Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 13 July 1912
At Wath upon Dearne
After leaving Bolton, the Royal party took the Barnsley Road in full view of the oldest colliery in South Yorkshire – the Manvers Main pit. 500 yards further along the road the G.C.Railway crosses the road. This was the first level crossing so far in the tour. Traffic was suspended for fully 10 minutes before they Majesties were due to arrive. Over the crossing the heart of the mining population was reached, with its cottages, and up-to-date houses erected on one side, while on the opposite side was the Dearne and Dove Canal, running parallel for a distance of 600 or 700 yards.
The party then hove in sight of a – somewhat new to them – new industry, namely, the Oilene and Sterene works of Messrs Charles Stanley and Son, of Wath, and their acid and soap production plants, with flags flying from every department
All along the route, through Wath and West Melton, flags fluttered from works, public buildings, and the various places of worship, while flags, bunting and streamers were freely on display. In the centre of Wath a triumphal arch had been erected, bearing the words, “Welcome to Wath on Dearne.”
It was a tasty decoration, erected on short notice, and came in for much admiration.
A feast of colour was in evidence as the Royal party passed the various schools, and particularly in a croft opposite Wharncliffe Crescent, where the elder scholars of the Wath Victoria and Park Road schools assembled, the girls wearing hats trimmed with the school colours of orange, red, blue, pink and green; and the lads sporting similar varied hues.
Here the passage of their Majesties were much slower, the Royal car almost coming to a dead stop as the children waved lustily their little banners with great ecstasy and cheered lustily. As soon as one portion of schoolchildren had been passed and the strains of the National Anthem had scarcely died away, then another re lay took up the strain, and so on throughout the route.
The morning “shift” pit men did not, as a rule, for fear of missing a glimpse of their Majesties, attempt to wash off their coal-dust; but greeted the approaching procession with the vociferous cheers, and uncovered heads.
In other respects the district was in holiday attire, and the passing of the King and Queen through the Wath on Dearne, once the “Queen of villages” – though still with many of his beauty spots left intact – was marked by tremendous and fitting outburst of enthusiasm, unbounded loyalty being witnessed on all sides, from the entrance at the mining end of the town to the exit at the end of the now obsolete, once prosporous, coal mining industry near the vicinity of Firth Road at West Melton, along which the Royal party disappeared en route for the Four Lane Ends, passed His Lordship private drive known as the “Lion’s Lodge,” and thence to Elsecar.
It was then doubted whether, in face of the sad calamity at Cadeby Main Colliery, his Majesty would, after all, descending slot sheets pit. But His Majesty carried out the prearranged programme in its entirety.
“Ah” was the expression of an old miner, “We’ve had Royal sympathy afore, and this (referring to the Cadeby disaster), appening wit’t King and Queen among us, r wonder what he’ll think nah.”
And it must be stated that while the reception the King and Queen was by no means lacking the loyalty, naturally in the heart of the mining world there were signs and expressions of sympathy with the widows and fatherless who are now mourning, not a stone throw from the prearranged route of the Royal processing to Hickleton Hall.
One pleasing incident as a party passed through Wath was that caused by junior patriot, who tossed a lovely bunch of sweet peas, tied with the Royal favours, into their Majesties car. A card was attached, on which the boy had printed the words, “For the King and Queen.” The Queen graciously acknowledged this with a smile and a wave of the hand, as it fell between the Royal driver and Major Atcherley.
The National School children were lined up in the vicinity of their schools, and also on the opposite side of the road, while the Brampton scholars had a good point of vantage as the procession passed up West Melton and down Firth Road. The Wath Band discourse picture to heirs at West Melbourne, and as the Royal party passed, struck up the National Anthem.
The juniors assembled in the Wath Victoria’s School playground sang “Here’s a health until His Majesty”; and at this point and at Wharncliffe Crescent the throng was most congested, but the large influx of special constables had little trouble in dealing with the crowd, of which it was estimated that some 7,000 or 8,000 witnessed the passing of the Royal procession through Wath and West Melton.
A party of rescuers, in taxis and motor cars en route for Cadeby, were “held up” for a brief period, but when their mission of heroism was made known they were allowed to proceed on their way.
Superintendent Quest preceded the Royal procession, and 10 minutes afterwards the Royal car hove in sight, and the expectant crowd had their wishes ratified. In response to the lusty “Hip! Hip! Hurrah’s” and other varied tokens of welcome, there Majesties smilingly bowed their acknowledgement. It was a brief passing, but one which will be long in the memories of all who witnessed it.
The Royal party proceeded to Elsecar. A graphic and special description of this interesting feature of the King’s visit is described in the last page of this issue.