Joe Sidebottom – Foreman Blacksmith

Joe Sidebottom
Blacksmith Savile Colliery

Imagine, it’s 5.40am on a winter Sunday in the 1960’s, and Joe the foreman blacksmith is already igniting the forge prior to starting work at 6.00am. He takes note of all the men in their bib and braces arriving after clocking on (Every Saturday and every Sunday except holidays). It’s minus 2 degrees centigrade out there.

Joe has a schedule of week-end maintenance covering examination and replacement of screening plant, surface conveying installation in fact all equipment involving moving or vibrating metals.

After deploying the blacksmiths and their strikers, Joe will advise the surface foreman of the repair objectives and update him of any absences etc. Most of that work will be carried out on the heavy duty anvils at the forge in the blacksmiths workshop.

Joe had recently taken over the reins from the experienced and equally long serving Chris Beilby. With slight appearance he didn’t look like the stereotyped blacksmith but looks can be deceiving certainly in his case hiding the power and his mastery of the huge hammers,tongs and clamps.

Could it be that such conditions including dust, rust and smoke would be an aid to longevity because Joseph Sidebottom survived in decent health until the age of 99 in the retirement cottages in Woodrow.

No, it is more likely that his advanced age was contributed to by his extended interest in the sport of crown green bowls. Not only a successful competitor, but also a long established keeper of the green in that picturesque Churchside setting.

Many of Methley’s beginners in the sport would subscribe to the view that the same man had throughout, offered coaching and advice to all initiates in the sport.

The club members so admired the man that they have instituted an annual knock out competition in his name, winner to be presented with the Joe Sidebottom Veterans Shield.

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