Living next door to the Grove – what do you know?

Last year I featured a very popular set of images from a place I genuinely didn’t realise still existed: The Grove Colliery, the remnants of which – the house and offices situated just off Lime Lane, between Pelsall, Brownhills, Norton and Great Wyrley – were documented by old pal of the blog Simon Swain and drone wizard Steve Martin also captured the site from the air.

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The Grove Colliery – remembering a lost pit

Last year I featured a very popular set of images from a place I genuinely didn’t realise still existed: The Grove Colliery, the remnants of which – the house and offices situated just off Lime Lane, between Pelsall, Brownhills, Norton and Great Wyrley – were documented by old pal off the blog Simon Swain and posted here as a gallery I include below.

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Was the investigation into the Grove Pit Disaster a whitewash?

The 1st October 2016 was the 86th anniversary of the worst modern-day pit disaster in our area, the Grove Pit Disaster, in which fourteen miners perished following an explosion a mile and a half below Brownhills Common, beneath the Ring Sun Inn.

Image kindly supplied by Simon Swain

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Would you like a chat about local history?

Top contributor, commentor and all round good egg the young David Evans has been busy over the last few weeks organising a treat for local history buffs in Brownhills and the wider community – he’s been asked to do a couple of talks on the history of Walsall Wood.

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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.
Image kindly supplied by Simon Swain

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Is it our fault?

Reader John Blanchard has been in touch all the way from Aukland in New Zealand with some interesting and hopefully debate-provoking memories of subsidence effects in Walsall Wood from the 1960s onwards.

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A mine of information

In my last article, I pointed out that I’d received extra information on a couple of posts over the weekend – both on the Anglesey/sea question, and also on the Mine Rescue Team image shared by John Sale and Bill Mayo.

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Rescue me

The great Bill Mayo, local historian and photo collector, has recently been digging in his files and found a few mystery images, like the one above of a local mines rescue team.

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The Lectric Men

Old friend of the blog Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove has been at it again – and this time, he’s written a fabulous piece on his early working days as an electricity supply engineer for the Chasetown Electricity Board, in the very earliest days of domestic supply.
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A local mining accident – more information available

A couple of days ago I asked for information about a local mining accident, suffered by the Grandfather of reader Gill Joesbury, but the request it was a bit of a mission impossible, as we didn’t have a name to go on – since then, Gill has now been in touch with more information.

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A local mining accident – can you help?

Here’s a quick one to get the researchers scratching their heads – and it’s a very long shot, but please do what you can, I’ve asked for more information from Gill, and I’m hoping she’ll comment here.

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Life after the war

I still have a little of the very popular Mavis Woodhouse material to come – so far we’ve had the Foxes Row and Victor Haines articles, the Fred Shingler film of Newtown, Mavis’s recollections of the mining history, the curious disappearing cottage, and memories of Sunday School in the small community on the Watling Street.

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I’m after all the tanners!

The Mavis Woodhouse material featured here of late is a local history gift that just keeps giving, and yesterday, I had a fascinating email very kindly sent to me by Ann Grinstead, the lady who edited the initial copy of Mavis’s family history, subsequently later edited for the blog by the young David Evans.

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A huge black cauldron

Mavis Woodhouse really started something when she kindly donated her family history material to the blog – the Foxes Row article was very popular, the Victor Haines material had us all head scratching, and the film of Newtown that was so newly relevant has had a huge number of views.

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The scars were always black

The generosity of Mavis Woodhouse in allowing David Evans, myself and you readers to share her privately produced family history book is really proving to be a rich source of discussion, debate and new local history tangents – the Foxes Row article was very popular, the Victor Haines material had us all head scratching, and the film of Newtown that was so newly relevant has had a huge number of views.

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One of the last standing

Here’s the final blast of pictures from the mystery archive found by local historian Clive Roberts back at the beginning of November – these images are remarkable as the show the Grove Colliery on the Cannock Extension Canal at Lime Lane in 1958 and 1959, and I know of few extant images of the time – perhaps the only good representation being in the 1963 cinefilm of Brownhills, donated by Brian Stringer.
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For the want of timber

Last week I featured an article by local history Rapscallion Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler about a text, available for free via Google Books called ‘Black Diamonds or the Gospel in a Colliery District’ written around 1860 by mystery author HHB.
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Diamonds and dust

This is an important one, and I think there may well be more to follow, as top local history wonk Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler is not one to let sleeping dogs – or local history matters that are niggling him – lie.

