Sidney Henry Buckle was born in Firvale on 17th December 1881.
He was the fifth child of John Henry Buckle and his wife Elizabeth who had seven children altogether. Also born on 17th December 1881 was Sidney's twin sister Sarah.
John Henry Buckle was a coal miner at Kiveton Park Colliery which had been sunk to the north of the parish of Harthill with Woodall (on the Yorkshire / Nottinghamshire borders) in 1866-68. The land was owned by the Duke of Leeds who refused to allow houses for the colliery workers to be built on his land. A stretch of land at Fir Vale, on the edge of the village, was not owned by the Duke and houses for the miners were built there between 1868-70 and that's where Sidney Henry was born.
Ten years later John Henry had become a colliery deputy which according to the Coal Mining History Resource Centre means that he was the man who set the pit props, laid out the tramroads, placed brattices in the boards and looked to the safety of the mine and the miners. There's a very interesting description of the job of a colliery deputy at British Genealogy and also The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers.
By 1901 John Henry had been promoted further and had re-located his family to Royston in South Yorkshire where he, his sons and his brothers were employed at the Monckton Colliery.
Sidney was first employed as a pit pony boy at Kiveton Park Colliery before he became a miner and later a colliery ropeman at Monckton. The ropeman maintained and repaired the wire ropes used for shaft winding and rope haulage purposes.
In 1908, aged twenty seven years, Sidney Henry married Elsie Smith at the parish church in Royston. They had two children: Vernon born in 1921 sadly died while still a baby and Norman (1924 - 1978). This photo is Norman with Sidney and Elsie. My guess is that they had this picture taken to celebrate his first birthday. They were quite old parents (especially for that era) as Elsie was 39 and Sidney was 43 when Norman was born.
Throughout his married life Sidney lived at Church Hill in Royston. Elsie died in 1952 and Sidney moved to a pre-fab on Common Lane, Royston. In the 1960s he moved to an elderly person's bungalow nearby.
Sidney Henry Buckle was my grandfather. When I was about six or seven years old he used to take me and my sister for walks in the countryside around the mining village where he continued to live until the end of his life. As we walked round he told us stories about his life as a pit pony boy. He'd started when he was twelve years old. The highlight was when we passed a field where he said the ponies spent their summer holidays; apparently they got two weeks above ground and presumably that was enough to keep them going for the rest of the year. We always used to stop there and eat a bag of butterscotch sweets. Whenever I see images of pit ponies I'm always surprised at how big some of them are; certainly some are Shetland pony sized but others were much taller. Check out this link for stacks of images and you'll see what I mean.
In the 1930s Sidney temporarily lost his sight and was unable to work. The family story is that there was no National Assistance available as they owned curtains, rugs and a piano in their home. The means test required that all "luxuries" had to be sold before any benefits could be received. Somehow, presumably with help from their relatives, they managed until Sidney was able to return to work; and they didn't sell the piano.
Another family story is that one day at the pit Sidney noticed there was a serious flaw in one of the cables he was working on. This was reported to the company and a terrible disaster was averted. As a reward for his vigilance the grateful management awarded him a bottle of wine every year at Christmas. For a man who enjoyed a pint of Guiness (or several) this must have been the highlight of his year!
Sidney died in 1969 just a few weeks before his eighty eighth birthday.
I'm a former primary school head teacher now enjoying family history, e-publishing and gardening. I'm the author of "Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood" and was delighted when the book became an Amazon 2015 bestseller in the Social History category. I'm the founder of Spurwing Ebooks which is at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com for book details and information about new releases and special offers. Details of my books are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/C.-Murray/e/B009R7CRVC and the other books I've published are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Murray/e/B007AQZMZK