Mexborough and Swinton Times, May 21, 1886
The Floods in Denaby and Conisborough
On the line between Mexborough and Denaby, as soon it was possible to commence work, three gangs of navvies on the superintendence of Mr W Jenders began operations. When the water subsided it was seen at 20 yards of the embankment in one place, 50 in another, and 12 in another, had been washed away bodily, leaving the skeleton line suspended over the water. The ballast between the sleepers had been scooped out for distance of several hundred yards.
To remedy the disaster load after load of heavy stones were on Saturday brought to the spot, and 60 men were busily engaged in dropping this material between the sleepers into the water below. The work was very laborious but the men laboured with a will, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing the topmost stones appear above the surface of the water. Huge levers were placed under the metals, which were then raised into position by strong arms. The work was extremely hazardous in some places where the stones are to be carried over the rough suspension bridge formed by the sleepers, which were attached by iron bolts to the rails, but the line was raised without accident.
Some amusement was created by the navvy’s, who were addicted to practical joking, they now and again would drop a heavy stone into the water from between the sleepers just as a companion was passing the spot, thus giving him an unexpected shower bath.
By 6 o’clock the fallen metals had been raised, and all that remained was to fill up the interstices between the stone with large quantities of cinders used as ballast. Shortly after 5 o’clock on Saturday afternoon a heavy ballast train was drawn slowly over the greater portion of the downline between Denaby and Mexborough station, and so well had the work of repairing the damage been done that the weight made no perceptible difference, and not a single stone was moved out of position.
Long before midnight traffic was resumed on the downline between Mexborough and conisborough, under the direction of Mr HD Richards, Station Master Mexborough. At the Denaby Main colliery on Saturday work was suspended, the men been unable to get to and from their employment until the water had left the railway.
The suspension of work on the previous day arose from the water find its way above the “tubbing” placed in the shaft, and streaming down the pit at the rate of from 200 300 gallons per minute. Both the engines were set to work for the purpose of winding the water out of the shaft.
Passenger trains ran at the usual times from Doncaster to Conisborough and back, and when the Mexborough line was up to the public, it was crowded by persons returning from Doncaster market, as well as by Denaby and Conisborough inhabitants, desirous of reaching the Mexborough market.
The Bone works belonging to Mr Meggitt, standing near the railway at Denaby, had been entered by this stream, which rose to Woon a few inches of the boiler fires; unfortunately, they did not further rise, all the files will be extinguished and work stopped. About 30 of those employed on the premises live at Mexborough, and as the flood on Friday proved night prevented them reaching their homes in the usual way the journey round bike illness. Three hours were occupied in the making of the tour.
On Saturday morning the employees were taken across the flood to their work by means of a bolt. Three men engaged at the works – Gibson, Smithson and Hardy, – live in cottages on the opposite side of the railway. These houses were completely flooded in the lower room, and they’re not being time to remove the furniture upstairs before it was reached by the river, a good deal of damage was occasioned. Two of the men own American organs, which they say are not now “good for much.” On Friday night Gibson flexed his wife and child out of the cottage by means of a half, I was in danger of being carried away by the current.
At the rear of the Denaby Main Colliery lay more nearly a score coal barges, underwater it was so “choppy” that those in the middle of the stream look more like being on the sea, as a spray – told them. Not far from a live the keeper of the “Morlock” – you by name – and the dwelling was cut off from the mainland by the flood, a distance of quite half a mile. The family lived in the upper rooms and the water reached the mantelpiece when at its height will stop the water seems to have taken possession of half the structure; a pigsty in the rear was turned topsy-turvy.
The pastures appear to be entirely submerged, and a loss to farmers will be exceptionally severe. The ancient Castle of Conisbrough situated on a kingly height near the Don, never frowned on a lovely scene than that of Friday and Saturday last. Far away from the picturesque valley with which the readers of “Ivanhoe” are so familiar, past Cadeby Hill, high Melton, Barbara, Harlington, and again by Bolton and Darfield, in the valley of the Dearne, there was “water, water everywhere.”
Conisborough suffered severely from the inundation. A row of cottages situated in Burcroft, a low-lying portion of the village, was easily surrounded by the flood, which rose rapidly to the window sills of the top stories. The inhabitants were in a terrible state of consternation. At Burcroft there are 16 cottages, and everyone was flooded. So suddenly did the water rise that not a few of the people at no opportunity to remove their furniture; and one poor old lady was quietly sitting at her sewing machine until the flood got over her feet. The water rose to a depth of 7 feet in some of the cottages. One man said he had lived 12 years in the same house, three years ago there been this surprise and occurrence of three in a period of three weeks. Thirteen persons quitted the cottages and took lodgings with friends in the village. Three persons remained imprisoned. It was by means of bolts supplied by Mr Fowler and Mr Booth that the tenants got away. One man at to remove his wife, her mother, and seven children. It be remembered that a pig was left in a sty, one woman went up to her waist to rescue the animal.
Mr Thomas Booth, timber merchant, is said to have entailed a loss of about £300 by the flood, and damage has been done at Mr Wilson’s sawmills to the extent of £100.