Last days of workhorse

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Office of the Evening Post and Chronicle, November 1951:

EVER since the motor car emerged as a practical and sustainable mode of transport we have known that the workhorse was finished. And the news last week finally confirmed the end of the end. There were only nine foals entered in Shearmans’ annual show of agricultural horses and foals and the event was called off.

A spokesman for the auctioneers said that after 76 years they would never hold another. Henceforth all horses would be bred for our entertainment – racing them, showing them, gymkhanas.

Now coal is everywhere delivered by lorry. It would be nice to see a horse-drawn ice cream cart on the market top for old times’ sake, but it’s unlikely.

n The country is so short of workmen that the Doncaster district employment committee are encouraging the disabled to toughen up and get a job. A report says “Readjustments are being made here and there so that some people who 12 months ago might have thought they would never work again can join the ranks of able-bodied people and feel they have become useful members of the community. Some employers have looked on employment of the disabled as a moral obligation.”

n The employment of foreign workers in our mines continues to worry the NUM spokesmen.

Mr Rose, of Bentley, says that to allow European voluntary workers, particularly Italian workers to enter mining, then letting them go out into other work did not solve the problem of coal shortage.

He said 700 Italian workers had arrived in South Yorkshire over the last 12 months, 16 of them working at a local colliery.

Mr Bradbury, of Rossington NUM, said his own branch could not be prevailed upon to accept them. Medical students and radio engineers were entering the country under the pretence of coming into mining, but actually just to get into the country.

Reports that Italians are getting the benefits not available to our own men were rejected by the Coal Board Press officer.

Italians were admitted to this country for two years and as a condition of their stay they must remain in coal mining for two years. They received the same wages and conditions as British workers. They must join the appropriate trade union, contribute to a welfare fund and pay the same hostel and transport charges as anyone else.

They paid income tax and national insurance. The only advantage they enjoyed was a free passage to this country, with £1 to pay expenses and free repatriation after two years’ satisfactory service.

Will that be enough to keep the miners happy and silence the agitators?

n Few days go by without news or gossip from Belle Vue. If it isn’t “Will our Mr Doherty be appointed manager of the Irish international team against England?” then it’s “Will Joe Dubois be leaving us?” Or it’s “Football under floodlights – can clubs afford it? Is it here to stay?”

It was a successful floodlit match at Highbury, the Arsenal ground, which first led fans to talk about its tremendous possibilities.

This was confirmed by an illuminated game at Belle Vue which attracted 2,000.

Doherty said Rovers were pioneers in this and he visualised many benefits such as a training ground for young players who could not take time off work for daylight training. “We do not have all that could be desired. But we will try to get more lights in the goal areas.”

At present the daylight games are attracting up to 20,000.

n When I was younger it was every boy’s ambition to build a trolley and go whizzing down the steepest streets shouting “Geronimo!” (why I can’t think)

During the war there was very little traffic so we were quite safe to hurtle down some of the streets off Balby Road on the North side. (South side you would need good brakes and a look-out or suffer the instant death of a lunatic).

Travelling further afield there were good runs to be had off Thorne Road, and one or two in Belle Vue and Sandy Lane was brilliant – you came to a dead stop outside the sewage works.

Today, with cars coming at you from all directions the traditional trolley – two planks, four pram wheels, a ragged cushion for a seat, simple string steering, foot brake (scraping the road) – this activity is out of the question.

Enter now the Doncaster Chronicle Great St Leger Soap Box Race with big prizes for winners. Entries are invited from children aged 11 to 14. They must be members of the paper’s Children’s Corner with vehicles not more than 5ft long and 4ft wide and must resemble a motor car in appearance. Each soap box will be pedal-driven and wheel-steered and must not cost more than £5 to build.

This is a real challenge – and fathers must stay out of it. It is one stage up on the trolley which required a hill (and gravity)

The paper does not say where or when the event will take place. The road to Sandall Beat, probably.

n An all-women’s garage! Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Mavis Rooney, formerly of these parts, now resident in Australia, came “home” the other day to open Carcroft and Skellow Darby and Joan Club’s autumn fair.

Our women’s page editor, Annie Higson, reported how for 15 years Mavis had managed the garage in Kew, a suburb of Melbourne and the only women’s garage in the world.

There are a dozen women employed doing all the work you might expect men to do. “It is run by women for women. They do all manner of repairs, offer a hire service, teach other women to drive.”

And this in Australia, a nation supposedly male-dominated.

n Dancing resumes at the Baths Ballroom, with Len Boote and Orchestra, 7pm to 11pm. Admission 1s and 2s.

n A Bircotes man Mr W Josling, who is a British consular official in Shanghai was kept in prison for 90 days by Chinese reds after the boat he was in drifted into Chinese territory. All the occupants were arrested after a chase. He was with a party of friends from Macao.

A Chinese vessel heavily-armed and fully-manned by soldiers towed them at gunpoint and they were told they would be shot if they climbed up on the deck. All their belongings, including watches and money were confiscated. They were kept in a dim cell with 11 Chinese. and taken out of their prison three times a day.

When Mr Josling tried to communicate with his embassy his letter was torn up.

Our Royal Navy has been bombarding the Communists off the Korean coast for some months, so I suppose this could be called retaliation.

n gave a recital at the Corn Exchange. Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, and Glazunov. Didn’t get the free ticket – it went to “Orpheus”, our music critic.

n While repairing the roof of the Market Hall workmen took down the figure of Ceres the Greek goddess of the earth’s fruitfulness. She has been looking down on the shoppers since the hall was built 100 years ago and had become dangerous. People rarely look at the roofs of our municipal buildings but there is much to see if they can take their minds off the price of fruit and veg for a moment or two.