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 Dabs.

Additional content Mick Carver


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Ralph Law  pg2
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Foreword by John Doxey

The story of Billy Mills depicts the determination and spirit of the typical miner, and we can all learn from Billy's never say die attitude towards life.


Photo courtesy of Robert Mills





Billy and Lilly Mills on right and one of the blokes who went out to Umtali Rhodesia with them. Taken at Leopards Rock, in the hot season every one used to go up there at the weekends to escape the heat














Born in Radcliff Lancashire Billy was one of six children, his parents died suddenly and he along with the other two youngest Joe and Dolly were sent to live with his mothers sister who had married a miner and lived in the pit houses some where on Whinny Hill. When they were old enough too Joe and Dolly returned to Radcliff.

Billy eventually married and lived at number 54 Norwood St Dalton until 1946 when the family moved to 18, Bosville St Dalton.

Working at Silverwood Billy was to become yet another casualty of the mine when around 1940 he was the victim of a roof fall, the fall badly crushed both of his legs, the severity of the injuries sustained may have prevented many a person from ever working again, but not Billy.

Following the accident Billy found himself in a rest home at Buxton run by the minerís welfare. for recuperation, the result of the injuries meant that he would always have to wear custom made shoes to compensate for his disability.




Now Billy had married Lilly Barlow whose family lived next door at number 56 Norwood St. Dalton, Lilly being the daughter of Tom Barlow, Tom had two sons Enoch (Nip) and Horace all three  worked at Silverwood.
Tom Barlow was a machine gunner during the First World War, he was in the Cold stream Guards , his brother lost a leg on the Somme.
Hariett Barlow nee Harvey had two brothers who worked at the pit Sam and Harry Harvey they lived on the row fronting Doncaster Rd fronting the junior school.
Horace Barlow was secretary of the Thrybergh British Legion for 16 years before his death from lung cancer.
Enoch (Nip) Barlow still lives in the Brook, heís now at the time of writing 86.



In 1946 after moving to18 Bosville St. Billy Mills made a very bold decision along with his wife's youngest brother Harry Barlow, a former Rotherham Grammar School pupil and Fleet Air Arm pilot.  They decided to gain employment  in Rhodesia  along with other craftsmen in a town called Umtali, the venture being to build a factory and man it to weave jute, which is the underlay on which a carpet is made from. Jute requires a dry environment in which to weave it and Umtali is on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. The company that was doing this was Van dam Berg & Black. The raw jute was shipped across the Indian Ocean to Beira in Mozambique and then by rail to Umtali.


In 1947 Lilly [ nicknamed Mickey ] and their son Robert sailed out there to join Billy on the Union Castle Line ship Durban Castle. On the trip out prior to our sailing a steward was convicted of murder by pushing a starlet out of a porthole, on its return to pick us up a man committed suicide, after our trip out to Cape Town the ship was taken of the Southampton/Cape town run.

Lilly went to work at the Umtali hospital she was a nurse having done her training at Guys in London, so she would have been a great asset to the town of Umtali. With England still on rationing Lilly sent food parcels back home in large biscuits tins, any loose space was packed out with cigarettes.

Their son Robert was to prove himself quite a scholar, back in England he had attended  Dalton Junior whose headmaster was Mr Hillsley, in Rhodesia he found himself  attending the Umtali High School where he was in a class a year above his age. Now most School children will envy this but the school hours were from 8am until 12 noon, after that it was too hot to stay indoors and there was no air conditioning back then. Later young Robert won a scholarship to St Georgeís better known as the BBC Bulawayo Boys Collage as a boarder.


Then bad luck struck Billy once more in 1950 he picked up a bug from the jute that affected his legs, after a long illness he was advised to return home to a more temperate climate. Arthritis was also affecting him.




 Upon the families  return to Yorkshire they bought number 3 Park Lane in Thrybergh. Billy was now unable to gain employment due to his legs,  but not being the kind of man to sit idle he helped out as a bookies runner for Alan Smith and Aubrey 'Orb' Windsor. Alan drove the Home Coal delivery truck for Silverwood. 'Orb had his pitch  behind the Progressive Club at Dalton, whilst Billy was at the top of the first hill in Dalton Lane by the shop.

Lilly returned to Moorgate General Hospital later she suffered a slip disk moving a patient, after that she joined the Steel Peach and Tozer medical team.

Often Lilly would call into Fosters shop on Whinney hill on her way home from night duty, there she would relate stories of her time in Rhodesia to the staff.


Robert Mills finished his Schooling at Thrybergh Secondary Modern when the Headmaster was Mr Armatidge.


© Robert Mills 2006




" I moved to Dorset in 1963 but still refer to the 'Brook' as my home. "

Robert Mills


Many thanks Robert for adding your family to this site.





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