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Forum Home > Tale's from the region. > Wordsley, Worcestershire.

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Wordsley, Stourbridge, Kingswinford, Amblecote



The A491, from Stourbridge to Kingswinford, although you may not realise it, marks the western boundary of the South Staffordshire Coal Field. As far as the records go, there are no mines on the Wordsley, Stourbridge, side of the road. From High Street Kingswinford, to the Stourbridge Ring Road, is, or should I say, was, famous for it's fine production of Glassware. This is no accident, the whole area, west of Brierley Hill, was found to be full of the excellent clay required for glass making. The subsequent mines, produced both coal and Fire Clay, sometimes, both commodities together. Between the Dudley Road out of Kingswinford, and Brettall Lane at Amblecote, there were no less than 35 old mines, 7 large brick and Tile works, and 5 large clay quarries. In the 1850s alone, over 14 million Fire bricks were produced from this small area, a truly staggering achievement. Most of the clay was mined from 5 large pits, the rest from a host of other smaller ones, scattered across what must have looked like a lunar landscape. Today, it resembles a vast housing complex, which, apart from the roads like Bromley Lane still following the same line, would be unrecognisable to our ancesters. Wordsley, could consider itself lucky, the area built on is a lot lower than it was, owing to the large amount of clay extracted from mines and quarries. It was also at one time, a large opencast coal mine, and when they came to level it all off for building, a large number of old coal shafts were found. Some of then still had tools in them, from almost a hundred years before. I suspect, that any shafts found on the Wordsley side, would be for drainage or water extraction. Mind you, with all that wealth to be dug from the ground, I bet many tried their luck, wherever they could. I trust this short piece of history has been of use to you.

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

August 12, 2011 at 4:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Wordsley, Pensnett, Brierley Hill, Brockmoor, Explosions.


Staying roughly in the same area, this next piece is about an old Commonside, Pensnett miner. He must have led a very strange life. Born Joseph John Lownes, in Feb,1854, he worked in the local mines until his marriage in 1880. Not only did he gain a wife, he also gained a new name, as his Birth Certificate was altered, ( illegally ) and he became Joseph John Jackson. What his wife, the former Mary Ann Allen thought about this, isn't known. Moving to Fenton Street, Brierley Hill, the union produced 2 children, then, to match the strangeness from before, 3 things happened, all in the followin few months. Late in 1890, Mary Ann died, the death not being registered until January 1891. In April, he applied for the Licence of a vacant Public House, Brockmoor House, on the corner of High Street, and Station Road, Brockmoor. The Magistrates, for reasons not reported, refused the application. This may have had something to do with the mining subsidence in the area, and may also have been why Brockmoor House was vacant. No magistrate's in their right minds were going to licence a premises, in danger of collapsing, and maiming or killing the customers. He does appear to have moved in though, but not with his children. ( even he must have thought it a dangerous building. ) He wasn't alone in this venture, his father appears to have been a silent partner, and between them, over the next few years, they propped up the building, ( see picture ) and applied again for a licence. Meanwhile, the locals were speculating on Josephs rather hurried marriage in July, just 7 months after the demise of his wife, and according to local rumour, leaving a question mark over her death. The new bride, Annie Elizabeth Growcott, who was said to have be a former barmaid at the Pub, a role she began again when the Licence was finally granted. The marriage produced four more children, and although the pub did reasonable well. he needed some other income to support his growing family. Together with his father, he took on a lease of a local mine, and became what was known as a Chartermaster. ( Managing, but not owning the Pit, which was possibly the old worked out Wallows Colliery, of Nine Locks fame ) Things may have gone well for a time, but mining being what it was at the time, there was a surprise in store for Joseph.



The whole area was pock marked with pits and old shafts, and fate, in the form of subsidence, struck him a deadly blow. Brockmoor House, dispite all their efforts,began to fall apart, and it was neccessary to now prop up the entire front with tree trunks, This of course affected the Pubs trade, afterall, you don't want to fall down a large deep hole while partaking of your favourite beverage, do you. He struggled to pay his bills, and the worry, which included the present Licence, which looked likely to be withdrawn, affected his health, although this may have been more Mental, than Physical. On the morning of the 26th May,1900, Joseph stayed in bed, telling his wife he felt unwell, the cause of which may have been the imminant visit of the Bailiffs, to collect on a bill for £36, money, niether he, or his father, actually had. About 10.45am, much to the surprise of two customers who were standing outside, ( Given the state of the building, I'm not surprised ) there was a very large explosion, which blew out all the upstairs windows, and scattered debris across the road. Dashing in to help Annie, who was screaming for help, they went upstairs to find a horrible scene. Lying on the floor, was the mangled body of Joseph John Jackson, smoke still rising from the massive wounds on his chest. It begins to assume a story of mystery from here on, as it appeared that either he had himself placed, inside his night shirt, a quantity of Gun Cotton, poured on some Nitric Acid, and then set fire to it, or someone else had. As a partime mine manager, he would have had access to the Gun Cotton and Nitric Acid, and no one would have missed such a small amount anyway. If it was a suicide, he had planned it, and to be honest, it sounds like the right explanation. But no, the inquest jury, and maybe they knew he had insurance, came in with a verdict of " Accidental Death ". A very strange end, to a very strange life, which left the residents of Brockmoor to speculate to their hearts content on what really happened in the Pub. Now, despite the violent explosion, the pub did not immediately fall down, although the damage caused it's shut down, never to reopen as a Public House. Just another strange little thing, in this strange little story.  An application by Josephs father to the Magistrates, to pull down the building, and rebuild on the same site, was met with a point blank refusal. It was later demolished, and a new Brockmoor House was built on the opposite side of the road, but not by the Jackson family.

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

February 20, 2012 at 3:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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