Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

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Silverwood Mine

Hollings Lane


South Yorkshire England

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A tribute by John Doxey



  Stan Crowther  was never a miner, and yet when you read the words to his song "The Silverwood Disaster" it becomes apparent that he understands better than most non miners what being a miner was all about.

In March 2007 I received a very nice email from a lady named Sheila Cameron who works with Stan on the Rotherham Civic Society, inviting me to participate in a project named " Our Heritage in Stones" to be displayed on a stand at Rotherham Heritage Fair on the 19th May 2007.   One aspect of this will be disasters, planning to include the Silverwood disaster of 1966.


Sheila informed me, "At that time our Chairman, Stan Crowther, was working as a freelance journalist and was also a folk singer and song writer.  He wrote a song about the disaster, which affected him deeply.  It was widely sung around the folk clubs and we are hoping to play this as part of our exhibition. "

Emails were exchanged and one night I received a phone call from Sheila and Stan.

Now I have never met Stan or Sheila but they both have a wonderful gift and that is to instantly put you at ease, and within seconds we were talking as though we had known each other for years. I soon realized Stan had a great sense of humour, and also that despite a very much acclaimed public life, he is as much down to earth as you would expect a Yorkshire man to be.


 So I Googled our Stan that night and came up with a variety of information about the man known as "Mr. Rotherham"



In 1925 Stan Crowther was born in Rotherham, and still lives there today [ 2007 ] . Whilst in the forces he served in the Royal Signals, and upon returning to civvy street became a journalist, which was to be his profession for some 30 years. His reporting skills extended into the Yorkshire region and also to a national level.  This enabled Stan to become socially aware of the needs of the local populace as a local journalist covering local events that were often tragic like the 1966 Silverwood disaster, in contrast he would often cover events that were a great insight into the light hearted side of  life in the local communities, giving him a sound foundation for his political career.



In 1956 he was like most people at the time caught up in the British skiffle era, influenced by the likes of Lonnie Donnegan, The Vipers Skiffle group, Nancy Whiskey, and others. This led to Stan's introduction as a local entertainer, forming the Sundowners Skiffle Group  with local lads Frank Hedge, Barry Morton, Dirk Eaton and Allan Smith. The group became very popular locally and our Stan emerged as a vocalist of some renown, and it his said that he did a marvellous version of the Merle Travis classic "Dark as a Dungeon" which is a coal mining song.  Stan over the following years was also to become a composer of songs, these songs revealing the mischievous nature of his humour, as well as the serious side found in the "Silverwood Disaster".

Around 1979 Mike Harding aka "The Rochdale Cowboy" and ' Mrs. Harding's Kid" recorded one of Stan's songs which was titled "The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom" now if that title has you chuckling what about one of Stan's other well known compositions "The Vicar and The Frog". Now trust me on this but the end line of the latter title is a belly shaker.


In 1997 Sheffield celebrated the seven hundredth anniversary of cutlery making in the City. The club decided to mark the occasion by making a film, to be called "Seven Hundred Years". The film was introduced by Stan Crowther, the former MP and Mayor of Rotherham and an accomplished entertainer. He recorded the commentary and even sang a song about one of the industry's young victims. 




A dedicated trade unionist, he is a life member of the National Union of Journalists, holds the silver medal of the Transport and General Workers’ Union and was presented with the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation’s shield ‘in the appreciation of his meritorious service to the steel industry and the ISTC.’




He served on the Borough Council for 16 years, was twice elected Mayor and spent twelve years as chairman of the Council’s planning and development committee, presiding over major redevelopment schemes and huge housing programme. until he was elected MP for the town in 1976.
In Parliament, he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Harold Walker, the Minister of State for Employment, became chairman of the Yorkshire Group of Labour MPs and gained a reputation as a specialist in the affairs of the steel industry. From 1979, he was a member of the Trade and Industry select committee where he was well known as an incisive questioner of reluctant witnesses through many inquiries, culminating in the investigation into the Iraq “supergun” affair.

When the anti smoking brigade raised their arguments in Parliament, Stan joined in the debate and took the brigade on regarding some of the facts they used to prove their point. He researched the same medical findings that the brigade quoted and discovered that the actual results differed from those quoted, in particular regarding passive smoking. The actual finding was that a passive smoker would have to remain in a room with a smoker for a non stop period of 450 hours to inhale the equivalent of one cigarette, a figure far in excess of that quoted by the anti smoking brigade.


In 1992 Stan retired as Rotherham M. P.  and James Boyce took over the role. This is what James said in Parliament.

Mr. James Boyce (Rotherham) :
May I now pay my respects to my predecessor, Stan Crowther, who was a much admired and respected Member of Parliament, both in the House and in his constituency, which he served for the best part of 16 years. Stan Crowther was a man of many parts. Not many people know that he was the only person to hold the position of mayor of Rotherham on two separate occasions. That is unique. I hope that I have not ruined too many pub quizzes by revealing that fact to the House.

Stan Crowther's work with the Select Committee on Trade and Industry also earned him the respect of the House. During the time that he served on the Committee, it became a labour of love to Stan. He is also much respected by the steelworkers, for whom he did a great deal of work in the Rotherham area. I am sure that the House would wish to join me in wishing Stan and his wife Margaret a long and happy retirement.





 "One Thing After Another "

Stan Crowther

One Thing After Another is a fascinating series of glimpses into the multi-faceted life of a man who, through decades of service to his home town, became known as ‘Mr Rotherham’. It traces Stan Crowther’s early family life, his schooldays and his wartime memories.
It tells of his 25 years as a folk club singer/songwriter, overlapping his 16 years as a member of the local authority including two terms as mayor before his election to Parliament in 1976.

The book deals with the work of the Trade and Industry select committee as Governments increasingly sought to reduce the investigative powers of the Chamber. It also shines a light on some dark corners and explains, for example, why the Callahan Government was defeated by one vote after the “confidence” debate in 1979, why Denis Healey’s bid for the Labour Party leadership failed, how the trap was set for Arthur Scargill in 1984 and how Betty Boothroyd was able to leapfrog into the Speaker’s chair in 1992. 




Stan Crowther was Rotherham’s MP from 1976 to 1992 and the town’s Mayor in 1971/72 and also 1975/76. Mr Crowther is now chair of the Rotherham Civic Society, who are also working in partnership with the Borough Council to restore Boston Castle.



Researched from various sources on the web by John Doxey.




Many thanks Stan for contributing your song "The Silverwood Disaster to this site.

John Doxey





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