Face to face

Following on from my post last week where I featured local historian Gerald Reece’s research and loving reproductions of the mapping for the the proposed Norton Branch of the South Staffordshire Railway, I have an interesting document to share with readers.

Click on the image to see a medium quality version. A link to the full quality image is below. They are necessarily large images and may take a while to load.

Click on this link to download a full, high quality version. 12.5 megabytes

My favourite map dealer contacted me ten days ago with the offer of two rather interesting artefacts. One is presented here, and a second I’ll hold back for later. What you see is a digital scan of an original, 1884 plan drawing, produced for the London & North Western Railway Company, of rail and canal  arrangements around the Conduit Colliery, on the Brownhills-Norton Canes border. Little trace of any of the landmarks on this draft are extant today; the Cannock Extension Canal and basins have gone, as has the railway system and Red Lion pub. In short, this is the scale representation of a lost place.

The Conduit Colliery was just north of Bettys Lane, just west of the ‘kink’ in the road where it becomes Red Lion Lane. The pub no longer exists, but as can be seen, it was just northwest of the twist in the road, a twist that existed to accommodate a long lost railway bridge.

There’s a really cool exploration of what remains over at Captain Ahab’s Watery Tails. If you don’t know of the site, pop over and check it out, but prepare to lose hours of time on it…

Above: This was once the site of a railway bridge.

This is an original, historic document. Bearing compass holes, eraser marks and corrections, it was hand drawn on the 9th of January, 1884. I can’t read the footnote, but it contains the name Woodhouse – suggestions welcome on that score. Just to handle this fragile, 128 year old document is a rare honour. Showing the extent of the workings of the mine, I would imagine it was prepared  to make the railway engineers aware of structural conditions.

This is a map for railway civil engineers, not mining people.

Interesting to see the progress lines recorded – Lady Day, Michaelmas, Christmas – and in the deep workings, coloured red, also the term ‘Xmas’, which I assumed was a modern contraction.

Coal boats at the Conduit Colliery Basin, from Staffordshire Past Track.

Having discussed this with [Howmuch?] over a beer (being careful not to spill it!) we decided that the deep workings were being prepared: The ‘ladder’ element marked ‘Face of work’ was probably progressing forward in the same direction as the shallow, purple workings. Any input on that score is welcomed.

I welcome all comment on this plan, please do contribute. I’m particularly after any history or data on The Conduit Colliery, as what I have access to is somewhat sketchy and vague. I think the company was bought by The Littleton Colliery Company, and I know it had several pits, but I’m unclear as to how they were interrelated.

Now I have it scanned this map and its partner, I will now donate them free to the Cannock Chase Mining Historical Society, as this is clearly a document that should be available to those researching mining history, and not be held in private possession.

Here, I’ve oriented the plan so it’s north up, as is convention. It’s difficult to visualise the position. This is a big image, please wait for it to load.

This 1948 Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 map (Sheet SK00) shows the location of the colliery, and the canal and railway arrangements. This doesn’t mean they were all still extant in 1948; the surveys the map were based on were very outdated. Click for a larger version.

Here, i’ve overlaid the plan on Google Earth imagery. Please note, this should not be taken as accurate, it’s a best fit. An overlay you can load in Google Earth and play around with is linked below. Click on image for a larger version.

I’ve made a Google Earth overlay for this map, so you can experiment with it. You’ll need the standalone version of Google Earth, and  instructions on how to use it can be found in this post.

Conduit Colliery Google Earth overlay, hosted at Box – 6.6 megabytes

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10 Responses to Face to face

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    Once again, a great find and fascinating. My Mom worked at Conduit after she left school.

    I think the ‘Woodhouse’ note says: See letter to Mr Woodhouse 9th January 1884 Joseph Cooksey & Son West Bromwich.

    Joseph Cooksey & Son were surveyors. In 1881 JC, widower, age 66, was at 20 Paradise Street, West Bromwich, occupation Mining Engineer Surveyor & Auctioneer.

    Lady Day, Michaelmas Day and Christmas were three of the traditional quarter days when tax was reckoned.

  2. pedro says:

    Just as a starter here, there is another picture on Staffordshire Past-Track of Conduit Colliery No 3 (am I right in assuming this is the one involved?0…


    Date: 1890 – 1914 (c.)

    Description: View of colliery buildings, with three head frames or head gears and three chimneys in the background. Railway lines with coal tubs in the foreground.

    Conduit Colliery Company had several collieries in the Norton Canes/Brownhills area. The main two were No. 3 and No. 4 collieries. No. 3
    had three shafts. Sinking began there in 1858, but it was some years later before production began, as sinking conditions were very poor. The colliery closed in 1962. No. 4 Colliery had two shafts, which were formerly Norton Green Colliery. They were sunk in 1874 and closed in 1933.

    The Conduit Colliery Company was purchased by Littleton Collieries Ltd. in 1930 for £50,000.

  3. pedro says:

    Just for interest’s sake, the info from Staffs Past-Track above says the Conduit No 4 was closed in 1933.

    In the book William Harrison Company Limited by Mick Drury (2006) there is a mention of Conduit No.4, the Norton Green Colliery…

    “In 1870 William Bealey Harrison, John Harrison and Francis Holcroft of the Conduit Collieries were also listed as directors of Sandwell Park Collieries. The Norton Green Colliery, consisting of 1 and 2 shafts, was sunk for William Harrison in 1874, probably after the protracted miner’s strike. This was the time at the end of the Franco-Prussian war, a period which saw many other mines opened up in Cannock Chase.

    Norton Green Colliery was closed in sometime in the late 1890’s.”

    As the Conduit No 4 must have been reopened at some stage, it could be suggested that the Harrison involvement may have been a shrewd investment and discarded at maybe the right time!

  4. SPITFUL says:

    I think norton green colliery was connected to the conduit via a underground roadway. I remember the blue brick conduit wall which ran down the walsall road as kid it had a bad budge caused when the conduit site was cleared with soil pushed against it.The wall was later removed to allow access to start building the factorys and make it safe.One morning in the around 1970 i was off to school when i noticed one of the conduit pit shafts had opened up during the night this started a hunt for the other two shafts as it was only covered with railway sleepers! The shaft was opposite the shop called connies at the time under durapipe warehouse since closed down.Not sure which conduit it was

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