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Miscellaneous

Keith Turton's History of Warwickshire's Industrial Railways, Sidings and Private Owner Wagons

The L&NWR Between Coventry and Nuneaton

The London and North Western Railway between Nuneaton and Coventry served the remainder of that part of the Warwickshire coalfield. Only the isolated colliery at Binley, between Coventry and Rugby. was outside of this concentration. Detail is taken from the 1930 LM&SR Control strip map and it is again emphasised that this shows only what tracks and sidings existed at this date.

The registration of all private owner wagons with a main line railway company following a 'roadworthy' inspection became compulsory in 1888, was the outcome of a serious accident on the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway near Penistone in the previous year, caused by a defective wagon owned by the Shireoaks Colliery. Each railway company was required to record full details of all wagons on its registry, and supply numbered metal plates to be attached to the solebar of each wagon. Usually wagon owners registered with the railway company that served it directly. It is unfortunate that the L&NWR registers of Private Owner Wagons, which lists all wagons registered with that railway, appears to have been lost, therefore it has been impossible to compile a more comprehensive survey of wagons owned by the various collieries between Nuneaton and Coventry.

Fortunately both the Warwickshire Coal Company and Griff Collieries registered some, but not all, of wagons with the Midland Railway and other information has been gleaned from manufacturers records and from minute books of colliery companies which have survived.

Birmingham Gas Works

A typical of the style of wagon used by the Department in the last years of the nineteenth century
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Midrail Photographs
A typical of the style of wagon used by the Department in the last years of the nineteenth century
One of 75 wagons built by Thomas Burnett of Doncaster in 1913 in an early attempt to standardise the wagon fleet
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Cusworth Hall Museum
One of 75 wagons built by Thomas Burnett of Doncaster in 1913 in an early attempt to standardise the wagon fleet

Coventry Ordnance Works

The history of this strategic munitions works is well covered in Wikepedia and my Private Owner Wagons, an Eleventh Collection, so a brief resume will suffice before concentrating on the small wagon fleet attached to the factory.

It came into being through the joint efforts of the shipbuilders Cammell Laird, John Brown, Yarrow and Fairfield, strongly supported by The Admiralty, for an alternate source of heavy guns for Britain's Naval Fleet, then monopolised by the two shipbúilders, Vickers and Armstrong Whitworth. The origins of ordnance manufacture in Coventry were previously bestowed on a carriage-building firm, Mulliners. This business was purchased by Cammell Laird in 1903 to be joined by John Brown in the following year. The works were situated on the Foleshill Light Railway, which was anything but light when confronted by the enormous gun barrels which were shipped out by rail to a subsidiary site at Scotstoun, Scotland, where the mountings were made. Howitzers were also made for both The Army and The Navy. The works were shut down in 1925 and restored in 1936 to play their part in the second world war.

Specialised rolling stock owned by the railway companies was used to transport these lengthy and heavy items The only wagons owned by the company were low-sided open wagons built in 1907 by the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company. It is uncertain whether two or four wagons were built, the wagon builders records show two ordered in February 1907 and two more in the following month (was this a duplication?)

The wagons measured 14'6" x 6'11" x 1'9" with two planks and drop sides with pin and chaín fastenings. Body colour was dark red with white letters shaded black. Wagon ends were slightly raised and one doorstop each side was shortened to accommodate the brake lever. They were describd by te builder as 'ordnance wagons'.

The exact purpose of these wagons is unknown, they were certainly not for internal use as they were registered with a main line railway company, the registration plate can be seen on the solebar. Most likely they were used as barrier wagons on the main line, protecting the overhang of the main load, and probably also loaded with detachable smaller parts.

The third of three 1929 'landscape' aerial views of the sidings and the numerous Private Owner Wagons stabled at Three Spires Junction
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Gloucester RC&WCompany
Coventry Ordnance Survey Works Wagon No 2 built in March 1907 by the Gloucester RC&WCompany

Binley Colliery

Isolated from the rest of the Warwickshire coalfield on the former L&NWR main line between Coventry and Rugby, the Binley Colliery was sunk by a firm of Scottish Iron and Coalmasters, Merry and Cuninghame Ltd, of the Glenarnock Iron Works. This company also owed several collieries in Scotland.

Sinking commenced in 1907, and coal winding was achieved four years later. The rail connection to the L&NWR was initially worked by gravity and with typical Scottish thriftiness a locomotive was deemed unnecessary until the output had increased sufficiently to warrant such extravagance. The junction with the main line was on the up side, a short distance beyond the Humber Road Junction where the Coventry Loop Line joined the main line.

Initially, 474 men were employed. In 1923 the payroll remained almost static at 450 Ten years later, Binley was the only colliery owned by Merry and Cuninghame, all of their Scottish mining operations had either closed down, been worked out or disposed of. The Binley operation was still working under liquidation, with a Robert Brown as General Manager and Director and 545 employees.

In 1936 Merry and Cuninghame's interest in the Binley Colliery had been relinquished, and a new company Binley Colliery Ltd (1936) was formed In 1940 the board of directors included a Cuninghame, Mrs A Cuninghame of 25 Hill Street London and a Captain , NC Livingstone-Learmonth, thus continuing both family and military interest. Some 670 men were employed during this year. The colliery closed in 1961.

Merry and Cuninghame Ltd

The company was founded in 1843, and was well known for the possession of a 215-ton steam hammer, the largest in Scotland, installed in 1884. A number of collieries were worked in Scotland., many of them of small output and probably also running at a loss. There is no reasonable explanation of their interest in a very minor colliery project in a small village three miles east of Coventry, where no attempt had been made to mine coal previously.

Initially the company was highly profitable. In 1871 there were 4,535 employees, and technical advances in ironfounding were constantly adopted. In 1885 steel production was commenced, and tinplate bar was manufactured and sold to south Wales tinplate makers.

During the final years of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century, the fortunes of the company were in serious decline and despite diversification into brickworks and closing all but three collieries in Scotland, the end of a great and progressive company almost a century old was drawing near. This sounds farcical, but the wave of industrial disputes in the coal and iron trade in the 1920s may have been of some influence.

Looking at the titled, landed, wealthy and influential heavyweights in the board room in 1923, which included Colonel Sir Ralph W Anstruther, Lord Invernairn of Strathnairn and Sir Herbert Maxwell, Bart, one is convinced that the mighty fell as heavily as the small one-man-and-horse coal merchant that went down in pitiful numbers in the 1920s and 1930s.

Wagons

Initially the wagon fleet was naturally sourced from Scottish builders, the earliest being delivered in 1910 by RY Pickering of Wishaw, but subsequently all matters relating to wagons were in the hands of the nearby Rugby builder Thomas Hunter. As at the end of 1934 311 wagons, numbers 325-350, 401-485 and 501-700 were on simple hire to be shortly joined by no's 701-775. An interesting point is that the LM&SR recorded only wagons numbered 401-500, delivered in 1930, the remainder appear to be second hand wagons refurbished by Hunter, For some reason wagons numbered 486 to 500 were not recorded in the 1934 inventory. For many years the London coal merchant and factor T Wilson Brewis was the company's agent, and largest customer in London.

Courtaulds Limited

The company was founded in 1794 by George Courtauld, son of a French immigrant with textile mills first at Pebmarsh in Essex and then at Braintree where his son Samuel owned a silk mill. It was Samuel Courtauld who masterminded the successful progress of the company, which by the year 1850 employed 2,000

In 1905 the world's first factory to produce artificial fibres was built in Coventry. Known as rayon, it was made from cotton waste and wood pulp. The factory was served by a private siding which was in effect an extension of the siding at Foleshill which served Websters Brickworks, to eventually become the Foleshill Light Railway The extension to Courtaulds was opened in November 1904, and was most likely used for construction materials before production started. Courtaulds eventually became the worlds largest manufacturer of artificial fibres, but latterly also diversified into carbon fibres and specialised plastics.

Wagons

A small number of green-painted open mineral wagons were operated, but these were attached to their north Wales plant at Flint, from the only known illustration, an 'off-the-wagon-side drawing It is therefore possible that wagons lettered for the Coventry operation may have existed.

The main connection with Private Owner wagons is through the Trafford Park chemical company WH Cowburn and Cowpar Ltd.. William Henry Cowburn started in business in 1877 manufacturing muriatic acid. He expanded his business through a connection with Samuel Courtauld by supplying the raw material for the manufacture of viscose rayon. The Trafford Park Chemical Works were established in 1914 and two years later the firm amalgamated with the Cowpar Chemical Company. By far the largest customer was Courtaulds at their plants at Flint and Coventry.

Cowburn and Cowpar operated a large fleet of tank wagons from their Trafford Park headquarters, some in service with Courtaulds Coventry factory.

Most were built by Charles Roberts of Wakefield. Some were sent direct from the wagon builder to Courtaulds plants, those recorded are: No 9, delivered in 1910 and described as an acid jar wagons, no's 6 and 8, delivered in 1911 and 1912 respectively, all three being consigned to Courtaulds at Webster's Sidings, Coventry. In 1917 no. 33 was despatched similarly. At least a further forty wagons were operated, their regular traffic unknown.

The colour of their tank wagons was specified in the order book as "in bold colours", usually red. The later wagons bore the lettering 'Sulphuric Acid Only' on the tank barrels, the owning company name appearing on a wooden board attached horizontally to the tank side. Their rail wagons were very plain affairs.

Cowburn and Cowpar also operated a fleet of narrow boats, very well known to canal enthusiasts, the fleet updated in 1934 by the arrival of eight new craft, all named after birds starting with the letter 'S', Skylark, Swan, Swallow, Swift, Stork, Seagull, Snipe and Starling. They were particularly noted by the late LTC Rolt during his pioneer voyage through the canal network in 1939-40. The regular route to Courtauld would have been along the Trent and Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction, near Lichfield, to join the Coventry Canal to their destination. They were equipped with containers for a speedy turn-around at either end. More than one has been faithfully restored in its original maroon, black and green livery and are highly admired as they sails the inland waterways. Thus a reminder of the chemical company so closely interlinked with Courtaulds still exists, but do those who admire the canal boats understand or contemplate the connection?

