The Stratford Pit
In 1848 William Dugdale bought the Baxterley Hall Estate and extended his mining operations by sinking two mine shafts on Baxterley Greater Common to start the Stratford Pit (Baxterley Common was part of the Baxterley Hall
Estate). The first sod for the Stratford Pit was turned by Mrs Harriet Dugdale at 2:00 pm on May 1st 1850 and the mines were so called after the owner’s middle name, William Stratford Dugdale.
The Stratford Pit (later re-named the Baddesley Colliery) was the longest surviving of the many mines in the area, closing in 1989.
Mining engineer Reuben Smallman’s Victoria and Albert medal awarded for his key role as part of the rescue team that worked to save trapped men in the 1882 mining explosion that killed 32 people. Reuben was one of only two men to survive out of the underground party that was near to the explosion and the medal reads ” For Gallantry in Saving Life on Land ”.
Bible and medal were awarded to Charles Day for his significant contribution to the rescue efforts during the 1882 mining disaster. Charles lost all three of his eldest sons who were killed in the explosion.
At first workers simply threw buckets of water over the flames but after a few days John Parker, the manager, ordered a hosepipe to be fitted to spray the area with water. This however only put out the surface flames and the coal continued to burn beneath. The heat caused roof-falls onto the boiler which broke the chimney so on Sunday 30th April the system was shut down for repairs but the roof was left as it continued to burn. On May 1st a 14 yr old boy, Thomas Shilton, sneaked into the shaft at 4:00 pm to take a look at the new boiler and saw that the roof was still glowing even though the boiler had been out for days.
Later the same day at 10:00 pm Joseph Day, the night shift deputy, reported smoke in the upcast shaft as he finished his shift. Charles Day, his father and senior deputy, then went to warn the night-shift of 8 men and a boy who were working at the far end of the mine. He was met by an impassable wall of smoke and fumes and realising that the men were trapped he raised the alarm. Rescuers were called in who began forcing the smoke back along one of the tunnels.
The Speedwell Pit
The Speedwell Pit at Baddesley was important to the later development of the Stratford mines on Baxterley Greater Common as it was used as a water drain from the Stratford shafts which were higher up the hill thus helping them to prosper.