Manvers Main: A Brief History

Manvers Main was a gigantic pit, working 3000 acres of coal in the Meltonfield, Swallow Wood, Parkgate, Silkstone, Thorncliffe, Barnsley Bed, and Winter seams. The deepest, the Silkstone, was 648 yards deep. Manvers, as it was known, was named after Earl Manvers of Nottinghamshire, who owned much of the freehold on the mineral property. AtContinue Reading

Criticisms of women’s dress and language in mining communities

Women in mining towns and villages first aroused the missionary zeal of 19th century reformers because of their employment in the mines. As John Threlkeld says in Pits: A Pictorial History of Mining (Barnsley, Wharncliffe Publishing, 2003), “Pit women were seen either as innocent victims of a brutal industrial system, ‘sacrificed to the shameless indecenciesContinue Reading

Denaby Main, The Christian Budget and Criticism of Mining Families’ Spending Habits

The Christian Budget‘s Worst Village in England report was written in the late 1890s, at a time when wages rates for coal mining were increasing after a period of depression, with the increase particularly pronounced in South Yorkshire (see Brian R. Mitchell, Economic Development of the British Coal Industry, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1984). TheContinue Reading

The Worst Village in England: a rebuttal

Two weeks after the publication of the issue of the Christian Budget featuring the account of Denaby Main Colliery Village, a letter rebutting its evidence was published in the Mexborough & SwintonTimes. Sir – what a horrible indictment? What a blood – curdling article following this title! Four fifths of the children, even toddlers, go oftenerContinue Reading

The Worst Village in England?

In the fourth of this series of revelations the special commissioner of the Christian Budget tells the story of the mining community in Denaby Main, in Yorkshire. He described the village when nearly all the men, and most of the women, devote their high wages to betting, where religion is forgotten, home life is shattered, where immoralityContinue Reading

Belief in Fate

Jack suffered from irrational rages for many years afterwards – not linked to the undermanager, but to his memory of the accident. His doctor told him he would never get over them until he got himself out of the pit, and he was right, although I don’t know that Jack ever truly “got over” the accident. Continue Reading

May Parkin on visiting Danny in hospital

My grandma (Winnie) told me about this, and my mother (Pauline) still remembers the scene. The memories, and particularly the smell, were similar for all the people I interviewed: this is May Parkin in 2008, on visiting Danny in hospital:Continue Reading

Winnie’s Routine

While I found no shortage of information about the accident and its aftermath, it was impossible to know for certain what Winnie was doing in the moments before she heard there had been an accident. I know she was at home, but beyond that, nothing. In such situations I usually try to discover and useContinue Reading

May Parkin’s Dream of Death

In 2008, when I visited May Parkin at her home in Newmarket, told me that early in 1957 she had had a premonition about the accident that took place at Barnburgh Colliery in June that year. This is what she said: “I must tell you that in my lifetime I have had three very vividContinue Reading

Celebrating rough reputations

The muckyard reference is mentioned here. Of course not everyone who lived in Shirebrook was a drunkard, and I doubt that after 1900 the place was very different to other small colliery towns. People from pit villages and towns have a tongue-in-cheek way of celebrating rough reputations (‘sex and swearing doesn’t shock me,’ Marie HollingworthContinue Reading