Biographies of the medallists and management.


William Stratford Dugdale of Merevale Hall was born on May 7 1828 and was the eldest son of William Stratford Dugdale, formerly MP for North Warwickshire and a descendant of Sir William Dugdale, author of the Antiquities of Warwickshire. His mother was Harriet Ella, daughter of Edward Berkeley Portman and sister of Lord Portman.

In 1871 he married Alice Frances daughter of Sir Charles Trevelyan. They had two sons, William Stratford born in 1872 and Edgar Trevelyan Stratford born in 1876.

He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford where he gained a BA in 1850 and MA in 1852. He was called to the bar in 1858. Following the death of his father in 1871 he inherited the estate. He then owned land in Merevale, Atherstone, Baxterley, Bentley and Baddesley Ensor. He was chairman of the Atherstone Board of Guardians for many years and of the Bench of Magistrates for the Atherstone Division. As president of the Atherstone Floral and Horticultural Society its annual show was for many years held in the grounds of Merevale Hall. The present Sir William Dugdale who lives at Blyth Hall, Shustoke is his grandson. His great grandson, Matthew Dugdale currently lives at Merevale Hall with his family.

JOHN POGMORE – Mr Dugdale’s agent

He was the financial agent for Baddesley collieries for 34 years. His father before him had also worked for the Dugdale estate. His wife was Frances and they had two children Frank, who also was killed in the explosion and a daughter Harriet Ashton who later married Walter Cobb, who was headmaster at Atherstone Grammar School. He later founded his own school, run by his two daughters, at Hill House, opposite to the Grammar School.

JOHN PARKER -Manager Baddesley Colliery

John Parker was born in 1823 in Codnor, Derbyshire. In 1852 he married Ann Holmes. They had six children. They moved to Baxterley around 1863 when John took over as manager of Baddesley colliery.  Then Ann died on June 28th 1867 aged only 38. John married again on December 15th 1867and his second wife was Sarah Ross and she was the sister of John Ross who was one of the miners who died in the explosion. She had a daughter Sarah in 1872. Parker survived for three weeks after the explosion and died on 27th May 1882. He was buried with his first wife Ann in Baxterley churchyard. Sarah died only a few years later on 22nd November 1885.

JOSEPH CLAY -Underviewer at Baddesley Colliery

He was born in 1829 in Chilvers Coton, Nuneaton, and the son of ribbon weavers. By the time he was growing up the ribbon weaving industry was declining and so he became a coal miner. In 1853 he married Hannah Cox and had two children. Hannah died in 1857 and in 1860 he married again. His second wife was Elizabeth Hancock from Attleborough. Soon after their marriage they moved to Baddesley and Joseph went to work at Baddesley Colliery. He and Elizabeth had nine children, two of whom died in childhood. After his death Elizabeth remarried. Her second husband was Absolom Hough, whose son William was one of the rescuers who survived. After Absolom’s death in 1891, she married for a third time, her new husband was William Cooke. She was widowed again in 1894. She maintained herself by running a shop in Baddesley village. She died in 1923.

REUBEN SMALLMAN -Mining Engineer-Albert Medallist 1st Class

He was a well known mining engineer in the local area. He was born in 1836 and in 1861 he married Rhoda Elizabeth Harris who was the daughter of another mining engineer. They had two sons and three daughters. In 1871 he became a founder director of the Stockingford Colliery Company. In his time he was also a General Manager of Oakthorpe, Church Gresley and Reservoir collieries. He was appointed consulting engineer at Baddesley colliery when it reopened after the explosion and later at Bedworth Charity Colliery. For many years he lived at Camp Hill Grange, which was where the present public house “The Camp” now stands on Camp Hill Road, Nuneaton. He also took an interest in local affairs. In 1889 he became one of the first Aldermen of Warwickshire County Council and was manager for some years at both Hartshill and Stockingford schools. He also helped to organise the celebrations at Hartshill for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. He died in 1900 after a long and illustrious career in coal mining. His eldest son, James, founded a company specialising in mining haulage clips “the Smallman clip”. No doubt Reuben was able to give help and advice to his son in this business.

