The Model


North side. Not the the canal basins, centre left bottom, and the Lichfield Road, High Street junction, centre left. Image courtesy of Bill Mayo via David Evans.

A remarkable pair of images surfaced a couple of weeks ago from local historian Bill Mayo via the wonderful David Evans – these are photographs of a civic town planning proposal by, or to Brownhills Urban District Council in 1965.

The photos were most probably taken by Edgar Pritchard, brother of Sid, whose book of memoirs compiled by Bill Mayo is still available from Brownhills Library at the Parkview Centre.

The model is fascinating – sadly my efforts to join the two images failed due to the contrasting angles, but there is only a little bit missing in the lower centre. Note that Ravens Court, Silver Court, the ‘new’ clinic in Pier Street are all there, but the town is bypassed by a dual carriageway cutting through the Silver Street area. Sadly, the heights look a bit odd, because to clear the underpass at Lindon Drive, it would have needed to look like the Westway.

In a lot of ways, it’s sad – brave new world, right there – but in others, maybe not so much.

David had this to say:

Hi Bob

Some weeks ago I was helping Bill Mayo with preparation work for his latest book. Among the piles of notes and scraps of paper being studied and sorted we were astonished to see these two large photos, which may be of some interest to your blog readers and may generate some discussion.

The two top quality, clear photos measure 10 inches by 8 inches and at first sight seem to be of one model. But I wonder, were there two models and hence two possible schemes for a new town centre in Brownhills in January 1965, as the photos dont actually seem to fit?

[They are the same model, but the angles are wildly different, and join briefly in a triangular overlap at the top – Bob]

I believe at the time of the model – 1965, Brownhills UDC was part of Staffordshire County Council, and then merged with Aldridge UDC in 1966 to become Aldridge-Brownhills UDC, but still remaining part of Staffordshire County, until 1974 when the UDC become part of Walsall Metropolitain Borough, and therefore the West Midlands.

kind regards

Thanks to David and Bill for a remarkable thing.

What happened to the model? Does anyone know the circumstances of the construction of it and related plans? This reminds me of something from much later

Please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.


South side. Catcall canal Junction is bottom right, the long gone Silver Court Gardens on the lower left. Note Silver Court and the blocks of flats. Image courtesy of Bill Mayo via David Evans.

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Brownhills real ale and cider festival 2015


looks like a great weekend!

The Chase Inn at Newtown, Brownhills seems to be enjoying a bit of a renaissance of late after a few years in the doldrums – now with  lots going on, this popular community pub on the A5 Watling Street near the Chase Road junction has got a real buzz about it.

This weekend (Friday 29th-Sunday 31st May 2015), they’re holding a real ale and cider festival, with over 20 different drinks to sample, plus entertainment from some great bands.

The Chase Inn had this to say on their Facebook page:

Who’s ready for the Ale & Cider Fest 29-31 May. 20 Real Ale and Ciders. Music from Tick Tick Boom, Classic Rock Night and Steel Threads to perform on our new stage…

For details, check out the Chase Inn’s Facebook page.


Good to see a local pub doing so well

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Flour power


New Hall Mill is a remarkable place and I recommend you visit when you get chance.

Last Monday, I popped out on the overcast, grey afternoon and rode to New Hall Mill for their open day – this is the working flour mill reader Alan Dawson recommended to readers last weekend – and as a result, I’ve fallen in love with this remarkable place.

The Mill is a lovingly restored relic of Sutton’s rural past, and is a thing of beauty and joy for mechanical geeks, historians and those curious folk who want to see a bit of life from times gone by.

The open day was free to enter, and there was loads to see and do – a lovely tea shop, fascinating grounds and an old-fashioned Miller’s garden. There is a wonderful meadow and millpond, teaming with birds and wildlife. The place is a treat.

Alan Dawson wrote to me on Monday evening:

Hi Bob,

Many thanks for promoting our bank holiday Monday open day, some 500 visitors attended which is quite considerable as the weather was cool and we were competing with the Lichfield Bower and the half term holidays when many people go away.

We endeavour to improve the experience on a year by year basis and have many visitors who return just to see what’s new. This year we managed to clear considerable vegetation from alongside the stream and by laying wooden chippings from the recovered branches we were able to provide a lovely brook side walk with favourable reviews.

Do I see a grey wagtail on the roof of the cartshed in your biking blog today?

Many thanks again and hoping that you may be able to give us a mention prior to our future openings.

Best regards,
Alan Dawson – A friend of Newhall Mill

The next open days are as follows:

Sunday June 14th – Wild Flower day
Sunday July 12th – Nature day
Sunday August 9th – Hobbies day
Bank holiday Monday August 31st – Arts and Crafts day
Sunday September 13th – History day

Access to the mill is off Wylde Green road, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1QU, some 200 metres from the National cycle route.

More details can be found on our website –

I can’t believe I never realised this place existed – it’s a national treasure and I commend it to everyone. Thanks to Alan and all the friends for doing such a wonderful job.

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Lichfield Waterworks Trust – May public meeting tonight!


Sandfields Pumping Station – a great historic building with immense history and social significance – not just to Lichfield, but to the Black Country. Lichfield Discovered and local historian Dave Moore are fighting to save this valuable asset for the community.

