All that remains of the last one standing

Following my feature yesterday on perhaps the last passenger train to ever traverse the line from Aldridge to the Conduit Colliery in Norton Canes, Simon Swain has sent me a great gallery of images of the Grove Colliery site as it is today.

The Grove pit was, of course, the site of the notorious 1930 disaster in which 14 men were lost, and has currently been the subject of debate here. Last year I posted a gallery of images of the Grove Colliery and surrounds, taken in the late 1950s and held in the Canal and River Trust archive – as reader Andy has pointed out, many of the images are of Yates’ Boatyard next door, but I feature that gallery at the bottom of this post for comparison.

The Grove also makes an appearance in the 1963 cinefilm of Brownhills, donated by Brian Stringer (which I featured in Simon’s post yesterday – you see, it’s all circular!)

Simon Swain said:

Dear Bob,

I thought that readers would appreciate this set of images that I have taken recently of the site of Grove Colliery. It is amazing that so much appears to remain after over 60 years since closure. Despite the visible signs of neglect I feel that the buildings still hold so much character and it would be nice to see them restored and put to a future use.

In my research I have found the National Library of Scotland archive maps to be an invaluable font of information and what I find interesting is that not only was there once a tramway from Grove to nearby Brownhills Number 3 pit but the 1888-1901 map shows that this ran on a viaduct on the approaches to Grove. I would imagine that this was not a viaduct in the conventional sense but probably a wooden structure but the fact that it existed has inspired me to return in the near future and see whether any evidence remains of its existance.

Untitled 9

1921 Ordnance Survey 1:10,000 mapping showing the tramway from Tithe Grove to Brownhills No. 3. In all my years, I never noticed that. Wonderful spot by Simon Swain. Imagery from the National Library of Scotland aArchive. Click for a larger version.

I hope that you and the readers find the images interesting and of course it would be brilliant if readers could flesh them out with some history.

Kind Regards

I must confess, I didn’t know there were any remnants of the Grove still extant, but I rarely wander that way – this has made me want to go and explore. If you find yourself similarly motivated, please do contact me with any thoughts or pictures.

Thanks to simon for a great, thought-provoking gallery. If you have anything to add, please feel free: comment here or mail me. You know by know – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

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25 Responses to All that remains of the last one standing

  1. Ian Pell says:

    Hi Bob
    The tramway became a continuous tub line linking No.3 with the Grove. Often spent hours in the early 1960’s watching the tubs going full to the Grove and returning empty. Part of the line was covered using old curved Nissen hut.rooves even though it was running through open countryside. This was done so as to avoid the “coal getting lost” on its way to the Grove! Today the route of the line can still be picked out of the landscaspe if you know where to look.
    Another local tramway of some distance went from the Coppice Colliery to the Cannock branch of the Wyrley and Essington canal at a wharf in Norton Canes. Little trace of this route exists.
    There were other tramways in the area but that’s for another day.
    KIndest regards

    • Simon Swain says:

      Hi Ian,

      If I am correct having looked at Google Maps can I confirm that it crossed Wyrley Lane and Gains Lane before reaching Brownhills No3? On the subject of No3 are there are remains of this pit left?


      • Mick Bullock says:

        The baths and canteen plus a few more buildings were still in use as industrial units until a couple of years ago,I know not if they are still extant.This was later called Harrison’s pit or Wyrley No3.This was my playground when I was growing up in the 40s.

    • John Anslow says:

      I was talking to my brother only last night about that covered tramway, Ian: we couldn’t remember exactly where it was, so your comments and those below have been most helpful.

      As youngsters in the early 1960s we used to walk for miles around Fishley and Wyrley and came across the line one day. We found that we could get inside and walked along it.

      I recall a lot of heavy electrical cables, some of which had been pulled out, presumably by scrap-metal thieves, and lights hanging off the walls.

      I remember also that the covering had been painted in camouflage and we wondered what the significance of this track had been in wartime.

    • richard perrins says:

      some o the cover over the tramway was green .I think a wooden structure in places .I can remember standing on the small bridge in wyrley

  2. Brilliant photos!
    Brownhills No.3 Colliery (Wyrley No.3) (or “Harrison’s” or “Sinking” or No.3 Plant) was indeed connected to the basins via cable tramway – partly on an embankment that would have lead to the viaduct.

    I remember the embankment well as in May 1990 I managed to have an unplanned slide from top to bottom while taking photos of a coal tub that was festering away at the bottom of the slope.

    There is a photo of it at …… (The coal tub – not me trying to break my neck.)

