THE MINIMUM WAGE ACT. Yorkshire Post, Friday 16 August 1912.

The 47th annual meeting of shareholders in Henry Briggs, Son and Company (Limited), colliery owners, Whitwood, was held yesterday afternoon at the Leeds Law Institute. The Chairman (Mr. Walter Geoffrey Jackson) presiding. There was a numerous attendance. 

The Chairman, moving the adoption of the report and accounts, said that a year ago he told the shareholders that he thought they might improve on their output, if they had no labour troubles. As his hearers knew, they had had a strike of miners, and there had been trouble with the transport workers; but, in spite of these things, he was happy to say the company had increased its output something like 40,000 tons.

This increase had been chiefly due to the opening out of the Water Haigh Pit. The output of this pit had got up to about 800 tons a day, and the concern were just about on the point of being able start it on its own basis.

The Whitwood Silkstone Pit had yielded a slightly increased output. On the other hand, the Main seam at the Don Pedro Pit seemed be coming to an end, while the Haigh Moor Pits were in the position of being able to turn out about the same quantity they had done in the past. On the whole, he thought that with plenty of trade, and an absence of labour troubles, they should able to slightly increase their output in the coming year.

They were now working under a new Mines Act, the Insurance Act, and a Minimum Wage Act, which had added not only to the cost of working, but very much to the anxieties and difficulties of the management. The way in which these difficulties had been met by the company’s staff was deserving of all praise. The year’s results on the whole he regarded as highly satisfactory. But they must not lose sight of the fact that consumers of coal had had a very great lesson, which they were no doubt taking to heart, and that they had learnt that there was another source power, viz., oil, which would have to be reckoned with in the future. The directors had elected on the board Mr. John R. Scott, of Manchester, who had married a daughter of Mr. Rawdon Briggs.

Mr. J. H. Phillips. in seconding the resolution, pointed out that the dividends were to be paid free of income-tax which was a very great consideration.

A shareholder wanted know the amount of revenue from the company’s investments, and how the investments stood at the present day market quotation. The Chairman said the investments stood well below market value, and they had reserves against any further depreciation. The revenue from investments was £9,469.

Mr. Hezekiah Tempest, (Wibsey) said he had hoped some reference would have been made the serious writing off of Debentures this year, which they could not look upon with complacency. During the past three years they had written off £25,000. 

Speaking of the operation the Minimum Wage Act, Mr. Tempest said he came in close contact with the men, and knew that many large collieries with a high reputation, especially in the West Riding, the management were “finnicking” with the question of payment according to the awards made. 

He hoped nothing of the kind was happening at the firm of H. Briggs, Son, and Company, and that they were trying to keep on the best of terms with their men. It never paid to quarrel with the men. If they stuck to their side of the bargain, the company must stick to them. If they were to obtain the best men – men who would earn the minimum wage – (hear, hear) – they would have to deal with them as they ought dealt with. 

He was no sentimentalist but recognised the rights men had and it was no use quarrelling with the law of the land. He was glad that the difficulties encountered in the sinking of the new colliery had been got over, and that they had now reached the coal, and he hoped the future of the pit might as successful some of their older pits.

The Chairman, replying to these remarks, expressed the opinion that the depreciation of investments should not be taken as against the directors, but rather in favour of them. (Hear, hear.) With respect to the Minimum Wage Act he could assure Mr. Tempest that they did not propose to cut their legal liabilities by any back-door arrangement (Hear, hear.) The company had thoroughly carried out the Act. and would continue to in the most straightforward manner

The report was adopted, and dividends declared of £1 14s. 6d. per share on the A Shares, and £1 3s. per share on the B Shares making, with the interim dividend a return for the year of £2 5s. per A Share, and £l 10s. per B Share. Messrs. Ernest E. Briggs, Walter Hargreaves, and John Russell Scott were re-elected directors, and Messrs. Close, Hirst, and Co. the auditors to the company.


Yorkshire Evening Post, Friday 29 August 1913.

The Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Company are again seeking to abandon their undertaking to construct new lines from the terminus to Oulton.

When the company- then the Wakefield and District Light Railways Company – first obtained their Provisional Order, the Board of Trade fixed a time limit for the construction of their lines. Not being able get the whole of their undertaking into operation at once, the company naturally selected what was expected to be the most profitable portions, and, when the years of  grace were being exhausted, they applied to the Board Trade for extension of time, which was granted.

