Stepping out – can you help Chasewater Strollers grow?


Never a dull moment with Chasewater Stollers – doesn’t that wee one bottom left look happy? Image from the group’s Facebook page.

You folks will probably remember that I’m very keen on plugging a parent and toddler walking and social group that takes place weekly at Chasewater – Chasewater Strollers – who meet every Monday morning at 9:30am at the Innovation Centre.

From there, they generally go for a gentle social walk around the park,followed by tea and chat afterwards – parents and grandparents with buggies are welcomed warmly into this gentle, supportive and fun group.

Chasewater Strollers are going from strength to strength, and a couple of days ago they recently made a rather wonderful announcement on their Facebook page:

Great news! Staffordshire Council have given us a community grant.

So from the beginning of October we will be moving to a new start venue for our walk and having a stay and play group afterwards with lots of special activities.

If anyone has any old baby toys for under ones that they don’t need anymore we would make great use of them, also seats like bouncer chairs and bumbos etc.

When I asked if I could help, they replied:

We could definitely do with some baby bouncer chairs – somewhere safe to put the smaller babies when we are having hot drinks. That would be lovely thank you!

If anyone has any they can email chasewaterstrollers at outlook do com and I will arrange collection [Or you can contact the blog and I'll pass the message on - Bob].

More details about the new group coming soon….

Please folks, help if you can; but if not, and you just want to take your wee one out for a change, do pop along. I’m so huffed for this great group: this is a perfect example of people seeing a need, doing it and supporting each other. Community in a nutshell, right there.

If you can help, either contact the group directly, comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Longstanding friend of the blog Rose Maria Burnell (mum to top ginger chap Ed) was interested, and she popped along to check it out, writing a wonderful review of the morning, which I include below.

The Chasewater Strollers ameet every Monday at Chasewater Innovation Centre, and tomorrow  (Monday, 22nd September 2014) will meet at 9:30am.

Rose wrote:


A great atmosphere for parents and their kids… image from Chasewater Strollers.

Chasewater Strollers Launch

On Monday 14th April I went along to the launch of the new Chasewater Strollers walking group. We met at the Innovation Centre at 9.30am and set off for a walk around the reservoir at 9.45am.

I have to be honest and tell you that I really wasn’t expecting much from this event, but how delightfully wrong I was! It’s a beautiful thing in life where the effort and thoughtfulness of someone is met with the response from the community that it deserves. This is exactly what happened on Monday. Esther Allen who formed this group is passionate about creating something positive both for the parents in the local area and for Chasewater. She has thought very carefully about the whole venture, completing risk assessments and getting the backing of local councillors, the support of staff at the Innovation Centre and has even secured a grant from Staffordshire Council to help fund it. There was a great turnout with 18 babies and over 20 adults!


‘Hope you’ve got my best side!’ Ed goes for no publicity. Image from Chasewater Strollers.

When we arrived, we were welcomed by Esther’s husband (in his Chasewater Strollers high viz vest!) into a room where there were beautiful displays of colourful balloons, cakes and hot drinks! The walk was very good exercise as well as being a brilliant way to make new friends. We strolled along in the sunshine chatting happily and enjoying the wildlife. It wasn’t just all mums either – there were two dads and a grandmother. Any parent or carer is welcome with a baby in their buggy and there is no charge to join in. Esther had the keys to the gates which were opened wide for us all to go through. This enabled a lady with a double buggy to enjoy the walk, too.

Afterwards we enjoyed cakes, coffee and Esther gave out balloons to all of the babies. Most people stayed for another hour enjoy each other’s company and when we left we each were given the details to a Facebook group where we can keep in touch.


All the fun of Chasewater and the outdoors with a great social atmosphere, too. Image from Chasewater Strollers.

I would highly recommend a walk around Chasewater to anyone and with this new group you have the added bonus of making great new friends, too. Esther’s vision is that they will have a play session after the walk for children to socialise whilst the adults have a chat and refreshments. Chasewater Strollers will be there every Monday at 9.30am. (On Monday bank holiday there will be a slighter later meet of 10am.) Anyone would would like to give it a go would be made to feel very welcome indeed.

