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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THE PRICE OF COAL

 

Silverwood like all mines had its share of disasters in its brief history, with tragic loss of life. It also left a lot of miners suffering the inevitable lung diseases, and other side effects associated with working in dust.    Even in the early part of the 20th century boys age 14 like the youngster pictured above would start work at the collieries completely unaware of the unseen damage that was to be inflicted upon them by inhaling dust, coal dust!
Injuries were many and a part of life, a typical year in the colliery from the 1950's saw 4,816 reports treated, 24,954 re-dressings, 117 new cases requiring radiant heat, and 1,265 existing cases receiving radiant heat treatment.
How did my Father and many more miners spend their last days? Fearing to sleep on their backs with the thought,  that what ever they coughed up in the night would lodge in their throat, choking them in their sleep. Waking in a morning trying to cough up that choking residue in what was left of  their lungs. Fighting for breath, sometimes walking down the Street and stopping every few yards exhausted, gasping, leaning on the nearest wall for support, trying to inhale enough air to take them the next few yards. Always knowing that when they were finally admitted to the intensive care unit in the local hospital, returning home was the least likely option.

 

Many tragic events occurred in many mines which not only inflicted painful suffering for the miners families, it also deprived the families of giving their husbands and sons a decent burial if the victims bodies could not be brought to the service.
For many Miners retirement was a short lived experience, or years  of medication, restricted greatly in what they could physically do. Some Miners were lucky and spent their retirement seemingly unaffected by years of working at a mine.
From its early days Silverwood was known as the Widow Maker, but the majority of mines in the World could well and truly be given that title, death being a constant visitor to mining communities. Fear being an ever present companion to the wives and parents of these men who plunged into the depths each working day.


Peter Lawery brought the following to my attention.
"Lately in 2004 a new addition was added to the list of deadly diseases to afflict Miners, and that is Asbestosis. In a recent article in the Barnsley Chronicle 18th of June 2004, there was a story of one of the first victims to be discovered with the disease. It was reported that experts believe there will be many more cases uncovered in the Barnsley area. The cause occurred thirty years ago when asbestos conveyor belts were used underground, ironical that using asbestos was a safety measure against the danger of fire. "

It is also tragic that thirty years ago the danger of asbestos was uncovered, many buildings at the time including Schools had asbestos materials removed and one would have to ask the question on why a health check was not carried out on all who had been in contact with asbestos. Blue asbestos used extensively in pipe lagging was reported to be the most dangerous, but the use of other asbestos types was also a fear.
According to the article, experts are predicting an epidemic of asbestosis in the area, as the disease incubates for around a thirty year period. The effects of asbestosis and asbestos cancer are a frightening prospect, the linings of the lungs are attacked, which incurs difficulty in breathing, which becomes worse until a final collapse of the lungs. Sadly there is little known about the disease and by the time it is diagnosed it is to late.


The Miners themselves carry many memories of the price of coal, and sometimes turned their hand to poetry to relate their thoughts in verse, stark graphic memories that make you ponder, and also touch the depths of your heart. Fred Spencer is an ex Silverwood miner who left to join the Police force, however it is the memories of Silverwood that linger uppermost in his mind, memories of great comradeship, those memories inspired him to write poems like the ones below..

 

 

THE PRICE OF COAL

By Fred Spencer


Deep underground, for coal we were grafting.
Using our skills, from past generations.
When suddenly, the earth did bellow and tremble.
One of our number, swallowed without warning.
Clawing and digging, we had to get to him.
Clawing and digging, our hands all bleeding.
Find him we must, for his wife and children.
Scratching and scraping, we eventually reach him.
All efforts in vain, the good Lord had called him.
Come on now, move him, the boss man was shouting.
He's no use to no man, let's have him stretchered.
There's coal to be shifted, to pay the men's wages.
By the glow and the warmth, we must always remember.
The price of coal, comes not in men's pockets.
It's flesh and it's blood. Let no man forget it.

This is a poem that was brought about some 20 or so years ago, when an elderly widow on our street passed away, the neighbours had a collection. This brought  back memories of earlier years. Where people had hit upon hard times either through fatality, serious injury or death, there would be a collection, on Friday a number of miners would stand at the wages office, this being pay day and collect for the family.

 


LOSS

By Fred Spencer


Tears of a widow.
Tears of mine.
Tears for a husband.
Killed in the mine.

Killed at the coalface.
Buried alive.
Whilst earning the bread.
For his children and wife.

Neighbours are collecting.
To pay for his passing.
She has no provision.
For such a sad happening.
We all pull together.
To shelter the family.
The best we can do.
For our lost colleague.


Such situations were commonplace, when pits were at their most dangerous, it, in my humble
view, shows the true nature of the closeness of mining communities, all lost with the closure of the mines. '

 

FRED SPENCER

 

 

 

 

Like most industries the mine had a large impact on the local environment too, which is always sad to see. These are some of the reasons behind the expression ' THE PRICE OF COAL ' for these reasons are indeed the true price of coal, as any Miner, or Miners Widow will tell you.

 

Poems by John Doxey

Me N Thee A poem depicting an imaginary conversation between two miners buried alive.

Left in the Depths Below  A poem to remind us of the ones buried down the mine.

 

 

Text copyright John Doxey,

Poems "THE PRICE OF COAL " and LOSS copyright Fred Spencer

Many thanks Fred

 

 

 

 

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