Last year the company sought power to abandon the scheme altogether, but the Rothwell and Hunslet Councils, through whose areas the proposed line will run, represented to the Board of Trade that the extension was needed, and would be a great benefit to the district.

The Board of Trade refused to grant the company’s application, but suggested that the company might make some arrangements with the local authorities so far as the financial part the scheme was concerned. The company asked the councils to find the capital for the construction of the line – estimated at about £9,000 – but, without further ado the councils rejected the proposal, and the matter dropped.

Hunslet Rural Council have decided to oppose the present application, and there is little doubt that Rothwell Urban Council will do the same. The need for the extension is more acute than ever. Messrs. Henry Briggs Son, and Co., have got their new colliery at Water Haigh in full swing. Over eleven hundred men and boys are employed at the colliery, and no fewer than 250 cycle to and from work.

Scores of men travel from Leeds by car to Rothwell and have to walk nearly two miles from the terminus to the pit. Apart from the miners, the population of Oulton and Woodlesford has grown rapidly during the past two years, and the colliery company are to erect a number houses in the village.

Numbers of people from Oulton walk to Rothwell, and travel to Leeds by car, rather than go by train from Woodlesford, and pay exactly twice much. Leeds people would also appreciate the extension, as hundreds from the city spend a few hours on Sundays in Rothwell and Oulton, which many consider one of the prettiest districts Yorkshire.



Yorkshire Evening Post, Monday 14 August 1916.

The annual meeting of shareholders in Messrs. Henry Briggs, Son and Co. (Limited), colliery owners, Whitwood, was held this afternoon in Leeds. Mr. Walter Geoffrey Jackson, the chairman, in moving the adoption of the report, said the number of their employees who had gone to the war was 1,546, against 1,171 last year.

Twelve months ago he reported that the underground absenteeism was 11.29 per cent., which had been reduced from the 16 per cent, prevailing before the war. He was sorry to say, however, that hope of further reduction had not been realised. The percentage of absenteeism was now 13 and a half, of which 8 per cent, was preventable. Every credit was due to the majority who were making full time, but there still remained a small minority who spoiled the record.

Absenteeism had been especially noticeable at the Snydale and Water Haigh Collieries; and anything that could be said to make men alive to the importance of producing as much coal as possible, in the interest, not only of themselves and the company, but of their fellows at the front, was worth saying.

The company’s output showed a slight increase upon that of a year ago. They had paid £23,239 to dependants of their men, while the war loan taken up amounted to £7,740. Wages and stores had gone up very seriously. 

A year ago timber cost £16.000; this year the cost was £60,000. The directors proposed to set aside £30,000 as reserve for dead work in suspense, which would have to done in future, £20,000 to reserve, and another £20,000 in respect of depreciation of investments, leaving a balance of £64,608 to carry forward.

The demand for coal during the year had been so immense that they had not been able to supply all their customers. Mr. J. H. Phillips seconded the adoption of the report, which was agreed to, and resolutions were passed declaring a dividend £2 12s. 6d. on the “A” shares and £1 15s on the “B” shares, making with the interim dividend a return for the year of £3 15s. per “A” share and £2 10s. per “B” share. Messrs. J. H. Phillips and Walter C. Fowler were re-elected directors the company.


Yorkshire Evening Post, Wednesday 30 July 1919.

An interesting point as to whether a collier, holding cheap workman’s railway ticket, can be compelled to travel in “paddy mail” carriages when ordinary third class accommodation is available, was raised at the Leeds County Court, to-day, before his Honour Judge Parfit.

Two Leeds miners, William Conolly, ripper, of 63, Freehold Street, York Road, and Edgar Chambers, a dataller, 73, Clifton Mount, Harehills, who ordinarily work at the Water Haigh pit, Woodlesford, sued the Midland Railway Company for damages for breach of contract, and claimed the equivalent of a day’s wages—l8s. and 15s. equivalent.

Mr. R. A. Shepherd, for the plaintiffs said they were using ordinary third-class workmen’s tickets between Leeds and Woodlesford which cost 2s. 6d. for a week, while the ordinary return fare was Is. 6d.

