New allotments for Brownhills and Chasetown – what do you think?

Hey folks – a couple of weeks ago I featured an article prompted by an email from Declan Hammonds of Sewell Hammods Group who have purchased a site near Chasewater that was for many years occupied by a sewage works. It sits on the area of land between the canal and Chasetown Bypass/M6 Toll interchange, in an area sometimes referred to as ‘The Sandhills’.

I’ve tried finding a web presence for Brownhills Allotment Society mentioned on the flyer but can’t find anything, which is curious. They appear to have had a twitter account which was deleted. And contact for them would be useful please.

You can read that post here, which gives the location, or see the foot of this post where I’ve included it again for completeness.

The approximate proposed site. Imagery from Apple Maps.

Declan is fielding views from readers about converting the site into allotments, which seems like a fine idea to me.

Declan wrote to me last week:

Good Afternoon,

I write further to my previous email concerning the former Brownhills Sewage Works in Walsall. We have read with interest your post on the matter and the replies of your readers.

After a number of enquiries into our intentions at the site, we are exploring the possibility of providing allotment gardens. We would be interested in your view/opinions on the matter.

We would also be very keen to hear from your readers as stakeholders in the site, being that many of them probably use the footpath network that crosses it.

Regards
Declan

Declan Hammonds BSc (Hons) MICFor MArborA
Director

So, what do you think? Please do comment here or mail me – comment is probably better here where it’s easier for Declan to find than on social media.

Cheers all, and thanks to Declan for being so considerate.

I originally posted:

1938 1:2,500 ordnance survey plot of Anglesey Wharf overlaid on recent Google Earth imagery. The lost sewage works is circled. Click for a larger version.

An interesting enquiry came in recently from Declan Hammonds, who is interested in the history of a bit of edgeland in Brownhills, between the former Anglesey Wharf and the M6 Toll/Chasetown Bypass interchange that used to contain a sewage works.

The works is marked on some maps as Lichfield Rural District Council, and on others, Brownhills.

Declan asked:

Good Evening,
We have recently purchased the site of the former Brownhills RDC Sewage Works off Whitehorse road in Walsall (over the canal bridge) and wonder if this is the site mentioned and photographed in your blog.
Whilst the land has been purchased through our company, I take great interest in historical land use and wonder if you have any information on when the site last operated or was demolished.
The site has been cleared in its entirety and all that remains of its past is the sign (picture attached) and a few sporadic manhole covers.
Regards
Declan

The sewage works – clearly demolished – as seen in the 1963 NCB aerial survey. Click for a larger version. Image courtesy of Lichfield District Council.

The facility seems to have been gone by 1963, when the NCB did their aerial survey of the area – this above shows the adjacent sand quarry growing and what appears to be the remains of the circular filter beds on the ground.

If I’m honest, I’m unclear whose sewage this installation would have been filtering unless there was a sewer under the canal, but I’d say it discharged into the nearby Crane Brook. The White Horse Estate doesn’t seem to have grown until after the plant’s demise.

This 1962 1:1250 Ordnance Survey excerpt shows the sewage works expanded and still functional – but this will have been exhibiting mapping lag so it wasn’t necessarily there in 1962 at all. Click for a larger version.

Can anyone help please? It’s a really good question and a local feature I’d noted before but not really thought about. There has been some discussion of this in the past, but nothing solid. As it were.

If you can help, please do: Comment on this post, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tap my window on social media. Cheers to Declan for a really interesting enquiry.

The only remnant? Image kindly supplied by Declan Hammonds.

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A hundred years apart: Meet me on the street

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Old friend of the blog Ian Broad has been in touch again to continue his series of hundred years apart photos – this is the sixth set – he’s creating as part of his lockdown exercise bike rides.

This set are from the more southerly e and of town – where do you recognise? Not too hard this week…

The first three images be seen in this post here, the second set can be seen here and the third wonderful set can be seen here. A couple of weeks ago, the fourth set also caused a lot of debate on social media and the fifth set last week covered some great pubs.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

These brilliant images have caused quite the stir – a wonderfully popular project from a great blog contributor.

