This is an important one, and I think there may well be more to follow, as top local history wonk Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler is not one to let sleeping dogs – or local history matters that are niggling him – lie.
This is also good to highlight a fine resource available to all – Google Books. There are some excellent works up there, which can be downloaded free to your tablet, PC, ebook reader or even saved and printed out free of charge. This is a great way to access a world of reading and reference for next to no outlay.
Thanks to Peter for highlighting Black Diamonds, I found it very informative. I commend it highly.
I’d be interested to read your opinions, too: comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.
Peter Cutler wrote:
There are many followers of the Blog who are interested in local history, and they appreciate the excellent book by Gerald Reece and the talks that he has travelled back to present. I spoke to him on his last visit and he remarked that there was still much more local history to be uncovered. He is of course right, as the this blog has shown, and it is great to see people like Clive Roberts adding to it.
However, as we have seen, there are some publications that carry much erroneous information; sometimes on subjects that should be better researched before judgements are given, for example the Walsall Wood Colliery accident of 1890.
Also, my opinion on the role of the coal owners is totally at odds with CCMHS as can be seen in the article ‘In pursuit of Truth’.
Of course, it could be argued, it is just an opinion. So what if we could have an opinion of someone who was living locally way back in time?
It is strange that someone on the Blog recommended reading Black Diamonds; the Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty by Catherine Bailey, concerning the Fitzwilliam family, and it is indeed a very good read.
There is also another Black Diamonds; or The Gospel in a Colliery District, written in around 1860 by HHB, available free on Google Books. This book is packed with information about the life and struggles of colliers in the 1850s, and right in your own back yard!
It is not clear by looking at the book just who HHB was, but I have an inkling. The Peface seems a bit out of place with the book itself, being written by a Rev J.B. Owen, the incumbent of St Jude’s in Chelsea, and obviously C of E. There is a dedication by HHB to Messrs Lloyds, Foster and Co of Old Park Works and Colliery in Wednesbury…
I believe that the Owner of the Wednesbury ironworks was a Quaker and that HHB was commissioned to preach the Gospel to men in the iron and coal pit at the Works. HHB, however, regularly went down at least 30 pits in the area to preach to the men at their ‘drinks time’.
It is not an easy read, and at times quite sad, but if anyone reading it would still want to glorify the Coal owners then I will eat Brownhills Bob’s old cycling hat.