Story: Elizabeth and Gordon Shaw
In 1912 there were prolonged countrywide coal strikes following cuts to miner’s wages. The strikes ended when, despite strong opposition, the government passed the Coal Mines Act, which set a minimum wage for miners.
On Monday 25th March 1912 the Sheffield Telegraph ran an article relating to the strike. Headings were:
GROWING DISTRESS SUFFERING IN SHEFFIELD EAST END RELIEF SUGGESTION SHOULD LORD MAYOR OPEN A FUND?
“The continuation of the coal strike and the consequent closing down of various departments in the large East End works of Sheffield is already causing a great deal of privation among the poorer classes living in the extensive district comprising the Brightside Ward, and there is every indication that within the next few days the distress will be acute. The question of providing relief was discussed at representative meeting called for the purpose by the Rev. L E Day, Councillor Batchelor, and Mr F Mayes at St Cuthbert’s Vicarage, Firvale on Saturday.”
At the meeting the Rev L E Day mentioned that there was already a small soup kitchen in operation in Owler Lane, and that the Land and Labour Committee of the Sheffield Board of Guardians had that day decided to put into operation the powers they had to help men outside the workhouse in time of exceptional distress by providing ‘distress’ work of some sort.
Claude Moore of 276 Pitsmoor Road expressed his concerns in a letter printed in the Telegraph 3rd April 1912, concerning the plight of residents of Princess Street in the Burngreave Ward, which he described as ‘a very poor and neglected area’. Mr Moore and his wife appear to have been very public spirited having distributed ‘small parcels of provisions (20 one week and 42 the following week) to cases known to us’. He went on to call for a ‘civic appeal’ and for the ‘proceeds to apportioned by some responsible authority according to the necessity of the hour’.
A hundred years later St Cuthbert’s Church is still helping those in need. In February 2012 the Burngreave Messenger reported on the Fir Vale Food Bank at St Cuthbert’s Church, Firvale.