Ian has previously supplied lots of material for the blog. including an eternally popular 1982 Shire Oak School leaver group photo outside the Royal Oak pub in Shire Oak and lots about the history of Ian’s family shop Tom’s Cabin, a fixture of Brownhills for many years throughout the 1980s.

Jill Manchester did this with great success a few years ago in Walsall Wood.

As usual, I shan’t identify locations, I’ll let readers work them out…

Thanks to Ian for another great post and very thought provoking set of images, and if you have any views on this wonderful work, please do comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

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The demolition of a much loved local

I thought I’d continue sharing the hugely popular run of archive images today from the immense Gerald Reece collection. This set is a remarkable set I had no idea existed of the legendary pub ‘The Sportsman’, formerly The Huntsman, and before that Brownhills Working Mens Club [Not Ogley as I originally asserted, sorry – Bob] – being demolished.

This would I think be early to mid 1990s. It was replaced by Smithys Forge pub.

These images have been scanned by David Evans from Gerald’s material recently donated to the blog, and shows the loss of an very much loved, if frankly ugly, local icon.

I thank Gerald and David for yet another remarkable set – you are a very wonderful and generous gentlemen.

The donor of these remarkable images, Gerald Reece is of course a talented and superlative local historian, indeed now resident in Devon, who wrote the seminal work ‘Brownhills – A walk into history’ upon which this blog stands.

What do you recall from this gallery? If you have any thoughts or questions, please do share them – comment here, find me on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Gerald and Cherry Reece: on whose shoulders all my work here stands. Image kindly supplied by David Evans.
Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, planning, Reader enquiries, Shared media | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ogley Hay May Day 1952-3: A historical Staple!

Images kindly supplied by Elizabeth Staples. Click for larger versions.

In the last couple of weeks old friend of the blog Elizabeth Staples – mother of the remarkably talented Mark Staples who, with others, created the 1880s Brownhills local history book whilst still at school – has posted the above gallery of Ogley Hay Infants School’s May Day celebrations from 1952/3.

This is a wonderful set, a little different to the many May Day pictures we’ve had before: Rather than the usual posed class photos – which are always excellent, but in a different way – these show a school busy and having fun, and really convey the spirit of the event, the same way that the gym photos shared by Dawn Hayton a couple of years ago did. There are real gems to be found in the detail.

Apart from the school and year, I have no information, so get to it – what do you remember? Comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or buttonhole me on social media.

Thanks to Elizabeth for a gorgeous set that is bound to be very popular indeed.

I include Dawn Hayton original set below, for further memory jogging!

On wet days, the maypole dane apparently took place in the school hall. The gym equipment on the walls reminded me of my school. What a fantastic expression! Image Kindly supplied by Dawn Hayton.

It’s time, I think for the last set in the amazing collection of images sent in by old pal of the blog Dawn Hayton, from her mother’s personal collection – and this is a fantastic set continuing the recent Ogley Hay School May Day celebrations that were a feature of the school for many years.

This photos compliment the other May Day images from Janet Bullock here, the follow up set from Kate Dixon here and this wonderful one from Sheila Kelly here.

Can anyone name the other children please? Image Kindly supplied by Dawn Hayton.

These images are beautiful and the photography and scanning are very high quality.

Of the whole donation from Dawn and her mum, there are three distinct sets – this one, the one of Brownhills Carnival in the 1970s here and also the very popular one of the 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations in Middleton and Freeth Road here.

A stunning image of Dawn Hayton. Some good stuff in the background, too!Image Kindly supplied by Dawn Hayton.

My thanks to Dawn and her mum for some wonderful memory-jogging photos – they really are wonderful and very much appreciated.

If you see anyone you recognise, or have anything to add, please do.

Comment here or mail me: Brownhillsbob at Googlemail dot com.

Love the flowers! Can anyone help with names please? Image Kindly supplied by Dawn Hayton.

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Reports of bogus workmen preying on local elderly: Please warn your friends!

I note with concern that the bogus workmen touting for gutter clearances and gardening and then bullying victims to pay an inflated bill are once again in operation and targeting the local elderly folk.

Picture from Police Scotland.

I have seen several reports in the last week in the Burntwood, Brownhills and Norton areas of this chancers door knocking and being  intimidating. 

Never take on gardeners or workpeople do do jobs on your property in response to a knock at the door. Always use reputable, known traders and get quotes beforehand. 

