Co-operative Mining in North Stafford 1874
Researched by John Lumsdon
July 4th a project is on the point of being set afoot to appeal to miners to take out shares in a co-operative mining society. A colliery is on sale in the district, which has been offered to the officials the North Staffordshire Miners’ Association on advantageous terms. The seams of coal are among the best and most saleable in this mining district. Should the miners of this district not take the chance offered to them, it is understood that the miner’s union in Northumberland quite willing to commence operations. Communications have also been made to the South Yorkshire miners upon the subject. It would be a reflection on the enterprise and intelligence of the miners of the district if such an opportunity was to slip out of their hands, while miners from other districts were eager to commence working a mine even in this district.
The amount that would be required to start the colliery is we feel convinced, quite within the means of the miners, if shares were taken out at the various lodges and also by the individual members of the union. At least an attempt should be made to obtain the necessary number of share holders. We believe that a circular will shortly be issued to the miners’ lodges by the officials, who will give the particulars and this will no doubt lead to it being properly debated in the lodges and at the delegate meeting. The working miners have attained a skill in the art of combination and that has rewarded them in the enhancement of the value of their labour; but we wish to impress upon them that association in the form of trade unionism is not the kind of combination which they should rest satisfied.
We are told by such men as Professor Fawcett and by Professor Cairnes in his recently published work on “Some Leading Principles of Political Economy,” that the progress of the working class has been far too little compared with the vast increase of wealth in the country. Professor Cairnes says.- A great exertion of labour and capital will now produce in a great many directions five, ten, or twenty times, in some instances perhaps a hundred times, the result which an equal exertion would have produced a hundred years ago; it is not probable that industry is in any direction whatever less productive now than it was then; yet the rate of wages, understanding this in the sense defined as measured by the real wellbeing of the labourer – though some improvement, no doubt, has taken place in his condition during this time – has certainly not advanced in anything like a corresponding degree.
And he further expresses his belief that if the labourer must receive more proportionate benefit from the increased productiveness of labour in these days, he must join with his fellows in co-operative production. Only by working men capitalising their earnings, as we have frequently pointed out, can they win that fair share of the wealth which they largely aid in producing.
By trades’ unions a stern and constant battle may be fought with capital but by such undertakings as the one we now urge upon the miners in North Staffordshire, capital and labour may be effectually united in the actual worker. By becoming possessed of a colliery of their own they would also be able to regulate their demands for increased wages by a scale arranged according to the facts of their own experience of the state of the market. Another great gain would be the development of intelligence, - self-reliance, business capacity, and independence. To the nine or ten thousand miners in the locality the starting of this colliery ought to be a matter of perfect ease, and we have a strong faith that if the effort be made to obtain shareholders that it would be successful.
Letter to the Editor
Sir, while reading the Examiner of July 4th my attention was attracted to an article entitled “Co-operative Collieries,” being a notification of a colliery being offered to the North Stafford District of the Amalgamated Association.
Now Sir, allow me to say that, co-operation seems to be the only means of stopping future aggression of our masters. I cannot conceive a better means of putting an end to all bickering. If North Stafford cannot accomplish the object other districts belonging to the Association should come forward to their help, either with the district funds or special levies that the sum required may be obtained. Seeing the action taken by our masters in reducing men’s wages out of the proportion to the reduction of coal and iron, I think it is a duty devolving on every collier and miner who wishes to relive himself from the iron grasp and tyranny of these despots who would bring us into subjection to their will in everything they can imagine, either in reducing our wages or augmenting our labour to suit their own caprice. How often do we hear of, and see in print, of masters introducing machinery into the mines, not for the benefit of the men, but that they may pocket the benefit themselves and supplant the men. I think men should aim at something more definite that we have done up to the present seeing they have pushed the prices of the coal and iron up till they cannot sell; they have resorted to the reduction of the men’s wages where there is no need for it. Only they must have their way of thinking and acting, and we must submit to it, right or wrong.
As the present time is one of importance, I hope the Association will not let it pass without an effort to secure that which I believe will be a boon to the miners in general.
Yours respectfully, A. Collier.
Co-operative mining in Staffordshire
August 22nd 1874 the following particulars regarding the Staffordshire miners and the West Yorkshire Co-operative Mining Association intend working on co-operative principle; have been published in a circular. The new colliery is called Hayeswood Colliery, and is situated in Halmerend, near Newcastle-under-Lyme. The freehold was the property of Messrs. Procter and Burgess. The new society has purchased Mr. Procter’s share, which is 6-20ths of the freehold, for the sum of £13.000, £500 having already been paid down on account of the purchase money. The royalty payable to the holder of the remaining shares in the freehold, it is calculated, will be about £1.000 per year. The West Yorkshire Association is prepared to pay the whole of the purchase money, if required.
