During the century the Station Hotel has witnessed the passing of much pageantry, In 1908 the whole population turned out to see General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, when he visited the Wingate Citadel. Regular visits by a circus were preceeded by a procession headed by a band, the procession consisting of Indian Princes and Princesses riding the elephants, cages of lions and tigers, horses and dogs, and, of course, the clowns already dressed and ready for the show.
Blooms, an old travelling show, used to visit Wingate and take up a stand on the pit heaps.
As part of the entertainment eating competitions were held, mainly supported by the pit lads.
The first World War brought new excitement to Station Town. The recruiting officer stood in front of the hotel giving the volunteers the King’s shilling, and many of these young men gave their lives in return. Mr. Patrick Leavy, a Contractor, lost three sons in action.
l’he village saw processions of soldiers marching through the streets to camps outside, and displays in aid of the Red Cross Society.
About this time a band of pit lads, aged fourteen to sixteen years, marched through the village as a protest against poor wages and conditions in the mines.
They carried white “bait-pokes,” hanging from the shoulder, and davy lamps. They demanded a minimum wage which was later granted. Conditions for the young miner have now greatly improved. They are not allowed to go down the pit until they are sixteen years of age, and a preliminary period of training is enforced.
One of the saddest sights in the villages was a funeral of a man or boy killed in the pit. The cortege was always headed by the colliery band and banner, the latter draped in black crepe.
The front street, with its shops, catered for the immediate needs of the village, the larger shops being in Wingate. Blake’s grocery business, now also the sub post offIce, has occupied the same site for sixty years a long time in village life. When first established, the children used to return the strong blue sugar bags and were rewarded with a sweet. The groceries were delivered by horse and wagon. One of the horses was named “Cappy” because of a white diamond on its forehead, and was a great favourite with children and customers alike.
The Post Office was originally at the shop of Mr. George Stubbins, who was also the “kiddie-catcher” or, more grandly, the School Attendance Officer.
The cycle shop and repair garage was kept by Mr. John H. Howe. He was also an enterprising motor dealer, and was the first in the district to invest in a charabanc.
This was a navy and black monster with solid tyres, named “Happy Days.” It was soon to be accompanied by a second, named “Maid of the Mountains.” These charabancs were the fore-runners of the most comfortable coaches we have today, owned by Mr. Jim Harrison, nephewv of the said Mr. Howe.
Each street usually had its little shop, run in the kitchen of a home. The window displayed mainly sweets and simple remedies for coughs and colds. Owing to the height of the window above pavement level, a box was usually provided for the smaller children to stand on.
One such shop-keeper was named Silas Naylor, a south countryman. He was also a dealer in second-hand furniture and his kitchen was crowded with furniture and goods he had bought at second-hand sales.
Pig-keeping was a popular way for some miners to supplement their incomes. The pig would be fattened up for killing and, when slaughtered, was placed on a trestle in front of the owner’s door to be scrubbed, scalded and swilled with constant boiling water carried from the house.
Shoe-repairing, saddling and soldering were also carried out as spare-time occupations by the miners, the latter including repairs to bait-tins and water bottles.