~ Old News ~
These reports were taken from newpapers of the time....
26th November 1901
A serious accident occurred at the village of Gornal Wood. Staffordshire, through the reckless carrying of a loaded gun. A man named David Beardsmore had been out shooting, and in returning home he carried his loaded gun on his shoulder at full cock. The trigger was accidentally caught, and the gun exploded, the charge striking three persons named Southall, Hodgetts, and Pritchard.
They all sustained terrible injuries, necessitating their removal to the hospital.
Evening Express
19th April, 1902
On Monday afternoon at Sedgley Police Court Harry Jackson (29), Windcliffe Road, Wall Heath, wood carver, was charged with unlawfully wounding William Cartwright, landlord of the Lion Inn, Upper Gornal, and Charles Wright, Fold Street. Wolverhampton, cabman, briefly described the sensational incident which took place at Sedgley on the 3th inst.
At about 12 p.m., whilst he standing near Mr Cartwright's public house, a man rushed up to him and said, "there is a man running after me with a knife". Mr and Mrs Cartwright then came out of the house. At that moment someone down the street shouted Murder, and the prisoner appeared on the scene. Jackson at once took off his jacket, which he threw on the tramline, and said, I know you have come for me. You are too many for me. You had better take me." Cartwright said, What breaking people's windows for "?" Prisoner looked round and said, "You had better shoot me I know you are too many for me." Immediately after making this remark prisoner jabbed Mr Cartwright several times with something which looked like a shoemaker's knife, and struck a horse with it. Mrs. Cartwright then went towards her husband, who was lying on the ground.
Witness tried to get on his cab, but Prisoner was too quick for him. Witness then ran towards the tramway depot, followed by prisoner, and as he ran he heard the smashing of glass. The entrance to the depot witness fell from elevation near some electric wire drums, and before he could get up prisoner stabbed him three or four times with some sharp instrument. Witness shouted, and prisoner stabbed two of the tramway men who went to his assistance. Other tramwaymen appeared on the scene and seized prisoner.
Prisoner, who has been in a 1unatic asylum, was remanded in custody for seven days
The Cardiff Times
27-28 February 1903
A fierce storm caused a great deal of destruction around the British Isles, and widely reported that it totally destroyed a theatre at Lower Gornal [?].
17th March 1903
Woman Falls Down a Disused Pit.
A married woman named Abigail Meredith, residing in Summit Place, Gornal Wood, Sedgley, had a sensational experience on Sunday. She went into the yard at the rear of her cottage, and, whilst standing near the kitchen window, the earth gave way, and she disappeared. It was then discovered that the covering of a supposed disused pit, the presence of which was unknown to the woman, had collapsed.
After some delay, a bucket attached to a rope was lowered, and, to the great surprise of the men engaged in the rescue, the woman was able to get into it. What was more surprising was that, although the pit was 66ft. deep, the woman escaped without even a fractured limb. Her miraculous escape was due to the fact that she fell feet foremost, and the air inflating her clothing caused the letter to act as a parachute.
Evening Express
19th June 1903
A Remarkable Colliery Accident
Yesterday five men, named Noah Jones (Castle Street, Sedgeley). Joseph Cox, John Webb (Upper Gornal), Simeon Tye, and William Hickman (Lower Gornal), were more or less seriously injured at Lord Dudley's new sinking at Baggeridge Wood. Sedgeley. The men, having removed the central portion of a scaffolding, attached it to the "bowk" 7 for the purpose of removing it to the surface. When the bowk had ascended some distance it became detached from the rope, with the result that all the men were precipitated to the bottom of the shaft, a distance of about 30ft.
How the bowk became detached from the rope is a mystery, but the general supposition was that the scaffolding in some way became wedged against the sides of the shaft. It would appear that some slackening of the rope took place, when the scaffolding was wedged, to cause a detachment, but whether the bowk became unhooked through a reversal of the engine to relieve the pressure could not be ascertained. All the men sustained contused wounds, and some of them fractured limbs. Jones, who was the most seriously injured, was not expected to recover, his spine being fractured. All the injured men were removed to the Guest Hospital, where they were detained.
Evening Express
[Bowk - a mining term used for a large iron barrel used when sinking a shaft to carry miners and spoils to the surface]
17th October 1903
A serious "crowning-in," being attended with a fatal result, has taken place at Gornal Wood, Sedgley. The victim of the occurrence, which is peculiar to the mining districts of the Black Country, was Mrs. Emma Webb, 50, widow, licensee of the Forge Inn, Gornal Wood.
She and her daughter were returning from Pensnett along a road by the side of Lord Dudley's private railway. When they were within a short distance of their home, a portion of the road, without any warning, completely subsided, a gap 16ft. deep and about 18ft. in circumference, being created, engulfing Mrs. Webb.
Her daughter, who had a narrow escape from sharing the same fate, ventured to the edge of the chasm after recovering from the fright, and, looking down, shouted to her mother, whom she could discern at the bottom, receiving the reply, "All right, Edith."
Help was at once obtained, and eventually a man named Robert Chandlin, Chapel street, Pensnett, who was lowered by means of a rope, succeeded in bringing the body of Mrs. Webb to the surface. Dr. Norwood was sent for, but could then only pronounce life extinct, Mrs. Webb's neck having been dislocated by the fall. The subsidence was stated to be due to mining operations.
Weekly Mail
28th May 1904
Henry Westwood, of Ruiton. was fined 4 4s. or two months hard labour at Sedgelev for catching homing pigeons. Four pigeons taking part in a race were missed, and were found in prisoner's possession.
Rhyl Record and Advertiser
18th September, 1906
At Sedgley Police Court yesterday, William Henry Shaw, grocer, Gornal Wood, was charged with being drunk whilst in charge of a horse and trap at Gornal Wood. Mr.Foster, who defended, said the defendant, who was too ill to appear, was a very respectable man, and formerly a member of the District Council. The Stipendiary said he found that defendant had already been many times convicted of furious driving and also of being drunk in charge. He fined defendant 20s. and costs, or in default one month's imprisonment.
Birmingham Gazette, September 18, 1906.
12th January 1907
At Sedgley, on Monday, the South Staffordshire stipendiary remanded Henry Marsh, wholesale fruiterer, Dudley, who was alleged to have assaulted the police under exceptional circumstances.
The stipendiary, a fortnight ago, issued a warrant against Marsh for neglecting to answer a summons charging him with a minor offence, and it was alleged in the sworn information placed before the stipendiary that the prisoner and six other persons raided Lower Gornal Police station at midnight, and, on gaining admittance, prisoner seriously assaulted two police officers, causing considerable consternation.
The prisoner was anxious for an adjournment to enable counsel to defend him, and appeared greatly surprised when the stipendiary refused bail
Rhyl Record and Advertiser
1st April 1907
Owing to mining subsidences at Gornal Wood, near Himley, Staffordshire, nearly twenty houses belonging to cottagers have been wrecked during the last three weeks, and the authorities, as a precautionary measure, have bad to close nine houses.
Others will be closed this week. The subsidences are due to coal getting in shallow workings.
Evening Express
3rd October 1907
An inquest was held on Monday by the South Staffordshire coroner at Lower Gornal concerning the death of John Mason, fruit and vegetable dealer. Deceased, when walking in his sleep, fell down stairs and dislocated his neck. It was stated that he was the fifth member of his family who had met with a violent death within the last ten years.
Flintshire Observer Mining Journal and General Advertiser…
13th January 1909
In making a new road at Lower Gornal, Staffordshire, workmen struck a seam of coal. Nearly all. the women, in the village came out to shovel up the coal, but a fall of some 30cwt. of loose earth buried many of them, one woman being seriously injured.
Evening Express
4th September 1909
The earth sank in some gardens at Gornal Wood, near Wolverhampton, and swallowed fruit trees and vegetables. Men were digging potatoes in their gardens when the ground, hedges, and trees began to shake in a terrifying manner. The men rushed into their cottages and almost at the same moment the subsidence occurred. The cottages were shaken, and some of them were so damaged that they will have to be demolished. The subsidence is known in the black country as a "crowning." It was due to the fact that coal is being taken from the mines there within twenty yards of the surface.
