A town united in mourning


Crowds line the streets – thought to be Church Road – to pay their respects. Image kindly supplied by David Evans.

The Grove Pit Disaster that took the lives of fourteen men on October 1st, 1930 left deep scars on the Brownhills and Norton communities – and the funeral and memorial service for the men taken by the accident  was a huge public event that drew massive crowds.


The Cemetery at Great Charles Street looked a good bit different then. Bear in mind the population of Brownhills was tiny. That’s a huge crowd. Note the almost totally tree-less landscape, too. Image kindly supplied by Bill Mayo.

It occurred to me recently that there’s a lot we don’t really know about this most tragic of public memorial services. Since four of the victims are interred elsewhere (James Malloy buried at Hammerwich, John Whittacker buried Walsall Wood, Alfie Boden buried St James Norton Canes and John Holland buried Pelsall parish church, thanks to reader Emma Smith), I’m not sure if the funeral was truly for all of the victims or not.

Ten of the men who died are buried in Brownhills Cemetary, between the Church and Great Charles Street. Click for a larger image.

I’ve been aware that there were postcard images of the memorial event in circulation, as was the way of the time, but never seen good quality versions. Thankfully, due to the generosity of local historian Bill Mayo and the hard work of David Evans, I can share the following high quality scans of the Grove Memorial Service in Brownhills.

We think the image with the terraces is Church Road. Can anyone confirm or disprove that please?

I’d be interested if readers could add anything they know about the memorial service, after having spent so much time on the disaster itself and the repercussions, it seems strange we’ve never covered this aspect of such an awful event.

Please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.


Brownhills Bridge and the Council House saw huge crowds, too. Note the pram, the Hussey Arms in the distance… and what was the building behind? Image kindly supplied by Bill Mayo.

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4 Responses to A town united in mourning

  1. alan thacker says:

    the building by the hussy is a cottage –I remember walking round the back of the cottage and the hussy on my way home from school (central ) to Brownhills west as a boy –over 60 years ago

  2. Ken Turner says:

    The image with the terraces is indeed Church Rd with my old junior school top left..lived in Brownhills most of my life,St James church just out of view.The school has gone and is now a play area for the existing school,the terraced houses gave way to an old folks home now demolished and has recent houses added

  3. aerreg says:

    re the grave disaster the row of cottages is in church road the two buildings next are the junior boys and girls school in my day roland thompsan was the head master i also have in my archives orignal news papers ofthis tragic event one in particular has a picture of a tragic widow and her children this was a high price to pay for coal lest we forget god bless them

  4. philcburton says:

    Looking at the Britain from above map 1926 the large building looks like a large barn with a large entrance through the building. Was the Hussey a coaching inn and the large building a stabling block to rest the horses. Also I notice The Parade starts alongside the Council House, goes back as far as the old tramway then turns and runs in a straight line to Watling St School.

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