Private investigations


The Grove Pit Disaster was a real body blow to Brownhills, and the entire town turned out to mourn, aware that there, but for the grace… Remarkable image of the funeral from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

Reader and top local history wonk David Evans has had access in recent weeks to lots of material from the Norton Canes Historical Society, a group which still seems to be in existence.

One of the things David has unearthed in his relentless and dogged research is a wonderful, thorough and thought-provoking report into the Grove Pit Disaster, which occurred at the Grove Colliery, on Wyrley Common, just off Lime Lane on October 1st, 1930.

The report was written by Lynn Hopley and S.J. Whitehouse, and is remarkable for the exhaustive depth and extent of research, which can’t have been an easy task in 1975. It really is an impressive thing indeed.

I’ve covered this dreadful event here before extensively; my hunt for the grave of John Bernard Whittaker, ruminations on the accident, and newsreel film of the rescue operation above ground.

David Evans’ conscientious scans of this report add to the extensive information available here on the subject, and complement the research and writing by Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler into the wider Harrison mining operation and family dynasty.

I thank David and the authors for this wonderful and sombre report. I’ve seen lots of sites touch on the grove Pit Disaster, repeat the same silly error, and move on. I think it’s important to get as much information up and publicly available as possible.

It’s easy to see incidents like these as one-dimensional, stereotypical miner-versus-pit owner affairs; but the causality is usually far more intricate and complex than that; it is behoven upon us to understand as much as possible about the complex nature of such accidents. By doing this, we may better understand our ancestors, the communities they lived in and lives they experienced.

I thank David Evans for making this possible.


Hand typed, clearly a labour of love. Click on the image to download the report in PDF format.

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6 Responses to Private investigations

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a big thank you for making time to weave your magic wand to present this important document in PDF format, and especially to the two kind people who gave so much of their time and effort to research this so thoroughly.
    kind regards

  2. Lynn Franklin says:

    I am the Lynn Hopley, who wrote the report as my dissertation when I was doing my Bachelor of Education degree at, what was then, Walsall College of Education where I trained to be a teacher. It was actually a labour of love for me as I come from a long line of miners and my Dad finished his working life at the Grove Pit. The whole report was hand written initially and Sam Whitehouse’s contribution was to get it typed up and published by the Norton Canes Historical Society. It took many hours in its research and writing and I still have the original copy after all these years but I had lost the typed up version so it has been brilliant that I can download a copy as can anyone else who may be interested.

  3. Pedro says:

    After reading the account here a couple of parallels seemed a little familiar to the Hillsborough Disaster…

    At the inquest Mr.A.J.Cook, representing the Miner’s Federation of Great Britain, wanted to know why any blood tests were needed….

    …The coroner who led the original inquest into the Hillsborough disaster will be questioned over the level of contact he had with police officers and why he ordered blood alcohol level tests on all those who died….

    …Mr. Stewart, Barrister on behalf of the Colliery owners asked Mr.Rowley if he thought the owners and managers had all put their heads together to tell the same story .That they had tried to conceal the presence of gas, Rowley did not have chance to answer because A.J.Cook said he thought that they had….

  4. Mick P says:

    Yet another remarkable post on this here remarkable blog. Many thanks to all involved, especially to Lynn for having carried out such diligent and important work in writing the report.

  5. david bruce Cherry says:

    I read that 10 of the men had seen Great War service. I wonder if anyone has information on any of their service records?

  6. Andy Scoffham says:

    So intersecting to see this. John Scoffham is my Great Grandfather.

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