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THE GLASTONBURY CHAIR.

This gift to the Rev.Canon George Edward Mason, Rector of Whitwell from 1874 to 1908, by the miners of Whitwell and Steetley can be found in the Lady Chapel in the South Transept of the church.  It is made of oak and has fixed to it a brass plate bearing the following inscription:

"PRESENTED TO THE REV. CANON G.E.MASON, RECTOR, FROM THE MINERS OF WHITWELL AND STEETLEY, IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF HIS HELP DURING THE LOCKOUT OF 1893".

The LockOut lasted for sixteen weeks.  It commenced in August 1893 when the Coal Owners closed the colliery gates on their workers throughout the established Coal Industry of the time when there was a disagreement over Conditions of Work and Wages.

It was eventually brought to an end on Friday, 17th. November 1893, by Lord Roseberry, a member of the Liberal Government of W.E.Gladstone, who was in his fourth, and last term of office as Prime Minister.  On that day Lord Roseberry held a conference of Coal Owners and Miners delegates, which resulted in end of the Lock‑Out, which was being referred to as "The Great Coal Dispute." The miners returned to work on Saturday 18th.November, 1893.  In 1894 Lord Roseberry succeeded Gladstone as Prime Minister until 1895 when a Conservative Government was elected.

Canon Mason's part in all this was to be the driving force in the organisation of "The Public Relief Committee" set up to lessen the distress of the miners wives and children during the period of the Lock‑Out.  His Grace the Duke of Portland expressed his concern regarding the likely distress of the wives and children and provided help for the Relief Fund through his Agent, along with gifts of rabbits and chestnuts from his estate at Welbeck.

The Clergy, under Canon Mason, requested for themselves the honour and privilege of feeding the miners  children.  Meals took the form of breakfasts every day and dinners three times a week.  Dinners began at Whitwell on Friday 15th.September, and breakfasts on Monday 18th.September.  The largest number of children at one meal was 142.  About twenty persons also received cans of soup after dinner.  The total number of breakfasts provided in 66 meals was 7,295, and the total number of dinners in 35 meals was 3,869.  And a lot of cans of soup.

The breakfasts and dinners began at Steetley on Monday 25th.September.  The largest number of children at any Steetley meal was 51.  The total number of breakfasts provided in 60 meals was 2,206, and the total number of dinners provided in 30 meals was 1,190. The last meals were served at Whitwell and Steetley on Saturday 2nd. December 1893.

Along with the gift of the Oak Chair to Canon Mason the miners also presented "illuminated addresses" to the Reverends John Thwaites Mumford, BA, and Sidney Wilmer Goldsmith, BA, who were both Curates in the Whitwell Parish, for their help in feeding the miners and their families during the Lock‑Out.

  Jack O Edson 2007.

           


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