Black Country Muse

Subtitle

Digging for the Facts.

 

The title speaks for itself, it's no easy task, finding records of long gone holes in the ground, as most people who read this will know. It's a matter of which area to start with first. I have decided, after much debate, to start on the highest point of the Region, the Rowley Hills. I can't, with any certainty, tell you which mine came first, but it's likely to be one sunk on the Eastern slopes, towards Tividale, by Samuel Minton, and called the Grace Mary. I have found two recorded early deaths, relating to mining, Henry Sheldon, in 1695, who came from Tividale, and was killed in a " cole pitt " in the parish of Tipton. He was buried in Saint Giles, Rowley Regis on July 25th. The same year, another miner, William Willets, was also killed in a cole pitt, buried at the same Church, on November the 10th, and likely at the same mine. There is a record, of 6 men being killed in an explosion in 1821, in Rowley Regis, but no mention of which mine. There had been a mine at Oakham, since at least 1831, with the owner in all likelihood being William Bennett, who lived not far from the site, in a old house which is still standing today. Although the names of some owners are recorded, it's by no means certain, that they actually had much to do with the day to day running of the mine, that job was contracted out to a Coalmaster/Chartermaster/Butty. This man would be a former miner, or an experienced Engineer, and both would have had an eye on profit, not welfare. You will find photographs concerning the Industry in the Gallery.

Brickhouse Colliery. Shafts sunk before 1853, by Richard Davis, who is believed to have owned the Farm of that name. There were several deaths in the mine, mainly due to roof falls. In 1891, it was owned by J and G Dunn, and closed down in the early 1900s.

Portway Hall Colliery. Sunk in the 1840s, and owned by Darby and Dawes,  Mr Darby was at the time living in Portway Hall. By 1854, it was owned by Jones and Darby, but in 1861, it was owned by W H Dawes. Some deaths at the mine may have added to the problems, the main one being subsidence in the area. It may have closed in the 1880s.

Knowle Colliery. Shaft sunk in the 1840s, a short lived mine owned by Turner and Skelding, recorded in 1866, by the 1870s, I think it had ceased production.

Springfield Colliery. Started about 1843, and owned by the Dudley brothers Thomas and Isaac Badger, in 1859. Later owned by the Rowley Hall Colliery Company, and ceased operations in the 1920s.

Rowley Hall Colliery. Shafts sunk before 1861, by Wright and North, and in their ownership until 1873, when following a series of deaths, it was sold to The Rowley Hall Colliery Company. Following at least 7 more deaths, it was taken over by Bassano and Company in 1894. It ceased working in the 1920s.

Scotwell Colliery. No record of it's start up date but certainly not before 1870. It was owned by the Hawes Hill Colliery Company in 1894, which is the only mention of the name. It was situated just off Moor Lane, and ceased production about 1900.

Warrens Hall Colliery. Sunk in the 1870s by the land owners, The Earls of Dudley. There were several other previous old shafts at Warrens Hall, each one, like Saltwells, being given a number, rather than a name. Not a very productive mine, and following a death, the owners were severely criticised. Closed in the 1920s.

Pennant Hill Colliery. Sunk around 1870, by Messers H S Pitt, and the site of a disaster. which is covered in the posts on the forum. Ceased production in the 1920s.

Bell End Colliery. New shafts sunk on the site of a former un-named mine, and owned by the Rowley Hall Colliery Company. Unlike the rest, which ceased working due to flooding, this mine on the Southern slopes escaped. It closed in 1932, the last mine on the Rowley Hills.

Bell Farm Colliery. No location for this one, but it must have been in Rowley as the owners are once again the dreaded Thomas and Isaac Badger. Sunk pre 1850s, no mention after 1860, so it must have finished in the 1870s.

The Ball Colliery.  Listed in 1851, as being owned by William Bennitt. No mention beyond 1853, so he either sold it and the name was changed, or simple shut it down as uneconomical. A great many of them were.

Yew Tree Colliery. The only other one of note, on the Western side of the Rowley Hills, and owned by Cochrane and Company in 1878. Again, it's likely to have been sunk about 1870, and lasted until the 1920s, when it was subjected to flooding.