  3. ivor230240 says:

    My maternal Grandfather, David Chandler, looked after and drove the pit ponies at the Grove. He was injured twice, on each occasion when a journey of tubs broke free and he was crushed between two journeys. He was forced to retire at the age of about 76 when the pits were nationalised. It is thought that he didn’t get over the shock of losing his job and he died a year later. My uncle, William Chandler, was a carpenter at the pit.
    As a young child I used to sit by the side of the rail track that took the colliery spoil to be tipped just off Engine Lane, occasionally I was given a ride of the footplate of the engine, “The Colonel.”
    Later It was one of my jobs to go to the tip to collect the coal that had been dumped, after going over the top of the “screens.”

  4. Andy Dennis says:

    Ian is being somewhat enigmatic. There is a line of trees following the line of the old tramway. Even on much more recent maps it is shown as a dismantled railway.

  5. Simon Swain says:

    Thank you so much for the information provided. I knew that if I passed my pictures onto Bob for posting then information would come in. I will be going back to have a look at some point probably next weekend to see what else remains and also look at the remains of the tramway in greater detail

  6. aerreg says:

    mornin all more gobbly goo memory teazers for you the sinkin and the grove in the older days the sinkin was the poor relation to the the grove and many of the old miners were reluctant to work there i gather the conditions were very precarious i can recall the remarks oh not the sinkin today we cannot apriciate what these ancesters work days must have been like can we they were like houman moles but were still proud dedicated men the grove i was with the brigade the night the saw mill burned down quite a task finaly another memory at the grove yard were two houses one occupide by the lyons family they had a son samuel now i am going back many years there was a childrens dance class at the memo run by miss gripton and sammy and i attended along with

    many others boy could sammy dance ican still see him in my mind today thanks for the memory again sorry if its boring and gobbly goo god bless

  7. Steve Astbury says:

    My nan and grandad were the last to live in that house, sure it was haunted.
    Used to play on the old pit grounds when I was a kid , spent many a happy day there !

  8. Steph says:

    Does anyone know who owns this? Ild like to know if someone could email me

  9. Andy Dennis says:

    Just for information, I have responded separately to Steph.

  10. I have found some more photos of the Colliery and cableway from 1983 – 1990.

    They are at

    • richard perrins says:

      these photos are brill .I didn’t realise the buildings were still standing in the 80s

  11. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    one word….smashing!
    Many thanks to all who have contributed.
    kind regards

  12. richard perrins says:

    what’s always annoyed me is .this colliery site .the scene of 1930 disaster .has been used as a tip .I don’t think this was was good thinking .I think it’s an insult to the men who lost there lives .

  13. Sarah Jones says:

    The two houses/cottages next to the the derelict house were the day and night shift managers houses. They are still standing and lived in 🙂

  14. dennis howes says:

    Thanks to all for pictures & posts bought back a lot of happy memories.
    The two houses that stand alone on Lime Lane by Wyrley common bridge were part of the Grove Pit.
    The railway line crossed the road at the side of the house that is now a dog boarding kennels.
    I lived in this house from 1960 to 1964 I was 9 years old when we moved in, the Grove was still working at that time but only receiving coal from Harrisons pit which is where my dad Albert Howes
    worked on the coal face. The coal was transported from harrisons to the grove along a narrow guage
    cable operated railtrack in open tubs.When we got the chance my brother sister and myself would climb in to a tub and ride up to harrisons to meet my dad from work, this was a dangerous thing to do as the tubs never stopped.The railway was still being used to move material etc to the siddings by engine lane the engine drivers would let us ride on the footplate and blast the whistle when we crossed the road.They where still steam engines in those days.The canal was still being used for moving coal and some of the barges where still horsedrawn if we were lucky we also got to ride on the barges.
    This was a brilliant place to live surrounded by woods, canals, the pit and railway and the bonus of a
    motorcycle scrambling track in the woods opposite the house.
    What more could you ask for when your 9 years old?

  15. Bob Henderson says:

    Hi, very interesting photos. I’m currently looking into my ancestry & find I have a great uncle who was killed in the Grove disaster in 1930 & also my great grandad died in the Grove in 1912. I’d love to pay the site a visit to take some snaps of my own as well as getting a feel for the area. What’s the best way of accessing the site? Cheers.

    • Andy Dennis says:

      Hello Bob

      It’s actually quite easy. To orientate: Turf Island – Junction A5 and B5154 Lime Lane. Go south along Lime Lane. First right, Gorsey Lane. Entrance to site short distance on left. Road serves a number of businesses.

      Good hunting

  16. bipolardad24 says:

    Some of the photos from the CRT archive labelled as the Grove actually show views of James Yates dock at Lime Lane. Specifically the three photos showing motor boats with rounded sterns are all of the dock. Sadly CRT’s archives are not the most accurately labelled or described collection, something that is nigh on impossible to take up with them as they have all but washed their hands of its upkeep.

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