Please tell your relatives and neighbours about these scammers, and impress upon them how important it is not to be menaced into buying, or giving money for services  at the door, no matter how plausible the people demanding cash are. Genuine companies will always contact you by other means.

Explain that no official body will turn up unannounced demanding money for services like gardening, drain cleaning, fence repairs, tree pruning etc., and that if they are at all unsure of any caller, to close the door and contact the police.

Scumbags preying on the elderly and vulnerable are lower than a snake’s knees.

Please,  if you have any further information relating to this matter, or if you’ve witnessed something suspicious, please contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 (999 in an emergency, obviously) or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, Local media, News, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community | Leave a comment

Time to be careful around the local deer, please…

This is really important with the deer currently preparing to nurture their young.

I need to alert readers if possible to the issue of the local deer population at the moment, many of whom will be giving birth or nurturing this season’s young – last year a concerned local came across a newly born fawn on Brownhills Common and was challenged by the mother.

They can be very aggressive in protection of their offspring.

The man who made the discovery was concerned for the health of the fawn and called rangers and the RSPCA – who judged that the fawn was fine and should be left alone.

If you are concerned for the health or other aspects of a deer, you can call the police on 101 who will contact the on call ranger for help. But fawns should be left – nature will take its course.

If there’s been a serious traffic collision, of course dial 999.

As the days move on to high summer, the females will be straying from their normal herd groupings and places to find quiet cover to give birth, and then they’ll be quite protective of their young.

A very long-range photo (hence the poor quality) showing heavily pregnant fallow deer on the Chase. They were skittish, and clearly easily spooked.

I know we all love these beautiful, majestic creatures and seeing them on the commons and green spaces hereabouts is always a treat – but at the moment, the ladies will be truculent and intolerant of dogs and nuisance.

If you’re in a place where there are likely to be deer, make sure your dog is on a lead, and keep your distance. This is true at any time especially at Chasewater where morons with out of control animals every year are responsible for scared deer and disturbed nesting birds – please don’t be like them; control your hounds please.

If you’re lucky you’ll see fawns as they become mobile and believe me, they have cute in bucketloads – but if you find one alone, heed the warning above; leave well alone and don’t touch because momma will be back!

These bathing beauties were spotted taking a dip in the canal near Chasewater back at this time in 2017 by good pal and top fellow blogger Linda Mason.

This is, however a great time of year to spot deer if you’re responsible, and who knows you may spot them bathing like Linda did above and Angela Morris recorded in 2016 when she created the following footage. My thanks to Angela for sharing it.

I think almost everyone hereabouts love the deer, and they are wonderful to watch. Please do, but do so responsibly – and feel free to share any footage you create!

Thanks, all.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Cannock Chase, Chasewater, Clayhanger stuff, cycling, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A further sad update from New Hall Mill

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New Hall Mill is a splendid place, restored and run by wonderfully dedicated volunteers.

Yesterday, I had another sad update from Alan Dawson about New Hall Mill, that fabulous historic gem of a working watermill just down the road near Sutton Coldfield.

Regular readers will know well I always plug their events and am a keen supporter of what they’re doing.

So it’s very sad, but of course, totally understandable that the Friends of New Hall Mill have now decided to keep the attraction closed throughout 2020 and hope to open again in May of next year.

One of my favourite things about curating the blog in summer is knowing I can direct a healthy flow of interested folk to great, otherwise hidden local attractions like New Hall Mill. I love the place and adore getting them better known – the mill is gorgeous and so quintessentially English it’s impossible not to love.

To see it closed for a whole year fills me with sadness.

This is absolutely the correct action, but by jove, I’ll miss these folk and their events.

Alan Dawson, on behalf of The Friends of New Hall Mill, said:

Hi Bob

              New Hall Mill – Coronavirus Update

I hope that you are well and keeping yourself socially distanced from others during these horrendous times.

As I have previously indicated – We are aware of the interest that your blog creates, many visitors to the mill indicating that their attendance was the result of your promoting the open days, for which we are immensely grateful.

Could you please post the following updated information on your blog?

NEW HALL MILL – Unfortunately, we have to report that New Hall Mill will not be open to visitors during 2020. This decision has not been taken lightly as we know how much pleasure is gained by both visitors and ourselves.

