This blog is designed to record the findings of our family history, mainly for the benefit of the family, and to document the dead ends, the breakthroughs and the journey.
I’ll post the family stories as I’ve written them to now, and I’ll be grateful to anyone who can add further information or pictures, or point out errors.
Particular thanks to my sister Julia and my cousin Mandy who between them have done much more of the work than I have.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Black Country Trades

Every town in the Black Country had a specialist trade, and there were many that spanned the Black Country and Birmingham. Dad was a coachbuilder, who started work at the Birmingham Carriage Works right on the border of West Bromwich and Birmingham. His father Walter Hamilton also worked at the carriage works as an engineer. All of Dad’s six brothers had a different trade, but I don’t think any of the others worked at the carriage works.

The South Staffordshire Coalfield spreads right across the area, and Sandwell Colliery was at the bottom of Roebuck Street. The pit was long closed by the time we lived there but the 1911 census shows that most of the men living at the bottom end of the pit were miners. Great Grandfather Joseph Hamilton (Hamlet) was a mining engineers who worked at Sandwell Colliery, and his father Samuel Hamlet was also a mining engineer who died in a pit accident in Tipton in 1862.

But West Bromwich’s most famous trade was spring making. Our Timmins ancestors worked as whitesmiths at Salters Springs. The Salters website gives a brief history of spring making in the area.

The Mills family were also whitesmiths over in Sedgley but don’t seem to have been involved in Spring making. In one census William Mills is described as a Fire Iron Maker employing 3 men and three boys.

As we move across to the west of the Black Country we find chainmaking – James Morris, nailmaking – the Billinghams and the Perrys, ironfounding – the Billinghams again.

Kidderminster was famous for carpet making, but our only contact withthat is Mom, who worked briefly in a carpet factory at the beginning of the war. One Stourbridge industry , where, sadly, I can find no family connection, is glass making.

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