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Happy talk

Yesterday, I received a wonderful email from David Evans, who did such a fine job of organising and hosting Gerald Reece’s talk on Brownhills last Friday evening at the Methodist Church in Silver Street, Brownhills.

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Gerald Reece talk: on tonight!

Top contributor, commentor and all round good egg David Evans has been busy over the last few weeks organising a treat for local history buffs in Brownhills and the wider community.
Gerald Reece flyer

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Your chance to meet a local history legend next Friday!

This is a reminder that this coming Friday, the elder statesman of Brownhills local history Gerald Reece will be giving a talk in Brownhills on the subject – this popular and knowledgable historian last gave a talk in Brownhills in 2012, an event which is very fondly remembered and raised £520 for MacMillan Cancer Support.

Gerald Reece flyer

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Stacked

A few weeks ago, I shared here a mining plan of how workings in the Robbins coal seam under Walsall Wood, Clayhanger and Brownhills affected the railway line above it, showing the coal mine excavations in great detail under the village.

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The Rovers return…

Top contributor, commentor and all round good egg David Evans has been busy over the last few weeks organising a treat for local history buffs in Brownhills and the wider community.

Gerald Reece flyer

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Quality is important – What lies beneath once more

Hi folks – it’s not often I do this here on the blog, but I feel that quality is important, particularly in the recording of historically important documents I present, and an article I wasn’t happy with at all was published here a few weeks ago with a very heavy heart.
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What lies beneath

Way back at the beginning of August, I shared a partial scan of a document I’d acquired – a mining plan of how workings in the Robbins coal seam under Walsall Wood, Clayhanger and Brownhills affected the railway line above.
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Seam stress

Now, since it’s been a few days of catching up with little bits and pieces, here’s something massive for readers to get their teeth into – this is a historical artefact which I’ve been lucky enough to find, and I’m very excited about it.
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Brownhills School: driven to distraction

The ongoing issue of Brownhills School’s withdrawal of community access to it’s facilities rumbled on this week, as the Walsall Advertiser published another excellent report about how the Spotlight Youth Theatre Group were told they’d have to move from the school last December.RichardShepherdMP

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As far distant as the millennium

Found coincidentally to reader Alan Harvey’s request for more Norton Canes, this article on the village, from the Saturday, 30th January 1886 copy of The Graphic, is a remarkable travelogue written by a visitor to a small, dirt-poor community, just before everything changed.

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Book search – can you help?

I’m looking for a book – everyone knows that local history books get rare once they sell out of their initial runs – very often, titles appear fleetingly, and disappear into the ether without ever really being seen again.

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My Fair Lady

This is a wonderful article from local history rapscallion Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler which I think readers will really, really enjoy. Peter has developed a reputation hereabouts for being something of the iconoclast; formerly he has not pulled punches in his explorations of mining and industrial history, often to the surprise of readers. Continuing this theme,…

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Never trust the ground beneath your feet

Over the last week, an incident of major proportions has occurred in the UK, at Hatfield, near Doncaster. It has gone largely under reported in the media, which is a scandal. This is a significant and worrying event, and is of interest to anyone interested in mining, industrial waste, spoil heaps, physical geography and geology.

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Language of the underground

Our good mate Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has struck gold again. This transcription of an article from the Lichfield Mercury, of Friday, 4th January 1904 is a real gem, both for those with a keen interest in mining at the time, and those who are scholars of the nomenclature and language of our area.

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Well, that was unfortunate…

Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler continues his patient, thorough research into the Harrison empire. This was, of course, the local industrialist family that owned mines in South Staffordshire, and particularly the Grove Pit and others locally.

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Local history talk in Brownhills tonight!

Top contributor, commentor and all round good egg David Evans has been busy over the last few weeks organising a treat for local history buffs in Brownhills and the wider community. David has kindly contacted noted local historian and author Gerald Reece, and together, they’ve arranged for a talk to be given tonight (30th November…

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Curious electric

It’s a curious fact of local history that little St. Anne’s Church, in Church Street, Chasetown, was the first church in Britain lit by electric light. The history of this installation, and of electricity coming to Chasewtown and Brownhills is inextricably tied up with the history of mining in the area.