We cannot open the site owing to very important Health and Safety issues –

  1. Many of our volunteers fall into the “At Risk” category, we had already received notifications that a number would not be available for attendance on open days this year due to the pandemic.
  1. It is impossible to be “Socially Distant” in the Mill, Tea Room & Gift Shop.

The Health and Well Being of our volunteers, event exhibitors and the public has to be our number one priority during these unprecedented  times.

We hope that readers understand our situation. We expect to reopen in May 2021 and look forward to seeing you then.

Our Face Book page NEW HALL MILL will post updates throughout our closed period.

Many thanks in anticipation, Best wishes from New Hall Valley

Alan Dawson – A friend of New Hall Mill

More details can be found on their website – www.newhallmill.org.uk or their Facebook page here.

Obviously, I would imagine the same goes for similar attractions locally like Balleny Green miniature railway at Little Hay, Clay Mills pumping station near Burton, Klondyke Mill at Draycott and so forth.

This is so very sad but I will be so ready to welcome them all back when this strange time passes. My best wishes to Alan and all at New Hall Mill, and to all those volunteers, organisers and grafters who put events on and now find themselves oddly spare for a season.

My sympathies. See you on the other side.

Posted in cycling, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walsall tips to reopen with limited operations – but please be patient!

On your marks – get set – and toss! Image from Walsall Council.

An important note here to point out that Walsall Council’s tips – known as Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) reopen today, Saturday 16th May 2020 following their closure during the coronavirus pandemic in line with government guidelines that declared tip runs were not ‘essential journeys’.

Readers will find all the relevant information below and SHOULD BE PREPARED TO QUEUE. Strict social distancing will be enforced, and the actual waste that can be accepted is limited, again by government instruction. Traffic will not be allowed to enter Merchants Way in Aldridge from Snubbers Green Road.

You can find out all you need to know in the details below, on the council’s Bins and Things site by clicking here  and Facebook group by clicking here.

If your trip can be left until another day, for heaven’s sake leave it a while. It’s going to be hellish.

Remember, however angry you get, this is going to be very busy indeed, and the staff manning the sites, marshalling queues and manning social media are just humans, doing a job. Give them a break and be polite, please.

Council officers are so concerned you know the regulations, they’ve created a video for you starring Mike ‘Blofeld’ Bird to chivvy you through it. I notice the famous charm has never waned.

Note also that there are now live webcams so you can see how busy the sites are on the recant HWRC webpage – Merchants Way Aldridge here and Fryers Road Bloxwich here.

Walsall Council said:

 

Walsall tips to reopen with limited operations

From Saturday, 16 May 2020, Walsall Household Waste and Recycling Centres (tips) will reopen with limited operations.

Only essential trips to dispose of waste, or recycling that cannot be stored at home without causing risk of injury, health or harm, are permitted under new government guidelines.

Opening Times from Saturday 16 May 2020:

From Saturday 16 May you will be able to ‘view the queue’ at each site via a live web cam feed at the above links. This will be a live feed and will not be recorded.

Accepted waste

  • Black bags, containing items which can decompose and may cause a hazard to health (excess food waste, nappies, hygiene products, pet waste etc.)
  • Garden waste (grass and hedge cuttings, leaves, weeds, old plants and flowers)
  • Large electrical items (fridges, tumble dryers, televisions etc.)
  • Furniture (three-piece suite, mattress, drawers etc.)

If you bring items we cannot accept you will need to take them back home with you.

Making your way to the sites

Traffic management systems, including a one-way traffic flow, will be in operation at both sites.

Please expect to queue

We expect demand for both sites to be high, so expect to queue when you approach the HWRCs.  Our site operatives will be on hand along the queue to guide you.

Identification and proof of residency

You will need two forms of identification. One must be photo ID (drivers licence, passport, etc.) and the other must show proof of Walsall residency (recent utility bill, current council tax summary). Please remain in your vehicle whilst in the queue, and show your ID through the closed window of your vehicle to HWRC operatives.

Safety and social distancing

Social distancing measures are in place throughout both sites and you need to remain within your marked bay whilst unloading your vehicle.  Bulky items can be left in the marked zone at the side of your bay.  Our operatives will remove them when your vehicle has left.  Please exit the sites using the traffic management guidance and direction from site operatives.

Please note:

  • Journeys to HWRCs must only be undertaken if waste or recycling cannot be stored at home safely or disposed of safely by other means. By this we mean the waste cannot be stored without causing risk of injury, health or harm. No other reason for the journey would be considered a legitimate purpose. If residents can temporarily store waste or recycling in a way that does not pose a risk to their own or others’ safety or human health, they must do so.
  • Residents who are showing symptoms of COVID-19, in a 14-day household isolation or who are vulnerable and remaining at home for shielding purposes should not attend HWRC sites.
  • For households with residents showing COVID-19 symptoms, waste should be left for 72 hours before being double-bagged and brought to the HWRC.
  • New, temporary traffic management arrangements will be in place at both sites and sites will operate on a ‘one car out, one car in’ arrangement, controlled by the staff on site who will direct residents where to park and unload.
  • Residents who travel to HWRCs must remain in their vehicle while queuing to aid with social distancing and must not leave their vehicle until it is necessary to get out.
  • Pedestrians walking in with waste will not be permitted access to the sites.
  • Only one person will be permitted in each car, unless bringing a bulky item that requires two people to unload it or if the person is registered as having a disability and carries an authorised Blue Badge. If two people are required they must be from the same household.
  • Site staff will be unable to offer any assistance with unloading vehicles or carrying items.
  • To comply with social distancing restrictions both sites will be operating with revised layouts, marked with signage and barriers to limit pedestrian movement.
  • Visitors to HWRCs must observe social distancing at all times. Residents who do not comply with social distancing guidance will be asked to leave. If social distancing is not being maintained by visitors, sites may have to close temporarily.
  • Residents bringing items to the site that cannot be accepted will be asked to keep the items in their vehicle and take them home. Prohibited items include items such as gas bottles, car batteries, tyres, rubble, oil or chemicals.
  • Vehicles which will be permitted entry to Walsall HWRCs include cars and smaller vans only. Large cargo vehicles such as Transit vans or similar will not be permitted. Trade waste is never accepted at either HWRC site.
  • Residents returning home after any essential journey, including visits to HWRCs, should remember not to touch their face and to wash their hands for 20 seconds on arrival at their destination.

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Filtering the evidence

1938 1:2,500 ordnance survey plot of Anglesey Wharf overlaid on recent Google Earth imagery. The lost sewage works is circled. Click for a larger version.

An interesting enquiry came in recently from Declan Hammonds, who is interested in the history of a bit of edgeland in Brownhills, between the former Anglesey Wharf and the M6 Toll/Chasetown Bypass interchange that used to contain a sewage works.

The works is marked on some maps as Lichfield Rural District Council, and on others, Brownhills.

Declan asked:

Good Evening,
We have recently purchased the site of the former Brownhills RDC Sewage Works off Whitehorse road in Walsall (over the canal bridge) and wonder if this is the site mentioned and photographed in your blog.
Whilst the land has been purchased through our company, I take great interest in historical land use and wonder if you have any information on when the site last operated or was demolished.
The site has been cleared in its entirety and all that remains of its past is the sign (picture attached) and a few sporadic manhole covers.
Regards
Declan

The sewage works – clearly demolished – as seen in the 1963 NCB aerial survey. Click for a larger version. Image courtesy of Lichfield District Council.

The facility seems to have been gone by 1963, when the NCB did their aerial survey of the area – this above shows the adjacent sand quarry growing and what appears to be the remains of the circular filter beds on the ground.

If I’m honest, I’m unclear whose sewage this installation would have been filtering unless there was a sewer under the canal, but I’d say it discharged into the nearby Crane Brook. The White Horse Estate doesn’t seem to have grown until after the plant’s demise.

This 1962 1:1250 Ordnance Survey excerpt shows the sewage works expanded and still functional – but this will have been exhibiting mapping lag so it wasn’t necessarily there in 1962 at all. Click for a larger version.

Can anyone help please? It’s a really good question and a local feature I’d noted before but not really thought about. There has been some discussion of this in the past, but nothing solid. As it were.

