Firstly, I would like to wish you and your family a happy and prosperous New Year.
As I was ill between November and December of last year (I am now on the mend nicely thank you but have still a way to go), I have been unable to go to libraries and archives, etc, collecting information for us, but nevertheless a few things have come in. In December the Local History Department of Doncaster Central Library were kind enough to copy and send to us the obituary of Mr Thomas Barron, who was a famous Mexborough industrialist known for his developments in the glass trade, for us to put into our archives. This is not just an obituary, but gives his life story and the influence he made to the commercial glass trade of this country.
In November a gentleman known to my father died, his name being Joe Duffty, and it was through him that I inherited two books which I am willing to lend to members, but if you borrow them, please make sure you return them by the next meeting for the benefit of others who may wish to borrow them. The title of these books is as follows:
The Blood on your Coal' by J E MacFarlane. This is about the Cadeby pit disaster of 1912
'A Photographic Record of the old Village of Denaby Main' by John A Gwatkin. In this case the title says it all and this book contains photographs of the mining village which so many of us remember with love and nostalgia.
A few weeks ago, one of our members informed me that on a few occasions he had been unable to obtain a newsletter, so I thought as it is the end of one year and the beginning of another, it would be a good opportunity to recap on past newsletters for the benefit of those who have, because of holidays, etc, missed out on one or two newsletters, and therefore missed some of the information given.
The first newsletter I did for you was in September of last year, but prior to this, after being made Archivist at the AGM, I began to tell you of new things which had been acquired for your archives. I told you of a document donated by Barrie Chambers which told us that once Church Street had been called Town Street. In July I acquired two books for us 'Let's go to the Pictures' and 'While I Live Crow', and I
also copied the Mexborough section of 'Doncaster District old Inns and Taverns'. Last summer I made a particular study of the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal from its conception in 1722, and many things, particularly photographs, were donated to the Society o this subject. More old photographs on anything are most welcome! It was whilst studying the canal I found an old map which clearly showed an iron mill in 1722 on the River Don at Devil's Elbow, behind the present Station.
I September came the first real newsletter which told what photocopied cuttings had been taken from the Mexborough and Swinton Times, what photographs we had been given, about a programme which had been on Yorkshire Television called 'Local Heroes', and how we now had the booklet from the programme. ItoId you how Barrie Chambers had spent long hours in Sheffield Archives copying out the 1839 Tithe Award and then donated it to the Society. This told us what property there was in Mexborough then, who owned it, and who occupied it. Also, that month
Mr John Jeson donated to the Society a copy of `Mexborough Church Handbook to the Sunny South Bazaar' which showed how funds were raised for Mexborough's first Infants School and also the influential traders of the time.
In October the newsletter was mostly taken up by an interview with a lady who went to Roman Terrace School as a child. This school disappeared from our lives a few years ago and the site has since become a nursing home. The lady told us that this area had not always been part of Mexborough, but when she was born it had come in the Swinton area and was under the parish of Adwick-on-Dearne. She told us of the accident her father had at Manvers Pit and how he therefore became one of the first people to be operated on in the newly opened Montagu Hospital. The Christmas parties they had and the presents she received, the games they played at school at playtime and how the poorer children were given cod liver oil, a thing like a dog biscuit, and a mug of milk made of powdered milk in the cloakroom. The summers when Sir Allen Cobham brought his flying circus to town and flew his biplanes on the field where the fire station ow stands. When the pits closed for the annual holidays (Pit Week) and the pit ponies were brought to the surface and the pit pony races were held on the same fields. Lastly, all the different games played by the children of those days.
In October, too, a few more photographs were donated to us, they were of Mexborough coalfield brickyard, Barnburgh Hall, Conisbrough Lock, and Kilnhurst horse ferry. This moth, also, Barrie Chambers made a fantastic find in Wakefield Records Office, it was the sale of the Lord of the Manor of Mexborough in 1863 from Edward Kater to Andrew Montagu, with a list of everything involved. This he copied and kindly donated to us.
November newsletter was dominated by a talk given the previous month by Mr John Goodchild who gave us so much information about our town which he had taken from his own private documents and also those from Wakefield Records Office where he worked. He started by telling us of Mr Thomas Barron, then went on to the history of the Lords of the Manor of Mexborough, and lastly of coal mining in Mexborough. It was spotted with a string of useful dates too numerous to mention here.
Our December meeting was a Christmas Social and a great time was had by all. There was no newsletter. I think here I should congratulate Gary Barker and Norman Watson on their 'Magic Lantern Show'. The slides were done by Gary and the commentary by Mr Watson, and depicted photographs of Old Mexborough, and I for one could have watched them for ever. A great deal of hard work must have been put in by them both, and they deserve a big pat on the back for all their efforts, and I hope to be able to see it again soon.
Well, by the time you read this newsletter our new Library will be open (18th January), and I believe from Marion, our Secretary, that we have been asked to do a small exhibition on Robert Glassby, who was born in Mexborough on 17th December 1836, and became sculptor to Queen Victoria, helping to do such work as the Albert Memorial, and the arch which is to be seen in the garden of Fern Villa, Church Street, Mexborough. I will let you know more about the opening and our exhibition in the next newsletter.
So, goodbye for this month, and a happy New Year to you all. Your archivist, Julia Ashby.