Keith Turton's History of Warwickshire's Industrial
Railways, Sidings and Private Owner Wagons
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:
|Public Assistance Committee
| Fire stations
This totals 11,285 tons, 220 tons a week or 22-25 wagon
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
- 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
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.
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 &
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.
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
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
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
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
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 &
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Private Owner Wagons in Warwickshire