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Alaska.
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Posts: 1219



There's no doubt, that much of the regions success, owes a lot to the cutting of the first Canal, in 1772. It did not take long, for all manner of Works, to spring up beside the Birmingham Canal Navigation's first venture. So many in fact, that it became neccessary, to construct a second, the BCN's Dudley No 2, which linked up with the Birmingham Canal, via theLapel Tunnel, at Selly Oak. Mines were sunk everywhere in the Blackcountry. The Coal, mainly being used to feed the ever hungry Furnaces, now began to be exported around the Country, as did the many tons of Iron and other products. In what remains of a Census, carried out in 1831, the population of the whole of the parish of Rowley, is given as 7,438, a great number of whom, were engaged in Mining, or Iron and Steel making. In the 1830s, came the Railways, and the decline of the inland waterways began. In 1863, the GWR, built an extension from Stourbridge to Dudley, specifically for goods traffic. Small branch lines fed all the major collieries and works, and the region boomed. Up to 10 million tons of coal were mined every year, producing a profusion of Mineral railways to dump the spoil and waste. Quarries, producing thousands of tons of Marl for Brickmaking, were everywhere, feeding the increasing demand for Housing. Some of which, it has to be said, were of poor construction. In 1879, the Country went into a depression, which forced a lot of firms out of business, including The New British Iron Company. This was a major blow for the population, as the company owned Forges, Rivet makers, Mines and Pumping stations as well. Sold on, to the Corngreaves Furnace Company, the new company scaled down the works, closing the old works in 1894. The last Blast furnace shut down in 1912. Some 10 years later, most of the mines had finished working, not because the coal had run out, but due to a strike. The owners of the pumping stations, ( which kept the water out of the workings, see Gallery ) refused to spend money on keeping the pumps working. It then became uneconomical to restart, and the mines shut down, throwing hundreds out of work. Only in Baggeridge, Halesowen, and on the fringe of the region, at Hamstead, did mining continue. The great boom was over. The small firms merged into bigger ones, new Industry came in to replace the old ones, and the Blackcountry went back to doing what it does best. Getting on with it.

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March 5, 2011 at 3:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

Haden-Barrs No. 1 Pit, Old Hill.


To continue the theme, in the 1840s, it was fairly easy to sink a pit, no permission needed, if the land was yours. John Higgs, who lived at Totnall House, Powke Hilll, and was a well off Farmer, decided to do just that. He advertised for some Welsh miners, had a shaft sunk, and the Eagle Pit came into being. The canal being close by was an added bonus. William ( butcher ) Mills, who had a couple of Butchers shops in Rowley, was also fairly well off, and had a large house, just off Waterfall Lane. Not to be outdone, he also had a shaft sunk, just 200 yards from his home. This also found coal, and soon he had a small mineral railway down to the canal, and a weighbridge he could see, from his bedroom window. That made it easy for him, to count the tubs of coal. In the late 1840s, he purchased the Eagle, ran of coal in 1851 and sold it to S.B.Ensell. The pit was back in the hands of the Higgs family again in 1860, but a few years later was taken over by the Eagle Colliery Company. Less than a mile away, and further up the hill, was " The Blackheath Colliery ", between the Railway tunnel, and Perrypark House. it was reached from Tump Road which was later to becomeBeeches Road.  The Blackheath Pits mineral railway, passed underneath Waterfall Lane, and again, down to the canal, not more than 400 yards from William Mills line. All three Pits had housing, of a sort, for the miners they employed. Tory Street and Tump Road for Blackheath, " The Alley " for the Waterfall Lane Pit, and Powke Lane for the " Eagle ." It's all gone now of course, but in their hayday, the owners made a great deal of money, from the areas Black Gold.

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March 14, 2011 at 4:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

Another area with a profusion of mines, was Bilston, just outside Wolverhampton. This abundance of outcrop Coal, was what drew the Iron Masters to the region. John Wilkinson, a Welshman, erected the first blast Furnace in Bradley in 1757, this was followed by many more, all of whom needed the coal, in ever increasing amounts, to meet the demand for Iron and Steel. Bilston had been producing coal, so the records suggest, since 1315, although only for domestic use. This area alone, in 1864, mined several million tons, which will give some idea of the extent of activity in such a small place. It's a matter of record, that even in the 1880s, some of the towns roads were dug up, and mined for coal. Sometimes, this previous digging and tunneling, cause's a few problems. Parts of house's, roads, and indeed, whole gardens, have disappeared into the ground. Thankfully, modern building methods have overcome most of the subsidence.



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March 22, 2011 at 12:21 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219




Following the Miners Strike, in the early 1920s, most of the Pits shut down due to flooding. Some of them of course, had closed many years before. to be forgotten, except on old maps. One old Pit however, did open in the late 1920, Standhills Colliery, Kingswinford. This mine had first been sunk in the 1830s, and from the start, was never known as a lucky Pit. The number of graves in the area' Churchyards, give mute witness to this sad fact. Not just from this mine, but also from Yew Tree, Shutt End and Holly Hall mines. Standhills was shut down in the late 1870s, not enough production, and the difficulties of working a thin Coal seam. With all the others closed, coal production in the area dropped almost to zero, and the thought of making a bit of money, and the fact that records, such as exsisted, showed it to be a  'dry ' mine,  Messers Guy, Pitt and Company decided to re-open Standhills. Work being short, it soon attracted miners, dispite it's previous poor safety record, after all. that was over 50 years ago. There were a few accidents, thats the nature of mining, but nothing serious, until November 24th, 1933. The night shift, of over 30 miners, went down at 10pm, and all went well, till just before the bewitching hour struck. There was then, what was described as a tremendous explosion, and heard on the surface as a ' bump '.  Any experienced miner knew what this signified, and the wail of the siren soon split the cold night air of Kingswinford. Families arriving at the pit head, were relieved to learn, that only 4 men had been injured. How badly would become apparent in daylight. Now, try as I might, I can't find any records of this, in the National Mining Records. Not that it didn't happen, it was just the nature of what followed, because no one, was actually killed undergound. Newspaper reports say that of 4 men injured, they all walked to the Ambulance, which whisked them off to the Dudley Guest Hospital. Joseph H Wood, a coal loader, from High Oak, Pensnett, was the first to die, some 8 hours after the accident. He was 52, and died from terrible burns. The next to pass away,was Enoch Fox, another loader, from Bromley Lane, Kingswinford. He was 29, on only his second shift at the mine, terribly burnt and injured. Joseph Burns, the oldest of the men at 57, also came from Bromley Lane, just a few doors from Enoch Fox. He seemed to be in good spirits on the Saturday night, but secummed to appalling injuries before morning broke. The 4th man, Cyril Street, was fortunate in working a little further back from the coal face than the others, he escaped the main force of the explosion, but not of course the burns. The burns of course were internal, they had all breathed in the dangerous hot gases from the explosion, which had destroyed the tissue of the lungs. It's uncertain, just how the explosion happened, as one report from Joseph Burns suggests that as he swung his pick into the coal face, he struck a rock, which caused a spark. No mention, that the mine owners had used any of the devices available, to test for gas, prior to the shift change. This would be fairly typical of mining in the Black Country, the pursuit of wealth from Black Gold, the ultimate, and it appears, the only concideration. Non of the old "Coal Masters", come out of the regions mining history with reputation intact, indeed, some of them without one at all. There's still plenty down there, so they tell me. I'm just glad, that today, it's a lot farther away, than it was then.



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April 23, 2011 at 3:14 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

 


The ruthless exploitation of the Colliers, and the seemingly constant deafness of the mine owners, to their desperate plight, was a major feature of the Victorian age. Last week, I was almost left speechless, by a claim, from a decendant of one of the largest mine owners, that her relative would never, and indeed did not, employ children in his mines. Yet in 1831, 2 boys, aged 7 and 9, were killed in roof falls in one of his mines, and five more injured. In the 1840s, The Earl of Shaftesbury, began making univited visits to Pits around the mining districts, concluding in 1841, with a damning report, which was presented to Parliament. The resulting Employment Act, 1842, forbade the working underground, of children below the age of 10. Thats why, beyond that date, the ages of children killed, are of 11 to 15 year olds. No matter which way you look at these figures, they are still children. Not all the blame however, can be attached to the mine owners, the parents, some them our ancesters, are equaly guilty for allowing it. Other facts came out during this period of change, some of which may bring a rye smile to your face. Robert Brew, a Bilston Chemist and Preacher, was deeply shocked by what he found, and observed, above ground at many pits. The Girls who worked on the Pit Banks. More used, I suspect, to the genteel side of the female of the age, he was rocked back on his heels, and shocked to the core. The girls he encountered were, in the main, healthy, strong, a bit on the thin and boney side, but above all, very unfeminine. He put this down to them being in close contact with the males, and picking up decidedly un-female habits, and lacking any refinements of their delicate sex. Shockingly, he reported, they ride astride the horses, sometimes three at a time, openly displaying things he could not report on. They drive coal-carts, he went on, sometimes in a state of drunkeness. He observed that they swore like troopers, smoke pipes, fight, whistle, ( very unlady like ) and sing rude and bawdy songs. ( no comment )  He observed them go into Beer Houses, ( he had obviously got over the first shock ) where they drank their ale in more quantities than the men, all the time smoking clay pipes. He called them the " lowest and most degraded women he had ever come across ",  he had not, at this stage though, met many of the young female nailers. He did give them credit for working hard, from 6am to 6pm, every day except Sunday. His greatest shock though, was the level of illegitimate children born to these " Pit Bank Wenches ", some of whom may have been conceived while he was compiling his report, for as he said, they had no morals, and no shame. For all of their faults, these women did have a redeeming feature, they were not dependent on the menfolk who fathered the children. They worked hard for their money, and, if life for them was going to be short, they made sure if would be a jovial one.

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May 9, 2011 at 3:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219



Ask anyone to name what Rowley is famous for, and the answer will almost certainly be Quarrying Stone. Quite right too, but surprisingly it also had a few coal mines as well. Very near the site of " The Hangmans Tree ",  in 1867, a local engineer, Richard Latham, sank a pit for the Earl of Dudley. Simply called Tivdale, Pit No. 26, it was intended to find the famous 30 foot Staffordshire seam. Coal was found at 650 feet, but due to the faulting in this area, the rest was found at 1200 feet, making it at the time, the deepest in the district. The extracted Coal was good stuff, being anthracitic and good steaming quality. The mine was renamed a few years later as Oakham Colliery. This success started a rush, for just a year later, and below the The Wheatsheaf ", at Portway, another local engineer, Samuel Minton, sank not one, but two shafts. He hit coal at 850 feet, and once again, it was of good quality. To distinguish it from the Oakham Pit, the locals called it The Big Pit, but it's proper name was " Lyecross Colliery ".  These two pits could be clearly seen against the skyline by travellers on the Stour Vally Railway between  Dudley Port, and Albion Stations. Just to hammer home the point, two more shafts were sunk, a bit further down the hill, near City Road. This was named The New Grace Mary, the original having closed down some years before. Again, locally, it was given another name, The Twin Pits. There is a fanciful tale about the strange name, but in all likelyhood, it stems from the twin winding gear, which could be seen from some distance away. Other pits followed, The Samson Colliery, just off Throne Road, and another just outside Rowley Village, The Blue Bell, at Bell End. A slightly older Pit was also in operation, just down the hill from the Grace Mary, and called " The California ". This one had no less than four shafts, split into twin operations. This was in order to exploit the different levels at which the coal was found. Now long abandoned under Red Lion pub, and Elm Terrace Clinic. By the 1920s, most of them had closed, and mining for coal on the Rowley Hills, finally finished in 1932.

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June 16, 2011 at 3:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219



Nothing however lasts forever, and the seams of coal, so easily worked by generations of miners,and earning vast profits for the owners began to dwindle. Not only that, competition from other area's became intense, and freight charge's increased. The Canal system proved to be inadequate for the needs, despite the 8 years of work put in by Thomas Telford, in ironing out some of the snags. He could do nothing however, about the constant shortage of water to keep levels up, nor the massive bottle neck at the Dudley Tunnel. Anyone who has taken a tour of the canal at this point, will know that there is no towpath, the boats having to be walked through. This was a time consuming operation, and at any one time, up to 25 boats would be waiting to go through. Coal from Derbyshire and Leicestershire, delivered by the Railway to London, put paid to the Staffordshire mine owners market there. Worse was to come. The price of coal bought at the pit head, was between 7/6d and 9/6d per ton. The cost of delivery, to say Stratford-on-Avon, was 6/6d per ton, and it sold for between 14/- and 18/- a ton. Not much profit for the merchant, who now had a better choice, from the other coalfields. Oxford was another example, where the annual consumption was 50,000 tons, and due to the canal costs, the price when sold, was 25/- per ton. Coal from Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, and the Forest of Dean were all cheaper, and the Black Country coal could no longer compete. In 1834, Staffordshire coal was between 28/- to 34/- per ton, including the delivery price, when other area's were charging an average 23/-. It didn't take a genius to work out what was wrong, and in 1844, the Canal got it's death certificate signed by the Railway Companies.Some area's in region were in dire need of some action, especially Wolverhampton, where the imports of raw materials by canal, had risen to 30/- a ton. The Staffordshire Coal seam, in parts of the East of the region, was quite thin, leading to it quickly being uneconomical to mine.



The West however was the thick end, and costs increased again because so much had to be shifted from one part to the other, to keep the Blast Furnaces going. This also led to extra costs in the production of Iron, which also had to be transported via the Canals. In 1845, between 4 and 5 million tons of Iron and Coal, crossed the region like a never ending conveyor belt. It was no good, the Canal had to go. When the Railway eventually arrived, The London-Birmingham, to be precise, imposed a charge of 40/- per ton. This caused a rather heated debate which resulted in the rate dropping to 23/- per ton, which was still to high according to many. Most mine owners still choose to send coal by Canal, those that of course still had a surplus to sell, for production levels were still falling. bigger and better coalfields were now coming on stream, deeper mines, worked by hundreds of miners, instead of just a few dozen. By the turn of the century, the boom days in the Black Country were just a fading memory, the forgotton abandoned mines only remembered when some poor wretch fell down a crumbling shaft.

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July 1, 2011 at 3:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

Now I've been asked, who owned, or Managed all the local mines. Having done a bit of research. you will find a list on the " Coalmasters " page. They are not all there, research is ongoing, and if the name you are seeking has not appeared yet, or you want to know what perticular pit they owned, send me an email and I will see what other information I have. You will also find a few of the area disasters as well under " Coal Mining, a dangerous Job " or " The Earl of Dudleys bad year. " There is a list of Sedgley Mines in the Post Box Forum, and I may be persuaded to add other areas if requested.



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July 22, 2011 at 2:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

davepowis
Member
Posts: 1

have yu any information please on Old Ettingshall Colliery owned in 1896 by Powis and Sons of Ettingshall  was on the ettingshall bilston border and according to the South Staffs Mining Industry report of 1896 was the 3rd biggest employer in the area

October 4, 2011 at 11:27 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

Ettingshall Colliery, one of at least 8 mines situated to the east and west of Manor Spring Road. Most of them had ceased operating by 1886, leaving just Parkfield and Rookery Collieries as competitors. Ettingshall Colliery, was owned in 1875, by Bannister and Company, who then sold it to Johnathon Williams in the early 1880s, who in turn, sold it to James Davies and Company, about 1888. Now some of those listed as owners, were merely lease holders, who worked the mine on behalf of the owners, and took a profit from what actually came out. The mines produced not only Coal, but Ironstone and Clay, sometimes, all at the same time. The extraction of each mineral, was a skilled job, hence the rapid change of ownership. Joseph Powis was a skilled and experienced miner, as was his entire family. I can't find any records of just when he purchased/or leased the Colliery, nor when he sold it, but he must have been successful, because he was listed as a retired miner in 1901. He was only 53. He certainly still owned it in 1898, when William Colley, a " cager ", ( someone who took the tubs up and down the shaft ) apparently fell out when coming up to the surface. He didn't survive the 200 odd foot fall to the bottom. That was the only serious accident that happened, while Joseph owned the pit. The other large employers in the area, would have been The Mars Iron Works, Springvale Iron Works, or The Springfield Foundry. All of them would have been supplied with Coal from any of the pits still working. There are some papers in the Dudley Archives that might be of some use to you, Z221/2, which mention the Colliery. They are in collection of documents from 1786 to 1889.



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There are over 1,200 stories on the website, all contained within the different Forum sections, for this is not a normal forum based site. Key into the search facility, a Town, place, name, event, or subject from the Black Country, and you will be surprised at just what comes up.

October 4, 2011 at 4:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

Now I came across the next mine, while looking for something else, but I need a bit of help, as the owner of said mine isn't given. Not that they have named any of the dead miners either.  The date was 18th January, 1862, and the mine is in Blackheath, although from a map of the area in 1900, it was just on the Halesowen side of the border. There are some old mine shafts shown, between Long Lane, and New John Street, which would place the site about midway down Victoria Road. Has anyone got a copy of a newspaper with a report of the accident which follows.




The mine, which unusally for the time, had a steam driven engine at the bottom of the shaft, for raising the loaded coal tubs. The arrangement later on, was the other way round, which concidering what happened here, isn't surprising. The boiler on the day in question, blew up, wreaking the Engine, and setting the wooden pit props on fire. This soon spread to the Coal itself and the miners scrambled for safty, back up another shaft. The pit, which also produced Ironstone as well, was not at full production, otherwise the death toll would have been much higher. With 3 men now missing, several attempts at rescue were made, but each time they were beaten back by the fierce blaze. The efforts went on for almost a week, before it was deemed safe to venture into the workings. The fire was still burning in the section where  the missing men had been working, and they were unable to find the bodies. It was also reported, rather callously I thought, that several very valuable horses had also been lost in the accident. I'm not sure which event upset the owner the most, the lost men, or the horses. Any details you may have, will be greatly appreciated.

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There are over 1,200 stories on the website, all contained within the different Forum sections, for this is not a normal forum based site. Key into the search facility, a Town, place, name, event, or subject from the Black Country, and you will be surprised at just what comes up.

January 1, 2012 at 3:46 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

It's a sad fact of life, that when a steady stream of deaths occur, be it through war or other means, reporting them becomes a bit of a routine. As far as mining goes, some reports were ony a few lines long. Take this one from 1857. William Burns,16, was, on the 23 May, loading a tub with timber props when his clothes became entangled in the winding chains. He was percipitated down the mine shaft. Which begs the question, why did not the Engine driver, at the Lower Pit, Kingswinford, see the plight the young lad was in, and delay sending down the tubs? It beggers belief, that an accidental verdict was bought in at the Inquest. On the same day, not so far away, at the No 1 Pit, Moor Lane, a miner, John M'clue, was suffocated by bad air, and nobody noticed, for several hours, that he was actually dead. I have heard of men sleeping on the job, but that just about takes the biscuit. It seems that the miners themselves were as immune to sudden deaths as the owners. That same month, at Mr Kings Netherend Mine, another young man, William Beddows, was killed when a section of the roof fell down. The mines manager had ignored the reports, preferring instead to order a few extra props installed at the end of the shift. At the Earl of Dudleys No 7 Pit, in Coopers Bank, for want of extra supports, Benjamin Evans, and his mate Uriah Fellows, were trapped under a fall. They were both extracted, and despite the very dangerous state of the area, were told to get back to work. It happened again, and this time it was several tons that came down. Fellows was eventually pulled out, having sustained a broken leg, but it would be 2 days before the crushed body of Evens was recovered. For the sake of few bits of timber, 3 young children and his wife were left destitute. The whole of the above, took up less space to report than a Dudley advert for the purchase of 2 shilling Boots.



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There are over 1,200 stories on the website, all contained within the different Forum sections, for this is not a normal forum based site. Key into the search facility, a Town, place, name, event, or subject from the Black Country, and you will be surprised at just what comes up.

July 21, 2012 at 2:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

Every family of course, is thrown into anguish and sorrow when a highly valued member loses their life. Mining was a hazadous job, but with little choice of how to earn a living, the risks were accepted as a way of life. Every now and then, a story surfaces from a few facts, or just a passing comment, here's one of them.


William Round, was born in either Woodside, Dudley, or just down the road in Netherton, in 1781. His wife, Sarah, came from the same area, and was born in the same area. They produced, like many others, a large family, although it's difficult, from the scant records, to know the exact number. They did though, have several sons, and like their father, they all went off mining. All went well until 1862, when Joseph Round, 36, married and with 4 children was killed in a fall of coal, at the Netherton Old Colliery, owned by M.&W. Grazebrook. Just as the family were recovering from this, the youngest of the brood, David Round, working at one of the Earl of Dudleys Pits in Saltwell, was crushed to death under a heavy roof fall., in 1863. Less than a year later, in 1864, Job Round was amongst the 6 men killed when a horse ran amock and fell down the shaft at Bridge-End Colliery, Pensnett. ( already listed on the site ) Less than a month later, Elijah Round, 40, and again in Saltwells, was killed by another fall of coal. To complete the sad history of the Round Family, yet another son, Samuel Round, died, in 1866, after yet another fall of coal, again in Grazebrook's Netherton Old Colliery. That has to be something of a record in mining, five brothers, all killed, in separate mining accidents, and all within a space of 5 years. If old William and Sarah hadn't already have dead, I suspect that lot would done for them anyway. If any family could be said to have given their all to mining, it has to be the Rounds. The brothers cousin, James Round, was suffocated at Corbyns Hall Colliery, in 1863, and another relative, Marshall Round, died after another large fall of coal, at Netherton Old Colliery.



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There are over 1,200 stories on the website, all contained within the different Forum sections, for this is not a normal forum based site. Key into the search facility, a Town, place, name, event, or subject from the Black Country, and you will be surprised at just what comes up.

August 11, 2012 at 2:58 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Unicorn
Member
Posts: 46

That is one unlucky family.

August 12, 2012 at 1:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

Elsewhere on the website, you will find many references to the Earl of Dudley. He owned a great many pits, employed a large number of miners, and at Netherton, had some of the most dangerous pits in the Blackcountry. The problem was due to the nature of the coal, which produced large quantities of explosive gas called by the miners, " Fire Damp ". Ventilation was primitive in these mines, any expenditure on improvements meant less profit for his Lordship, so at one time, rather novel methods were used. This was called " firing ", and is not to be confused with the charges of powder used for blasting. It consisted of long pieces of wire, to which a lighted candle was attached, and then lowered down the shaft until a loud bang was heard. This method, for a time at least, consumed the gas and it was then deemed to be safe to work. Sometimes, it was neccessary to perform this operation three times a day. All this danger could have been avoided of course with a better flow of surface air around the workings. The old Earl employed a crew of men for this job, nearly all Irishmen, who either did not understand the danger, or who really lived up to the name they were known by,  the " Mad Micks ". The Earls Shutt End Collieries, were also known to build up quantities of gas, especially when work stopped for some days. Holidays, Strikes, or even a brief stoppage because the price of coal had dropped, had the local miners refusing to go down unless the mine was first " fired ". In 1840, the Earl, having already lost money due to a strike, was forced to call in the " Mad Micks " from their base in West Bromwich, to effect a firing. They were a cheerful bunch of four when they arrived, and, disdaining to use the candle and wire method, took up a shovel full of hot coals. To the miners astonishment, they all piled into the cage, singing  and whistling as the cage decended into the dark depths. Less than a minute later, there was a fearful explosion, which blew the cage out of the shaft like a cork out of bottle. The singing and whistling had stopped. Debris flew through the air, bits of the cage, and bits of the Irishmen, intermingled over a distance of 60 yards from the shaft. The pit had most diffinately been " Fired ". Just one more incident in a list of many, that Blackcountry Folk had already, sadly got used to, and it wouldn't be the last.



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There are over 1,200 stories on the website, all contained within the different Forum sections, for this is not a normal forum based site. Key into the search facility, a Town, place, name, event, or subject from the Black Country, and you will be surprised at just what comes up.

December 1, 2012 at 3:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

If I had to select, just one area of the Black Country for a special mention, it would undoubtedly be West Bromwich. For a start, it's the only place I know of that actually moved it's location, to a spot almost one and a half miles down the road. The old town, was originaly to be found clustered around the Parish Church, which today, is at the start of the modern Newton Road. The area to the southwest, which was known as Bromwich Heath, and through which passed the road to Birmingham, and access to the canal, became the focal point of the move. The whole Parish, in 1801, comprised just over 5,600, but by the 1870s, it had risen to a staggering 80,000 people.What did it, was the finding of Coal and Iron Ore, and the subsequent Mines, Foundries and Ironworks that followed. A whole new town grew up alongside the Turnpike Road, which at the outset, must have resembled a booming wild west town. From many parts of the country, people flooded in, looking for work and an improvement in their lives. It's a wonder that there was room for all the houses that went up, for a report from 1871, lists no fewer than 56 working Collieries. The number from the previous decade must have been a lot higher, for most tended to have a short life, being dug on land of less than a couple of acres. From the border with Wednesbury, at Hill Top, Hateley Heath, and Hall End, to Golds Green, Great Bridge, Blacklake, and Swan Village bordering Tipton, the area was pockmarked with large holes. Greets Green, Claypit Lane, Lamberts End, and the area up the boundry with Oldbury, all had, at times, as many as three pits within spitting distance. The coal was mined right up to the other boundry with Handsworth, at which point, the black gold disappeared, being to far down for the methods of the 1850s to extract. I am not going to list all the mines here, but I will include the names of a few.


Bulls Barn, Claypit Lane, Crab Tree, Dunkirk, Harvill's Hawthorn, Lyttleton Hall,  Marsh Lane, Pump House, Stone Cross, and the Victoria Colliery.



Most of the owners at the time are also listed, so if you haven't found the one you are looking for, click the Contact Me Button, and I will endeavour to assist you.

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There are over 1,200 stories on the website, all contained within the different Forum sections, for this is not a normal forum based site. Key into the search facility, a Town, place, name, event, or subject from the Black Country, and you will be surprised at just what comes up.

April 17, 2013 at 3:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

Back to Woodside, Dudley, for this next bit of tragedy, and the old Earl of Dudley's No 10 pit, called in 1893, Woodside Colliery. It had of course new owners by now, for the boom in Black Gold, at least for this area, was coming to an end. The owners, Cochrane and Company, like many others during these lean times, appear to have spent little on maintenance of the site. The men working the mine, were all older, having all worked in mines around the area since they were small and in one case, having recently moved to find work. On the 8th February,1893, three men stepped into the cage, to be winched down for a days work. About halfway down, the rope parted, and men and cage plunged rapidly to the shafts bottom. The sump, where water collected and was pumped out while coal was being worked, was on this day full, and if the cage had fallen only from about 40 feet, all would have been well. In the event, it was unclear, due to several injuries, if the men had drowned, or been killed in the fall. Non of them managed to escape the cage in any case, the sump being about 12 feet deep. Aaron Crew, 49, the oldest of the three, died leaving a wife and seven children, although some had already left home. He lived at 35, Angel Street, Dudley. The second oldest was John Oliver, 45, who had been born in Halesowen, and was recent arrival in the area, his home being in Bell Street, Pensnett.  He left a wife and 8 children. The youngest was Joseph Jones, 42, who had worked at many pits in the area, and lived at 29, Coopers Bank Road, Lower Gornal, a row of mean little cottages, that housed mostly miners. He left a wife and 6 children. There doesn't appear to have been any blame attached to the owners for the state of the rope, which of course, if it had been tested properly, shouldn't have parted under such a light load. If anyone has a copy of the Coroners report, I would be very gratified to see it.



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There are over 1,200 stories on the website, all contained within the different Forum sections, for this is not a normal forum based site. Key into the search facility, a Town, place, name, event, or subject from the Black Country, and you will be surprised at just what comes up.

July 8, 2013 at 11:10 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

There's nothing more tragic, than finding the altogether unnessary deaths of two young men. Well children really, for in more enlightened times, they would both still have been at School. It was, unfortunately, 164 years ago this month, and times then, were very different than from today. The New British Iron Company, as well as making Iron, also had to dig for the materials, including the fuel, coal. They operated a pit, between Netherton and Rowley, called the Codsall Colliery, near Windmill End. On the morning of the 21st February, 1850, the mines Buttie, unamed as it happens, loaded 10 miners into a skip, and sent then down the pit. The rope, which had a tested strength of 9 cwts, including the skip, was now bearing the weight of at least 15 cwts, and consequently was stretched to breaking point. As it happened, it didn't snap, but somehow, with the bouncing upp and down of the stretching, it got snagged on the shackles of the skip. This caused the skip to tip violently, during which two young lads, Samuel Pritchard aged 15, and John Foley, just 13, who had been born at Tibbetts Bridge, near Bullfield Farm, were flung out, to fall the 150 feet to the bottom of the shaft. They did not of course survive the impact. Samuel Prichard, who had been born in Primrose Hill, Netherton, or rather what remained, was taken for an inquest, to the Sampson and Lion in Netherton, where a verdict of Accidently Death was recorded. Now they may have done things slightly differently in Rowley, for at John Foley's inquest at The Beehive, Rowley, the mines Buttie, was severly reprimanded for allowing the skip to be overloaded. There was no way he could claim a mistake, he knew full well the carrying capacity of the skip, for the money he was paid, depended on how much coal he and his men hauled up. The verdict though was the same, Accidental Death. A reprimand however, is not the same as a Manslaughter charge, which the man truely deserved, and so he walked away, without a stain on his character. Unlike the big red stain at the bottom of that shaft, the only visible sign, that the two young men had ever existed at all.



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There are over 1,200 stories on the website, all contained within the different Forum sections, for this is not a normal forum based site. Key into the search facility, a Town, place, name, event, or subject from the Black Country, and you will be surprised at just what comes up.

February 10, 2014 at 3:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

In keeping with the last item, but with a gap of 23 years, we have another case where someone should have at least been jailed. Rounds Green Colliery, near Oldbury, was in an area at the bottom of the Rowley Hills, and as a neighbour, it was close to Newbury Lane Colliery. Mining jobs in the 1870s, were begining to thin out somewhat, as the Coal began to be harder to find, and at last, the Government Inspectors, began to get a grip on the mostly ignored safety regulations. Unable to comply, a great many of the little pits, run on a shoestring budget by many " Butties ",  had been forced to close, and not before time either. Even so, the regulations were still flouted by many, knowing that at worst, they would receive a small fine, and nothing else. Just how true this was, can be judged by the next story.


On the 1st December, 1873, 18 year old Alfred Poulton, was busy sending empty tubs in one direction, and winding the loaded ones up an incline, in the Rounds Green Colliery. The Engine had been installed some four weeks before, and prior to this, all the work was done by pushing and pulling with horses. The Mines Manager, Elijah Page, was keen to ensure that the system worked properly, and had already taken a few shortcuts. One of these " time saving measures" , was to delay fitting any guards to the engine, especially the Flywheel and gearing. This was in direct confrontation with the mining regulations, which forbade any machine of this type, to be used without enclosing the moving parts. It's not very well lit, a mine, and sometime during the morning, Alfred Poulton fell into the machinery. He may have slipped, or his clothes may have been caught in the fast turning flywheel, there's no way of knowing, but fall in he did. He must have screamed, or someone saw him fall, for the alarm was quickley raised. Too late alas, for the young lad had been comprehensibly dismembered. That he was reported to be still alive when extricated, is something to marvel at, but he died a few moments later. J.P. Baker was the Governments Inspector of Mines for the area, and when he arrived, he was appalled that the machine was unguarded. Not even so much as a plank of wood had been placed to prevent anyone from coming to harm by contact with the flywheel. Mr Baker, at the inquest on the poor lad, had Elijah Page charged by the Coroners Jury with negligence, a charge the magistrates refused, so Mr Baker applied to the Secretary of State, and Page found himself in court to answer the charge. He admitted that he was aware that the machine should be protected by a stout wooden framework, he could hardly do less. he was the mines manager. He then said he really hadn't had the time in the last three weeks, to complete the work required, but had to admit that he hadn't, as yet. ordered the timber. Then came the all to familar excuse, that the lad really shouldn't have been working the engine, he didn't know who had put the lad to work on it, the accident was therefore probable his own fault. At this point, I should mention, that the maximum punishment for breaking this mine regulation, was a paltry £20 fine. It became clear, that the Judge had a bit of sympathy for Page, or more likely the actually mine owner, and instead of imposing the maximum fine, dropped it to £10 and Costs. Only after a protest by Mr Baker, did the Judge agree, that half the fine should be sent to the young mans grieving parents. It would be a few years yet, before a court would order compensation to be paid, but at least the Inspectors were at last being listened to, as more notice was taken over the safety regulations.

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There are over 1,200 stories on the website, all contained within the different Forum sections, for this is not a normal forum based site. Key into the search facility, a Town, place, name, event, or subject from the Black Country, and you will be surprised at just what comes up.

April 4, 2014 at 3:52 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1219

Mentioned before, is a mine situated right on the border between West Bromwich, and Oldbury, and given the grand title of Lyttelton Hall Colliery. It was, like a lot of others, owned by the local Iron Master, W.H.Dawes. His works were on the bottom half of Bromford Lane, with the small colliery situated on the same large site. All the coal or Ironstone from the mine was of course used in the Iron works. On the 26th February, 1855, prior to work commencing after a delay, 5 men were dispatched down the mine, two to feed the horses, and the others to check the mine for the build up of any gas, and to see that conditions were safe. With the rest of the shift assembling on the surface, down they went to carryout the work. Barely twenty minutes went by before there was a terrific explosion, which shook and rattled the windows around West Bromwich. The yard quickly filled up and a rescue party bravely ventured down the still smoking pit shaft. The mine was a shambles, torn and twisted metal, shattered timber, and a dead horse, were the first thing they saw. Hearing cries, they recovered, shaken but mainly un-injured, the two men who had sent to look after the horses. A bit farther in and they came across Samuel Wincote, very badly burned, and they tenderly carried him back up the shaft. He wasn't given much chance of recovery, and indeed, he didn't last long. Thick smoke and fumes forced the rescue party back, and the search for the two missing men was temporarily abandoned. Late on the Monday, over 24 hours since the blast, they found the mangled and burnt body of Joseph Hughes, the pits deputy, and again they were forced to stop and retire. Several days later, after shifting much rubble, the horrifically injured body of the mines doggy, William Bristol, was recovered from near the coal face. The Inquest on this one, was only ever going to come to one conclusion, especially after the evidence had been heard.


The men, under the leadership of Joseph Hughes, had gone down the pit with the required number of safety lamps. Most of them were found intact, and more importantly, unused near the bottom of the shaft. For reasons that would only be known to the three dead men, they had decided to use naked candles instead, leaving the lamps to be used by the ostlers with the horses. The blast had quite obviously happened at the coal face, and as the only one found in this area was William Bristol, he was the likely culprit. Why an experienced miner would committ such a stupid error of judgement may be explained by the comments of a witness. Bristol, it was alleged, had been drinking in a local tavern until the small hours of the morning, and had gone straight from there, to the Colliery. All the three dead men had families, who were all left destitute by this terrible event. A clear case when " One for the road ", is certainly one drink too many.

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There are over 1,200 stories on the website, all contained within the different Forum sections, for this is not a normal forum based site. Key into the search facility, a Town, place, name, event, or subject from the Black Country, and you will be surprised at just what comes up.

April 13, 2014 at 3:25 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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You will find over 1,300 different stories of numerous  Blackcountry Facts, Memorabilia, Murders, Crime and Punishment, Miscellanous Stories, Mining History, Military History, Heroes, and for the end, a few Epitaphs to send you on your way.  Hundreds of names, places events and dates to check, hopefully, an aid to your family history research. Contributions about the many subjects welcomed, just Press the Contact Me button, and I will endeavour to respond as quickly as I can. Alternatively, you can post a comment on the website in the Post Box, or the " Can you help " section.

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Subjects include, Local and National Executioners, Mines and Owners, Ironworking, Steam Engines, older Census Returns, Folklore, Coal Masters, Nailmaking, Foul Murders, Locally sponsered Warships, and Prison Condtions. Names, dates and Events are included in all the many subjects. A Blog page is available, for comments about the site, and how to contact us is easy, just press the Contact Me Button. There are more details about the site, on the Home Page.

BLACKHEATH PAGE UPDATED. 23rd June, 2014

The Green Fields of Mucklow Hill.

Foul Murders.

14, very nasty and messy Murders. Sharp implements as well as some Blunt ones included. Even more in the Ghastly Murders Topic on the Forums.

Executioners.

Updated, 18th Dec 2012.  A detailed look at the four local men who took up this gruesome task. Included, is a look at some other famous Hangmen, and a few facts you might not really want to know.

Unsolved Blackcountry Murders.

17 stories, a mixture of various dastardly deeds that remain unsolved, and the poor victims unavenged. Some from the distant past, and many from more recent times. Who, for instance, brutally slew Esther Baggott,  bludgened to death a Dudley money lender, and why did someone snuff out the life of a Pregnant Tennis player.

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A bit of prose, fancy words, insults, and a few of the more unusual inscriptions, found on Headstones and Memorials. You wouldn't get away with some of these today, but they can be very funny, as well as bitingly cruel. If you have a favourite one I have not included, get in touch and I will put it in.

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A bit of a tongue in cheek look at History. In two parts, 1800-1816, then 1817 - 1901. A series of dates and events, that you may be able to fit into your family tree research.  Some of it may help to explain just why your relatives acted as they did.