Exhall Colliery

Like most of the Warwickshire collieries, coal mined at Exhall was first distributed to the outside world via the canal network, long before a railway was completed and despatched via the Coventry, Grand Union and Oxford canals to London and to the paper mills of Croppers at Burghfield, Colthrop at Thatcham,( both near Reading), and Dickinsons at Croxley Green, The famous Ovaltine plant at Berkhamstead was one of the last, if not the last, in the country to receive its coal supplies by canal and some of this came from Exhall.. To wharves and trans-shipment points in the Limehouse docks and on the River Thames Exhall coal was also despatched. When the railway came, the substantial East Anglian coal factor and merchant, Thomas Coote and later Coote and Warren, became a major distributor of Exhall coals throughout the region and in London.

It was in 1850 that the Exhall Colliery Co. Ltd was formed to take over an existing pit on a site where a cottage industry of backyard mining had been carried on for decades with little control of the recording of shafts, pits, tunnels and other impediments to successful commercial operations through inrushes of uncharted water One record states that a million gallons had to be pumped out of the colliery before coal winning could commence. In the 1890s 500 men were employed and by 1909 this figure had doubled. The recorded output in 1892 was 450 tons per shift.

By 1872 it had become the Exhall Colliery and Brick Works Company and in 1872 a Private Siding Agreement with the L&NWR was finalised, with a junction near the Hawkesbury Lane station on the down side of the Nuneaton to Coventry line The 1921 Midland Railway Distance Diagram, which includes that section of the L&NWR between Nuneaton and Coventry shows two separate sites for the Exhall Colliery, one on the down side with a connection to the Coventry Canal which ran under the main line, that actually served the colliery, the other alongside Bedworth station on the up side. While the latter was described as Exhall Colliery Siding, it was in fact to serve the Exhall Colliery Brickworks at Bedworth The 1930 LMS strip map shows Daimler Co, whose Coventry car plant is recorded as using the clayhole as a rubbish dump after the brickworks had closed. It also records the connection on the down side near Hawkesbury Lane station with a capacity for 218 wagons.

Almost directly opposite on the up side were the extensive Hawkesbury Lane sorting sidings and the mineral line which served the Wyken Colliery.

In 1913, the Exhall Colliery Company, on the insistence (and foresight) of its Chairman, Captain Chas. Daniel Miller, took over the ailing neighbouring colliery, Newdigate, which had succumbed to financial difficulties and voluntary liquidation. This proved to be a master-stroke of foresight as the Exhall Colliery was to last for only another 25 years while Newdigate worked into the late 1980s.

Following an inrush of water from uncharted old workings the Exhall colliery was abandoned in 1938, employing 940 men at that time of which only 150 were "kept on" to re-open in 1939 as the Hawkesbury and Exhall Colliery Co., working on a smaller scale until 1943 and closed again after an underground fire. A further revival in 1947 under the National Coal Board saw the sinking of a new shaft but this lasted for only a year and 1948 saw Exhall closed for good, probably the unluckiest of the large collieries whose towering chimneys and headgear dominated the skyline between Nuneaton and Coventry.

Wagons

Apart from a handful of illustrations, there are no known records of Exhall's wagon fleet, reflecting on the apparent loss of the L&NWR Wagon Registers. It is suggested that when the Exhall management assumed control of the Newdigate Colliery, the two wagon fleets were operated in tandem.

Three Spires Junction

See caption for information on the wagons seen in this photograph.

The third of three 1929 'landscape' aerial views of the sidings and the numerous Private Owner Wagons stabled at Three Spires Junction
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Britain from Above
The third of three 1929 aerial views of Three Spires Junction sidings and the numerous Private Owner Wagons

The site is now an industrial estate.

Newdigate Colliery

One of the more entrepreneurial landowners in Warwickshire was Sir John Newdigate, who acquired Arbury Hall near Nuneaton in the seventeenth century. His only son, Charles Newdigate Newdigate (1816-1887) inherited his fathers extensive landholdings at the age of 17, inheriting further real estate on the death of his uncle Sir Roger Newdigate. This included most of the worked part of the Warwickshire coalfields between Nuneaton and Coventry. Sir Charles Newdigate, in the grand manner of many of the early coal barons, represented North Warwickshire in Parliament, leading to the almost inevitable seat in the House of Lords.

Newdigate Colliery was sunk in the last few years of the nineteenth century and was listed in the 1896 List of Mines as 'sinking, the owner being FN Newdigate, MP.' Newdigate Colliery Limited was formed in 1904 with a board of directors which included J. N. Nadin, a coal merchant on a substantial scale covering Warwickshire and Worcestershire, operator of a fleet of railway wagons trumpeting his name in letters that covered almost the entire wagon side and also the owner of the Stanton Colliery on the outskirts of Swadlincote in Derbyshire.

Other directors were Maurice Deacon of Chase Cliffe, Whatstandwell, who was also on the board of the Exhall Colliery. He was also a director of the Newstead Colliery Company, of Mansfield, Notts, and ten other colliery companies, some of them substantial, ranging from Yorkshire to South Wales. Deacon was a graduate of the old school of colliery management. Born in Derby in 1851, he passed his Managers exams in 1872, for several years he was attached to the Blackwell Colliery in Derbyshire .In 1891 he was living at the Colliery Manager's house with wife Adelaide and three daughters.. Also resident (or visiting on the day of the census)) were Deacon's parents: his father, Augustus, a retired Artist. He later practiced also as a Consultant Mining Engineer. . He subsequently appears as a director of the new Newdigate colliery in 1914, serving till at least 1933.

The main line junction serving the colliery was on the down side of the line between Hawkesbury Lane and Bedworth stations. This also passed close to a wharf on an arm of the Coventry Canal, were a much photographed, almost celebrated, runaway ended up in the canal with wagons and coal scattered , some on land, but mostly in the canal itself.

Like the Exhall Colliery, Newdigate suffered from the constant intrusion of underground water, mainly from abandoned workings which had never been charted. In 1902 932 men were employed, Declining production and suspected indifferent management saw a decision by its shareholders in 1912 to enter into voluntary liquidation. Some 951 men were employed at the time the legal documents being signed by J. N. Nadin.

In 1914 a new company, Newdigate Colliery Ltd (1914) was formed, with the then Chairman and Managing Director of Exhall Colliery, Captain Charles Daniel Miller , taking the same position and Maurice Deacon as a director. Included in the 1923 directorship were also the obligatory military representatives in Major Fleetwood Ernest Varney and Lieutenant -Colonel George Alfred Lewis Holmside. Captain Miller retained his position until at least 1940.

A thousand men were employed at Newdigate almost immediately. In 1933 output was recorded at 342,619 tons rising to half-a-million tons in 1940 with 1,210 men The two collieries worked in some sort of harmony until 1939 when Exhall, similarly awash and disabled by underground flooding, was temporarily closed, to be re-opened more than once and finally abandoned in 1948.

Little is known of the railway wagon fleet but illustrations of wagons numbered 3421, 3512, 784 and 738 exist. At least 106 wagons were built by Thomas Hunter of Rugby and an unknown quantity were delivered by the Lancashire builder Ince Iron and Wagon Company in 1915. Thirty more wagons were built by Hunter in 1942 and allocated to the colliery under the emergency wartime scheme introduced by the then Railway Executive. It also appears that pre-1939 Exhall and Newdigate wagons were intermingled before compulsory acquisition.

Hawkesbury Lane Colliery

The mineral line which served Wyken Colliery joined the main line on the up side a short distance from Hawkesbury Lane station, and over the years an important group of sorting sidings was developed. By 1930 this consisted of 12 sidings with a capacity of 756 wagons, wagon repair and cripple roads, and the Wyken branch emerging from within the siding complex. These sidings were used for sorting wagons from the Griff, Exhall and Newdigate collieries and possibly some from the Nuneaton sidings for onward destinations. Opposite on the down side was the junction for the Exhall Colliery, and a small group of Traffic Sidings with accommodation for 108 wagons.

Exhall Colliery

Like most of the Warwickshire collieries, coal mined at Exhall was first distributed to the outside world via the canal network, long before a railway was completed and despatched via the Coventry, Grand Union and Oxford canals to London and to the paper mills of Croppers at Burghfield, Colthrop at Thatcham,( both near Reading), and Dickinsons at Croxley Green, The famous Ovaltine plant at Berkhamstead was one of the last, if not the last, in the country to receive its coal supplies by canal and some of this came from Exhall.. To wharves and trans-shipment points in the Limehouse docks and on the River Thames Exhall coal was also despatched. When the railway came, the substantial East Anglian coal factor and merchant, Thomas Coote and later Coote and Warren, became a major distributor of Exhall coals throughout the region and in London.

It was in 1850 that the Exhall Colliery Co. Ltd was formed to take over an existing pit on a site where a cottage industry of backyard mining had been carried on for decades with little control of the recording of shafts, pits, tunnels and other impediments to successful commercial operations through inrushes of uncharted water One record states that a million gallons had to be pumped out of the colliery before coal winning could commence. In the 1890s 500 men were employed and by 1909 this figure had doubled. The recorded output in 1892 was 450 tons per shift.

By 1872 it had become the Exhall Colliery and Brick Works Company and in 1872 a Private Siding Agreement with the L&NWR was finalised, with a junction near the Hawkesbury Lane station on the down side of the Nuneaton to Coventry line The 1921 Midland Railway Distance Diagram, which includes that section of the L&NWR between Nuneaton and Coventry (a reminder of the days when the Midland had running rights, relinquished by then) shows two separate sites for the Exhall Colliery, one on the down side with a connection to the Coventry Canal which ran under the main line, that actually served the colliery, the other alongside Bedworth station on the up side. While the latter was described as Exhall Colliery Siding, it was in fact to serve the Exhall Colliery brickworks at Bedworth The 1930 LMS strip map shows Daimler Co. which it is recorded was used by that company to deposit rubbish in the disused claypit. It also records the connection on the down side near Hawkesbury Lane station with a capacity for 218 wagons.

Almost directly opposite on the up side were the extensive Hawkesbury Lane sorting sidings and the mineral line which served the Wyken Colliery.

In 1913, the Exhall Colliery Company, on the insistence (and foresight) of its Chairman, Captain Chas. Daniel Miller, took over the ailing neighbouring colliery, Newdigate, which had succumbed to financial difficulties and voluntary liquidation. This proved to be a master-stroke of foresight as the Exhall Colliery was to last for only another 25 years while Newdigate worked into the late 1980s.