Two shafts are already sunk down, and to recover the coals it will require a working capital of about £2.500, which, the North Staffordshire Society are now fast accumulating. The colliery adjoins the celebrated Podmore Hall Colliery, the property of Messrs. Cooper and Craig, and which is worth over £200.000, and at which an enormous amount of money has been made during the past year by the proprietors.
The new estate consists of about fourteen acres. It is calculated that in no case will the cost of getting and placing the coal into trucks exceed half of the selling price. One gentleman is sanguine that a profit of 20% may easily be made out of the new venture. The working plant already on the ground is estimated to be worth from £4.000 to £5.000. Shafts are now are already sunk down to a depth of 150 yards, to the Ragman and other first class coals, which are no less that fifteen feet thick at this stage, and there are nearly fourteen acres yet un-worked.
Thirty yards below them is another seam of coal ten feet thick. Sixteen yards below the Ten feet seam exists the celebrated 2-row coals, four feet in thickness each. Forty yards lower the Seven feet Banbury coal is found, of excellent quality. Twenty four yards from the Seven feet Banbury is found the Eight Feet thick. Fifty yards lower down still, the famous Bullhurst coal is recovered. Other seams of less importance are found under these. Railway communication exists within a distance a quarter of a mile of the colliery. Consequently the pit might be easily joined by a branch at little expense.
“The West Yorkshire and North Staffordshire Co-operative Mining and Building Society (Limited),” are being taken up with Great Spirit by the various miners’ lodges in connection with the North Staffordshire district. A great number of private shares have also been allotted.
Miners’ Meeting at Halmerend Mr. Brown on Co-operative Mining
On Saturday evening 30th August 1874 a public meeting was held in the open air at Halmerend. Mr. Taylor presided, and in his opening remarks informed the audience that he was a union man and he was a believer in the principles of combination.
Mr. Brown, (miners agent) addressed the evening meeting at some length upon the question of unionism. He remarked that all right minded men were cognisant of the facts that trade unions had much good. But trade combinations could not uproot the present system of inequality while ever the two epithets existed and kept their definition, viz., capital and labour. Disputes would arise; employers would give as little for their labour as possible; and working men would not always be willing to accept what their masters thought fit to dole out to them. Men were becoming more and more intelligent, and as sure as the sun had shone that day, and the rain pored down that afternoon, so sure would a great number of the miners of Great Britain put their savings together and commence working collieries on their own account. No doubt many miners present would be aware that a deposit had been paid, and a colliery secured. Many people seemed inclined to throw cold water on their scheme, but no matter, the miners must persevere. A goodly number of the coal-owners in North Stafford were once poor men; but to their honour, be it said, they had thought for themselves, and saved a little money, and got a few friends and by their assiduous exertions and indomitable perseverance, they had raised themselves to a high social position.
Some evil disposed person, or persons, who said that colliers would not be able to work the Hayswood colliery for any length of time, but not for the lack of physical power, and practical skill, but simply for the want of funds. But all such prognosticators would be disappointed. Thirty years ago the first co-operative store was opened in Rochdale, Lancashire. It commenced upon a very small scale, 28 poor weavers paid 20s each and £28 was all the capital they were able to raise; but the purchased some tea and sugar from the common stock, paying ready money for it as they had been charged at the shop. They did not expect to secure any considerable profit; the object they had in view was not so much to obtain a good investment as to avoid purchasing dear and adulterated articles. But they found not a little to their surprise that a very large profit had been realised.
Co-operation in the production of coal could be made a perfect success. It only required to be taken up heartily and with spirit. It was no uncommon thing to see co-operative companies doing a large and extensive business, and not only so but they were paying concerns. According to a statement by Professor Fawcett, in his “Manuel of Political Economy,” book 2, chapter, 10 page 356, the share capital of the Pioneers Society was so rapidly increased that it possesses more than sufficient to carry on the business at the stores. With capital of £25.000 which is employed in the store, a business of not less than £250.000 a year is carried on. If the poor weavers of Rochdale were able to do all that, with a small capital to commence with, it was not too much to expect that, with a good capital and a fair concern, the working miners would be able to do much more.
Much has been said by different parties about the colliery with respect to its size; but it was not always the largest concerns which paid the best. Mr. Brown informed his hearers that he had seen a gentleman that afternoon along with several other working colliers, and Mr. Hand; who were share holders in the concern, and they were all perfectly satisfied. He would not mention the gentleman’s name but he believed he was honourable in every sense of the word. All the miners had to do, if they wished to better their position, was to become share holders to some extent. It was no speculation; the coal was developed, and it wanted fetching out, and the colliers’ had the chance to have the place; and if they had the will they had the power to take up a number of shares in order to make the thing a perfect success.