Evening Express
19th June, 1911
The heavy thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon [17 June 1911] did a vast amount of damage in Lower Gornal and Gornal Wood districts, the sewers being unable to deal with the great volumes of water which rushed down the hills, with the result that several streets of Gornal Wood were flooded. In several houses in Brook Street the water was three feet deep in the living rooms. The damage done to some of the roads and also property by the great rush of water is very considerable. The hail also damaged the fruit trees. Under the direction of the Council surveyor a number of men were engaged on Saturday evening in repairing the roads and removing obstructions.
Birmingham Gazette and Express.
12 January 1917
At Dudley County Court yesterday - before Judge Ingham - Joseph Bradley, Graveyard Road, Lower Gornal, claimed 6 10s. and John Bradley same address 3 10s, from Harry Timmins, West Street, Redhall, Lower Gornal, the total representing the amount plaintiffs staked on a running match in which defendants acted as referee and stake-holder.-The case for the plaintiffs was that a hundred yards race, with stakes of ./ aside, between a son of John Bradley and a man named Hodgetts was arranged for November 18 at Rough Hills, near Wolverhampton.
Plaintiffs claimed that the match was a "dead heat", alleging that defendant first gave the decision in favour of Bradley but subsequently declared that Hodgetts was the winner. Defendant now denied that he gave a decision in favour of Bradley. Hodgetts he said was the winner and the money was paid over to him within ten minutes of the finish of the race without any objection being raised.
Judgement was given for defendant in both cases, with costs.
The Birmingham Daily Post.
Wednesday 20 July, 1921
Attempted Murder Charge
Against A Miner
At a special sessions at Sedgley last night, William Cartwright, aged forty-two, a miner, residing at 7 Stone Street, Upper Gornal, charged with attempted murder, was remanded in custody until Monday. The injured man is John Cox, aged 23, of 15 Brook Street, Gornal Wood, who was removed to the Wolverhampton General Hospital. Cartwright's daughter, it is stated, instituted proceedings against Cox for an affiliation order at Sedgley Police Court on Monday, but the summons, owing to a technicality was withdrawn by the solicitor who represented her.
The same night Cartwright met Cox at Lower Gornal, and it is alleged, drew a knife across the young man's throat inflicting a wound four inches long.
According to inquiries made yesterday, the man's life is not in immediate danger.
Police-constable Bailey said that when charged prisoner replied, "I have not cut his throat; I am innocent as a new-born babe."
Birmingham Gazette.
August 1930
In August 1930, residents of Lower Gornal were aware of a Gainsborough film about life in a mining community and scenes to be shot in the area.
Some residents received letters reputedly from "Elstree Talking Pictures Ltd.", and stated that the film company were looking for 100 extras -miners and their wives - to appear in the film, and extras would be selected at an open space the next night somewhere just outside of Gornal.
Disappointment followed for the hundreds who had gathered only to find this was a hoax. Gainsborough later denied having anything to do with the letter and dismissed it as a cruel and misguided joke.
Some mining scenes for the subsequent film "The Stronger Sex" were filmed at Baggeridge, with the Earl's co-operation.
The film starring Colin Clive, Adrianne Allen and Gordon Harker was released in 1931, the drama centres on a man who rescues his wife's lover during a disaster at a coal mine.
24th January, 1939
Penalty for Brewing Without a Licence.
The mining village of Gornal, Staffordshire, famous for the barrel of genuine home-brewed beer which is to be found in virtually every house, must either pay up or lose its centuries-old reputation, for the Excise authorities have learned that many of the villagers are flouting the licensing laws by brewing without a licence.
Last October, after one prosecution for illegal brewing, 79 of the villagers took out brewing licences for the first time. To-day, one of those who neglected the warning, Mrs V. M. Taylor, of valley Road, wife of an unemployed miner, was at Sedgley Police Court ordered to pay 10 5s. for an illicit five-gallon brew.
"I am not the only one. If you go to the village you will find a lot more," she complained.
Mr. D. J. Willson, who prosecuted, agreed that the authorities were aware that a very large amount of illegal brewing was going on in Gornal, and said it was only on rare occasions that evidence could be obtained.
"The seventy-nine new licences within a few days of the last prosecution may have been a coincidence, but we ask for a penalty which will persuade others in Gornal who are brewing without a licence that it is a game which is not worthwhile," he said.
The Guardian