In celebration of their 50th Anniversary the “Times” did a potted history of various Dearne Valley Towns
Mexborough and Swinton Times July 22, 1927
The Rise of Goldthorpe
A Wonderful Transformation
A Great Colliery Centre in the Making
Although progress and development of been general throughout the area covered by the “Mexborough and Swinton Times,” during the last 50 years, nowhere have they been more marked than in the district of which Goldthorpe is in the centre.
This district now has a population of nearly 25,000, when, 50 years ago, there was one village of some importance and two hamlets, and the industries were almost entirely rural.
Bolton on Dearne always has been a place of some importance, as may be gathered from the fact that from time to time, when the country was at war, a larger revenue was raised by special taxation there than any other parish roundabout.
In 1877 the coal industry which crept up to its borders was beginning to have some influence on its ancient agricultural character, but nothing appreciable. At that time there were, apparently, two highway authorities, or what passed for highway authorities, in the parish of Bolton on Dearne, which then, as today, included Goldthorpe.
The constable and way-warden and levied their rates for Goldthorpe and similar officials did the same for Bolton on Dearne. At that time a penny rate was a good deal more than it is today, but the assessable value was, of course, very much smaller, and a penny in the pound raised no more than £15; today, in a normal year, it realises about £240.
The Coming of the Collieries
The Manvers Main colliery had just been sunk to the south of this district, and the Wath Main colliery was in process of development to the south-west, but no coal under the parish was then being won.
Today the district is completely ringed with first-class coal mines, which between them provide almost the entire substance of the district. There is now very little agriculture, and whereas the minor industries were formerly branches of agriculture, the minor industries today are similarly related to coal.
The Hickleton Main Colliery was sunk in 1894; a few years later the Goldthorpe Colliery was sunk, and in 1913 the Barnburgh Main Colliery. There is also a little colliery at Highgate which was sunk about the same time as Barnburgh.
The population now stands at 25,000 for this completely transformed area, and is almost entirely dependent upon these various collieries.
Until 1894, the local government of this district was of the most primitive kind.
Urban District Council for Bolton and Goldthorpe
In 1899 an Urban District Council was formed for the Bolton and Goldthorpe area.
Mr PJ Bradley of Bolton was the last chairman of the old Parish Council, and he continued to serve on the new authority, of which there are no survivors still engaged in public work today except the Clerk, Mr J Ledger Hawksworth, who became assistant overseer and clerk to the Parish Council 1890, succeeded the late Mr John Battey, who had held similar offices since 1865.
Germs of progress
When the Urban District Council took over the administration the district, practically all the necessary public services had to be provided.
A sewerage and sewage disposal scheme had been carried out by the Rural District Council, but it was hopelessly inadequate to the rapidly growing needs of the area, and has long been scrapped in favour of a larger scheme. The Urban District Council has, indeed, contracted seven different loans for this purpose, and some of them have since fallen in.
The water supply which was central obtained from springs and wells, was not organised on modern basis for some years after the industrial character of the district have become well defined. In the end, the supply was obtained from the Dearne Valley Water Works Company, which was formed in 1880 but did not supply this area until about 1898.
The sinking of Hickleton Main Colliery and the rapid spread of population at the Goldthorpe end of the district made a public water supply imperative, and the company supply Goldthorpe first and afterwards extended its mains to Bolton.
Until the Hickleton Main Pit some, Goldthorpe was a peaceful hamlet, contain a public out, the “Horse and Groom In,” which relied almost entirely on the road traffic between Barnsley and Doncaster, a couple of cottages and three or four farms. Long before this time there have been road leading out of Bolton in the direction of Barnsley and Doncaster, but they were never carried through and when it became plain that the district was to be developed mainly at the Goldthorpe and, whatever ideas they may have been collecting Bolton directly these two town seems to have been abandoned, and the road, which still exist, were left to lose themselves in either side in occupation lanes leading to the surrounding fields.
In the time of the old Parish Council the church and was extended and the present cemetery was taken over from a public company formed to provide burial ground accommodation. The public lighting was undertaken by the Wath Gas Company, and before that Bolton was partly supplied from a private gasworks near Bolton station, installed by a Hull speculator and taken over by the late Mr Samuel Meggitt of Mexborough. This was afterwards subs superseded by the undertaking of the Wath gas company, when their turn were bought out later by the local authority of the area.
A Complete Transformation
The real development of the district dates from the earliest part of the present century. The Council built themselves commodious offices, together with a public library which they were assisted by the Carnegie trust, in 1905. They were the first authority in this district to turn their attention to the task of housing the population, and in 1913 they built 48 houses in Furlong Road, under the Housing and Town Planning Act 1909. Prior to that, of course, houses would have been erected in hundreds of Goldthorpe and at Bolton, but the supply not kept pace with the demand, nor was the public authority, which appears to have had a lively sense of its duty in these matters from very early times, satisfied with the standard of housing in the district.
The 48 houses which the Bolton Council directive 1913 represent the first municipal housing scheme in the district, and the Bolton Urban Council has continued to lead the way in the matter of housing. Today over 900 houses are owned by the local authority, of these 40 were erected before the war, 500 were provided in the Housing Act of 1919, better known as the Addison Act, and 280 can be built under the Accident 1923 and 1924. Nor is the program by any means complete. The Council still have a scheme in hand and projects for further schemes combined with facilities for recreation.
The council provided recreation grounds at Bolton in 1908 and Goldthorpe in 1909, and there are since been a very notable addition to this class of public amenity in the Miners Welfare Scheme, which is a joint product of the Miners Welfare Fund and municipal enterprise. A handsome public hall, standing in spacious and well laid out Brown, has been provided, and the grounds for accommodation for cricket, football, tennis, bowls, open-air concerts – in short they form a centre and a rendezvous for the community life of the place. The site of this recreation centre is approximately near what was called the old Goldthorpe Green, furnishes a modern form the amenities of the village green of tradition.
The cricket ground is one of the finest in the whole district, and the playing field area is, we understand to be supplemented, with the addition of 20 acres of grounds the same neighbourhood, with the addition of more houses. The land for the scheme was purchaser dedicated to the public by the Urban District Council and the capital for the development of the site was provided from the Miners Welfare Fund, the all eventually been entrusted to the custody of the public authority, who undertook its care and maintenance as a public charge.
In addition, the Urban District Council provided tennis courts and bowling greens in connection with one of their housing schemes in Highgate Lane, as interesting experiment which has been inspected and copied by other housing authorities. Ever since 1909 the Council been careful to provide allotment gardens wherever there was a demand for them, and these are now available in all parts of the district.
One the several direction in which Bolton Urban Council has shown its thoroughly advanced policy in the matter of housing has been in the acquisition of a brickworks for the purpose of ensuring a full and economical supply of bricks for all its schemes.
In 1920 the Council, acquired the brickworks at Goldthorpe which had for many years been in the possession of Mr George Whitfield. As a matter of fact, these brickworks were originally acquired on the instructions and on behalf of the Ministry of Health, who at that time were mainly responsible for housing, and ultimately they were transferred from the Ministry to the local authority on terms which have proved to be very advantageous to the local ratepayers.
The total cost to the Ministry of Health was about £30,000, and a valuable public asset after it became the property of the Council for about half that sum. Since the council acquired the works, a profit of about £4000 has been made and applied to redemption of the debt. From these works, which have been completely reconditioned and considerably extended, not only has the Council been able to supply themselves with all the bricks they required for their housing schemes, but have been able to supply, sometimes at less than market price, bricks to neighbouring authorities, some of whom would have been held up with their schemes if these bricks had not been available.
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