What a fantastic webinar with the Society for One-Place studies last night. 4 eloquent speakers and respected researchers presented different aspects with thought provoking case studies. All to an audience of only 30, it merited far more. Here are my very brief notes which do not do it justice, with apologies for any errors.
Dr Sadie McMullon started with the brick works in Fletton Parish OPS near Peterborough. Much it seems is owed to the then Bishop of Peterborough who refused to have railways on his land. East station therefore had to be sited on the outskirts at Fletton, which meant the brick industry there could thrive. Another factor was the local clay. This clay powders when dry so the Fletton brick-making process involves compressing that powder 4 times. Saving valuable time drying bricks prior to firing. Having seen piles of mud bricks drying by the Nile or in Malawi I was aware the impact this industry could have on the environment, but in Fletton it was perhaps more industrial buildings and firing the bricks that impacted the locality. With a booming industry and plenty of employment there were likely few complaints!
M.Diane Rogers talked about the establishment of Newdale, Manitoba, Canada, her One-Place study. On the flat prairies with no trees or stone they too needed a brick industry. The main drivers for settlement were Government initiatives for settlers, and the Railways. Small railway companies were given incentives (money and land) to take the railway to small places, essentially colonisation railway lines. In fact Newdale moved in 1885, leaving “Olddale” and establishing a new Newdale close by. As well as incentives to move there were reasons why 40,000 or so folk moved from Ontario to Manitoba. Ontario had little land left to buy or for families to inherit. Often successful settlers moved with families , and good contacts were essential. A local who would share with you how to survive the harsh winters, which were many in the first decades. Of course services such as retail shops, pharmacies etc were needed and Newdale supplied almost 200 small settlements close by, again ensuring success. For individuals such as a blacksmith harsh weather necessitating more frequent changes of horseshoes was beneficial. So some elements of success, drivers of industry, were down to luck too.
Jude Rhodes talked about a West Yorkshire coal miner Joseph Hemingway who somehow, though time spent in America perhaps in a ‘Land Grant College’ was able to return home as a Flock Manufacturer and Mill Owner. This mill was renowned for belching horrendous smoke, and sadly he became bankrupt 1881 when a fire left it uneconomic. However, by 1890 he had bounced back and was a Professor and Mine Superintendent of a coal mine, and highly regarded as a mining engineer. His personal drive seems to have been insurmountable!
Jane Barton talked about agricultural workers in the Boltons of Cumberland. I always talk about farm work as being by far the most common work in 1851 in Sticklepath when you include farmers, their families and the farm servants and agricultural labourers. Jane pointed out, quite rightly, that by 1911 getting farm work was very difficult. With increasing mechanisation it was not the farmers or their families that missed out initially, but the employees. The Great War compounded this and on returning from military service many soldiers found it impossible to regain work as Ag. Labs. It was therefore important to diversify, and what people did depended on the generation, timing, and opportunities that presented themselves. This was well illustrated by a family case study.
So lots of challenges and thoughts arise:
Don’t assume all clay or all bricks are the same. My own family had connections with the Cornish China Clay industry so this should not have been a surprise! (For more examples See UKnamedBricks). Whatever the industry, ask lots and lots of questions to understand why this was a success or failure at this time and place.
Always consider the surroundings, the landscape (opportunities and impact of the industry) Transport links too, bringing workers, as well as transporting supplies and manufactured goods. Does a change in transport mirror the success or failure of an industry? Perhaps it is mechanisation or other new development? Mechanisation saw the downfall of handmade edge tools as in Sticklepath.
Sources include business records, advertisements, sales and bankruptcies, directories, retirements and celebrations as well as accidents, health problems arising, and court cases (often disputes over land or lack of employee well-being).
The Influence of landowners – I will come back to this – or the prospect of owning land.
Don’t assume low class villagers won’t make something of themselves! Many failed when settling in a foreign land but others thrived. Similarly those changing their life situation in whatever way, or when disaster struck. Some are in a position to flourish.
So what of Sticklepath, my own One-Place study? In the middle of Devon, a largely agricultural area on the geological ‘Sticklepath Fault’, most villagers found employment either on farms or in the mines and quarries. (Of course there were also more than our fair share of millers and blacksmiths as discussed previously). Sticklepath is surrounded by mines and quarries which have come and gone over time. Mines at both Greenhill (Belstone Parish) and Ramsley (South Zeal, South Tawton Parish) employed Sticklepath men and produced high grade copper ore from at least the mid 19th century into the early 20th century.
Much of the following information comes from <a href="http://<!– wp:paragraph –> <p><a href="http://southtawtonhistory.org.uk/drupal/?q=node/17">http://southtawtonhistory.org.uk/drupal/?q=node/17</a></p> South Tawton and District Local History Group, work by Gerald Bastable “Ramsey Mine”
Industry could influence development of transport links:
“A railway is projected from this station to Okehampton, which, if carried out will be of vast benefit to the locality. A few good mines opening will undoubtedly be a great stimulus towards its being made, as the carriage of their ores and materials must necessarily form a considerable item in their returns.” (Source unclear, c1860)
Census records our for local villages, 1851—81, show various miners. Sadly they don’t tell us where they worked. Others may have been working away on census night, Sticklepath workers are known to have walked across Dartmoor to Princeton, on a Sunday, perhaps to quarry granite or mine tin at Whiteworks, returning home the following Saturday.
