Ossett Pictures - Outcropping 1926

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Outcropping for coal at Gawthorpe

The picture above is at a coal outcropping at the Windsor site in Gawthorpe during the miner's strike in 1926. The men were having to sleep overnight on the site to guard against any problems with pickets. I think the Windsor site was in the vicinity of Chidswell Lane as there are a number of addresses near the Huntsman public house such as "Windsor View".

The three gentlemen in the picture are left to right: Benton North Wilby, coal dealer with premises in Dearden Street, Ossett; Turton Bould, farmer at New Park Farm, Gawthorpe Lane, Gawthorpe (also the great-uncle of my wife) and one Ernest "Dizzy"Hodgson, who was an entrepreneurial character who lived in Horbury; a bit of an Arthur Daley of the times (thanks Margaret Wilby for the information).

In 1926, coal was in short supply due to the strike and this camp would have been set up to extract what coal that could be found almost at surface level. Coal seams are known to "outcrop" or come to the surface. Often, the striking coal miners themselves were involved in outcropping activities and in doing so could earn considerably more than the relatively poor wages that they received for working in the local coal mines.

In 1926, British mine-owners publishing new terms of employment. These new procedures included an extension of the seven-hour working day, district wage-agreements, and a reduction in the wages of all miners by between 10% and 25%. The mine-owners announced that if the miners did not accept their new terms of employment then from the first day of May, they would be locked out of the pits.

A Conference of the Trades Union Congress met on 1st May 1926, and afterwards announced that a General Strike "in defence of miners' wages and hours" was to begin two days later. Although the strike was called off on the 11th May, the miners were unhappy with the terms agreed by the TUC on their behalf and they stayed out on strike.

For several months the miners held out, but by October 1926 hardship forced men to begin to drift back to the mines. By the end of November most miners had reported back to work. However, many were victimized and remained unemployed for many years. Those that were employed were forced to accept longer hours, lower wages and the district agreement.