Key Stage 3 & 4 Classroom Resources
Browse our wide range of resources tailored to your enquiry theme for use either before or after your visit to us.
These are the downloadable links for all the resources associated with the accident investigators enquiry. The teacher’s notes will provide you with an overview of the enquiry theme in addition to guiding you through the extra resources available.
We have put together a glossary of mining terms that you may find useful when using our resources.
Overview of Conditions of Work
Timeline of key reports and parliamentary acts
This documents outlines the most significant investigations and reforms that affected mines and colliers during the 19th century.
Children’s Employment Commission 1842
This Royal Commission investigated the working conditions in mines, with a particular focus on women and children. These extracts are taken from the report by James Mitchell, the inspector for South Staffordshire.
Extract 1: ‘Of accidents in coal and iron mines’
A list of the different types of accidents encountered in the mining district of South Staffordshire, including ‘explosions of carburetted hydrogen gas’ – such as occurred in Rounds Green New Colliery.
Extract 2: ‘Statement, John Penn’
John describes his experiences as a Constable responding to mine accidents. He provides details on how the mining community reacted to accidents and the treatment of the injured.
Extract 3: ‘The proprietors, the tenants and the butties or contractors’
This explains the ‘Butty System’ used in most South Staffordshire Collieries and implemented at Rounds Green New Colliery.
Extract 4: ‘Description of a visit to a coal mine near Dudley’
This provides a vivid description of a mine similar to Rounds Green New Colliery. The extract includes reference to descending the shaft using a ‘skip’, the use of rails and horse-drawn carts; the different gases that could be encountered; and the system fir ‘damming’ up old workings.
Extract 5: ‘Account of John Greaves’
John Greaves was employed in a colliery in Dudley from the age of 7 years. He gives a description of the type of work and the wages earned. He also refers to the use of apprentices and the enforcement of the ‘Tommy Shop’ or ‘Truck System’.
Extract 6: ‘Account of William Troughton’
William Troughton started work in a colliery at the age of 15. His account describes the conditions in the mine, including the presences of vermin, the occurrence of accidents and how the colliery reacted to deaths at work. He also includes interesting domestic details such as washing and eating.
Frist Report of the Midland Mining Conditions
This investigation covered the counties of Worcester, Warwick, Stafford and Salop. It had particular focus on the physical and moral conditions of the workforce – including wages, accidents, mine management and the opportunities for school and religious instruction.
Newspaper Reports: General Overview of the Accident
A selection of excerpts from newspapers showing how widely the accident was reported.
Newspaper Report: The London Standard, 19 November 1846
Newspaper Report: Burrow’s Worcester Journal, 19 November 1846 & The Daily News, London, 20 November 1846.
Newspaper Report: Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 26th November 1846
The Inquest: List of Casualties and Witness Statements
List of Casualties of the New Rounds New Colliery Accident
Burial Record 1846: Christ Church, Oldbury
This is a transcript of the burial record for a mass grave at Christ Church in Oldbury. Out of the 15 burials listed, 11 were from the Rounds Green explosion. Another 2 were infants under 2 years of age.
(Infants were often buried with other adults, rather than in their own graves, to save costs for poorer families).
Worksheet 1: Gather Information from the Burial Record
Witness Statement: John Holland
John Holland was a key witness – not only did he servive the explosion, but he was the Butty’s son.
Worksheet 2: Gathering Information from John Holland’s Evidence.
Witness Statement: John Shakespeare and Herbert Hampton
Both these witnesses were miners at Rounds Green. John Shakespeare was working the morning of the explosion and was one of the few survivors. Herbert Hampton was the father of two children killed in the explosion – William Hampton aged 16 and John Hampton age 10. Herbert wasn’t working on the morning of the disaster, but his account still provides some significant information.
Worksheet 3: Gathering Information from John Shakespeare and Herbert Hampton’s Evidence
Witness Statement: Edward Foley, William Clift and John Northam
These three witnesses provide evidence on the air ventilation system and the frequent accumulations of gas in the mine.
