Home People Famous People Joe Baski Tours Pits – Eventful Afternoon in South Yorkshire

Joe Baski Tours Pits – Eventful Afternoon in South Yorkshire

May 1947

Mexborough and Swinton Times May 10, 1947

Joe Baski Tours Pits
An Eventful Afternoon in South Yorkshire

Miss Irene Race, a Goldthorpe Miner’s daughter, was on Wednesday one of three canteen workers to get big Joe Baski’s autograph when he dropped in at Barnburgh colliery on his tour of pits in the South Yorkshire coalfield.

Joe was given a great reception. He arrived in Doncaster 11:30, was greeted at the Coal Blood Offices, went on for lunch at the Danum Hotel, and during the afternoon he visited Markham Main, Brodsworth, Hickleton Main, Barnburgh and Manvers Main collieries.

Joe was a tired man when he joined a crowd in Manvers main canteen at 8:30 for a meal with colliery officials.


Joe was besieged everywhere he went, but with a big cheery American grin he had to decline. Scores of youngsters clung to the stairway leading to Hickleton May Boys club, and banishing scraps of paper and pencil, waylaid him on the way out. Playfully he ruffled his hand through their hair.

“If I give it to one, look what a job I will have” he said. But so that South Yorkshire would not be entirely disappointed, Joe wrote in a message in a “South Yorkshire Times” reporter’s notebook.

He did give three autographs, Miss Race and her two canteen colleagues, Joan Hill and C. Lowther, were the three lucky ones, Joe took a breather before descending Barnburgh’s 900 yard shaft – and he sat by an open window! They won!

Tips from an expert

Joe visited the boy’s club and training centre at Hickleton Main Colliery, found Tommy Thompson, brother of the famous Billy, hitting a punch bowl, and watched Ron Latham and Ron Fish, Jackie Hill and George Mills at work in the ring under the eye of trainer George Gibbs. All four were looking to get tips from the famous American. To Jackie and George he gave some practical advice on tackling a southpaw; to the other two he passed on a few tips on typical American ring work – fast, hard, infighting.

Pausing only for a cigarette, Joe told his many admirers how delighted he was to be among the coalminers of this country, thanked them for the grand reception there given him and spoke of his appreciation for everything that had been done for him over here.

He spoke of the drive for coal, urged mineworkers to give of their best and his young listeners to do their best to get to the ‘top of the heap.’

Yorkshire Greeting

A mineworker coming from the pit top was the first to greet him at Barnburgh – in a typical Yorkshire, “How are you all boy?” “Fine thanks,” said Joe and insisted on shaking hands. Here the Crown Film Unit of the C.O.I. shot Joe playfully sparring with Billy Thompson, the Thurnscoe lightweight title contender, amid a crowd of onlookers.

They later went down the shaft with him and shot several more sequences at the pit bottom. As he stepped into his car to move on to Manvers Main, one onlooker, admiring his tremendous build, said, “He’s no reckling, yon.”

At Manvers Main Joe was shown the aeratone baths and solarium (when he met iron Hague) and the Boys Club when he addressed the throng of youngsters on the importance of sportsmanship and later went across the canteen where he ordered a meal with Mr F.R.Brown, MBE, welfare officer and was joined by other officials including Mr Tom Smith, Divisional Labour Director to the NCB, who had to interrupt his tour for a visit to Barnsley Main Colliery, where an explosion had occurred during the afternoon.

Invitation to Billy

Billy Thompson, who was at the private lunch at the Day, told the “Times” Joe had offered showing round if he made his American trip and asked him up to his home.

Billy has fought twice on the same bill as Baski – the last occasion been at Harringay when he beat Famechon the same evening on which Joe beat Woodcock.

From You Tube:

Joe Baski at a Lancashire Colliery during his tour: