Characters Methley Cricket Club Savile Colliery

Bernard Richardson

The young Bernard first came on to the cricket scene at the age of thirteen – volunteering to make the side up by cycling to away matches.  He remembers playing at Knottingley and Whitley Bridge have to bike it home without any lights. At the age of seventeen he entered straight into the batting honours list with a total of 236 runs at an average of 15.7 which included an unbeaten 50. Not bad for an introduction to senior cricket.

But then, he was only following in the footsteps of his father Albert (Rugger 1016) Richardson who had for some years played for the team mostly as its main strike bowler.

The following year Bernard continued his success in the second XI with an accumulation of 368 runs at an average of 20.4 beefed up by his first century against Yorkshire Copper works. He continued his apprenticeship and in the following season (1960) he was being considered for the First XI where he also made some promising scores.

The young ‘Rugger’ was now maturing into more than a promising player.   He took on 1st Xi captaincy in 1968, at the time he was the youngest player to be so elected. 
In 1974 Bernard was the first player to win the newly introduced fielding prize, having been appointed captain that year – a position he was to hold until 1980. During the whole of his captaincy years he was to prove to be a reliable and often prolific run accumulator, being runner up for the batting prize with 500 runs in 1975. All in the background of steadily improving team selections and performances. The club it is claimed had achieved more consistent success in this period than at any other time.

It must have given him great satisfaction, when in 1983 a best individual innings of 95 out of a total of 247 achieved victory in the Hepworth Cup against a strong Knottingley outfit.

1984 brought captaincy again and that year enjoyed an unbeaten 117 against YCW along with his usual contribution to the team scores. In 1987, now as a veteran he was once again encouraged to take up the leadership reins, a position which he retained the following season.

You can’t keep a good man down, because two years later duty called once again, and he took on captaincy of the Seconds a position in which he was supported by a number of former First XI players.
Since those days Bernard has held close interest in the wider requirements of the club keeping an experienced eye on its continuing development and playing a pro-active role in organisation and management of the club.

A later redirection of his love of the game took him to become well known in a white overall coat circuit as an umpire. 

in 2016 he was awarded the status of ‘Club Legend’ along with the now new club President Michael Smart. 

Bernard has always appreciated his role in the club and wonders how players of present times would manage like his father who on certain occasions would turn out for the club after having done an early Saturday shift at the pit. He reminds me of an instance of having given assistance to Peter Bell at Savile Pit regarding the setting up of a retail outlet at the pit. Bernard turned down the offer of a payment for services rendered and in return requested an underground visit. This went ahead and it gave him a reality check on what the work involved especially the part played by his father. I suspect that Peter Bell also gave him the enhanced tour taking in the lowest and narrowest route possible. – Well done Pete, and Bernard.

Coal Mining Savile Colliery

Savile Colliery Video

Brief Introduction to Savile Colliery Video.
The movie commences with a shot of the colliery offices. This building was originally the old lamp room and was converted in 1957 some two years after construction of the pit head baths building which then incorporated the new lamp room.
Next we see home coals being loaded near to the landsale onto the Geo Davies delivery truck. The loading area was sectionalised at the back into one ton capacity segments for tipping outside miner’s houses. On average underground workers received one load every five weeks.
The camera now pans round to take in the two shaft headgears and fan house prior to a shot of the gantry access from the baths to the man riding shaft top. To the left of this is the baths building visible with smoke issuing from its boiler room.
Next is the upturned view of the Savile Park headgear. Then the view returns back to the colliery offices and shows a close up of the then cost clerk (Peter Glover) entering the building.
Another upward view now of the materials yard floodlight column. It’s always windy up there, even on a still day.
Following that we see a long shot of the canal basin cut to the loading staithe, this offering a distance view of the donkey bridge (constructed to enable horse drawn barges to proceed.
Then on view are a number of barges in loading position followed by shots of the conveyor feed gantries clearing the coal to the barges. Continuation of the view displays the side elevation of the old colliery screens not now in use following the introduction of washing facilities and the switch from domestic to power station fuel.
A run of full coal wagons and the steam loco (Airedale) being driven by Ronnie Hare and Charlie Oddy is next. Along with this picture is a view of the ancient steam powered crane and then into view appear the Jubilee side tipping trucks with stone and washer residuals ready to be hauled up to the surface dirt disposal area (Colliery Tip). More views of the surface buildings bring us to the rear of the pit head baths and the end of the short video.
I am indebted to John Sigsworth for permission to display this moving picture of Savile pit taken in the late 1960’s.


20th Century Characters Coal Mining Savile Colliery

Sam Bullough

Sam Bullough 1909 – 1973

Tuesday 17th September 1963 saw the start of what was then a unique slant of a disputation when a delegation of colliers from Savile pit descended on the NUM Yorkshire HQ at Barnsley.  They were seeking restitution over a simmering dispute with the NCB management at the pit.  This in regard to fall back rates of pay when  production was not available.     This visit included a discussion with President Sam Bullough (himself a man of Methley) seeking support for their claim.     Sam, it would seem was unable to resolve the situation in the short term hence their change of tactics and the introduction of what was to become a headline stay down strike.

Sam was formerly a collier at Allerton Bywater Colliery where he had been elected to become Branch Secretary, a position which was to be the springboard for his success in the ballot for the post of Vice President of the Yorkshire NUM.   Success in 1954 brought about as a result of two left wing aspirants standing which was to split their share of the vote.

Sam, throughout his tenure as vice president and later president from 1960 along with his period of office as vice president of the National Union from 1963 was to work against the influx of left wing political ambition into the union.   To that end he introduced forms compelling new members to sign an undertakingto prevent alleged communist influence into the union.  Sam was opposed to members of the communist party hijacking the trade unions and the labour party to advance their ideology. 

Sam initially lived in one of the rows of Methley Junction and later moved on to the new Pindergreen estate.   I did meet him on one of his occasional visits to Savile pit where he would look up his old mate Pat Mannion in the medical room for a non-official cal.  

He was always pleased to be invited to attend the retired Savile miners tea held annually at the ‘stute’ (Miners Welfare).  

Characters Coal Mining Savile Colliery

Joe Sidebottom – Foreman Blacksmith

Joe Sidebottom
Blacksmith Savile Colliery

Imagine, it’s 5.40am on a winter Sunday in the 1960’s, and Joe the foreman blacksmith is already igniting the forge prior to starting work at 6.00am. He takes note of all the men in their bib and braces arriving after clocking on (Every Saturday and every Sunday except holidays). It’s minus 2 degrees centigrade out there.

Joe has a schedule of week-end maintenance covering examination and replacement of screening plant, surface conveying installation in fact all equipment involving moving or vibrating metals.

After deploying the blacksmiths and their strikers, Joe will advise the surface foreman of the repair objectives and update him of any absences etc. Most of that work will be carried out on the heavy duty anvils at the forge in the blacksmiths workshop.

Joe had recently taken over the reins from the experienced and equally long serving Chris Beilby. With slight appearance he didn’t look like the stereotyped blacksmith but looks can be deceiving certainly in his case hiding the power and his mastery of the huge hammers,tongs and clamps.

Could it be that such conditions including dust, rust and smoke would be an aid to longevity because Joseph Sidebottom survived in decent health until the age of 99 in the retirement cottages in Woodrow.

No, it is more likely that his advanced age was contributed to by his extended interest in the sport of crown green bowls. Not only a successful competitor, but also a long established keeper of the green in that picturesque Churchside setting.

Many of Methley’s beginners in the sport would subscribe to the view that the same man had throughout, offered coaching and advice to all initiates in the sport.

The club members so admired the man that they have instituted an annual knock out competition in his name, winner to be presented with the Joe Sidebottom Veterans Shield.

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20th Century Coal Mining Galleries Savile Colliery

Savile Pit Reunion 28th Dec 2012

Closure in 1985 has brought about a number of gettogethers.   This time the meet was in the Commercial Hotel.

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Galleries Opencast Mining

Moss Carr Opencast Gallery

The site produced a significant tonnage from 2001 to 2005 and during operations was able to retain hedgerows using an Augur to obtain coal from under these conditions.   The mining company also provided assistance with removals of the surface soil cover enabling the West Yorkshire Archaeologists to excavate a Romano/British historical site and produce a report on their findings  (Covered in this website).

September 2002 
Following a request to make a personal visit, Banks Opencast arranged a viewing programme under the supervision of one of their assistant surveyors Mr. J  Drinkall, undertaken in one of their vehicles.   I was able to see at first hand the clearing of a section of the site in preparation for deeper excavation (development) and the removal of overburden.    

The next stage went into the ‘pit’ where the seams had been exposed and coal extraction was taking place (coal face), it was interesting to see the layering of the strata in between the three working seams.  The seams were Stanley Main, Methley Park Top (Kents Thick) and Methley Park Lower (Kents Thin).    

We then completed the tour by seeing the back filling operations taking place prior to levelling and restoration.    Throughout it was possible to note the efficient working of the pit, maximising on robust earth and coal moving equipment (pictures appended) minimising on manpower requirements.

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History Industry

Briggs’ Early Days

Adventures in Coal
The booklet by Wakefield historian the late John Goodchild concentrates on the collieries owned and managed by Henry Briggs and his successors in the Whitwood and its surrounding areas of Castleford.
The notes are extracts relating to collieries in Methley abstracted from that publication.

Coal worked in the Whitwood and Methley areas required agreement from the landowners (mineral owners). In both cases this was the Earl of Mexborough who at the time resided at Methley Hall. Such arrangements provided the mineral owners with compensation (royalties) for the material extracted.