Following an inrush of water from uncharted old workings the Exhall colliery was abandoned in 1938, employing 940 men at that time of which only 150 were "kept on" to re-open in 1939 as the Hawkesbury and Exhall Colliery Co., working on a smaller scale until 1943 and closed again after an underground fire. A further revival in 1947 under the National Coal Board saw the sinking of a new shaft but this lasted for only a year and 1948 saw Exhall closed for good, probably the unluckiest of the large collieries whose towering chimneys and headgear dominated the skyline between Nuneaton and Coventry. The accompanying brickworks ceased production in 1930.

Apart from a handful of illustrations, there are no known records of Exhall's wagon fleet. It is suggested that when the Exhall management assumed control of the Newdigate Colliery, the two wagon fleets were operated in tandem. The site is now an industrial estate.

Captain George Daniel Miller

Despite his standing as Managing Director of the Exhall Colliery and mastermind of the virtual merger with neighbour Newdigate, learning anything about the man has been almost impossible. He does not appear in any census, understandable as his whereabouts and career were unknown up until the time of the last published census in 1911. He may just have squeezed into the latter as it was about that time that he purchase Coundon Court, a mansion on the outskirts of Coventry, built for and resided in by George Singer, a former bicycle manufacturer who founded in 1901 the Singer Motor Car Company and who died in 1909. Miller in turn lived in Coundon Court until his death in 1944. He was still serving as Chairman and Managing Director of the Newdigate Colliery Co (1914) in 1940.

The only surviving photograph of a Wyken and Craven Colliery wagon seen at an unknown location
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K Turton
The only surviving photograph of a Wyken and Craven Colliery wagon seen at an unknown location
View of Wyken Colliery wagons seen in the goods station at Reading early in the twentieth century
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Great Western Railway
View of Wyken Colliery wagons seen in the goods station at Reading early in the twentieth century
Another contract by the Warwickshire Coal Company to the coal factors Lamont and Warne, this time for 1,300 tons of beans
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K Turton
Another contract by the Warwickshire Coal Company to the coal factors Lamont and Warne
An unidentified ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F is seen at the head of an empty wagon train bound for Kingsbury Colliery
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K Turton
A typical contract of sale in the 1930s coal trade, showing 13,520 to 14,560 tons of beans (small graded coal)

Griff Colliery

Coal mining on the site of the Griff collieries on a cottage industry scale dates back to medieval times. The Newdigate family, generation after generation, took considerable interest in the on-going development of the coalfield and were strong and active supporters of the concurrent development of the canal system, which preceded the railways by several decades in the form of the Coventry Canal, which wound its way between the several mines between Coventry and Leamington, and providing, through individual branches, wharves and basins, a priceless facility for coal-owners to ship their output , albeit via not-so-direct routes, to London in one direction, and Birmingham in the opposite, with connections that were far flung. For example, coal from the Kersley colliery was, until at least the 1940's, regularly sent by canal to a paper mill on the outskirts of Reading.

The Griff Colliery Co. Ltd was formed in 1882. Previously mining on the site was under the control of the Newdigate family. It is possible that some shallow mining took place early in the seventeenth century. The connection to the L&NWR was opened on June 22nd, 1881, although the colliery was reported as having rail connection as early as 1847, this is considered to have been an internal system which ran between the collieries and the canal basin. The Midland Railway initially appears to have had running powers into the colliery sidings at the main line junction, no longer shown in the 1916 Diagram.

By the time the Griff colliery branch had been completed, it also served two brick and tile works of the Stanley Brick and Tile Co., two similar works of the Haunchwood Brick and Tile Co, and a branch line which reached out to the Griff company's Clara pit.

Griff was for many years a pit with a strong production record considering the medieval working methods in force at the time.. In 1845 29,000 tons of coal was produced, rising to 32,000 in 1855. By 1874 260 men were employed, and in 1892,with the Clara pit in full production, tonnage reached 150,000. In 1902 620,000 tons were produced, that is around `12,000 tons per week or 1,500 wagon loads, 250 wagons a day. By 1896 three shafts were working, no. 4, no.5 and the Clara pit. 1,193 men were employed. In 1923 with an additional shaft, the payroll had risen to2,271. By 1940, only the Clara pit was working with 1,580 men. The colliery finally closed in 1960.

This account of an order placed with the wagon builder Charles Roberts of Wakefield is an indication of the detail to be found in those records of the company which have survived and are now in the archives of the National Railway Museum at York. Fourteen wagons were ordered in 1903 by the flour mill of the Co-operative Wholesale Society at Silvertown, within London's docklands. Rather than deliver them empty to the customer, they were first sent to the Hoyland Silkstone Colliery near Barnsley to load gas coal for the Saltley Gasworks of the City of Birmingham. At Saltley they were unloaded and sent empty to the Griff colliery, who soon re-loaded them and sent them on their was to the new owner.

The wagon no. 1431 is one of a batch of forty built by Hurst Nelson of Motherwell and registered with the Midland Railway. This wagon is not typical of the standard livery of the company's wagons and may have been a 'one-off' example for photographic purposes, a common trait with this wagon builder. Most Griff wagons were painted with the main word over the second and third planks down, and five examples can be seen in the images of the Camp Hill goods station at Birmingham. Several Griff wagons were recorded during the construction of the Great Central London Extension, supplying coal to the contractors An earlier livery shows the colliery name in a shallow arc over the top three planks of the wagon.

The wagon fleet in the twentieth century averaged 1,400. Up to 400 wagons at a time were recorded as being stationary in sidings, loaded with coal awaiting customers orders. After the end of the first world war, a large number of surplus open wagons operated by the Ministry of Munitions were resold to private operators after minor alterations by various wagon builders, and Griff acquire seventy-seven, numbered 1801 to 1877.

Before nationalisation in 1947, there were several long-serving directors of the company, in 1923 the Chairman was R. Knowles, the Directors were F. Povey Harper of Nuneaton; Edward. F. Melly of Ashbourne, Derbyshire; R. Rathbone and, a grandee if ever there was one, Brigadier-General Sir Edward Thomas Le Marchant, Baronet,(1871-1953) of Colston Bassett Hall, Notts.

Sir Edward Le Marchant was born at Kingston-on-Soar, Notts and was also a director of the Desford Colliery Co, the Bolsover Colliery Co. and Andrew Knowles Ltd, a Lancashire colliery owner that became part of Manchester Collieries Ltd. He was the son of Merchant Banker Sir Henry Denis Le Marchant of Chobham, Chertsey and at the age of nineteen years was already a lieutenant in The Royal Fusiliers.

Edward Melly, J.P. who was Chairman and Managing Director in 1933, and still a director in 1940 was born in 1857 at Liverpool . He served his time at the Nunnery Colliery in Yorkshire from 1876 to 1881 before becoming mine manager at Griff by 1896, and a director of the company by 1923. He was also a director of Manchester Collieries Ltd, Chairman of Nuneaton Magistrates and Chairman of the Warwickshire Coal Owners Association.

Frederick Povey-Harper was born in Derby in 1878 and in 1911 he was a mining engineer living at 'Hilltop', Chilvers Colton. From 1933 to nationalisation he was a director and latterly Managing Director of Measham Collieries Ltd. of Leicestershire, and a director of the Griff colliery, his then address being Higham Hall in Leicestershire. He died at Astley in Warwickshire in 1954.

I was unable to trace through census records Messrs Rathbone or Knowles, but the appearance of Sir Edward Le Marchant as a director was a sign that several distinguished and highly ranked retired naval and military officers could be found among the directorates of colliery companies. One has already been featured in this series, and there are others to come. They are likely to be found also in many other trades as well, although their presence was no guarantee of success at the pithead or the contents of the cash register.

Perhaps the most outstanding example was that of Admiral of the Fleet Lord John Rushworth Jellicoe, who in the late 1920's was one of several former navy commanders who embellished the board of Associated Coal Consumers Ltd, a coal buying co-operative aimed at retired officers of similar rank, business tycoons and aging dowagers of Mayfair social status which dealt in wagon loads at reduced prices, financially far from successful and making a noticeable dent in the profits of four railway companies, two wagon hire firms and several collieries.

Wagon No 1431 is one of a batch of  forty delivered in 1905 by Hurst, Nelson of Motherwell
Ref: kt376
J Alsop
Wagon No 1431 is one of a batch of forty delivered in 1905 by Hurst, Nelson of Motherwell

Ansley Hall colliery

The colliery, opened in 1878, was situated at the end of the steeply-graded mineral branch of the Midland Railway diverging from the Nuneaton to Water Orton line at Stockingford station. The company title was The Ansley Hall Coal ad Iron Co. Ltd. What the 'Iron' represents appears to be the amount of ironstone that was mined alongside the coal and not a finished product.

The rail approach to the colliery was unusual in that the railway ran past the colliery and continued for a further twenty chains, for access to the colliery trains had to continue to the end of the line and reverse into the colliery sidings. Accordingly, loaded coal trains had to reverse out of the colliery before proceeding forward to the main line. Due to the grades encountered, locomotives ran tender first to the colliery and funnel first on return. Due to the short length of what was in reality a headshunt, trains would have been restricted to 20 wagons and a guards van. Locomotives used were ex-Midland Railway 0-6-0's, which were augmented by ex-Lancashire and Yorkshire engines of the same wheel arrangement which,it has been reported were preferred by the engine crews.

It has been suggested that the final railway relationship to the colliery may have been the intention of the Midland Railway to extend the branch to the Baddesley Colliery only two miles away mindful that for several years the rail-bound output of that colliery favoured the rival London and North Western via the colliery's own mineral line to a coal wharf near Atherstone on the L&NWR Trent Valley main line. However the terrain was not inviting and Baddesley was served from the Midland's own Kingsbury Colliery branch, winning it the lions share of the outbound traffic.

Ansley Hall was never a big colliery on the scale of Baddesley or Birch Coppice, payroll in 1896 was 297 men and in 1923 670 men. Some of its coal reserves were inaccessible due to a geological barrier and these were worked from the Stockingford Colliery.

For most of its existence it was under the control of the Phillips family, resident of Ansley Hall. The company was founded by William Garside Phillips, great-grandfather of Captain Mark Phillips, first husband of Princess Anne, Notable in its directorate in later years were chairman J.H.S. MacArthur, of 1 Bevoir Terrace, Cambridge, who also served as a director from 1923 until nationalisation in 1947., and several members of the Barlow family, headed by the eminent surgeon Sir Thomas Barlow, of the exalted address of 10 Wimpole Street, London and who was Chairman at the time of nationalisation . One director in later years was family member C.W. Phillips, also a director of the substantial colliery owners Barber Walker and Co, with several pits in Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire and two others and a coking plant near Doncaster in Yorkshire.

