skip to main content
Learning at Black Country Living Museum

Samuel Webb

The date is 1891 and Samuel is 10 years old. He is living in No. 11 Brook Street - the rear back-to-back at the Museum - with his parents, three sisters and two brothers. Two older sisters have already left home. His father is a miner and his mother, who used to work in the mine, now looks after the house and children.

Life is hard. Most of his father's wages are spent on food, rent, coal for the fire, and sundries such as soap, candles, matches, clothing and tobacco. The family's staple diet is bread and dripping with potatoes and onions and meat or offal only when they can afford it. Samuel is attending school, but school is only compulsory between the ages of 5 and 10, so he will have to leave soon and work for a living. 

Samuel Webb Detective Trail

Download the Samuel Webb Detective Trail below which lists all the sites relevant to Samuel's life. Your students can choose which sites they wish to visit and in which order. There is also a selection of linked activities to undertake at the different sites, including shopping lists and mystery objects to find and identify.


Investigation Resources

Please begin by downloading the Teachers' Notes. When you are ready, download the relevant PDF documents by clicking on the highlighted links. 


A summary of the family relationships revealed by the Census Records

Census Records

This is before Samuel’s father, Henry, had married and started a family of his own. He is living at 37 Coseley Road, Sedgley with his parents

  • Henry is 12 years old
  • He is working as a labourer
  • Henry’s father, Daniel (Samuel’s grandfather,) is working as a coal miner
  • Also living in the house are:

    - sister Phoebe, aged 9, at school
    - sister Eliza aged 6, at school
    - sister Elizabeth aged 3
    - mother-in-law, Hannah, who is 56 and working as a Nailmaker

1871 Census: Henry Webb

The family are now living at 12 Hockley Lane, Sedgley.

  • Daniel (Samuel’s grandfather) is still working as a miner
  • Sarah (Samuel’s grandmother) is now working as a nailor
  • Henry (Samuel’s father) is now 22 and working as a miner
  • Phoebe (Henry’s sister and Samuel’s aunt) is 20 and working as a nailor
  • Eliza is 14 and working as a tailoress
  • Hannah (Samuel’s Great Grandmother) is no longer working

1881 Census: Webb Family

Henry Webb has now married Mary Ann and is living with his family at 39 Brook Road

  • Henry is still a coal miner
  • They have 3 daughters:

    - Eliza (aged 7) and Sarah (aged 5) who are at school
    - Annie E (aged 3)

  • They have 1 son – Samuel – who is 8 months old

1891 Census: Webb Family

The family are now living at 11 Brook Road (the back back-to-back at the Museum):

  • Henry is still working as a coal miner
  • There are 3 daughters living at home:

    - Annie Elizabeth (13) at school
    - Alice Maud (5) at school
    - Nellie (3)

  • There are 3 sons:

    - Samuel (10) at school
    - Twins Henry Arthur & Ernest Frederick (9 months).

1901 Census: Webb Family

The family are still living at 11 Brook Road:

  • Henry is 53 and still working as a coal miner “hewer”
  • Sarah is now married (Sarah Howarth) with a 3 month daughter (Doris)
  • There are 3 sons living at the house

    - Samuel is now 20 and working as a Sad Iron Moulder
    - The twins are aged 10 (but not listed as working or at school)

  • In addition to Sarah there are two other daughters living at the house:

    - Nellie now 13 (but not listed as working or at school)
    - New daughter Elsie aged 6

  • There is no information about Annie Elizabeth or Alice Maud.

1911 Census: Webb Family

The family are still living at 11 Brook Road:

  • Henry is 62 and out of work
  • Samuel’s mother, Mary Ann, is recorded as working “at home” – which means she was carrying out some form of trade or industry from home
  • Samuel is now 30 and a labourer for the County Council. He is still single
  • The twins are still living at home (age 20). Both are working. Henry is a Galvaniser for Holcroft & Co. and Ernest is a gas stove fitter at Cannon Industries, Coseley
  • Elsie is now 16 and working from home on iron hollowares
  • There is a new grandson, Eric Howarth, aged 3 – presumably Sarah’s son. He is listed as a son not a grandson. His place of birth was Towyn, Wales
  • Samuel’s mother has had 12 children in total but only 7 have survived. This means that of the 9 children listed in the census records, two have died at some point

1911 Census: F.B. Howarth

This is the Welsh Census for Sarah’s family who are living at 31 High Street, Towyn

  • Sarah’s husband is 32 and working as an Architect and Surveyor. He is recorded as a Widower, which tells us that Sarah has died sometime between 1908 (when her son, Eric was born) and 1911.
  • There are three children living in the house:

    - Daughter, Doris, aged 10
    - Daughter E.J., aged 8
    - Son L.J.H. aged 6

  • The last son, Eric Howarth, is living with his Grandparents – see above.
  • There is also a Housekeeper living at the house. 

BMD (Births, Marriages, Deaths)

Birth Certificate for Samuel

  • Born on 7th August 1880 at 39 Parke’s Lane, Woodsetton
  • Samuel’s mother, Mary Ann, has signed the certificate with a cross, suggesting that she is illiterate
  • Mary Ann’s maiden name is Worton
  • Henry’s occupation is recorded as “Coal Miner”


Historic map showing Woodsetton and the mixture of industry and rural landscape that surrounded Samuel’s home 

1887 Ordnance Survey: enlarged

Original location of 11 Brook Street identified on this enlarged section of the Map

1903 Map

Showing how the area changed over a period of 16 years


This photograph was taken in the 1940s looking across the fields at the back of the Brook Street houses. It shows the rural nature of the landscape.

11 Brook Street

Photograph of the Brook Street terrace prior to its relocation to the Museum

Mining Image 1: c1920

Black and white photograph of a pit head gear and trucks, and three surface horses harnessed with drivers. Mr Caddick of 87 Bloomfield Road, Tipton is 2nd from the right of the picture. Taken in the 1920s or earlier.

Mining Image 2

Coal Picking

The Pretty Pit, Grazebrook Colliery, Blowers Green Road, Netherton

Mining Image 4

New Hawne Miners, New British Iron Company, 1st August 1872


Photograph of a typical bakery of the late 19th century. Bread would have formed an important part of Samuel’s staple diet.

Work Boots

These are typical work boots, showing the heavy wooden sole, metal reinforcements and nailed construction.

Tipper Toilet

Images and information about the “Tipper” toilet that can be seen in the back yard of the Brook Street houses.


Historic Images

Print dated August 2nd 1869 “Miraculous deliverance of colliers at Brierley Hill” with newspaper report. This tells the story of thirteen miners who were trapped below ground due to flooding. After a week they were rescued, with twelve out of the thirteen surviving.

Contemporary Accounts & Reports

Accounts of children employment in Coal Pits near Dudley


Reminiscences of old miners in the 1920s.


A Tipton miner describing how the Butty System worked in the 1860s.


Booking a Visit


Our Booking Team are available to offer help and advice when planning a visit. All educational groups must book in advance.

Plan your booking




Did you know?

interesting fact image

By 1846, steam engine design had developed so fast that the engine fitted to the SS Great Britain was capable of 1000 horsepower.

Your Feedback
Your Feedback
BCLM Newsletter
Join Newsletter