Had a great enquiry in this week from Nick Pilley, who’s looking for help with his Walsall Wood family history, particularly that of his Grandfather Alfred Merrick who was a deputy at Walsall Wood Colliery.
I wonder if you or any of your blog readers are able to help with some research on my Great Grandfather, Alfred Merrick (1866-1936), born in Sutton Cheney, Leics and moved to Shenstone by 1891 and Walsall Wood by 1901. Married Ada Mason (1987-1946) from Hednesford in 1894. Lived initially in New St., then at 9 King St, Walsall Wood which, according to Google maps, has been replaced by flats. Is there a photo around that might show it as it was?
Things I would like clarifying if possible are:
His obituary (Walsall Observer, 29 Feb 1936) gives him as a deputy at Coppice Colliery on retirement (1933 approx). The 1911 census says ‘fireman’ and I understand these were fairly interchangeable terms relating to someone who would check for firedamp (and ‘fire’ it) and/or make sure any steam engine air pump was functioning. I generalize but any correction would be appreciated.
Also I have seen reference to Coppice linked with Cannock. Was that the same colliery?
The obituary refers to his ‘missionary’ work with Holy Trinity Mission in Clayhanger and how he did this in spite of “strong opposition, which frequently went so far as personal violence”. Can anyone explain this opposition?
The following quote for the obituary may also be of interest to other researchers:
“He was a member of the Hawthorne Lodge of the Independent Order of Oddfellows (Manchester Unity) and in addition to having passed through every chair at his Lodge was a past Provincial Grand Master of the Order. Apart from his Mission interests he had two hobbies, bee keeping and horticulture and in addition to having won many awards he was a long-time lecturer on the subjects for the Staffordshire Education Committee. For several years he rendered valuable service to his workmates as secretary of the Colliery Institute”.
Thanks to Nick for an interesting enquiry – can you help?
As a side note, as far as I know Walsall Wood Colliery was often called the ‘Coppy’ or ‘Coppice Pit’. That’s not linked to the one in Cannock ‘The Coppice Colliery’ but the term ‘Coppice’ seems to be often used in Colliery names (no idea why) – I’m thinking of Birch Coppice near Dordon, for instance.
If you can help Nick or have anything to add, please do yank me on social media, comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.