April 1991 – Traders win battle over parking

Brownhills Gazette April 1991 issue 19_000001

Brownhills Gazette April 1991 issue 19 – 16 pages of serious stuff this month – Kids caring for the homeless, traders up in arms over parking issues with the new Aldi, some very dour letters from local Councillors plus another great archive posting. Please click for a larger version.

Continuing the scans of the Brownhills Gazette – I present issue 19 of the long lost freesheet, from April 1991 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 one has the conflict over parking caused by the new Aldi store construction (is that really 23 years old?), school kids campaigning for the homeless, a very strong letter from the Councillor Graham Walker on local fascism, and excellent archives post and loads more.

Brian Stringer was a brilliant editor who still knows his stuff, and campaigns relentlessly for the place he loves. Brian was clearly working hard and getting into his stride here.

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 19 April 1991 – PDF format

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City heights

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Can’t say enough how beautifully I think the Icon Gallery fits in with what’s around it. Gorgeous.

Well, it’s that time of year again, and yesterday I hopped on the Midland Red went to Birmingham to visit the Christmas Market and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city at Christmas.

I love Birmingham as readers will know, an attachment I developed as a teenager, but I’ve spent my life working there, passing through, seeing gigs, going to pubs and cycling around it – after decades I still adore the place.

It was a grey day that brightened up as the day went on, and by the time I visited the new library at lunchtime, it was actually quite lovely, but cold. I went to the ‘Secret Garden’, the vertigionous balcony garden on level 7, which had been closed due to ice the year before. It’s stunning, and I must get up there one night when it’s dark.

I love the plumes of steam, particularly from the chimney on the Icon Gallery.

The clashing architectures, busy streets and bustling market were wonderful, and reinforced yet again why I love this place so much.

As ever, loads more of this stuff on my 365daysofbiking journal.

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Walsall Wood FC entertain Loughborough this afternoon!

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Walsall Wood FC have a great reputation for entertaining football, and a keen, loyal and friendly bunch of supporters! Come join in the fun this Saturday and see some cracking football.

Saturday 13th December 2014

The Wood are at home to Loughborough University FC!

Can Walsall Wood sustain their form?

Best of luck to the Woodmen from me and all the readers

Kick off is 3:00pm

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

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Brownhills Christmas market come on down!

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A great thing for Brownhills…

Don’t forget that today and tomorrow (Saturday and Sunday 13-14th December 2014) – Brownhills will be hosting it’s first ever two-day Christmas market, with lots of other attractions for all the family from young to old.

Brownhills Town Centre Partnership have been working really hard on this, and there will be lots there: a free synthetic ice rink, Santa’s Grotto, birds of prey display (that’s really good – it was fabulous last year), Christmas Trail, donkeys and all sorts of other entertainment, including the Christmas Tree Festival at the Silver Street Church.

The whole lot runs from 11am to 4pm, both days. Why not get down there?

Also going on is the Silver Street Methodist Church Christmas Tree Festival, and David Evans sent me the following excellent pictures – so it’s well worth a visit too!

Meanwhile, if you’re organising anything for Christmas at all, please do drop me a line. I do like to promote local stuff wherever possible. It’s an easy way for you to reach thousands of readers a week, absolutely free of charge.

Please mail your details to BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Churches, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, It makes me mad!, Just plain daft, Local media, Local politics, News, Reader enquiries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Special branch

The resident rail expert on the Brownhills Blog has been at it once more – Ian Pell, a man with a huge knowledge of the local railways, has written another excellent piece which I present here, covering a mystery rail depot handing cakes, closure of the Walsall Wood line and that lost canal/rail interchange wharf behind the Station Hotel.

These are some remarkable pieces of research that I’m honoured to be able to feature here. I can’t thank Ian enough for his generosity in sharing such wonderful, enlightening work with us.

As far as the lost interchange goes, I honestly expected it to be no more than a small footnote in the larger rail history of the town. How wrong I was. We found photos, then a really good one surfaced; the conversation also expanded into the history of brewer and entrepreneur William Roberts.

The whole thing has proven to be a surprising rich seam – and it expands even further with this superb article.

If you have anything to add feel free to comment on the article or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Ian wrote:

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The last known passenger service down the Walsall Wood line before it was removed – well done to Ian Pell for spotting this was, in fact, the 1959 railtour (rather than 1957 as stated by the caption). From ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale.

I was wondering whether any of your readers can remember a distribution depot at Brownhills for Messrs J. Lyons and Company? The first of a series of depots appears to have been opened in Brownhills in March 1958 and between 12 and 14 containers were handled on a weekly basis from the bakery at Cadby Hall, London. The distribution depot was supplied by rail (hence my interest); cakes and pastries being forwarded in containers, with the traffic packed on wooden trays which were stacked to give a pay load of 2.5 to 3 tons per container.

The anticipated annual revenue for the traffic was in the region of £8,000 to £9,000. I am assuming that the traffic was handled by the Goods Depot off Pelsall Road, although I stand to be corrected.

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A remarkable letter. Image kindly supplied by Ian Pell. Click for a larger version.

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A remarkable letter. Image kindly supplied by Ian Pell. Click for a larger version.

On another matter, my good friend Mike Hollick has unearthed the attached letter from the General Manager of British Railways, London Midland Region, dated 8th October, 1958. It is evident from this correspondence as to the reason for the closure of the Walsall Wood Branch north of Bridge No.11 – Clayhanger. Ironically, it would appear that the railway’s demise was due to subsidence caused by coal mining – see the recent maps illustrating the underground workings from Walsall Wood Colliery, and by the insistence of the canal users for adequate clearance under the bridge for their barges! British Railways, on the other hand, were clearly not interested in a long term future for this section of railway!

The letter also gives a clue as to why the sidings at Norton Pool remained, ie:- NCB felt they had a need for them. This was because not only did it give a secondary route for coal from Five Ways Colliery to join the British Railway’s system at Anglesea, but it was also the route for locomotives from Five Ways Colliery to gain access to the NCB workshops at Chasetown, hence the reason why the Chasewater Railway found tracks when they relocated from Hednesford.

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A stunning image from an archive I intend to revisit here on the blog this weekend.

On another subject, the marvellous picture of Brownhills Wharf from 1958 is of great interest. The photograph appears to show scrap metal behind the wagons. Was this the result of scrapping of the wagons taking place on site? Certainly, the wagons appear to be in storage, and one looks like a Private Colliery wagon of which many were still in existence at that time, and were equally still being used on the British Railways network. The warehouse seems to no longer exist and there is an air of disuse about the place. The canal basin also doesn’t appear to be in use and is cordoned off.

Below are some of the snippets gleamed regarding the Wharf Branch

  • 1856 10 March
    Brownhills Canal Basins.
    The Public are respectfully informed that the Canal Basins at Brownhills Station are now completed, and ready for exchange of Mineral and other Traffic to and from the Railway.The basins will be found very convenient for the Furnaces at Pelsall, Birchills and other Works in the neighbourhood of Walsall.
    For rates and further information apply to -
    John .N. Brown, General Manager.
    Birmingham Gazette 17-3-1856
  • 1884
    Ordnance Survey map shows warehouse over the ‘west’ basin and two tracks.
  • 1899 22 November
    Plan illustrating proposal to replace existing signal cabin with a new box immediately to the Norton Junction side of the existing. The new box to be 21ft 6in x 12ft with a coal pen, ash bin and earth closet. It is to be elevated 7ft above the rail level and 7ft in distance from the Up running line. The wharf branch is notated as ‘siding No.3′.                                                                                                                                                                          (Staffordshire Records Office)
  • 1901
    OS map for 1901 shows the sidings and the wharf/canal basin ‘branch’, together with a warehouse at the canal basin over one canal basin and two tracks.
  • 1915
    2 chain survey plans show a warehouse over part of one of the canal basins.
  • 1930’s
    An aerial photograph of the time clearly shows the warehouse and a substantial volume of goods traffic; not just coal trucks but a variety of wagons.
  • 1952 June
    The aerial photograph shows 5 wagons, of which 4 are coal trucks near the wharf, with a further 3 coal wagons at the ‘east’ basin. Four tracks are just about visible though it is likely only the ‘east’ basin one was in use on a regular basis. The Wharf building has gone. It is believed this was closed and demolished prior to 1948?
    Sketches of the layout in the late 1950’s certainly appear to confirm that the 4 tracks were still available at that time.
  • 1960 16 November
    Plan produced to illustrate proposed new station for Brownhills in conjunction with AC electrification of Walsall – Burton passenger service. Drawing shows existing station buildings, existing station master’s house to be demolished and new station buildings on the up platform, with new shelter on the down platform. Platform heights changed. Plan also shows warehouse in goods yard as ‘disused’. (This is actually the one off Pelsall Road, which I believe was still in use until 1964 for rail traffic). Barrow crossing to be provided at north end of platforms.                                                                                                                                                       Railtrack Midlands ref:- 169889

Traffic continued to frequent the Wharf branch into the early 1960s. One suspects that like many sidings in the area it was in use purely for surplus and condemned wagons and was traversed infrequently. This seems to be borne out by the June 1963 aerial photograph which shows 8 passenger coaches on the Up loop, just fouling the points to the wharf siding.   Ron Derry, a relief signalman, recalls an WD 2-8-0 Austerity stalling on the branch in around 1964, and of the ensuring chaos caused by it blocking the section.