The working men in North Stafford had taken over 12.000 shares already; and a good number more had promised to come forward during the next week. The miners’ of West Yorkshire had taken the thing up in great earnest and in a very short time it will be seen whether the working men’s scheme was a sham or a reality. Some working men were saying they would wait and see whether the works commenced and if it was likely to prove a healthy speculation they would take up shares; but all such persons ought to know that if all share holders had acted upon that plan, the deposit for the colliery could not have been paid and the whole thing would have remained an uncertainty.
No doubt some persons were chagrined at the very thought of a number of working men having the independence to even think of working for themselves. But the time has arisen when the most thoughtful and intelligent of the colliers would become their own employers. Professor Fawcett in his able work (page 268) gave another example of co-operation. A society of co-operative masons was formed in Paris, in the year 1848. That society was reproached for holding certain political opinions and the government attempted to discourage it, by refusing to it any loan or capital. This hostility insured its future success; for the societies which were assisted by the Government, in almost every instance proved to be failures.
The co-operative masons endured many vicissitudes and in the year 1852 they determined to reorganise their society. It then consisted of 17 members, and possessed no capital. They resolved to create a capital by depositing in one common chest, one tenth of their daily earnings. At the end of the first year, a capital of £14 10s was created. At the end of 1854 the capital had increased to £680; and in 1860 the society consisted of 107 members, and the capital possessed by them was £14.500. He would name certain hotels the members of the said society had built. They had built the Hotel Fould, in the Rue de Berry; the Hotel Ruouher, in the Camps Elysees; the Hotel Frescati, Rue de Richelieu; the Square D’Oleans, Rue Taithout, etc. The members of the same honourable society had also erected mansions for eminent gentlemen and if the masons could build splendid mansions for noblemen, surly colliers could hew coal and send it to bank, put it into trucks, take it to market, and after doing all that kind of hard work, could they not receive the money for it?
Working men did the hardest work, but they did not gather the first fruits of their toil. No doubt there were men to be found who believed they were born to be the hewers of wood and drawers of water, but there were others who had taken the trouble to think seriously and turn the matter over in their minds. After much consideration and reflection they had come to the conclusion that it was their duty to raise themselves by their own industry and co-operate with others who were of the same opinion. Much has been said already about the colliers’ forming a mining and building society, some believe it would be a good thing, while others were less sanguine. Hundreds of companies had been established, there were coal and iron companies; water companies, gas companies, carrying companies, such as railways and canal companies and many more and now there was the West Yorkshire and North Staffordshire Mining and Building Company (Limited) registered and made legal.
Mr. Brown informed his hearers that much improvement had been made in the law during the last 3 years. Previous to 1867 no co-operative society was permitted to invest more than £200 in any other society. That restriction at one time brought a very serious danger upon the Rochdale Pioneers. Having more capital than they could use in their own business a portion of their capital in consequence of them not being able to invest more than £200 in any other society was lying idle, and the Rochdale co-operators could not bear the thought of a portion of their money being idle and unproductive. As another instance of the manner in which the development of co-operation had been retarded by legal impediments, it may be mentioned says Mr. Fawcett in his book, that until the two acts were passed in 1867 and 1871 co-operative societies could not buy or sell land except for the purposes of their special trade: Now that those societies have been empowered to buy and sell land, many of them have invested a considerable portion of their surplus capital in the erection of houses for their members.
Improvements have been made among the labouring poor, and the time was drawing near when tens of thousands of working men would unite together for the purpose of working mines of their own. The miner of this country had been kept in the dark; they had been cajoled long enough. It was very well to tell the colliers that they had been much cause to be thankful that gentlemen can be found who would speculate their capital in order to find work for the staving poor; but that story would not do now. Money had been saved and speculated with a view of making of making one pound into ten. Did not this country abound in wealth? But working men did not get a fair share of it.
Mr. Fawcett said also that it cannot be too carefully bourn in mind that those who have achieved the most striking success in co-operation have not been assisted by any extraneous aid. They have placed their chief reliance in union effort, in prudence, and self-denial. In conclusion, he would strongly advise all miners to practice a little self-denial. He advised them to do that for their own benefit and for the well-being of their families. Distrust and suspicion were always characteristic of a low state of intellectual development. He hoped to see ultimately so much moral and social advancement as to enable a perfect union between capital and labour to be established. That would be secured when labourers supplied all the capital which was required to sustain the industry in which they were engaged. When that was accomplished, there was co-operation in its highest form. The subject co-operation in production in connection with the miners, and mining operations was in its infancy, it almost seemed like a dream, and when working colliers began to talk about it, and listen to others who might have studied the question for a length of time, it appeared like leading them into a labyrinth, and some of the poor fellows were afraid of being landed in a fog.
Had they not been at work all the week, had they not sent to bank a certain number of tubs of coal, and had not their employers sent the coal to the London and other markets, to be sold for cash, and he supposed they had all received their wages and that was all some miners knew or cared to know about. But there were others among them who could see beyond all that. Those men knew the employers engaged working men to labour for them in order to make capital out of the transaction, and it was right they should. Men must work in order to earn a livelihood, and if they could not find capital to employ themselves they must work for some one else, and have their wages given to them for the work they performed. And as far as the profits accruing from labour with that they had nothing whatever to do. But the teacher had been abroad and working men were being enlightened, and some labourers, were growing wiser every day.
Some of them could well remember the time when the very employers whom they were employed by worked in the pit like them selves and now they had accumulated large fortunes and no one had any reason to grumble about it. The question was the miners willing to become their own employers, there was a fare opportunity, the tide was at its height, and they would never have a better chance. Everything was made as easy as possible. A man may take up a few shares and never feel any more. Working men had made hundreds of millions of sterling for other people, generations unborn were amply provided for, while tens of thousands of honest men were no better circumstances then than they were 20 years ago. A slackness of trade for a few months, or a poor harvest might cause many thousands of the industrious poor to suffer hunger and privation.
It was time a change was brought about, and working men would have to look out for themselves. If they cultivated the spirit of self-help, and gave good proof that they were in right good earnest they would not lack friends; but if they wished to be free from labouring for other people they themselves must strike the first blow. There wanted no more about it, there was no secret about it, if they desired to raise then selves they would have to climb the hill of prosperity step by step. He would not point them to a royal path, whereby they could be landed in the land of ease and plenty in a moment, and without any effort of their own; but he could assure them, if they became shareholders in the co-operative colliery and be determined to make the scheme a successful one, their means of obtaining a livelihood would be much improved.
They could do that without doing anything wrong to anyone; there was room enough for all. New collieries were being opened and old ones being re-commenced. It would require energy, patience, perseverance and sobriety mixed with forethought, reflection, calculation, honesty, and unmingled confidence in one another. Those were the true essence of co-operation of production and distribution. At the close of the address, a resolution was proposed and seconded in favour of co-operation in mining and building, and also taking shares in the present undertaking, which was carried with acclimation.
Mr. Brown on Co-operative Collieries
On Tuesday night 14th December 1874 Mr. Brown, of Hanley, addressed a meeting of miners at Bedworth on the subject of Co-operative collieries. Mr John Colledge presided. – Mr. Brown said he had fore many years been convinced that if ever the working men of this country were to raise themselves above the level of ordinary workmen; it would have to be done by co-operation. Those present were no doubt aware that the miners in West Yorkshire and North Staffordshire had formed a Mining and Building Society (Limited). They intended to work their own pits, get their own coal, take it to market and sell it to customers, thus earning for themselves something more than ordinary wages. They had been told many times by employers that they were obliged to have large profits, in order to put by annually a surplus capital, to enable them to extend their works and meet their requirements of an increasing population. He thought the capitalists now in existence had amongst them capital enough and power enough; and if working men, without taking anything from the capitalists which they had already got, could just have confidence amongst themselves and could bring their minds to endure a little self-denial for a season, in order to work out for themselves a permanent future good, he was of the opinion that that would be the first step for the advancement of the working classes of this country.
Unfortunately every working man could not be made to see that it was right to have a co-operative colliery, and while many of them spent, in other things, as much as would enable them to pay for two or three shares, they could not find manliness to take a few shares. The £1,500 which, in his district, had been paid as a deposit on a colliery, had been contributed by working men alone, the Longton Lodge had taken 100 shares, Burslem 50, Hanley70, while a number of lodges had take some 50, some 40, and others 30. There were, in his district, individuals who had 10, 15, even 20 shares, and had paid them up. Surely a small sprinkling could be found in Bedworth who were favourable to the co-operative principle. The colliery which had been purchased by the miners of his district would be a paying one. There were eight seams of coal and the colliery was not more than 450 yards from the railway. They knew the coal was good in quality. In Macclesfield, which was about 18 or 20 miles from the colliery, there was a coal company, whose object was to distribute coal, and not to produce it. That company had sent them a check to take up 100 shares and if they required any further assistance that company was willing to take up a 100 or two more. When a coal company like that sent money to enable them to open up their pits, they might depend upon it that, as soon as they had coal to offer, they would become customers.
He had also been in communication with another large Co-operative colliery, of which Mr Thomas Hughes was chairman, a company which was doing business in the coal distribution to the extent of £4,000 per month and they were waiting for them to open their pits; and as soon as they were ready to offer coal, the company was ready to try and make a bargain for them. Consequently, they would have no difficulty in disposing of their coal, though; of course they would have to get it before they could offer it
He had not come there to blow up a bubble and float the scheme; for if he wanted to float it he could do so in Hanley, Burslem, Longton and Tunstall. They had not selected a capitalist to take up a single share, as they wanted working men to have the benefit of the shares. They wanted the working colliers, of the other districts and lodges, and out of a private little fund, to begin to work the colliery themselves in order that it might be proved to demonstration that there was manliness enough, and perseverance enough, intellect enough, and perseverance enough in the working colliers in this country, to work and manage collieries of their own.
Co-op Mining North Warwickshire Miners
On Tuesday evening 21st September 1875 a meeting of miners’ in the north Warwickshire coalfield was held at Longfield, near Coventry, to take into consideration a proposal to join the West Yorkshire and North Staffordshire Co-operative Coalmining and Building Society. It was stated that the society had purchased a valuable coalfield near the North Staffordshire line of railway at Halmerend, Alsager’s Bank, near Stoke-on-Trent; that there were two shafts sunk, each 130 yards in depth, to the seam; the surface acreage is 28 acres and the workings are known as the “Hayeswood Colliery.” The local secretary (Mr. Walford) argued in favour of the proposal, and speaking from experience of the grate success in other branches of trade, asked why it should not pay as well in mining. Enormous sums of money had been realised by the owners of the mines and why should not colliers combine and take a share in the profits which were realised at such enormous risks?
One of the members present stated that the system of co-operation in mining had been carried on in Yorkshire for number years, and he had worked at one of the collieries. The system had proved extremely successful and the amount of profits to be divided among the shareholders amounted to an average to 25%. After some discussion it was proposed, seconded, and carried, nem.con.
That in the opinion of this meeting it is desirable that the question of the Warwickshire and Leicestershire Miners Association joining the West Yorkshire and North Staffordshire co-operative Coal Mining and Building Society be brought forward at the next quarterly meeting of the Council of the Association, to be held at Coalville in October next.
Prospective of West Yorkshire and North Staffordshire
Co-operative Coal Mining and Building Society, Limited incorporated under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1867.
The following gentlemen have consented to act as, Provisional managing committee, subject to be elected, or others in their stead, at the next half yearly meeting of shareholders.
Mr. William Brown, Hanley North Stafford.
Mr. Edward Cowey, New Sharliston, Yorkshire.
Mr. Richard Jeffery Tunstall North Stafford
Mr. William Brearley Leeds Yorkshire
Mr. Jas Grant Church Street Butt Lane
Mr. Samuel Jenkins Snydale Yorkshire
Mr. Ralph Madew Alsagers Bank North Stafford
Mr. Benjamin Pickard Hatfield St. Wakefield Yorkshire
Mr. John Scott Alsagers Bank North Stafford
Mr. Charles Mitchell Leeds Yorkshire
Mr. Thomas Robinson Hanley north Stafford
Mr. William Denton Carlton Yorkshire
Leatham, Tew & Co., Wakefield Yorkshire and
Manchester & Liverpool Banking Co. Tunstall North Stafford
Mr. E. W. Hollingshead Tunstall and Messrs. Wainwright, Manders & Witham Wakefield
Mr. Richard Jefferys Bank St. Tunstall Mr. Thomas Oldroyd Loftus Gate Wakefield
The objects of this Society are to carry on mining and Building purely on the Co-operative Principles.
As capital embarked in coal Mines is subject to such great risk, it is only fair that it should be paid for those risks. In the first instance, therefore, it is suggested that 10% be set aside for paid up shareholders.
In order that the Society may have stability and permanence it is suggested that a portion of the profits should be devoted to the formation of a Reserve Fund and for Depreciation of stock.
It is suggested that the remaining profits be equally divided between Labour, Capital and Trade.
Coal mining is such a hazardous and laborious occupation that it is only fair to give the miner freely the fruits of his skill. This has been attempted, and to some extent with success by co-partnerships, but the miner wants something more. He wants to know and feel that the pit which he works is his own, and that what ever profits are derived from his skill and labour he will freely share. This Society, therefore, will afford him facilities to invest the whole of his savings if he chooses there, and to assist himself and his fellow workers in having collieries of their own and becoming themselves employers, capitalists, and labourers in their every day life.
Conflicts between capital and labour are costly, disruptive and wasteful; and we are of opinion that nothing will tend to alleviate those conflicts so well as co-operation. In this Society conflicts will be impossible, as each member will know that he is reaping the full fruits of his toil, and of course will have nothing to contend for, everyone having an interest in keeping his works going on and though capital may not register so large a dividend, it will have fewer risks.
One of the advantages of this Society will be to increase a sense of the responsibility among the work people themselves, and make them feel that their future is in their own hands.
It is intended that every worker shall be a member, which it is believed will quicken intelligence, develop caution, stimulate activity and skill, and improve the miners socially, morally and intellectually.
The enterprise is one so much demanded by the critical relations between capital and labour, and by the words of the consumer, that it is not too much to anticipate support from every class of the community.
This society has secured a valuable coalfield close by the North Stafford line of railway (which drives every facility for transporting the minerals to all parts of the country) at Halmerend, Alsagers Bank, near Stoke-on-Trent, north Stafford.
The agreement can be seen at the Solicitor’s Offices, Wakefield and Mr. Hollingshead’s, Tunstall, North Stafford.
There are two mines sunk, 130 yards each to the seam, known as the Ragman, Rough Five Feet and Seven Feet and which have been partly worked and will be in working order at trifling cost, and besides these there is one shaft sunk 30 yards deep to a valuable seam of Ironstone and which has not been worked at all owing to there being no facility for getting the material into the market. Besides the above there are 4 other seams which are untouched and the most valuable in the estate. They have been tested in the immediate neighbourhood and proved to be of excellent quality. The estate comprises about 30 acres with more in close proximity to be obtained.
Co-operation in the Production of Coal By William Brown, Miners’ Agent (Feb 1876)
It is about 10 months since the company paid the first amount of purchase money; and in September last we secured the lease of the lower mines known as the Ten feet, the Seven Feet Banbury, the Eight Feet Banbury, the Two Row and the Bullhurst seams. We have also about 12 acres to get of the 3 top seams known as the Seven Feet and Five feet and the Ragman seams. Our estate is 27 acres in extent and there is no doubt that we will get several acres more. With the amount of coal we have already secured, and what we are sure to get in addition, we shall have about 2.000.000 tons to raise. We have paid the purchase money, mine rents, and for engines, boilers timber, bricks, labour and other materials, up to the present time about £7.000.
We have 2 shafts; but we are making one of them10 feet within the brick-work. Owing to the pit standing for some years we have the old water to draw; but we are most happy to inform our friends that there is only a small feeder and when the old standing water is once got out, the colliery will only be watered lightly. We consider that the old Haywood Colliery will be a good paying concern, and that the Company could not have been better suited. The seams are all easy to work and of good thickness. The thinnest is not less than 3 foot six inches. The coal is not only known to be abundant in quantity, but it is excellent in quality.
Many people think that the miners have taken a bold step in taken the colliery, but miners have taken many bold steps during the last 20 years. The colliers’ took a bold step in 1844 when 100.000 struck work in one week. A bold step was taken by the miners’ in West Yorkshire in 1863, in Barnsley in 1864, at Aberdare in 1871, in South Wales in 1873, in South Staffordshire in 1864, and in 1874. Millions sterling have been squandered in strikes and lock-outs during the last 30 years. Fight after fight has been fought between coal owners’ and colliers’ and no matter which side claimed the victory, the working men, as an inevitable consequence have at all times been the greatest sufferers.
Co-operation in the production of coal will do more to averting strikes than any other scheme can do. We have never been able to get at the real selling prices of all kinds of fuel; certainly, we know how much we pay for the house-coal but we do not know the price for the forge-coal, steam-coal, engine-slack etc. We see the prices stated in our daily and weekly journals; but our employers’ tell us that the reports are not true and cannot be trusted, and especially when the price of coals is advancing, they are a little nearer the truth when the prices are said to be falling.
Hundreds of have been held between the representatives of the colliers and the mine-owners during the last 4 years, but we are no nearer a solution of the vexed questions in dispute between the masters and their workmen than we were at the outset. The colliers consider that they work much harder and longer for their wages than they ought; and the employers, on the other hand, state most distinctly that the men are better remunerated than they are, according to the amount of capital they have at stake, and the great risk they run. Strike have been tried often with all their evil consequences, but not much good has come out of them; they have proved bitter lessons of experience both to master and workmen.
Arbitrations have been resorted to for the settlements of trade disputes, but in a number of instances either one side or the other has been dissatisfied. The men never did, nor will ever know the real cost of production until they have a colliery of their own. We have been advocating co-operation in coal mining for many years and I hope that time is not too far distant, when at least one colliery in every district will be worked on the co-operative principles. There must be a trial made, and the sooner it is made the better. In two or three months from now coal will be raised at the Old Hayeswood colliery and sent to the market for sale, and then we shall be able to tell with greater certainty what the profits of the employers are.
Any person taking out shares can have one share or more, at £1 each. Some of our members have taken out five shares, some ten, and up to twenty. Our district has taken one thousand, and advance £600 upon the debenture bonds. The colliers who reside nearest that colliery, and know it the best, have taken the most shares, which is a good sign. The West Yorkshire Mining Association has taken 4.000 shares, at £1 each and the company would very much like other districts to take a number of shares in the concern. It is purely a working man’s colliery, and it will be carried on by the money paid down by the miners’ and other working men.
Many are chagrined about colliers beginning to work collieries of their own. It is not right, in their opinion, that working men should know too much about their own industry, but the miners are growing in intelligence and the more useful knowledge they possess the more confidence they have in one another, and they will imbibe the principles of co-operation. I trust all the leading men in connection with the several districts of associate miners will take the question up heartily, and persuade their Lodges and members to take a number of shares along with us.
