“A Forgotten Industry”: the Coffee Mill Maker project

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I gave a presentation about Wolverhampton coffee mill makers at the Local History Symposium on 22 February.

The full programme was:

Chris Twiggs:  Captain Sydney John Sankey

Gill Alleeson:  Pushing For Better: Wolverhampton Archaeological Society & Wolverhampton’s Early Historians

Jenny Ashcroft: The Men Who Didn’t Want To Go

Frank Sharman:  The Enclosure Of Tettenhall Wood

Erica Williams: Wednesfield To Battle Field

Kate Hartland-Westwood: A Forgotten Industry: Wolverhampton Coffee Mill Makers 1760 – 1911

Maureen Hunt: William Shepherd, A Portobello Lad

Patrick Quirke: The Origins Of The Wolves


I was both delighted and surprised to learn that “A Forgotten Industry” has been awarded a bursary to further my research into this area: delighted because there are a lot more records to be explored, and surprised because the other papers were of a very high standard indeed.

Here’s what the Wolverhampton Archives and Local Studies facebook page had to say about the Symposium:


The eighth annual Wolverhampton Local History Symposium was again enjoyed by a full house of history enthusiasts.

Organised by Wolverhampton Archives and held in The Tractor Shed at Bantock Park, the event took place on Saturday 22nd February and afforded its audience the chance to learn about many fascinating aspects of the city’s heritage. Four of the eight speakers chose subjects relating to Wolverhampton and the First World War, while the remaining talks covered topics as diverse as the very beginnings of The Wolves and the thriving eighteenth century local industry of coffee mill manufacturing.

The purpose of the Symposium is to encourage original research into previously unexplored aspects of Wolverhampton’s history and heritage. And the speakers do not have to be academics or have a degree in history to take part. The event is open to anyone who is happy to give a twenty minute presentation about their original research to the eager local history enthusiasts who attend the event annually.

And to reward and enable further research, each year the Symposium offers a £300 bursary to one of the speakers, the prize money generously donated by the Express and Star and the Wolverhampton Civic and Historical Society.

The topics this year included Captain Sydney John Sankey’s First World War experiences and how the war affected the Sankey company; the origins and history of Wolverhampton’s Archaeological Society and the four historians who influenced its conception; local men who objected to being called up for war; and the history behind the enclosure act of Tettenhall Wood including the reasons behind the area’s crossroads.

After a splendid lunch provided by Bantock House Café, the day continued with a look at the life of Wednesfield-born Florence Maud Williams who became a nurse on the battlefields of the First World War; a history of Wolverhampton’s little-known coffee mill manufacturing industry; the wartime experiences of Portobello-born William Shepherd; and an insight into the very earliest beginnings of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The event concluded with a talk from last year’s Symposium bursary winner Erica Williams.

After some deliberation the four-strong judging panel chose Kate Hartland-Westwood as the 2014 bursary winner for her talk on coffee mill manufacturing, and in addition gave an honorary award to Frank Sharman for his research into the enclosure of Tettenhall Wood.

You can follow Wolverhampton Archive on Facebook.

“A Forgotten Industry” will be showcasing at the Penn Local History Fair on 6 and 7 June: more details of the Fair in “Dates For Your Diary”.

About kate

Experienced genealogist but virgin blogger...
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