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

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
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
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
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