I may very well have missed a few, I have a list of names, mines, and locations, that with the passage of over a hundred and fifty years, are impossible to place. Recorded in 1831, there was the Blackheath Colliery, and from that time, many others sprang up, or, more accurately, sank down. The Fly Colliery, ( Charter Master, the Chapmen brothers ) off Garretts Lane, ( there was another Pit off Garratts Lane, closed due to flooding in the late 1860s ) had it's own Canal Basin, as did the Old Lion Colliery in Cherry Orchard, and The Barr/Basseno families Haden Hill No.1.( closed in the 1890s ) They opened a new Pit, Haden Hill No2 at Beauty Bank, dumping the spoil at the old No1 site. ( hence the place name, " Barrs Bonk " ) The Eagle, on the other side of the Canal, and the Waterfall Lane Colliery, owned by William Mills, were also supplied with their own basins. Another old mine, just the other side of Waterfall lane, was used to drain the water from the coal levels for all the mines in this part of Rowley Regis, paid for by the other mine owners. The water was used to top up the Canal. During the miners strike in 1921, they refused to pay up, and all pumping ceased, flooding all the mines, which led to a complete shutdown in 1922. Near to the Old Hill Iron Company, there was Mr Pearsons Colliery, The Old Hill Colliery, and the Bluebell Pit. Gawn Colliery No 2, had replaced the old Gawn, (closed 1870s) and on the other side of the G.W.R, there were the old Black Waggon, The Riddings Colliery, and the Bearmore. All being disused and closed in the 1890s. Anyone looking for mines in Sedgley, you will find a list in the Post Box Forum, and I have tried to match mine owners to the posts in the Factual History section. For any specific requests, e-mail me, and I will see what I can do. This page will be added to at a later date, when I will try to come up with a different area. like I said, it all takes a bit of time. One other point I should make, each of the mines mentioned had at least two men killed in it, during the mines working life. Some of them, a great many more.

Causeway Green and Cakemore.

A lesser known area than others, but, as an interest has been shown, here goe's. One mine in the area will be found in the Dangerous Jobs post in the forum, but it appears again here. It would seem to have been an unlucky place to work. The following Pits were all located in a small area bounded by Titford Lane and Penncricket Lane, and were collectively known as the" Pressure Pits", being so close together.

Titford, Long Meadow Colliery. Started in the 1850s by Joshua Bennett, one of several mines he would own in the district. In 1853, he sold the mine to another ambitious owner, Joshua Hackett. 1854 saw the death of William Lewis from a fall of Coal, another miner died later from injuries. Percy Plant was killed the same year, after his hand became trapped in the winding chain. He was pulled over the drum, which almost decapitated him. In 1857, two miners, Eli Chance, and Harry Roberts, were killed by falling Coal. A relative, Henry Hackett, died from the same cause in 1862, as did William Lane. Then followed the disaster in 1874. It closed a year later.

Causeway Green Colliery. Another of Joshua Hacketts pits, sunk in the early 1850s. James Hackett, a relative died in the mine in 1853, a fall of Coal the cause. William Harris and another un-named miner, were suffocated by gas in 1855, while sinking a shaft. William Taylor died in a fall of Coal in 1857, as did George Edwards in 1862. The last death at the mine was in 1874, when Thomas Harvey, idiotically walked in front of loaded tub going down an incline. The owner at the time was Samuel Bennett, having purchased the operation from Joshua's son William Hackett. The mine closed in the 1880s, John Hadley, the then owner, having failed to make any money from it due to a complete lack of any mining or financial accumen. He later committed suicide, after squandering any money he had left.

Langley Green Colliery. Sunk by Johnson and Company in 1854, it had a short life. Thomas Sale, one of the sinkers, was suffocated by gas in the shaft, due to very poor working arrangements.

Whiteheath Colliery. Owned by the Midland Coal Company, it started, again in the 1850s. In 1854, George Jackson was in a skip on the way down when the chains got tangled up. It fell to the bottom, and he was no more. The same year, William Spenser and another miner were killed by falling Coal. The mine was worked for coal, on and off for a number of years, until in 1869, under the ownership of Thomas Price, and this time mining Ironstone, there was a terrible roof fall. There had been an accident due to insuficient props being used in April, when Joseph Cadman had been badly injured, he died on 26th May. The worst accident occurred on 29th July, when the whole roof came down, burying four men. Henry Birch, from Langley, and Daniel Poole from Churchbridge, Odlbury survived, but Joseph Bowater, and Samuel Rudge were both killed. In 1871, another miner, Richard Jones, was killed in a similar roof fall. It closed in 1878, no longer being workable.  In the same area, and it's in the mining topics, was the Ramrod Hall Pit, scene of a terrible disaster in 1856, and owned by the Earls of Dudley. A second pit, with the same name was sunk a short distance away in the 1890s, but was shut down in 1925 due to persistant flooding, making it un-economical. It had been mostly worked out anyway.

Holt Colliery. Owned by Joshua Bennett and Sons, it opened in 1855. George Hadley is the first recorded death, in 1856, having been crushed to death between the tunnel wall and a loaded skip. 1857 saw the death of Thomas Parsons in a fall of coal, and in 1859, two more. Thomas Cox, in a a similar accident to Hadley, and Richard Shakespeare, from a roof fall. The mine was operated in 1860 by Messers Harper and Mason, ( Charter Masters ) when James Cutler was killed, riding on an empty skip, and when the next year Joseph White was killed by a roof fall, it was handed back to Samuel Bennett, Joshua's son. Mr Harper, going back to his small time farming, having narrowly escaped criminal charges for several avoidable accidents. In 1862, Joseph Bishop was moving as instructed some timber supports when the roof fell on him. Thats the last time the mine was mentioned.

Cakemore Colliery. Owned by the Cakemore Colliery Company in the 1870s, it seemed to have a better record than the others. There are only two recorded deaths, both in 1875, James Thompson, and Thomas Bateman, both killed in falls of coal. The Colliery was in operation until the 1920s, when a severe surface fire called a halt to all mining.

None of the listed mines were very large, but they all added to the area's coal output. Once again, there will be a few that have been missed, some only lasted a few years, and others were so unproductive they were closed almost as soon as they opened. Not much to see today, for all that effort. The shafts have all been filled, the spoil heaps flattened, and new housing covers the once scarred landscape. There's still plenty of coal down there though, they didn't get it all.

Oldbury and District.

There is always a problem, due to boundry changes, over just where to locate a mine when you find it, even the record keepers sometimes got it wrong. The other problem, is that the pits were given local names, like the " Black Bat ", or " Balls Hill, " making it difficult to sort out in the records, I was asked about the former some time ago, as the members relative was killed in an accident. It turned out that the mine he died in, was in fact recorded asTitford Long Meadow. Most of the ones listed for this section, began life prior too, or at the start of the 1850s.

Oldbury Colliery, started by Wood and Haines in the 1820s, and owned by William Bennett from at least 1850. He was a fairly prolific mine owner in the area, an interest that was carried on by his son. There are no clues to exactly where the mine was. As the name does not feature in any records after 1855, I assume it was either shut down, or simply sold on. There are records for other mines Bennitt owned, Furnace Number 3, and in 1856, the number was up to Furnace Number 13, where Joseph Atherton was suffocated by gas in June,1856.

The Sampson, Bury Hill, and Newbury Lane Collieries. Owned by Richard Haines, Haines and Davis, and Haines and Sons respectively. As you can see, very much a family affair, as they owned the land the mines were on. Most of the mines tended to be on the western side of Oldbury, following a line roughly from Whiteheath to West Bromwich. All started about the same time, and were closed, or shut down, before 1870.

Rounds Green Colliery. Owned my Mr North, and already covered in the mining disasters postings, in the Mining History seection. There was though, another mine which opened up later on, The New Rounds Green, operated by our friend William Bennett, trading as Bennett and Taylor. The partnership also had three other pits in this area, The Blue Fly, The Tiger, and The Bowers Green Collieries. Again, they have all disappeared long before the mid 1870s.

Birchey Field Colliery, from around 1848, was owned by the Dudley partnership of Parish and Lewis, better known for nailmaking than mining. Another mine was sunk in the same area after it quickly became barren, called the Coppice Colliery, this time owned by Johnson and Company. This didn't last long either, so a third mine was sunk, with the previous names combined, Birchey Coppice. The operators, Jones and Darby, fared no better than the others and it vanished from the records in 1872. 

Church Bridge Colliery, owned in 1854, by Spittle and Haines, was just a short distance from the Whimsey Colliery. This was owned by John Williams, who also owned another mine at Broadwell, just the other side of the Town centre, near to the Railway Station. This pit was in competition with The Bromford Colliery of Joseph Yates. 

Just to round up though, as there are a great many other small pits, Brades Hill, was operated by T.and S. Hunt, Highfields by Henry Wilkins, Radnal Field by Captain Bennett, ( the son of William ) Grange Colliery by Henry Nock, Union Colliery by William Proctor, and Hilly Colliery by Nock and Potter. Just to demonstrate, how hard it sometimes is, to locate and track these mines, here are a few more owners, minus the colliery names, which are now lost in time. Griffiths and Company, William Hackett, Harper and Mason, H.B.Whitehouse, William Gilbert, Richard Turner, and Kimberley and Guy. 

West Bromwich Mines.

For such a small area, there are a surprising numbers of Mines. Ranging from those worked by a handful of men, to others requiring a workforce of 70. There were also a great many accidents, one pit in particular, which seems to have been singulary unlucky. Sometimes, there were very close together, two in Marsh Lane, two in Church Lane, three at Crab Tree, all with different owners.

The Ebenezer. Started around 1800, at Hill Top, and one of the first to be recorded in West Bromwich as having suffered lose of life. Six miners, John Butler, Thomas Lawson, John Cotterell, James Nash, John Hicks, and Rowland Morris were all killed in fall of over 30 tons of coal and Ironstone, in October 1821. Morris was surprisingly still alive when they dug him out, but died later at home. No owner listed, but in 1871, it was in the hands of Benjamin Whitehouse, and by the 1890s employed 75 men.

 Hill Top Colliery, owner not known, was in operation around the same time as the Ebenezer, and recorded an accident on the 7th July,1830. Three young men, Richard Thomas, William Nightingale, and Daniel Gorton, were killed in an explosion of Sulpherous air. Caused once again by a naked flame.

Black Lake. Owned again by Benjamin Whitehouse, and sold on by him, following the dreadful accident, which is recorded in the mining posts on the forums. Thomas Philips (49) was the last recorded death at the pit in 1893, the owners being the Black Lake Coal Company. It had a recorded workforce in 1897 of 66.

The Meetings Colliery, owner not recorded, near to Black Lake, had the death of one William Beards recorded in April 1830. He died after being crushed by falling coal.

There was a pit still working the Black Lake area in 1881, The Bellsmoor Colliery, owned by Richard Burgess. Joseph Latham, 41, and the pits deputy, failed to secure his own safety by putting in some pit props on 24th May,1881, and paid a heavy price for this negligence.

Friar Park. Another Pit which gets a mention in the forum posts, and another accident that was avoidable. It closed around the 1880s, the owners then being William H Durres.

Hall End. There were three mines called by this name, one, owned by John Batson,  was also called  The Tantany Pit, and was later sold on to the Hall End Colliery Company. It employed 47 men.They had a bad year in 1892, when Daniel Harford was killed in February, Thomas Watson in April, and Joseph Harris, in July. Another pit in the area was owned by Parker and Halford, employing 7 men. Yet a third mine was opened in the 1880s, Hall End New, by Job Edwards, also with a workforce of just 7. He also had a bad year in 1892, Joseph Lunn died in September, closely followed by Thomas Poole in October, who fell out of the cage and into the pits water filled sump.

Heath, Lewisham, and Lodge Collieries. All owned by the Earl of Dartmouth, and not recorded as still working in 1890.

Sandwell Park. Owned by the Sandwell Park Colliery Company, and the largest of all the mines in the area, having around 640 men. This was by far the most dangerous mine in the district to work in. The entrance to the mine, was via Colliery Road, on the Birmingham Road, just short of the Handsworth boundry. The coal was conveyed to the Wolverhampton Level of the Birmingham Canal by a tramway which ran under Roebuck Lane, at the junction with Dartmouth Road. One shaft was 1,254 feet deep before they stuck coal, and the other was 1,263 feet, the deepest shafts in the area at the time, (1870 ) Between 1875, and 1894, ten men were killed, and almost treble that injured. Starting in March 1890, with Zacariah Pearson, James Hubbard and Frederick Merrick in 1891, then a brief respite until 1892, when Benjamin Whale was killed. 1894 was it's worse year, William Whitehouse, James Webster, Samuel Webster ( brother ) Thomas Harris, Samuel Richards, William Adams, and Frederick Millington, all died in the mine. The coal seam being worked was fairly small, and to make things a little more difficult, mining could only take place within the boundries of the Earl of Dartmouths land. By 1914, it was running short, and production had dropped. It effectively ceased mining in 1918, the last but one mine to operate in West Bromwich.Mining operations were moved to another mine, named as the Jubilee, this one being some distance away, in Park Lane, not far from the companies other venture, Hamstead Colliery. (See ' Last Mines after 1921 ', in the mining section)

Other mines in the area, and there are a great many, closed down, or simply disappeared without trace. Here are just a few. Witton Lane Colliery, owned by non other than the local Coroner, George Hinchcliff, in the 1850s. Charles Lee, aged 34, who worked at Witton Lane, the 3 x great grandfather of Diane Preece who supplied the information, was badly injured by a fall of Coal, and died in agony on 1st October,1842. Whites Farm, owned by John Spittle, Bush Farm, owned by Henry Dawes, appears to have been a bit tight fisted, for want of some timber props, George Beech lost his life on the 22nd November,1856. The Jervoise Colliery, owned by John Tildsley, Spon Lane, and Crook Hay Collieries, owned by  Davies and Sons, Oak House, James Roberts, Tantany Colliery, Davies, Field and Company. ( in which a 14 year old lad, William Philips, was killed in 1856 ) Another young lad, Charles Lee, also aged 14, was killed in the Hately Heath Colliery on 28th February, 1839. By a strange twist of fate, the nephew of the other Charles Lee. They both lived in Witton Lane. Other lives cut short, included, John Dawes, 11, at The Victoria Colliery of the Earl of Dartmouth, Henry Edwards, 12, at Joseph Piercy's Whyley Colliery, William Bate, and Samuel Turner, both 12, at The Bromford Colliery of W.H.Dawes, and Joseph Bullock, aged 46, at the Ridgacre Colliery of Henry Parrish. Most of the mines had only a handful of workers, like Coles Farm, Golds Hill, Rock Farm, and Golden Orchard Collieries. If the Colliery you have been looking for is not listed, just contact me, and I will do my best to find it.

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