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Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

A vital part of any Coal Mining operation, most of the canal wharfes were contructed at the same time as the canal itself. Some came later, (due to the sinking of new shafts some distance away) which was an expensive business. The simple answer was a longer inclined plane narrow guarge rail line, usually operated via an endless wire rope. If we take as an example, the big twin basins on the old Titford Canal, part of four wharves which make up the site,( Listed in some records as The Lion and the Lamb, but not on the maps ) the system could be used by more than one Pit. The old Samson Colliery, on the Rowley Hills, had an inclined plan directly to the top basin. The second basin had coal delivered from the Ramrod Hall, Rowley Hall, and the Bell End Collieries, via a mutually shared incline. Another small incline also sent the coal to a smaller wharf at Titford, from the latter two Colieries, where coal from the nearby Hartland Colliery was also loaded. Newbury Lane Colliery, (  called by some The Lion ) discharged it's coal at the top end of the Titford Canal, as did the Rednull, Dingle, and Top End Pits. Two other pits, The Bottom Premiere, and the Churchbridge Colliery, also used the Titford wharf, but there isn't an incline on the map, so I presume it was delivered by Cart, which was fairly common for the smaller mines. Altogether, it was a very busy complex in it's day, with boats on the move both day and night. Elsewhere on the site, I have mentioned that possible the last pit to use the canal at this point, was the Newbury Lane Colliery, which closed in 1923, after being re-opened to help with the War effort in 1915. The last pit operating, Bell End Colliery, used the old incline to the wharf at Titford, and closed in 1932. I bet the residents of Whitheath breathed a sigh of relief, as the last rumble and squeal of the tubs finally ceased, and they all got a decent nights sleep.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 5, 2016 at 4:53 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Ian Davies
Member
Posts: 2

Many thanks Dennis.  This has answered my question about the Lion Colliery but as with many things, it raised a couple of others!

The OS maps for 1880 and 1904 show two clusters of Old Coal Shafts in the angle between the top of Newbury Lane and Throne Road, roughly south of the Samson Colliery  Richard Dean's 'Canals of Birmingham' map shows these collieries with tramway/inclines which seem to link to the Samson incline (though of course they might have been separate).   Do you know what these collieries were called??  I think that Portway hall colliery was also nearby?

I have seen a reference to the public record of a death at a Lamb colliery in this area.  Have you any idea where this might have been?  I know that Lamb farmhouse was almost next to Portway Hall at the top of Throne Road.

Many thanks for your help.

Ian Davies

May 6, 2016 at 12:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

In order to answer some questions, it pays to add a little history. Some of the history of Portway Hall, already on the website, contains some of the previous owners, one of whom was Richard Baker. He was born in Brierley Hill at the turn of the 19th century, and spent his life as a Miner. The largest Coal owners in the Blackcountry, were the Earls of Dudley, and it's no surprise to find that Richard worked in the Earls mines. Successfully as it turned out, for he seems to have risen to the level of a Mine Manager, and subsequently, a bit better off than most colliers. So much so, that in the late 1840s, he purchased, the rather run down Portway Hall. Two of his sons, Joseph and Isaac, also followed in their fathers footsteps, the former becoming the manager of the Ramrod Colliery, not far from the Hall. Ambition took hold, and the land that came with the Hall, was soon being mined by the family, for the coal beneath. There were two small farms on the land, ( Today they would classed as smallholdings ) which were rapidily swallowed up, leaving just the Farm Houses. ( Exactly the same as Ramrod Hall Farm, although the Earl of Dudley did leave a few acres for his tenant. ) There are no listed names for either of these Farms, tenanted by a Mr Giles, and a Mr. Higgs in the 1880s, and a Mr Woodhall and Mr Woodhouse in the 1870s. Joseph Baker, together with his brother Isaac, sank several more shafts following his fathers death in 1862, much to the detriment of the Hall, which began to suffer from mining subsidence. ( Isaac seems to have died early, which may have been the result of an accident, working in one of the families pits ) Most of the mining operations ceased in the late 1870s, but Joseph Baker had by now invested in other mines in the area. It's not hard to work out why a pit aquired a name. The area was not suitable for arable farming, being mainly confined to Cattle ( for Milk ) Sheep, ( the relatives were Butchers ) and Pigs. Lamb Farm would have been a good choice, for the old Earl only counted his mines in numbers. The nearest canal coal wharf of course was on the Titford Branch Canal, and would have been transported by the good old Horse and Cart. The largest incline into the same basins was from the Samson Colliery, which also had a connection with the Newbury Lane Colliery, ( called by some The Lion ) and hence part of the local name for the two largest basins, " The Lion and the Lamb " . ( Note;  This name does not appear on any maps of the area. ) It's helpful at this point, to stress that with several shafts, all on the same site, each one would be given a different name, but the complex would still retain it's original listing. Confusing I know, but nobody ever said that research would be easy. The lower part of the basins were also the entry point for coal from the Churchbridge Colliery, which , overtime, spread to both sides of the Titford Canal. Other mines which used the basins included both the Top and Bottom Premiere Collieries, the Earl of Dudleys Ramrod Colliery,  the No 2 Colliery, ( Ramrod Hall ) and the most productive one of all, The Bell End Colliery. The inclined railway for this pit was probably the longest on the Rowley Hills, and ran, at one point, underneath the incline from Rowley Hall.


Just a bit further down, the canal widened, and it was here, at the old Lime and Cement Works, that a small loading area was built. The nearest mine was the Top Premiere, and it may have been to this small site that coal was sent for loading. Certainly, the Birchyfield Colliery used this section, as did the old Springfield Colliery, situated behind the Boat Inn.  Lower down the canal branch, is another wharf at Titford. ( also refered to as Whiteheath Gate.)This was used by The Rowley Hall Colliery, via an endless wire rope operated inclined plane. One feature of this ropeway, was a dip in the middle which meant the engine driver couldn't see the entire length of the line. The local children knew this, and played, with tragic results, at jumping on and off the tubs. ( accidents already listed on the website ) The wharf was also home to the coal from The Hartland, Black Bat, and the Titford Long Meadow Collieries. The last named, which was situated near Penncricket Lane/Ashes Road, was the scene of a fatal mining accident in which 5 miners lost their lives. ( see Death and Destruction section ) Still in this area, but not on the Titford branch, was The Nine Apostles Colliery, which used a small wharf on The Birmingham Navigation, as I suspect did the The Speedwell Pit, near Langley.  As I have already said, in it's hayday, a very busy, and probably dirty area around  the rather inappropiatly named,  Whiteheath.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 7, 2016 at 12:27 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Pedro
Member
Posts: 25

Alaska. at May 5, 2016 at 4:53 PM

A vital part of any Coal Mining operation, most of the canal wharfes were contructed at the same time as the canal itself. Some came later, (due to the sinking of new shafts some distance away) which was an expensive business. The simple answer was a longer inclined plane narrow guarge rail line, usually operated via an endless wire rope. If we take as an example, the twin basins on the old Titford Canal, ( named The Lion and the Lamb ) the system could be used by more than one Pit. The old Samson Colliery, on the Rowley Hills, had an inclined plan directly to the top basin. The second basin had coal delivered from the Ramrod Hall, Rowley Hall, and the Bell End Collieries, via a mutually shared incline. Another small incline also sent the coal to a smaller wharf at Titford, from the latter two Colieries, where coal from the nearby Hartland Colliery was also loaded. Newbury Lane Colliery, ( also called The Lion ) discharged it's coal at the top end of the Titford Canal, as did the Rednull, Dingle, and Top End Pits. Two other pits, The Bottom Premiere, and the Churchbridge Colliery, also used the Titford wharf, but there isn't an incline on the map, so I presume it was delivered by Cart, which was fairly common for the smaller mines. Altogether, it was a very busy complex in it's day, with boats on the move both day and night. Elsewhere on the site, I have mentioned that possible the last pit to use the canal at this point, was the Lion, which closed in 1923, after being re-opened to help with the War effort in 1915. The last pit operating, Bell End Colliery, used the old incline to the wharf at Titford, and closed in 1932. I bet the residents of Whitheath breathed a sigh of relief, as the last rumble and squeal of the tubs finally ceased, and they all got a decent nights sleep.

The above mention that Newbury Lane Colliery was also known as the Lion has puzzled me. About a year ago I had read reports of the 1846 explosion and the loss of life at Mr Parker's pit, Round's Green New Colliery in Newbury Lane, and was surprised at the number of collieries that could be said to be on that lane. I assumed that Newbury Lane and Lion were distinct collieries. Some notes I jotted down may be of interest to anyone interested in the area.

 

The Newbury Lane Colliery gets a mention in June 1859 when it was for sale and under the ownership of Messrs Haines and Spittle, and along with the wharf, situate near Portway Hall, Oldbury.... In 1869 there is a correspondence concerning a large explosion.... In 1884 a partnership between several names was dissolved and trading as Newbury Lane Colliery Company....In 1889 twenty miners were summoned and charged for neglecting work on a bank holiday....In 1900 the colliery was for sale by Samuel Jones, plus wharves.

 

The Lion Colliery is mentioned in 1834 as being owned by the British Iron Co in Rowley Regis where there were 6 fatalities, as might have been expected blame was placed on the colliers....In 1836 and 1848 it is mentioned as the New Lion Colliery, Rowley and as an explosion and accident with sulphur....For 1918 it was listed as run by FJ Chandler and Co, Newbury Lane, Oldbury

May 8, 2016 at 7:52 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Many thanks Pedro for the research. I think we will, for the timebeing, dispence with the confusing name attached to Newbury Lane Colliery, as I can't find any reference to it being called "The Lion " either. But I do know from where the confusion arose. The only pit bearing that name in Rowley Regis, was at the bottom of Powke Lane, Old Hill.  The old shaft, had been used for drainage, as the area had wet mines, as indeed, had the old shaft at Hawne Colliery in Halesowen. The New Lion, was some distance away, higher up the site. The confusion stems from the name F J Chandler, and the address, Newbury Lane, Oldbury.  Everyone assuming, that the Lion was in fact on the same site as Newbury Lane Colliery, when the only connection were the owners, who owned/leased both sites. ( For the closure in 1923, see posts on the miners strike of 1920/21 ) Back to the subject matter, and the Canal wharves. As in the case of a lot of other Canal Wharves, this one appears to have been paid for by the Newbury Lane Colliery, hence it's inclusion in the sales of 1859, and 1900. Several other loading docks in the area, also seem to have been built in this manner, Birmingham Canal Navgation levying charges for water, tolls, and maintenance of the waterway itself. If anyone has anymore information on the subject, or wants to make a comment, could you please contact me directly, via my email, or by private message, through the website.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 9, 2016 at 11:27 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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