Sandfields Pumping Station champion and public historian extraordinaire Dave Moore has been in touch to let me know that tonight (Thursday 28th May 2015) there is a public progress meeting for the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group.

Dave wrote:

Dear Brownhills Bob,

Monthly Progress Meeting of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust, formally known as the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station.

The Lichfield Waterworks Trust is a Community Incorporated Organisation, registered with the charities commission who are fighting to save the Grade II* listed building know as Sandfields Pumping Station for the benefit of the community.

English Heritage has designated Sandfields Pumping Station as a building that has ‘more than special interest’, hence the reason it has been listed at Grade II*

Unfortunately, what some see as Lichfield’s most significant pieces of Industrial Heritage, a true hidden gem form the past is now a building at risk.

All are welcome to become involved in this challenging but rewarding project.

Thursday 28 May 2015 at 7:30pm – please note the new venue

The meeting place is;
Duke of York
23/25 Greenhill
WS13 6DY

T: 01543 300 386

Excellent food and drinks are available in the bar.

Do pop over to Dave Moore’s blog and check out the history of Sandfields Pumping Station, an almost forgotten gem – the group also has a Facebook page.

Dave is, of course, one of the leading lights of Lichfield Discovered, along with Kate ‘Cardigan’ Gomez from Lichfield Lore.

It’s great to see people like Dave encourage a better attitude to our historic buildings, rather than that which we seem to have here in Walsall, where we regard heritage architecture as merely ‘fuel’.

Please do attend if you’re able, it’s sure to be enlightening and educational.

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Fun activity event for kids on this morning at Brownhills Library


Why not pop in?

Here’s a late one just in – if your kids are at a loose end, there’s a fun activity event at Brownhills Library in the Parkview Centre, just by the Miner Island this morning (Thursday 28Th May 2015) from 10-11am.

If you have anything you want publicising, please send me details and I’ll get the word out. BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!

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December 1994 – Is the government really fit to govern?

Brownhills Gazette December 1994 issue 63_000001

Brownhills Gazette December 1994 issue 63 – massive 36 page Christmas issue with some fairly heavy political commentary, concerns over street lighting and mining the common, a group of Salvation Army children in the archives, poetry from Anne Millington, local school news plus loads more. Click for a larger version.

Continuing the scans of the Brownhills Gazette – I present issue 63 of the long lost freesheet, from December 1994 for you to peruse and download. I’ve had an incredible response to featuring these long, lost publications here on the blog.

David Evans, very kindly granted access to the archive held by former editor and contributor Brian Stringer, has been assiduously and conscientiously scanning them all. Every single issue. Every few days, I’m going to feature the next in the series.

This is a huge 36 page Christmas issue with some fairly heavy political commentary, concerns over street lighting and mining the common, a group of Salvation Army children in the archives, poetry from Anne Millington, local school news plus loads more.

If you’re wondering what happened to issue 62 from November 1994, that was the very first one I featured in this post – it kicked the whole series off.

It’s worth noting the magazine has, at this point, been expanded to cover Pelsall, and there’s a fair bit of relevant content.

The history of how the Brownhills Gazette came to exist has been detailed in this post thanks to the wonderful John Sylvester.

If other bloggers want to use this material, can you please drop me a line first? I don’t mind, there’s just sone stuff I’d like to clear about the usage, thanks.

Cheers to Brian and David for sharing a wonderful thing, that’s part of our community history.

If you have any memories, questions or observations please do comment or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Brownhills Gazette issue 63 December 1994 – PDF format

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It’ll soon be time for the 2015 Brownhills Canalside Festival

canal poster

It’s always a good day out – and it’s free!

Details of this year’s Brownhills Canal Festival have kindly been supplied by The Clayhanger Kid himself, Brian Stringer – this yeart it’s Sunday, 28th June 2015.

Hi Bob

Just a bit of info on this years Brownhills Canal Festival…

Music will be by Spotlight productions, the Anker Valley Boys, Aldridge Ukulele Band and Wildfire Folk.

These acts will be held together by a professional compere who will also integrate a raconteur of wonderful monologues, as well as announcing the opening ceremony and children’s art competition results.

We are also delighted to welcome the Black Country Boat,  which is a floating arts and crafts activities centre and will be offering fun stuff to do all day.

In addition to the usual stalls we will have theCanoe Centre open day, a Birds of Prey exhibition and the Parrot rescue tent. This year we’ll also see an exhibition of woodturning.

A local man will be providing refreshments along with our own popular cakes and bread pudding.

All this along with the usual Tombola, and numerous craft stalls.

Any more developments and I’ll let you know .

Cheers Bob,

If you want to know more, help out or offer your services, contact the Brownhills Local Committee with the details below – alternatively, If you want to speak to Brian Stringer directly (he’s a lovely bloke) drop me a line and I’ll hook you up.

Contact Brownhills Local Committee on 01543 361144.

Brownhills Local Committee
The Parkview Centre
Chester Road North
Ws8 7JB

Anyway, thanks to Brian, who was as helpful as ever. He’s a true friend of the blog.


There are plenty of attractions for all, and some rather fine craftsmanship on display.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, cycling, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local media, Local music, News, Panoramio photo discussions, Panoramio updates, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment