the Barnsley seam of coal will be reached.

The coal measures at Denary Main are reached at 450 yards; at Cadeby it is calculated that they lie at a depth of 600 yards from the surface, dipping more and more the farther they go east ward. Once coal is reached no time will be lost in opening out, and specially devised heading, or boring machines will quickly make inroads in all directions into the black shining bed.

The colliers will follow up, and perhaps before another two years is over coal will be drawn to the surface. The output of Denaby Main is between 10,000 and 11.000 tons weekly. It is intended at Cadeby, by means of the two shafts to compass and output of 4,000 tons a day, a truly enormous addition to the yield of the South Yorkshire coal field.

At present 1,500 men and boys are employed at Denaby Main colliery ; the Cadeby pit, when in full swing, will find work for close upon 3,000. Already 300 men are employed in and about the place, 96 of whom are sinkers, working in relays of 12 hours each, in both shafts. The rest are busily engaged in erecting the permanent buildings.