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A Comprehensive History Of Mining In The Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire And Leicestershire Coalfields - Page 17


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Ben Houfton - MyGreat Uncle, John Plowright Houfton, from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire
Carole Cockeram - Looking for information aboutmy Granddad Thomas Robinson
Freddie Plater - My Ancestor, Matthias Garbutt Was An Ironstone Miner From Sleights

24 May 2015
MyGreat Uncle, John Plowright Houfton

Dear Fionn

Not being very good with computers, I had difficulty usingyour website, so I hope that you receive this e-mail.

I am making enquiries about my Great Uncle, John PlowrightHoufton one-time director of the Bolsover Colliery Company and MP for EastNottingham, Mayor of Mansfield and High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire.

I am in the process of viewing a presentation box given toJ P Houfton on his retirement by the “Lane End Works” which I understand wasconnected to the Oldfield Colliery, Fenton. I do not have any furtherinformation at present. Maybe JPH was a director of Lane End Works or TheColliery?

Although I have a great deal of information regarding JPH,I do not have anything about his connection to The Lane End Works or OldfieldColliery so I would be interested in finding out more.

- - -

The areas around Sherwood Lodge and Calverton were beingmined by the Seely family while my family were mostly concerned with Bolsoverand around Mansfield and Chesterfield. There are other similarities between ourtwo families including an MP each and the fact that The Seelys bought up largeareas of The Isle of Wight. I didn't know this when we moved to The Isle ofWight in 1972 from Nottingham!

Part of the Seely family are Nicholsons. One of those wasan architect with mining connections, same as my ancestor, Percy Bond Houfton.The Nicholsons presently live at Mottistone Manor on The Isle of Wight (nowowned by The National Trust.) I know one of the family quite well, Bob Seelywho is an IW Councillor.

There probably are other connections between the twofamilies which I would be very interested to discover.

With kind regards and many thanks for your interest andhelp to someone totally hopeless with computers/webs etc. I can just aboutmanage e-mail and that is about as far as my modern technical skills go!

Ben Houfton

Thank you

Benjamin Houfton

Isle of Wight

Some Background Information

From Wikipedia

Sir John Plowright Houfton (13 December 1857 – 18 November 1929) was a British colliery owner and politician from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. He sat in the House of Commons from 1922 to 1923.

Houfton first stood for election to Parliament at a by-election in May 1914, when he was the Liberal Party candidate for North East Derbyshire. The vacancy had been caused by the death of the sitting Member of Parliament (MP) William Harvey, who had been a Liberal-Labour candidate when first elected in 1907, and had held the seat with comfortable majorities at both elections in 1910. The local Liberal Association had sought to run another Liberal-Labour candidate, and were keen that James Martin, a prominent Liberal and President of the Derbyshire Miners Association, would be their candidate. However, Martin, who was keen to stand, was required by the MFGB to pledge support to the Labour Party. The Liberals therefore had to find a different candidate, and the by-election became a three-way contest, with Liberal, Labour and Conservative Party candidates. Houfton lost by a margin to 314 votes (1.9%) to the Conservative candidate George Bowden, with Labour's James Martin polling 22.5% of the votes.

Houfton did not stand again until 1922, when the death of Sir J. D. Rees triggered a by-election in the Nottingham East constituency. He was selected as the Coalition Unionist candidate (i.e. a Conservative standing in the support of the coalition government led by the Liberal David Lloyd George). After a campaign described by The Times newspaper as "strenuous", Houfton won the seat with 52% of the votes, and a majority of 4,973 (25%) over the second-placed Labour Co-operative candidate. He was re-elected at the general election in December 1922, but was defeated at the 1923 general election by the Liberal candidate Norman Birkett.

In August 1926, after the general strike 1926, Houfton was strongly criticised by the Labour MP Frank Varley for negotiating a separate deal with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire coal miners, without the support of the Miners Federation of Great Britain. The Miners' Federation of Great Britain, MFGB was established in Newport, Wales in 1888 to represent and co-ordinate the affairs of local and regional miners' unions whose associations remained largely autonomous. The federation was reorganised into the National Union of Mineworkers in 1945.

John Plowright Houfton was knighted in the King's Birthday Honours in 1929, "for political and public services".

Our Mansfield And Area

Coal Mining Roots - By Benjamin Houfton

Visit Their Site

When coal miner Charles Houfton married Phoebe Plowright in Basford, Nottingham in 1852, they may not have expected that so many of their children would, like their father, become involved in the coal industry. Even one of their daughters, Sarah Jane married a Colliery Agent, John Smith in 1893.

John Plowright Houfton
The first of Charles and Phoebe's sons, John Plowright Houfton was born in Chesterfield in 1857. At the age of 14 he commenced work in the offices of High Park Colliery, Eastwood.In 1887, at the age of 30 he took charge of The Lane End Collieries, Fenton near Stoke on Trent. The Bolsover Colliery Company was founded in 1890, and John was appointed as its first manager supervising the sinking and development of the pit.

