Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Friday 30 December 1927
Don and Dearne Valleys.
Collieries Average a Five-Day Working Week For the Year.
In the industrial region the Don and Dcarne Valleys the trade of the past year showed improvement on the abnormal depression of 1926, but did not recover sufficiently to atone for abnormal and unprecedented losses.
The fact that most of the district collieries have through the past year had working average of five days per week could be satisfactory but for the knowledge of the continually problematical position of the coal trade and the general realisation that its re-establishment on the foundations of profit and prosperity is not yet within reach.
In this area are situated several large employing collieries, notably Denaby and Cadeby, Manvers Main Nos. l and 2, and Barmborough Main, Wath Main, Hickleton Main, and Kilnhurst, the, managements of which have had necessarily to exercise strict economy the attempt from the proprietorial side to maintain the pits on a self-supporting basis. The difficulties of the managements and the difficulties of the men have had mutual understanding, and the year has passed without recurrence of disruption, and co-operation has prevailed in united endeavours to make the best of circumstances short of the favourable standard required.
With such conditions colliery developments have had no marked manifestation, but efficiency has been maintained, and there has been no neglect in safety and welfare directions. In the latter connection the new baths opened at Barmborough Main are typical. At the pit 120 cubicles, giving bath accommodation for 3,000 workers, are already in use. They are nice, roomy baths, and are said to be the largest in the country.
At Denaby and Cadeby the £500,000 scheme of plant extension, referred to in the last annual review, is almost completed, and good results are being obtained from the new pulverised fuel plant. This year, too, brought the partial amalgamation of Denaby and Cadeby Main with the Dinnington, Rossington, and Maltby collieries, as approved by the shareholders, and sanctioned the Railway and Canal Commission on March 3rd last. The profit and loss account of the Denaby and Cadeby Main Collieries, revealed at the end of November, showed that during the half-year ended December 31st, 1926, there was loss of £113,720, due to the unfortunate coal stoppage, during which both pits were completely closed. The balance brought in was £63,091, and to meet the deficiency and also to provide the half-yearly dividend on the 6 per cent. Cum! Preference sharps a sum of £56,629 was transferred from the reserve for taxation.
More satisfactory was the experience in the half-year ended June 30th last. In that period there was a profit of £64,950, from which the sum of £6,000 was deducted for the half year’s dividend on the Preference shares. The balance of £58,950 was carried forward.
During the year the directors disposed of the controlling interest in the Workington Coal Co., Ltd.
With all the ups and downs incidental to the coal trade, this district of the Don and Dearn has at the end of another trying year fresh aspect of stability in the continued expansion of Mexborough, Swinton, Conisborough. Denaby, Wath, Bolton, Goldthorpe, and Thurnscoe, all which derive most of their upkeep from the collieries of the area. In the regions named the past year has brought increase to the thousands of new houses of the remarkable post-war era of construction, and as a symbol of faith the future the new “colonies” are impressive. Indeed, only the other day the writer was told a well-known commercial man who bad just motored through the district for the first time in the last seven years that he was amazed at the growth in the neighbourhood of Thurnscoe, Bolton, and Goldthorpe. It shows,” he said, that more people than ever are dependent on the collieries hereabouts, and the situation is curiously contradictory.”
The miners, of course, have had a complex year, for in addition to the current calls for family maintenance, they have had to face the debts accumulated in the 1926 stoppage, and it will a long time before the rent arrears and the liability to the Boards of Guardians are wiped out.
Mr. Arthur T. Thomson, the managing director of the Manvers Main Collieries. Ltd., in response to our inquiry, said : “We have worked an average of five days per week during the year, which we regard as rather good, considering the diminishing demand for coal. The demand has fallen off gradually all through the year, and prices have fallen with it. At present it is impossible to see any signs of improvement in the near future. However, history repeats itself; we have been through bad times before, and we are all looking ward confidently to an improvement, and hope it may be soon.”
Uncertainty is written large about immediatethe future of the coal industry and the district collieries, but there is no uncertainty about the mettle of the managements and the men to make the best circumstances, and to use opportunity the fullest available measure.
The Glass Trade
Glass-bottle making at Mexborough, unfortunately, has almost faded away, but the industry remains enterprisingly at Conisborough and Swinton, where works are being maintained by Messrs. Kilner Bros., Ltd., and Messrs. Dale, Brown, Co., Ltd., respectively. Mr. W. R. Dale, managing director of Messrs. Dale, Brown and Co., Ltd., states: “In the early part of the year we were well occupied, partly owing to the need of overtaking some arrears that had naturally accumulated during the long period of the coal stoppage. The early summer season opened well, and there appeared to be every prospect of a busy time. The unseasonable weather of the summer, however, caused , serious setback before the end of June, and throughout July and August trade was exceptionally quiet for the time of year. All the same, our factory succeeded in keeping going without reducing output, to any considerable extent. From October a decided improvement in trade conditions was noticeable, and this made it possible for us to continue practically full-time work to the present day. In May last the large new shop and furnace specially designed for the production of colourless glass was put into production for the first time, and has worked with much success.
“I am hopeful as to the demand for production such as ours during the year 1928, providing that industrial conditions remain peaceful, and given weather of reasonably seasonable character next spring and summer. Foreign competition is still severely felt. High rates and taxes and heavy railway charges continue to be severe burden upon manufacturers in, industry.”
Flourishing Conisborough Concern
While the Yorkshire Amalgamated ducts, Ltd., reported at their annual ing a few weeks ago the passage of a year which produced a net profit of £27,770 – reduction of £10,000 on the previous year –the experience of this growing enterprise had, what in the circumstances, must considered satisfactory progress.
Part of the company’s activities of connection with this district is the brickworks at Conisborough, where there is an enlarging output of facing bricks and terra cotta which are being increasingly specified building and public works of the highest class. From these works facing bricks are being supplied for the new Doncaster Infirmary and the State Institution at Rampton (Retford) and for His Majesty’s Office of Works and for schools for county municipal authorities. Several brewery companies are also using these Conisborough facing bricks for a number of inns of improved type now -under construction in Yorkshire, Notts, and Derbyshire roads.
The magnraium lime being worked one of the subsidiary companies at Warmsworth Cliff is believed to unequalled for building purposes. It will set in the, dampest situation, and will carry as much as four or five parts of sand and produce mortar as hard as rock. Its advantages being recognised by an increasing whose of architects and builders. The company’s has further a very large production of aggregate for concrete, and of crushed quartzite for granolithic floors and steps. The latter is being supplied to the Docks and Harbour Board for use great warehouses the new Dock at Liverpool.
Since the beginning of 1927 the company’s branches supplying the metal and engineering trades have been better supplied with orders than for some time past. The quarries producing concrete aggregates nave been busy, and large contract have been secured from sugar beet factories and for road construction in Yorkshire. One of the plants for the provision of materials worked double shifts the summer, and this demand for materials is increasing not only because of the roads required for housing schemes, but by reason of the incessant growth of on all highways. The prospects of the company are considered good, for reason that the fifteen works or quarries they own or control supply to several of the basic trades of the country materials as necessary to the life of a modern industrtrial community as food and clothing to the individual. The recent issue by the company of £175,000 new debenture was substantially over-subscribed.
Stove Grates and Fireplaces.
Messrs. Hattersley Bros., Ltd., at Queen’s Foundry, Swinton, made extensive developments during the year. The men were employed constantly, and while housing scheme work may have temporarily slackened off, the managing director, H. Sanderson, states that the firm are looking to the future in an optimistic way. In the past year the firm increased facilities for general engineering work and the production of general light castings on a large scale. A most interesting advance is revealed in their new designs for fireplaces. One fireplace can be adapted both for cooking and domestic and for a sitting room. In this type of fireplace the principal idea is low consumption of coal, smoke consuming, .and the guaranteed efficiency of the all round utility of the oven, together with an abundant hut water supply.
All the shops of the foundry have been reconstructed, and the whole of the works are under cover. The sandstone grindstones have been dispense with and in their place large carbon wheels have been substituted. Dust extraction plant has been installed to all machines, and with the men working under much better and healthier condition, the quality of the work accordingly.