Contact details:

Search for Chasewater Strollers on Facebook
Chasewater Innovation centre 01543 370737

Chasewater Country Park is signposted from the A5 near Cannock and Brownhills, just south of the junction with the A452 (Chester Road). The postcode for satnavs is WS8 7NL.

Any questions please send us an email or facebook message. Otherwise just turn up and you will be made very welcome!

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When the engines roared at Wharf Lane

There’s an interesting sale currently up on eBay – I’d go for it myself, but suspect the film that’s up for sale would probably be better going into the hands of enthusiasts of motorbike scrambling.

The 8mm cinefilm is described as a ‘Scrambling motocross motorbikes 1974 Brownhills etc.’ and is being sold by user ‘Digital_steptoe‘. At the time of posting this, it currently has no bids at a fiver.

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Click on the image to go to the sale on eBay

The seller has also uploaded an example of the footage to YouTube, from which it does indeed look like Wharf Lane, and the clothing does suggest the 1970s.

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Seems to be Wharf Lane.

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Anyone recognise these folk on a day out to watch the scrambling? Certainly looks 1970s to me.

This all used to take place in and around the old quarry off Wharf Lane in Brownhills. The sound of the bikes used to colour many a Brownhillian weekend, but all was ended by the construction of the M6 Toll, which destroyed the course.

Here’s the uploaded section of film:

People travelled from miles away to come to these races, and it was a very popular activity. Does anyone out there have memories of this, or can shed more light on the above video?

BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, or comment here. Cheers.

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Plan for 200 new homes in central Brownhills approved

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This could be the largest housing development seen locally for many years. Imagery from Bing! Maps.

Way back in April this year, I first noted the consultation and plan to finally redevelop the wasteland in Brownhills that was once Silver Court Gardens, the notorious tenement maisonette estate that was demolished in 2004, into over 100 dwellings.

A planning application was duly submitted, an on June 26th 2014, shortly after the plans were submitted, I detailed them extensively here on the blog. They involved not only the Silver Court Gardens site, but also land around Humphries House and surprisingly, the former marketplace in Brownhills, for a total of 200 homes.

The Express & Star finally caught up with that application this week, three months after it was submitted and featured here. Their article concerning it is available here.

At a planning meeting on Thursday (18th September 2014), both applications were approved. Thankfully, the good old E&S were a bit more on the ball with that report, and the approval was reported in Saturday’s edition (20th September 2014).

To me, this is excellent news for Brownhills, particularly the town centre. Houses on this land will not only make the town look smarter and more occupied, they will provide jobs in their construction, and provide much needed footfall for local stores and businesses.

The notorious tenemnets of Silver Court Gardens had a terrible reputation in their closing years. It's almost impossible to imagine them now, but there wer five blocks in total. Photo taken from 'Brownhills' group on Facebook, uploaded by Jayne Brammer.

The notorious tenemnets of Silver Court Gardens had a terrible reputation in their closing years. It’s almost impossible to imagine them now, but there were five blocks in total. Photo taken from ‘Brownhills’ group on Facebook, uploaded by Jayne Brammer.

The selection of homes that will be available – some for sale, some for rent, a selection of flats, houses and bungalows for older folk – will encourage a good mix of people. I wholly support this decision and hope the construction starts soon.

I’ve included the details of the applications beneath the Express & Star piece for reader perusal.I welcome reader feedback: pleasedo comment on this post, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

The article isn’t available online, so I’ve transcribed it below:

Go-ahead is given for 200 new homes

Report by Craig Hughes

ALMOST 200 new homes will be created in Brownhills, includ­ing some on the former market square, after plans were given the go-ahead by councillors.

The regeneration scheme for Silver Street will bring ‘long-term benefits to the town,’ bosses at Walsall Housing Group have said.

It comes as a separate, plan for a back land development in Jesson Road, on the outskirts of Walsall town centre, was thrown out amid concerns from residents.

Members of Walsall Council’s planning committee agreed to the regeneration scheme for Silver Street, despite concerns over consultation with residents in nearby Humphries House, who wanted to keep a parcel of land for a garden.

