Chasewater: here’s why the water is low


Over the autumn, water l;evils at Chasewater have become much lower than we’re used to.

Lately, lots of people have been contacting me asking why the water level is so low at Chasewater, and many – including the champion of the waterfowl, Swan Lady Irene Hodges – have been very concerned about the impact of low water levels on the wildlife there.

My first reaction to this is that I share the concern, but I would note that since it refilled, Chasewater has been unusually high, and we’ve got used to that situation. It should be remembered that the reservoir exists and still functions as a feeder for the West Midlands canal network, and the Canal and River Trust have every right to use it to top up the canal network as necessary.

I have been in conversation with Lichfield District and Staffordshire County Councillor Sue Woodward, who has kindly been helping to obtain a true picture of what’s going on so I can reassure readers and those worried about the park they love.


Repairing the drain was a quick job, but water levels had to be lowered to enable the work.

Following a statement from Noreen Davidson, Rural Access Manager at Staffordshire County Council, I can share the following information…

The level was initially lowered to allow a damaged drain in the dam to be repaired. This was carried out quickly and is now complete. The work took less than a week, but even so, the water had to be lowered to enable the work to take place.

The level is now lower because the Canal and Rivers Trust have recently drawn off some water in addition to that released to allow the work to take place. The water level has been higher than average this year because of the very high rainfall last winter. The 1.3 metres that had to be drawn down to carry out the works reduced the level to the average for this time of year.

However, since the Canal and Rivers Trust have also recently used the Chasewater to top up the level for the canal network (as is their right), the water level has dropped to it’s current level. The valves are now closed, and the Trust have indicated that they are not expecting to draw down any more and that Chasewater’s level should return to its normal level over the winter provided that we have sufficient rain.

Chasewater is very dear to me as it is to many, many readers, and I’ve been trying to get information for a while now, and I’d like to thank Councillor Woodward and Noreen Davidson for their help in this matter. Hopefully, this statement will put minds to rest and our favourite reservoir should fill up in the coming months (although not too quickly, eh? I don’t want to spend a third consecutive winter tipping water out of my hat.)

As Irene pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago, the young swans hatched this year are now on Chasewater with the main flock, and it’s important the ecology continues to recover so that they may have necessary food over the winter.


This year’s new arrivals are already discovering the joys of Chasewater…


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Hey up – kitten lost on the Hussey Estate


The lost kitten looks like this cute bundle of fur. Image supplied by Becci.

This is an desperate appeal for help that came in via Facebook this evening (17th October 2014) – Becci Saich messaged me to ask if I could share her appeal to try and find her lost kitten.

If the name seems familiar, Becci was the lady who recently found a dog on the Hussey Estate and worked very hard to try and reunite him with his owners. Let’s see if we can repay her community spirit by finding her wee cat.

If you live on the Hussey Estate or nearby, please check sheds and garages, please.

Becci asked:

Hi Bob

Please help find my kitten – he’s been missing since yesterday at around 5pm.

He is 12 weeks old last seen in Albion Road on the Hussey Estate  – he is only small for his age and looks very similar to this kitten in the picture

Becci Saich

If you find puss, please comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, or contact Becci direct via Facebook.

Cheers all…


Please check sheds, outbuildings and garages for a wee lost kitten.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Interesting photos, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A musical evening in Brownhills – this Saturday!

reniLocal chap and musician John Carver contacted me a week or so ago to ask me to give this fine folk gig a plug, starring a lady with a rather remarkable local tale to tell – and she’s supported by some rather excellent Welsh musicians, too.

The whole think takes place on Saturday evening at the Methodist Church in Silver Street, Brownhills, so what’s not to love? It’s only a fiver for a great night’s music and entertainment.

John Carver wrote:

141018 Poster

Looks like a really great night out.

Dear Bob

I’m really not sure if we have met or not, but as a local Brownhills West resident for 36 years, and a life long Walsall (Staffordshire) man I have dipped in and out of your blog pages over the years, and have taken a closer interest in the issues with Chasewater Dam.

I have a piece of local event news which you may feel is appropriate to put into your diary and blog.

Local  folk veteran Jean Ward is making a popular return to Brownhills Methodist Church on October 18th.  Accompanied by her daughter Mandy , and long term guitarist John Carver the trio will be performing a number of old favourites and some new songs.

The evening will also feature the trio Brenig, who are visiting from Aberystwyth.

Come and join us , Doors open 6:30 entrance £5

Jean will be known to many local residents as she grew up in Walsall Wood as Jean Craddock, she married a local gas board man Larui Ward in 1957 and lived and worked in Brownhills for a number of years. She worked at Ducketts shop in Lichfield Road. She sang with Kenny Ball and other bands of that era, making records, radio and television appearances. Lauri and Jean were in the vanguard of the folk revival of the late 1960 & 70’s by running folk clubs in nearby Heath Hayes and the Hazel Slade. They brought many acts to the club before they became household names, Jasper Carrott, and Barbara Dickson to name couple.

