Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

Dedicated to the Miners of Silverwood

History of the Mine


Silverwood Mine

Hollings Lane


South Yorkshire England

Webmaster John Doxey

Main Photos Jonathan Dabbs.

Additional content Mick Carver






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The Shaft is Sunk

Dalton Mining Co

Early Years

Early Years 2
1913 Accident






War Years at the Mine


Early Trains

The 1920's

War Memorial of 1923


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Coke Ovens


1947 Accident


The Blacking Mill

1966 Disaster

The Silverwood Disaster song


Mine improvements 1970

Journey to the Face


Loading Coal

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1984 Strike

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The Miners Return

The 1985 Strike

One Million Tonnes

Weekly Record

Home of Quality

Riddor Incident

Silverwood Closure

Silverwood Closure 2

Final Years Photos

Stuart Tomlins Collection

Stuart Tomlins Collection 2

Stuart Tomlins Collection 3

Sunset on Silverwood

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Silverwood 2007

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The Colliers

Where the Miners of Silverwood came from

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THE 1920'S



In 1920 the Miners' Welfare Fund was run by the Miners' Welfare Commission, followed by the Miners' Welfare Committee and then the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation.


Transactions of the Institution of Mining Engineers: Volume 62
Institution of Mining Engineers (Great Britain) 1921
But still we are all open to be converted, and I have been converted since, although, when the Silverwood Colliery was laid out the same year, my father and I contemplated working our haulage with strap-ropes.

On the 3rd of April 1921 A state of emergency was declared after another coal strike was called, and  Coal rationing was also declared.  The strike lasted until 28th of June that year. During this strike following a world-wide appeal Russian workers agreed to a levy on their wages to support the striking English miners. The Russian workers at this time were lowly paid and possibly not much better off than the strikers in England.

In England the miners and their families were reliant on the many soup kitchens for nourishment, and at the end of the strike most of the mining families would be in debt having borrowed money to pay for essentials including food and of course their rent.


In 1922 Rufus Mcmahon who was known as "Big Mac" started work at Silverwood, his granddaughter Jean writes "My mum says as kids they were to embarrassed to say their dads name was Rufus so they told people his name was Patrick. "

You gotta love kids 'ant ya.

Joseph Edwards age 37 living at 44 Sydney St signed on as a Stoneworker at Silverwood in January 1922 he is listed as having worked at the mine previously. Like many miners at that time he found other employment either at another mine or perhaps left the industry and then returned to Silverwood. Joseph lived on Sidney St Masborough and was leader of the Boys Brigade at the local Independent Chapel. In 1926 Joseph was a witness to a train crash at Parkgate which occurred on the 19th November involving a coal train, nine people lost their lives.

 With the introduction of helmets with battery powered lamps Joseph like many retained his Davy Lamp and leather helmet as keepsakes. Now one of the main purposes of this site is to ensure that future generations will remember these men of Silverwood so I was very impressed to learn from Henry Brown the Grandson of Joseph that those two keepsakes were now family heirlooms and have recently [2011] been handed down to Henry’s Granddaughter.


Alexander Bancroft Dutton  born on 4 March 1891 in Wigan , becoming a stoneworker at Silverwood signing on as A. B. Dutton in June of 1922, age 30 at the time he was living at 14 Dalton Lane , he had worked previously at Ryhope ? Colliery. It is believed that he was employed at Silverwood Colliery prior to the 1914 - 18 War.  He worked underground until he was forced above ground by chronic bronchitis, finishing his working life working in the lamp hut. Amazingly in 2007 British Coal claim to have no record of him despite the fact  he had worked all his life in the coal mines, except for his time in the army during the First World War. Alexander  died on the 29th January 1961 in Thrybergh.

In 1923 Albert Ilsley started at Silverwood, Charlie and Ike Doxey came over from Lower Ince in Lancashire to start work at the Mine, both resided at 55 Silver Street Thrybergh. Charlie left and possibly went back to Lancashire but returned in 1925 and remained at Silverwood thereafter. Their younger brother Jack came over in 1924 and started work as a Job Stoner.


Kate a relative of a Silverwood miner writes "Hi, my great uncle, William Fairhurst, was killed in Silverwood on the 26th April 1923, at just 18 years old. He was a pony driver.

 My grandmothers father was a Thomas Fairhurst and she was born in Oaby in Wigan. I found a piece about Billy's accident in the 1923 advertiser in the library, the report on his inquest. It has him as 18 and of Chapel street, so this would fit your information. It narrates testimony of a Frederick William Kelly, and although he did not witness the accident, and was only alerted by a pony getting loose from the tube, it said Billy was driving a pony which was drawing full corves. Mr Kelly heard the noise of the rumbling of corves, saw the pony coming down the incline and when he took the pony back, he shouted for him, passed the first corve that was derailed, and found Billy under the lost wheel of the tube. He was barely alive then and was dead by the time they got him to the surface.
He had suffered injuries to the right leg and ribs, but my mum had believed he had choked on coal dust, and had been buried. They put it down to accidental death on the supposition that Billy slipped in some way."

In December of 1923 the Dalton Main Company Ltd erected a monument to the miners lost in the Great War. F. Parker Rhodes was the company chairman at this time. Directors included Sir Chas and Lady Ellis, Sir William Ellis and F. J. Dundas. The General manager's of Silverwood and Roundwood was Mr. A. Blenkinsop. Mr. H. Wright was the Collieries  sales agent, Mr. F. H. Frost was the collieries secretary, Mr. W. H. Ball was manger of Silverwood and Mr. G. Wilshaw was the manager of Roundwood.

Taking on the role as a corporal in charge of  Haulage in September1924 was ? Parry age 27 living at 22 Kelvin St Dalton, he had previously worked at the mine


Geology of Yorkshire: An Illustration of the Evolution of Northern England - Page 210
by Percy Fry Kendall, Herbert Edward Wroot - 1924 - 995 pages
... the coal worked in the Silverwood pit is drawn out at Old Roundwood, three miles away


Mines and Quarries - Page 32
by Great Britain Mines Dept, Great Britain Ministry of Fuel and Power - 1923
At Silverwood Colliery, Yorkshire, a mortar mill attendant was burnt about the head by a ... Voltage 550 AC..


March 31st Silverwood Colliery Elon Howells age 62 Screenman was involved in an accident, He was going to the cabin from his snap and instead of going the proper way over some steps he took a short cut under the screens passing over or under three fences to do so.


1922 January 30th 8:15 a. m. 3rd hour, Joseph Morgan age 14 ScreenLad was involved in an accident He was coupling a set of ten dirt tubs to a set of stationary ones



The appellant, who is what is known as a "filler in the Silverwood Colliery, received for his week's work ending the 23rd July  a sum of £1, Is. 9d., ...

1926 Strike

Source Wikipedia,
The year 1926 saw the advent of a miners strike, a harsh battle once again. The strike lasted from April 1926 to December 1926. On the afternoon of April 30 the bosses announced their proposal. A return to the Minimum of 1921, a 13% cut in pay and an eight hour day.

The Government had prepared for the strike over the nine months in which it had provided a subsidy, creating organisations such as the organisation for the maintenance of supplies, and did whatever it could to keep the country moving. It rallied support by emphasising the revolutionary nature of the strikers. The armed forces and volunteer workers helped maintain basic services.

On the 7 May, the TUC met with Sir Herbert Samuel and worked out a set of proposals designed to end the dispute. The Miners Federation rejected the proposals. On the 12 May, the TUC General Council visited 10 Downing Street to announce their decision to call off the strike, provided that the proposals worked out by the Samuel Commission were adhered to and that the Government offered a guarantee that there would be no victimisation of strikers. The government stated that it had "no power to compel employers to take back every man who had been on strike." Thus the TUC agreed to end the dispute without such an agreement.

For several months the miners continued to maintain resistance, but by October 1926 hardship forced many men back. By the end of November most miners were back at work. However, many were victimised and remained unemployed for many years. Those that were employed were forced to accept longer hours, lower wages, and district wage agreements.

The reasons behind the strike are stated as.

World War I - The heavy usage of coal in World War I domestically meant that rich seams were depleted during this time, and that Britain exported less coal in this time than it would have done in times of peace, allowing other countries to fill the gap left by Britain. In particular the USA, Poland and Germany benefited from this.

The fall in prices resulting from the import of free coal from Germany sent as reparations in the aftermath of World War I.

The reintroduction of the Gold Standard in 1925 by Winston Churchill - this made the pound too strong for effective exporting to take place from Britain, and also (because of the economic processes involved in maintaining a strong currency) raised interest rates, hurting all businesses whether they exported or not.

Mine owners therefore announced their intention to reduce miners' wages


In July 1925-Jan.1926 there were correspondence between Dalton Main Collieries Ltd. and the South Yorkshire Coal Trade Association, relating to evidence for the Royal Commission on the Coal Industry.
The last man to sign on at Silverwood before the strike was James Joseph Gallagher age 25 of 18 Mary St Masbro Rotherham. James had formally worked at Steel Peach Tozer on Sheffield road Tinsley, he signed on as a Stoneworker at the Mine.
Bill Whitehead also worked at the pit as a weigh clerk on the surface from around 1928 until the rapid loading system was completed in 1978.

There was a craft underground little thought about and that was dry stone walling, these walls controlled lowering of the strata, thereby taking pressure off the advancing coal face.  Stone walling underground was carried out by the miners, and the art was past down to young colliers.

Stone wall article this site.