The colliery closed in 1959. It had produced mainly house coal which was distributed mainly in the Birmingham area and London, therefore its wagons would have been seen mainly on the lines of the former Midland and L&NW railways.

The wagon illustrated, of unknown origin, has five planks and side doors. Empty returns are to Stockingford, Midland Railway But the interesting feature is "Nuneaton Colliery" on the wagon side. This was a different colliery almost alongside Stockingford station. Little is known of the remainder of the wagon fleet.

Ansley Hall Colliery, Stockingford in Nuneaton Wagon No 260
Ref: kt350
K Turton
Ansley Hall Colliery, Stockingford in Nuneaton Wagon No 260 builder unknown

Stockingford Colliery

This short-lived colliery was unique in the Warwickshire coalfields in that it was a drift mine. There were no towering winding houses to pinpoint its location, access to the coal seams was via downward-inclined drifts, and coal hauled to the surface in tubs by a steam-powered winding house, Therefore at least one chimney was there to pinpoint its location. The drifts also provided man access, which must have been a scary experience as the miners would have had to duck down inside the tubs to avoid injury from the low ceiling. Drift mines were far more common in south Wales, where they were ideally suited by the steep hillsides and deep valleys. Two of the mines preserved for posterity and now mining museums, Caphouse in Yorkshire and Blaenavon in Wales, were drift mines, although both featured shafts for man access.

This also made them ideal for modellers, the surface buildings being far more simple, screens served by a trestle leading to an adit in an imaginary hillside. I included a plan of Stockingford in my 'Private Owner Wagons, a Second Collection', as an example of how to practically reproduce a working colliery in model form with little engineering skill and little space.

The years before the colliery was finally sunk in 1868 are dominated by George Skey, who has already appeared in this series through his connection with the terra cotta and brickworks at Wilnecote. Skey was attracted to this region and made more than one unsuccessful attempt to purchase land know to include coal reserves. It is possible that Stockingford coal may have been part of the reserves of the futures Ansley Hall Colliery, which is explained later.

From the time that it commenced production in 1872 Stockingford was widely known as a 'dry bread pit', a miners jargon for a workplace of poor or unsafe conditions, low pay and low morale.. The ownership of the Stockingford Colliery and Brick Company at the time is in doubt, the 1880 Mining Register gives its owners as Smallman and Company, which may relate to one Reuben Smallman, a former mine agent and surveyor born in Walsall in 1835. Smallman had been nosing around Nuneaton and the mining activity which surrounded it for some time and by the 1871 census, he was recorded as a colliery owner employing 70 men and 7 boys, although the precise colliery could not be identified, but the date could be Stockingford in its formative years. He also wore a second hat as a landowner and manager, living in Waddington Terrace, Hinckley. By 1881 he had moved to Nuneaton taking the profession of Mining Engineer.

Smallman achieved some recognition when he was called out in the middle of the night to help with the rescue of miners trapped by an underground fire on March 2nd, 1882 at the Baddesley Colliery. Although he was unfamiliar with the colliery layout, he swiftly organised the rescue effort and entered the burning colliery more than once to save the lives of more than one collier. For this he was awarded the Albert Medal First Class. He was seriously injured during the rescue, and presumably died before the 1891 census.

In 1894 the colliery ceased working, and the entire plant and machinery, including the adjacent brickworks, was sold by auction. (one source states that it went bankrupt twice) It is noted that in my Private Owner Wagons, a First Collection, a reference was made to the then known ownership of Stockingford Colliery. This was based on available information at the time and has since proved to be inaccurate)

Another source credits the principals of the owning company to include one David Bromilow, who lived in a rural mansion with no less than nineteen servants and served as High Sheriff of the County of Leicestershire. (however, it is considered that it would have been unlikely for Bromilow, or his associates, to have been involved in an unproven Warwickshire colliery when there was so much happening in Lancashire with expansion and development of new collieries).

Bromilow was born near St. Helens, Lancashire in 1810, and is recorded in the 1841 census as aged 31 and a colliery proprietor. The transcription to be found on the internet incorrectly describes his occupation as a coal miner, whereas the original hand-written document is clear that he was most definitely not. Such errors in transcription are not uncommon and an object lesson for researchers is to view also the original document.

Bromilow was one of a family of Lancastrians who were major players in the development of the St. Helens coalfield to become one of the wealthiest families in the county, the company developing into Bromilow Foster and Co. Ltd, which became one of the foundation stones from which Manchester Collieries Ltd emerged. Serving as a Magistrate in both Lancashire and Bedfordshire appears to have been a sideline to his colliery interests.

In 1851 he was a Magistrate based in Lancashire and living with wife Harriet and daughter Julia. Here a penchant for a phalanx of servants emerges as five were employed.

Moving on to 1861 Bromilow was described as a colliery owner and living at Harefinch House, Wimble, Lancashire with one less servant. Ten years later he was again a Magistrate, this time at Woburn in Bedfordshire with daughter Laura, son-in-law and fellow magistrate Herbert, together with a visiting Captain in the Royal Navy and fourteen servants. The same census reveals an otherwise undisclosed son, also David, away at boarding school. Here one starts to wonder why he left Lancashire and the family trade that he was born into and the wealth that it generated.

In 1881 he had moved to Leicestershire and lived in Bitteswell Hall, Lutterworth where he was described as a farmer of 280 acres and employing on the farm sixteen boys and two woman(sic) plus the usual retinue of servants. Ten years later he was living the life of a country gentleman, alone with 19 servants to cater for his needs.

Two other names have been mentioned in connection with the ownership of Stockingford Colliery. One was John Haddock, also a St. Helens colliery owner and a colleague of Bromilow the other a Mr. Dalglish, also possibly from Lancashire who could not be traced through census records.

Following the 1894 sale of the colliery, the major shareholder in the new company was the Ansley Hall Colliery. This came about by a seam of coal which was included in Ansley Hall's coal reserves that was inaccessible from that colliery due to a geological barrier, but could be, and was, worked from Stockingford. This might have been its salvation. Payroll in 1902 was 400 men, increased to 500 ten years later. The colliery closed in 1928.

The colliery appears never to have owned a shunting locomotive, horses being used. The trackwork was simple and consisted of probably two sidings, leading to tracks under the loading screens connected to the branch railway which went on to serve Ansley Hall Colliery.

It was not until 1898 that new Private Owner wagons were recorded for the company, fifty, numbered 1 to 50 were built by S.J. Claye of Long Eaton and registered with the Midland Railway. No explanation can be found as to why another thirty wagons were supplied by the Gloucester RC&WCo and numbered 1 to 30 in 1902 and also registered by the Midland Railway. They are recorded as being financed by the Baker and Hill families of Birmingham. The possibilities are that the first fifty were bought on a long term hire or lease and repossessed when the payments fell behind, or that it was a simple error on the part of the purchaser in duplicating the wagon numbers. That the colliery address is shown on the wagon side as Atherstone must have caused some unnecessary delays in returning empties despite the small print at bottom left giving less visible directions.

LMS railway photo
Ref: mrs1081
GRC&W Co
A 1902 Stockingford Colliery 7-plank open wagon built by Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Company Ltd

The 1921 issue of the Midland Railway Distance Diagrams shows a fan of sidings on the up side of Stockingford station, connected direct to the mineral branch which served both Stockingford and Ansley Hall collieries. Running from these sidings were also, according to the diagram, loaded and empty sidings for Stanley's Nuneaton Colliery This should not be confused with Stanley's Siding which was connected to the sidings for the Griff Colliery and the former L&NWR line from Nuneaton to Coventry. The diagram had not caught up with the changes of ownership of neither Haunchwood or Nuneaton Collieries.

Nuneaton Old Colliery

Mining on the site dates back to the eighteenth century, when it is recorded that a Boulton and Watt steam engine was in use in 1797 and possibly before. Its ownership changed several times in the nineteenth century before it was taken over by Stanley Brothers in 1877 and developed into a profitable working colliery until the lease (and the coal) ran out in 1899. Stanley Brothers took an interest in the colliery, which was part of a much larger site occupied by brickworks and apart from a coal supply at the front door, here was also a large clayhole of almost unlimited expansion. Attention then was diverted to a new colliery site, which became known as Nuneaton New Colliery, which worked until 1922., its demise explained as due to excess mining. From the Midland Railway Distance Diagrams, one of the Stanley Brothers brickworks were also connected to the former L&NWR as part of the Griff Colliery Sidings. Also owned from 1894 was the Charity Colliery at Bedworth.(q.v.).

There is an enormous amount of material available on the internet about the history of Stanley Brothers ,their colliery and brickmaking interests and the individuals that were associated with the company, therefore in this instance it is not my intention to include a detailed account of the company, except that for many years it dominated the brick, tile and terra cotta industries of the Nuneaton landscape and diversified into engineering and other non-extractive industries.

Readers are referred to the following sites:

  • www.reginaldstanley.com
  • www.nuneatonhistory.com (follow the link to extractive industries.)

Peter Lee in his excellent reference book to the extractive industries of Warwickshire records (undated) the Private Owner wagon fleet of the Nuneaton Colliery and therefore may include others which were operated by Stanley Brothers and registered otherwise. as totalling 260 wagons, 70 from Yorkshire Wagon Co. (which would have been hired) 40 from the Midland RC&WCo, 50 from 'L.& N.' which could be the Lancashire and Yorkshire Wagon Co. and 100 from North-Eastern Wagon Co. which included 30 acquired from the Hawkesbury Colliery when it closed down in 1888. (as this was also a wagon hire company, these would have also been hired). Also recorded is that those allocated to the Nuneaton Colliery were lettered as such, and those allocated to the Charity colliery were lettered 'Bedworth'.Additional to the above, new wagons recorded were a hundred, numbered 1001 to 1100, were delivered by the Long Eaton wagon builder S.J.Claye in 1905. These were noted as having empty returns to Stanley's Sidings, Stockingford, Midland Railway.

Additional to the above, new wagons recorded were a hundred, numbered 1001 to 1100, were delivered by the Long Eaton wagon builder S.J.Claye in 1905. These were noted as having empty returns to Stanley's Sidings, Stockingford, Midland Railway.