This seriously under-estimates the impact of the mines and quarries on employment. Many other tradesmen worked at the mine, masons, smiths and carpenters. I am not sure how the copper mines were constructed but certainly the Forestry Commission, which had a big impact on the environment with quicker growing conifers, produced pit props for constructing coal mines. (The coroner’s case below also refers to timber supports at Ramsley.)
Mines and quarries of course leave scars in the landscape, spoil heaps and the noise of machinery mining, crushing and processing stone or ores. Many remain unsuitable for housing and are developed as wildlife areas.
Ramsley Hill Copper Mine changed hands and therefore name frequently. In 1825 there is possible evidence of mining activities, and it is said rich ores were found when constructing the new road 1829.
1850 Fursdon Mine. Adit opened 1850.
1851 Exploratory adit. Local syndicate
1851-1856 Fursdon Mine, listed as Manor Mine 1854 (Lead)
1852-1853 Lease sold to London Co. in another part of sett.
1856-1857 Devon Copper and Silver Lead Mine.
1857-1859 Ramsley Hill Mining Company Ltd. Formed to take over Manor Mine, liquidated 1858.
1859 Fursdon Mining Company Ltd.
1860 George Fursdon – Lord of the Manor. Celebration of new 50’x4′ wheel for shaft “Ellen”
1862 – 45 employed.
1870-1883. Fursdon Great Consolidated Mining Company Ltd. M. E. Jobling Manager 1876 title changed to Wheal Emily.
1881 Sett taken over by Emily Copper Mines aka Wheal Emily.
M.E. Jobling and friends spent considerable money on the mine.
1882-1888 Emily Copper Mines Ltd. Jobling was manager and vendor.
1888 became South Tawton Copper Mines Ltd. (Emily Copper Mines Ltd. adjoined Ramsley Hill Mines.)
1900-1912. Ramsley Exploration Company.
You may think it strange I only mention Mr Jobling by name, but I have met him before and he perhaps demonstrates how individual factors can influence the industry chosen.
Mark Ernest Jobling was born on 21 July 1844 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland. He married Emily Cross on 7 April 1868. They had four children during their marriage. He lived at Cleave House Sticklepath June 1901, as he gives this address when signing a lease for a Manganese Mine in Milton Abbot (Held in Plymouth Archive). He died on 12 September 1921 at the age of 77, his residence at the time was Ramsley House, South Tawton.
Digging a little deeper into his background, his brother James A Jobling took over a failing glassworks in Sunderland. When his nephew, Ernest Purser, became the manager in 1902 the company started to make major investments, moving towards a profit. They soon become very well known as manufacturers of Pyrex in Great Britain and the Empire (excluding Canada). The workforce increased from about 100 in 1900 to over 1000 in 1930. Glass manufacture requires minerals such as manganese. So I surmise there was a family link that meant Mark Jobling was encouraged to pursue a mining career.
There were other mining activities in the area of Sticklepath:
1844 Ford Farm Arsenic and Copper Works. Shaft in wood 150 yds SW of farm. 1900 and 1910 local company ran out of money.
1869 Cawsand Vale Mining Company Ltd.
1853 South Tawton Consols.
1856 Zeal Manor Mine.
1859 Zeal Manor Mining Company Ltd.
1862-1873 West Fursdon aka Owlsfoot.1873
Greenhill too. The Quarry seen on The Mount in Sticklepath produced Blue Elvin stone, highly regarded for road building. However, ours was too tough, too hard to crush to a suitable size so was soon abandoned.
There were many accidents (See this report from a coroner’s case in Sticklepath, quite graphic) and various mining and quarrying industries had an impact on health.
St John’s ambulance started their famous First Aid Courses with mining companies. As Sticklepath had several mines and quarries which would have taken part, so Albany Finch would likely have joined their workers, doing a first aid course to keep his Finch Foundry workers safe. They did, of course, supply specialist tools and other supplies to various mining and quarrying concerns. This is his certificate 1896:
Sticklepath’s mining and quarrying industries deserve far more research – when time allows! But I finish with this quote hinting at the thrill of prospecting (gambling!) and some of the barriers presented by, often powerful, landlords.
“A strong prejudice against mining operations is entertained by certain landlords who have properties here, induced in some degree by the gross mis-management hitherto practised. This will, however, be soon dispelled if a good mine or two be opened; nothing has a greater tendency to do so. The desire for increase of riches from beneath the soil is very infectious; it not only enriches the proprietor, but confers a benefit on the entire population. it is money found.” (Source not clear, perhaps c1860, <a href="http://<!– wp:paragraph –> <p><a href="http://southtawtonhistory.org.uk/drupal/?q=node/17">http://southtawtonhistory.org.uk/drupal/?q=node/17</a></p> South Tawton and District Local History Group, work by Gerald Bastable “Ramsey Mine”)