We are nearly 70 yards down with the wide shaft and we have about 30 more yards to go, and then we shall be at the three top seams. It is the company’s desire that as many Miners’ Associations should be interested in the undertaking as possible. Should any district or districts agree to take a number of shares they can invest the money in the names of their trustees, and such districts would be allowed to have a director on the Board, subject to the approval of a majority of shareholders.
South Yorkshire Miner's association
A special council meeting of delegates representing 100 lodges belonging to the South Yorkshire miners’ Association was held at Barnsley on Monday September 1st 1876, attended by Mr. John Holmes, managing director of Shirland. The colliery was purchased about 12 months ago by the Miner’s Association for £69.000 of which the association subscribed £25.000 towards the purchase and £5.600 for working expenses. £47.000 was subscribed by the public in debentures bearing preference interest. Mr Holmes stated that the concern had been worked at a loss and advised the delegates to recommend the miners’ to subscribe £5.000 more. The delegates declined. The company will probably collapse.
Leeds Co-operative Society
A stormy meeting of the Leeds Co-operative society was held on Monday night 1st September 1876 to consider if it whether it was desire to invest any more money in the Tipton Green colliery, the society has £18.000 invested in the concern. It was stated that 15 acres of coal, which the society had been led to look upon as almost solid coal, had been worked at least 3 times. The manager considered that, with a little additional capital, the colliery could be made to pay, but the meeting, by a large majority, decided not to invest any more money in the concern. The result will be that the owners of the estate will at once seize the colliery, and the society will loos the whole of the money they have sunk in the colliery.
The Bristol Post Oct 20th 1876
The Bristol Post Says; Co-operation is proving a failure in the coal trade as in the iron trade. Last April a number of coal miners’ in South Wales determined to give a trial to Mr. Halliday’s suggestion in favour of co-operative collieries. They decided to work the Rica Colliery, near Pontypridd; and for the purpose of providing funds, a company with a proposed share capital of £2.000, were floated. Shares to the amount of £800 have been taken, the concern was started. From a letter written on behalf of the workmen and published in Saturday’s “Western Mail” we learn that the experiment has resulted in disaster. Owing to the insufficiency of working capital, the depressed state of trade and in other courses beyond the control of the men, they have been unable to pay their way. Their resources are now exhausted, they are £140 in debt, and nearly 80 of them are 2 months in arrears of wages, some even wanting food. The men are loath, however, to abandon the experiment; and they therefore suggest that 50.000 of their brethren throughout England and Wales should make it a personal matter and voluntarily contribute sixpence each. With this £1.250 they would start anew and make another effort to carry the principle of co-operation to success.
Miners’ Tea Meeting Halmerend 1880
On Christmas Day, a tea meeting was held in the Primitive Methodist chapel, Halmerend in connection with the miner’s lodges at Alsager’s Bank and Halmerend. The attendance was very good. After tea a public meeting was held, and Mr, Thomas Rhodes, of Tunstall presided. The meeting was addressed by Mr. Brown, Hand and Jenkins; the latter is the manager of the Co-operative Colliery Halmerend. An efficient choir was in attendance and rendered several pieces in excellent style. Then miners’ and their friends passed a very pleasant evening. The beautiful chapel was well filled and the people seemed to have turned out in all their best attire and the audience was really respectable. Vote of thanks to the ladies who served the tea, to the singers, speakers, and chairman brought the pleasant meeting to a clos
Extract from Marriage of Miss Jane Craig Feb 1882
The presents are numerous and magnificent, including a very handsome presentation and illuminated address from the employees of Mr. W. Y. Craig, Podmore Hall and Hayeswood Collieries.
Staffs Sentinel 17th February 1883
A colliery accident occurred on Thursday morning15th February 1883. A young man named Allen Taylor met with an accident by a fall of coal in the Hayeswood Pit of the Podmore Hall collieries, by which he sustained severe injuries about the head and back. He was conveyed to his home in Chapel Street, Audley, in an exhausted condition, but hoes are entertained of his recovery.
Extracts from “Podmore Collieries” (A Book by Frank Moran)
(Page 22) The Sale Although some interest had been shown and enquiries made, by 1880 the colliery remained unsold. Craig was still interested in working the seams of the Old Hayswood from Podmore Hall Colliery but the price was not reasonable for him. By July 1881 workings at Podmore had reached the boundary of Hayswood in the Ten feet seam and in a letter to Hollingshead, Craig stated he would work the Hayswood coals in a month’s time but this would be the only opportunity to work this seam. The opportunity passed as did later interest shown by the Great Northern coal Co.
In December 1883, in anticipation of a deal, a new agreement was drawn up for the colliery containing a clause that a lease must be executed by March 25th 1884 other wise the agreement would become void. The date passed, but by May 1884 Craig prepared to make an offer.
