Men of the underground

Over on Facebook this weekend, there’s been lots of interest in Walsall Wood Colliery, following the posting of these two cracking images of a press article recording the closure of our last truly local coal mine.

The images were very kindly shared by Duncan Willams, and he had this to say:


Walsall Wood Colliery closes: I suspect this is from the Walsall Express and star. A wonderful image, supplied by Duncan Williams.

This is my family all from Brownhills my Grandad Williams, Dad – Ron Williams, Les Williams, Sid Williams and Jack Williams. They all worked in the local pits and I’m very proud of them all.


From the same article, again kindly shared by Duncan Williams. Click for a larger version.

In response, there’s been a fair bit of interest. Kellie Smith messaged me the following images via Facebook to share with others interested in the local mines:


A great family photo from Kellie Smith – that’s Fourth Avenue, Brownhills.


Kellie wrote:

Hi Bob

Going though my family tree came across these pictures.

The first one is of David and Dora carpenter, my mom’s Nan and Grandad, outside 23 Fourth Avenue Brownhills. My mom still lives in this house now.

The second one is a group of Brownhills miners in 1890  – Back row left John Walker, William Walker Front row right Sampson Carpenter he would have been my Grandad’s great uncle I think.

If you recognise any of the others please let me know!

Kellie Carpenter


Local miners, thought to be taken around 1890 – image kindly supplied by Kellie Smith. Please see the text for details of who’s who. Recognise anyone? Get in touch, please.

Thanks to Duncan and Kellie for a great slice of history. Please, if you have anything to add, feel free to do so, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

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11 Responses to Men of the underground

  1. Clive says:

    Lovely photos and info on local folk. Big thank you to Duncan and Kellie and Bob too

  2. maria fitzgerald says:

    Hi bob the photo of David & Dora are my nan and grandad I first live in that house 23 forth avenue when we came up from London after dad finished in the army.if there’s any way of getting copy off,Kellie it would be great.I would love to find more about my dads family.
    Regards maria

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    I thought “Sampson Carpenter, can’t be many of that name”.
    In the 1891 census he was recorded at Davenport’s Building, Watling Street (Norton Canes, district 31). The head of household was Frank Carpenter, 31, coal miner, born Oldbury. Also wife Elizabeth 26, born Watling Street; brother Sampson, 21, coal miner, born Watling Street, and children [of Frank], Annie, Sarah, Frank and David.
    Next door was John D Carpenter, 39, coal miner, born Shenstone, wife Elizabeth, 34, born Banbury and children Mary, Maud and John D, all born Watling Street.
    In terms of address, Norton Canes is significant as this meant it was on the Norton side of the parish boundary, i.e. west of Howdles Lane, but going on the sequence of records I think it must have been between Whitehorse Road and Hednesford Road.

    In the 1911 census Sampson lived at 12 Ogley Square, with wife and 8 children. Says he was born in Aldridge.

    I am quite happy to did a bit deeper …

  4. Tina Hill says:

    My Dad, John Addis worked down the pit with Brian Stringer. My Grandad drove the Train. The Lord Kitchener.

  5. Always nice to hear about fellow Carpenter’s family history.

  6. maria fitzgerald says:

    Hi Andy,
    My late uncle David & his wife Dorothy ,I think lived in castle rd, just up from the pub on the corner,
    Not sure if he was a miner he died quite young in his forty’s I think.
    Maria Fitzgerald ( carpenter )

    • Andy Dennis says:

      Hello Maria

      That would be more recent than the latest published census – 1911, so I have no information about where they lived after that. The terraced houses behind the Queen’s Head were demolished in the late 1960s to make way for the old folks bungalows. I remember them standing empty and dilapidated for a time.

      in 1911 David, 20, single, miner hewer, born Staffs, Norton Canes [probably Brownhills, but recorded as Norton Canes because of parish boundaries] was with parents Francis, 49, and Elizabeth, 46, and 8 siblings at Club Buildings, Brownhills, Staffs. This is in Francis’s handwriting, so is more reliable. The enumerator gives the address as Common Side, Brownhills, Walsall. A few records along is Friezland Lane, so, presumably, the address is what we know as Commonside today. Going the other way were lots of Commonside records, so they must have lived towards the top end. Commonside is not shown on the OS 1880s mapping.

      David’s birth was registered in the Jan-Mar quarter of 1891 at Cannock, which fits with the census records and his death in 1962 also Cannock.

      A David Carpenter married Dorothy A M Leese in 1945, also registered at Cannock. Dorothy’s birth is registered Jul-Sep 1924 at Lichfield (mother’s maiden name Foley), again consistent with birth in the Brownhills area. Presumably, as you say he died about 45, this was the son of the David Carpenter born 1891? A Dorothy Alice M Carter (must be same?) death registered Oct-Dec 1965 Surrey.

      On is a public family tree which corroborates the above and attaches the picture of David and Dora outside 23 Fourth Avenue to David (1890-1962) and Dorothy Leese. The lady who has published this tree has traced some family lines back to the late 19th century and appears to be still researching. As we are getting into details about living people, I suggest if you want to take this further we go private, you could ask Bob to forward a message. I don’t do this for money, it’s just a hobby, but I do promise honesty and discretion.

      Alternatively, you could try the trial version of Ancestry –

      Best wishes,

  7. Carol Slater says:

    The Photo’s on here are mine and from my family tree ,and the one you are writing about Andy, just one correction, David Carpenter junior was 48 when he died in Castle st and his Mom was Dora Carpenter my gran also ,Maria is my cousin and yes I am still doing the tree but we have so many Carpenters in and around it’s never ending

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