The Briggs’ company purchased Methley Junction Colliery in 1866 which had been worked by the Burnley company and which had been under the management of Thomas Rayner son in law of the owners. The mines at Foxholes were released again following the death of Benjamin Burnley to Thomas Rayner and Wm Wood.

Construction of the rows of terrace houses at Methley Junction commenced during the Burnley ownership and included completion of the primitive Methodist Chapel on vacant land there.

Henry Briggs its recorded, despite being a religious man (Unitarian) was affected by the rise of trade unionism within the ranks of colliers. His approach to disputation being at times quite radical. In 1862 he evicted 41 colliers and their families from their cottages along with other extreme actions relating to disputes in 1860.

Briggs was later to allow a letter which he had received during this time to be published. The contents of the letter threatened death to both himself and his son.

The deterioration in owner/workmen relations could have been a motivation to institute a revolutionary method of incorporation making the men shareholders in the company. The scheme was not universally accepted by all the men despite much promotion by the company.

However both mining operations and trade improved and dividends were welcomed. But the scheme became a victim of the economic depression of 1874 and profit sharing was abandoned in 1875.

Discipline was important to the safe working of the mines – in 1902 boys at both the Junction and Savile pits were prosecuted for riding horses underground. Workmen could be sacked for loss of tools or for involvement in delays to coal production.

Ill health to Henry Briggs in the years up to 1868 was to be noted in a letter from his son Harry who wrote to his brother with the message that their father was seriously ill and that the loss of his false teeth during a recent long journey added greatly to his discomfort and his bad looks.

As directed in his will, he was buried in a freehold plot in Dundee (where he was staying) and that on his instruction no unnecessary expense nor any pompous display was to be applied following his death.

Expense and display was evident in the headstones in the churchyard of St Phillip’s church in Whitwood for his successors.

Little were they to know that their local church would be demolished  and the headstones that had been laid as memorials to the late Briggs familia would be displaced and left in an unseemly pile adjacent to the building of the former vicarage.

Architecture Industry

Newmarket Cold Store

West Hall Hill – Newmarket Site
Cold Store Construction

Construction commenced on this immense project in May 2014 and the builders claim it is on schedule and will commence with the introduction of cold on 1st April 2015. Their web site update advises that the site will employ 150 staff and will operate on a 24 hour basis.

The proposed site between Methley and Stanley was the subject of a brave and organised fight by the local residents who were overcome after Wakefield Planning Dept referred the matter to the Communities Department under Eric Pickles, MP.      This was a dual application for the placement of a modern sports complex on behalf of Wakefield Wildcats RLFC along with associated warehousing based around the junction 30 of the M62.

The Yorkshire Evening Post in September 2013 reported that Leeds councillors had criticised the ill thought-out and unsuitable wider plans, which they feared would harm the green belt between the cities. David Nagle (Lab, Rothwell), said he would like to support any scheme bringing jobs to the area but he shared residents concerns about the impact on the green belt and traffic. He claimed the green belt is under constant threat and must be protected. No scheme, in his opinion, should go ahead over the legitimate objections of local residents, who are very concerned about the green belt and traffic.

Objections included approval of the height of the cold store at 42metres which is 138 feet considerably higher than any nearby construction and well above the height of the upper tree line.  The site is unmissable from as far away as Normanton Town Hall and the distant Kings Croft Hotel at Pontefract.

We since learn that the proposed objective of Wakefield Wildcats to re-locate to this site is not now going to take place. The cynical among us may be excused for thinking that the rugby proposal was a contrivance in order to shoehorn the bigger warehouse proposal through.

Well, it’s August 2017 and the construction is being further developed after only three years.   It is astounding that the original application should take such a long drawn out process requiring approval by the Communities Department in London and the current visible extensions it would appear, are in the course of construction without so much attention.    Once again the cynical amongst us are left to wonder if this enlarged state would have have received central approval had it been put together at that time!

I can’t wait to observe information of section 106 awarding – I’m sure there must have been one.

For that matter I would be keen to learn of  incidences of generous collaboration with the local community as occurred with the previous site users.

One hundred and fifty employees – well that can’t be bad.  Covering three shifts that’s fifty men per shift for the primary installation!  I guess this latest expansion could attract more workmen and women.  I’m sure the local councillors would be pleased to learn of these advancements. 

Industry Opencast Mining

Opencast Mining – Park Lane

Gamblers Twist in the Tail

It was 1956 and after landing the job of chain lad with Sir Lindsay Parkinsons (Outcrop Contractors) at their site at Park Lane.    Our mystery friend found that apart from toting the tripod and assisting the surveyor, probably the most important part of the job was cycling into the village each day for the buns from Radcliffe’s shop and also placing the bets. Good business for both bookies – Hodgsons and Harry Hawkins, and he shared it out equitably.

