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Letter to his boss John Watkinson from John Wright complaining about the treatment of 'officalls' at Elm Colliery"

Elm Colliery, Buckley

4 June 1884

The letter covers four pages. The donor's great uncle, Peter Griffiths, is mentioned. The original spelling and punctuation are retained.


It appears in Leslie Rowlands' "Buckley 'Board' 100 not out" as Appendix V. See 146.5 for the main entry and further details. Mr Rowlands says: "... (the letter) outlining the grievances of the men, which no doubt precipitated the 1884 strike outlined in the History.




June 4th 1884


To John Watkinson Esq


Sir I wish to inform you of the state of affairs going on at the Elm & Masagrig Colliery & which I think you ought to know before a collisson comes between Master and Men


Sir I have been employed under you nearly 14 years and in all that time I have never seen such tyranny exercised as at the present time by the officalls of these collierys The are reduceing men prices without notice in different parts of the pit and if men says a word the are told to go about their bussiness and take their tools and Sir all day men are compelled to work 9 hours per day without notice You have been here many years now and no men as worked below ground for you more than 8 hours per day up to now I don't think sir that adding longer hours on men will do you the least good in any shape or form


But Sir I think the main object is worked over in having so many officials that will skin a man to keep their places for we know it all as to come from the pick point I here give you the names of our officalls


John Jones John Hopwood & Charles Iball all nephews of the Manager Wm Hopwood Cousin and Peter Griffiths these lot never pulls their jackets off and I don't think the would stoop to pick a ? if a rail on no ? but shout and baul and use all there tyranny there power allows them to do now Sir I don't think such a lot are required and there some at Masagrig the same one that I worked with there for 4 years he is a tyrant


Sir I have been in your employ longer by some years till any of these officalls and in all the time I have never seen such tyranny you know in every dispute I have tryed to settle in a friendly spirit which I hope will continue


When the Employer and Liability Act came in force I was the man our manager choose to try to get the men willing to insure in the Permanent Relief Society and I had 3 or 4 meeting with the men before I could get them to understand as the Act was worth nothing in its present form.


And you know Sir I went along with you to Wrexham to have the matter finaly settled and on the way I asked you if ever there was a fireman for underground wanted you would give me a chance and you promised me that day I should be the first if any was wanted But alas I am not a Nephew to the Manager & nor a Cousin for 4 has been put gaffers since then and I am still working hard and they want to add an hour per day on me Sir such a state of things cant last long


And Sir when Willm Hopwood proposed a slideing scale ask him who was the first to take it up and avocate it to the men and sorry I was to hear you had given the men notice to do away with it when I was at home sick if that was still in force these small reductions which the men have to suffer would not have been which is making the men very unesey


Sir as the Founder of the Relief Society I think it only reasonable to have a little to do in the Management of the same But Mr John Jones Nephew is all and in all in these matters I can prove he came down to see the lads at work for an hour or two and goes up again and goes to Chester to the Relief Society Meetings and gets his time at the works and gets 5/- (25p) for addening those meetings let anyone else attempt to do any thing of the sort and I leave you to judge the result


Sir I know that my time will be short at your works after receipt of this letter Without you stand at my back as one of the oldest workmen in your employ


I have thought it only my duty to inform you of these facts I like to be truthfull and honest in all my dealings


There is a many doggies* as the call them as I think could be done without some of them


I remain your humble Servant


John Wright


I think Sir when Colliers and day men as to stop at home officals ought to do the same for what the lads to do


* In his book "Buckley 'Board' 100 not out", Leslie Rowlands states:

Apparently they were the men who maintained the rails in the roadways underground.



Author: Wright, John


Year = 1884

Month = June

Day = 4

Document = Letter

Gender = Male

People = Couple

Work = Mining

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