Witness Statement: Thomas Haines
Thomas Haines had been the Mine Surveyor for the pit for the last 6 years. He was responsible for ensuring that the air ventilation system was effective. Not surprisingly therefore, he reports that the mine was effectively ventilated and did not have a particular problem with sulphur or any other gas.
Worksheet 5: Gathering Information from Thomas Haines ‘ Witness Statement
Witness Statement: James Stansfield
James Stansfield was a Butty at a nearby colliery. His evidence shows that on the same morning his pit was troubled by sulphur. As a result, all the men left the pit and stopped work.
Worksheet 6: Gathering Information from James Stansfield’s Witness Statement.
Expert Witness Statement: Mine Surveyors
As part of inquest, independent mine surveyors were asked to visit Rounds Green New Colliery to inspect the air ventilation system. They all found the system deficient.
Worksheet 7: Gathering Information from the Expert Witness Surveyors
Results of Inquests
Excerpt from: Aris’s Brimingham Gazette, 30 November 1846
This gives the verdicts of all four inquests:
– The inquest at Dudley found Thomas Haines, the miner surveyor guilty of manslaughter.
– The inquest at Oldbury gave a verdict of accidental death but censored the mine surveyor.
– The inquest at Rowley Regis had a verdict of accidental death but found the Butty partly to blame.
– The inquest at West Bromwich gave a verdict of accidental death with no blame.
Coroner’s Comments, 27 November 1846
Extracts from a letter to Sir George Grey from George Hinchcliffe, the Coroner for West Bromwich, who carried out inquests into some of the deaths at the Colliery, advising the use of independent mine inspectors.
Excerpt from: Geological Survey Office, 19 January 1847
This was performed by Warrington W. Smyth in response to a request from the Home Secretary, Sir George Grey. He was asked to investigate serious accidents at two mines – Rounds Green New Colliery, Oldbury and Burgh Colliery, Coppull, near Chorlton, Lancashire. His report on Rounds Green highlights serious deficiencies in the air ventilation system.
Extracts from the Worcestershire Spring Assizes, March_1847 on the Trail of Thomas Haines
This reveals that Thomas Haines was eventually acquitted.
Extracts from: 1850 Act for Inspection of Mines in Great Britian
This provided for the appoint of additional expert mining engineers as inspectors. Plans of mines were also to be kept and produced on demand by an inspector and notice of every mining fatality was to be sent immediately to the Secretary of State.
Ordinance Survey Map, 1887
This map show Oldbury and Rounds Green New Colliery. The map was surveyed in 1881-83.
Plan of Rounds Green New Colliery
Plan of Rounds Green New Colliery
This plan was taken from a plan supplied by the mine surveyor at the inquest.
FAMILY 1: THE HOLLAND FAMILY
This family has been chosen for further research as Job Holland was the mine Butty and his son, John Holland was a survivor of the accident, and one of the key witnesses at the inquests.
1841 Census – Holland Family
This show Job Holland (the Butty) living with his family in Oldbury Lane, West Bromwich.
1851 Census – Holland Family
Five years after the mine explosion, the family are still living in Oldbury Lane, West Bromwich. Job’s wife is now widow, but his son John, who was one of the key witnesses at the inquest, is still working as a miner.
Worksheet: Holland Family Census
This worksheet will help students to retrieve information from the two census documents above.
FAMILY 2: THE WINDMILL FAMILY
This family has been chosen for research as they were identified as one of the larger families left fatherless after the accident.
1841 Census – Windmill Family
The Windmill family are living in Meeting Street, Oldbury. They are a large family with 12 members in total, all relying on the wages of just two workers – John Windmill, coal miner and Robert Windmill (presumably John’s son) aged 15 and also working as a coal miner.
