On the beach – the web that’s woven


What a fantastic period photo – supplied very kindly by Julie Le-Moine.

Here’s a great example of me getting things wrong, and of how local oral history works with the community correcting me – last week I featured the great picture above from Julie Le Moine of herself as a baby with her mum, and ‘uncle’ Paddy (Walker) and ‘auntie’ Clarice’ on a beach in Blackpool in September 1966.

It seems originally, Julie thought Paddy survived the Grove Pit Disaster – which, considering it was 36 years before the picture was taken, looking at Paddy, I considered this feasible. Julie since contacted me with a correction:

Hi Bob

I’ve been doing some research and reading your blogs… there is a photo of Lionel Walker being carried out of the Coppy Pit ..the sole survivor of the accident there. It wasn’t the Grove pit at all.

Your blog post on it was dated 09/08/2012 called The Rescuers.


I also thank Rob Brownhills for raising this in the comments to the original post – and no, I have no idea how they got that majestic, huge pram there either!

coppypit3 - Version 2

Lionel ‘Paddy’ Walker is carried injured out of the Coppy Pit. Image taken from ‘Coal Mining in the North East Section of Walsall Metropolitan Borough’ by Brian Rollins. Click for a larger version.

It doesn’t end there, though. Yesterday, I had a great message from Brian ‘Clayhanger Kid’ Stringer who had this to say, about his times and involvement in the Walsall Wood incident:

Hi Bob.

Just came across the photo sent in by Julie Le Moine. I knew Paddy Walker well and remember his wife Clarice working in Walsall Wood Colliery canteen. The only pleasure we got from working the night shift, was coming up the pit at the end of our shift, having a shower and heading straight to the canteen. As soon as we went in Clarice started making us a mug of Horlicks before handing us a large pork pie each which we smothered with brown sauce. Although breakfast time, it was our supper. Big pork pie, swilled down with Horlicks always guaranteed a good day’s sleep. Oh happy memories.

I suppose its possible that Paddy (Lionel) could have been involved in the Grove disaster, but I suspect a mix up somewhere, because on page 94/95 in my second book I gave an account of the 1956 Walsall Wood mining disaster and how Paddy was rescued.

I last spoke to him at the 50 year memorial service at Walsall Wood Church, and used to chat regularly to him at Walsall Wood Football matches.

This blog sure stirs some memories up, and long may it continue.

Cheers mate,

I’m always happy (if sometimes embarrassed) to correct errors here – and thanks to everyone who helped – I should have researched that more thoroughly, but sometimes, I just don’t get time. However, correspondence on such matters is always welcome.

What it also shows is how there’s no single, isolated thread of history. A happy photo on a beach in the 1960s is intertwined inextricably with the pain and horror of a terrible industrial accident.

You can always comment, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at googlemmil dot com. Thanks.

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