Trade Review – Don and Dearne Valleys.

December 1929

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Monday 30 December 1929

Trade Review – Don and Dearne Valleys.

Prospect of Improvement Under Coal Marketing Scheme.

Time was when the old saying “Where there’s muck, there’s money” was true. Unfortunately, post-war experience compels the revision: “Where there is coal, there is difficulty.”

This district, depending as it does mainly on the production and marketing of fuel, is closely susceptible to changes of fortune of the key industry and their influences for good or ill.

Thus, locally, the year just passed, although it showed more friendly inclinations than did its immediate predessors, failed to furnish to the degree hoped for the greater economic improvement required. That need, on the threshold of another new year, remains, and while hope of more adequate realisation of trade recovery continues, it is right to say that the people born and bred, so to speak, in the neighbourhood of collieries and supplying their man [lower, have too intimate a knowledge of the present situation expect in the coming year more than the past year gave, viz., steady progress towards the goal aimed at —the re-establishment of coal industry and trade on profitable basis.

Marketing Schemes.

The year 1929 was better, all things considered, than the year before. To the great question of current time, “What will next year bring the answer which appears permissible is

There is prospect of further trade improvement if there is no undue interference and the collieries are allowed to work in accordance with the conditions of the Central Collieries Commercial Association scheme.

Whatever difference of opinion may exist elsewhere in regard to that carefully conceived and so far zealously utilised method of coal trade salvation, the fact remains that in this area, the home of the great collieries of Denaby and Cadeby, Manvers Main Nos. I and 2, and Barnburgh Main, Wath Main, Hickleton Main. Kilnhurst, and other large pits, the up-to-date experience of the Central Collieries’ marketing scheme has served strengthen rather than weaken belief in ultimate good to be gained by the coalowners carrying the innovation to decisive proof .

Effect on Employment.

Regulation oi output and sales may seem opposed to long-cherished beliefs in the efficacy of competitive individualism, but there can no disputing that the parlous state in which the coal industry found itself in recent years compelled the exercise of original adaptability to abnormal circumstances. This has been attended unavoidably by great deal of occasional unemployment, with working allocated on a quota basis, and in this respect this area has suffered considerably in the past year, though not to the extent of the previous year, nor to the worse degree of the poorer sections of the coalfields. The wholly unemployed (from all industries) have remained about the same locally, and from the figures of the Mexborough and District Unemployment Exchange, which may taken as symptomatic, it is evident that even in the best districts of the coalfields, such as this, unemployment has become something of a permanent problem.

That it is recognised as such is shown by the fact that in Mexborough steps are being taken for the erection of a new unemployment exchange and removal of its useful administration from Bank Street, where frequent queues of men wanting work are sad sight. Yet, with all the difficulties, the Mexborough Exchange, in the first ten months of the year now closing, has been instrumental in filling 945 of 1,009 work vacancies and of getting work for a further 43 local unemployed in other districts.

District collieries, in common with others, have only recently begun to feel the benefits of de-rating, and capital developments, involving huge outlays of money, have been restricted in recent years. But that does not mean there has been a hold-up of proprietorial enterprise. Actually there is constant capital development, as collieries must, to use a simple phrase, “go up or down,” and equipment must kept modernised as much as possible.

Hereabouts there has been no diminution of this endeavour. At Denaby and Cadeby, for instance, the £300,000 scheme for new washers, electrical plant, boilers, pit tubs, etc., has been completed during the period of general coal trade depression, and only recently the Minister of Mines had complimentary things to say about the fine equipment of the district collieries.

Pit-Head Baths.

Mr. Ben Turner was pleased, too, with the pit-head baths already established locally, and in this connection it is worthy of note that at Cadeby Colliery there will be erected in the near future pit-head baths of the latest and best type. The scheme has been approved. It will cost anything up to £20,000 and will meet the immediate requirements of 2,280 men and boys, with provision for 3,024 in all. Lockers to the number of 2,268 will be available on the two floors, and provision will be made for a full total of 3,024. There will be 104 cubicles and lockers on one side of the building for pit clothes, and lockers on the other side for clean clothes. Further facilities will be a place for filling drinking bottles with water, a boot-cleaning department, lavatories, and many other conveniences, with the great advantage of cleanliness of person and dress for employees both ongoing and returning from work.

Before long, no doubt, similar development will forthcoming at Denaby through the same agency of the Miners’ Welfare Fund, and the day is not far distant when collieries without pit-head baths will be as much the exception to the general rule as those with them are at the present time.

The Glass Trade

To turn to other trade aspects of this region, although Mexborough lost its former importance in the centre of the glass bottle making industry, the district has, at Conisborough and Swinton, firms of stability and enterprise. The glass trade generally has been struggling for years against the heavy handicap of foreign competition, and in this industry unemployment had been too much a common experience.

As Mr JH Thomas, the Lord Privy Seal, recently admitted, the only one way of dealing with the unemployment problem is to ensure the upkeep and betterment of our export trade. Local reports relative to the party and the prospects for the next are in the main satisfactory and encouraging in view of current circumstances.

Messrs Kilner bro’s Ltd, the old established glass bottle manufacturers, of Conisborough, found trade law she decidedly brighter and better than that of the year before. The hot summer help, but not to the extent thought, but as he cleared the stocks of the mineral water manufacturers to demand from that direction should be increased in the months to come.

Last year there was increasing demand for milk bottles, and the new hygienic bottle put on the market by this firm has developed sales, while the demand for fruit is also room.

The firm also entered more largely into the whiskey trade, and the demands of the Scottish distillers for bottles was in excess of expectation and justify the belief of further expansion in the New Year.

These influences meant greater consistency of employment in the past year, and even towards the end of the summer, the usual period of comparative slackness, there was less enforced idleness of the workers than for several years past. So that while, generally, the glass industry was not in a flourishing condition, at Conisborough it has had a more satisfactory year.

“Very Promising.”

“Our trade has improved, and we look to next year. Big improvement” reflects the optimism felt at the glassworks of Conisborough, where the outlook is “very promising.”

Messrs. Dale Brown and Co., Ltd., Swinton, had similar experience and similar hope. They report that in the year and now closing trade was more flourishing and that the dry summer helped to the creation of a large demand. “

Unfortunately,” they proceed, “the weather was not really hot for a long period, or the demand would have exceeded by far the production. Our works have been kept going at full speed for the whole of the year, and we are very optimistic about supplies for 1930, as the general feeling is that more bottles will be required. Several improvements have been made in our works, and plant is being modernised. Automatic glass making machinery has been installed, and this will help us to compete in markets for which we are not at present manufacturing.”

All of which goes to show that the remaining glass bottle making works of this district very much alive and actuated by the spirit of progress.

Building Trade Prospects

The Yorkshire Amalgamated Products Ltd, have extensive activities, including brickworks at Conisbrough and Mexborough. In their report they state:

“The year 1929 commences serious depression throughout the industrial areas in Yorkshire, which were accentuated by the extreme severe weather experienced in February and March. The development of some importance was the registration in March 1929, of the Yorkshire Products Investment Co. Ltd, which acquired a controlling interest in Yorkshire Amalgamated Products, Ltd, Stairfoot Brickworks Ltd., the Yorkshire Brick Co Ltd and other companies, with the object of coordinating the production and sales of these companies are affecting economies in manufacture and distribution, and a further developing the businesses. As a result of this the Yorkshire Amalgamated Products Ltd is now responsible for the marketing and distribution of these companies, in addition to its own very large production of building materials. The brickworks alone for which we are marketing agents have an output capacity of 100 million bricks per annum, comprising wider range of engineering and structural facing bricks than his previous by any other company in the United Kingdom.

“The prospects for the building trade generally in the coming year appear to be good, and the prospects in the Doncaster area particularly be much improved by the coming of new industries to the town.

During the year 1929 company and further increase their trade in the Sheffield area, and we have every reason to believe that our business in the year 1930 show a further expansion.”

Great Stoves and Fireplace

Messrs Hattersley Bros Ltd, reported that throughout the past year the works of the Queen’s Foundry, Swinton, have been continually employed in spite of the general slackness of trade. In addition to usual manufacture of grates, stoves etc., a new section produces electric domestic appliance has been started and is making good progress.

Considerable improvements have been made in the Swinton and Wembley combination fireplace, for which there is an increasing demand. Many other new designs of fireplace have been placed on the market with successful results.

The firm states: “We look forward with every confidence maintain in 1930 our productions and anticipate a steady increase.”