They objected to being turned out of ordinary third-class coaches into “paddy mail” coaches which were attached the train. Eventually, however, an inspector told them they must use the “paddy mail,” and so they returned home, and now sued the company for a day’s lost wages.

There was ample accommodation in the third-class compartments, both for the ordinary public and the workmen. The case for the company was that the tickets held by the workmen were “paddy-train” tickets (No. 14), though the inspector was unable to state specifically what class of tickets was held by Conolly and Chambers, as all the tickets were shown at the same time, and the only thing he was sure of was that they were all white tickets. The crowding of these compartments by colliers had caused inconvenience ordinary passengers, much so that at Hunslet, ordinary ticketholders had had get into the “paddy” coaches.

Conolly said he objected to “paddy” coaches; they were not fit for anybody to ride in. His Honour said that, having been Wakefield, he knew what they were like: they were not the kind you would select for a long journey. (Laughter).

Mr. Margerison, an official at the Leeds Station, said these coaches were the same sort as the ordinary public used travel in 40 years ago.

His Honour said he remembered quite well when the G.W.R. ran them to Bath, and he had travelled many times in them.

Mr. Turner said that Midland Company had led the way in improvements; in fact, they had spoilt the travelling public. His Honour said he was satisfied that the two plaintiffs held third-class workmen’s tickets (No. 439), which were not what were ordinarily called collier’s tickets. As to damages, having regard the fact that the Company were warned that it would mean the loss of day’s work to the men, he did not think the damages claimed were too remote, and he, therefore, gave judgment for the plaintiffs for the amount claimed.

Yorkshire Post, Monday 12 December 1921

4 men from Water Haigh were among 90 miners presented with rescue brigade gold and enamel medals for completing 5 years service. Ceremony at the Central rescue Station in Wakefield on Saturday afternoon. Presentation by Walter Hargreaves,, chairman of the West Yorkshire Coal Owners Association. Station equipped with a fast motor. Cost £30,000 to build and £6,000 a year to run. The ceremony took place every year. 3 from WH in 1922.

Yorkshire Evening Post, Tuesday 30 January 1923. 

At the Leeds West Riding Court today. Torn Clarke, miner, of Woodlesford, was fined £3 for breech of the Coal Mines Regulation Act by assaulting Edward William, a deputy at the Water Haigh Colliery.

Yorkshire Post, Monday 30 July 1923.

Water Haigh came first in the W.B. Gittus ambulance competition on Saturday at Worsborough Bridge. They got 97 points out of a possible 150. The prizes were distributed by Lady Kathleen Pilkington.

Burnley News, Saturday 4 August 1923.

An ambulance competition for a fifty guinea challenge shield was held Barnsley on Saturday. Thirty-nine teams competed, practically the whole of the teams being colliery teams except Nelson and Brierfield. The result the competition was: 1, Water Haigh Colliery No. 1 Team; 2, Wheldale Colliery No. 1 Team ; 3. Nelson S.J.A.B.; 4, Frickley Colliery.

June 1925

Over 300 miners were affected by the closing down of a seam at Water Haigh.

Yorkshire Evening Post, Wednesday 20 October 1926.

Sir, you stated on Monday that the miners who, before this dispute, worked the Woodlesford Water Haigh pit were returning their hundreds. To satisfy myself that this was so, and quite believing your statement I went to the station to see the arrival of the train bringing the miners from work. I saw the magnificent number four miners, eight policemen, and throe detecttives. — Yours, etc., M. H. CARLTON. Holbeck, Leeds, October 19. 

We said nothing about men at the Water Haigh Pit “returning in their hundreds.” Our statement was that there were 170 men working on Saturday, that more men signed on during the weekend, and that despite miners’ meeting on Sunday, there were more men the pit on Monday. Leeds railway station is not necessarily the best place from which to count the number of men who have been work somewhere else. Our figures were given as a result of inquiries on the spot. If it can be shown that we have been misinformed, we shall be glad to publish a correction. Editor, “Y.E.P.”

Yorkshire Evening Post,  Saturday 1 November 1947.

“Death by misadventure” was recorded at Wakefield today on David John Jones (36), miner, Grainge Street, Wellington Road. Leeds, who died In Plnderflelds Hospital, after being crushed by coal tubs at Water Haigh Colliery, Woodlesford.