Anthony Willetts EM

b. 25/05/1880 Netherton, Staffordshire.  d. 14/12/1939 Dudley, Staffordshire.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 17/04/1910 Russell Hall Colliery, Dudley, Staffordshire.

Anthony was the third of eight children born to Anthony and Susannah Willetts (nee Kitson) on the 25th May 1880 in Netherton, near Dudley, Staffordshire. The family lived at 20 High Street in Netherton and his father was a miner. After basic education Anthony junior became a general labourer. On 15th October 1899 he married Phoebe Ann Turner in Dudley, and they began their married life at 63 Halesowen Road in Netherton. Anthony had now changed careers and was working as a pikeman at Russell Hall Colliery. Anthony and Phoebe had four children in all prior to 1904. Anthony spent the rest of his working life down the pit at Russell Hall. His wife died in 1937, and Anthony, already in poor health himself, was admitted as an in patient into Dudley Guest Hospital on the Tipton Road. Anthony died on 14th December 1939 aged 59. In his will he left his estate to two of his children, Alice and William.



On the 17th April. 1910, an underground fire, in which the lives of two workmen were lost, occurred at the Russell Colliery, near Dudley, Staffs—a district where the workings are peculiarly liable to spontaneous combustion. The fire broke out at a point about 114 yards from the bottom of the downcast shaft, and when it was discovered by smoke issuing from the upcast shaft, the Manager of the mine, accompanied by several workmen, proceeded to the spot to try and put the fire out. After working for a considerable time in the heat and smoke, two of the party, Archer Cartwright (Under Manager) and Anthony Willets, were sent to the surface for tools, leaving the Manager and two workmen to proceed with the work of fighting the fire. In their absence, both the Manager, who, feeling the effects of the smoke, had walked back a short distance, and the two workmen were overcome by the noxious atmosphere. Willets, on his return, found the Manager unconscious and dragging him, in spite of his very heavy weight, to the bottom of the shaft, brought him safely to the surface. Willets and Cartwright and a third man named Samuel Slater then descended the shaft in order to try and rescue the two workmen who had succumbed. They found them and attempted to carry them back; but Willets, who was already exhausted by his previous efforts, gave signs of giving way, and Cartwright and Slater also feeling ill-effects, they were all compelled to return and leave the two unfortunate workmen. On their way back, Willets fell down unconscious, and Cartwright and Slater, being unable to help him, made their way with difficulty to the surface. They were able, however, to tell Isaiah Walker of Willets’ condition, and he volunteered to try and bring Willets out. Descending the mine alone, and crawling on his hands and knees under the smoke, Walker managed to reach Willets, whom he found lying on his face about 27 yards from the shaft., Seizing him by the shoulders, Walker managed to drag Willets to the shaft bottom, and then took him up in the cage. Walker again went down the shaft in the hope of reaching the two workmen left in the mine; but this time he was unsuccessful, and was forced to come back.