One or two of us with nothing better to do latched on to helping with the errands. Round about that time the Miners Welfare had a TV and games prefab erected for their retired members, here you could switch on the racing and watch the winners and then call round to pick up the winnings. Mind, you couldn’t be late at Harry Hawkins’ shed, Harry didn’t have a ticker tape and took his results over the phone. It didn’t take long to figure out the possibility of watching a certainty head for the winning post, say 2 furlongs out then racing round with all the bets including a small bet on the immediate race.

So that’s what we did, and it worked, trouble was our hero had an attack of conscience and had to ask another to collect the winnings. A second tilt on another day produced a horse that could not maintain its first place, then a selection the following week to back a horse to lose just to add authenticity saw the horse overtake all and come in first at good odds. Another attack of conscience and he decided that was enough.

In conversation with Harry Hawkins many years later I confided to him our misdemeanour, to which he replied ‘ Oh, I knew what was going on all along’ he added, ‘ I was only too pleased to be getting the business’ the twist was when he said that ‘ ***** could have had a small bet each week if he wanted, the business was too good to miss’

Industry Opencast Mining

Opencast Mining Moss Carr Extension

1st February, 2001

So, the application to mine opencast coal on the 77 acre site at Boat Lane has been rejected by Leeds City Council, the application, which was to obtain 100,000 tonnes of coal also included proposals to extract a considerable tonnage of sand and gravel.

The report in the Pontefract & Castleford Express much to the satisfaction of the locals, stated that Miller Mining who had made the application now claim the site ‘was no longer their responsibility as that arm of their operation had been taken over by Scottish Coal’. Scottish Coal, it says in the paper, also disclaimed responsibility for the site. (confused!)

Good News, but does it augur badly for the application by HJ Banks and Company Limited to opencast at the Moss Carr site, does it give Leeds City Council the moral high ground and a counter argument to agreeing to the much larger site along that ancient right of way at Moss Carr? I wonder. 

Methley has been saddled with deep seam mining for the last 150 years and opencast mining in pieces for the last 50 years, not forgetting the massive carbuncle that is the St Aidans site. I first heard night time pile driving for the St. Aidans site in the 1950’s.    Legislation in this country ensures that contractors reinstate the land to the state it had been, but quite frankly I think this village (the land) has had enough.

Well that’s it (March 2001), the application has been approved and the Moss Carr site will be another area of Methley to succumb to the earthmover and the excavations and mounds.   Livewire (Parish Magazine) reports that the West Yorkshire Archaeological Service will make a survey before work commences. I wonder if it will be a comprehensive survey, including metal detection?

I also wonder if a renewed application will be made for the Methley Ings site in, say three years time. If not perhaps an application could be made for the St Margarets area, or why not the Hollings?
There could be no end to it, perhaps the man whose name is on the deeds could let us know.

Archaeology Report – Moss Carr
An archaeological survey instigated by Leeds City Planning Authority as a requirement of the planning application to opencast was undertaken by the WYAS . The geophysical survey made up of field examination and aerial photography was completed by archaeologists retained by HJ Banks & Co. This was subsequently passed on to WYAS to complete along with a desk based assessment. The survey (greyscale gradiometer) indicated the following :-
•features associated with early drainage works
•possible archaeological activity on the escarpment
•infilled ditches of probable archaeological activity
•documentary evidence indicates mediaeval occupation in the Moss Carr area
•a settlement at Moss Carr is recorded on a map of 1787 (Whitelock)
•a small number of artefacts were recovered from trial trenches cut into the area
•no known roman artefacts were found on this site
•the extraction area consisted of glacial deposits – predominantly boulder clay with a band of sand and gravel. The site is situated on middle coal measures.

The report to WYAS was received 7th July, 2000 – the above list is my abstraction from information available at the WYAS,  Wakefield. I am indebted to Mr I Sanderson for assistance in providing the material and contribution.

September 2002
Following a request to make a personal visit, Banks Opencast arranged a viewing programme under the supervision of one of their assistant surveyors Mr. J Drinkall, undertaken in one of their vehicles. Many thanks to them for that – the tour in itself was both an education and an appreciated buzz.

I was able to see at first hand the clearing of a section of site in preparation for deeper excavation (development) and the removal of overburden.

The next stage went into the ‘pit’ where the seams had been exposed and coal extraction was taking place (coal face), it was interesting to see the layering of the strata inbetween the three working seams. The seams were Stanley Main, Methley Park Top (Kents Thick) and Methley Park Lower (Kents Thin).

We then completed the tour by seeing the back filling operations taking place prior to levelling and restoration. Throughout it was possible to note the efficient working of the pit maximising on robust earth moving equipment with minimum manpower requirements.