Photo: The Houfton Brothers

Following on from that in 1894 he was appointed General Manager of the company after the foundation of Creswell Colliery. Other pits were then sunk by the company at Crown Farm, Mansfeld (which led to the establishment of Forest Town) Rufford, Clipstone and Thoresby by which time John was Managing Director.

He was chairman of the Mansfield Railway.

After moving to live in Mansfield he became a local councillor and was elected Mayor of Mansfield in 1912. He was also president of Mansfield and Mansfield Woodhouse District Hospital. In 1922 he was elected MP for East Nottingham, and was knighted for his services in 1929. Sir John died later the same year.

Charles Albert Houfton
Second son Charles Albert was born in Chesterfield in 1862, then moved to Mansfield in 1898. He was a mechanical engineer working in the collieries in the area. He went into partnership with his brother James and founded the Mansfield Engineering Company in 1900, which later became one of the largest businesses in the area. He was also appointed as a Justice of the Peace.

James William Houfton
Next came James William born in 1865 who seems to be the only brother not to have been directly involved in the coal industry, although no doubt his business had mining connections as he was co-founder of the Mansfield Engineering Company. He married Mary Ellen Bennett in 1896 who tragically died in childbirth only two years later in 1898.

James William made a substantial fortune sufficient to purchase Wellow Hall in 1915 where it seems that he very much lived the life of a country squire - hunting, racing horses and entertaining. In 1938 he emigrated to Australia with a nurse from the Mansfield District Hospital and died out there in 1945.

Arthur Frederick Houfton
Photo: Arthur Frederick Houfton

Arthur Frederick (my grandfather) was born in 1868 in Moss Green, Belper. In 1891 he took the opportunity to work for the Butterley Company involved in building St. Pancras Station, London.

Following this, he sold everything he had, borrowed some more, and took the financial risk of returning to Mansfield to build houses, joining his brothers in the foundation of Forest Town and other pit villages.

Having successfully made his fortune, he first leased the house of Fountaindale near Harlow Wood from the Colliery Company and then in 1919 purchased Papplewick Hall which had been unoccupied for some years.He also owned another property in Magdala Road, Nottingham where he died in 1956.

Ernest Henry Houfton
Last but by no means least of the brothers was Ernest Henry born in 1874. He became a much-respected doctor in Mansfield and area. For a number of years he had a surgery in the Avenues at Forest Town. He was an Honorary Surgeon at Mansfield District Hospital for a prolonged period of time. Ernest died in 1926 and in commemoration of his work at the hospital a legacy of £2,000 was bequeathed by his brother James William to the hospital in the 1940's.

Percy Bond Houfton
Many other members of the Houfton family were also involved in the establishment of the mining industry around Mansfield, the most famous of whom was the brothers' cousin, Percy Bond Houfton (1874 - 1926) son of Elija Houfton and Elisabeth Bond. Percy started out on his career at the Bolsover Colliery Company going on to become a well-known architect responsible for the layout and design of several "Pit Villages" including Creswell, and the White City at Rainworth together with the Institute and Concert Hall. He designed housing estates in Chesterfield and buildings for other areas of the UK as far away as South Wales.

George Houfton
Meanwhile the brothers' nephew George was busily employed making steel cables for the mining industry at his Midland Wire Ropeworks.

A lot of the above actually originated from Ben

Carole Cockeram
15 May 2015
Looking for information aboutmy Granddad Thomas Robinson

Hi my name is CaroleCockeram nee Draper. My mother was Margaret Ella Robinson daughter of ThomasRobinson who worked the mine. He worked at the face of the pit from what I'vebeen told. I am researching my family history and would like to know more aboutmy Granddad.

Thank you
Sent from WindowsMail

Freddie Plater
3 May 2015
My Ancestor, Matthias Garbutt Was An Ironstone Miner From Sleights
Thanksto the site compilation

Just to say thank you for the time I have spent viewingyour history of the area my ancestors lived in, and for providing furtherinsight in to how times were, in the early 1800s. My ancestor, Matthias Garbuttwas an ironstone miner from Sleights.

Kind regards, Freddie Plater

The Ironstone mining employed many people andwas centred in Grosmont, which was then in the Eskdaleside parish. Large blastfurnaces were working making the area very industrialised. The whole ofLittlebeck valley was earmarked for mining, but a higher grade of ironstone wasfound in the Cleveland Hills and led to the demise of this local industry. Manypeople were made unemployed and many of them emigrated to Canada, sailing fromWhitby which had its own emigration officer. After this, no other industryother than farming has established itself in the area.

Information from the Eskdaleside cum Uggebarnby Parish Council Site

Skelton Park Ironstone Mine

At it's peak ironstone mining in the Cleveland area had an output exceeding 6million tons, some ten thousand men and boys were employed at over eighty mines.

The Park mine is on land leased by the Bell Brothers from Mr Wharton from 1st Jan 1868 for 6d per 22cwts. The Bell Brothers operated the mine from 1872-1923, Dorman Long and Co operated the mine from 1923-1938 when the mine closed.

The mine has 2 shafts which are 385 feet deep. The stone was hard to work until the introduction of compressed air drills in 1878. In 1881 300 miners were working 1500 tons of stone per day.

Information and photo from Teeside Psychogeography