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Masters and Men: Project



In 1792 Jonas Clarke bought a farm directly above the richest part of a coal seam, in a valley that would become an early industrial complex. Over the next hundred years Clarke’s business extended over three parishes and grew to include farming, agricultural and building lime, coke, tiles, bricks and coal gas. In 1838, Robert Couldwell Clarke was rebuilding his family home in the style of a mansion with stables, a carriage house, pleasure grounds and piped water.


When local farmers and their families became miners, they faced hazards they had never met before: explosive and suffocating gases, roof falls and flooding. There was little understanding of how to avoid accidents, and workers had no rights and no unions. In 1838 a sudden rainstorm caused a stream to overflow its banks and flood into the workings of Silkstone Colliery. 26 children drowned. The tragedy caused horror across the nation and prompted a change in the law to protect working children. Evidence of the lives of miners of Silkstone can still be seen around the village.

The Masters & Men Trail

A walk through time, exploring events in Silkstone that stirred the nation’s conscience and awakened unionism in South Yorkshire. The Masters & Men Trail is a 2 mile circular route. Much of the route is along ancient footpaths which have been used for hundreds of years by local people and visitors alike. Some paths are alongside busy roads – please take care when walking near traffic or crossing roads.

Start at the church, where there is on street parking. Don’t forget to dress for the British weather, and wear sturdy footwear. 

How to find us

All Saints Church, High St, Silkstone, S75 4JQ

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