Benjamin Haynes - study of a local miner

(by Mick Pearson with material supplied by Linda + Peter Lamberg)

Benjamin was a remarkable man in the eyes of his family, and his life is typical of many Black Country folk from the 19th century. Hopefully his story will give something of an insight into the people of the region during the Industrial Revolution.

Picture shows Benjamin outside his home in St. Andrews Street Netherton. It was taken in about 1920.

Benjamin was born in Brierley Hill in 1857, into a Mining family. He began his working life at Brettle's Pit, Old Hill, at the age of 7 years. In those days earning money was more important than any education, the theory was that any lad who went down the pit didn't need to read or write, or do accounts.

His first duties consisted of "door-minder", and as the years rolled on he passed through various stages such as "Horse-Driver", "Loader", "Hewer", "Stallman" etc. until eventually he obtained his Fireman's Certificate.

Benjamin was always anxious to improve his position, and at this stage of his "career" he was fired with ambition to obtain his "Second Class Certificate of Competency". To someone who was self-educated this was no small task, but for years he studied hard and plodded on with this object in mind. His first attempt was at Birmingham University, but this was unsuccessful. Undaunted, and despite the fact he could ill-afford the necessary fees and incidental expenses, he sat again in June 1912 at the Cardiff Centre and was successful.

Qualifying as a Second Class Under Ground Manager was only the start, it was some time before he could obtain such a post. Eventually, he was employed under Mr Newey at two of Noah Hingley and Sons collieries, where he stayed for a few years.

Still anxious to widen his field of experience, he joined the Colliery Staff of the Earl of Dudley under Mr. S Dimmock, and was responsible for several pits in the Himley district. In time he was invited by his old employers, Mobberley and Perry, to undertake the responsibility of working the Oldnall Colliery, where he spent a strenuous and successful 11 years, making his service with this firm about 22 years.

Benjamin and Pamela Haynes (nee Hackett)

In addition to his mining activities he was a Weslyan Local Preacher for about 46 years, and occupied the position of Society Steward for 22 of those years. He was also very musical and played the harmonium. He married Pamela Amelia Hackett in 1881; they had five sons and one daughter.

He taught his sons by example, and made sure they all had a good education, so they would be well equipped for life, remembering his own career and having to do things the hard way.

Family Group showing Benjamin with some of his children (circa N/K)

Benjamin and his family lived in Old Hill and then Netherton, where Benjamin passed peacefully away aged 73 years. He received countless tributes at his funeral and is buried in St. Giles, Rowley Regis. He leaves a legacy of industrious and hard work, something that has helped to make the Black Country what it is today.

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