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Mine Exploration Forum

Author Hill Top, Wednesbury
elihu

Joined: 21/12/2011

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 21/12/2011 11:42:07
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I am interested in the mines around the Hill Top area of Wednesbury, all of which have disappeared save for traces - sometimes just the slightest trace - of various branch canals that radiated from the Ridgacre Branch. One of them, the Balls Hill Branch was the starting point of the first canal in Birmingham, opening on 6th November 1769. That day the price of coal in Birmingham more than halved.

I am trying to find out more about these early coal mines on the ridge to the south of Wednesbury - in the Holloway Bank area up to Hill Top. I know a number of much bigger mines opened up south of the ridge in the 19th Century, but for the moment I'm trying to get an idea of which mines were active in the 1760s and 1770s.
Anyone know more about the mining at this time in this area? I am aware of a small collection of boxed documents relating to Hill Top in the Sandwell Archives, but does anyone know of any other sources?
Has anyone been into any of the old shafts recently?

Grateful for any information or even to discover if anyone else is interested in the Black Country coal mines!
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AR

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 21/12/2011 14:48:14
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There was an article in Mining History (vol 16 no.6) a few years back, "Black Country Mining before the Industrial Revolution" by Peter W. King which might be worth a look - I'm at work right now and away from my own copy so I can't dig it out and have a look, I'm afraid!

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JR

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 22/12/2011 01:02:27
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I'm originally from that area and remember a number of the small side canals off the Ridgacre canal. Sadly virtually all signs have disappeared under housing or industry.
I do remember that the reference section of Birmingham central library has a good collection of large scale o/s maps that may show something. Also you could contact the Black Country Museum to see what records they may possess.
Oh and (not that I'm being pedantic) Hill Top is about half a mile inside West Bromwich Off Topic

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ICLOK

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 22/12/2011 19:01:10
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Pretty certain I've entered alot of coal mines on here for the Wednesbury area...

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Moorebooks

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 23/12/2011 09:54:38
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There is a book on Sandwell Park collieries but no mention of the early mines in the area. The Black Country Society produced vasrious articles and might be worth checking their archive

Mike
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elihu

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 26/12/2011 12:27:51
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Thanks for all the good advice...and yes I know Hill Top is in West Bromwich. The area was served by the Wednesbury Old Canal and some of the mines in the area were described as being in Wednesbury.

I have the Stone book, the Victoria History reprint and - as I mentioned - there is this box of Hill Top archives in Sandwell archives. The library staff in Wednesbury say there is much more as well. They are very helpful.

I reckon there's a lot of people with photos and family memories of the last mines.

I have read in several books, that there were a number of bell-pits in the Black Country right up until the 1920s. Anyone any idea where they were?

If anyone else is interested specifically in the mines of the Black Country, do let me know!

- Mark
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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 26/12/2011 13:39:17
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Your best bet would be to talk to Nigel chapman

send me a PM if you want his contact details

Mike
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elihu

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 08/01/2012 18:24:08
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I have Nigel Chapman's book, and I have seen various biographies of the various coalfields.

I have been slowly mapping the collieries in the West Bromwich and Wednesbury areas. (Sorry. It's quite hard for me to say the WB words; I'm a Wolves fan)

I am quite surprised at how little is available about the Black Country collieries. Although the last one closed in the 60s, there must have been tens of thousands of people employed in the industry right up to the 1950s. It's an interesting area and I am always happy to be put in touch with others interested in the mines, manufacturing and canals of the Black Country (and West Bromwich) Wink

- Mark
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Yorkshireman

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 08/01/2012 19:04:13
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A quick trawl revealed only this:
http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/articles/Wednesbury/EarlyIndustries.htm

and that OSD Maps of the area are available for the period
1887-1891 - with loads of collieries marked.

http://www.old-maps.co.uk/maps.html

Reference literature:

John Holland (1835). The History and Description of Fossil Fuel, the Collieries, and Coal Trade of Great Britain. Whittaker ; G.. ISBN 1144622557

There might be something interesting here, too:
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genmaps/genfiles/COU_Pages/ENG_pages/sts.htm


Cheers

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JR

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 08/01/2012 19:26:00
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[quote......snipped for brevity.........
I am quite surprised at how little is available about the Black Country collieries. Although the last one closed in the 60s, there must have been tens of thousands of people employed in the industry right up to the 1950s. It's an interesting area and I am always happy to be put in touch with others interested in the mines, manufacturing and canals of the Black Country (and West Bromwich) Wink

- Mark

Firstly I fully understand the reluctance for 'WB' ..no further off topic comment here!
As a native of W. Brom. (Hateley Heath just down the road from Hill Top) albeit one who now lives in Hereford I would love to be involved in any study of the industry of the area. PM me if you like in case talking about canals and factories takes this thread too far off topic. Smile

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ICLOK

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 08/01/2012 21:38:25
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If you go to http://www.aditnow.co.uk/mines/Wednesbury-Oak-Furnaces-Smelt-Mill/?gowhere=%2fmines%2f%3fpid%3d1%26ac%3dA%26ad%3d50 then look at nearby mines on right I think I captured a good many already... Wink

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elihu

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 08/01/2012 22:14:25
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Thanks. Working from various sources I have got a further 20 collieries in the general Swan Village - Hill Top - Hateley Heath area alone. And this doesn't include earlier mines from the 18th Century. For example, I'm aware of a further 5 separate mines in the Ardav Road/Barrack Street/Tunnel Road area of Hill Top.

