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The Closing Of Baggeridge Colliery

From "We Were There" Blackcountryman Volume 1, Issue 3


Saturday March 2nd, 1968, a cold, grey, murky day. How very apt, the depressive nature of the weather appeared to be symbolically mourning the passing of an era, for it was then that the great traditional coal industry of the Black Country died.

This was the official closure of Baggeridge Colliery.

Photo courtesy of Bob Gilbody

 

Now, with the exception of a few opencast workings, coal mining in the area ceased.

Having had a commemorative medal (follow the link for pictures of the medal) struck to mark the closure, it was felt that the Black Country Society should be represented at the very end. So, in the early hours of March the 2nd, DR JM Fletcher, J Brimble, M Watson and G Bowater, foresook the comfort of their beds and raveled to the colliery to receive and photograph the men of the last shift. At 5.30am, the tall winding gear, ghostly silhouetted against the dark morning background, presented a melancholy scene. 800 feet below, a group of men were about to be hauled to the surface for the last time.

Without ceremony, the cage carried the men up the shaft at its usual tremendous speed, and when it came to rest at the top those miners - many it seemed with heavy hearts - secured their moment of history as photographer George Bowater recorded the moment for posterity.

Underground at Baggeridge in 1964 - courtesy of Bob Gilbody (shown aged 13 in photograph

 

Before leaving for his bath, the longest serving member of the shift, Mr. B Fellows of Lower Gornal, was presented by John Fletcher with a medallion marked number 2. The Society members then drank a toast to the memory of the colliery and the many miners and men who had been employed there during its history.

Within minutes the crowd dispersed, silence descending as the miners' voice faded away, leaving the pit to its fate. It was indeed a sad occasion, for Baggeridge Colliery had been a noted industrial landmark in the Black Country.

But it will not be forgotten. The widespread interest created by the circulation of the commemorative medallion, struck in 1967, resulted in a large number of historic photographs associated with the colliery being received by the society, along with other items of interest.

It is gratifying to reflect that much of the knowledge thus gathered concerning the life and times of the colliery, may have been lost but for the efforts of the Black Country Society.

Tub Tippler at Baggeridge - photo courtesy of Bob Gilbody

I would like to thank Bob Gilbody for sending me the photographs used in this and other Baggerdige articles. Bob's father Clifford Gilbody was manager at Baggeridge in the 1960s. Anyone who would like to contact Bob about Baggeridge please email me.

My thanks to Paul (surname not known) for the above pictures of a medal he recently purchased.

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