Pelsall Coal and Iron Company

Pelsall Coal and Iron Company

Pelsall Ironworks was established in 1832 on Wood Common alongside the Wyrley and Essington Canal.

The Ironworks at this time were owned by Mr Fryer.

Mr Fryer was from Wolverhampton and was well known for manufacturing top quality bar and sheet iron.

By 1851 however, Pelsall Ironworks had been sold to Mr Davis and Mr Bloomer.

On taking on Pelsall Ironworks, Davis and Bloomer had designs on making the company bigger and better and so it was not long before Pelsall Ironworks was both developed and extended.

Following the retirement of Mr Davis, Mr Bloomer continued to run the business with his son.

Pelsall Ironworks continued to grow and was re named Pelsall Coal and Iron Company.  

The company owned several collieries in Pelsall which produced coal for the ironworks.

To enable the business to run efficiently, a network of tramways and canal barges were essential.

Employees of Pelsall Coal and Iron Company 1888

Several hundred men were employed at Pelsall Coal and Iron Company and such guaranteed work bought people into Pelsall from outside the village.  Some workers lodged in Pelsall and others decided to bring their families and settle in the village.

Women also worked at the Ironworks.  Here they were employed to pick up coke for the blacksmiths shop.

Young boys often had the task of fetching beer for thirsty workers.  This involved a trip to the Free Trade Inn, in Wood Lane and carrying two buckets attached to a yoke.

The Free Trade Inn in 1887

Photograph courtesy of Pelsall History Centre

The Tommy Shop, as seen to the left was also situated close to The Free Trade Inn, whereby men who had part of their wages paid in tokens would use this shop to exchange them for goods.

Photograph courtesy of Pelsall History Centre.

 

By the 1870's development and extension meant that the ironworks comprised of three sections.  The first stretched from near the Wood Lane bridge to the Black Iron bridge.  The second and third stretched from the Black Iron bridge to the Red Iron bridge at the canal junction.

By the early 1870's there were 40 pudding furnaces, seven mills and forges, two blast furnaces and general workshops and stores.  There were limekilns, a gashouse, a locomotive and wagon sheds at the rear.

There were several interconnected mines accessed by 12 mine shafts which were scattered over Pelsall Wood Common.

The photographs below, which were loaned to me a few years ago by Mr Derek Broadhurst give a fascinating insight into what work in a Pelsall Coal mine was like. The photographs are believed to have been taken in a Pelsall pit, and strong evidence of this can be seen in the poster advertising the Swifts Match which can be seen in the first photograph.

The Swifts were the Pelsall football team which was connected to The Swan Inn.

The second photograph which appears to have the same gentleman in it as shown on the first photograph is seen with what appears to be black African workmates which suggests that workers came to Pelsall from much further afield.

Mr Bloomer was a staunch Methodist and came to be a highly influential part of the community of Pelsall.

Mr Bloomer helped to finance the building of local schools and the new Wesley Church and Manse in Chapel Street.

During the 1860's, he also set up a reading room and reception centre at the ironworks where daily newspapers and periodicals could be read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Interior of the Wesleyan Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At its peak, Pelsall Coal and Iron Company exported their products world wide, however Mr Bloomer's empire was not to last.

In the late 1800's the iron trade in general began to slump particularly with the advent and flexibility of steel.

With a lack of orders for iron, at one point, men at Pelsall Coal and Iron company were only working one week in every three.

Despite efforts made by the management, nothing could be done particularly with the recession looming.

By 1891, Pelsall Coal and Iron Company was in irretrievable debt, and shortly afterwards, the company collapsed.

There was no other option but to sell the company and so on 24th October 1892 the collieries were sold to Walsall Wood Colliery Company and the rights to salvage anything from the ironworks site were bought by Alfred Hickman of Bilston Steelworks for a rather minimal sum.

The Sycamores, Church Road, Pelsall

The former home of Mr Boaz Bloomer

Photograph courtesy of Pelsall History Centre

The closure of Pelsall Coal and Ironworks caused an employment crisis in the village.  This meant for the first time in over sixty years men were leaving Pelsall to seek work elsewhere.

Shortly after its closure, due to the demand for cinder and tap, the residue from the smelting process was crushed and sold off.

The 1920's saw the demise of Pelsall Coal and Iron Company as the remaining chimney stacks on the site were demolished.

The spectacle attracted huge crowds of onlookers.

The Cracker

Whilst researching the history of Pelsall Coal and Iron Company back in 2002 I was very fortunate to have been able to have met and interviewed ex Cllr Mr Alfred Owen.

Of one of the many things he shared with me he told me that when Pelsall Coal and Iron Company ceased to operate, the site was cleared and chimney stacks were demolished.  He then went on to say that, whilst clearing out the offices, one of the men stumbled on a plan of the works.  He could have thrown it straight into the skip, but thankfully he did not.

Instead, impressed by this work of art, he suggested that it should be save, and took it upon himself to make sure that it was.  Having rescued the plan, the man had to then find a home for it.

When this came to light, to the then Councillor Alfred Owen, he suggested that it be put in the newly built Community Centre.

Shortly afterwards, the plan was framed and put  on the wall in the community centre, where it still is today.

The original plan of Pelsall Coal and Iron Company can be viewed today in Pelsall Community Centre, on Station Road, Pelsall

The plaque beneath it reads:

Original plan of Pelsall Ironworks closed in 1892 Presented to the people of Pelsall by Messrs Edgar and Syd Pritchard of Brownhills

Framed and mounted by Pelsall Civic Society 1980