THE coal industry left its mark on the landscape of the Black Country but by the first half of the 20th century many of the mines, on which our region's wealth had been built, were worked out. Few collieries continued operation beyond the Second World War and into the 1960s.
However, thanks to Bugle reader John Cooper of Kingswinford, we can share these pictures of one of the last mines in the area.
John writes, "In 1958 I was a student at Dudley Teacher Training College. I used to roam around the area looking for evidence of coal mining, and I took these pictures with a Brownie box camera.
"Most of the photographs are of Simms Lane No.2 Colliery on the slopes of Netherton Hill as it faces Merry Hill.
"I was fortunate to be given a guided tour underground by the pit manager Mr W. Watson. From memory, the shaft was about 100ft deep. The pit had been worked for coal in the past, but then they were mining clay.
"There were only a few mines and the conditions were quite primitive. It was like stepping back in time to another century.
"The Netherton church graveyard, just above the pit, was a dangerous place. Smoke and little flames seeped out of the ground among the graves and there was a strong smell of burning.
"Another picture is of a drift mine along the side of Pedmore Road, roughly facing Merry Hill, owned I think by Hills of Brierley Hill. Nearby was a completely open mine shaft, extremely deep. In those days Pedmore Road was quite narrow and had little traffic.
"The last picture is of a danger notice that was roughly where the east wing of Russells Hall Hospitals is today. The land was certainly on fire with smoke drifting out of the earth."
It its strange to think that these photographs were taken 56 years ago when they seem to evoke a much earlier age.
Have these pictures stirred your memory? Where you or a member of your family at miner at Simms Lane? Do you recognise any of the miners pictured?
Please share your mining memories and photographs of the old Black Country. Contact dshaw@blackcountrybugle. co.uk or write to us at 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.