In his book Methley 2000, Jim Melvin publishes census details from 1841 to 1891. For reasons of space, Jim elects to display only selected records from the returns. However in the case of the rows of terraced houses at Methley Junction he shows the complete census records covering the years 1881 and 1891. The census for 1891 in addition to addresses names and ages, records where the householder originated from and as some of those names are unchanged from 1881 then it is possible to see that mineworkers migrated to this village during the second half of the nineteenth century.
It is interesting to see how many people originated from Wales, Notts and the Forest of Dean in Somerset but it is noticeable that the significant majority came from the West Midlands It was largely handed down that the Staffordshire men came here as strike breakers, a simple view that is hardly a part of the answer.
What can be deduced is that during the period 1850 to 1890 if the influx at the Methley pits is mirrored throughout the thenYorkshire coalfield then a massive shift in population must have taken place.
It would seem that families were attracted to the new jobs and indeed new houses as at Methley Junction and it is more than likely the mine owners played a part in encouraging this movement which in turn also developed a more skilled workforce of engineers and supervisors. How did those families make their way in those days – there were no removal vans, it must have been a mixture of cart travel and rail travel with a minimal amount of belongings.
At a Commemorative Meeting of a unique workmens cooperative system at Whitwood Colliery in 1867, the Rector of Methley the Reverend Phillip Yorke Savile reflected on the harmony between masters and men under the scheme. He said that having lived in the area for over 50 years he felt a deep interest in their welfare and rejoiced in their prosperity. He also expressed the hope that as gas was being introduced to Methley Junction Pit, he would be pleased to welcome it at his own house and also especially to those who worked night shifts. He added that he would be happy to reciprocate the boon by granting the use of a suitable field as a recreation ground. The Chairman at that meeting said that he was pleased to see that cock fighting, bull baiting and gambling had almost been eradicated giving an observable improvement amongst the colliery population.
The enumerators of the 1891 census picked up places of origination, some of which are as follows:-
Taylor (Cambridgshire) Beards (Great Bridgeford, Staffs)
Websdale (Tibbenham, Norfolk) Booth (Walsall, Staffs)
Bailey (Darlaston, Staffs) Spencer (West Bromwich, Staffs)
Turner (Darlaston) Crew 25 (Kidsgrove, Staffs)
Crew 60 (Framlington, Gloucs) Wright (Donisthorpe, Leics)
Hartshorne (Bilston, Staffs) Williamson (Nuneaton, Warwicks)
Jackson (Foleshill, Warwicks) Whitaker (West Bromwich, Staffs)
Tremelling (Bilston,) Fellows (Pelsall, Staffs)
Perry (Wolverhampton) Kirkham (Ironbridge, Salop)
Grice (Bilston) Smith (Tipton, Staffs)
Jones (Hall Green, Staffs) Spencer ( Bilston)
Webster (Edwinstowe, Notts) Millard (Great Bridgeford)
Population statistics for Methley
1831 1293 1841 1678
1851 1926 1861 2475
1871 3277 1881 4073
For information on tradespeople and people of independent means in Methley read the article on Kelly’s Directories