Friend of the blog and top local government operative Gareth Thomas has been at it again. Not only has he started his own, rather wonderful looking blog, but he’s sent me a whole tranche of new aerial images. Quickly flicking through some from 1971, I spotted something really interesting.
Long time readers will know that I’m practically obsessed by the drainage system around Clayhanger, the floods the village used to suffer, the refuse tip on The Spot and it’s subsequent reclamation to become Clayhanger Common. One of the questions that has been perplexing me for some time is that of when the drainage of the area was isolated, enhanced and fitted.
The below image is dated 1971. It shows most of central Brownhills, including what is now Clayhanger Common, in use as a refuse tip.
Note the operations around the area of the Former Walsall Wood Colliery – the pit site is cleared, and the outline of Maybrook Road is emerging. Over the canal behind the Big House, the spoil heap is still being shaped in the former Ernest Jones sand quarry. Directly north, the mounds of refuse can be seen on what is now Clayhanger Common.
A blow up and enhancement shows the area in question:
Notice the large ‘Y’ shaped drainage ditch system, and the cutting around the canal? This would drain the fluid from the refuse – rainwater, slurry etc. – straight into the Ford Brook. At the south, the channel emerges directly behind the Clayhanger Bridge canal overflow outfall. Excess canal water sluiced these drainage bunds. The outfall from the northern overflow – now opposite Tesco – seems to follow the hedgeline south to the Ford Brook, and appears culverted.
The Ford Brook, and the River Tame it became were terribly polluted in the 1970’s. It’s not hard to see why.
A further zoom in gives the following detail:
I’m hoping, if I ask really nicely, that Gareth will scan this at a higher resolution for me. It’s a remarkable piece of detail, and clearly dates the modern drainage system around The Spot as post-1971. It was in place by 1978, I remember the access chambers standing tall above the ground. Who installed it, when, and was anybody local employed on the project?
This is a major, major piece of local infrastructure that completely transformed the quality of life in Clayhanger, and we hardly have any information about it.
My wholehearted gratitude and thanks, as ever, to Gareth. Please check out his blog when you can. It’s because of far-sighted and generous collaborations like this from local government that amateurs like us are able to better understand out local history.
Comments, catcalls or clarifications? Comment here or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.