ARTHUR HENRY STOKES -Chief Inspector of Mines-Albert Medallist 1st Class

Arthur Henry Stokes was born on 3rd March 1844 at Wednesbury, Staffordshire. After leaving school he became an apprentice mining engineer. His apprenticeship lasted for five years after which he had various appointments including spells in Sweden and in the Faroe Islands reporting on coalfields there. In 1874 he was appointed Assistant Inspector of Mines for the Midlands district. Following the death of his chief in 1887 he was promoted to be in charge of the Midlands district. He retired from this post in 1909 at the age of 65 but continued to work as a consulting engineer. He died suddenly in 1910.

He was married and had five children. His main interest outside of work was as a musician. He played the organ at Sunday services at the Wesleyan Chapel, Derby for more than 13 years.

In 1879 he was called to an accident at the Black Engine Mine, Eyam, where a lead miner was entombed. Mr Stokes stayed with the man and fed him through a small hole for some hours before he was rescued. The man was finally rescued alive after being trapped in the mine for 4 days and 4 nights. For this Mr Stokes was awarded the silver medal of St John of Jerusalem. When he was awarded the Albert medal in 1883 it was said that no other living person held the same two awards for bravery.

As Chief Inspector of Mines for the Midlands district he was called to another fire and explosion, this time at Whitwick Colliery in 1898. This was the worst disaster in the history of the Leicestershire coalfield when 35 men lost their lives. This disaster was also caused by a fire trapping men underground. Mr Stokes wrote that he had remembered the Baddesley disaster when considering the best course of action at Whitwick. He remembered how 23 would be rescuers had lost their lives in trying to reach 9 trapped men who were probably already dead and so he prevented workmen at Whitwick from attempting a rescue when he realised the position was hopeless.

CHARLES DAY -Deputy at Baddesley Pit- Albert Medallist 1st Class

He was born in 1829, the illegitimate son of Sarah Day. In 1832 Sarah married Robert Dingley and Charles was brought up by his mother and stepfather along with his six half brothers and sisters. In 1850 he married Eliza Sanders and they had 10 children two of whom died in childhood. His three eldest sons, Joseph, William and Thomas all died in the explosion. Charles worked as a coal miner all his life and returned to the pit to help out as soon as it could be reopened. He died in 1899.

CHARLES CHETWYND -Miner at Hall End Colliery –Albert Medal 1st Class

Charles Chetwynd was born in Baddesley Ensor in 1855 and was the son of Charles and Louisa, formerly Evans. On 21st April 1873 he married Lydia Sandall. They had nine children although only five survived to adulthood. At the time of the explosion he had been working at Hall End colliery but later returned to work at Baddesley colliery. On the 8th December 1913 there was a roof fall and Charles was accidentally killed.

SAMUEL SPRUCE -Mining Engineer-Albert Medallist 2nd Class

Samuel Spruce was a well known and well respected mining engineer. Born in 1823 he started his working life as an ordinary collier but he was ambitious and rose by stages to become a colliery manager and then a consulting mining engineer and later became a Fellow of the Geological Society. He lived in Tamworth having moved there c1859. He also took part in public life being a Town Councillor, and was also on the Board of Guardians and the Rural Sanity Authority and it was in the latter capacity that he helped to ensure a clean water supply for Tamworth

He was married three times and out lived his third wife by 36 years. He had eight daughters and one son. He died on 6th February 1900 having suffered for some time from asthma and chronic bronchitis. He was buried in Tamworth churchyard.

