Sidelights of the Strike – Families Accomodated at Schools and Tithe Barn

January 1903

Mexborough & Swinton Times, January 9, 1903

Sidelights of the Strike

The delay in making adequate camping accommodation for the men was much commented upon during the earlier days of the evictions, but arrangements and now been rapidly push forward to make the marquees and tense as comfortable as possible.

The committee entrusted with this work were considerably handicapped in the week, as only part of the establishment at first arrived, and experts had to be sent for to direct the abundance of free labour.

Denaby and Cadeby will become household words. As a result of eviction, and a large company of Pressmen, artists and photographers have given to the world at large information on one of the biggest industrial strikes of latter-days.

One evicted family possessed a really exceptional lot of first-class furniture, and the handsome goats, which included a piano and other up-to-date furnishings, attracted a lot of attention as they were turned into the streets.


During Tuesday afternoon Clarkson´s field was visited by Dr MacLean, medical officer of health for the Doncaster Rural District Council.

He advised that the flaps of the tent should be raised, while everybody went out for as long as it could be fine in order that the wind may to some extent dry the ground before any flooring was put down.

The boards had arrived by the time he paid his visit, and it was intended to put layers of ashes or straw on the ground, and then place the flooring in position.

Maclean also recommended the use of Bell tents as far as possible, and it is proposed that 60 of these shall be obtained. This camp undertaking is being carried out not by the strike committee, but by a general committee, consisting of representatives of a number of collieries in Yorkshire.

Among its members are Messes T.W.Grundy (Rotherham), Gaffney (Carr House), J Kelly (Wath), S Earnshaw (Ackton Hall), J Baker (secretary) and J Hoskin (treasurer)

The large tent at Conisbrough measures 60 ft x 30 ft and it will accommodate 60 men. There are three or four stoves in it. A similar tent is at Mexborough. The small one in Clarkson’s field covers 40 ft x 20 ft and by a fortunate coincidence, the new infants board school at Mexborough was open on Monday, and this allowed the Primitive Methodist School, which has been used as an infant school for some years, to be utilised for several homeless families.

The many kind helpers who have come forward in the miners hour of need are too many to mention and the most pleasing feature of a miserable and regrettable state of affairs is abundant evidence of public sympathy for the suffering.

During the evictions all connected with the Labour side of the struggle had been too busy to think of a settlement, but we understand both sides are determined as ever not to give way on the point at issue.

The following scraps of conversation were urged yesterday in a conveyance running between Denaby and Mexborough:

“It’s a shame such thing should be allowed.”

“The police are really fine fellows, and one of them said when he left his home to come to Denaby his wife burst into tears at the work he was called upon to do.”

“They were only doing their duty, but the master ought to be ashamed of themselves for causing such suffering”

“it was the men’s own fault; they could have gone back to work, and lived in comfort. If they liked.

“The men were in the right, and they wouldn’t give in whatever happened.”

“A dying woman was not evicted.”

“All who had doctors certificate for illness were not turned out.”

“That is true, I have a doctors certificate and I just got up from a three weeks illness in bed and was turned out this morning.”

And many other expressions of a similar character.

It is fortunate that there are no signs of smallpox in Mexborough, for the temporary isolation hospital erected to deal with any outbreak has been turned into a place of refuge for some of the evicted. It is to be hoped that no case of smallpox will occur to put the Mexborough UDC into a quandary.

A correspondent says the reticence of the leading men of Barnsley speaks volumes in reference to the dispute, whilst the local leaders, he says, look on the situation with levity.

At a meeting of the Balby with Hexthorpe UDC, it was reported that condemned houses were occupied by Denaby miners, and it was pointed out that it was a serious matter, considering the fever that had sprung from the houses, and the introduction of smallpox, to crowd and healthy yard with a lot of Colliers.

The action brought by the Colliery Company against the Miners Association will come on for hearing at the High Court on Wednesday next and the judges decision will have an almost vital bearing on the struggle.

Many curious visitors to witness the ejectment scenes shed tears, and cases of individual assistance could be observed in the streets.

At the very first hour on the very first morning of the eviction, a rag and bone merchant, with an eye for possible business, appeared on the scene shouting “Any rags and bones?”

A walkaround to some of the public sheltering places last night, revealed to a representative picture of comfort and pathos, curiously intermingled.

And the large and roomy Tithe Barn, five families consisting of about 40 grown-ups and children were congregated, and one young minor, in a spirit of thankfulness said. “This is far more comfortable than them tents.”

Warm fires and night cheered the little groups gathered in family circles, and they all had the comfort of knowing that at least they would pass the nights in warm beds. But the sad pathos of the scene was apparent in the fact that her were many people forced to leave the old home, and the serious contemplative look showed the realism of the artiness of an industrial fight’s. Still, they were heartily grateful for the kindness extended to them.

At the Primitive Methodist School over 150 people were accommodated,, and here could be seen one man, in his shirt sleeves, nursing an infant, children playing, and the women, as a rule, busily engaged in sewing. Warmth and shelter cheered them, and in a way, they were contented, seeing that they were spared miseries that might have easily fallen to their lot.

Visiting the spiritualist Hall, no trace of evicted families could be found and we were informed that the statement to that effect was totally devoid of truth and was not authorised.

Undoubtably Denaby, during this week has witnessed many moving scenes.

The snow that was falling last night gave every promise of an uncomfortable time for the men under canvas.

It is stated that when the pits are reopened every precaution will be taken to protect the workers from molestation. In addition to the 200 police now on duty, another 100 are in reserve in the neighbourhood ready for action should there be any sight of trouble.

Provision has also been made to obtain the services of troops from Sheffield should the occasion arise. A magistrate is continually in attendance with a copy of the Riot Act.



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