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A Collier Remembers

Bill is a youngster of 83 he came to Thurcroft in 1913 when he was 21 years old, he came for a week and never left.

When Bill came of age in 1913 he was a coal face worker working alongside his father at Langworth Colliery. Both Bill and his father objected to the butty system still being operated at Langworth Colliery, they knew a man who had been promoted to the post of Under Manager at Maltby Colliery, so they wrote to him asking if there was any chance of a job at Maltby. They received a favourable reply, so without further ado Bill and his Father cycled to Maltby, when they arrived disappointment awaited them, the Under Manager had received a communication from the owners of Langworth Colliery telling him that on no account must he hire colliers from Langworth. The Under Manager was as upset as Bill and his Dad, but he had devised a plan, he knew that the Rothervale Colliery Company were hiring men in Thurcroft, so he told them to go to Thurcroft, work there for a week then go back to Maltby and he would hire them as Thurcroft colliers, Bill and his dad never went back to Maltby. When they arrived at Thurcroft they saw a remarkable sight, the railway line had been extended from the colliery, right up to the building site where the colliery were building new houses, this made the transportation of bricks from from the new brick yard much easier. It wasn't long before Bill and his family were settled into a brand new house on Katherine Road.

There wasn't any buses at this time so if Bill and his family wanted to go to Rotherham they had to walk to the 'Stag' from where they could catch a Tram car. In 1916 a chap who lived in Brampton en le Morthen had a brain wave, he had a lorry which he used to transport paraffin to the local villages, every saturday he would remove all the paraffin barrels, replace them with wooden seats thus converting his lorry into a bus!. Miners and their wives paid 5d return for the privilege of travelling in style.

By 1917 Mr Wright from Brampton had been put out of business by a man called Mr Redfern, Mr Redfern bought a bus that everyone called 'The old Kent road' this service was still only operated on Saturdays and the fare was still only 5d return, but the passengers travelled in comparative comfort and arrived at their destination fresh and not smelling of paraffin.

In 1915 Bill remembers the co.op opening, the first shop, up until this time only mobile shops ( horse drawn carts) came round.

Bill worked at Thurcroft colliery for 55 years, he remembers the big strike of 1926 when the local colliers found a thin seam of coal on Brampton Road and the owners bringing in the police to stop the colliers from digging it out to keep the home fires burning. He remembers the fire on Boxing day 1937 the the pit had to be completely evacuated, he was brought up from the coal face wearing only his pit shorts. He remembers the pit top ballot when all the Thurcroft miners voted solidly against allowing immigrants to work at Thurcroft pit.

Bill retired only a year ago at the age of 82, after working 55 years at the pit he became our 'Lollipop man' and never missed a day patrolling Green Arbour Road ( except when he had a bowls match ) Bill is a widower but he still lives in a colliery house, of his four sons two live in Thurcroft, neither are colliers.

There are many men like Bill living in Thurcroft, they are all made of the stuff that form the backbone of a nation, and are respected by all.

As told in 1975, with permission


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