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Octogenarian Cyclist – Veteran Still Active After Over 50 Years Pit Work

July 1947

South Yorkshire Times July 12, 1947

Octogenarian Cyclist
Goldthorpe Veteran Still Active After Over 50 Years Pit Work

Mr Aaron Smithson, of Cross Street, Goldthorpe, is a familiar figure often seen pedalling along on his tricycle in the district. One would imagine him to be in his late 50s but at 84 he is still hale and hearty. Mr Smithson spent over 50 years as a miner and has experienced hard-work in unhealthy conditions.

Twopence for pocket money

Born at Barnburgh Common in 1863 Mr Smithson was the oldest in a family of seven, five of whom are still living and all under 70. He started work underground at the age of 12 at the Old Oaks colliery now known as Barnsley Main and worked 10 hours a day for 7s 6d per week. His weekly pocket money was 2d. He has served  at nine other collieries including the worked out pit at Swaithe.

At an early age he took a share in the household duties, carrying water for the family, in two buckets twice each day from a spring a mile from his home.

Troubles came early for his mother died the year the start of work and he had to look after his younger brothers and sisters. This made a deep impression on his mind and today he is puzzled at what he thinks is laxity on the part of modern parents towards their children and is a believer in stricter discipline.

Even when he was 20 years old 8 p.m. was the time for Mr Smithson to be indoors and Sunday School was the rule for all the family.

Mr Smithson attributes his good health partly to the fact that he neither smokes or drinks. He can read his newspaper’s without using spectacles.

Of the world today He takes a rather gloomy view “things get worse instead of better” is his opinion and he thinks religion should play a greater part in the lives of people.

Mr Smithson has never seen a moving picture in his life and has little respect for people who  only think of finding pleasure at the theatre or cinema.

Mr Smithson does not find life dull, however, for he has his own views on happiness which comes to him through Association with Goldthorpe Christian Evangelical Mission. He attends church three times each week and is a staunch believer in the truth of the “good old book.”

Mr Smithson has been married and a widower three times.