Mining began as a simple process of digging a hole where the mineral seams came to the surface. As these holes or quarries got deeper the mineral seams had to be chased deeper into the ground. This was done by sinking a shaft and working around the bottom in the mineral until it became unsafe and then moving on and sinking anther one (these were known as 'bell pits' and were very poor at getting all the minerals out).
As time went by mining was done by digging out large blocks of mineral from a seam and leaving pillars of mineral in place to hold up the roof (this was known as 'Pillar-and-Stall' or 'Pillar-and-Room' working and also left a lot of mineral in place)
Finally, a system of mining began which took all the mineral out between two roadways driven into the seam. This was called ‘Longwall mining’ and allowed the roof to collapse behind a large working face as it moved forward in the mine.
Last Days of the Black Country Coalfield
The minerals that Mother Nature placed in the ground of the Black Country could not last forever. Eventually they were worked out and the mines closed. The last underground coal mine in the area was Baggeridge Colliery which closed in March 1968 and with it closed the industry which had created all the other industries of the Black Country.
Miners throughout the ages have faced mines closing and were forced to move on, or to stay and learn new trades to survive. Many Black Country miners went to other mining areas of the world to mine gold and metals in Canada and South Africa, or other coalfields in Australia and America.
Their legacy of mining can still be found all over the Black Country and is the reason for the creation of The Black Country Global Geopark.