The Family FOGGO

submitted by Ken Edwards

This is the story of how a remarkable family from the north east of England made a contribution to the coal mining industry on Cannock Chase.

In the early 1870s and elderly Mechanical / Civil Engineer by the name of Robert WATSON came to the village of Brereton near Rugeley in Staffordshire. He was most probably invited there by Mr George Cuthbert ROBINSON, himself a product of Northumberland and Manager of the Brereton Collieries. The most likely reason he was invited to Brereton was to help in the re-construction of the old Brick Kiln Colliery.

A few years later in 1876 Watson encouraged his two grandsons William & Watson FOGGO to come and join him in Brereton.

William  FOGGO the eldest of the  family who were descended from Blacksmith's and Timber Merchants started by assisting his grandfather and in time would rise through the ranks to become himself an engineer. In 1890 he became chief Engineer for the Earl of Shrewsbury's Brereton & Hayes Collieries, a position he held for many years until he semi-retired and became Consultant Engineer to the collieries.

During his years at Brereton Collieries he supervised the complete rebuilding of the old Brick Kiln pit, the installed a new steam winding engine, the sinking of a new shaft, enlarging of the old shaft and the installation of  the ventilation machinery. He also oversaw the large electrical installation which was housed in a specially constructed powerhouse and included two steam turbine driven electrical generators which produced more than enough electricity to power the whole of the colliery, also the workshops and brickworks. Surplus electricity was sold in the 1920s to the nearby town of Rugeley. He was also instigative of the early introduction of mechanised systems underground, with the installation of coal cutting machines and conveyors.

He died aged 74 in 1928.

Watson FOGGO after early engineering training at Brereton Collieries also became a colliery engineer serving for a short time at Ashton Moss colliery in Lancashire before moving back to Rugeley where he was appointed manager of a Steam Engine Works. He would spend the rest of his working life in Islington, London as a works manager.

Matthew John FOGGO the younger brother of William & Watson moved to Brereton in early 1880 where he took a completely different direction in his career. he was taken under the wing of G C Robinson manager at Brereton were he trained as a mining engineer on qualifying he was appointed undermanager at Wingfield Manor Colliery in Derbyshire. 

In 1906 he returned to Cannock Chase and took up an appointment again as an undermanager at the Cannock Chase Colliery Company's No.9 pit at Hednesford. His potential was soon realised by his employers and he was made manager of their No.2 & 3 pits by Mr Sopwith. He was later appointed manager of the whole of the Cannock Chase Company pits and in 1931 when Sopwith retired he became the companies General Manager and Agent,. he retired on Nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947 having served the Cannock Chase Company for 40 years.

He died aged 80 in 1954. 

A fuller account of Matthew John Foggo's life can be read in the book entitled "The Cannock Chase Colliery Company 1859 - 1955" written by Peter Barker and published by the CCMHS price 5.00 plus p&p

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