Allport's Eye

Mr Gibbs of the Drum

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Mr W.E Gibbs 1861-1925 Licensee of the Denaby Main Hotel (Known Locally as the Drum)

Mr Gibbs Served for 25 years as licensee during which time he was involved with numerous charitable organisations and was particularly helpful during the Cadeby pit disaster. He was a native of Staffordshire and served in the police force in Wolverhampton. He was also an active member of the discharged sailors and soldiers movement. All of the men he employed at the pub were ex soldiers. Mr Gibbs was said to have the courage of a lion and was a good and generous friend to all.


Allport's Eye

The Earl and the Gas Fitter


Billy Fitzwilliam, The 7th Earl, born in 1872

Catherine bailey, in her Book “Black Diamonds” gives an account of the notorious Denaby strike in 1903 when 3000 families were evicted from their homes, most of them with nowhere to go and no shelter provided except for a few tents in a nearby field. In this case the owner of the mine was a ruthless and oppressive company, allowing its workers no strike pay, no sick pay and very often not a penny in compensation for accidental death down the pit. the Fitzwilliam by contrast were exemplary employers and much loved by their workers both in the mines and on their vast estate.


Thomas Henry Sykes 1851-1941

Thomas was a plumber, glazier and gas fitter, who resided at 21 Wentworth Road. He installed gas lighting at St Thomas Church, Kilnhurst, and went on to build one of the first bungalows seen in the area, for his own occupation.

Allport's Eye

The Footballer and the School Inspector

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Winger Eric Brook who started out with Wath Athletic when he was 16, scored 177 goals for Manchester City between the wars. This remained a record for almost 80 years.

His career began at Barnsley where he scored‘1‘8 goals between 1925 and 1928.

Eric also played 18 times for England between 1929 and 1937 scoring 10 goals.

Historian Bill Lawrence said ‘ Many of us are familiar with some of Mexborough’s famous names such as Ted Hughes, Brian Blessed, Keith Barron and iron Hague but we don’t have much knowledge of Eric, a forgotten hero’.

Anyone with further information about Eric is asked to contact Bill at or call Margaret Roper at Mexborough library on 01709 582037


Author of the hilarious Dales school inspector books, Gervaise Phinn was born in Rotherham in 1948. He has had a distinguished career in education, both as a teacher and visiting Prof of education. Same would describe him as the James Herriot of the school inspector world. This is hard to avoid because his books are both hilarious and perceptive.

Derek Allport


Allport's Eye

The Prince and the Tap Dancer


Prince Monolulu 1881 -1945 whose real name was Peter Carl McKay was a tipster and something of an institution on the British horse racing scene from the 1920s to the time of his death. He was particularly noticeable for his brightly coloured clothing, and his best known phrase was “I gotta Horse!”He was a regular at Doncaster races.

Will Gaines

Will Gaines was an African American tap dancer born 1923 in Baltimore. He began dancing on street corners for nickels and dimes eventually graduating to the Cotton Club appearing on the same bills as Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis. When he arrived in the UK in the early sixties he found he liked it here and he settled in Rotherham because it reminded him of Detroit where he grew up. In the early seventies Geoff Sargeson of Mexborough theatre fame interviewed him on Radio Sheffield and invited him to dance for radio. What a challenge!

I met him when he did a show at Rotherham College. He was charming and very extrovert

Allport's Eye

The Ferryman and the Sculptor

Two new pieces from the pen of Derek Allport, a local artist famed for his caricatures of people who have achieved in Sport, Media, Performance, caring, Comedy and Poetry – plus few Rascals.

The Ferryman

The Ferryman

A ride on the old ferryboat in the 1920s. The identity of the ferryman is unknown. He could be a member of the Roper or Bisby families.

It was still making the crossings in the 1950s. I seem to remember it costing a penny.

Charles and Mick

Charles and Mick2

Charles Jagger (left) sculptor, was born in Kilnhurst in 1885. He was a brother of David and Edith Jagger who were both painters. Their father Enoch was the local colliery manager. The three siblings attended Sheffield school of art before becoming successful in the London art world. David was famous for war memorials in such locations as Paddington and Hyde Park. He died in 1934.

Many people thought that he was related to Mick Jagger, but family trees indicate that this is not so.

They are depicted above in reverse roles.