Sharing the knowledge


Moira, for those who don’t know, is just over the border from Swadlincote in Leicestershire, in a formerly concentrated coalfield. The area has much in common with Brownhills, having undergone extensive reclamation. It’s also home to the Conkers Discovery Centre. This image of the old Moira Furnace and Ashby Canal was taken by MaltaGC and is published and used under a Creative Commons licence.

Contributor and mainstay of the Brownhills Blog Andy Dennis has written to me, to point out some work he’s done on a story for another local history site. Andy has researched a mine explosion involving some of his relatives in the Moira Bath Pit in Leicestershire in 1845. It’s harrowing stuff, but fascinating.

The work features on a site I’d come across before, but not had time to study – Fionn’s Mining Site which features lots of material centred on the South Derbyshire and Leicestershire coalfields, but also stuff from wider British mining history. There’s even a useful guide to mining terms.

Andy wrote:

Hello Bob

Just to let you know I have contributed to another site about a mining disaster involving some of my ancestors’ relatives (related to the poor chaps who plummeted to the bottom of Cannock Chase No 4 shaft). The site itself focuses on mining history and may be of interest to some of your followers.

Local mines, such as Brownhills and Cannock Chase, seem to get a raw deal when it comes to internet coverage, but connecting to this site might yield information from those poor souls who have not yet discovered Brownhills Bob! I’m thinking of people whose ancestors worked hereabouts and then moved to other coalfields, for example Chesterfield area and South Wales.

You can read my article here.

Best wishes

It’s really nice to see locals working with historians from other mining areas – the more we can share and extend the breadth of knowledge, the better. I’m thinking maybe Peter Cutler may have something to add to this one…

Thanks also to Andy for the kind plug for this blog, and to Fionn for such an extensive, comprehensive and lovely site.

Untitled 6

A well-presented, lovely site. Click on the image to visit Andy’s contribution.


This entry was posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Spotted whilst browsing the web and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Sharing the knowledge

  1. buglassg says:

    Hi Bob

    Glen Buglass here from the Council. I hope you can help by giving us a mention on your blog. We are recruiting more performers for the next Bayard’s Colts show ‘The Alchemist and the Devil’. We are particularly interested in recruiting women and girls and anyone who can play an instrument or sing. As always, our rules are ‘if you want to be in it, you are in it’. We don’t bother with tedious auditions! We rehearse at Bookmark Bloxwich on Sundays between 10 and 4 and Wednesday evenings between 6.30 and 9.30. The rehearsal process begins on October 20th and the shows are on November 16th in Walsall Town Centre and at The Performance Hub, Gorway campus, Wolverhampton University.

    Anyone interested should give me a call on 07908 472 862 and I’ll give all the details.

    Thanks Bob


    • Pedro says:

      Don’t think this is the right place to advertise. This article concerns a serious subject and readers may be interested in serious comments. The first that they will come to is nothing to do with mining disasters!

      • Peter says:

        Quite agree young Pedro, although it may be ignorance rather than stupidity! Benefit of the doubt may prove fruitful on this ocassion.
        Mind how you go…………


        • Hi Chaps

          Glen isn’t as computer savvy as the rest of us, and dropping me a line like this is Glen’s way. Normally I remove the comment and make a post out of it for later, but sadly, this one slipped below my early morning radar.

          No sweat, will deal with it tonight


  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    I drove through this village some years ago and wondered what this building was…thanks for clearing this up for me..the website is fascinating
    Kind regards

  3. David Oakley says:

    I was interested to read of Andy Dennis’s research into the deaths of members of his family in the fatal explosion at the Moira coalmine back in 1845, reminding us that in the history of coalmining, not many families were fortunate to escape without the tragedy of a death or serious injury, somewhere along the line. Ted Dorsett, my cousin’s husband, lost his life in an accident at Walsall Wood Colliery some years ago.
    What really intrigued me in Andy’s contribution was …’I’m thinking of people who lived hereabouts, and then moved to other coalfields’ . My grandfather was one, moving from his family home in Walsall Wood, to Donisthorpe, a pit village, only two miles from Moira Colliery, to work at the Donisthorpe pit. This would be in the early 1900’s, the Edwardian era. a hard, brutal period when there was precious little work about, well portrayed by Robert Tressell in ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’.
    My grandfathers sojourn lasted for ten years or so, before he was back in Walsall Wood, working at the ‘Coppy’ until his retirement. I wonder how many Walsall Wood miners bent their steps in the direction of the Leicester coalfields, during this period, and how many subsequently found a new life in the East Midlands, and never returned. In the 1900’s this would be a serious commitment, travel and relocation being so difficult, many miners had never strayed very far from their native villages
    It would be interesting to see an the annual census for the village for this decade. Did we lose many inhabitants, leaving in the search for work? Bearing in mind that the two main industries
    were mining and brickworks. Another reason to ponder is the in-balance in the coal industry, virtually the universal fuel of the time, in which short-time in one coalfield is offset by recruitment in another coalfield not so very far away…

  4. morturn says:

    I was fortunate to live within walking distance of Mira Furnace in the late eighties for almost ten years. There was still six pits operating when I first moved there, and none by the time I moved out; the area was decimated.

    They were still winding coal with steam winders at Donisthorp, Rawdon and Marquis colliery, and spent several happy house chatting to the guys who worked these.

    I did take some photos, Ill have a look in a day or two.

    I recon Moira had its own language, it took me while to get into it; I am left with some very fond memories of the mining folk of South Derbyshire.

    Great article guys, thanks!

    • morturn says:

      Love the photographs of the blast furnace and the lime kilns. The canal used to run from the Coventry canal to Cut End colliery about a mile from the furnace. It was plagued with subsidence from the mining; the route often being diverted and lots of depth problems.

      When I was at school, there were still some ‘bargie’ kids, who lived and worked the canals. Their dad said he hated that section of canal, as it would around all over the place and never had enough water.

      There was a housing estate around the furnace, but it was all pulled down because of mining subsidence. In fact people did live in the furnace building until around the 1940’s.

  5. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    A big thankyou to David Oakley and Morturn for their observations. I know that coalminers also travelled from Walsall Wood to Heanor in South Derbyshire in the 1920s in search of work..and that in at least one instance enduring friendships between families here and there were created .
    kind regards

  6. Pedro says:

    Cannock Chase Council

    ‘A PROJECT that will allow the Cannock Chase community and its visitors to find out more about the district’s mining heritage is to benefit from a £97,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund…

    …Reyahn King, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “This project will record the authentic voice of former miners to help tell the story of an industry that underpinned the lives of many local communities. The resulting exhibition and film will conserve memories and inform visitors about mining’s major contribution to the nation’s economy and its eventual demise.”

    It will be interesting to see what they come up with! I believe the CCMHS were helped with funding for their publications, which in my opinion ignores the Social History of the mines.

    The “authentic voice of former miners” probably means that three quarters of the dead souls will, as usual, not be heard.

  7. Pingback: The Wimblebury Pit Accident of 1927: A Cover up? | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.