Research Contributor: Cliff Hewitt (Granville Colliery Miner 1961-1979)
The site of Woodhouse Colliery is situated in a wooded area by the bridges at the left side of The Flash. (Looking from St Georges). The Colliery was sunk (dug out) in 1820. It was the biggest employer for the local communities.
Due to WW2 and manpower shortages, Woodhouse Colliery ceased production between 1940-41. With nationalisation in 1947, it was hoped it would be opened temporarily as a training pit for the Grange and Granville Collieries with the possibility of normal production continuing, but this plan failed. It became a water pit to keep water out of the Grange and Granville workings. Water pumping ended in the late 1960s.
The Woodhouse, Stafford, Lawn and Dark Lane Colliery were among a group of pits in the area that pumped water into pools known locally as The Razz, Oily and Hanges. These are now combined into one pool known as The Flash
Lilleshall Company Ledger 1899
The following information is from the Lilleshall Company Ledger 1899 and gives information on the number of workers mining the two pits at Woodhouse Colliery and the number of animals that helped their work:-
The Charter Master (sub contractor for employment) for No 1Pit was John Teague. He employed 122 men with 20 horses and 4 donkeys to support in the double coal and top coal seams. On the pit surface, 24 men and girls were employed with the support of one horse.
The company employed engine men, stokers and fireman; 4 men underground and 4 men on the surface. The firemen were in charge of explosives in the pit.
One important man would be the Weigh Master who checked the weight of coal raised and sold, which meant ensuring there was no dirt content in the tubs or slack (small coal).
No 2 Pit was worked by the company and the number of men employed underground was 116 with 14 horses. On the surface there were 35 men with one horse.
The output for the week ending 15 July 1899 was as follows:-
Type of Coal
Amount in tons
In comparison, The Granville Colliery, the last working pit in the area, closing in May 1979, was also producing 1,400 tons a week in its heyday. The Granville was producing 1,000 tons a week in its final year.
Serious Accident at Woodhouse Colliery 28 June 1916
On 28 June 1916, a serious accident occurred at the Woodhouse Colliery. Between 5 and 6am, seven men were taken down one of the shafts for the day shift. The cage swiftly fell nearly the bottom (and then rose again, becoming fixed in the shaft.
Rumours circulated throughout the village that all the occupants had been killed. Crowds joined others at the scene. The infamous Dr McCarthy and his assistant Dr Pearce, (who worked for the Lilleshall Company Cottage Hospital in Albion St, St Georges) also attended the scene promptly.
Mr James Tudor (Forman Sinker) was lowered down the shaft to find that thankfully all seven men had survived, although two were seriously injured. Three men had been thrown from the cage to the bottom of the shaft whilst the other four remained trapped in the cage for four hours.
The names of the men involved in the accident were:-
Dr McCarthy was also lowered into the shaft.
The men were surgically treated before being lifted out of the shaft and transported in the newly acquired Lilleshall Company Motor Car Ambulance to the Cottage Hospital.
The admissions of the men to the hospital are documented in the Cottage Hospital Admissions Book 1907 to 1928 compiled by Jim Cooper, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust Archivist.
“During the rescuing operation on Wednesday, Mrs McCarthy, with her usual consideration, sent a good supply of sandwiches and other refreshments for the men engaged in the work” (Wellington Journal, 3 July 1916).
Maintenance to the cage was complete by 29 June with work commencing once more for the local people by 30 June 1916?
Woodhouse Colliery Pits, Machinery and Mechanics
The following extract is from the Lilleshall Company Ledger of 1899 and gives more detail to the working and mechanics of the Woodhouse Colliery pits:-
Woodhouse Colliery Machinery
No 1 Pit
“The winding engine is a vertical high pressure, 32in cylinder, 5ft stroke, coupled direct to flat rope drums, 11ft diameter. It is supplied by steam at 40 lbs, there is also a horizontal steam haulage engine, 14ins cylinder, 18ins stroke driving hauling drums underground by manila rope.
*A manila rope was a fibre rope
No 2 Pit
A pair of horizontal winding engines 28ins cylinder, 5ft stroke coupled to 16ft 6ins diameter drums, also a horizontal fan engine, 20ins cylinder 20ins stroke, connected to a *Guibal fan, 24ft diameter and 8ft across the blades.
These are supplied with steam from 3 Lancashire boilers 7ft diameter and 28ft long at a pressure of 50lbs.
*A Guibal fan was used to suck air through mine workings
The sidings are taken up to the pits and the top coal and deep coals are brought down the incline and loaded onto trucks by hand. The slack is separated by *scovens, the clod and double coals are screened.
*Scoven or Frank
No 1 shaft is 9ft 6ins diameter and sunk (dug out) to a depth of 275yds to the flint coal. This shaft is now filled up to the top coal at a depth of 252yds from the surface.
No 2 shaft is 10ft diameter and 290yds deep to the clod coal, adjacent to which is the upcast shaft, 8ft diameter sunk to the same depth and to which the ventilation fan is attached. There is also a pumping shaft 8ft diameter sunk through the upper coal measures at 110yds depth.
The workings in the coals from these pits are the most extensive of any in the collieries and are:- the marquis (fungus) with 120yds of working face 560yds to the north of No 2 shaft, is cut off on the eastern side by the washout, the red marls of the upper coal measures locally called Calyminker, being deposited in this place. The roads are in good condition with a rock roof, but the clod coal workings beneath damage the roads and cause expensive repairs.
These workings are to the north of the shafts, the floor is called Rellif and has to be cut up to make sufficient height to get tubs into the face. There are white slips running through this coal and also stones of iron which necessitates it being much broken up. This cannot be a profitable working seam.
A new side of work has been opened to the east of the shafts in this coal, which should make a profitable working. As the coal adheres to the bass in the roof about 4ins is left up with it.
These are the principle workings from No 1 pit part of which were nearly finished being 1270yds from the shaft.”
- Lilleshall Company Ledger (1899). Transcribed by Cliff Hewitt (2017-18)
- Cooper, J. Lilleshall Company Hospital 1903-1928. Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust Archives
- Wellington Journal (3 July 1916)
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