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Forum Home > Mining History. > The Earls of Dudley. Careless Mine Owners.

Alaska.
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The ( Rich ) Countess of Dudley, with a few family members. 1907.



As I said in a previous Topic, Mining is a dangerous game, not for the faint hearted. Made even more so, by some shockingly poor judgements, most of which went unpunished, because Mine Owners had a great deal of influence in the community. After the Summer Bank Holiday, on 13 August, 1856, the miners at the Earl of Dudleys pit, Ramrod Hall, in Whiteheath, prepared to begin the days work. The mine was worked by two Butty Miners for the Earl, Richard Baker, and his son Thomas Baker. The younger Baker was supposed the have already checked the pit for gas, but hadn't bothered and sent down 8 men down with lighted candles. The flame of the candles turned blue, a sign of Gas, and shouted a warning back to the surface. The men already down the mine, extinguished their Candles, ( yes, they used naked flames in all the pits ) and waited for the Butty. to come down. Thomas Baker, and 7 other miners got into the skip, carrying a shovel full of burning coals, with which to light both the underground furnace, which worked the ventilation, and the miners candles. He had decided to ignore the warning about the Gas, putting it down to a tendency of the miners to avoid a bit of work at any cost. About a third of the way down, burning coal and gas met, and there was a tremendous explosion. The force of the blast sheared off the rope on the skip, which plummeted down the shaft, onto the men below. All the men in the skip were killed, as were 4 near the shaft. The explosion was heard a mile and a half away. Newspapers of the day had a tendency not avoid the details of such accidents, and what today would be seen as a bit insensitive, was normal for the time. What rested at the bottom of the shaft was described as, " one indiscriminate mass of mutilated flesh, bones, entrails and blood. Some of the skulls were lying here and there, as perfectly empty as eggshells deprived of their contents "  Not the sort of stuff the relatives would welcome hearing. The names of the dead are listed below.


Thomas Barker         23

Richard Cartwright    43

John Sheldon              36

Thomas Shaw            35

Thomas Round          34

John Willetts              28

William Simpson       33

Samuel Willett            26  ( may have been the brother of John )

Joseph Fulford           16

Thomas Hampton     18

John Bryan                  13.


The use of young boys was pretty common at the time, there being no restriction on working ages. Lord Ward, was indeed having a bad year, because 2 months before, on 20th June, there had been another little disaster. At his Number 20 Pit, at Old Park, Dudley, due to some very poor maintenance on the Chain that held the skip, it had flat links at one end, and the normal round ones fastened to the skip. It was one of the round ones, made locally, that caused the problem, it snapped, and sent 8 men plunging to their doom down the shaft. The ages of the dead, are a stark reminder of the social conditions then prevailing. What does stand out, is that 3 members of the same family, were amongst the dead. I can't even begin to imagine, the heartache and sorrow that must have caused. There is no mention of any blame being attached to the Earl of Dudley, for either incident.


Steven Crewe    20

John Crewe       18

William Crewe   13

Jessie Hawthorn  18

Henry Fielder       14

Joseph Jones     20

Henry Glaze      13

Joseph Plant   15.


Sorry it's such a sad story, but it's a fairly typical for the mining industry in the Black Country, and I suppose, around the Country as a whole.


:mad:


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

February 19, 2011 at 3:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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I have been reminded, that I shouldn't let anyone to think, that the Earl of Dudley was anything other than a man who cared for his workman. Here's a little Mining accident that had a happier ending.


The News of the survivors draws a huge crowd.


Nearing the end of a shift, at the ' Nine Locks ''  pit  in Brierley Hill, the men found that the way out to the shaft, had become flooded. This trapped 12 men in the Mine, with very little food, and with little chance of getting out quickly. It took a long time to pump out water in a mine, given that in 1869, a pumps capacity was quite low. The Earl of Dudley however, acted with speed and dispatch, bringing in as much power as was available. Even so, it still took almost a week, to rescue the trapped miners. They survived on a few crust's, a bit of Pork and bread, and by chewing a great deal of the leather on belts, straps and Shoes. One man died before the rescue, either affected by Gas, or he just gave up hope. The event attracted a great many people to the Pit Bank, who, it has to be said, didn't expect to see any of them emerge alive.  But out they came, apparently none the worse for the ordeal, hailed as a miracle at the time. Have you got a family name amongst them ?


Thomas Hunt.

Benjamin Higgs.

Jack Holden.

John Handley.

Timothy Taylor.

David Hickman.

Steven Page.

George Skidmore.

Zachariah Pearson.

Joseph Pearson.

   ?          Timmins.

    ?          Sankey.


12 very lucky miners, who were grateful, that the Earl of Dudley was the Mine owner, for a less caring owner may not have been prepared, to spend the money on extra equipment.

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

February 20, 2011 at 2:56 PM Flag Quote & Reply

DemonR
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Posts: 4

I have to say that mining does seem just as dangerous now. Only I expect the survivors in Dudley didn't become celebrities. Somewhere in the past was the loss of just being grateful to see another day.

February 21, 2011 at 5:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

It depends, in this day and age DemonR, in just which country you decide to go mining. The UK, hasn't had a notifiable serious accident for many years now, thank goodness. Other Countries apparently, have still not learnt from previous mistakes, and continue to cut costs, and corners. There's no room in a mine for errors, you very rarely get a second chance.

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

March 1, 2011 at 10:35 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

With so many mines, Lord Ward, put a great deal of trust in his managers, sometimes, it was pointless. On 9th February, 1865, word reached  him of yet another loss of life in one of his Pits. This time, his No.10 Pit, at Salt Well. Both the manager, and his deputy, knew there was a large overhang of thick coal, 17 feet above the working face. The face was 28 feet across, and they failed to ensure that props were put in place. They claimed they had inspected and piked the overhang, and it was in a safe condition. It wasn't. A small charge had earlier been fired at the face, and halfway through the shift, down came the overhang, which weighed many tons. The six men who were working near it, never had a chance. Frantic efforts by the miners, found one man still alive, but the deputy, in a panic about reporting it, and being unwilling to "cause a fuss up top", refused to send for medical aid. The man died, before he could be bought to the surface.


Enoch Johnson. 18

William Mason. 30

Enoch Roberts. 36

Joseph Smith.  18

Joseph Rough.  31

Richard ( Pikey ) Richards. 30


All  these men died needlessly, crushed to death beneath 50 tons of coal. Although the manager and deputy were dismissed, they were soon in employment again, at another of the Earls mines.

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

March 22, 2011 at 4:52 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Lord Ward could however be described, by some, as a ruthless, uncaring mine owner. If we take the statement he gave out, when Joseph Meadows murdered a barmaid, in 1855, we can see why. He said the crime was the foulest he had come across, and the accused deserved the full retribution the law could provide. This, from a man, who had awarded just one Guinea each, to the Widows of some of his miners, after they were killed in one of his pits. Joseph Stanford and George Smith had been employed at his lordships Old Park Colliery as pikemen. On 19th January, 1855, the unsupported overhang under which they were working, crashed down. It weighed several tons, and the two men never had the chance to escape.The fault clearly lay with the owner and his managers for cutting corners, in the persuit of profit. He even got a Sermon, from a local Vicar, praising him, for his benevolence. He should rightly have been prosecuted. but as the saying goes, ' you can't convict money '. It was calculated, that if each of the dead miners weighed 10 stones, they were valued by the Earl at just 2 pence a pound. The dead miners listed,  left behind15 dependents. For Lord Ward, a Magistrate, it must have been a comfort, that his wise words would prove true for Joseph Meadows, but it appears to have very little to say about the poor miners.

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

April 18, 2011 at 11:57 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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No matter how well thought of by the ordinary denizens of the Black Country, there were others, more educated and better informed, who did not share the same view. In 1890, at the height of the strikes and unrest that troubled the region, at least one notable national paper, was proud to be actively agitating for change. After a visit to the Earls Iron and Chain works, at Round Oak, Brierley Hill, dispite him being one of the most powrful men in England, they pulled no punches in denouncing his methods. In their article they pointed out the extraordinary rights he possesed over the minerals in the region. At the time, his lordships agents, were tearing coal from what was known as the " 30 foot seam ", the only problem being, that they were doing it from a shallow part, alongside the main road. Did his Lordship consult the locals, did he hell, he didn't have to, a charter granted to him meant that he didn't have to consult anyone. He simply took it. Never mind that the houses and shops along the road, some of them newly built, would be in imminent danger of collapse. Even the few people who owned land wern't safe. he had, it would appear, the absolute right to extract the coal from where he liked. The locals, it was reported, had fought back, but all to no avail, their case was ruled out of order, and the digging continued. Altogether, over 20 square miles of the region were in this Charter, which gave Lord Ward, the Trusteeship of all this land, even that which he didn't own. Most of the tumble-down state of the properties are directly connected to this activity, they reported, to which the noble Lord made this response. He invited the Newspapers representatives to a sumptuous supper, no doubt expecting them to bury the story, he failed, because they didn't. The last line was very telling, they wondered how many of the Lords workers, had the choice of so much meat with their own humble meals. Answers on a postage stamp please.

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

May 8, 2011 at 4:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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In response to several questions regarding the near disaster at the Nine Locks Pit,  ( see post in this topic above ) and I am sorry for the little delay, caused I should add, by that not being the proper name of the mine. It's official name was The Wallows Colliery, owned as stated, by the Earl of Dudley.  The only man who died, was in fact William Ashman, aged 50, unmarried who was born in Somerset. He had previously been lodging with his married sister, Joanah Cooper, in Toll End Road, Tipton. His death, on 20th March 1869, was recorded as suffocation, due to the ingesting of Carbolic Acid Gas. Coincidently, while going through a few records, I found another death, at the same mine, The Wallows, just a week before this one, on 13th March, and it does have a connection. Obediah Skidmore, aged 15, was killed by a fall of coal on that date. A relative, George Skidmore, was amongst the lucky survivors of the later accident. Obediah was the 5th child of 7, of Noah and Esther Skidmore, who had moved from Brierley Hill, and in the early 1860s, were living in Cromwell Street, Dudley.  There were two other deaths that same year at the mine, one just a few months after the flooding, which means that the water didn't do all that much damage. It's amazing sometimes, just what turns up during a bit of research, I hope all this helps and fills in a few family gaps.

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

November 1, 2011 at 12:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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The old Earl of Dudley, as you may gather, very rarely had to stump up money for compensation. The Courts, and Inquest juries, were only too aware of how powerful a figure he was. This all changed in 1880, not just for him, but for all the Industrialists in the Country. Under pressure, the Government passed a bill that year, The Employers Liability Act. This Act enabled employees, injured at work, to claim compensation, whether or not they belonged to what was known as a " Field Club ".  These were small local schemes, set up by the miners groups, each miner paying in 6 pence a week, and which paid out funds to distressed miners and their families. An incident occured in 1881, which changed forever, this rather one sided satate of affairs.


Henry Griffiths, 35 years old, was born near Kingswinford, in 1846. He had previously been a Butcher, at 57, High Street, Kingswinford, but on marriage to Phoebe E Baker, in 1872 at Ambelcote, had reverted to his grandfathers trade, and became a miner. Working for the Earl of Dudley, as a " Sinker ". He was employed to dig and maintain the pit shafts, and in November 1881, he was at a pit near Himley. On the 19th of that month, having completed work on a shaft, he and his workmate climbed into a " Bowke ", ( see photo in gallery ) and were winched to the surface up the mines pumping shaft. In control of the ascent, was the mines engine driver, and, as at most of the Earls Pits, there was no safety device to prevent an overwind. Lives depended on the skill and attention of the driver, and on this occassion, these qualities were sadly lacking. They reached the surface, and to their horror, they continued to rise towards the giant iron pulleys. Entaglement with these would either rip off arms or legs, or tear a man apart. They both leapt out of the bowke. Griffiths companion was lucky, he managed to cling on to the pithead frame, but Griffiths missed and fell over 250 feet down the shaft. He did not survive the fall. Negligence was proved at the inquest, but as any claim for compensation had died with the man, the old Earl escaped making any payment. Enter Phoebe Griffiths, and a very competant Lawyer.


Phoebe Griffiths, who was left with a 2 year old son, also named Henry, had no other means of support, other than the small payout from the Field Club. It was decided to make a claim under the new legislation, the result being far from certain. The Court however, came to a very different conclusion than was expected. It ruled that Mrs Griffiths, as the dead mans dependent, had every right to ask for compensation, the Act, said the Judge, did not preclude a claim for lost income, especially as negligence had already been admitted. She was awarded £150, and almost overnight, most of the Field Clubs, shut down. They were no longer needed, the act had at last made a difference to injuries at work, and not before time either. It didn't in the end make much difference to Phoebe Griffiths, barely 4 years from her husbands tragic death, she herself was laid to rest in Ambelcote Church Yard. Their son Henry though, lived on, looked after by the relatives, he finally died in 1963, somewhere near Lichfield, Staffordshire. Just a little bit more social history added to the pile.

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

December 23, 2011 at 2:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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I was asked, sometime ago, if I have not been a bit harsh toward the old Earls of Dudley. Pondering on the matter, the answer would have to be no. Take a good look around the area, and what can you see of any good works. There is no School they founded, no Libraries or other facilities built for the population, in fact they left very little behind. At one time, an Earl of Dudley, was one of the most powerful, and richest men in the Land. The vast bulk of this wealth, coming from the early exploitation of the areas mineral wealth. From Himley, Shut End, Kingswinford, Gornal, Pensnett, Bromley, Brierley Hill, Quarry Bank and Saltwell, the riches of the ground poured out to line the families pockets. In Saltwell alone, over the period of intense mining, the Earl had 33 pits, all working flat out. The family also owned many Ironworks, fed by the mineral wealth the mines produced. It was said, that the rents collected by the Earls agents in one year, would have paid off the national debt. The family aquired a fine house when Witley Court was purchased, and then demolished it to make way for an even grander version. By todays standards, untold millions went into the construction and lavish decorations of this house. It was used for entertaining the most rich and powerful of their many friends, which of course, included Royalty. It was true, that sums of money were given to local causes, mostly small change to one Earl, who gambled in a day, more than some earned in a lifetime of toil. Dudley has no lasting legacy provided by the family, as in other places, the spirit of giving never being a strong point of the Earls of Dudley. There was no endowment of a University, no grand Civic buildings, no recognition of the people, or the area, for making him and his family, the richest in the Kingdom. There are some who believe he gave to the town, Dudley Castle, he didn't, because they didn't own it. Around the turn of the century, things began to change for the Earl. Industry went into decline, the undertakings began to lose money, and sales of the Earls land became more common. This became a flood after the end of the first World War, and saw Witley Court go on the market as well. The family moved back to Himley Hall, but spent ever increasing time in London, and more sales of land followed. Eventually, even the mighty Ironworks at Round Oak was sold off. Once again, have a good look round, you wouldn't even know today that such a powerful family had ever been in the area, nor would you believe, that many workers doffed their caps, whenever they went past in their fancy carriages.

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

October 18, 2012 at 3:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Now it's a fact, that whenever there was spot of bother at one of the Earls Mines, there was virtually no action taken against the sometimes blatant negligence. Take this case from 1858, which occured in one the Lords pits at Saltwell. At work, on the evening of 18th March, were Richard Pearson, John Baugh, Benjamin Ward, and supposedly a young boy. The men were working in what was called a " stall ", which was about 15 feet long, and cut into the coalface for about 6 feet, the height of the cut being about 3 feet. There was not much room to work in, and they were about to exit and bring it down. The ends were supported by thick pillers of coal, and extra propping was not concidered neccessary. This was the standard way of working throughout the Blackcountry, although it was a very wasteful way to do the job, for only about a third of the coal was ever bought to the surface. All three were still in the stall, when, without warning, the whole lot came down. Between 6 and 9 tons of coal buried Ward and Baugh, Pearson, who was almost out, managed to free himself. It's here, that the story gets a bit strange, for at the inquest, Pearson says he made his way alone to the bottom of the shaft, seeking help. What happened to the boy? My guess is that it was the son of one of the miners, and he was well below the age at which children were allowed underground. Apart from those working at the coal face, there was no one else in the pit, and to summon help, Pearson hammered on the metal skip used to carry both men and coal to the surface. There was no reply. For over 30 minutes, he banged the skips side, and exhusted, he paused to rest his weary arms. He was just about to start his hammering again when he heard the faint sound of voices, so he shouted up the shaft for help. It was young courting couple, and as soon as they had been told people were trapped, the young man ran off to seek assistance. The mine was deserted, he could not locate the Watchman who should have been in the hut, nor could he find anyone on the site. Some distance from the mine lived James Bunn, who the young man knew was a Butty Miner, so he banged on his door, explained what had happened, and then went, with Bunns instructions, to fetch another Butty Miner, Joseph Griffiths, and alert the mines Engineer. By the time they had assembled at the pit, and arrived at the shaft bottom, over two hours had elapsed. It took a further 3 hours, to dig out the crushed and mangled bodies of 26 year old Ward, and 44 year old Baugh. The mines Inspector put the blame for the fall, squarely on the men for not using props, but reserved some astonishment that there was no one at the surface of the mine. At the Inquest, held 4 days later, no explanation was offered as to why the Watchman was absent from his post. Maybe, because the Red Lion was the nearest Pub to the mine they should have asked the Landlord where he was. In any case, the usual verdict of Accidental Death was recorded on both men, just two more to add to the total attributed to the Earls mining activity.

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

April 9, 2013 at 3:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

One of the Earl of Dudleys most profitable ventures, were the series of coal mines at Shut End, Kingswinford. So great was the output, that the Earl built, at great expense, his very own private Railway. This allowed the coal produced, to be sent both to a wharfe on the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, and also, coupled with another line to his Dibdale Mines, directly to what become, The Round Oak Steel Works. It also, carried raw materials and finished products of several Brick and Tile works, and was a very profitable investment. Not much interferred with the Earls operation, not even the death of five men at the Pit.


The days work, at the Shut End Colliery, was just beginning on Monday the 14th September, 1829. There were already three down the mine, when the next four men climbed into an iron bucket called a Bowke, and were winched down the shaft. They hadn't gone far down, when the area was rocked with a huge explosion, that was heard as far away as Woodside, Dudley.  The bowke was blown out of the shaft, like a shot from a cannon, reaching over a hundred feet in the air, before crashing to earth with a mighty thud. The startled miners, waiting to begin work, rushed to the scene, but the occupants were way beyond any mortal help. " Mangled to a pulp " was how one described the sad remains of what once had been four happily married family men. The situation down below was also desperate, for all three were very badly burnt, and it took a herculian effort to repair the equipment for the rescue. There are no ages or address's given for the dead men, but one report says those already  down the pit were youngsters. Two survived, but William Round, died the next day, on the15th September. As for the men in the bowke, their names were William Cooper, Zachariah Guest, William Guest, and William Bunn. As no work was done on the Sunday, an inspection for Gas should have been carried out. There is no mention of this, and the mine's deputy doesn't appear to be among the dead or injured. That the explosion was caused by a naked flame, is almost certain, as this was the cause of almost every accident of this nature at the time, in all the mining districts of the country. Production though, was soon back to normal, jobs were hard to find at any time, and there was no shortage of men willing to risk their lives to earn a crust, and of course, to inadvertantly fill the Earls pocket with cash.

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

September 4, 2014 at 2:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Pedro
Member
Posts: 25

Anyone studying the history of the coal industry in the Black Country will come across the Dudley family. Here is an abridged extract from the book by George Barnsby; Social Conditions in the Black Country (1800-1900)

 

"It has been estimated that in the middle of the century the Dudleys, although owning only 25,000 acres, had the sixth largest income in the country. Their fortune was firmly based on the ever rising value of their rents and revenue from the royalties on the mineral mined from the lands they leased.... In 1873 the Earl of Dudley's mines raised nearly 1,000,000 tons of coal or perhaps one seventh of all coal mined in the field....

 

....The influence of the Earl was exercised through his chief agent. Until 1871 this was Smith-Shenstone, who in retirement, was presented with 1000 ounces of silver. Leadership on all matters pertaining to the industry of the area came from the agent's office. He was the decisive voice of the quarterly meeting of Iron Masters, the price of iron regulating the ironworker's sliding scale was the Earl's iron, the price of coal regulating the miner's sliding scale was the Earl's coal, when the Mines Drainage Commission was set up, the Earl's importance entitled him to separate representation.

 

This immense influence is not only cognate to the effectiveness of monopoly control, but to the more general question of the perpetuation of deplorable social and economic conditions in the area.

 

The Dudley's gave no lead in the area regarding safety in mines. In the middle of the century their mines were no lesser death traps than those of other owners, and some of the ghastliest accidents of the century occurred in the Dudley mines. In so far as rates of wages could be influenced the Dudleys played the leading role and theirs was also a main responsibility for the decision to embark on the immense strikes of the century and the usual methods used to break them by invocation of the Master and Servant Acts, importation of blacklegs, the use of courts dominated by employer JPs and the calling in of military force....

 

.... As late as 1907 it was reported that at the Dudley's colliery at Himley there was one manager and one under manager for 11 pits, seven of which there were more than 30 men underground. At his Conygre and Saltwell pits there was the same staff for 12 pits. The Coal Mines Regulation Act requiring that each pit of more than 30 men should be controlled by a qualified person had then been in operation for 35 years.

 

But the greatest indictment of the Dudleys is that they were chiefly responsible for the great evil from which most of the abuses flowed, namely the perpetuation of the butty system. The mines of the Earl of Dudley continued into the 20th century to be worked by butties. The evidence to the Royal Commission of Mines 1907-8 could have been taken from the enquiries of the 1840s. The chief object of the butty system was to obtain coal at the cheapest cost and pits were worked in an unskilful way to the neglect of discipline and safety precautions....

 

...In addition to the neglect of safety precautions and the continuation of the Tommy Shop quoted in the evidence, the butty system almost necessarily involved the continuation of the lethal pillar and stall method of working the coal, and this method of work continued in the Earl of Dudley's pits. Thus the Earl's of Dudley, far from using their immense influence to ameliorate social and economic conditions were an active, and in some respects a decisive influence, in perpetuating disgraceful conditions."

 

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February 8, 2016 at 6:40 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Now as mentioned before, the The Earls of Dudley, did not own the ruin that stands on the hill dominating the surrounding area. Dudley Castle. they did though, own the land on which now stands the impressive Black Country Living Museum. On this small piece of tri-angular shaped land, the Earl had, Castle Fields Limestone Mines,  Limestone Furnaces, The Coneygree Furnaces Ironworks, A Brickworks, and the Coneygree Colliery. In fact, almost every thing required to produce good quality Iron, including, from a strata beneath the coal, Ironstone. The Museum has an estimate of between 24 to 27 coal shafts on this site, but I am now going to suggest that the estimate is a bit on the low side. It was a shallow field of the famous Staffordshire Thick Coal Seam mined on the site, and, as also mentioned before, in a rather wasteful way.



Looking at the old maps, one from the 1880s, shows the presence of many disused mine shafts, and the map shows the old Coneygree Colliery, with the number, Pit 73. Not far away, and near to the site of the old Brickworks, stands Pit number 57, with both of them still in operation in 1883. The Museum may wish to re-evaluate the site's history a bit. Even though the old Earl of Dudley was a powerful man of his times, it was only a matter of time before the availible coal on this site ran out, and he would be forced to seek supply's from elsewhere, for he couldn't tunnel underneath Tipton, he didn't own it. There was a miners strike in 1889, which effectively shut down a great many of the small mines, and the Earl transfered his interests to his Saltwell and Himley mines, and in particular, a site in Baggeridge Wood. The deepest mine in the area, at almost 2,000 feet deep, it cost a fortune to sink, because of water problems, it needed a double brick and iron lined mainshaft. It opened in 1910. Someone asked me to identify, in which pit on the site, her relative had been killed in, back in 1870. With so many shafts and numbers, it's an impossible question to answer, for the the inquests all show it as Coneygree Colliery.  Here's a short list of some of the unfortunate miners.


On the 17th August,1866, James Dial, aged 34, and his fellow hewer, John Rollason, aged 23, were holing in a stall, when the top of a pillar holding, up the thick coal gave way. Both men were killed instantly, crushed to death under 7 tons of coal. The next month, on 21st September, Joseph Taylor, aged 21, working in a lower level of the mine, was also killed by the roof falling in. This time it was Ironstone. There appears to be only one case of the explosion of Firedamp, which also happened in this year, Thomas Williams, aged 24, who was badly injured on the 16th October, and died in agony on the 28th November. We also get an example of how they got rid of the waste at the time. John Sherwood, aged 15, a colliery boy, was pushing tubs along a roadway, when the timber supports, under the pressure from the Slack stacked behind them, gave way and suffocated him. This was a similar occurance to that in the one I mentioned from 1870, but this time it was one of the pits Deputies, Thomas Greenfield, who died, buried alive in a sea of fast moving slack and dust. I have not found a reference to either number 73 or number 57 pits beyond 1891.

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

March 11, 2016 at 5:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

The flood of 1865.


There were just six men working Pit No.71, on the 10th February,1865. The Earl of Dudley, after working the area for over 20 years, had leased the old mine to Messers Brown and Taylor. All the mines in this area, now split by the new Tipton Road, were shallow pits, the coal seam being between 40 and 120 feet from the surface. Pit 71s shaft was 40 feet deep. The area around this shaft had been mined before, most of the old shafts having supposedly been filled in with spoil. There were no records kept by the Earls Agents, so it was impossible to say just how many shafts there were, and, more to the point, which ones had simple been abandoned and left unfilled. The miners employed by Messers Welch and Barrows, in the adjoining pit,  had a lucky escape on the 15th January, when an old and unmarked shaft suddenly collapsed, and let in a large amount of water from a nearby arm of the canal. It was agreed, that from then on. a thick wall of coal, about 50 yards long, would be left between the other ( now closed down ) mine, and the branch of the Birmingham Canal, that was the cause of the incident. Another wall of coal, about 80 yards long was left as as a safety measure between pit 71. and the other arm of the canal. Work progressed, and the roadway was extended from the shaft bottom, for a distance of 153 yards. At no stage was any roadway driven beneath the Canal due the obvious danger of the ingress of water. On the friday before the accident however, another old shaft was discovered about 75 yards from the shaft, but was not concidered to be a danger.


There were three men working at the coal face on the day, John Walton, aged 47, his  brother, David Walton, aged 50. and David's son, Joseph Walton, aged 16. The other three miners, Henry Nicklin, John Smith, and John Turner,  were working about 53 yards from the shaft, near a cross over roadway. Suddenly, and without a sound, the air flow in the mine reversed, a sure sign that something serious had occurred, and on Nicklin's advice, the three made a hurried exit towards the shaft. In pitch blackness, for the rush of air had blown the candles out, the sound of rolling water was the only noise. The engine driver, just for once,  actually at his post, quickly sent down the cage when he heard the call for help. The alarm was quickly raised, and the cage again lowered, in case the other three miners had also escaped what by now, was obviously a rapidily flooding pit. One look at the canal would have left no one in any doubt where the water was coming from, for the hole was clearly visable in the canal arm, and it quickly emptied as the mine filled up. Rescue, until the water had subsided, was impossible, and in any case, there was not the slightest doubt that all three would be found dead. As was indeed the case, and all of them close to where they had last been working.





The map shows the location of Pit 71, ( marked in red ) and as described at the inquest, and from the Mines Inspectors Report, 40 yards yards from the end of the canal wharf, with a mark showing the aproximate spot of the old unmarked shaft, a dotted line showing the pits roadway, and the spot where the the tree bodies were found.The statement made by the Earls agent, Thomas Latham, that no tunneling had actually gone under the canal, may have been quite true, but this old shaft had been sunk extremely close to the canal, ( later evidence suggests that it was just 10 feet from the canal bank ) in order to extract as much coal as possible. Latham had worked for the Earl during this period, and should have been well aware that the shaft was there. From the position of several other old shafts shown, on the Maps, it appears that sinking a shaft close to the Canal was common practice. As no plans allegedly existed, or couldn't be produced, it couldn't be proved either way, and a verdict of Accidental Death was recorded. Devastating news for the families, as one of the Waltons, David, left behind a widow and seven children. Once again, the old Earl escaped any censure for the unnecessary loss of life, and a claim from the Canal Company for compensation. Just one more thing of note. Three Horses were also drowned, valued each at £40. One newspaper expressed the hope, that such a loss, would not add greatly to the Pits operators financial burden. Just a few years later, Thomas Latham, the Earls loyal servant and mining engineer, was killed in one of the pits, buried under a landslide of coal dust and slack. I would call that poetic justice.

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

March 23, 2016 at 1:16 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Derek Gittings
Member
Posts: 1
March 29, 2016 at 5:23 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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