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Forum Home > Mining History. > Cakemore Colliery/Blackheath.

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Following several requests, and as an aid to finding your long dead relatives, here's a brief history, of the only mine that operated in Cakemore. It's an ancient Parish is Cakemore, long amalgamated with the old Parish of Hill, to form Hill and Cakemore, which historicaly, have always been parts of Halesowen. The Colliery was started sometime around the 1860s, in what was then known as Cakemore Lane, ( much later known as Yates Lane ) and worked a thick seam of Coal, which was also worked by the nearby Station Colliery, in Blackheath. The owners, The Cakemore Colliery Company, on finding a rich seam of Blue Grey Clay, also started a brick works on the same site. The site had a direct link, via a tramway, to the Great Western Railway, at Blackheath, and a narrow guage inclined plane, that enabled the coal to sent to the The Birmingham Canal Navigation wharfe at Causeway Green. The brickworks should not be confused with the Blackheath Brick Works, which confusingly, was situated in what then was Narrow Lane, Hurst Green, and today named Fairfield Road, nor with the other Brickworks, Regis Brick Company, owned by local man Benjamin Hobbs, near the railway line at the back of the Parish Church, and reached from Station Lane, now called Nimmings Road. Neither site was in anyway connected with the famous, and original, Staffordshire Blue Bricks, which were all made from Eutoria Clay, and came from the north of the county in Stoke-on-Trent, hence the slightly different  name they chose, SouthStaffordshire Blue Bricks.  Now, on to the death of a miner.

Thomas Baker, was actually born in Brierley Hill in 1860, and spent his life as a miner. At the time of his death, in 1912, he was living at 7, Barrs Road, Old Hill, and was under Manager at the colliery/brickyard, now owned by H S Pitt and Company. He was a married man, and had 7 children, some of whom had already left home to make their own way in life. On the 17th October, 1912, the shift underground was making their way to the surface. Both empty and full tubs were being shunted around, ready for the next shift. Two men were in a hurry to finish that day, the hooker on, and the engine man. Instead of sending the empty tubs to the coal face, the hooker sent the loaded ones to the pit shaft, down the same roadway that the shift were walking. The sytem was a three quater inch diameter endless rope, a Plough Steel Flexible rope with a breaking strain of 22 tons, and was only a few months old. The engineman, in a hurry, switched the winding motor to full speed, causing a tremedous tug on the rope, which snapped. The full tubs, on the mines inclined plane, rapidly gained speed and headed back into the workings where the men were by now making their way past the empty tubs. The collision badly injured several miners, and fatally injured Thomas Baker, who died within a few minutes, from the massive crush damage he had received. Both men were found to be at fault, but no action was taken against them, except that they lost their jobs, which was a poor exchange for the life of Thomas Baker. I have found three other deaths at this mine, and, as it may help others with relatives long gone, I will add them after I have partaken of my evening meal.

The first one is that of  Thomas Bateman aged 26. His job at the Cakemore Colliery Company was as a " Pikeman ", which entailed prodding the coal, after it had been undercut, to bring it down. The miners were paid for how much coal was produced, so there was some speed in the operation, to load and clear the coal face as quickly as possible. As you will find if you read some of the many other posts in this section, speed can lead to carelessness. Standing a bit to close to the fall, on the 5th October,1875, Thomas Bateman was struck by a large section of falling coal. He was taken back to his parents home in Blackheath, where he died the next day, leaving his parents and 6 siblings mourning the loss. The second man was Joseph Thompson, aged 30, another pikeman, born in Old Hill, and living in Spring Meadow, Old Hill. He suffered a similar fate as Bateman, dying on the 5th March, 1878. He left a wife and 2 young children. The third man was Job Prescott, aged 38, born in Old Hill, but at the time of his death, 13th March,1914, living at number 386, Long Lane, Blackheath. His brother Charles, and sister Polly, would no doubt have been some comfort to his wife and 2 children, for they both resided with him. His job was as a Hewer, a man who had the task of undercutting the coal, which in this mine, was still done by hand. Unfortunately, although standing some 10 feet away, as they bought down a section of coal, it was still to near, and he was buried alive under about 7 tons of coal and rubble. The mine closed down in the 1920s, although the brickyard continued for a few more years. The drying sheds were  subsequently  demolished, and the whole complex was abandoned, leaving just the collieries old offices, and the weighbridge. They were still standing in the 1970s.

Now do get in touch if you have anything to add, or have found the info useful, for it's surprising just how many times we have uncovered a lost relative, while searching for another.


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

February 26, 2014 at 11:46 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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