Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

Dedicated to the Miners of Silverwood

History of the Mine

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Silverwood Mine

Hollings Lane

Thrybergh

South Yorkshire England

Webmaster John Doxey

Main Photos Jonathan Dabs.

Additional content Mick Carver

 

 

 

 

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HISTORY

The Shaft is Sunk

Dalton Mining Co

Early Years

Early Years 2
1913 Accident

1914

1915

1916

1917

1918

War Years at the Mine

1919

Early Trains

The 1920's

War Memorial of 1923

1930's

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Coke Ovens

Pit Head Baths

1940's

1947 Accident

1950's

The Blacking Mill

1966 Disaster

The Silverwood Disaster song

1970's

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Journey to the Face

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1984 Strike

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One Million Tonnes

Weekly Record

Home of Quality

Riddor Incident

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Silverwood Closure 2

Final Years Photos

Stuart Tomlins Collection

Stuart Tomlins Collection 2

Stuart Tomlins Collection 3

Sunset on Silverwood

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Dalton

PIT HEAD BATHS

Presented by Don Pickering and John Doxey

 

I can remember walking up the 'Pit Hill' [ Hollings Lane from Thrybergh to Silverwood Pit, to wait for my Dad to finish his day shift. Often we would watch the Ponies that once had been used to haul coal down the pit. We would stand on the Bath House side of the road waiting for the Miners to emerge from the Timekeepers Shed. Then they would appear onto the footpath . for a moment they would stand there lighting that long awaited cigarette, blinking in the daylight, carrying their metal lunch boxes and dudley's [water cans], laughing and joking. Then they would cross the road and make their way into the Bath House, and after a short while would appear once more but this time sparkling clean.

John Doxey

 

 

 

A LONG TIME COMING

 

Every benefit in a miners working life had to be fought for, better working conditions, safety, and a decent wage etc. Pit head baths were no exception.

European coal mines by 1920 had machinery, they also had pit head baths some of which had been installed prior to 1900, whilst the mines in the United Kingdom were very much reliant upon manpower and provided no facilities for a miner to wash himself.

 

The Sankey commission of 1911 had recommended the installation of pit head baths for mines that could afford 3d a week maintenance per week for each miner, if a mine stated it could not afford the cost then there was no requirement for that mine to install pit head baths.

The argument raged back and forth not just for months but for years as in the following extract from 1919




 


PIT-HEAD BATHS.
HC Deb 22 December 1919 vol 123 c963963

 


Mr. Hirst :- asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the increased cost of materials, owners are still bound to provide pit-head baths, even if the cost of maintenance exceeds 3d. per week for each workman?


The Secretary of State for the Home Department Mr. Shortt :- My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. Under Section 77 of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, which deals with the matter, the owner is not required to provide baths if the estimated total cost of maintenance exceeds 3d. per week for each workman affected.


Mr. Hartshown :- Having regard to the fact that Mr. Justice Sankey made recommendations in favour of solving this problem, does the Government propose to do anything to change that position?


Mr. Shortt :- I do not know that I am able to make any definite statement on that point.

 


So it went on, but the pressure was mounting and with formidable people like Elizabeth Andrews 1882 1960 who was the first woman organiser for the Labour Party in Wales and a campaigner for better social conditions. In her writings concerning the welfare of miners and their families she urged the revival of the campaign for pit-head baths.

 

George Orwell the author also wrote about the miners lot and included a very strong case in his book The Road to Wigan Pier.
"Middle-class people are fond of saying that the miners would not wash themselves properly even if they could, but this innocence, as is shown by the fact that where pithead baths exist practically all the men use them. Only among the very old men does the belief still linger that washing one's legs 'causes lumbago'. Moreover the pithead baths, where they exist, are paid for wholly or partly by the miners themselves, out of the Miners' Welfare Fund. Sometimes the colliery company subscribes, some-times the Fund bears the whole cost. "
George Orwell approx 1936

 

During the 1920's a few mines did install pit head baths but the miners from other mines still took their dirt home with them. Now you can see from the photos on this page that mining is a job where the dirt sticks to the body and requires a considerable amount of scrubbing off, and for a grown man to be placed in a position of sitting or standing in a small tin bath tub in front of the fireplace at home in view of his family during the 20th century was a disgrace.

Silverwood did not get baths until the 1930's, some mines did not receive baths until the nationalization of mines in 1947.

 

Fred Kelly was one of the first bath attendants at Silverwood, When the baths opened at the Notton Colliery he left Silverwood and  went there as superintendent returning to Silverwood during the 2nd World War.

 

Paul Shane the local comedian and ex Silverwood miner made the baths somewhat famous by slipping on soap which gave him a back injury after which he pursued a career in show business.

 


So the miners of Silverwood now had a locker room, and showers a great benefit for them and without doubt a great benefit for their wives.

A reduction in cost was found for the pit head baths  Silverwood saved a lot of money when it started using free natural gas to heat up the water in the Pit head Baths in 1979.

 

 

 

 Text and formatting John Doxey 2011

Photos courtesy and Don Pickering 2011
 

Many thanks Don for the photos above.

 

 

 

 

 

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