The Nine Miners

What do we know about the victims of this terrible accident? The answer is – very little.

The oldest of the men was Edward Wallett who was 52 and lived with his wife, Sarah, and five children in Thieve Street (now the upper end of Wesley Road, Ironbridge) next to the Fox Inn which was demolished in 1958. His sons, William and John were both coal miners and his eldest daughter Mary was a dressmaker. He had two younger daughters, Elizabeth and Jane. Together with John Tranter he was responsible for the management of the underground workings at the pit. Ten years later his widow lived in the same house with her youngest daughter, Jane. Sarah is recorded as the head of the household and receiving ‘income from property’ and Jane worked as an assistant milliner.

John Tranter was 37 and lived in The Brockholes (Belmont Road) with his wife Rosannah and five young children. In the 1861 census he is recorded as having three sons (William, James and John) all less than ten years old, and a two-year-old daughter called Ann. In the 1871 census his widow Rosannah (still at the same address) is recorded as a ‘labourer’ – perhaps she had taken work as a sorter at the pithead? James, John and Ann still lived at home (James and John were working as coal miners) and two other children are recorded – Levi (aged 10) and Benjamin (aged 7) – it seems likely that Benjamin was born after his father’s death.

Benjamin Davies was 35 years old and unmarried. He lived with his father Nathaniel, a sawyer, in ‘Tups Rowe’. The location of Tups Rowe is unknown but it is likely to have been a row of cottages at the junction of Thieve Street (Wesley Road) and Ropers Hill (Newbridge Road). Their household included several boarders. Benjamin was the ‘hooker-on’ for the team and, as such, would have been responsible for ensuring that the winding-gear was properly connected for the ascent to the surface. He was an experienced ‘hooker-on’ who had fulfilled that role for twenty years.

The remaining victims were all 18 or younger.

William Jarratt lived on Church Hill (Ironbridge) with his parents, John and Sarah and his two younger brothers James and John. His father was a hawker who sold such items as tea and tobacco.

Joseph Maiden was also 18 and lived at Foxholes (between Ironbridge and the Brockholes area) with his parents William and Ellen and three younger brothers (Thomas, John and Henry) and two sisters (Rebecca and Sarah). Their ages ranged from 17 to 8 months. His father and his brother Thomas both worked as miners.

John Jones was 14 and lived at Bedlam Hall (probably in a cottage created from a surviving fragment of the hall which had been badly damaged by landslip) with his parents John and Elizabeth and his younger sister Emma. Theirs was not a mining family although the 1861 census lists 11-year-old John as a coal miner. He had been born in Nesscliffe and his father was an agricultural labourer from Ruyton-XI-Towns and his mother was from Grindle. Their household included a 20-year-old boarder called Emma Molineux described as a ‘worker on the Pit Bank’.

John Farr was also 14. In the 1851 census he is listed as a baby grandson living with a large family on Lincoln Hill. He does not seem to appear in the 1861 census and was possibly the illegitimate son of a ‘Farr’ daughter.

13-year-old Francis Cookson lived adjacent to the Park Inn in Madeley – but whether in Park Lane or Madeley Road is uncertain. He lived with his parents John and Eliza and two older brothers (John, and Edward) and two younger brothers (James and William). John senior and Francis’s two older brothers were all miners.

William Onions was just 12 years old. He may have been the William Onions listed as living on Lincoln Hill in the 1861 census but this is not certain.

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