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Rock and coal

Here’s one that is certain to create debate, comment and further articles. Alerted to it in the last week by both Gareth Thomas (Geographical whizz from Lichfield District Council) and Paul Daniel (data whizz behind the mechanism that keeps local news site The YamYam running so brilliantly), it’s a book scanned and published by that wonderful resource Google Books.

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Top local historian to give talk in Brownhills!

Top contributor, commentor and all round good egg David Evans has been busy over the last few weeks organising a treat for local history buffs in Brownhills and the wider community.

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Top local historian to give talk in Brownhills!

Top contributor, commentor and all round good egg David Evans has been busy over the last few weeks organising a treat for local history buffs in Brownhills and the wider community.

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The Harrison dynasty: Beginnings in Coal, 1849

Regular reader, commentarian and contributor extraordinaire Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler sent me this article some weeks ago now, and I’ve been waiting to finish the Pelsall Boiler Explosion series, so it has a clear deck. This is a continuation in Peter’s investigations and ruminations on the Harrison empire, and  his musings on the nature of employment…

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On solid ground

Here’s a real find. I recently acquired a couple of railway plans from my favourite map dealer, and bought them blind. I actually thought one was of Walsall Wood, and the other was Brownhills West, due to the drawing titles. When I received them, they were far better than that. These are gems. I’ll post…

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In pursuit of the truth

Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, one of several readers and contributors without whom this blog would be nothing at all, has something to say, and I think we need to listen. Carefully. There’s something disturbing him, and me, in the way some mining history is being presented. Pete, you’ll recall, has flagged up some discrepancies between events,…

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Face to face

Following on from my post last week where I featured local historian Gerald Reece’s research and loving reproductions of the mapping for the the proposed Norton Branch of the South Staffordshire Railway, I have an interesting document to share with readers. Click on this link to download a full, high quality version. 12.5 megabytes My…

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An unimaginable hell

Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has been continuing his diligent work of researching the history of the Harrison Company and Family, looking into the darkest corners of the mining industry in Brownhills and its surrounds over a century ago. Peter is particularly concerned, as I am, that the truth of the conditions these men worked in should…

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The social contract

There has been some discussion here recently between regulars David Evans and Peter Cutler about miners working at Walsall Wood Colliery on day to day contracts. As a consequence, Peter found the following article in the Lichfield Mercury of Friday, 26th June 1914. This article gives a remarkable insight into the pernicious hold the still…

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Up for sale – The Swan Inn, Brownhills, in 1835

Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has played another blinder and found this auction advert in the Staffordshire Advertiser of Saturday, 31st October 1835. It advertises the Swan Inn and it’s not inconsiderable estate for sale. This was quite some holding, and would have fetched a fair sum. This ties in really neatly with the previous auction found by…

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Tenths

One of the wonderful things Gerald Reece sent me following our recent email exchange is a scan of  a compilation of tithe maps of western Brownhills. I wasn’t actually aware this existed, and it helps clear up a few things, whilst raising many other questions. It’s a scanned from a hand drawn copy, and is…

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Anglesey Basin and the southern Chasetown area, 1962

Following on from the 1884 Brownhills South and Walsall Wood map and the 1884 Brownhills Common and Central map, I continue the series of paper scanned maps with this gem from 1968 – a 1:2,500 plot of  Anglesey Basin and the southern Chasetown area, including The Triangle. Not the that this map has house names marked…

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Aldridge? We can see right through you…

Reader Mike Hawes requested that I do the Google Earth overlay trick with last weekend’s Aldridge Northwest 1914 map, so I’ve done just that. This was a very difficult one to align, as something seems erroneous about the drafting of the canal to the south west. I suspect either drafting error, or an imaging distortion….

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Aldridge north west, 1884 and 1914

Following on from the 1884 Brownhills South and Walsall Wood map and others posted recently, I’ve dived into the digital archive after a request by reader Mike Hawes and pulled out the 1:2,500 scale gems from 1884 and 1914. They show a rapidly expanding Aldridge, with a huge and growing area of collieries, brickworks and marl…

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Mapping transparency

I’ve received a few requests to do the Google Earth overlay trick with yesterday’s Pelsall North and West Brownhills map, so I’ve done just that. Please bear in mind that this was a scan of a paper map, which is old, and hasn’t been geometrically or geographically corrected, therefore distortions will be present. Trust no…

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