There are too few Civic Society ‘Blue Plaques’ remembering Wednesfield’s Civic and Industrial and Cultural Past. The reason is that we do not do enough to make this City aware of what we contribute in Wednesfield now, and what we have contributed to Wolverhampton City life in the Past.
The reasons for this is – We only have ourselves to blame!
I believe that there are not many residents living in Ashmore Park and Wednesfield, never mind those in Wolverhampton, who know what a rich industrial past Ashmore Park has had. Perhaps it is not easy to recognise today, but the daily grind of earning a living of men and women in Wednesfield was very much bound to the great coal seams that existed then and still exist now. Wednesfield is much better known for its manufacturing of Man Traps, which of course Wednesfield is famous for.
But you know there was much more to Ashmore Park in the 1800’s, than anyone currently considers.
Ashmore Park has not always been just a big housing estate,It was the home of a big colliery.
The Ashmore Park Colliery supplied some 231 jobs at its height for local people. I would wager that few of my constituents today would know that the site of the current Ashmore Park (playing fields) in the 1800’s, employed hundreds of miners who were working a deep coal seam.
What is more in 1884 there was a Pumping House located alongside the colliery to keep the mine dry.
I have asked Archaeologists if they have the location of that Pumping House as it would be an interesting feature to bring to locals attention. I believe it may be located where the Wednesfield Aces have their home.
In 1875 Ashmore Park Colliery had 231 people working coal. 184 below ground and 76 above ground. This was a fair size pit but the company that owned it only went into liquidation as late as 16 November 1948.
It looks like Ashmore Park Colliery was a pretty dangerous place to work. ‘Black Country Musings (www.BlackcountryMusings.com) ‘ inform that there were a number of deaths taking place at this Pit. This is what they have said following research of their own –
- “Samuel Harper, 31, an experienced shot firer, in 1884, managed to blow himself into small pieces, after trying to ram home a charge of powder with an iron bar.
- In 1885, John Davis, was crushed to death after getting wedged between a loaded tub and the roadway wall.
- Richard Fryer, 27, was killed in an explosion of gas in 1889, Richard Willetts, 66, was killed when someone knocked out several roof supports, and his eldest son, William Willetts, 45, died when struck by falling coal in 1893.
- Black Country Musings state ( www.BlackcountryMusings.com) “The last recorded death here was in 1894, when a gas explosion put out the lights of one Richard Jeavons, aged 24, as he was leading his horse back to the underground stables.”
However I have found another death – this was the death of a Joseph Pritchard at the colliery, he was a young man aged 24 and in 1898 he was killed in an explosion at the site. Joseph was employed as a Stallman. According to Durham Mining Museum- They list the Stallmans as an occupation as – Stallman Sub-contractor in charge of a “stall” or working place.
I am sure you will agree with me that this history is worthy of some recognition.
I am very proud of Wednesfield and this site is so rich in heritage, and so tinged with industrial disaster for the families of local people, that I believe that we have to do more so that we can define Ashmore Park in a way that we haven’t as yet.
I would like to have a chat with the Local Church Leaders to see if we can have a Remembrance service to remember the poor souls that lost their lives in the heart of what is now our local community.
I wonder if there are still relatives living in Wednesfield of the men that died? If there is perhaps you would contact me and we could see what can be done to remember the contribution that these men and their families have made to our history.
Personally I would like to see a Wolverhampton Civic Society ‘Blue Plaque’ displayed on a public building in Ashmore Park bringing the history, the deaths, and the part the land played then, as it does today, to the attention of residents and visitors a like.
Our History is very much our future. Let me know what you think!