1900 - 1994
Dedicated to the Miners of Silverwood
History of the Mine
SIMPLY THE BEST
South Yorkshire England
Webmaster John Doxey
Main Photos Jonathan Dabs.
Additional content Mick Carver
|Working Life 2|
|Working Life 3|
|Silverwood F. C.|
|Silverwood F. C. pg2|
|Samual J. Taylor|
|The making of the Mine|
|History of the Mine|
|Listing of Miners|
|Where the Miners of Silverwood came from|
|Origins of Miners|
|Biographies and Tributes|
Facts, Stories and Features
|Legends from the Mine|
|Tales from the Mine|
|For Your Use|
The Officials Dance circa 1940's
Many thanks to Mick Carver for the above photo of his Granddad
Left to right around the Table. Unknown Sam Duxbury Jack Waller Alf Barlow Unknown
Jim Astle Derrick Critchley Unknown
The photo above was taken at the Dalton Progressive Club on a Sunday afternoon, and I suppose depicts how many people imagined what miners did with all their spare time. Yes they did drink and spend a lot of time with their mates in the many drinking establishments in the area, but most miners had other interest too.
After a week underground working in a hot, dry, dusty working environment do you really blame them for liking a drink or two. The local pub or club was a social gathering and source of entertainment for the men, a ritual habit from the days before T/V when mateship was a code you lived by. Old and new tales were swapped, latest events at the mine were discussed, the latest news and sporting results, the latest tongue lashing from the wife, all exchanged with a great deal of humour.
Often rather than say "I'm goin' dahn't ta pub"to
their wives, they would say "I'm goin' dahn't rowd," or "Am goin' ta pay
tote" To which the wife would often respond with " Well don't cum back wi a
belly full a beer". Which would be on a par with old King Canute
sitting on the beach telling the tide to turn back.
The clubs also had sporting teams so those interested could join, these clubs produced quite a few stars in their time. When they were not playing soccer some of the local legends who worked at Silverwood could be found at the Thrybergh cricket club.
The clubs also did their share in aiding the local community in time of need, hospital visits were made, and also charitable work .
The working men's clubs in the North of England were often run by miners, many an artist paid his dues by establishing themselves by performing at these clubs. If they could survive the blunt honest appraisal of these clubs they could survive anywhere in the harsh world of entertainment. The doormen in these clubs ran to the book and no matter who you were, you signed in.
I remember once standing in the foyer of a club in Hoyland when the artist arrived, a comedian who thought signing in meant everyone else but him. The doorman as blunt and as stubborn a miner you could wish to find had other ideas. The artist took great offence at being told to sign in and argued that he was the artist and had never been asked to sign in at any club. The doorman replied "I dun't care if tha' bloody Prince Phillip, tha' signs in or tha dun't go thru' that door"
In a great rage our would be comic signed in cursing, turning around he spotted me chuckling. " What are you laughing at " he bellowed. I replied " A'm laughing at 'im cos he's a better comic than thee" With murder in his eyes he stormed through the door, I looked across at the doorman who was now smiling, " That put 'im in his place din'it " he remarked. Needless to say our not so funny comic did not go down too well that night.
On another occasion in a Barnsley club the group started their act, it was pretty loud, the sound was switched off and the M. C. asked the group to turn it down, this happened twice. The group started their next number when the sound was switched off and the curtain came down [ drew across actually ] accompanied with the announcement " Sorry folks, I asked 'em twice nah ta turn it dahn, they can gerrof, an the not gerrin paid either. "
This final tale on clubs was told to me by a Barnsley Miner who I met on holiday. We will call it the sound engineers folly.
The sound engineer of a group was setting up his equipment at a Barnsley club and asked the nearest man to him if he would mind testing the microphone on stage, the man just nodded, got out of his chair and started walking to the stage. " Just say testing one two three" shouted the engineer, the man turned his head and gave a confirmative nod once more.
Reaching the microphone he looked to the back of the club, the engineer gave him the thumbs up. Leaning forward he spoke, and out of the speakers came a gargled distorted something that sounded like " Tetley lon to thlee " The engineer shook his head in disbelieve and started adjusting buttons and dials, after satisfying himself he had made the correct adjustments gave the thumbs up. "Tetley lon to thlee " boomed out of the speakers. The engineer lifted his hands to the heavens, cursed, and like a man possessed started twiddling the controls once more. Again he gave the thumbs up, sure enough " Tetley lon to thlee " pounded his eardrums. By this stage the patrons were in hysterics, and the engineer was close to a heart attack, one of the kinder members of the club sitting nearby leaned over and said "Tha's picked a reight un theer fa that job, his gorra speech impediment"
As I said you worked these clubs and survived you were doing great.
Allotments in the area were communities by themselves and the men who rented them would spend most of their spare time, growing vegetables, some like Sid Mills kept pigs, others hens , racing pigeons, and what ever else they could think of. Often today when I do my shopping down in the local Woollies I look with despair at what is offered as fresh fruit and vegetable, and think of the vegetables that were grown on the old allotments. Big fresh healthy looking vegetables that were crisp and tasty plucked only that day from the ground.
The huts some of these men constructed were a joy to behold, a home away from home, and they would spend hours sitting in a chair at the doorway of the hut, chatting often with their neighbours remarking how well each others crop looked. Late afternoon they would carefully lock up the shed and gate, taking home enough to provide a cooked meal for the following day.
Some of the miners were fortunate in having large back gardens in which to grow food, one of my greatest joys was to wonder into Walt Norburn's greenhouse when the tomatoes were ripe. Salt shaker in hand I would pluck a big tomato, grown in good chemical free soil and horse manure, and start feasting, what a taste!
Miners were to be found in many aspects of the community, involvement in church groups, the local council, musical groups, and the many leisure groups in the area.
Not the kind to sit back, miners created their entertainment and worked hard to achieve success in whatever venture they undertook.
Like every community there were as different as chalk and cheese, from the quietly inoffensive to the loudmouth bully, the uneducated to the educated, from the joker to the humourless, but when help was needed they all took on the same characteristic, Givers.
I remember meeting an ex colliery train driver in his home at Brampton Bierlow who showed me his hobby of many years. He had constructed his own model trains and trackwork, and also constructed a useable model train, in that it was big enough to sit on and drive. All parts made and fitted by him. His work was exhibited and praised at many model train venues.
Fishing and shooting were also popular sporting pastimes, as were camping, hiking, cycling, and a great example of what miners could achieve is Tony Williams. Tony who was born in Thrybergh an ex Silverwood miner became a trained nurse and served 22 years with the Royal Army Medical Corps. In 1992 Tony did the London Marathon, and at the prime age of sixty one was chosen as part of a team attempting to climb Africa's Kilimanjaro in a bid to raise £100,000 for a Leeds charity.
Some miners took a great interest in cars, and Fred Spencer was one of them. He recently sent in a great article recalling his time at Silverwood and he had his dream car.
Miners did get up to other pursuits but we won't mention them here eh lads !
Copyright John Doxey
All information on this site is correct to the extent of my knowledge,
should you spot an error please let me know and that error will be