Councillors agreed to support the scheme as long as a condition was imposed that the piece of land should remain for the resi­dents.

Alan Watts, development manager at Walsall Housing Group, said: ‘We believe the long-term benefits to the town and com­munity are huge and worth investing. We are happy to work with customers of Hum­phries House and planning officers.’


The scheme also includes a further 40 properties on the old market site, which has been standing empty.

It first shut down in June 2009 after then landlords Spook Erections failed to agree a new contract.

Weeks later it was revived by council bosses but collapsed again in 2010.

Another company, LSD Promotions, ran it briefly before pulling the plug in 2011.

The application is split in two; the first application is the full, highly detailed proposal for 157 dwellings to built in phases around Humphries House and behind Silver Court. This includes a public open space to the south of the site. The second application is an outline, it’s an application in principle for 40 dwellings on the old market place, and proposes also a range of options for dealing with traffic in Silver Street. This is not a detailed application, but a drawing board exercise to see if such a proposal could be acceptable to planning; if it is, expect to see more detailed plans later.

Here’s an extract from the Planning Statement which explains the proposals thoroughly:

Street Scenes -1

Various street elevations showing how the Silver Court Gardens development would look from various aspects, and in relation to theexisting features of Silver Court and Humphries House. Image from documents submitted to Walsall Council. Click for a larger version.


3.1  The application site extends to a total of 4.52 hectares. The Applicant wishes to redevelop the site to provide a high quality and sustainable residential development, with associated infrastructure and a new public park adjacent to the Wyrley and Essington canal.

3.2  As set out earlier, this is a hybrid application which seeks outline planning permission to use the former Market Square site for up to 40 residential units; full planning permission also is sought for 157 residential units on the Silver Court site. These proposals represent a significant investment in the local economy which will add to the existing housing stock with potential to attract additional investment. The proposals will also make a significant contribution to the Borough’s housing needs and will place new housing close to Brownhills town centre.

3.3  The full planning application consists 157 residential units comprising apartments and houses across the following sub elements:

  • A 4 storey height block of 62 elderly persons apartments. These will be 1 and 2bedroom apartments providing independent living with social and welfare support through a ‘Well Being Officer’ who will have a daily presence on site. This block of specialist accommodation will also include communal facilities in the form of a common lounge/kitchen area, consulting rooms for visiting GPs and physiotherapists and storage for disabled vehicles. The elderly accommodation will be made available to households which are in the ‘over 55′ age bracket’.
  • 39 general needs apartments comprising 1 and 2 bed apartments for rent.
  • 6 bungalows for rent which will replace 6 bungalows to be demolished.
  • 50 x 2, 3 and 4 bedroomed houses for general market sale.

The full planning application also includes proposals for a new canal side public park.

3.4  The outline planning application relates to the former Market Square site. This is the smaller of the two sites measuring 0.62 hectares. The outline application seeks to establish the principle of residential development for up to 40 residential units with means of access. It is proposed that all residential units on this site will be for general market sale. The planning application promotes three potential alterations and improvements to Silver Street; these are :

  • Retain the existing one-way traffic flow.
  • Introduce a section of two-way flow on Silver Street from the High Street to the Market Square site.
  • The full closure of Silver Street at a point close to Tesco’s car park to the west of the Market Square site and the introduction of two-way traffic flow from this point to the Silver Street / High Street junction.

All three access options are tested and examined through the planning application submission. An explanation of the three options are considered at Section 7 of this Statement.

Links to documents for plan 14/0767/FL described as ‘Full planning application for 157 residential dwellings with car parking, new estate roads, public open space, canal side park and associated infrastructure':

Site Plan

The site plan for full application 14/0767/FL which covers 157 dwellings from around Humphries House to Silver Street, covering the former Silver Court Gardens site. Image from application documents. Click for a larger version.

Links to documents for plan 14/0771/OL described as ‘Application for outline planning permission for up to 40 residential units with means of access included (all other matters reserved)':

Site Plan market

The site plan for outline application 14/0771/OL which covers 40 dwellings on the old market site, and outlines possibilities for modifications to traffic flows in Silver Street. Image from planning documents. Click for a larger version.