(Page 23) Letter from W.Y. Craig, May 9th 1884 My Dear sir, I am much obliged for your letter I received on my return from town last night. We could have worked the Ten feet seam for you had you seen your way to let it to us three years ago, but since then our roads have been closed and it would be two or three years before we are in a similar position to work it from the deep level, to be won from our new deep pits that we are now sinking.
The Seven feet Banbury and Bullhurst, which lie below the Ten feet, we should be prepared to work for you and pay you the same royalty which we would pay Captain Heathcote for the same coal in either side of Hayswood.
We are just now in a position to work the Seven Feet Banbury forthwith, but in the course of two or three months we should have the roads closed and it would not then be on an advantage as, in the short time, we should have these coals extensively in other districts.
I think the better plan would be for you to accept the offer for the colliery giving the purchaser power to work all the seams above the Ten Feet, inclusive of that seam and give us a lease of the Seven feet Banbury and Bullhurst
Those seams near can be worked by separate pits, as they are of a great depth between 400 and 500 yards at the Hayswood pits and are nearly vertical; and the area is far too small to justify a separate working. If we do not work them in the course of our work in Heathcote’s coal, they will be irretrievably lost. In making this statement to you I do not wish you to accept it without verification and if you will send over some skilled mining engineer Mr. Wain will take him down our pits and show him the position we are in and put him in possession of all the facts to enable him to advise you with a view of immediately deciding upon the question letting to us. We have sunk two new pits (Minnie Pit) to get into the Knutton Moors below Hayswood Coal and it is better that it should be put into money by a rapid working than allow to lie until it is lost to all parties concerned. I have given your letter to Mr. Wain, my general assistant and he will attend to anyone you may appoint to view the position: Yours truly, Mr.W.Y. Craig.
Page 24-25 Re- Hayswood mines information from Mr. Wain. Depths of Hayswood pits will be about 200 yards. Coal eight foot thick with good roof an excellent Gas coal and cheaply worked. Is on fire at Podmore Hall and will certainly not be worked for some years.
Seven Feet Banbury Coal Can get this coal from Podmore Hall at once and would work out about 20 acres rapidly. Coal 4-6 to 4-9 thick on average, an excellent roof.
Eight Feet Banbury Coal not being worked at all and not likely to be worked, about 4ft thick, tender roof and coal of poor quality cannot be made to pay.
Bullhurst Coal Thickness between 6ft top coal 2ft 6ins, the latter the lessees do not pay for, owing to it’s quality and the stone running in it, not a marketable coal. A good roof- this seam would not be worked a Hayswood under three years at least. Could then be got rapidly and about 20 acres would be got out.
The upper coals Four Feet, Five Feet and the Rough Seven Feet would not probably be worked at Hayswood (supposing the coals were let to Mr. Graig) under 8 years lease. Practically all the deep mines at Hayswood are in the “flats” the rearer’s crop out to the rest of the property.
As a result of an agreement was finally reached for Craig to work the lower seams of the Hayswood coals. The indenture of Lease was between Anthony Roberts mining engineer (the Lessor), E.W. Hollingshead solicitor (the Mortgagee), William Young Craig and John Craig (the Lessees). The latter were described as coal and iron masters in co-partnership as Cooper and Craig. (Joe Cooper and W.Y. Craig were the owners of Podmore Hall collieries from 1870, until 1880 when cooper died, but the name Cooper and Craig continued to be used.) Notice was given to the Co-operative that as a result of breaking of the terms of their lease the colliery would be re-entered.
By April 1884 Hollingshead finally found someone prepared to purchase the Old Hayswood colliery. His name was Edwin Butterfield a mining engineer, but first he had to find a sufficient sum of money to start the colliery.
The sale marked the end of the Co-operative Colliery. Not a single lump of coal had been mined for resale in its 10 year lifespan. Yet its name lives on. Whilst Butterfield was fundraising he was also involved in the formation of a new company. On June 23rd 1885 under the companies Act, the Old Hayswood Coal and Iron Co. Ltd. Was formally registered. The capital of the company was £10.000 divided into 10.000 share of £1 each.
The names and addresses and descriptions of subscribers were given as;
Ernest Layton Bennett 61 fore St. E.C. Charted accountant.
Fred Trotman Bennett, 61 Fore St. E.C. stock.
Robert W Broomfield, Inglewood, Forest Hill, Gentleman.
Edwin Butterfield, Alsager mining engineer.
William Appleby Harrison, Avonhurst, Bedford Park, Chiswick, Gentleman.
Fred Lee, 6 Great College St. Westminster S.W. surveyor.
Charles W. Stephenson, 30 Parliament St. Westminster, surveyor.
Halmerend Working Men's club. Site of Hayswood Colliery
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