Jean continued to sing for many years accompanied by a variety of local instrumentalists including Terry McCann, John and Mike Raven, Chris Towe, Pete Cocoran, and John Baker and John Carver.

In 1976 she released her own album Stay Not Late to the acclaim of many of the folk scenes commentators, but sadly after 1990 family problems and her husbands death she virtually gave up singing in public until a couple of years ago.

Now an octogenarian, with replacement hip and knee, she announced herself as the bionic granny to the directors auditions for the 2014’s Britains Got Talent. Singing as a trio with Mandy her daughter and John Carver she was eliminated at the second audition, but it was a good experience.

Mandy lives in Wales and is part of a group called Brenig, named after a local river. Along with Mary on violin, and Daniel they sing Daniel’s self penned songs about Wales and its history.

They are joining Jean for the event at the Methodist Church in October.

Kind regards
John Carver

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Chasewater, Churches, Clayhanger stuff, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local media, Local music, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quality is important – What lies beneath once more

Hi folks – it’s not often I do this here on the blog, but I feel that quality is important, particularly in the recording of historically important documents I present, and an article I wasn’t happy with at all was published here a few weeks ago with a very heavy heart.

The 6 foot long Walsall Wood mining plan I shared a few weeks ago just wasn’t up to scratch, and I’m sorry for that; it was legible, but the scan was was too compressed to appreciate the full detail of the document. Sadly, the bureaux who scanned the plan failed to understand my requirements after two attempts, and in the end I ran with what I had.

Since then I’ve found an imaging geek who understand my needs, and they rescanned the plan in top quality for free, as a sample to see if my requirements were met. They have been exceeded, and these scans are beautiful and brilliant.

I’m reissuing this post now with higher resolution, better quality imagery and I’m sure readers will be interested to know I have another of these long plans currently being scanned for an upcoming article.

I’d like to thank the man with the scanner; if he passes by, cheers. Geek to geek services; the way forward. Thanks for excellent service.


Now rescanned in high quality – Over six feet long, drawn on velum, the workings in the Robbins Seam at Walsall Wood Colliery as they affected the railway line between Walsall Wood and Brownhills. A remarkable document. Click for a larger version, or see the full detail scan below.

Download the 200 DPI high quality PDF version of the above here – 18.6 megabytes

Download the 400 DPI Ultra high quality PDF version of the above here – 122 megabytes

Way back at the beginning of August, I shared a partial scan of a document I’d acquired – a mining plan of how workings in the Robbins coal seam under Walsall Wood, Clayhanger and Brownhills affected the railway line above.

Well, I’ve finally got this 6 feet long plan scanned for all to ponder over.

Around fourteen inches wide, and six feet long. It’s a plan, on velum, of the progress of coal extraction in the Robins seam from under Walsall Wood and Clayhanger up until the early 1960s. The map is hand drafted. The red areas show where coal was extracted.

There’s lots to see here, included exploratory digs that entered from sees above. It’s a fascinating thing, to be sure.

I’ve created a Google Earth overlay for readers to orient the plan. Because it’s on fabric, it’s only geometrically well aligned at the Walsall Wood end, however it’s good enough at the Brownhills end to give a reasonable idea.

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The plan overlaid on Google Earth – note Walsall Wood, left, and Brownhills right. At the right hand side the alignment is poor. You can’t accurately maintain geometric with a fabric plan this long! Click for a larger version.

You can download this overlay to use in Google Earth by clicking the link below – it can also be used as a basemap in Garmin GPS devices. Instructions on the use of this in Google Earth can be found in this post.

Walsall Wood Colliery Plan Google Earth overly 5.8 megabytes

Please note that this is an indication only; this plan could be wrong, or metres out. Please don’t use it for anything serious. It’s for information only.

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The plan shows where the main shafts were to Walsall Wood Colliery. Note how one lies beneath a building the the yard of the former Veolia/Effluent Disposal works; this was the sluice-house where industrial waste was tipped into the former workings in the 1970s and 80s. Click for a larger version.

Note the shafts are marked, and one is under the building that was constructed as the sluice house for tipping the chemical waste into the mine after it’s closure in 1964.

Think about the fact that these are the workings in just one seam – there were several others – so it goes to illustrate the huge number of voids and their span that existed below our area where the black gold was dug out. Most of this was backfilled with spoil after the mine ceased production; after that, the remainder was filled with industrial waste.

Consider also that this huge area would have been dug either by hand, or fairly minimal mechanisation; by the time Walsall Wood Colliery closed in 1964, it was not modernised and it didn’t employ the modern cutting machinery that other mines did.

