Article from the Leeds Mercury circa 1900

From about the 1850s to the mid 20th century, the Froggatts lived in and around Waleswood near Sheffield as coal miners and labourers. The following is an extract from and undated and unsigned article from the Leeds Mercury describing the area in around 1900. In making a detour from Woodhouse to Shireoaks, I passed through three of the most interesting and least known villages in South Yorkshire - Wales, Harthill and Thorpe Salvin. But as far as Wales, the most exasperating feature of this countryside consists of scattered collieries with domestic colonies to match. Collected together with three appurtenances - grimy, red brick, jerry-built terraces of cottages - and forced into one town with authorities at the head, all well and good from every point of view except the hygiene. From Aston you may take the by-roads, and go farther and fare worse than if you kept to the highways. Plodding eastwards from Sheffield, for a goodly distance of the way to Worksop, one no sooner seems to gain on a little rural ground sweet in its primitive or cultivated state, where swallows, thrushes and blue tits make their abode, than one comes to the most depressing lines of cottages tenanted by collier families, the women often twice their bread-winners girth and weight - for pitmen are necessarily "slippery little fellows". In an evening the children play about on the door-stones, and the portly dames stand there iin dishabille, with arms akimbo, to stare at anybody who happens to go by, finding in gossip the very salt of their existence. Waleswood is such a place today, taking its inspiration from the Waleswood Colliery, not far away, and their is still another seperate settlement of the same stamp between bucolic Aston and bucolic Wales. Thirty years ago old men who had neither garth nor stray rights tended their cattle unmolested upon these roads and their ample swards, the track itself being so green over that cart-traffic threatened to become circumstance of the past. Waleswood appears to have taken its name from an ancient hall, from which some respectable family may have driven away to quieter scenes, indeed, I am not sure that the hall any longer exists, though the colliery flourishes, as you may judge by the many inscribed railway trucks on the South Yorkshire lines. At the cross-roads there appears to have been a toll-bar, but that has been swept away too, and a somewhat villainous-looking hotel for colliers substituted, one of its glaring announcements being billiards. A long terrace stretches away from this house, and in front is a football field, where I found the younger men "roughing it" at dusk. True, these isolated settlements have pure air, fresh spring water, beautiful environment, and many other advantages that Barnsley colliers have not. Despite the fact that in wintertime they are much benighted, still they are not congested in their breathing area, they are not choked and blinded with smoke, or deafened with traffic. The laws of good friendship unite every member of the colony, and the misfortunes of one household effent the rest. Now, I am strongly of the opinion  the the vast majority of these rural pitmen are confirmed native stock, sons, may be, of the old agricultural labourers, who discovered that coal-hewing commanded better wages than working the land. The credit due to them I will not withhold, for everywhere during the course of my peregrinations in this part I heard that a soberer , kinder hearted lot of men never walked. Respect for their childish gentleness is compelled, and they have a special inaptitude for any kind of sharp practice, and an untiring readiness to condole with and help one another, deserving thoughout their walk through life a generous allowance for the little foibles so incidental to character which has to be developed in great measure underground.