Wilfred Bannister a 19 year old Pony Driver was killed on the 24th August 1925 when he was leading a pony pulling six full tubs, another driver was coming out in the opposite direction and waved his lamp at Wilfred who turned around to run back when he slipped, and collided with the tubs which knocked him into the side of the road. Wilfred died from his injuries on the 29th August

In 1925/26 a section of land acquired from the Woodlaithe estate was to become the area we now know as Sunnyside, and provided further housing for the men of Silverwood. During the 1950's there was a large influx of Scottish miners in to Sunnyside, the village expanded quite dramatically to almost join with both Wickersley and Bramley.

A funeral fund was initiated at Silverwood in 1926, known as "The Silverwood Workingmen's Death Fund". At a time when Government grants were not available to families, the fund assisted grieving families pay the cost of funerals. Contributing miners would paid a small [ Less than a shilling ] sum each week, and all money received was invested on behalf of the contributors. The initial payout in 1926 was £30 and over the years increased to £120. In 2007 the fund with only 200 miners remaining in it was dissolved, those 200 men receiving £200 each, and the remainder of the money £28. 395. 51was shared between the the Yorkshire Miners Holiday Home  located at Scalby near Scarborough, and the Cancer Research u.k.


Mick Carver who has been researching the Miners list from the 1920's came up with the following facts worked out by studying a 10% turnover of the Miners employed.

 In 1927 there were approx 3000 men underground and 800 men on the surface.  around 96 % of the workforce were under the age of 50.

Age 14 TO 20           1324

Age 20 TO 30           1812
Age 30 TO 40           1200
Age 40 TO 50             624
Age 50 TO 60             243
Age OVER 60               80

Herbert Wright age 48 living at 40 Dalton Lane Dalton signed on as an Examiner? in July 1927, he had previously worked at Silverwood.
Around 1928 Tommy D'Arcy and Bernard Hemmingway  started work at Silverwood,  Tommy had many roles at Silverwood including face worker, union official, and N.U.M. safety inspector. Tommy and Bernard were both born in Dalton and later played a major role in making Silverwood Miner's Welfare one of the best venues in South Yorkshire for a good night out with the best acts of the day back in the 1950/60's

John Drew age 43 living at 3 Mowbray St signed on as a Potter? in May 1928, which is a rather unexpected trade to find at a coal mine.

Bruce Wilson writes "I did hear that years ago at Silverwood one of the chairs came down ( rope snapped ) chair plummeted to the pit bottom, the men had to walk out the egress way, the only way out of the pit ,Roundwood were owned by the same Co. and were linked by a tunnel. (Roundwood shut 1931 ? ) I heard it was a long hard walk I remember seeing old wooden signs near the pit bottom. old fancy painted signwriting, with a black arrow pointing the way, TO ROUNDWOOD !

John Law writes:-
 My dad Ralph Law seems to recall this happening around the 1920’s to early 1930’s.
He was told the stories by the old blacksmiths and what he heard in his early years as he did not start himself as you know until 1935.
A link had broken on the attachment from the capping to the chains holding the cage so sending the cage falling down the shaft.
This was firstly at the West Pit shaft.
Whilst the Blacksmiths and Shaftsmen were working on this problem it was reported that the same problem had occurred at the East pit Shaft again sending the cage falling down the shaft.
The men had to emerge from their shift via Silverwood's emergency escape route which was Roundwood where they walked to, approximately 3-4 miles he says, and came out of the mine there.
The cage limit at Roundwood was 10 men at a time so he thinks it would have taken quite a while to get all the men out of the mine. Noting that there was a lot of men working underground in this era.
He cannot remember being told how long Silverwood was stood for after this incident or whether men were laid off.
After the incident all shaft cage chains had to be inspected every 3 months and re-annealed.
Before this incident he seems to think that there was no regulation on chain inspection or annealing carried out before this time.
Dad seems to recall that Roundwood closed when the Area Emergency Winder came into operation for any incident like this.
He says the emergency winder bucket was only big enough for 2 men to travel in up and down the shaft at any one time.
Hope this throws a little more light on the story and a few more pieces can be put together such as dates and years etc to make it complete.

Joe Riley who lived at Dalton used to tell the story to his family of when he rushed up to the cage at east pit on stepping into the cage he heard the voices of his brothers further back in the cage, he immediately demanded to be let back off the cage. When asked why Joe explained because if anything had happened to that draw all the family would have been lost. As Eric Riley explains. "This story uncle Joe told on several occasions. I suppose the loss of both east and west pit cages going down around 1930 [I am not sure of the exact date) was in his mind, Uncle Gorge Riley was one of  the miners who had to walk to Roundwood underground to exit Silverwood on that occasion. "

By the year 1929 Silverwood Colliery was now containing Colliery Buildings, large areas of railway sidings,  and the tips were on both sides of Hollings Lane.

1929 was also a record year with an output  of 1,322,501 tons.

Thomas Burke was killed in an accident at Silverwood Colliery year unknown, he was the father of Robert Burke of Thrybergh.





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