In the beginning
The area known as Hamstead was until 1875 little more than a rustic backwater, then the exploitation of a known coal seam was started. In 1876 the Hamstead Colliery Company, formed in April 1875 to buy land at Hamstead from G.C. Calthorpe of Perry Hall, began to sink mine shafts. The first coal was not extracted until after 1878 due to unexpected geological problems and water ingress. The coal was at a very deep level of almost 2000 feet.
The experience gained by the mining engineers was put to good use in the English mining industry and their expertise was so world renown that the American Government requested assistance from the engineers that had solved many of Hamstead Collierys problems. to establish deep coal mining in America, this enhancing the growing co-operation in science and technology between the two countries.
Hamstead mining community was from the start a mixing of miners from all parts of Great Britain and the Village of Hamstead rapidly started returning the investment involved and continued to produce profits until the closure in 1965.
The Hamstead Village Community was very close as was the norm with all England's mining communities and they were used to living within the shadow of accidents and deaths, however the diaster of 4th March 1908 was a national tragedy with 26 men killed in one day.
On the 4th. March 1908, a fire occurred at approximately 5.00a.m. in the inset near the bottom of the downcast shaft. The source of the ignition was believed to be some candles that were stored in a wooden box.
When the fire broke out there were 31 miners in the pit, 6 escaped before poisonous fumes built up in the roadways.
Rescue teams from Hamstead, Tankersley and Altofts in Yorkshire, made many attempts to reach the entombed men. It took a week after the fire for the mine to clear of the fumes. On the 11th March 14 bodies were recovered, 6 more bodies were recovered the following day.
Hamstead took many years to recover from this tragedy, indeed many families never did, for once the main breadwinner was gone there was little or no help from employers or government.
Between 1875 and 1965 114 men lost their lives at Hamstead Colliery
with the worst loss of life in 1908 that made the national
This site is gradually being developed to tell the story of the disaster and the history of the mine.
- The HAMSTEAD MINERS MEMORIAL TRUST is a registered Charity No.1098711
- We welcome information and photographs on Hamstead Colliery and Great Barr