Home Industry and Commerce Mining Coal Boom – Brisk Trade in South Yorkshire – All Pits Busy.

Coal Boom – Brisk Trade in South Yorkshire – All Pits Busy.

March 1929

Mexborough and Swinton Times March 1, 1929

Coal Boom.

Brisk Trade in South Yorkshire.

All Pits Busy.

The coal boom has unfortunately coincided with one of the worst influenza epidemics we have had for some time. This and the old trouble of wagon supplies raises two problems for the colliery managements in South. Yorkshire at present.

Apart from that the news is good. Though all those in a position to offer an “inside” opinion are non-committal about the question whether the boom is merely seasonal and a temporary outcome of bad weather, or a more -permanent phenomenon due to the swing back of foreign buyers to British coal. But on the principle that sufficient unto the day is the rood thereof, South Yorkshire can take heart in a marked improvement in economic conditions. While as yet the burden of unemployment is not lightened by the boom the men who are employed are able to enjoy the comparative prosperity due to drawing pay for six shifts each week instead of three or four. Moreover every colliery in the area is looking forward to working full time to Easter at least; and the Carlton Main group promise it even as far ahead as June.

At South Kirkby the men are being invited to work Sundays, too, in order to meet the demands for coal. A large part of the responsibility for reaping the full benefit of the boom now rests with the railway companies. Already some difficulty in getting the necessary wagons is, being experienced at some collieries, and as the boom is general the demand is likely to exceed the supply very soon; that is judging on past experience of boom periods in the coal mining industry. In regard to this difficulty the influenza epidemic might for the moment be looked upon as something of a blessing in disguise, as affording some cheek on the too sudden rush of coal to the pithead waiting transhipment; but it cuts both ways, if the railway workers’ ranks, like those, of all other workers, are too heavily depleted by the epidemic.

An unhappy feature of the boom is that the managements are having difficulty in several instances in getting the full shifts worked, and at one colliery management and union leaders are co-operating in appeal to the men to reduce absenteeism to a minimum.

In spite of this, and the general glow of satisfaction that everyone is feeling over the improvement in trade, one point should be kept clear; unemployment is not as yet being reduced—though there is hope of some contribution towards the partial solution of that problem locally by the opening of another seam at Cortonwood during the year—and the need for relief work is as great as ever. The boom should not be taken as a Justification for any slackening in the efforts to bring relief to areas that must still be rilsssified “distressed.”

The reports from the collieries yesterday other se4lin at uortoliwooa. uuring uuti j,,,,,, and the mood for relief work is as great as ever. The boom should not be taken as a justification for any slackening in the efforts to bring relief,to areas that must still be classified “distressed”.

The reports from the collieries yesterday were as follow :—

Manvers Main.

If we can get the wagons will be working tall time to Easter. Beyond that we cannot say; but there seems some encouragement for the belief that the boom is more than a seasonal affair, in the increased activity, in the blast furnace industry. At present the output is being seriously reduced by the absence of fully 15 per cent of our men through sickness.

Wath Main,

Working full time to Easter: after that we are “on the laps of the gods.” Wagons are difficult to get, and we are also being held up through sickness of coal-face -workers


Full time to the beginning of June.

South Kirkby.

Working full time for an indefinite period; the men have been invited to put in seven shifts a week for the present to enable us to cope with the rush of orders stop

Denaby and Cadeby.

Working full time at present


Working six days a week, owing largely to the fact that Swallow Wood seam was closed last September, which makes it difficult for us to get out our quota. We are working at full pressure and looking forward to a fairly long spell of regular working. Though the weather is the obvious main immediate cause of the boom there were signs before the advent of the big frost of a general improvement in industry, manifest in the export figures.  It, is, however, hardly to be expected that We shall jump straight from three-days-a-week to a six -days-a-week working permanently, all at once. No ‘difficulty with wagons at present.

Important developments are taking place at this Colliery— quite apart from-the boom —in the opening of the Silkstone seam, which has already’ begun. This will mean a gradual increase in the ‘number of employees, though none are needed-yet. The new seam, moreover, will be a mechanical one, in which coal is got and moved by machinery, so not 69 many men will be needed as in the -non-mechaniical pits. The Silkstone seam is about 2ft. 6in. thick, and the coal is reputed to be the best house coal on the market. The demand is always ready for Silkstone coal.

Wombwell Main.

Great improvement in demand, to some extent attributable to the bad weather; but there is a feeling that a general improvement in trade may be expected. The house coal seam is being worked six days a week, the other seams five days. There is no reason to expect any media falling off in demand. A large proportion of shifts are, however, being lost, partly owing to the influenza epidemic, which is causing managerial difficulties; and management and trade union branch leaders are co-operating in an appeal to the men to work as regularly as possible. No difficulty in getting necessary wagons at present.

Houghton Main.

Barnsley and Melton. Field seams both being worked full time—and have been for a considerable period. We think there is a good chance of the improvement being maintained. This colliery is particularly well situated for transport with close touch with three railways, and there is no difficulty in getting wagons as required.

Mitchell Main and Darfield Main

Both collieries working full time. “We wish we had two more pits.” No difficulty with wagons yet. Mitchell Main as just resumed after a short stoppage through a dispute.

Dearne Valley.

Working full time.

Hickleton Main.

Working full-time and expect to do so to the end of March. Extensive absence of men, mainly through sickness, checking output , severely, and for that reason no shortage of , wagons at present; if we could have got out all the coal we wanted we might have had trouble in that direction.