Kidsgrove was already an industrial village when Thomas Kinnersley inherited Clough Hall and his father’s coal mines at Birchenwood in 1819.
The miners lived in terraced cottages called rows and there was a small Methodist Church, which had been built during 1815 by lay preacher Sammy Kelsall and his daughter.
Kinnersley’s home, Clough Hall, was a mansion erected by John Gilbert, junior, at the beginning of the 19th century. Surrounded by parkland and walled gardens, the hall had over 40 rooms, including two dining rooms, two drawing rooms and a breakfast room.
During 1829, Kinnersley married Anna Dixon from Daisy Bank Hall, Congleton. The marriage took place at Astbury Church and the couple spent most of their time entertaining or being entertained by the county set.
While he was enjoying a hectic social life, Kinnersley’s industrial empire was being expanded by his manager Robert Heath. New mine shafts were sunk and in 1833 the Clough Hall Ironworks was created when four blast furnaces were built at Birchenwood.
Colliers and ironworkers were paid in tokens that could only be used to buy poor quality food and shoddy goods at inflated prices from the truck shop Kinnersley owned.
A miner’s life was hard and dangerous.
Semi-naked men, women and children worked underground. Men, who wore leather caps, worked at the candle lit coalface. Women and children were harnessed to coal wagons which they pulled along low, narrow, dimly lit, rat infested tunnels from the coalface to the bottom of the mineshaft.
Neither Kinnersley nor the sub-contractors he employed to dig the coal cared about safety. They were only interested in profits. Risks were taken and accidents causing death or serious injury occurred frequently.
Miners employed by the sub-contractors earned 3/2d (16p) a day.
Their wages were paid monthly at the Plough Inn on a Saturday afternoon. The innkeeper employed a fiddler from Tunstall to entertain them. After being paid, many men and women who had worked underground from dawn till dusk for 23 consecutive days, remained at the inn and took part in a drunken orgy that lasted until Monday night.
Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2012