Continuing the trawling of material relating to mining on Brownhills Common and the origins of Engine Lane, I happened upon a collection of survey plans in the excellent book ‘Coal Mining in Walsall Wood, Brownhills and Aldridge’ by Brian Rollins and Walsall Local History Centre. These are a remarkable set of historical documents, but it took me a while to get my head around them. I present just one here, as that’s enough to illustrate the point. I’ve two versions, the original, as scanned from the book, and a second, rotated and annotated to make sense. They were created by Brookes R. Smith – presumably a surveyor or valuer – and dated September 1841. They almost look like someone’s geography homework. I’m utterly captivated by them. Do study the notes of the draftsman, they’re remarkable.
You can download a .PDF copy of the annotated version by clicking here – it’s 11.2MB in size, so could take a while to download, but it’s better quality than the one above. The water engine marked south of the Rising Sun caught my interest, as did the Offices on Watling Street and Turks Head – a pub later superseded by the Hussey Arms, named after Phineas Fowke Hussey, Lord of the Manor and owner of the coalfield.
There’s also an interesting statement on page 41 of the same book:
Mr. Harrison sank the Cathedral Pit in the Rising Sun Trough and this later became the location of the main pumping arrangement. It superseded what is known as the New Engine (?) on the plan of Brookes R. Smith of 1841 (the drawing above) which was situated at shafts behind the Rising Sun. The Sun Pit and Hart Pit were also sunk about this time and were later followed by the three shafts of the Wyrley Common Colliery, called the Red, White and Blue. All this took place in the Manor of Wyrley. In the same vicinity, but in the Manor of Norton, Conduit No. 1 was developed on the south side of the Watling Street, later followed by other Conduit Pits in a north-westerly direction.
I’m now confused. Stuff I thought I knew is wrong, and everything I seem to read leads in different directions, but it’s all absolutely fascinating. If anyone has more to add, please do so. This is easily the most involving, detailed stuff I’ve done on the Brownhills Blog. I feel like Tamworth Time Hikes, but where is Lorenzo when you need him?
As a side issue, I popped up to the common yesterday to investigate the position of the enclosure marked on the 1884 map that David Fellows feels may have been a pump house. I can’t find any trace, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there, or that I think he’s wrong. My next step will be to generate a Google Earth overlay of the relevant OS maps which can be loaded into a Garmin GPS, and then go hunting. Stay tuned.