The WILLIAMSON Family (Ken Edwards February 2004).

 Colonel John WILLIAMSON 1824 – 1916

Colonel WILLIAMSON was born in County Durham in June 1824, the son of a colliery master sinker.  From the age of 11 he studied mining and served his apprenticeship at Trubshaw Colliery were his uncle was manager.  In 1861 he was sent to sink two shafts at West Hallam Colliery and then to manage it.  Then after spells as manager of several collieries in the North East and North Staffordshire he made his first acquaintance with the Cannock Chase district.  In 1865 he was employed by Coppy Hall Colliery, Aldridge and whilst there, in 1868 he was given the appointment of manager of the new Cannock and Rugeley Colliery Company.  At the time the colliery had just commenced operations and was in a very poor state, thanks to the efforts of John WILLIAMSON this quickly changed and Cannock and Rugeley Collieries became one of the most prosperous concerns in the Midlands.  He also managed the sinking of the Pool pits which later changed its name to the Valley Colliery and the take over of Wimblebury Colliery. 

As early as 1863 he took out a patent for a device to lubricate coal tubs and his device was widely valued and was in use at nearly all U K collieries.  Again in 1877 he invented an improved version of the oil safety lamp, which was greatly used in all the local collieries.

He served on a number of Royal Commissions and when the Coal Mines Act of 1872 came into force he was appointed a member of the Board of Examiners a post he held until 1910.  He final retired from his post as General Manager of Cannock and Rugeley Collieries in 1900, but was retained as a consulting engineer.

 For 20 years he was also a director of William Harrisons Ltd.  John WILLIAMSON was also responsible for the setting up of the Hazel Slade Land and Building Company, which built hundreds of homes for local miners.  He was for many years a member of the old Local Board for Cannock and served as Chairman responsible during this period for the introduction of public water and lighting services.  He was also a director of the Cannock and Hednesford Gas Company.

Colonel WILLIAMSON took an important part in the social and religious life of the community ranging from the building of the Wesleyan Memorial Mission at Blackfords to Chairman of the Cannock and Rugeley Horticultural Society. These services were recognised in 1901 when he was made a Justice of the Peace. He lived for much of his life at Cannock Wood House later renamed The Grange and on retirement lived at The Hills on Old Hednesford Road, Cannock.  He died in September 1916 aged 93 years.                                                                           

Colonel Robert Summerside WILLIAMSON 1859 – 1933 

Robert Summerside WILLIAMSON was born in County Durham the son of Colonel John WILLIAMSON.  He came to the Cannock Chase district as a boy in the 1860s when his father took up a management job in the local coalmines.  Robert WILLIAMSON studied mining practice and was granted his managers certificate at Wolverhampton in 1880, then in 1882 he was appointed assistant manager at the Cannock Wood Colliery.  For the next 18 years he served in various post under his father and in 1900 succeeded his father as Director and General Manager of the Cannock and Rugeley Colliery Company. He was a Director of West Cannock and Harrison’s Colliery Companies. And also director of Florence Coal and Iron Co, The Shelton Iron and Steel Co, Lilleshall Co, Messrs Cowlishaw and Walker Ltd and Transvaal & Natal Collieries, South Africa. Colonel WILLIAMSON was a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers and the Institute of Mining Engineers serving as President of the Staffordshire and Warwickshire Branch in 1896 to 1898.  He also followed his father as a member of the Board of Mining Examinations and served on many Royal Commissions.  He was vice chairman of the Cannock Chase Coal Owners Association.

Always keen on his men’s safety he was chairman of Cannock Chase Mines Rescue Committee and a founder and President of the Hednesford Accident Home.  He was instrumental in providing welfare schemes for the provision of playing fields etc.  He was proud of the setting up of the Miners Welfare Convalescent Home at Weston-Super-Mare. He was a long serving member of the Cannock Urban District Council and served a term as chairman.  Robert WILLIAMSON was appointed Justice of the Peace for the district of Penkridge in 1901 and was a senior magistrate for some years.  Deputy Lieutenant of Staffordshire in 1924.

For some 40 years he was a member of the local Territorials,  joining as a subaltern in 1881 and resigned his command of the 5th Battalion in 1913.  In 1895 he raised an appeal and funded the building of a Drill Hall at Hednesford.  In 1914 at the outbreak of War he returned to command the local Volunteer Force and agreed in 1920 to resume command of his old Battalion finally retiring two years later.

Colonel WILLIAMSON was a keen breeder of both dogs and poultry, winning many prizes both locally and nationally.  He was President of the Cannock and Rugeley Colliery Cricket team, being a particularly good bowler, and for several years captained the side.  He was also District Commissioner for the Scout movement. Robert WILLIAMSON lived for much of his life at The Grange at Cannock Wood and died there in 1933, aged 75 years, he was buried at Gentleshaw.