Finding the right Mine (General)

by chrislane, Sunday, August 11, 2019, 08:09 (202 days ago)

Hi everyone

Wilfred Denis (Dennis) LANE I'm told worked in one of the mines in the Forest from around 1927. I know that he was working in Birmingham by 1939. Does anyone know if it's possible to find out which mine and whether I could get hold of the relevant employment records. I have no further information so appreciate this may be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

As ever, many thanks for your help with this.

Kind regards
Chris Lane

Finding the right Mine

by MPGriffiths @, Sunday, August 11, 2019, 12:08 (201 days ago) @ chrislane

Just for background/starters

On the 1939 Register, Wilfred D LANE born 28 June 1914 - living in Aldridge, Staffordshire.


There is on Ancestry, Electoral Register, Autumn 1923

LANE, Wilfred, living at Bradley Cottages, Soudley, Newnham (but Wilfred would only be aged 9)

Wilfred D LANE doesn't appear on later Gloucestershire Electoral Registers.


? Is this Dennis

Transcript on this website

Baptism at Coleford, 13 Jan 1915

Wilfred Dennis LANE, mother's/father's name - not stated

Residence: Coalway Road


? parents: Alfred Ernest LANE/Fanny Jane MARTIN, married 7 June 1905 at Coleford


Electoral Register 1919 Autumn

LANE Albert, The Scowles
LANE Charlotto - ditto
LANE Fanny Jane - Lord's Hill


GRO Index

LANE, Wilfred Denis (Mother's maiden name: MARTIN)

GRO reference: 1914, S Quarter in Monmouth, Volume 11A Page 45

Finding the right Mine

by chrislane, Sunday, August 11, 2019, 14:47 (201 days ago) @ MPGriffiths


He's definitely both 28 June 1914, and his parents are definitely Alfred Ernest Lane and Fanny Jane Martin.

The baptism date is new to me but I suspect is correct.

Also new is him living in Aldridge in 1939 - but he was definitely working in Birmingham according to the 1939 Register.

And yes, Fanny being in Lord's Hill in 1919 would be correct.

Many thanks for your help.

Finding the right Mine

by MPGriffiths @, Sunday, August 11, 2019, 20:03 (201 days ago) @ chrislane

Looking at Ancestry 1939 Register

Staffordshire, Aldridge UD

19 Drummond Grove * (post code today B43 7BU)

Wilfred's occupation was Packer Electrical ........H ...... Worker

because the next record is blanked out - it's difficult to read his complete occupation.

Birmingham Electoral Registers aren't on Ancestry, think they are on FindmyPast

Finding the right Mine

by chrislane, Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 19:42 (199 days ago) @ MPGriffiths


just a quick note to say thanks for all your help with this - it's really useful, particularly the info regarding Birmingham Electoral registers, which I haven't yet got round to searching.

Best wishes

Finding the right Mine, early - mid C20th.

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Monday, August 12, 2019, 16:55 (200 days ago) @ chrislane

Hi again Chris,
this forum's seen several enquiries like yours, but sadly there's no easy answers, no databases, etc etc.
Even in your Wilfred's time in the 1920s & 30s with the onset of National Insurance numbers etc (but no NHS yet), the records kept by employers were very minimal, and any that still exist are rather patchy. Even for the big "modern" pits many of these paper records haven't survived the closures, for example I recall reading about the bonfires of such paperwork when Northern United (northwest Cinderford) closed in the 1960s, in those days few people considered such information worth keeping.

Of course we're not sure where in the Forest Wilfred lived at this time, so are equally unsure where he was likely to have worked ?. On first reading this thread I saw mention of him possibly being at Soudley, which would suggest Eastern United (Ruspidge) or maybe Lightmoor or New Fancy; however I now see that's a different person.
Then again, it should be remembered it wasn't at all unusual for miners to walk as many as 5 miles thro' the woods to and from work, so.. ???

I see from your previous thread that his mother Fanny Lane was living in Bream during these times, so it's not impossible that Wilfred was there as well.

If so then this is very lucky as by far the biggest pit that side of the Forest was Princess Royal. This prior thread enquired about a miner at Princess Royal, so hopefully the contents especially some of the links will be of interest to you. By coincidence this was also being discussed during an Ashes test series, and one in which England were doing rather better ahem.

This particular case showed that the Dean Heritage Centre at Soudley still holds employment records for Princess Royal; I strongly suggest contacting them, they may even hold records for other pits.
See here


Regarding the pits Wilfred may have worked at in the 1930s, here's a synopsis of the situation which hopefully helps clarify things during these torubled times. As you can see he could have worked in a number of pits, and those named here are just the big ones !

