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Shipley Colliery Horse Drawn Ambulance

- The Story Continued -

Reading Barry’s article on the lamps from the Shipley colliery “Black Maria”, brought back many memories of past conversations I have had with many of our departed but not forgotten miners. These often related to mining accidents and the treatment and procedures used in the industry in the early days.

The Lamps from the Shipley Colliery “Black Maria”
(See Page 1)

Fortunately the lamps shown in the photographs reveal the names of both the carriage and lamp maker.

Wilson and Stockhall

This was a company of Ambulance builders founded in 1877 by Thomas Wilson of 231, Rochdale Road, Bury and his business partner Frederick John Stockhall of 17, Foundry Lane, Bury, Lancaster. They started the company building horse drawn carriages and coaches. Then with the increase throughout the Country in building hospitals, they took up the opportunity to manufacturing Ambulances. Having all the skills and technology in building high quality coaches, a change in design from carriage to ambulance was a minor one. Soon they became the largest supplier of horse drawn ambulances in the Country. Their excellent quality brought them many awards and the vehicles were purchased by hospitals and colliery owners throughout the U.K. The Rochdale partnership was finally dissolved on the 25th July 1914. Technology was moving fast with the horse drawn vehicle being replaced by motor driven transport.

Howes and Burley

This was the company that manufactured superior quality lamps for carriages founded in 1857 by Walter Howes of 132, Saint Paul’s Road, Birmingham and William Burley of 38, Sandford Road, Moseley Road, Birmingham, County of Warwick. By 1859 Burley was the Manager of the lamp works at 264, Bishop Street, Birmingham. On February 3rd 1860 the partners patented a new “Improved method of attaching lamps and whip sockets to Carriages”. This was improved several times and further patents were taken out in 1867 and 1869.

The First Ilkeston Hospital

A meeting was held on Monday March 3rd 1884 in the Town Hall, Ilkeston with Mr. W. Sudbury presiding. This was to support the opening of a much needed Hospital in Ilkeston. This project was to be known as the “Cottage Garden Hospital Scheme” which would provide an 8 Bed Unit staffed by a qualified trained nurse with an Assistant. Medical men of the Town would share the responsibility of organising the workload at the new building. Fund raising events would be organised to maintain the running costs of this new facility.

Progress was rapid and the Derby Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday August 27th 1884 that the Committee reported that they have engaged and fitted up a building on Station Road, Ilkeston, which is ready for the reception of patients. An experienced nurse has also been engaged. Subscription in aid has been liberally given causing little delay in carrying out the project. Dr. H. P. Potter and Dr. Willougby were working at the hospital with Dr. R. Wood acting as consulting surgeon.

The first casualty from a mining accident was reported of a boy working at the Manners Colliery, Ilkeston. A full report printed in the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal November 14th 1884 recorded that a youth aged 15 named Isaac Clifford met with severe burns working at Manners Colliery working with a naked lamp. This caused a gas explosion; the boy was admitted to Ilkeston Cottage Hospital. Unfortunately his death was later reported in the Derby Daily Telegraph Monday December 1st 1884. Stating that Isaac Clifford, son of John Clifford miner of Club Row, Ilkeston expired at the Ilkeston Cottage Hospital from burns received at the Manners Colliery on November 6th 1884. The later Inquest reported a case of Accidental Death.

Transporting the Injured to Hospital

If an accident occurred resulting in the casualty needing hospital treatment the only means of transport was by cart or wagon. This must have meant an agonising journey for the victim, travelling on un-kept, uneven roads. These being little more than rough tracks full of potholes, made worse by riding in a rigid cart without suspension. It is little wonder that many of the casualties never reached the hospital alive. To emphasise this, it is worth recalling the Simon Field shaft sinking accident, which was still being remembered in the 1960’s by many of the old miners. Although I have notes on their version of events of this accident, it has been pleasing to find the actual newspaper article relating to the incident.

Contractor Accident

Derby Mercury - Wednesday February 18th 1891

Contractors Joseph Sanders and Frederick Smith were working for the Glendon Coal and Iron Company, sinking a new Air shaft at the Mapperley Colliery. The shaft is 10 feet diameter and the men were working at a depth of 310 yards. On Friday a shot had been placed in the shaft where Sanders was working, which had not gone off. He then proceeded after waiting a considerable time to drill the hole out again, when the shot suddenly ignited, inflicting upon him serious injuries. One of his eyes was clean blown out, and the other severely injured. The poor fellow was brought to the surface, and Mr. Walker of Simon Field farm attended, having provided a CART. Sanders was removed to the Ilkeston Cottage Hospital, where he now lies in a precarious condition.

It was later reported that the poor man did not recover from his appalling injuries.

By this time the small hospital was finding it difficult to cope with the number of injuries arriving from the surrounding coal mines. Even though the single cottage unit had been extended to a second adjacent cottage and the bed capacity had increased from 8 to 10 beds. This demand was due mainly to the coal owners opening up and expanding the coalfields. Death and serious injury were almost becoming the weekly norm, with very little thought for the miner or his family. With the local hospital not being able to cope, many of the injured were being transferred to the Nottingham or Derby hospitals. The solution was to build a new complete larger hospital in Ilkeston. Resulting in a suitable site being sought and fund raising commenced immediately for this new venture.

Mr. E. M. Mundy decided he must support this worthy cause and would start the fund raising by having a three day “GRAND BAZAAR” in the grounds of Shipley Hall. The event advertised for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday JULY 20, 21, 22 1891. For the raising and erecting of a NEW COTTAGE HOSPITAL for ILKESTON.

