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Forum Home > Mining History. > Rowley Hall Colliery.

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I have received a few requests regarding Rowley Hall Colliery, and also for a list of who worked there. There wasn't a requirement to keep employment records, indeed, most were employed by an outside contractor called a " Butty " anyway. As mine shafts take a while to construct, it's not always easy to put an exact date on a when they started producing coal. In this case, it would have been between 1857, and 1861. It's quite possible it was earlier, as the coal was found quite deep down, and it was noted at the start that it was "Wet Mine ". There were three coal seams, " the thick ", being part of the famous  "Staffordshire 30 foot " , below that a layer of clay, then a small 2 foot seam called " the Broach ", another layer of clay, and a 5 foot seam called  " Heathen coal ". Frederick North, who had provided most of the finance for the venture, had all three seams mined, but began to run out of capital and took on as a partner, Benjamin Wright. Mr Wright already owned, of had an interest in several other mines, mostly on the Tividale/Oldbury side of the Rowley Hills. It's known, that as early as 1864, the two men were working this mine. Like a lot of owners, they had a tendency to cut a few corners, one of which was to trust that the roof was sound, and fail to insert enough timber props. This resulted in the death of Joseph Waterhouse, 23, on the 20th June 1867, and, two months later, the death of Joseph Robinson,17, on the 2nd August, in exactly the same spot. Both men were crushed to death. Now they put in more supports, but failed to replace the ones steadily rotting away in the wet conditions.. The mines Chartermaster, an experienced man called Adam Latham, seemed to quite happy with this, and work went on, even though there were a few more close calls. On the 23rd October,1868, the miners reported some rather ominous noises from the timber supports and the roof. Latham, and two other miners, went down to inspect the area, and before they got halfway along the gateroad, a loud crack was heard. The two miners, knowing full well what was about to happen, made a headlong dash for one of the nearby dugouts, fully expecting Latham to join them. He didn't, Adam Latham had been buried under several tons of rock and coal, it taking most of the day to extract his body. A great many records were lost in a fire in 1877, and the next nasty accident isn't recorded until 1881, when the pits Engine man, George Tierney, was the fatality. He had gone down the shaft to repair the signal bell, and when he had finished, made an attempt to jump into the ascending cage. He didn't make it, and was mangled between the cage and the shafts brick wall. Rather surprisingly, there were no fatal accidents for the next 7 years, but when one did occur, it was a double. Hewing the coal was a very dangerous job, first undercutting a section, and then bringing it down. William Franks, 31, and John Robinson, 31, had almost finished the udercut when, without any warning, the whole lot came down. There was no escape for either man, working on their sides, in a gap 5 feet deep and 2 feet high. Franks was a Bondsman, a man who had contracted to work a fixed period for the mines Chartermaster, being very experienced at the job, and commanded a higher wage as a result. Soon afterwards, Wright and North ran into financial trouble as the price of coal came down, and eventually sold out to Bassano and Company in 1892. The last recorded death in the mine was in 1894, when Alfred Ashman, died after a fall of rock. There were several other deaths connected with the mine, but these ocurred on the mines inclined and rope operated railway, which ran down the hill to the coal wharf at Whiteheath. Local children used the empty returning waggons to play on, for they couldn't be seen by the Engine driver at the top of the hill. Only when he received a signal from the Wharf, did he know there was a problem, and by then. it was too late. The mine was almost worked out after WW I, and the miners strike in the 1920s, which colsed down the drainage pits as well, put paid to any further mining. It's still possible to trace the line of the old railway up the hill, but theremains of the old pit head have long gone.


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

May 24, 2013 at 3:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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