Written by his son Richard
'Go and fetch John Syson'
John, became a self-trained geologist and his advice was always sought in connection of the sinking of new mines. 50 years he spent as a miner. At John's funeral his friend, the Rev. F. Hart, Rector of Kimberley, said over his remains, here lies "Honest John".
'Honest John' was a good workman, fearless where danger was, both moral and physical. If he had emigrated, he certainly would have made his way in a new country.
At all times of the night he would be aroused by somebody throwing pebbles at the window to waken him and in an instant he would be out of bed, his clothes on, and away he would go to superintend a big fall of rock in the mine. (The first thing the manager would say "go and fetch John Syson" . He would be away from home in the mine for 48 hours at a stretch, his meals would have to be sent and mother would sit up wretched until midnight and the early hours of the morning waiting for him. (He would then be about 45 yrs old). Sometimes he would be wet because water poured down on the men while at work.
Some of the work was so dangerous, only a very few would do it and father was always one of them. Such as working in a shaft over 1000 ft deep, building the iron curbing to stop the flow of water, standing on a single plank in such an abyss of blackness, a single missed step and death. He told me that one night his partner, Ike Wheelacre came drunk, they were lowered as far as their work and all they had to stand on was a single plank, which reached from side to side, of the pit shaft, in the awful darkness. Ike survived walking the plank ie. From one side of the shaft to the other.
At one time for years John was in partnership with another man, who was not so scrupulous as father was, and so he always came out at the little end of the horn, They had 40 or 50 boys and men, 30 or more ponies working for them hauling the coal in the mine. Father has stayed in the mine from 6:30 am until 11 p.m. day after day, at least mother never knew when to expect him. It was only when he gave a cough to get the dust off his chest that she knew he was alive and near the gate.
When other women and men were in bed, he told me of a narrow escape from death, late one Saturday night.
Father was a first class skater, also the same as a cricketer, he used to Captain the Cossall Club and the Awsworth Cricket Clubs and used to coach the Digby Cricket Club, he was a good bowler and a good batter.
Click on picture to enlarge
At the entrance of Cossall Church yard there is a tall monument to the 3 heroes, two of them fell 'gloriously wounded' at Waterloo, the other returned, Dick Waplington, Tom Wheatley (came home) and Jack Shaw. This monument was erected through a benefit match (cricket ) played at Beeston, Notts between the Sysons of Cossall and the Doctors of Beeston. I forget who won.
Father was a Sidesman and Churchwarden, a chorister at Cossall Church for years and a chorister at Kimberley for 40 years. While he was a Churchwarden, a peal of bells were hung, and there is a brass tablet on the church wall, near the west entrance to that effect and Father's name is on it.
He was a good shot, he was a crack shot in the Cossall Company South Notts Hussars, or the South Notts Yeomanry. They went to drill on horseback for a fortnight or a month, but he told me he quit as he didn't care playing at soldiers. When they used to go up for their annual shooting, there were prizes given (silver cups). There was one cup the sergeant had set his heart on. Now father and all the young men of Cossall, there were not many of them so that they were all good friends and remained I am pleased to say right through life. Now this Sergeant, John Fritchley, told Father he would very much like the cup. Father rather than let John be disappointed dropped out and John got the cup and I believe it used to be in the Fritchley's home.
Lord Belper was the Colonel at this time and he used to give a dinner (annual). At one dinner Father was incapacitated, he had an arm in a sling, so he wasn't making head way eating. At the same time he was sitting near the Colonel, who noticed John and was very solicitous, making sure that he got sufficient, he helped him to all kinds of meat. Father said the Lord was a very genial sort of man, and chatted with all of them, no show at all.
Hell fire Jake At this time also they had an officer in the regiment who was called "Hell fire Jake". He came from Bramcote Hall. I forget his proper name, he was a reckless daredevil, up to all devilment jumping over Parkwalls on horseback, anything that came in his way.
Nottingahm Canal at Cossall. Newtons Brig was probably here.
Newton's Brig. There is a bridge over the canal at Cossall called Newton's Brig, in the Summer evening after the work was done, quite a number of men would congregate and spend the evening telling yard, big Aleck Syson would seem to be the leader of these big yarns, such as growing beans for railway sleepers, potatoes that were so big that they shoved the side of the canal out, and hanging manure up in the air etc.