Lamping it

I had never seen this series of three images before I saw them in David F. Vodden’s book ‘Around Pelsall & Brownhills in old photographs’. Originally 3 photos on three separate pages, they form a panorma of the Walsall Wood Colliery, which I’ve stiched back into one image, as best I can. Please click on the image to view it full size.

For those who missed it, I had an interesting question commented to an old post in the week, and I thought I’d make a post out of it as it deserves a wider audience – this certainly sounds like a remarkable family history, which someone out there must be able to help with.

Reader Graham Taylor wrote:


Does anybody have any information on either of my parents William Taylor and Selina Taylor nee Painter who were born in Coppice Road, Walsall Wood in 1901 and 1902?

Dad had three brothers David, Joe and Cyril, and a sister Kate.

Mother had 13 brothers and sisters one brother Frank was killed at Dunkirk in World War II.

Dad left school aged 12 and worked in the lamp house at the Coppice Colliery and played the organ at St. John’s Church.

Any information most welcomed.

Graham Taylor

Now what particularly captured my attention here was that Graham says Willam Taylor was born in 1901, left school at 12 and worked in the lamp house of Coppice Colliery – which if I’m not mistaken is Walsall Wood Colliery.

It just so happens there’s a photo of the inside of that very lamp house, where a young lad is working. It’s featured in the book ‘The South Staffordshire Coalfield’ by Nigel A. Chapman, who states it’s a 1920s image. William would have started work in 1913 or thereabouts, so it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that the lad is William Taylor, who looks in the picture to be in mid or late teens – and there’s nothing in the image I’m aware to date it.

The honest belief is generally that miners were the salt of the earth, and all the accidents were the cause of the managers, but occasionally, the pitmen were their own worst enemies. One cannot imagine the act of opening a naked flame to get better light – but of course, many miners suffered with their eyes, so the motivation can be understood. Remember that the Grove Pit Disaster was thought to be caused by a miner striking a light down below. Taken from ‘The South Staffordshire Coalfield’ by Nigel A. Chapman.

Thanks to Graham for a fascinating enquiry, please do help if you can. It sounds like William was a real stalwart of the community, so someone should remember him, and 13 is a ver large family, so Selina Taylor’s roots must still be hereabouts.

If you can help, please do: comment here on this post or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

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15 Responses to Lamping it

  1. Les Bullock says:

    Good Morning Bob
    I don’t know if ‘The Wood’ was ever known as Coppice, but Coppice Colliery was the official name of ‘The Fair Lady’ at Heath Hayes.
    Is there some confusion with the name of the road where Grahams parents were born?

    • Hi Les

      The Wood pit was often called the ‘Coppy Pit’ so I suspect autocorrect, Coppice Road ran down the side and St. Johns is the parish church in the Wood.

      But it’s an interesting point and I welcome corrections!


  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Graham
    the image of the colliery is probably mid or late 1950s – after the steam winding gear had been replaced by electric motors..hence no chimney stack or smoke. Both Taylor and Painter names ring a bell…I think one of the Painter girls married a Joseph Anslow and lived in Walsall Road, near the canal.There is an article about him in this blog somewhere.
    A Mr Taylor lived in Brownhills Road, near the Cape (Commonside) and his wife was an Alma Taylor.He was a miner who..either died..or was killed in a mine accident. Their son was Roy.
    The safety lamp note is interesting as apparently not every miner at the nearby Grove Pit had these at the time of the fateful tragedy in 1930, so, I wonder if the photo is post 1930?
    All the best in your quest Graham and I hope the Walsall Wood contingent are able to help further.
    kind regards

    • Just to be clear, I supplied the images just for illustration really, and that was an unusual one I hadn’t seen in a while.

      Still think the lamp-boy might be the chap, though.


      • Graham Taylor says:

        Thanks Bob great photo first I have seen of a lamp house/boy. I cannot say it is or is not my father as I have not got a photo of him from that time but as you say it might be him.
        Cheers Graham

  3. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Brian Rollins book,” Coal Mining in the north east section of Walsall Metropolitan Borough”has the
    same photo of the lamp lad, and another, seemingly of the lad in the workshop but from another angle…page 91..which may be of interest to Graham, should it turn out to be a relative of his.
    best wishes to Graham

  4. david Oakley says:

    Hi Bob,
    Yes, I remember Kate Taylor, she lived in Coppice Road, a little way past the ‘House of Prayer’, the first in a row of cottages with front gardens. She was a Sunday school teacher at the ‘House of Prayer and a friend of my elder sister. I think that David Taylor lived in Brookland Road, and had two daughters. There was a Cyril Taylor of similar age who was active in the Primitive Methodists, and whose photo has appeared in the blog, some while ago, in connection with Methodists activities, not sure he is of the family you are seeking, put the period is correct, (1930’s).

    • Graham Taylor says:

      Hi Bob many thanks for your help David as the correct family as I remember Kate (aunty) as a very young lad I was taken to see my granddad in Coppice road (they still had gas lighting I remember) and Kate still lived there looking after her father-Kate married late in life to Tom.
      Mom and dad moved to Birmingham in the late 30s/40? I believe I am the only Taylor/Painter born outside of Walsall Wood hence the interest .
      p.s after mom died dad retuned to the Wood were he died aged 86 his funeral was held at St Johns Church

  5. David Evans says:

    Thanks, David…..Let us entertain you, blog article Sept 8th, 2011 shows Cyril (“Tid”) Taylor and the conecrt party. He was an NCB employee who moved from here to live by the church in Norton Canes..His daughter Vivanne may possibly reas this and be able to help Graham more.
    well spotted, David!

    • Graham Taylor says:

      Hi David many thanks for your comments re Cyril Taylor being NCB employee I am pretty sure dad mentioned years ago that Cyril oversaw the closedown of Hamstead Colliery as a health and safety officer (I maybe completely wrong though).
      Cheers Graham

  6. David Evans says:

    Hi Graham
    I am not sure how far back your Taylor lineage in Walsall Wood extends..but there is a Mr W Taylor, active local preacher, shown in the 1871 Lichfield Primitive Methodist Circuit, and living in Walsall Wood. If you google My Primitive Methodist Ancestors and open circuit plans, Lichfield, you will find him..he is preacher number 44
    all the best

  7. David Evans says:

    oops..number 47. Sorry

  8. peter hawthorne says:

    hi everybody, my first job in 1955 at cannock wood pit,{the wood]. was filling up the lamp ready for the next shift. after i would mop the lamp house floor. later i was allowed to put the battery lamps on charge. so seeing the photo made me smile. thanks.
    regards pete.

  9. Blair Marriott says:

    Hi Graham,
    I am coming to these exchanges a little late but I may well be able to help you with you quest for information on your family but not sure how much you have found out in the interim. Your father was the son of William Taylor and Ann nee Marriott born 1877. Ann was a younger sister of my Great Grandfather, James Marriott. James moved to Scotland around mid 1880’s and so I have little direct knowledge of the Walsall Wood side of the family except what I have found from my researches. Ann and James had a brother, Joseph Marriott, who worked for the Aldridge brick and Tile Company as a travelling salesman and lived all his live in Aldridge.

    I have much more information which I am happy to share if this is of interest to you.


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