The hills are alive…!
A Crag is the common name for a rocky outcrop, and although the Ordnance Survey map of 1841 named the area between Denaby and Conisbrough the North Cliff Hills, locals know it simply as The Crags.
The Crags form a geographical link between the two communities – ancient Conisbrough and the township of Denaby which developed around the turn of the 19th-20th century, largely as a result of coal mining.
In 1927, Conisbrough Urban District Council formally laid footpaths across the Crags between the two settlements.
In ancient times The Crags overlooked the marshland surrounding the River Don, in the valley below.
Coal was dug by local people from medieval times and at least one small colliery operated in the 1760s.
The 18th century canalisation of the River Don, to create the what is now the River Don Navigation, led to more mining in the area by providing cheap, convenient transport. At the same time, the growth of industry and steam-powered railways created a new market for coal.
In 1868 the Denaby Main Colliery opened working the Barnsley Main seam. The settlement which grew up around the pit was called Denaby Main, after the mining company.
The colliery produced millions of tonnes of coal for power stations and the Sheffield steelworks in its life, before its eventual closure in 1968. The nearby Cadeby colliery, which opened shortly after Denaby Main by the same company, was shut down in 1986.
Although the pits provided the economic lifeblood of the area, they were not happy places and the famous Muck Bag Strike of 1902-3 was just one of several conflicts between local miners and colliery owners.
It revolved around the the level of payment for removal of waste from the pit. Miners and their families were evicted from colliery-owned houses over the winter.
Dependent on local support, were forced to camp out on the Crags during the bitter winter.
In those days, the magnificent views to be had from The Crags were limited by the pall of coal fire smoke. But in the hot summer of 1976, the weather forced the dirt and smoke in the air to lift… and the locals saw distant views from the Crags for the first time!
With the demise of the pit, distant views are no longer a distant memory!
Before the Second World War, The Crags began to resemble The Somme – as a massive complex of trenches was devised to house the local population from impending air raids.
The old newspaper clipping on the right outlines this.
The system shows remarkable insight – given the later folly of ‘Peace in our time’ – as does the lack of tolerance of the youth nuisance element!