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 text Mick Carver







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Presented by Julie McNeill




by Julie McNeill


With mouths to feed.

The closure of many coal mines around Wolverhampton, led Joseph and Betsey Churm to decide the  surest way to feed their growing family, was, like many other West Midlanders to take a handcart  and walk to the new coal mine at Whitwood, near Castleford in 1875.
It took them 2 weeks. Settling into Briggs Colliery housing at Terry's Row, Betsey gave birth to their first Yorkshire born son, William.  Altogether they had 8 sons to follow their father down the mine, and their 4 daughters married coal miners from it.
Around 1911 Isaac and his twin brother David, with their new Castleford wives must have heard that wages and conditions were better at the Dalton Colliery over at Silverwood Mine, near Rotherham. At this point in my research I can only guess, from this newspaper clipping discovered by their descendent, Shaun Churm of Rotherham, that conditions were not what they expected.

A Miner distraction

A lot can happen between the ages of 20 and 30yrs; War, work and a wife filled the life of these Dalton residents(and a few beers with some comrades, planning ways to improve the lives of the Miners and their families:



Fighting for their daily bread.

Isaac Churm photo presented by Shaun Churm of RotherhamBetween 1910 and 1914 trade union membership rose from 2.1 million to 4.1 million. Wages lagged behind the cost of living. Employers were as stubborn as ever, and the only asset an ordinary man had was his ability to withdraw his labour in a combined force; afterall most working men didn't have the right to vote, and wouldn't until after they'd fought in World War One, then on the horizon
It is not hard to imagine that the twins, Isaac and David in their early twenties, been underground since they were youngsters were caught up in the politicisation of the working-class.
Suffragettes were becoming more frustrated and militant in their quest for economic and social justice too, and the Irish were still hankering for Home Rule! 1912 threw a major coal strike, lasting 6 weeks which pushed the politicians like Winston Churchill, Lloyd George and Prime Minister Asquith to draw up a Minimum Wages Bill.


Issac Churm v Dalton Main Collieries Ltd breach of the Coal Mines Minimum Act 1912: 


The Weekly notes: Volume 50
Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales  1915
Churm v. Dalton Main Collieries, Limited. In part heard and adjourned till to-morrow. Tuesday, November 2. Charm v. Dalton Main Collieries, Limited. adjourned to Thursday next. Further heard and JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OP THE PRIVY COUNCIL

j ) CHURM v. DALTON MAIN COLLIERIES (LIMITED).* Mines— Coalmine — Wages — Filler — Payment to collier — Division by collier— Less than minimum rate given to filler — Whether filler employed by colliery owners or by collier

Journals of the House of Lords: Volume 148
Great Britain. Parliament. House of Lords 1916
The House (according to Order) proceeded to take into further consideration the Cause Churm against Dalton Main Collieries, Limited and consideration being had thereof accordingly ; The following Order and' Judgment was made----

Law reports: King's Bench Division: Volume 3
Frederick Pollock, Great Britain. High Court of Justice. King's Bench Division, Great Britain. Court of Criminal Appeal 1920
Two cases in the House of Lords were cited as showing that the owner — ie, in this case, the defendants — is liable to pay a man or boy in the position of the plaintiff : Churm v. Dalton Main Collieries (I) and Hooley v. Butterley Co.

Justice of the peace: Volume 85
(2). The appeal must be dismissed. Scrutton, LJ — I agree. Atkin, LJ — I agree. The principal question, who is the .person on whom the obligation to pay the wages is placed by 8. 96 (1), is concluded by Churm v. Dalton Main Collieries .

The All England law reports reprint: being a selection from the ...
George Frederick Leslie Bridgman -1959
Held : the Act did not oblige the employer to pay the worker for the broken period actually worked at the rate laid down by the Act or at all. Hampton v. Smith (1) (1920), 122 LT 783, applied; Churm v. Dalton Main Collieries, Ltd.



1914 and David Churm of 37 Kelvin St, Dalton  joined the Yorkshire Light Infantry but didn't pass the medical due to his work as a Coal Miner causing bad Sciatica. Isaac had joined the York and Lancaster Regiment and was sent to the battlefront of France. He returned to tell the tale, but his wife would die with childbirth complications.

By 1927, another generation of Churm kids in Castleford and Dalton were ready to go down pit. David, son of David and nephew to Uncle Isaac, had turned 14yrs and records show he had signed on at the Silverwood Mine as a driver, following in the tradition of his coal mining forefathers going back to eighteenth century Shropshire.

Coal Miners were a short-lived, compared to their farm labouring ancestors. Isaac Churm who had brought the House of Lords to his argument on the principles of a living wage, died in 1942 aged 57yrs and twin brother David followed the year after. They are buried together at the Dalton churchyard.

David Churm continued to work at Silverwood through the 1950's, married Doris Crabtree and brought up 4 sons and a daughter. Although working and wage conditions had improved into the modern age, against his advice he saw his first son, David born in Dalton,1939 sign on at the colliery, but only for a short time.....In 1960 the Churm sons and daughter experienced the death of their father down the Silverwood Mine, age 47years.


 John Churm here in Australia whose father was David Churm who died at Silverwood Mine in 1960. His older brother David Churm had gone down the mine too, but only for a short time.

David Churm jnr 14 who you have at Kelvin St was son of David and Jane Churm.
I have them at the same address in 1914 - David Churm Snr. was a coal miner/hewer and was discharged from the Yorkshire Light Infantry due to "Sciatica caused by Coal Mining"........back to the pit!
So it seems that David Churm moved on from the Whitwood mine approx. 1912 as in the 1911 he was residing at Castleford.
He doesn't know much detail, but I've included it in my story so that if people can remember any David Churms.....that would be fab.
 ©Julie McNeill 2009
(if anyone asks the Churm connection comes from my mother-in-law - short, working class, wonderful)

(This is a work-in-progress - if you would like to contribute to this family history please e-mail me at

You can also visit Julies website here.


Many thanks to Julie and also Shaun Churm [ who kindly supplied the newspaper clipping above ] of Rotherham for the above presentation which contains what was possibly a precedent in wage disputes between miners and their employee's. The case has been referred to in law journals and no doubt in following similar disputes in the court's, which makes it a very important piece of historical fact in the history of not just Silverwood but also in the history of mining in general.

If anyone can fill in further details please contact Julie or myself .




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