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Forum Home > Mining History. > The Last Mines. After 1921.

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

It was of course, only a matter of time before the Coal ran out. It would have all lasted longer if the mine owners had adopted a more efficient way of working the Seams. In other regions the " Long Wall Method " was in use, but here, the chosen method was to leave pillers of coal, and work the seam via a system of short " Stalls ". Not only was this wasteful, but when it came to remove the pillers to mine the coal, very dangerous as well. The first generation of Miners, having plenty of coal to mine, simply abandoned the old workings, and started afresh, it was when the second, and then third generation came along, that old flooded and gas filled pits became a dreadful hazard. By the turn of the century, there were more miners than pits to work, and work was even harder to find after the First World War ended. The area around Rowley Regis, Cradley and Old Hill, was finished off in 1921, when a strike shut down the Drainage Mines as well as the working ones, leaving them flooded and forevermore unworkable. Some did struggle on though, the smaller ones, higher up the water table, or those with shallower seams. The Corngreaves Colliery, owned by Robert Fellows being one, and New British Collieries, owned by Garrett and Company, being the other. The brothers F.D.and L Sacker, managed to keep the Granville and Gorsty Hill Collieries going, as did Noah Hingley at his Coombes Wood Colliery. On the other side of  Rowley Regis, the only one still working in 1922, was the Lion Colliery of F.D.Chandler, in Newbury Lane. Surprisingly, at the top of Spon Lane, West Bromwich, two little mines clung on for grim death, Spon Lane Colliery, and a little shaft in the Kingston works of Everitt and Company.  The only large mine in West Bromwich, Sandwell Park, would last for a few more years yet. Tipton, at one time pockmarked with old mine workings and collapsed building, also only had a single mine in operation in 1922, J.T.Jones fighting a losing battle near the canal at Dudley Port. Over in Wednesbury, which from the start had been at the heart of the rush for this Black Gold, there was only the single pit of the Coal Hall Colliery still operating. Poxton and Read would sink a bit more money into the Bilston Road pit, before finally giving up a few years later. Prior Fields Colliery, at Deepfields, would be the last one still working in the old boundry of Bilston.  A bit further north, and J and T.R.Powys were still working the last remains of the seams left at Park Field and Rough Hills, which would soon be covered in much needed housing. Coal was still available in Short Heath, and New Invention, but the workforce and production were tiny compared with past years. The main production of coal had shifted, and most was now coming from the Cannock Coal Fields, with the one exception being the Earl of Dudley's mighty Baggeridge Colliery, at Himley, although H S Pitt managed to earn a few crusts fron the Earls ealier efforts at Shutt End. There were a few clinging on around Dudley as well, Peartree Colliery, at Holly Hall, the old Castle Fields Colliery, run by William Ellwell, the old workings at the Buffery, including Tensley Hill Colliery, and Hingley's still had a small pit at Netherton. There were two mines still working in the Gornals, Cartwrights in Upper, and the Dock Colliery in Lower. Almost completing the circle, the next place with any working mines was the area between Shut End and Stourbridge, for this was the land of not just coal, but of the clay and Brickworks. These mines, in 1922, are the same as they were at the turn of the century, and I have covered them in a seperate topic.

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

August 3, 2013 at 4:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

What was the last mining disaster in the Blackcountry, I have been asked, and it has proved to be a difficult question to answer. Do I go with the Colliery location, or where some of the men who died lived. I have decided on the latter, for it may help with someones genealogy research.


When it comes to some Mines, it's worth while to indulge in a bit of history first. Sandwell Park Colliery, West Bromwich, supposedly ceased mining operations about 1918, but kept the site, and the light railway link to the canal, open.



This was because, in 1895, knowing that the coal would soon be exhausted, they had begun the sinking of a new mine, further north, in Warstone Fields, ( Park Lane ). It was to take 8 years before they found any coal, a seam 18 feet thck, and then it was over 1,800 feet below the surface. The first shaft constructed was a drainage shaft, for the site was very close to a flood plain, and needed constant pumping. Three men were killed in a tragic accident during the main shaft construction in 1907. William Ernest Haigh, 32. and Matthew Copson, 30, both from Wood lane, West Bromwich were killed instantly, when a bowk became dislodged, and plunged down the shaft. Edward Thomas, 34, from Hargate Lane, died later in Hospital. It's a wonder, that all 12 men at the bottom of the shaft, with nowhere to run to, were not all killed. 4 others were injured.  The newly named, Diamond Jubilee Colliery, had got off to a bad start. The Company faced several problems with this site, not only the water problem, but the same boundry conditions prevailed, and permission had to be sought to transport the coal from the pit. There was only a very narrow road, Park Lane/Forge Lane, which marked the boundry between West Bormwich and Hamstead. The main railway link, ( which also served Hamstead Colliery ) was over the border line, as was the Tame Valley Canal. Met with a point blank refusal to allow any changes to what had always been concidered to be a rather historic area, they had to come up with a different solution. ( A light Railway, from the pit, to the site of the old Colliery, at the bottom of Colliery Road ) When they did, even this faced a few problems.



The new shafts, had been sunk about 500 yards south of Forge Farm, and about 200 yards north of an ancient Saw Mill, at Swan Pool. The rail lines headed west, missing the Mill and Swan Pool, before turning, and heading off to the south. Slap bang in the way, were the old Pleasure Gardens, which, belonging to the Earl, were crossed on a small viaduct, and then into a tunnel to go under the Birmingham Road, finally joining the older tramway from Sandwell Park Colliery, at the junction of Roebuck Lane and Dartmouth Road. ( A distance of almost 2 miles ) At one time, the Diamond Jubilee, and Sandwell Park sites employed almost 750 men, 600 being at the Jubilee site. Coal production again fell away in 1939, down to 5,000 tons per year at Sandwell Park, and 10,000 tons at the Jubilee. Permission was sought to extend the workings at the Jubilee Colliery, and also to begin new operations at Sandwell Park. ( This was a surprise, as previously it had been said that mining had ceased at this site almost 40 years before )  Worried about subsidence, West Bromwich Council placed restrictions on boundries and refused permission to mine anywhere beyond Beeches Road. ( The boundry of Dartmouth Park.) The owners also had to give up any rights they had, to the mineral resources beneath Dartmouth Park.  In 1947, The complex, together with Hamstead Colliery, came into the hands of The National Coal Board, and, faced with escalating costs and low coal production, the Diamond Jubilee and Sandwell Park were run down, the latter ceasing all production and work in 1951, and the former in 1956, finally closing in 1960. The 94 miners, still working on the site, being transferred to Hamstead Colliery. Despite all the modern equipment, there were a number of fatal accidents, and which I will list elsewhere.

Hamstead Colliery. ( Great Barr/West Bromwich )

It would have been, the 15th May, 1933, when four men, John Collins, 66, of New Buildings Hamstead, Samuel Collins,56, ( his brother ) 56, Lindon Avenue Hamstead, Frank Morris, 47, Newton Road, Great Barr, and  Alfred Turley, 19, Margaret Street, Walsall, were all buried in a roof fall of over 50 tons of rock at Hamstead Colliery, Great Barr. John Collins had 35 years service at the pit, Samuel 40 years, and Frank Morris 30 years.

West Cannock, Hednesford and Bloxwich.

These deaths were shocking enough, but the very next day, 16 th May, at the number 5 Pit of the West Cannock Colliery Company, Brindley Heath, an explosion killed 3 men, badly burned 3 others, and injured a further 14 men. In the days that followed three more died bringing the total to 6. The explosion had been caused by a spark from a signal bell, attached to an under ground engine, and ignited a pocket of gas at the coal face. The efforts made to rescue the injured were commendable, the squads risking their own lives in the valient attempts, for they were beaten back a few times. I have also included it because of the many orphans it left behind. The men who died are as follows. Samuel Nickless Gwilt, 39, a married man with 9 children who resided in Upper Sneyd Road, Essington.  Bejamin Corwall, 29, a married man with 1 child, from 104 Huntington Terrace Road, Chadsmoor.  Charles Turncock, 45, a married man of 80, Heath Street, Hednesford, who 2 children. ( twins ) John Henry Williams, 33, married, from Parker Street, Bloxwich.  William Thomas Higgins, 35, from High Mount Stret, Hednesford, and Joseph Williams,29, the brother of John, 29, married and from School Street, Short Heath, Bloxwich. This Mine by the way, worked right on the fault line that seperates the two coalfields that made the region famous for it's coal production, and unlike most of the others in the region, was almost a thousand feet deep. Call it a small gesture on my part, but Miners are a special breed, and dead ones deserve at least a little memorial.

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

March 20, 2015 at 5:43 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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