My main interest, originally, was to find the mines that were big enough, important enough to build the original BCN **all the way round** the hillside from (what later became) Swan Village and to the end basin (at Tunnel Road). This was a significant undertaking and a diversion for a canal company that was really set up for linking Birmingham to Wolverhampton.

The digitised BGS surveys are great, of course, because they include many mine shafts and mine abandonment surveys.

Has anyone got into any of the abandoned shafts in this area?

Personally I find it rather sad that the original canal in the West Midlands...the very first one.....has been lost across Golds Hill towards Hill Top. I know this isn't the right forum for canal talk but mines and canals do go together. Ask the Duke. Smile
IP: 80.7.101.70 Edited: 08/01/2012 22:15:54 by elihu
LeeW

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 08/01/2012 22:29:00
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The site relies on the public entering mine sites and any relevant information - this generally involves individuals researching areas then sharing this and entering the info on here. This is still ongoing

There are still some mining areas which are not fully represented on here and the West Mids may be one of them. For instance it took myself and ICLOK a while to sort out the South Notts area. ICLOK has entered a load of mine sites for the area although I'm not sure if there are any additional features (i.e. the area being developed?) or info to be added.

I, myself try to update any blanks which have been missed out - this is an ongoing process and I've only touched a little on the west mids. Lately I've been working on the area to the West of this area and I've got a list of a few hundred sites around Telford-Ironbridge and was going to start working easterly. I like to get a good list with co-ords etc which needs cross checking with the site before entering them on to here.

I'm sure there is plenty of good info for this area - it just needs the people with the info to put in on.

I'm glad to see other people giving more representation of these types of areas


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ICLOK

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 08/01/2012 23:22:04
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Lee, too true yet again, I've added as (and am still researching) as much as I can foir the area concerned and as you rightly say there are still many ironworks and mines to go.... time being the killer currently.... My intention is to do another run of ironworks, mines etc but please feel free anyone who can link em up to canal systems etc... if its a canal prime to west mids coal I am sure its welcome on here Thumbs Up

EDIT.... Lee I 100% agree on the lets see more areas like this


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IP: 78.150.156.110 Edited: 08/01/2012 23:27:42 by ICLOK
JR

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 08/01/2012 23:35:28
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Well the aforementioned Ridgacre Branch Canal is (was really since it's now a shadow of the original), as stated was a branch off Brindley's original BCN main line and had the Swan Village gasworks on its banks. This was clearly sited to take advantage of coal brought by canal. Does this make it a legitimate entry?

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 08/01/2012 23:43:54
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Damn right it does.... these branch canals are too often forgotten.... BTW nice to hear from you... Smile

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elihu

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 05/02/2012 14:45:00
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This canal is often referred to as the Ridgacre (Branch) Canal, but it is, in fact, the Wednesbury Old Canal. The original BCN mainline was built to Hilltop in West Bromwich first, before the BCN mainline was open. The whole purpose of this first canal in the West Midlands was to bring coal from these Hilltop mine(s) to Birmingham.

I will add details when I have completed my current task of identifying the mines, although it is clear that the mines around the western slopes of Hilltop had long gone before the deeper mines were developed.
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royfellows

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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 05/02/2012 18:23:32
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I live in this area and yet have done no research at all.
Shame on me.

When I was about 16, it would be 1961; I used to go shooting on the Grove Colliery land, this is Grove near Brownhills. There was a railway running across the road to the spoil tips, I remember one day seeing the loco.

I also remember an underground fire burning there, I wonder if this was the reason the mine closed?
There was a fissure where hot gasses used to rise, I used to go over there as a young kid, it would be late 1950s.

Just a titbit of info.


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Hill Top, Wednesbury
Posted: 17/02/2012 22:32:31
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My office is in Brierley Hill, on the site of a colliery next to Round Oak steelworks. the soil throws up bits of shale, mudstone, ash and slag if one rootles around below the woodchips and ornamental bushes. Just carefully looking around lots of evedence of the rapacious mining methods used to win the Ten Yard coal are evident: Many older houses and buildings lean and have steel rods to keep them together, roads and canals stand well above the surrounding land, as mining made the land either side subside.
The colliery 'dunes' are nearly all cleared away, but in waste ground there remain lumps and bumps and there are covered shafts, bits of old wire and winding chains on the ground. There isn't, as far as I know, any accessible workings except for the pit at the Black Country Museum. Unitil a couple of years ago there was a coal transfer bunker where coal from Sandwell Park Colliery was loaded onto barges at Smethwick. The most interesting remains are an engine house at Windmill End near Dudley, in waste ground near Pensnett and wood near the Croooked House pub (a leaning bub caused by subsidence) at Himley
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