Coal from the Nuneaton Colliery was well known for its steam raising qualities, The City of Birmingham Gas Department had a long standing contract with local coal factor J.C. Abbott for its locomotives, boilers and other steam raising plant. (but not gas production) There is a report that it was mined in large lumps which had to be hand-loaded into railway wagons.

LMS railway photo
Ref: misc_kt375
J Alsop
An undated photograph of a Nuneaton Colliery wagon taken on the GCR at Woodford and Hinton station

Chapel End Sidings

A short distance beyond the Stockingford Colliery was a group of short sidings which served quarrying and brickmaking industries. There appears to be no record of the original siding holders, but in 1916 one siding was occupied by Irelands and Knights, a quarrying firm who abandoned this interest to concentrate on the far more profitable and long lasting Mancetter Quarry on the L&NWR main line between Nuneaton and Atherstone. The company was also known to have owned narrow boats which worked from a wharf on the Coventry Canal. Co-incidentally, a neighbouring quarry and brickworks was established by Jee's who were also well represented on the Trent Valley line, and who also owned a brickworks for a short time at the Chapel End Sidings.

The other occupant listed in 1916 was the Premier Artificial Stone Co. Ltd., who carried on business at a site which saw several changes of occupancy since the early years of the 19th century. This company was one of many that manufactured building components such as pillars, porticoes, slabs and even statues from concrete. A similar works was located at the Dost Hill Sidings on the Midland Railway near Tamworth.

The siding was lifted in the 1930s.

CP Perry

In size this company was on the third rung from the top of the ladder of Birmingham coal factors and merchants.: The top level was held by the three giants of the trade, Evesons, J.C. Abbott & Co. and Wilson Carter and Pearson. Next came three others, substantial by any means, in Spencer Abbott, Alexander Comley and Lunt Bros. On the third rung down was a cluster of several who, not to be compared in size as those already listed, ran substantial trading operations from numerous depots scattered around the coal sidings of both of the constituents of the LM&S railway and to a lesser extent the Great Western. Firms like C.P.Perry, Leonard Leigh, Thomas Mottishead, Frank Knight and Lawrence Miller, although names not too familiar, could also be found in the records of the Coal Buying Committee of the Corporation of the City of Birmingham, participating in the lucrative trade that was offering through competitive tendering. Continuity in trade is confirmed by entries covering six years from 1934 to 1939.

Charles P. Perry & Son whose only known new wagon to be recorded is illustrated here, obviously operated a reasonable sized fleet. Three further wagons were built by the Birmingham RC&WCo. in 1924 and numbered 212-214 (others may have been either hired or acquired second hand. Perry traded mainly with Cannock Chase collieries, particularly Brereton, but also sourced anthracite from the Pontyberem Colliery in south Wales, which would most likely have been delivered in the colliery's own wagons. Although trading was mainly with Cannock Chase collieries with access mainly to formerly L&NWR lines, Perry's depots were mainly on the lines of the former Midland Railway.

The company remained in family hands and traded until at least 1938, and after the war until it was voluntarily wound up in 1979 The 1934 contracts awarded to Perry follow:

Department Tonnage Origin
Public Assistance Committee 35 Netherseal
Erdington House 3,850 Brereton
Maryhill Colony 950 Brereton
Schools 1,500 Griff
Fire stations 260 Brereton
Chief Constable's 490 Brereton
Mental Hospitals 2,000 Brownhills
  2,000 Pooley Hall
Tramways 200 Brereton

This totals 11,285 tons, 220 tons a week or 22-25 wagon loads.

Netherseal was in south Derbyshire and Brereton near Rugeley in Staffordshire. Pooley Hall and Griff were both Warwickshire collieries, Brownhills was in Cannock Chase Assuming Perry's own wagons were used, a fleet of at least fifty would be needed. And this is for one contract. Merchants of similar size usually included a selection of consumers from the known 3,000 industrial plants estimated to have been based in Birmingham.

Just as an aside some of the conditions of contract have to be read to be believed. Thomas Mottesheads contract with Westerly house for Brownhills coal carried the following directive. "delivered by canal boats and unloaded immediately. Coal (has) been thrown alongside the canal and allowed to remain for a time, then loaded into lorries and carted to the boiler house or stack. Very hard on weighbridge. Contractor paid when weighed." Imagine this in the 21st century!

Jees Harts Hill Granite and Brick Company Ltd

This company was founded in 1822 by Richard Gee, a descendent of a long list of landowners dating back to the sixteenth century. It, and several other quarries were located in the low range of hills which rose from above the Trent Valley main line of the London and North Western Railway between Nuneaton and Polesworth. It was granite that was mainly blasted and excavated, beneath that granite were coal beds worked on the far side of the hills, served by the line of the former Midland Railway between Nuneaton and Water Orton. Where the hills levelled off towards Polesworth and beyond as far as Tamworth coal was worked by several collieries extending southwards almost to the outskirts of Birmingham.

A siding was provided for Jee's quarries on the down side of the main line near the 100-milepost (from Euston) and its remains can still be seen from a passing train. The sidings may have also served other quarries is the immediate vicinity. The Jee's also owned a brickworks at Chapeltown on the Midland Railway line on the outskirts of Nuneaton. This venture was shortlived, working for only 13 years after its opening in 1890, This may even co-incide with Jee's first order for their own wagons which may have also worked from Chapeltown as well as the main quarry.

The body colour and lettering style of Jee's wagons can be authentically determined from an order book of wagon builders Charles Roberts of Wakefield. In what appears to be a unique occurrence, the written order from the purchaser, Jee's Harts Hill Granite and Brick Co. Ltd, on the company's lime green notepaper, was attached to the order book. The main lettering was from bottom left diagonally to top right, 'Harts Hill' at top left and 'nr. Atherstone' bottom right. Two orders totalling 24 wagons (no's 1 to 24) were placed in 1899. The wagons were built with five planks and side doors and painted lime green with black letters and ironwork. Previously Jee's had hired wagons from the Midland RC&WCo of Birmingham.

The internal narrow-gauge railway system was first used to a wharf on the nearby Coventry Canal, and may have originally used horse haulage. Rail traffic ceased in 1954, when road transport was preferred.

Pooley Hall Colliery

The colliery was located on the down side of the former L&NWR main line and was connected to the down slow line. It was sunk initially in 1847 as the first deep coal mine in Warwickshire, , but appears to have been closed for a period before a new opening date of 1877. It's location is easily pin-pointed from the M42 motorway, which bisects the site, the waste heap is prominent adjacent to the northbound lanes of the dual carriageway.

The Pooley Hall Colliery Co. Ltd. as recorded in 1923, its directors two members of the Burrell family of Alton, Hampshire and Colonel J. C. Chaytor, resident of Pooley Hall, a manor house adjoining the colliery itself. The Chaytor family, eventually in the form of Chairman/Managing Director Colonel D'arcy Chaytor, C.M.G., C.B.E. and Mrs A. G. Chaytor, were in control of the colliery company until it was placed in liquidation, upon nationalisation. By 1940, the control of the Tamworth Colliery had been acquired by the Chaytors.

The colliery was also situated on the Coventry Canal, where a rapid loader had eventually been installed, claimed to have been capable of loading a canal boat in ten minutes (this would mean two-and-a-half tons a minute!) Canal traffic would have been at one time very busy, in the 1930's the colliery was supplying the Birmingham electricity generating stations with 300 tons, or twelve canal boats, a week and was a regular source of supply to the Coventry power station at Longford. Coal traffic via the canal network ceased in the 1950's.

The company had its own wagon fleet but little information , or photographs, appear to have survived. During nationalisation Pooley Hall Colliery continued to work until its closure in 1965, but not before it wound coal from the Tamworth and Amington, collieries, transferred via drift which connected all three.. Accordingly, it was renamed North Warwickshire Colliery.

Kingsbury Colliery Branch

The main line junction at mileage 124m 77ch is still extant, as are some of the sidings adjacent to the main line Today, trains of petroleum products reverse from the main line into the Kingsbury Distribution Terminal, a feat of juggling which takes place several times a week when other traffic allows. Originally the b ranch was laid to serve the newly opened Kingsbury Colliery but subsequently extended to serve the Baddesley Colliery with a short branch to serve the collieries of Birch Coppice. Both Baddesley and Birch Coppice also had connections to the Coventry Canal , and Baddesley to the L&NWR Trent Valley main line.

Kingsbury Colliery

The Kingsbury Colliery could be called a modernised extension to the Hockley Hall Colliery and was sunk in 1893/4 and coal winning followed shortly afterwards By 1923 half a million tons were being lifted annually, a figure still achieved ten years later with an unusually high payroll of 1,739 men. The directors of the company as at 1923, were all based outside of the Warwickshire coalfield. Chairman was Edward Dexter, of Ironmonger Lane, London, Directors were H.J. Gardiner, of Basinghall Street, London; C.A. Jones, of Coleman Street, London; T.T. Moyes, of Bexley-on-Sea and Sir Geo. Touche, of Basildon House, London.

Secretary was former Colliery Clerk and son of a railway signalman James Henry Harper, of Dost Hill, who remained Secretary until 1940 and possibly beyond, to have risen to Director status at the time of Nationalisatin, rising in residential stature to 'High Wynyard', Nether Whitacre, and along the way giving his initials to a rake of Private Owner Wagons connected with the colliery.

Kingsbury Colliery was one of the handful in the country that painted its own wagons green, the correct colour is Deep Meadow Green. Of the several model reproductions, the most accurate is the Peco Wonderful Wagon released in the 1950's. The foundation of the wagon fleet were those take over from the Hockley Hall Colliery, which operated three hundred wagons of reasonable vintage, most of which were rebranded in the Kingsbury colours. Two hundred new wagons were purchased in 1908/9 from the Peterbrough works of Thomas Moy Ltd.

In 1932 work commenced on the sinking of a satellite colliery to be named Dexter, after the company Chairman. An internal mineral railway connected the two collieries.. It was this seam of coal which encouraged the National Coal Board to exploit it further, which resulted in the brand new Daw Mill Colliery being sunk.

