Gwen Milnes was one of 16 grandchildren in the Richards family
The Coleorton Heritage Trail takes in The Woolrooms, which is a cluster of houses and cottages between Aqueduct Road and Stoney Lane. Bensons Cottage is on the right next to Martin Cottage. In the mid 1800s the cottage was occupied by the Richards family. Thomas Richards (also known as Thomas Bird) was drowned in 1863 when the Caliphat pit flooded, leaving his wife and 10 children.
They were my great grand-parents. My grandmother was one of those ten children. My grandfather came from Northampton and settled in Coleorton as a young man looking for work.
His name was also Richards (no relation – so my Grandma never changed her name!). He worked down the mines and was also the local barber. He also played the organ at the Methodist Chapel for 50 years.
They had 16 grandchildren and I was the youngest. One of my cousins (Marian Fowkes nee Richards) also played the organ for many years. Another cousin (Bertha Willmot nee Marriott) played the organ for Coleorton and Swannington Churches.
In Elverston Yard (in Rotten Row) where the Richards family grew up was a row of houses where the field is now. There are just 2 houses there now.
Thomas Richards (Bird) was killed on 8 October 1863 together with two others when the Caliphat mine flooded from water that broke in from adjacent workings. Thomas Richards was born Thomas Bird but was known all his life as Richards. But his death was recorded as Thomas Bird.
Note: There are several separate Richards families in Coleorton. See also Richards bakery and store
If you have memories of growing up in Coleorton we'd love to hear them. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Sandra on 01530 440000.