Mining for family history in the Wood: Can you help please?

Walsall Wood Colliery, image believed to be not far from closure, possibly 1950s. From Walsall, a Click in Time/Walsall Local History Centre.

Had a great enquiry in this week from Chris Smith, who you’ll remember was researching the Claridge family and shop for the store’s 60th anniversary this year – well Chris is looking for some local history help with his family, including his Grandfather who was blast man at Walsall Wood Colliery.

Chris wrote:

Hi Bob,

I wonder if you or any of your readers can help me with things which relate to my Great Grandfather Joseph Smith Born 1867 in Warwickshire, possibly Birmingham, lived in the Shire Oak area and worked at Walsall Wood Colliery where I believe he had the job of looking after the explosive stock. His son, my Grandad, Isaiah Smith also worked at the pit. One of his daughters was Mrs Claridge.

I would like any information about the family and about the explosives store which I believe was the shed in the middle of the field opposite the colliery and behind the school on Linden Rd.

Even better, any of my relatives out there?

Best regards,

Thanks to Chris for an interesting enquiry – can you help?

As has been mentioned a few times here over the years, that’s exactly where the explosives magazine was, in the field, and is shown on mapping of the time:

The magazine and Walsall Wood Colliery would now be in the car park of the Oak Park Centre. Image from 1915 1:2,500 mapping. Click for a larger version.

It seems odd that so many pit magazines were so exposed and insecure.

If you can help Chris, please do: either comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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11 Responses to Mining for family history in the Wood: Can you help please?

  1. Chris Smith says:

    Hi Bob,

    Many thanks for publishing my enquiry – I really hope someone can help because I’ve traced the family tree well beyond Great Grandad on the other lines but cannot progress past Joseph.
    The other families from which I am descended include the Hollands who lived just off Salters Road, the Harveys from Aldridge, Ogley and Chase Terrace, the Joneses from Cannock chase and Stonnall, the Bonnells who had the Windmill Pub at one time, and the Hopleys from Aldridge.

    By the way, it is Christopher not Christine….

    All the best,


  2. aerreg says:

    just a bit of light harted banter on the coppy my dad was a shot fire man at the coppy and the srare pieces of shot wire was a treasour to behold its uses were many from tying up the garden beens un pea sticks to fastening the door of the fowl pen or rabbit hutch happy days

  3. Steve says:

    I remember the steel shed in the middle of the field ,as young boys up to no good we used to spend days trying to get into that shed knowing there were explosives in there god knows what would of happened if we got in ,also on the corner of the field was a large house which I was told was the under managers house was his name Butterfield

  4. Rob Bird says:

    I walked past the field every day walking to Walsall Wood Primary School (the shed was definitely there), I then lived in one of the houses opposite. Shortly afterwards the field was turned into a recreational space. Played football on there every evening. My Grandfather Perce Phillips worked at the colliery and my father, Bob Bird, was in the rescue team.

  5. rob brownhills says:

    Yes Steve we did exactly the same, nobody ever around to tell us off also had great fun in the pit yard and the pit mounds thinking we were scaling everest the one opp oak park used to be plastered in lupins which we used to pick and take home to our Mum’s

    • Steve says:

      Hi Rob
      Spent many hours on those slag heaps they we dangerous when it had rained ,used to slide down them using a section of an Anderson shelter .
      Lived in Peake Crescent and went to Walsall Wood primary and Secondary schools ,had some happy memories growing up there .

  6. Chas says:

    Hi Bob, if you check your gmail account I’ve emailed over a picture of the Walsall Wood colliery explosives store, taken circa 1965. e-mail has a few more details. Regards Chas.
    I don’t have website these days – hence the

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