Birch Coppice Colliery

The site of the colliery was well known to travellers on the A5 Watling Street near the interchange with the M42 motorway. And for some time after its closure in 1986, for the towering spoil heaps could be seen for some distance and remained partly after the site was cleared and is now an industrial estate. The Birch Coppice pit was under the ownership of Messrs Morris and Shaw Limited, who worked it up until nationalisation. The only Morris that can be identified from census records is Charles Hopkins Morris, born in Polesworth in 1866, of Hall End, Warwickshire, described as a colliery proprietor and magistrate. . in 1923 here were two members of the Morris family on the Board of directors, C.A. and F.A., together with C. Haywood-Farmer and Mrs E.M.E. Ransom of Thoroton Hall, Aslockton, Notts. By 1933 "and Brickworks" was added to the title of the company, marking an expansion into a traditional sideline of the Warwickshire colliery. In that year the directorship had been strengthened by the addition of Captain (R.N.) J.A.A. Morris from the next generation.

There were a number of small mining operations, all short-lived, around where Birch Coppice was sunk. One predecessor, Birchmoor, was sunk in 1850 and closed in 1887. This is known to have operated a "tramway" to the Coventry Canal a short distance to the east of the village of Polesworth. A further pit was sunk nearby and was deepened in 1915 to 1918 to be closed in 1921 and retained for pumping. The final pit, universally known as Hall End, was sunk in 1875 and coal winding commenced three years later. The complex consisted of two independent pits almost side by side which became known as Hall End no's 1 and 2. A third pit, known as Wood End, is shown on the 1916 Midland Railway Distance Diagram as being connected by internal railway to the two main pits. This was sunk in 1911 and worked from 1914 to 1921, to be retained for pumping.

The rail connection was to the Kingsbury Branch of the Midland Railway by means of a short spur from the colliery branch at mileage 127m 23ch. The 1916 Distance Diagram also shows a tramway from the Hall End pits to the Coventry Canal. This may have been the same tramway that served the Birchmoor pit.

The earliest known wagons operated by the company were built by Thomas Hunter of Rugby. Fifty were supplied by the Midland RC&WCo, of Birmingham and a further 20 by Thomas Moy of Peterborough in 1908, and Midland supplied a further forty in 1922. In 1937 alarge order was placed with Thomas Hunter, a comparatively small builder, for 150. These were unusual for wagons operated by a colliery in that they had side doors only, no end or bottom doors and numbered 901 to 1050. During the second world war while wagon pooling was in effect, Hunter built a further hundred wagons under a Government scheme to build a limited number of new wagons which, \although they may have been technically owned by Morris and Shaw, went straight into the wagon pool as soon as they left the builder. Known photographs of the company's wagons fearture the name of the colliery owners prominently.

Birch Coppice coal was highly regarded for domestic use and an unconfirmed report claims that it was favoured by Windsor Castle. In 1896 1,090 men were employed, rising to 1,492 in 1923 and 1,650 in 1933.

Baddesley Colliery

A full description of the colliery was given in conjunction with its connection with the L&NWR Trent Valley main line and a wharf on the Coventry Canal, with the star of the show the Beyer Garratt locomotive "Henry Francis" which worked traffic on it for many years from its introduction in 1937. Since that was written, further information has come to light The colliery was sunk in 1851 ,combining the workings of three small collieries, one of which is said to have been working in 1817 with a narrow-gauge tramway to the canal wharf. When the LNWR Trent Valley main line was opened, the tramway was rebuilt to standard gauge to both the LNWR and the canal wharf. The oldest surviving agreement with the LNWR is dated 1871 Traffic to the canal was discontinued in 1965, and the railway to the main line sidings closed in 1974. The colliery closed in 1989.

It is now emphasised that the main outlet for Baddesley coal was the extension of the Kingsbury Colliery branch to the colliery, bringing the total length of the branch to 4m 66ch. and how this was achieved can be found in the rostered shunting and trip turns detailed below:

Working the Kingsbury Colliery Branch

No less than eight trip workings were rostered in 1955/6 from the Saltley Locomotive Depot. Some also included shunting turns at goods yards and other industries on the way from Washwood Heath sidings, most likely to collect empty coal wagons required by the collieries. All trips are Monday to Saturday unless otherwise stated.

  • Target 21 (4F tender loco) Start 12.01a.m. shunt Bromford Bridge, Kingsbury Branch, change over with trip 57 loco, finish Kings Norton 4.20a.m.
  • Target 29 (3F tender loco) Start 9.50a.m. shunt Duddeston, Lawley Street, Water Orton, Metro Cammell, Bromford Bridge, Kingsbury Branch, Lawley Street 12.40pm. then as required till 6p.m.
  • Target 50 (3F tender loco) Start 6.18a. m. Lawley Street, Kingsbury Branch, , Kingsbury Colliery, Hall End(a.k.a Birch Coppice) Colliery, Whitacre Junction, Washwood Heath front fan, finish 5.15p.m. Sundays only: two trips to Kingsbury Colliery and Whitacre
  • Target 55 (4F tender loco) Start 1.40p.m. Kingsbury Branch Sidings, change over engine from trip 57, Kingsbury Colliery, Kings Norton, finish Saltley 8.40a.m.
  • Target 56 (3F tender loco) Start 6.45a.m. Bromford Bridge, Water Orton, Hams Hall, Kingsbury Branch, Whitacre,, Water Orton, Dunlop, Castle Bromwich, finish 1.10a.m.
  • Target 57 (4F tender loco) Start 5.30a..m. Monday to Sunday.. Kingsbury, Hall End and Baddesley colliery sidings. Seven trips to Hall End, two trips to Baddesley and four trips to Kingsbury collieries; to Whitacre and Hams Hall as required, change over with engines from trip 55 and trip 21, Water Orton 4a.m. couple to engine off trip 21 finish 5a.m.
  • Target 58 (4F tender loco) Start 5.40a.m. Kingsbury Branch Sidings. Two trips to Hall End, and one trip to Baddesley collieries, three trips to Hams Hall assisted by engine off trip 50,. `12 37p.m. to 2.40p.m. assist Kingsbury Branch sidings by trip 57 finish 10.25p.m.
  • Target 59 (3F tender loco) start 9.45a.m. Bromford, Kingsbury and Hall End collieries finish 4.25p.m.

It is apparent that some of the longer shifts would have required relief engine crews and it is assumed that these men travelled by scheduled train to and from Kingsbury station. There was one trip working from Burton-on-Trent shed that made a scheduled call at the colliery sidings. Hams Hall was the City of Birmingham's electricity generating station a short distance from Whitacre Junction on the line to Nuneaton, and Bromford was the home of the Stewarts and Lloyds pipeworks. With a track diagram and a clock, try juggling all of these movements and pinpoint on the map where each engine should be at any given time!!.

Views along the Kingsbury Branch

A Private Owner Wagon marked J.H.H, the initials of James Henry Harper, one time colliery clerk who became Secretary of the Kingsbury Colliery
Ref: misc_indust361
HMRS
A PO Wagon marked J.H.H, the initials of James Henry Harper, who became Secretary of the Kingsbury Colliery
An unidentified ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F is seen at the head of an empty wagon train bound for Kingsbury Colliery
Ref: misc_indust362
A Pratt
An unidentified ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F is seen at the head of an empty wagon train bound for Kingsbury Colliery
An unidentified ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F locomotive is seen coupled to a brakevan as it approaches the bank past Kingsbury Colliery
Ref: misc_indust365
A Pratt
An ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F locomotive is seen coupled to a brakevan as it approaches the bank past the Colliery
An unidentified ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F locomotive is seen coupled to a brakevan as it ascends the bank past Kingsbury Colliery
Ref: misc_indust363
A Pratt
An ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F locomotive is seen coupled to a brakevan as it ascends the bank past Kingsbury Colliery
Ex-LMS 4-6-0 5MT No 44828 is seen entering the spur to Hall End & Birch Coppice Colliery from the Kingsbury Branch
Ref: misc_indust364
A Pratt
Ex-LMS 4-6-0 5MT No 44828 is seen entering the spur to Hall End & Birch Coppice Colliery from the Branch

Ex LMS 4-6-0 'Stanier Black Five' No 44828 is seen propelling a rake of wagons towards Baddesley Colliery
Ref: misc_indust366
A Pratt
Ex LMS 4-6-0 'Stanier Black Five' No 44828 is seen propelling a rake of wagons towards Baddesley Colliery
Ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0 No 48646 is seen at the head of train of empty wagons bound for Baddesley Colliery
Ref: misc_indust367
A Pratt
Ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0 No 48646 is seen at the head of train of empty wagons bound for Baddesley Colliery
View of Kingsbury Branch Sidings Signal Box seen on 9th August 1969 shortly before its closure
Ref: misc_indust368
A Pratt
Ex-LMS 4-6-0 5MT No 44828 is seen entering Hall End Colliery with a train of empty steel bodied mineral wagons
A general view of Kingsbury Colliery's two shafts and buildings with mainly Midland Railway wagons in evidence
Ref: misc_indust369
WoW
View of Kingsbury Colliery's two shafts and buildings with mainly Midland Railway wagons in evidence
View of Kingsbury Branch Sidings Signal Box seen on 9th August 1969 shortly before its closure
Ref: mrk1118
W Wright
View of Kingsbury Branch Sidings Signal Box seen on 9th August 1969 shortly before its closure

Looking to Birmingham with the yet to be commissioned Shunting Frame seen on the right on 9th August 1969
Ref: mrk1121
W Wright
Looking to Birmingham with the yet to be commissioned Shunting Frame seen on the right on 9th August 1969

Wilnecote Colliery to Kingsbury Junction

On the down side of the line was a series of sidings serving collieries, quarries and brickworks. What is presented here is taken from the only available references, the Midland Railway Distance diagrams of 1916 and 1921, and may not be complete. Private sidings are always difficult to record unless a year by year account of a given track section can be found. They were often of a short duration, and confusion as to the identity of the siding holder is often accounted as the occupiers trading names were changed, went out of business, new industries located or that they were left unoccupied for a given length of time.

Wilnecote Colliery

From the 1916 Midland Railway Distant Diagrams, there were two sidings on the down side less than half a mile before the Wilnecote station and its adjoining bridge carrying Watling Street. At mileage 128m 8ch was the signal box controlling Perrins and Harrisons Siding, and at mileage 128m 0ch was the junction and signal box for Skey's 'Brick & Works & Colliery'.

The original Wilnecote Colliery was sunk in the 1840s by Messrs Wood and Greenwood. The same partnership sank the nearby Tame Valley pit in 1858. Between 1864 and 1869 the colliery ownership was recorded as by R & J Knock. There are also references to a second Wilnecote Colliery, which may have been known as New Wilnecote, being sunk by Messrs Perrins and Harrison in 1855 This was abandoned in 1879.

Enter now some long-remembered names in the brick, tile and terra cotta field. In 1880 one of the collieries is recorded in a mining register as owned by Gibbs and Canning, whose earlier ownership of collieries and terra-cotta works has been described already under Tamworth. This may have been a revival of the New Wilnecote Colliery. Another reference states that George Skey, equally noted in the same industry, took over the original Wilnecote Colliery from the Knocks.

George Skey

Skey commenced making earthenware pots, containers, jars, glazed pottery and terra-cotta ware in 1860. The factory was generally known as the Wilnecote works and is shown as such in an 1880 Ordnance Survey. Map. In 1864 his colliery was raising 300 tons of coal a week.. By 1871 he was producing gas stoves, kitchenware, glazed stoneware, pipes, gullies and sinks. The company continued to prosper and carried on until 1936, when it was purchased by Doulton Insulators. The whole site, with its towering chimneys, was well known to travellers along the adjoining Watling Street. It was closed and demolished in 1981. The site is now a Morrison's supermarket.

George Skey was born near Bewdley, Worcestershire in 1819. The first reference through census records appears in 1851 at the age of 32, trading as a common carrier from 2 Lansdown Terrace, Wolverhampton Twenty years later he appears as a coal master and iron merchant with wife Caroline at Bonehill, Fazeley and, despite no children still found it necessary to employ five servants to warrant (or boast about) his status. In 1881 he had moved up to be a colliery proprietor (see Tame Valley Colliery, q.v.) with no mention at any time of his quarrying, brick making or glazed stoneware interests. He had now become a Justice of the Peace and later became a Stipendiary Magistrate,. In 1891 the last entry shows that he had moved to Upton-on-Severn still with his colliery interests.

The main line junction was at mileage 128m 0ch. The 1916 Diagram records the adjoining signal box as "Perrin and Harrison's Siding S.B." and the siding as "Skeys Wilnecote Brick & Works & Colliery Siding". Wilnecote station at mileage 127m 59ch appears next.

Tame Valley Colliery

The siding was on the down side of the double-tracked main line at mileage 127h 25ch. and was sunk in 1858 by Messrs Wood and Greenwood, who were declared bankrupt in 1863. From 1869 it was recorded as owned by George Skey. From 1923 to 1940, it was listed in Colliery Directories as George Skey and Co and in 1923 employed 560 men at two individual collieries, Tame Valley and Beachamp. reduced to 117 ten years later. The colliery was still working in 1928.

Hockley Hall Colliery and Brickworks

Located at mileage 126m 62ch (Hockley Hall) and the associated Whateley Colliery at 126m 38ch, these two pits were the southernmost on the down side on the Midland Railways line between Tamworth and Kingsbury Junction. The journey of a little under five miles would have presented to the traveller an almost endless procession of railway sidings, a moonscape of clay pits, an assortment of smoke-ridden colliery surface buildings and a forest of brickworks chimneys. The Hockley Hall Colliery was sunk circa 1850 the railway sidings date back to at least 1862, to be expanded in 1881.

The Hockley Hall Colliery Co. was formed in 1872. the 1880 Mining Register lists its owner as one J. Spencer Balfour, who, recorded history reveals, was the perpetrator of one of the greatest financial scandals of the end of the nineteenth century.

Born in 1844 with a silver spoon in his mouth, Balfour was the son of James Balfour, self-styled Manager of the House of Commons but in reality a Parliamentary Messenger and author Clara Balfour. At the age of seventeen, he was working as an "agents clerk" and living with the family at Holmsdale Road, Reigate, Surrey. Ten years later he had advanced to a Parliamentary Agent and living with wife Eileen at 55 Thornton Heath, Croydon. In 1880 he was elected Member of Parliament for the seat of Tamworth, coincidental with being recorded as the owner of Hockley Hall Colliery. He held the seat until 1885, when he moved to a more distant electorate in Burnley from 1889 to 1893 The 1881 census records him living in Wellesley Place, Croydon and describing him as a Member of Parliament and a director of public companies.

In 1891 he was no longer an M.P. but retained the description of director of public companies. He lived at 4 Marlborough Gate, Paddington with a son and daughter and five servants. A year later a great fraud scandal hit the heart of the City of London involving first the London General Bank, several others, and finally the Liberator Building Co-op, the largest such institution in the country, both Balfour's companies which brought about his downfall. Thousands of small investors lost their entire savings One step ahead of the law, he fled the country, but was traced to Argentina by a diligent Scotland Yard detective who arrested him, and as there no extradition arrangements, bundled him onto a cargo ship with a huge flock of sheep for company.

He was tried at the Old Bailey and sentenced to fourteen years gaol, and released in 1906. Balfour died in 1916, ironically in a train on the way to South Wales at the age of 72. There is no record of his whereabouts in the census of 1911.

A large fleet of new wagons were purchased by the company. No's 401 to 700 were delivered by the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Co. in February 1894, Many of these were absorbed into the initial fleet of the Kingsbury Colliery.

The colliery was abandoned in 1902 and the assets of the Hockley Hall and Whateley Collieries and Brickworks, were taken over as a going concern by the newly formed Kingsbury Colliery Company.

The Whateley Colliery was in production by 1872, when railway sidings were provided. In `1880 it was under the control of the Hockley Hall Colliery Co. It was finally closed and abandoned in 1914.

Kingsbury Junction to Wilnecote

In the up direction, there were two groups of sidings, Cliff Brick Company at mileage 125m 65ch and the Dost Hill Granite Company's siding at mileage 126m 40ch.

Cliff Brick Company

The Cliff Brick Company was a subsidiary of the Hathern Brick Company, located between Loughborough and Trent Junction on the Midland Railway main line and best known for its Hathernware brand of earthenware products. The Hathern Station Brick and Terra Cotta Co. was established by George and James Hodson in 1874. In 1902 a Limited Company was registered with a capital of £40,000 in £10 shares. The Cliff Brick Company commenced brickmaking in 1870 and was closed in 1969. It was best known for its blue and red bricks but also produced tiles and earthenware.

Dost Hill Granite Company

The sidings of the company were on the opposite side of the Midland (later LMS) Railway to those of the Whateley Colliery. An excellent 1934 aerial photo (EPW 044462) shows the expansive nature of the brick works, with a huge clay pit, three towering chimneys and a batch of circular ovens, the railway separating the site from the colliery sidings, both upon which wagons can be seen.

The origin of industry on the site, as shown in the company's trading name, was a granite quarry which was renowned for the quality of its stone and worked, possibly throughout the nineteenth century, until 1934, when quarrying 155 feet below the surface level released a torrent of underground water which flooded the quarry and operations came to a sudden halt, leaving the brickworks still working, taken over in that year by Stoneware Ltd.

In more recent years the Dost Hill site has achieved some recognition of a totally different way, the former quarry, now filled with water, was acquired by the British Sub-aqua Club for use as a training centre for Scuba diving in dangerous locations, such as caves and drilling platforms in the open sea.

‘The Dost Hill Colliery, owned by a J. Pearson, was established in the 1860s and worked until 1880.

A small fleet of six Private Owner wagons numbered 51 to 56 was used by the company, these were built by the Midland RC&WCo. of Birmingham and registered with the Midland Railway whose records note that "fitted with 2' 9" bodies".

Wilnecote and Kettlebrook Public Goods Sidings

From Wilnecote Station on the up side were two groups of sidings, the first being the public goods sidings for the station on the opposite side of the bridge carrying Watling Street, the present A5, over the railway and also opposite the Wilnecote Signal Box.

The Kettlebrook Sidings at mileage 128m 70ch were opposite the Glascote Curve North Junction and apparently controlled from that signal box. These sidings were in existence in 1921 and possibly some time before, and appear to have been public goods sidings with three roads and a goods shed road. It is likely that they were used as an alterative to the Midland Railway's goods yard at Tamworth itself, with its difficult access and cramped conditions. The dominant industrial feature was the Kettlebrook Mill, a large industry described in 1928 as a paper mill, but in 1947 as an asbestos and cement factory. A 1928 aerial photograph shows a siding leading into the mill premises. The image also shows that the chord at Glascote South Junction, leading to the down main line of the Midland Railway, was still in existence in that year, with wagons standing on it.

This mill existed as early as 1900 when eight new wagons, numbered 012 to 019 were delivered by the Long Eaton builder S.J.Claye.

In the early part of the nineteenth century there was also a colliery at Kettlebrook owned in 1850 by a Thomas Dumolo. Following his death (ca. 1857) it was worked and administered by the executors of his estate It was recorded as working in 1875 and 1880, and closed permanently in 1895, after a few years of ownership by local Member of Parliament William Hanbury. There is no evidence of a private siding, but a narrow gauge tramway, possibly horse-drawn, ran from the colliery to the Glascote canal wharf. To confuse matters there are contemporary references to two collieries, one known as Kettlebrook, and the other known as Dumolo's. The only reference that can be found for Dumolo is that he was born in Measham, Leicestershire in 1833 and a Land Surveyor. If this is correct Dumulo must have been a colliery owned at the age of 17 and only 24 when he died.

Kettlebrook was possibly unique in that it was the only colliery in the region without a brickworks.

Tamworth, Glascote and Amington Collieries and Gibbs & Canning

Gibbs & Canning

The terracotta and brickworks of Gibbs and Canning on the outskirts of Tamworth are one of many which were served by the Midland Railway between Tamworth and Water Orton, together with a number of collieries which were under common ownership in this unusually concentrated length of track which desecrated what was once a serene rural part of Warwickshire and disfigured it with holes, quarries, brickworks, collieries and railway sidings.

The architectural products and statues turned out by the company were of exceptional quality and in great demand in London, Manchester and nationwide. The Manchester Town Hall and the National History Museum and Albert Hall in London were built from Gibbs and Canning terra-cotta, as were several important structures in Birmingham.

Subsequently there was a pattern of ownership of both collieries and brickworks by several entrepreneurs all along both sides of the Midland Railway line between the present day stations of Wilnecote and Water Orton.

Gibbs and Canning commenced brickmaking in 1847, the same year as the London and North Western Railway's Trent Valley line between Rugby and Stafford reached Tamworth From the skimpy and sometimes conflicting records that survive, it appears that concurrently they were also involved in the sinking of the nearby Glascote and Amington collieries, on either side of the claypits, and a further pit named Third Park, closed 1856. That Glascote was in operation in 1850 under their ownership is confirmed by a newspaper advertisement.