This is local history gold – and bear in mind this is only one seam: there would e separate drawings for each one.

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

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Cannock Chase, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Shared media, Shared memories, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How do you like these apples?


Can’t been an English apple. I adore English Cox’s. Image from Wikimedia commons.

We are celebrating the good old English Apples here at Chasewater Innovation Centre on Sunday 19th October 1pm – 4pm. Admission and parking is free, and we are having stalls, gifts, crafts and fun for all the family! There will be many different species of apples to try, and we will be pressing apples the old fashioned way for the freshest apple juice you have ever tasted!

Come and experience our Apple Day once again, with an afternoon of craft activities, stalls and all the information you need on the wonderful English Apple!

Come along for locally brewed Cider, stalls with interesting an unusual things to buy, and stay for a cup of tea and a cake!

Look forward to seeing you there – it’s at:

The Innovation Centre,
Pool Lane,
WS8 7NL.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Chasewater, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Christmas market for Brownhills?

Just a normal day in Brownhills....

Just a normal day in Brownhills….

I’ve had the following press release in from Walsall Council, and I think this is a really, really good idea – a two-day Christmas market planned for Brownhills over the weekend of 13-14 December 2014, and the council are appealing for stallholders.

At only £10 for non-food and £20 for food stalls, this could well be a brilliant event – and last year’s Christmas Magic day was wonderful. The Walsall night markets were excellent, and I hope some of the same traders could attend.

Please folks – 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. Contact details at foot of the release.


It would e great to get some of the night-market magic to Brownhills.

Walsall Council said:

Ho, ho, ho! Christmas Market in store for Brownhills event

A Christmas market selling niche goods, including crafts, jewellery, continental gifts and hot food could be in the pipeline for Brownhills this year.

Organisers for this year’s annual Christmas event on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 December in the town want to model the market on the popular Walsall Night Market – and are calling on local and regional traders to contact them as soon as possible.

Space will be erected in Ravenscourt Precinct, High Street, Brownhills to provide enough room for 40 stalls.

Organiser Nikki Rolls from Walsall Council’s District Centre Management team, said: ‘We’re hoping to put on a really good event. The Night Market in Walsall Town Centre was extremely popular and we want to create a similar event here in Brownhills.

‘We’re seeking a high quality, niche Christmas Market consisting of traders in crafts, jewellery, bespoke and novelty gifts, continental goods and cottage industry businesses. If this is you, we’d love to hear from you.’

The event will run from 10am until 4pm on both days and will be supported by a Santa’s Grotto, children’s rides and other festive themed entertainment.

Stall holders will be charged a fee of £10 for non-food items and £20 to sell food. 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.

Councillor Mohammad Nazir, portfolio holder for regeneration added: ‘This should be a great event for the people and visitors to Brownhills. I hope local people get behind this and who knows, it could be a regular event for the town.’

To take part or find out more information please contact Nikki Rolls on 07904 264920 or email her at

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

Strolling players!


Oops… forgot to mention this last week…

For some time now I’ve been promoting the brilliant parent and toddler walking and social group that takes place weekly at Chasewater – Chasewater Strollers, who continue to grow in number and recently made an appeal for toys and equipment to set up a playgroup.

Well, sadly last week I forgot to point out that the Strollers changed their meeting venue from the Innovation Centre at Chasewater to St. Anne’s Church in Chasetown, just in Church Street up from the Football Club. This new venue is great for the usual Chasewater walk, and has enabled them to set up a ‘Stay and play’ group for after walk socialising.

Esther Allen, the organiser, wrote to me last Thursday the following lovely email, with an additional headsup for any local musicians.

I’ll let Esther explain:

Hi Bob

Thank you so much for the toys shout out. I am pleased to report a lovely couple came down last week with lots of toys out of their loft that their grandchildren didn’t use anymore.

You will have to pop down some time for a cuppa and a stroll if you are ever free on a Monday morning!

Also I don’t know if you will see this in time or if it is of interest but I also play in an amateur orchestra and wondered if you would be inclined to post a call for players on your blog? We were featured in the Express and Star last week!

Do you know anyone local to Walsall way who plays an orchestral instrument grade 5 standard and above? Walsall Symphony Orchestra are having an open rehearsal this Monday 13th October 2014 at Forest Arts Centre 7:45-9:30pm. The orchestra is particularly looking for string and brass players.

If you know anyone who you think might enjoy it please let them know as they are a lovely little orchestra and play some sell out concerts!

Walsall Symphony Orchestra

Thanks Bob for all the great work,

Esther Allen

Thanks to Esther for the lovely words, it’s nice to know that sometimes this blog can make a difference. And if you have the talent, and fancy joining an excellent local orchestra, tell them you read about it here!

Search for Chasewater Strollers on Facebook

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

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Chasewater, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment