Digging deep for global soil

Bullcroft colliery
Bullcroft colliery
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“There’s a parcel for you Sir..... It’s heavy .. what’s in it?”


“Soil? Is that all? You having me on?”

You can imagine the conversation with the postman. Alan Berry explains as he recalls life and times in Doncaster sixty years ago.

SOME time in the next year or so some mysterious parcels in airtight containers will begin to arrive at the Cementation Company’s Bentley works. They’ll contain soil – lumpy, stony, limy, sandy, peaty. Soil to be tested for stability when under pressure from major engineering constructions. Currently the firm are building a laboratory complex including offices and houses for staff costing £25,000. The soil will come from all parts of the world – which is where Cementation find much of their business. They’re international... the world’s soil is their business.

Cementation are to drill a well on the premises to provide water for their works fire brigade.

n TENANTS of 50 Airey prefabs in Bentley, who use wallpaper or plastic paint to decorate their rooms without consent of the council surveyor, will be given notice to quit. The report does not say what alternatives are acceptable. We suppose that when the time comes to remove these materials the buildings will be damaged.

n WHEN Doncaster’s Territorial Army go to camp at Castle Martin they will train using WW2 tanks like the Cromwell . They had hoped to have a chance to show their abilities using the new top- secret Centurions.

n ROVERS supporters expect to see few changes in the line-up for the first game of the season. The Old Firm who have given the club’s best-ever display will be on view.

Mr Doherty retains 31, and three are free to go. He says there is plenty of room for probable signings.

Top scorer last season was Doherty himself with 14, Tindill and Harrison 13, and Lawlor 10.

Rovers average gate has been 20,000, kept low because of bad weather, but they want a 30,000 average in the days to come.

There is little shelter around the ground and spectators will not stand week after week in the cold and wet, not even the most ardent.

n A TORY (Progressive) councillor says tenants of corporation houses should be allowed to buy the houses they live in. “It would reduce the rates and benefit both tenants and corporation.”

n OSCAR Rabin and his band at Brodsworth Miners’ Welfare next week. Tickets 4s

n MR LEDGER, a deputy who lives in New Street, Bentley has become an international celebrity as a breeder of dogs. He has sent dogs to Ireland and the continent, and now an Indian maharaja has bought one.

He is best known in Bentley as the local unpaid vet and he has become a firm favourite among owners. He is 50 and started breeding when he was 12. His favourite dogs are rough collies and wirehaired terriers. His Bullcroft Beautiful is currently being prepared for show.

He also breeds goldfish, budgerigars and cultivates plants in two greenhouses.

When he was a young man he trained with South Elmsall rugby club. In 1944 he suffered a fracture at the base of his skull in a pit accidents and was unconscious for 16 days.

And yes, there’s one more thing. He does a contortionist act!! That I must see!

n THE NUM and the NCB are continuing to work together to increase the number of school leavers who chose mining for a career. At Christmas last year 20 per cent of leavers chose mining, and at Easter this year the figure had increased to 26 per cent. It is still felt Doncaster, a town in the heart of south Yorkshire and a population of 80,000 does not supply its fair share of recruits. A spokesman for Bullcroft Colliery said that in the 33 years he had worked at the mine no more than five boys from Doncaster had started work there.

n HARWORTH NUM, in an effort to recognise their members’ exceptionally long service to the industry are to provide bungalows for retired members. The first stage of the scheme will see six cottages in the next two years, to be built next to the Welfare Institute. The rents will be enough to pay repair costs and no more than that.

n LETTERS to the Editor : “I am the tenant of a bungalow belonging to Doncaster Rural Council. Attached to this bungalow is enough land to make a football pitch. I am expected to work this land in my spare time. I am 64. I cannot cultivate it. Surely at my age, and I am a widower, it is asking too much in the evening of my life. I find attending to my work, plus own personal needs, is enough for me.”

n AND this from a mineworkers’s wife: “I am sick of hearing the suggestion that our home coal should be reduced. Shop assistants have a golden opportunity to be first in the queue for nylons, tinned salmon, fruit and a little extra to the ration Railway workers get free passes and privileged tickets. And the factory worker has an opportunity for goods at cheaper rates.

“My husband doing a normal day’s work leaves home at 5.20am. and is back home at 3.20pm. The house is then too hot because I have to have a fire to prepare hot water for him to have a bath. There are no baths at his pit head.”

She continues: “Everyone living round the pit gets more holidays than the miner ... The day wage man got a miserable tanner rise.

“Then the NCB blazoned it in the Press that the cost of coal must be increased in order to meet the rising cost of miners’ wages, Now the managers are to get a rise but there is no word about it costing the consumer extra.

“Is it not time everyone realised the shabby deal the miner is getting? No class of worker has been so kidded as the miner. The time has come to call a halt to this different treatment.”

n SOUTH African war veterans have written to Winston Churchill to say that if he comes to Doncaster to watch his horse Colonist run in the Gold Cup they would like to form a guard of honour for him.

Mr Burrell of Woodlands, Mr Berry of Wheatley Hills. Mr Pike and Mr Halker all of whom were at the Siege of Ladysmith are among the few veterans of the Boer War still with us in Doncaster.

n THE Gazette editorial asks why is interest in local affairs at such a low ebb. “Only 53 per cent of those who are entitled to vote in Doncaster did so this year. All parties should try to put their finger on the reasons for this. In 1949 it was 56 per cent and in 1950, 59 per cent.”

The answer might be that whoever has a majority the practical results will be the same.

n WHAT goes on behind those shaded widows in that drab old building in Frenchgate?

I know the premises and have often wondered myself. Now a sharp reporter has taken the trouble to find out

This is the Weights and Measures Department set up by the local authority to protect us from the unscrupulous tradesmen.

Mr Wood is in charge, and he visits 200 commercial properties where weighing and measuring devices are in use, testing and adjusting them.

Some jobs involve the use of a lorry to carry enough 56lb weights to measure up to a ton.

At the other end of the scale are cases of apothecaries’ precious metal weights. Mr Wood has a balance which can weigh objects the thickness of a human hair

n ALDERMAN Mrs Rose Hodson is our new mayor. She is the first woman to hold this distinguished office since records began in ancient times.

During mayormaking she wore the traditional fur-trimmed robes of office. The macebearer Mr Peter Rowley was also dressed in traditional style.

The rest of the procession looked drab wearing morning dress and top hats.