Mid-60s found the wharf branch consisting of only 1 long siding to the “east” basin. The land to the west, initially used, I believe for allotments, and around the other basin now being overgrown and wooded.

A closure date for the branch is still being sought, although I suspect like the Leighswood Branch it closed to regular traffic in 1960 and was then subsequently use for storage. Any information from your readers would be greatly and keenly appreciated.

Hope the above is of interest.

Kind regards
Ian

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March 1991 – Canal Towpath being destroyed

Brownhills Gazette March 1991 issue 18_000001

Brownhills Gazette March 1991 issue 18 – 20 pages of very varied stuff – from the state of the Silver Street Marina to poor housing in the town. Great stuff inside on local history, a poem for Are Reg, an unusual water leak and much more! Please click for a larger version.

Continuing the scans of the Brownhills Gazette – I present issue 18 of the long lost freesheet, from March 1991 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 one has the parlous state of the Silver Street ‘mariana'; Richard Shepherd with a curious campaign on local housing, more from Are Reg, discussion of local history and more great period adverts.

Brian Stringer was a brilliant editor who still knows his stuff, and campaigns relentlessly for the place he loves. Brian was clearly working hard and getting into his stride here.

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 18 March 1991 – PDF format

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Brownhills Christmas market – this weekend!

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A great thing for Brownhills…

Don’t forget that this weekend – Saturday and Sunday 13-14th December 2014 – Brownhills will be hosting it’s first ever two-day Christmas market, with lots of other attractions for all the family from young to old.

Brownhills Town Centre Partnership have been working really hard on this, and there will be lots there: a free synthetic ice rink, Santa’s Grotto, birds of prey display (that’s really good – it was fabulous last year), Christmas Trail, donkeys and all sorts of other entertainment, including the Christmas Tree Festival at the Silver Street Church.

Nikki Rolls, the organiser, says she still has room for five more stalls, so if you fancy, do get in touch. Last year’s Christmas Magic day was wonderful. The Walsall night markets were excellent, and I’m really looking forward to this.

 You can contact her via the Brownhills Town Centre Partnership Facebook Page, email on RollsN@walsall.gov.uk or by good old fashioned telephone on 07904 264920.

I’d like to personally thank Nikki and the team for the hard work they have put into this – it’s been very impressive.

It’s easy to run down our town and say nothing ever happens, but this is a real chance to come together and stage something we can all enjoy.

Walsall Council issued this press release yesterday:

Thousands of visitors are set to brave the elements and enjoy some festive fun this weekend when Brownhills first ever Christmas Market rolls into town.

Between 35 to 40 stalls selling niche, bespoke goods such as jewellery, crafts, hot chocolate, hot dogs and barbecued ribs, waffles, doughnuts and cakes will be staged at the Ravenscourt Precinct off the High Street on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 December.

And organisers say that there is still space for around 5 stalls and are looking to hear from traders who can sell bespoke candles, artisan bread, Christmas wreaths and trees.

Councillor Mohammad Nazir, portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “We’re looking to stage a brilliant event for the town and with any luck, it could be a regular feature.

‘There’s been a great response from traders in the area and we’re confident this event will prove a hit with visitors this weekend.’

Organiser Nikki Rolls, added: “The Night Market in Walsall Town Centre was very popular and it would be excellent if we could attract similar sized crowds to Brownhills.

‘There’s still time and space for traders to come forward and take part. We’d love to hear from anyone who can sell bespoke goods, so please get in touch.’

A fee of £10 for non-food items and £20 to sell food will be charged to stallholders. Fees are the same for one or both days.

Stall holders who are interested in supporting the event must bring their own facilities including table and chairs, marquee and lighting is desired. You must provide a copy of your public liability insurance is required and the necessary documentation if you are a food trader.

Traders who are interested in running a stall at the event can contact Nikki Rolls on 07904 264920 or email RollsN@walsall.gov.uk

‘Nikki and her team have spent countless hours preparing for the event this weekend, so I hope local people will show their support,’ added Cllr Nazir.

Meanwhile, if you’re organising anything for Christmas at all, please do drop me a line. I do like to promote local stuff wherever possible. It’s an easy way for you to reach thousands of readers a week, absolutely free of charge.

Please mail your details to BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Churches, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, It makes me mad!, Just plain daft, Local media, Local politics, News, Reader enquiries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment