Footage of Grove Pit Disaster, 1st October, 1930

A tip of the hat yet again to local history wonder [Howmuch], who in addition to spotting the Chasewater newsreel in the British Pathe archive, was busy over the weekend rooting through other video archives for the benefit of likeminded Brownhills local history ferrets. This snippet – just 21 seconds in length, from the archive, ITNsource, strikes me as being a bit of a find.

The accident occurred deep underground at the Grove Pit, on Wyrley Common (not far from the top of Engine Lane in Brownhills) on October 1st, 1930. Fourteen men perished, and the memorial to the ten fallen of Brownhills still stands in the cemetery at St. James’ Church, Brownhills. It is said that the incident garnered little media attention at the time due to it’s coincidence with the demise of the R101 airship, which itself took 46 lives.

Click the image to go to the ITN archive to view the film.
The miners who gave their lives were:
Alfred Boden aged 49
John Brownridge 34
Ben Corbett 52
John Hackett 33
Alfred Heath 27
Jack Holland 41
Richard Howdle 30
Alex Martin 32
James Malley 33
William Robbins 45
John Scoffam 50
Harry Smith 38
John Whittaker 44
William Whittaker 62
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  • Janet Whittaker

    I came accross your website whilst looking for a site for Walsall Wood Cemertary as my Grandad John Whittaker was killed in the Grove Pit. We are coming up to attend the 70th anniversary of the disaster but we do not know where his grave is, although we belive it is in Walsall Wood Cemertary. Myself and my 3 brothers are the only direct descendants of John Whittaker and welcome this opportunity to pay our respects. The footage was a great find. My father settled in Oxfordshire in the 1950’s and we do not have any living close relatives.

    • Kerry Evans

      Hi, I have recently took an interest in the mining disaster and I went to st james church today to see the grave stone but noticed there was only 10 lines and Im trying to find out about the other four men? Are they buried else where etc?

      • Hi Kerry.

        There is an error stated in a local history book that all the men were buried at St. James. It’s incorrect, and sadly, several sites (including the Wikipedia article for a while) repeated this error. As you observed, only ten men are buried there.

        A couple of years ago I did a lot of research on John Bernard Whittaker, one of the fallen men. He’s buried at Walsall Wood cemetery, in Brookland Road. I still haven’t located the remaining 3.

        I’ve written lots about this accident.

        Best one to read is this one:
        The official accident report is linked in the text.

        There is other research here:

        And a whole bunch of John Bernard Whittaker material here, including pictures and how to find the unfortunate man’s headstone:

        Hope that is of some help.
        If you do find the remaining three graves, please do let me know.

        • Emma Smith

          James Malloy buried at Hammerwich. John Whittacker buried Walsall Wood. Alfie Boden buried St James Norton Canes and John Holland buried Pelsall parish curch.

          • thanks, Emma, that’s answered a very longstanding question!

            Thanks so much

  • Hi Janet

    The graves and memorial to the Grove Pit Disaster are in Brownhills Cemetery in Great Charles Street. I’m working on a piece for the blog, and took a photo of the graves and memorial just a couple of weeks ago. You can find a picture of it on my panoramio gallery here:

    If you click on the photo you can view it full size, there is a Whittaker recorded (grave is on the right), but the name is Willam, not John.

    I’ll do a better post for you either tonight or tomorrow. Any help I can be, please let me know.

    Best wishes


  • Hi Janet

    I’ve since discovered that not all the victims of this disaster were buried in Brownhills, 14 men died and 10 are interred at Brownhills. I will try to get to Walsall Wood today to see if I can find your John.



  • Raymond (Ray) Wall

    The Grove Colliery Disaster.

    Brownhills Blog

    My maternal grandfather, Chris Wood, was a carpenter at the Grove for many years retiringin the 1950s. A wheelwright by trade, he helped local farmers keep their farm wagons in repair and was usually paid for his work with chickens, meat and the like. I recall accompanying him down the pit and into the area where the ponies had their stalls. He would ask the winding operator to take me down gently, less than the usual speed the colliers ‘enjoyed’. He lived in Brooklland Road, Walsall Wood, but every Sunday morning would cycle over to Brownhills, to his local, the Jolly Collier, in Pelsall Road. He had a long and outstanding records of military service, both as a Territorial and throughout WWI.- the Somme and Ypres, as well as active service in Mesopotamia. At the age of 83 he courageously decided to emigrate and joined my family in Canberra, Australia, in 1965, where he lived until his death aged 94 years. My grandma often visited the Brownhills cemetary where the pit disater miners were buried, taking me with her, as she was mourning her son – also a Grove Colliery miner – who had died at the age of 19- of an illness curable today by antibiotics! I have enjoyed sharing these thoughts with you. Thank you. Ray (Sydney, Australia)

  • Mike hawes

    I came across the grave site whilst working around the area , I saw it from my van when parked by the cemetery and took the time to go in and look. I thought it might be miners , the 30’s style art deco grave site caught my eye. Its being cared for and kept clean which is good to see.

    The R101 disaster happened the same time so this disaster which claimed 14 lives didn’t get much coverage .

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