Thursday, 24 March 2016

Burradon Colliery Branch Union Records 1945-67

Visited Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn 10th March 2016

Burradon Branch Colliery Minutes and Accounts 1931 - 1967 (NRO 3013/1-7)
1. Jul 1931 - Aug 34
2. Jul 1959 - Dec 61
3. Dec 1961 - Mar 64
4. Mar 1964 - Sep 67
5. Cash Book 1890 - 1912
6. Pay Calculations 1914 - 17
7. Misc Correspondence

These records are extensive and would take hundreds of hours work to read and extract. I briefly skimmed through three sets of records in my three hours in the archive department and took some brief notes as to the general content:

1. 1931-34 Minutes is a large book of approx 200 pages slightly larger than A4. Meetings were fortnightly but often special meetings were held in between the scheduled ones. The minutes for each meeting ran to four or five pages. A small folder also accompanied this book which contained correspondence to the secretary often written on a postcard. The Secretary of the "Burradon Miners Mutual Confident Association, and presumably also branch secretary, was : Mr Robert E. Shillaw of 7 Burradon Terrace (Far Row). There was also several pieces of correspondence with John Carr the secretary of the Northumberland Miners' Mutual Confident Association, Gosforth 51513, at the headquarters at Burt Hall, Newcastle. These were mostly concerning compensation cases and the negotiations with the coal owners. The regional minutes were kept in this folder. They were very brief - amounting to one A4 size folded piece of paper, typescript and printed.

(In the late 1960s a housing estate was built in Burradon and named Shillaw Place. In the 1930s a new estate was being built and one of the streets was named Allanville.) The minutes from 16th July 1931 have Mr R. Allan presiding. The minutes of 31st August record Mr Allan having to leave work due to ill health. It was recommended he step down as vice chairman for a while. In September 1931 it is recorded there was to be a testimonial for Mr Allan who has retired after a long period of public service. Mr A. Millan presided over the meetings for much of the following period of time.

RE Shillaw right of picture


At the Annual General Meeting of 27th March 1932 A Millan was elected as Chair, J Laverick as Vice Chair, Mr Gallon as Treasurer and among the other committee members was a compensation secretary. It was resolved to have a reduction in salaries of secretaries.

A Mr. Dodds also gets mentioned frequently as an addressee of correspondence and is presumably the manager of the colliery.

The following is a brief snippet of some of the topics discussed at the meetings:

16th July 1931

  • Disputes as to where the lads where allowed to be putting.
  • Workers dong overtime when other men are on the dole.
  • Visit and inspection from an officer of the Board of Health who had recommended that Mr Guthrie needed a larger house.
  • Applications were being sort for miners to write short stories for a regional competition where a prize was on offer.
  • Dispute with coal owners over men not being paid the proper rate for making a cutting between seams.
  • Report of the Inspection Board.
  • Deciding who is to attend the Labour Party conference.
  • Lad had been dismissed for breaking a "defective" piece of machinery. He had been sworn at "vigorously" by a deputy and then swore back in the same manner.


31st August 1931

  • Much talk of how to help unemployed members including the supply of privilege coals.
  • Complaints from colliery management of lads not acting in a responsible manner. The management had asked that men and parents should do more to keep them in check before discipline from colliery management.
  • Report of the compensation secretary (this was a major part of Union business judging by how much it featured in the minutes).
  • Disputes over shortages of money of members who had not been paid for work they said they are entitled to and stoppages of money over work the management have said has not been done properly.


September 1931

  • Washing of the "Hut", it being asked that Labour women would do it occasionally.
  • Crests for the hut. (The miners hut was a wooden construction that stood beside another wooden shed used as a doctor's surgery on Front Street just North of the co-op Store.)
  • Dispute over the inspection of the pit by the management of the colliery. Mr Kelly was the inspector for the Union, but another man was not to be allowed as he was currently unemployed and not part of the colliery. Mr Straker and Mr Dell were often the recipients of a deputation of the men.


23rd March 1932

  • Mr T. Fryer had lost two weeks unemployment benefit in a dispute at the Court of Referees. He was asking the Union to look into the case.


24th January 1934

  • A letter was received from the Children's Gala Committee asking for Union delegates to be sent to a meeting of the committee.
  • The Welfare Committee also were asking for representation.
  • There was a dispute over deciding cavils between the men.



2. (1959-61)

The meetings seem to be held in the "Miner's Hut" with Mr Kennedy presiding. Mr G Taylor was mentioned as the Vice Chair. The meetings were fortnightly with occasional special meetings like the one held in the Welfare Hall on 2nd August 1959.

26th July 1959

  • The Colliery Band Committee made an appeal for support in the financing of the band.


2nd August 1959

  • The men were dissatisfied at the present method of filling piecework vacancies.
  • Contraband: Five cigarettes had been found down the pit and the management had pointed out the seriousness of this matter.


20th March 1960

  • A presentation was to be made to RE Shillaw.


2nd October 1960

  • Nominations were sought for the principal speaker at the Annual Northumberland Miner's Picnic.


7. (Miscellaneous. Folder containing correspondence, pamphlets and advice on income tax)

9th August 1915

  • A letter to Mr G Bell of Burradon (George Bell of Middle Row, Burradon was the Secretary of the Burradon Miners. A Bell Grove street was built in Camperdown in the early 1930s). Mr Bell had made enquiries as regards medical charges of the Aged Mineworkers Homes Association in their various centres.


Various pamphlets on saving money and resources including lending your money to the Government/country by buying stock certificates (this being wartime). Minutes from the Miners' Mutual Confident Association joint committee on 9th May 1914 and the Executive Committee of 28th-30th April 1914.

5th January 1915

  • Correspondence from the Burradon and Coxlodge Coal Company informing of the slight re-arrangement of working hours at Burradon:

Fore-shift hewers 4am-11am
Back-shift hewers 9.30am-4.30pm

14th October 1915

  • Regarding George White who was of "unsound mind" and not being sure how long he may persist. From the Burradon and Coxlodge Coal Company to Geo. Bell secretary. With a regard to free rent and coals state aid was suggested as the proper course under the Insurance Act (1911).


18th October 1915

  • Letter from HQ at Burt Hall: It was a doctor's opinion that a young lads hernia had not been produced by an injury in the pit but due to an undescended testicle. The doctor's appointment had been arranged by Burt Hall officials.


Subscriptions book for an individual member which states the meeting of the branch are every alternate Thursday 6pm in the "Store" hall.

21st May 1920

  • From regional headquarters at Burt Hall asking to secure a band to march in front of each branch at the picnic and gala days. Not to be more than twenty-five performers.


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