Top bloke and contributor Stevie378 recently commented that a relative was in a local mine rescue team. With that in mind, and especially for his mum, whom I know to be a keen reader of this blog, I’ve dredged the internet and fired up the scanner to bring you some pictures of the proud volunteers who saved many lives. These were men of immense bravery, the first into a dangerous situation, their only consideration the rescue of their workmates. Walsall Wood in particular has a spectacular and honoured history in this respect, and I will return to that in a later post.
I can’t really add much to the original captions on these, so please excuse the brevity.
I thank all those who have sourced these images – Brian Rollins, The Edditor, David F Vodden. Jan Farrow, Walsall Local History Centre. Please, please buy their books and support their tireless, invaluable work.
From 'Brownhills and Walsall Wood ion old picture postcards' by Jan Farrow.
Walsall Wood Mines rescue team 1957, from The Edditer's flickr stream. I find the serious faces and canary very sobering.
Taken from 'Coal Mining in Walsall Wood, Brownhills and Aldridge' by Brian Rollins and published by Walsall Local History Centre.
These fine men would have been based at the Grove Colliery. It's interesting that the nomenclature contains military overtones - perhaps some of these men fought in the war, even though they were in a protected occupation. Like the fire service I guess, military discipline and coordination would have been essential to success and teamwork. Note the similarity in kit and appearance to the Walsall Wood team, above. From 'Around Pelsall and Brownhills in old Photographs' by David F. Vodden.
Aldridge and Walsall Wood mines recue team, pre 1936 from The Edditer's flickr stream.
It's fascinating to see that these teams were the subject of immense pride and competition between pits and that competitions were held. These men must have been the pride of their communities and indeed, of the Chase Coalfield. Taken from 'Around Pelsall and Brownhills in old photographs' by David F. Vodden.
Re the 1957 photo, I recognise the man with the canary as Sammy Warrington, and the chap behind was Bob Bird
Bob Bird was my father – I have the original (or a very old copy of this photo).
Wish Dad was still around to show him the pix and ask if he knew any of the guys from 1957. We should all celebrate these brave chaps – rescue workers in particular, but really anyone who made a living in a mine. Horrendous work. We truly don’t know we’re born.
Second from front is Bob Bird.
Wow! Just doing some research for my teaching at a local primary school and discovered two photos of my Grandpa – W Fellows (Bill) in the 1948 and 1946 Grove Pit photos.