Coal production, which was boosted during the First World War, meant that by 1922 the large collieries employed many hands: Princess Royal had 1,138 employees, New Fancy 694, and Cannop 685, and so on.. However output was interrupted by the strikes of the 1920s and fell during the economic recession of the early 1930s. In 1936 it rose to 1,439,000 tons but thereafter it declined. During that period several older deep mines closed once they had worked out accessible reserves.
In 1930 Cannop became the first in the coalfield to provide pithead baths. The 'butty' system, retained well into the 20th century, was abolished at Eastern United in 1938. Trafalgar, where flooding halted production in 1919, closed in 1925, Crumpmeadow stopped production in 1929, and Foxes Bridge was abandoned in 1930 because of flooding from disused mines. The number of jobs in the industry fell from 7,818 in 1920 to 5,276 in 1930 and the closures, besides adding to a high level of unemployment locally, left Lightmoor, with a workforce of 600 in 1934, as the main colliery in the Cinderford area. At that time several mines on the north side of the coalfield were deepened and many miners found work in a new deep mine, Northern United, which H. Crawshay & Co. began sinking north-west of Cinderford in 1933.
Mining in the south part of the coalfield was rationalized by the Princess Royal Colliery Co., which from 1937 worked Norchard colliery, adjoining its principal mine, from a new drift entered near Pillowell. Further jobs were lost by the closure of Lightmoor and New Fancy collieries in 1940 and 1944 respectively, but some new ones were created at the remaining large mines and there were many other collieries with fewer than 40 employees each. Coal mining remained the principal source of jobs in the Forest, employing 55 per cent of the adult male population, 84.5 per cent in the Cinderford area.
Following nationalization of the coal industry in 1946 the National Coal Board operated the principal mines and awarded licences for working smaller ones. Annual production, which including the output of the free miners' workings was 777,000 tons in 1948, continued to decline as rising costs usually due to drainage problems led to the closure of most mines. Of the main collieries Eastern United and Arthur and Edward(Lydbrook) shut in 1959, Cannop in 1960, Princess Royal in 1962, and Norchard Drift and Northern United in 1965, when deep mining ended in Dean.

These pits and some of the smaller ones are listed here


Colin, to get an excellent overview of the situation in these "big seven" FoD pits in the 1930s, I strongly recommend you try and find a copy of the "promotional" booklet entitled "Fine Forest of Dean Coal" which was published by the FoD Colliery Owners. The whole original booklet complete with maps and excellent period adverts was reprinted in facsimile form by our old friends Ian Pope and co at Lightmoor Press, secondhand copies are often available via the usual online outlets, some more details here;

And yes these are the same good folk responsible for this marvellous site which documents the history of the local pits in great detail;


Hoping this helps Colin, and wishing you luck if you contact the DHC about Wilfred. If you do find anything it would be great if you could please update this thread, thanks.

Finding the right Mine, early - mid C20th.

by chrislane, Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 19:54 (199 days ago) @ Jefff

Hi Jeff

thank you so much for all of this really helpful information.

Whilst I haven't yet been able to trace Wilfred in Bream beyond his early life when, you're correct, he lived with his mother Fanny Jane Lane, I have found an article in the Gloucester Journal, Sat 12 Oct 1935 that shows a petty sessions record:

'Wilfred Denis Lane of Bream, was fined ss for riding a bicycle without a light' he would have been 21 in 1935 and I suspect he left the Forest to join his older brother in Birmingham. In fact the 1939 register suggests they were working for the same company.

I'm very excited about the possibility of finding Princess Royal employment records and shall most certainly visit the Dean Heritage Centre although I suspect it will be a couple of months before I can get there. I shall also be doing all I can to find a copy of promotional leaflet.

Thank you again for your help - as soon as I can I'll come back to you with my findings.

Best wishes

Finding the right Mine, early - mid C20th.

by MPGriffiths @, Wednesday, August 14, 2019, 11:06 (199 days ago) @ chrislane

On Ancestry Electoral Register

up to 1963

Fanny J HOARE's address is listed as

The Eaves


Burial record at Bream 29 January 1963 - her address given as

Royal Oak
The Pludds

Charles W HOARE is at Bream Eaves 1937 etc


1939 Register

The Eaves, Bream

HOARE Charles - birth date: 5 November 1885 - Colliery Surface Worker
Fanny J RICKARDS (crossed out and married name, which was added later on, HOARE - born 21 August 1882 *
VOYCE Mary A - born 7 July 1857
CRADDOCK James - born 17 May 1893, Brick Worker

* which ties up with her baptism record : Fanny Jane MARTIN

Finding the right Mine, early - mid C20th.

by MPGriffiths @, Wednesday, August 14, 2019, 11:47 (198 days ago) @ MPGriffiths


Then appears on Ancestry Electoral Roll Register

1921, Lord's Hill

1924, 20 Council Houses, Parkend Road, Forest of Dean

1925, Woodside Bream

1936, Lydney Road, Bream

Reginald RICKARDS on the 1936 register, is at Breams Eaves, Bream (appears to be related to Samuel Richard RICKARDS)

etc etc

GloucestershireBDM Indexes

Samuel Richard RICKARDS married Fanny Jane LANE

Forest of Dean
Register Office


Samuel Richard RICKARDS is on the 1911 Census, at Bream aged 49, and a Widower born Bream Eaves

there is with his family

Reginald Arthur RICKARDS - Grandson - 1 year 6 months born Breams Eaves

His marriage is on the transcripts - 24 April 1943 aged 33 to Dorothy Emily BOYS

Finding the right Mine, early - mid C20th.

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Thursday, August 15, 2019, 00:56 (198 days ago) @ MPGriffiths

Hi M, sorry didnt see your posts earlier, please be reminded of this prior thread from last year where some of your findings were discussed, atb J.

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