A meeting was called for at ILKESTON Town Hall on Tuesday evening 13th  December 1892 to discuss the progress of the scheme and the location that the new hospital would be built. It was reported that two sites had been offered. That the site offered by Mr E. M. Mundy J.P. of Shipley Hall had been accepted after much consideration. The other proposed offer from The Duke of Rutland being rejected due to clauses that would have to be met if accepted. The proposed site chosen was Heanor Road, Ilkeston. It was hoped the work would commence in the New Year. By the summer of 1893 the foundation stone had been laid by Mr. Mundy. Within days the stone had been pushed over, it is thought that the offender was looking for any coins that might have been placed under it. This had not been the case, and no damage had been done to the stone. The hospital was opened on Wednesday March 7th 1894 by Lord Belper. Among the dignitaries were the Reverend Canon Nigel Maden (Rector of West Hallam) and Reverend John Magens Mellow (Vicar of Mapperley), both leading churchmen from local mining communities. Francis Nicholas Smith of Wingfield Manor, owner of the West Hallam collieries also attended, and offered to provide an ambulance for conveying accident victims from the colliery to this hospital.

Although I have been unable to find when the Shipley Colliery Ambulance was purchased it is important to mention that all colliery ambulances were used in two ways.

  1. It served as an Ambulance to take the critical injured miner from the colliery to the hospital.
  2. Serving as a Hearse taking the dead miners body from the colliery to his home.

This latter procedure was done without warning to his poor wife and family. Today this practice would not be accepted showing little sympathy, and that the value of the miner by the colliery owner did not exist. So I am ending my article with an actual case study of this awful practice using the Shipley Ambulance. Among the mining community the Colliery Ambulance was given several names. “The Widows Coach”. “The Reapers Caller”. and “The Black Maria”. This last name is said to arise from a popular card game that was played during these times. This game had the main card, as the Queen of Spades, known as the Black Queen or the Queen of Death which was worth 13 points in the game. Again a very unlucky number. As you can imagine, having a group of miners discussing this topic made very interesting listening. All the men present knew of this card game, and were keen to demonstrate it. But fortunately for me, no one had a pack of cards with them, and I have decided not to delve too far into the rules this game.

The Case Study

Derby Mercury Wednesday May 20th 1896
Shocking fatality at the Shipley Colliery

On Tuesday afternoon a fatal accident occurred at the New Coppice Pit, Shipley, near Heanor, belonging to Mr. E. M. Mundy. It appears that Richard Statham, about 40 years of age, a miner of Gladstone Street, Heanor, he was doing some work in the gate-end as Stallman, when without any warning upwards of 3cwt of coal, known as “Bottoms”, fell upon him, two of his fellow workmen, Morley and Orme, rushed to his assistance and rendered every possible aid. When extricated from his position it was found that the unfortunate man had received fatal injuries, his skull having been fractured badly. He was quickly removed to the pit bank, but life was then extinct.  
The body was conveyed to the late residence of the deceased at Heanor in the Shipley Ambulance Waggon. He leaves a widow and six young children to mourn his loss.

On Thursday evening Mr. W. Harvey Whiston County Coroner, held an inquest at the King of Prussia Hotel, Heanor on the body of the deceased. – Mr. Wilson, Marpool, Manager of the Collieries represented the Company and Mr. A. R. Stokes, Inspector of Mines for the Midland Counties was also present. – After the evidence of several witnesses, Mr. Stokes remarked that it appears the officials did not know the rules. Number 70 Rule was read and explained, and Mr. Stokes pointed out that the Rules set forth that sprags should be set. The Coroner having reviewed the evidence the jury acquiesced in the verdict that the deceased, met with his death by an accidental fall of coal.


Richard Statham aged 39 lived at Ray Street, Heanor. His wife was Frances Ellen aged 37. She was left with 6 children Leonard (10), Lily Elizabeth (7), Harold (5), Gilbert (3), Percy (1), Reginald (2 months).

Frances Ellen remarried George Frederick Bell (Boot Maker and Repairer) on 26th September 1898 at St. John’s Church, Aldercar. They had one further child Evelyn Wilfred Bell born 1902.

Leonard Statham, their eldest son, followed his late father’s job as a Coal Miner Hewer. He married Ellen Ellis in 1905 and they lived at 5, Trueman Street, Cotmanhay. They had 3 children Leonard, Evelyn and Leslie.

At the outbreak of the First World War he decided to take his Coal Mining Skills to the front. He joined 172nd Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers Lance Corporal 112851. He was Killed in Action 14th August 1916. Buried Ecoivres Military Cemetery, Plot III. D. 18. Pas-de Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.

Bringing more heartache to a hard working family.

Roger Wood - 16 Feb 2016

Shipley Colliery Ambulance Station

Following the investment by Mr. E. M. Mundy of Shipley Hall, Derbyshire, into the New Ilkeston Hospital, the Shipley Colliery miners soon formed a Branch of the St. John Ambulance Brigade. This service had been formed in 1887, acting as a voluntary organisation, offering free medical care to everyone.

Up to this time any casualty had relied on his fellow workmate giving limited assistance. Supporting his men, in this worthy cause, Mr.Mundy built an Ambulance Station and Parish Room in 1897 at the Field, Shipley. The buildings are still in use today. The Parish Hall providing a valuable place for all community activities. The Ambulance Station is used by Derbyshire County Council as a vehicle storage depot.

Station 3

Station 4

Station 5

Station 6

Roger Wood 2016.

Local Collieries - Frank Bacon's Gallery


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