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Now in some other posts, the ground subsidence, caused by mining, has been mentioned. Way back in 1866, it was a bit more of a problem, given that the Earl of Dudley, could dig exactly where and when he liked. He did though, from time to time, build, or for a small rent, allow a few houses on his land. Such was the case at a little place called Newtown, situated between Cradley Heath, and Old Hill. The place grew over the years, and by the time of this tale, it had quite a few houses, and at least 4 Pubs. The Licencee of one of them, was Matthew Tromans, a Chainmaker by trade, who, with his wife Susannah Tromans, ( nee Fleming ) and most of his family of 8 Children, all resided at the premises. For anyone researching the names, Matthew was born in Newtown in 1816, and his wife was born about 1817 in Lye. They were married in Wordsley, in 1838, and all of their children had Biblical names.
He had been there a number of years, and over time, had noticed that a number of cracks had appeared in the walls. As they had at a good many other places in Bowling Green, and Newtown. This was not unusual in Cradley Heath, and he had adopted the standard practice of the time, " cramping " the house which iron rods, and buttressing the place with tree trunks. On the afternoon of the 4th Dember,1866, a huge hole suddenly appeared in the back yard of the Pub. Matthew Tromans had been struck with what was known as a " Crowner ", the sudden collapse of the ground into mineworkings, that got bigger and bigger. Poor old Matthew had to stand and watch in horror, as first the Cart Shed, the Brewhouse, and finally the back Kitchen disappeared into the huge hole. With them went several barrels of beer and cider, as well as all the untensils used for brewing and cooking. If that wasn't bad enough, the collapse produced a large quantity of " Sulpherous Gas " from the mine below, which I should add, was owned by the aforementioned Earl Of Dudley. I suppose, like most of us, he could have coped with just this, but oh no, the gas now caught fire, the flames reaching higher than the pubs roof. All the heat set fire to the wooden windows and shutters, and as there was a strong wind blowing, the Pub was soon onfire as well. Luck now came to poor Matthews aid, as the Dudley Firebrigade, such as it was, arrived on the scene and put out the fire, allowing him to rescue some of his possesions. This respite didn't last long, as the hole steadily got larger and larger.
News of the strange happening soon spread, and within a short space of time, hundreds of people had gathered at the scene. Nothing like a good disaster to get the neighbourhood out for a good old gawp is there. With the extra help, Matthew managed to save most of his furniture, clothes, Linen, and the beds. Just in time as turned out, as the entire rear of the Pub now also disappeared into the large black hole. Bricks and Timber were valuable items in 1866, so working at a frantic pace, his friends,neighbours and previous customers, began tearing down what was left of the house, piling it up a safe distance from the still growing hole. He was to be grateful for all this help, as the Earl of Dudley, as per his right to dig where he liked, never ever paid compensation to hapless house owners.Matthew Tromans and his family were lucky, as were the men drinking in the Pub at the time, twenty feet nearer, and they would all have unintentionally gone mining. There's no record of the barrels of beer or cider being recovered at any stage, perhaps the miners, who cleared up the mess, had a good few days underground.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
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