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Paint it black


A remarkable sight at Chasewater – taken at 11:02am, Wednesday 17th September 2014. Image very kindly sent in for the Swan Lady by Dawn Hodges-Adcock.

There has been huge interest in the post I published last week on the subject of the rare and rather beautiful black swan spotted at Chasewater last Wednesday by The Swan Lady, Irene Hodges.

Irene and her husband spend a whole lot of time (and very probably cash, too) feeding the swans and waterfowl at Chasewater, keeping an eye on them in general and monitoring their wellbeing.


The Swan Lady – Irene and her husband – feed the swans during the heavy snows of late March, 2013. They were incredibly pleased to see their champions!

Irene, since getting that wonderful photo to me, has also sent a videoclip of the bird too – it’s fascinating. If anyone else has photos or footage of this very rare occurrence, or happens to know if the bird is still around, please do comment or mail me.

Very few Chasewater stories have garnered as much traffic as this one – and folk keep mailing me for information! If I get anything more, I’ll post it up.

It’s worth reading up on Black Swans – they’re native to the Antipodes but there were less than 50 feral birds in the UK in 2004.

Thanks to all involved – and especially The Swan Lady herself, for doing such wonderful and selfless work out of the kindness of her heart. Cheers, Irene!

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Walsall Wood FC v Dunkirk FC away this afternoon!


Dunkirk FC are a Nottingham team…

Saturday 20th September 2014

Walsall Wood travel to Nottingham

Walsall Wood v. Dunkirk

 Don’t break your Wood vows, be there, be faithful to your local heroes

3:00pm kickoff

Please get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Match report to follow!

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Serious accident between car and horse drawn cart near Stonnall

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Lazy Hill and Stonnall – a bad stretch of road. Imagery from Bing! Maps.

Following an incident this evening (Friday, 19th September 2014) a large amount of rumour has been circulating on local social media about the nature of a road traffic accident involving a horse-drawn vehicle on the Chester Road, at Lazy Hill, between Aldridge and Shire Oak.

Please note, there was one cart involved, and no race took place. The baseless rumours circulating are not helpful – please show respect for the injured and please keep comment on social media reasonable and responsible. Speculation isn’t helpful.

My sympathies to all concerned.

West Midlands Ambulance Service issued the following statement at 11:30pm:

Serious injuries to boy and teenage girl following collision between car and horse-drawn cart in Walsall

Friday 19th September 2014 – 11.30pm – Claire Brown.

A collision involving a car and a horse-drawn-cart in Walsall this evening has left a boy and a teenage girl requiring emergency pre-hospital treatment.

West Midlands Ambulance Service was called to the junction of the Chester Road and Lazy Hill in Stonnall shortly before 8.30pm (Friday). Three ambulances, a responder paramedic, a paramedic area support officer, a MERIT trauma doctor and medics from the Central Accident Resuscitation Emergency (CARE) team attended the scene.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: ‘Upon arrival crews found a horse-drawn cart and a car which had been involved in a significant collision.

‘A young boy, who had been riding the horse at the time of the collision, sustained a serious head injury and abrasions to his body. Due to the nature of the boy’s condition, medics took the decision to anaesthetise him on scene to stabilise him. The boy was immobilised before being taken by ambulance on trauma alert to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

‘A 17-year-old girl, from the cart, was thrown some distance in the collision. Upon assessment medics found she had sustained suspected spinal injuries. She was given pain relief and further pre-hospital care before being carefully immobilised by ambulance staff and alerted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, a regional trauma centre, for further emergency treatment.

‘A man and two-year-old boy, both from the cart, were assessed by ambulance staff and found to have suffered less serious injuries. Both were taken to Walsall Manor Hospital.

‘The driver of the car, a man believed to be in his 70s, sustained a minor head injury. He was also taken to Walsall Manor Hospital as a precaution.

‘Sadly, the horse was pronounced dead at the scene by an emergency vet.’


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Shire Oak to be refurbished


Looks interesting.

Looks like the Shire Oak is just about to be refurbished after a couple of years in the doldrums. Find out more here

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