The 1st October 2012 – a couple of hours away from when I post this – will mark 82 years since the Grove Pit Disaster that killed fourteen local men in the mine that stood just off Lime Lane, on the border between Great Wyrley, Pelsall and Brownhills.
Much has been written here about this dreadful accident in the Harrison pit – my searches for John Bernard Whittaker’s grave, finding footage of the rescue on Pathe News archives. I’ve ruminated on the dreadful events of that October day, and how they were overshadowed by more newsworthy events. I, and contributors to this blog, have found the accident report online, and considered and investigated the nature of the Harrison operation and family.
Top readers and contributors Peter Cutler, Andy Dennis and [Howmuch?] have been instrumental in chronicling both the opulence, and the human cost of the mining companies that operated here. David Evans has documented how hard life was in the local area dominated by pits.
Please, on the 1st October, as you go about your business, stop and think about those men who died, their families and their legacy. Mining was not just employment, it was a culture and a way of life. It changed our landscape and made our local community what it is now – but everything that came was at a huge, human cost.
Those men died dreadful deaths. Reflect on that fact. Don’t ever let anyone romanticise or paint the mining years as rosy; they weren’t. Like many awful experiences, they were formative, character building and enriched our community. However, we’d never want to go through them again.
To the fourteen men below, rest in peace, lads. You’re not forgotten here.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