Three years later, Gibbs and Canning's collieries were in production and, it can be confirmed on strong evidence that they were among the first, if not THE first, colliery owners to consider Private Owner wagons to transport their products, in this case dominated by the brickworks output . When the Midland Waggon (sic) Company opened its doors for business selling and hiring wagons in May 1853. Page One of the first minute book recorded that "fifty wagons were offered to Gibbs and Canning".

John Gibbs was born in Worcestershire in 1806, and in 1841 can be found living in Tardebigge where he spent at least twenty further years. After 1861 the trail goes cold. Similarly there is only one census entry for the Cannings. Charles Canning, obviously a son of the founder was aged 36 in 1881, born in Birmingham in 1845 and living in Tamworth.

Thompson & Southwick

Leading from the Midland Railways main line between Tamworth and Wilnecote on the down side was the once-triangular connection to the private railway of the Amington and Glascote collieries, from which ran a short siding near the Glascote canal basin. This served the engineering works of Thompson and Southwick, which specialised in the manufacture of the giant pulleys so familiar atop the headgear of the traditional colliery, up to fourteen feet in diameter.

Glascote Colliery

The Glascote colliery was originally connected to the former L&NWR Trent Valley main line a short distance to the east of Tamworth station. This connection also served the Amington Colliery and finally the Alvecote Colliery of the Tamworth Colliery Co. There were two pits, Glascote and Amington, both also connected by a mineral railway to a basin on the Coventry Canal and later to the Midland Railway between Tamworth and Wilnecote stations. The ownership of the company was assumed in 1858 by the Firestone (sic) family (Thomas Anney, "The death of the Warwickshire Coalfield" from the Internet).

In 1890 the Glascote and Amington collieries employed 457 men. By 1923 there was obviously a shake-up in the company's management which revealed that during the period 1890 to 1903 members of the Firmstone family to the board room. Directors were Messrs F..J.S.B Firmstone, H.L.Firmstone, P.L.Firmstone and G.A. Grayston . Right up until nationalisation the Firmstone's and George Arthur Grayston remained as directors of the company. Since 1923 the payroll had remained steady but Amington was closed during the war years, subsequently Glascote and the nearby Tamworth Colliery were joined to Pooley Hall Colliery for coal winding via an unusually spacious underground adit to become the North Warwick Colliery.

The company owned a small fleet of wagons of which very little information has survived. Twenty were delivered in 1924, ten each from S.J. Claye of Long Eaton and the Birmingham RC&W Company.

A surviving British Railways Working Timetable of 1955 (kindly loaned by Bob Essery) lists all yard pilot, trip working and shunting rosters from the former Midland Railway sheds in the Birmingham area Those that cover the Tamworth area are listed below. That they include several industrial sidings is confirmation that these sidings were still generating traffic at that time.

From Saltley shed, target 61 worked by a 4F locomotive was given the following tasks: Off shed 10.40a.m., shunt Lawley Street, Water Orton, Kingsbury branch Whateley, Kettlebrook, Tamworth and Coleshill, finish at 6.48p.m. From the Burton-on-Tent shed, target 129 shunted all sidings between Tamworth and Kingsbury including the former L&NWR yard at Tamworth.

Tamworth Colliery

The colliery, known from the beginning as Alvecote was sunk in 1875, conveniently alongside the Coventry Canal a short distance to the east of Tamworth. Nearby was the Trent Valley line of the London ad North Western Railway, to which is was connected by the existing private mineral line of the Glascote and Amington collieries. The original owner was a Charles Marshall, who was declared bankrupt in 1884. In 1880 a new management team headed by a Londoner in Richard Chamberlain, who immediately appointed Langford Ridsdale as Manager.

In 1923 it was producing 200,000 tons of mainly household coal with 868 men, a figure that saw little change until the onset of the second world war. Despite this, there was a move during the war to close it down, its output considered of insufficient importance to profitably maintain its operation. This was even debated in Parliament, and strongly opposed by Birmingham industry engaged in wartime production as this was where much of the colliery's output was consumed. Common sense prevailed, and the colliery was saved, to work until 1951 when all of its production was transported via a drift adit to the Pooley Hall Colliery and raised there.

This raise a point about the colliery railway. It connected with the former Midland Railway south of Tamworth at Glascote Junction, it would have been appropriate for the Alvecote coal destined for Birmingham to be transported accordingly, rather than via the former L&NWR route, being connected only to that company's slow line and possibly a roundabout route which is difficult to determine. But a conundrum is raised, outside of a wartime emergency was it used as such regularly? The conundrum is partly resolved by Thomas Anney (q.v.) who records that the Glascote colliery was connected by its own mineral line to the Glascote canal basin and the L&NWR sidings at the Amington colliery in the 1840s and the Tamworth Colliery was in fact sunk subsequently, but it does not resolve the question: was it used also for the Tamworth Colliery's coal for the Birmingham area to be despatched via the Glascote company's railway to the Midland interchange sidings. and eventually the Midland Railway AND ALSO to the L&NWR sidings near Tamworth?

The 1923 board of management was: Chairman Walford Green of Bishops Teignton, Devon, born 1870 at Ealing, Middlesex, a barrister-at-law and the son of the Reverend Walford Green and Mary Green. He was also a Member of Parliament for Wednesbury between 1895 and 1906. He died in 1941.

Managing Director Langford Ridsdale was born John Langford Wearwood Ridsdale in 1854 at Cradley Heath, living at Kelfield Lodge, Streetley. In 1871 his C.V. is more interesting. He was a boarder at the Wolverhampton home of George Holt, a schoolmaster and Professor of Music. At 15 years old, he was already an articled pupil to a mining engineer. After graduating from Kings College, Cambridge, by 1881 he was living with his widowed ( and now annuitant) mother at 12 Bernard Street, Walsall.

Three years later he became manager of the Tamworth Colliery Company. and by 1891 he had moved to The Cedars, Tamworth as a colliery manager and mining engineer with wife Mary, children Harold, John, Marion and Elizabeth and five servants. Son Harold was later to become colliery manager at the Alvecote colliery.

Mention of these three collieries would not be complete without highlighting a very famous canal carrier who cut his teeth on the output of the local collieries, transporting coal to London vie the Grand Union Coventry and Oxford canals. This was Samuel Barlow(1847-1890) who started up business from a Glascote wharf in 1870 with two boats and amassed a fleet that was famous throughout the company's career and in still remembered today in the several boats which have been restored and carry his colours. The firm carried on under his` descendents until 1962. During winter months when the canals were frozen, he hired a fleet of railway wagons bearing his name to maintain the service while the boats were docked and inactive. Deservedly, a canalside inn now bears his name.

In the photograph 'lnwr_tam1244' four Tamworth Colliery wagons can be seen on the up slow line, possibly taken from the end of the down platform at Tamworth station. A down fast express train is approaching, hauled by an L&NWR "Precedent" class locomotive. The ugly structure dominating the background is the pumping house for the nearby River Anker The points in the foreground are the crossover from down fast to down slow lines and what could be the connection to the colliery itself. here is little to add to describe the wagons, the nearest has dumb buffers, four planks and two heavy wooden doorstops, Body colour appears to be light grey with white shaded lettering.

Private Owner Wagons in Warwickshire

WH Thane of Leamington Private Owner Wagon No 21
Ref: kt618
Gloucester RC&WCo
WH Thane of Leamington Private Owner Wagon No 21 built by GRC&W
WR Robinson & Co Coal Merchants Kenilworth & Leamington No 2
Ref: kt619
Gloucester RC&WCo
WR Robinson & Co Coal Merchants Kenilworth & Leamington No 2
JH Rainbow Coal & Wood Merchant Leamington PO Wagon No 5
Ref: kt620
Gloucester RC&WCo
JH Rainbow Coal & Wood Merchant Leamington PO Wagon No 5
MC Ashwin & Son Coal Merchants Stratford-on-Avon PO Wagon No 24
Ref: kt621
Gloucester RC&WCo
MC Ashwin & Son Coal Merchants Stratford-on-Avon PO Wagon No 24
Lockhurst Lane Co-operative Society Ltd, Foleshill, Private Owner Wagon No 15
Ref: kt622
Gloucester RC&WCo
Lockhurst Lane Co-operative Society Ltd, Foleshill, PO Wagon No 15

WH Thane of Leamington Private Owner Wagon No 21
Ref: kt633
Gloucester RC&WCo
Leamington Priors Gas Company No 10 Leamington built by GRC&W
Richard White & Sons Coal Wagon No 109 built by the Gloucester RC&WCo in 1924 and painted Azure Blue with Whilte lettering
Ref: mre2027
Gloucester RC&WCo
Richard White & Sons coal wagon No 109 built in 1924 by the GRC&WCo
Edgar Shrimpton Coal Merchant, Redditch No 1 Wagon built by GRC&W Co
Ref: kt344
Gloucester RC&WCo
Edgar Shrimpton Coal Merchant, Redditch No 1 Wagon built by GRC&W Co
Coventry Corporation Gas Department Wagon No 161
Ref: kt345
Cusworth Hall Collection
Coventry Corporation Gas Department Wagon No 161 built by BRCW Co
View of the one hundred wagons for Warwickshire Coal Co built by MRC&WCo
Ref: kt346
Midland RC&WCo
View of the one hundred wagons for Warwickshire Coal Co built by MRC&WCo

WH Thane of Leamington Private Owner Wagon No 21
Ref: kt347
Gloucester RC&WCo
Alfred Jukes of Camp Hill Wharf Wahon No 29 built by Gloucester RC&WCo
Lifford Coal Company Wagon No 1 built by Gloucester RC&W Company
Ref: kt348
Gloucester RC&WCo
Lifford Coal Company Wagon No 1 built by Gloucester RC&W Company
WJ Busby & Son of Camp Hill Wagon No 7 built by Gloucester RC&W Company
Ref: kt349
Gloucester RC&WCo
WJ Busby & Son of Camp Hill Wagon No 7 built by Gloucester RC&W Company
LMS railway photo
Ref: mrs1081
GRC&W Co
A 1902 Stockingford Colliery 7-plank open wagon built by Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Company Ltd
  Ansley Hall Colliery, Stockingford in Nuneaton Wagon No 260
Ref: kt350
K Turton
Ansley Hall Colliery, Stockingford in Nuneaton Wagon No 260 builder unknown

Keith Turton