1861 Census – Windmill Family
We have not been able to trace the 1851 census, so this gives us a snapshot of the family 15 years after the accident. Thye are now living at 49 Queen Street in Oldbury. Mary Windmill is listed as a widow – following the death of her husband John in the colliery explosion. She is the head of family and is a Publican at the Rising Sun. This is one of the few occupations a woman could have followed that would have provided a living wage and home. Five other members of the family are also working.
Windmill Family Census Worksheet
This worksheet will help students to retrieve information from the two census documents above.
Students could use the results of their investigation to hold their own inquest. This could include taking on the role of the coroner, the jury and key witnesses. The following worksheets can be used to help collate information discovered about four key characters who had responsibility for the management and safety of the mine.
Adventures Through Time are a series of animated educational videos and podcasts about Black Country life, created by Fun Kids Radio, supported by Art Fund.
Episode 1 – Mary MacArthur
Join our explorers in the first episode as they visit the Workers’ Institute from Cradley Heath and go back in time to hear about the story of Mary Macarthur and the Chainmakers’ strike.
Episode 2 – Queen Victoria Visits The Black Country
Join our explorers in the second episode as travel back in time through our Victorian houses and hear all about when Queen Victoria visited Wolverhampton’s Prince Albert Statue.
Episode 3 – Keeping Us Fed
Join our explorers in the third episode and find out about some of ways Black Country people fed their families in the past, from garden plots to general stores – and not forgetting the fish and chips!
Episode 4 – Keeping Us Healthy
In this episode we take a look into the world of medicines – from home made and herbal remedies to the Chemists shops of the 20th century. Staying healthy is really important, but with all those factories and mines in the Black Country, doing that was easier said than done. People would get ill and injured a lot back then but not everyone could go to the doctors to get their health problems fixed. The NHS wouldn’t be around until 1948 and doctors back in the day were expensive, far too expensive for normal factory workers like so many of the people living in the Black Country were. These people would often rely on their local chemist to give them remedies for their illnesses, and the chemist would design and create these remedies themselves!
Episode 5 – Keeping Us Warm
We take central heating for granted these days but in the past it would have been a bit more difficult to keep warm. In this episode we take a closer look at how people heated their homes – and in the Black Country the story starts with coal.
Episode 6 – Fire in the Colliery
Mining was at the centre of The Black Country’s communities and industry, but mines were dangerous places. In this episode we find out more, and also learn about a terrible fire at the Rounds Green Colliery in 1846. Coal was a vital part of what we call the ‘Industrial Revolution’ a period of time when people started using machines and engines to make goods and power using raw materials and fossil fuels. Coal was really the driving force behind this whole thing and without it we would not be where we are today in terms of technology and industry.
Episode 7 – Family Life In The Black County
The Black Country Living Museum has documented many different families and recreated their homes. You can explore the different types of houses, from cottages, to back to backs, a tilted house and even a Toll House.
Episode 8 – Life on the Canal
During the Industrial Revolution, the construction and use of canals exploded. There were over 170 miles of canals criss-crossing all over Birmingham, the Black Country and beyond at its height. From coal to clothing, this quickly became the main way goods were delivered across the region. In this episode the children meet John Barry, a boy who lives and works with his family on a canal boat, and learn more about life on the “cut”!
Episode 9 – The Anchor Forge
In this episode the children visit the Anchor Forge and learn about the making of a very special anchor for a famous ship. Surprisingly, perhaps, for a region so far from the sea, for over a hundred years, anchor making was one of its most prominent industries and anchors for some of the most famous ships of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including Brunel’s ‘Great Eastern’, the ‘Titanic’ and the Royal Yacht, ‘Britannia’ were forged in the Black Country. The flag for the The Black Country features chain links – to represent the region’s proud history of forging. What might your family’s flag look like? You could design one which represents the things that are important to you?
Episode 10 – On The Move
The Black Country was a major centre for vehicle manufacturing with cycles, motorcycles, cars, lorries and buses all built in the region. In this episode the children find out more about the different vehicles.