THOMAS MOTTRAM -Mining Engineer-Albert Medallist 2nd Class

Thomas Mottram started his career in mining engineering as an articled pupil of Samuel Spruce and later became his assistant. It was as Mr Spruce’s assistant that he arrived at Baddesley Pit and helped to rescue Mr Dugdale after the explosion. After that he went on to have a long and illustrious career in coal mining. For some years he was manager of coalmines in the North Staffs and Bristol areas. In 1889 he was appointed Assistant Inspector of Mines and held this post in various districts. In 1920 he was promoted to Chief Inspector of Mines, a post he held until 1924.

 After that he served on several committees and was Commissioner for holding special enquiries into cause and circumstances of mine disasters. He received the C.B.E. for special war services in 1918 and was knighted in 1924. He died in 1937 aged 77.

FREDERICK SAMUEL MARSH -Manager of Hall End Colliery - Albert Medallist 2nd Class

Frederick Marsh was a young man of only 24 years of age at the time of the explosion but was already manager at Hall End Colliery at Dordon, only a couple of miles away from Baddesley pit. He was married twice. His first wife Annie Louisa died in 1881 when she was only 21 years old. Frederick married again in 1885 to a local girl called Emily Jones and she gave birth to a son Frederick John in 1887. Frederick died on the 25th July 1892 after a short illness aged only 35. He was buried in Dordon churchyard. He had been manager of Hall End Colliery for 12 years, and was well respected in the area.  The owners of the colliery, F and CH Morris many miners joined members of his family at the funeral.

WILLIAM PICKERING -Miner at Baddesley Pit – Albert Medal 2nd Class

William Pickering was born in Baddesley Ensor in 1852, the son of John and Ann Pickering. On 19th April 1877 he married Rosa Chetwynd in Baddesley church and they went on to have six children. She was the daughter of Peter and Sarah Chetwynd. Peter was for many years Parish clerk as well as being a coal miner. When Baddesley pit was re-opened after the explosion William returned to work there and by the 1891 census had become a deputy and by 1901 had become a colliery under manager at The Tame Valley Colliery at Wilnecote. He held this position for 28 years until his death.

He also took an active part in the local community. He was a member of the Parish Council and Burial Board. He was also a School Manager and one of the Overseers of the poor. Also a member of the local Congregational church he was a preacher and Sunday school teacher.

He died on 17th January 1921 at his home in Hockley Road Wilnecote following a seizure at work on the previous Friday. He was buried at Wilnecote on Thursday 20th January

JOSEPH CHETWYND-Miner at Baddesley Pit-Albert Medallist 2nd Class

Joseph Chetwynd was born in Winecote in 1831 but his parents moved back to Baddesley when he was still a child. He was a distant cousin of Charles Chetwynd, above. The Chetwynds are one of the oldest and largest families in baddesley Ensor. The earliest entry in the Baddesley Parish registers is 1764 and they all married and had large families.. In 1857 he married Patience Chetwynd and she was also a distant cousin. They had eight children. Patience died in 1875 at the early age of 39 leaving Joseph to bring up the younger children. He was a coal miner all his life and returned to work at Baddesley pit after it re-opened. However as he got older he found he was no longer able to work down the pit and became dependent on his children. He went to live with one of his daughters and they didn’t get on very well. Joseph became depressed as we would call it today and sadly in 1904 he took his own life.

WILLIAM MORRIS-Miner at Baddesley Pit- Albert Medallist 2nd Class

William Morris was born in Baxterley in 1853. He was the youngest son of Jesse and Harriet. His father was a blacksmith. At the time of the explosion he was living with his widowed mother in Baxterley, his father having died in 1880. After the explosion William moved to Swepstone Leicestershire and on the 1891 census he was living as a boarder in the home of his future mother-in-law Mary Handford as in 1892 he married her daughter Lottie and they had a daughter Jessie in 1895. By the 1901 census the family were living in Carlton, Leicestershire and his occupation had changed to innkeeper at the Malt Shovel Inn. By 1911 the family had moved to Blackfordby, Leicester and he was once again working as a coal miner. He died on the 14th February 1922 aged 68.


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