If you can help, please do: Comment on this post, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tap my window on social media. Cheers to Declan for a really interesting enquiry.

The only remnant? Image kindly supplied by Declan Hammonds.

Posted in News | 13 Comments

A hundred years apart: Time, gentlemen please – and a grand clock tower!

Old friend of the blog Ian Broad has been in touch again to continue his series of hundred years apart photos – this is the fifth set – he’s creating as part of his lockdown exercise bike rides.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

The first three images be seen in this post here, the second set can be seen here and the third wonderful set can be seen here. Last week the fourth set also caused a lot of debate on social media. These brilliant images have caused quite the stir – a wonderfully popular project from a great blog contributor.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Ian has previously supplied lots of material for the blog. including an eternally popular 1982 Shire Oak School leaver group photo outside the Royal Oak pub in Shire Oak and lots about the history of Ian’s family shop Tom’s Cabin, a fixture of Brownhills for many years throughout the 1980s.

Jill Manchester did this with great success a few years ago in Walsall Wood.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

As usual, I shan’t identify locations, I’ll let readers work them out…

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Thanks to Ian for another great post and very thought provoking set of images, and if you have any views on this wonderful work, please do comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

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Fancy a bit of Brownhills poetry?

Janet Grinnell has been in touch from Knaves Court in Brownhills – that wonderful extra care facility near Anchor Bridge for older folk – to let me know that following the great success of their previous book, ‘Chatting with Brownhills’, they’ve just launched a new book on Amazon of Brownhills poetry.

If it’s half as good as their last communal work it’ll be absolutely brilliant. I loved Chatting With Brownhills and pick it up regularly for a read, so this should be most excellent too!

The book is just £3.99 which is very pocket-pleasing indeed, and if you have one of those Kindle things it’s only £1.99 in electronic form, so what’s not to love? To buy your copy, click here.

Janet Grinnell wrote:

Hi Bob

This is Janet from Knaves Court.

Just to let you know that following our ‘Chatting with Brownhills’ book, we have now published a book of poetry  – again with work from people in the wider Brownhills community and also some of our residents.  Hoping you will help to spread the word for us as you have been so good in the past.

The book is available on Amazon, “Poetry in Brownhills” edited by Jan Grinnell £3.99 for paperback or £1.99 for Kindle.  As with our other book, all monies raised will go back to our resident and community group, ‘The Friends of Knaves Court’ to help us carry on the good work.

Many thanks for your help, both now and in the past.

Janet Grinnell

Activities Co-ordinator

Direct Dial 0370 192 4204
Knaves Court, High Street, Brownhills, Walsall, WS8 6DJ
Website: www.housingandcare21.co.uk
Follow us: Facebook / Twitter (@HousingCare21) / Linkdin

Thanks to Janet for letting me know – always love new local books!

If you get a copy, I’d love to hear what you think: Comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Posted in News | 2 Comments

A hundred years apart: A lucky escape for a lorry driver and a ride to the Castles

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Old friend of the blog Ian Broad has been in touch again to continue his series of hundred years apart photos – this is the fourth set – he’s creating as part of his lockdown exercise bike rides.

The first three images be seen in this post here, the second set can be seen here and the third wonderful set can be seen here. These brilliant images have caused quite the stir – a wonderfully popular project from a great blog contributor.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Ian has previously supplied lots of material for the blog. including an eternally popular 1982 Shire Oak School leaver group photo outside the Royal Oak pub in Shire Oak and lots about the history of Ian’s family shop Tom’s Cabin, a fixture of Brownhills for many years throughout the 1980s.

Jill Manchester did this with great success a few years ago in Walsall Wood.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

As usual, I shan’t identify locations, I’ll let readers work them out…

Thanks to Ian for another great post and very thought provoking set of images, and if you have any views on this wonderful work, please do comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Posted in News | 13 Comments

Lichfield Waterworks Trust April news update

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Sandfields Pumping Station – a great historic building with immense history and social significance – not just to Lichfield, but to the Black Country. Lichfield Discovered and local historian Dave Moore have saved this valuable asset for the community.

Sandfields Pumping Station champion and public historian extraordinaire Dave Moore has been in touch to share the latest newsletter of  the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group.

In the current pandemic, the trust has had to suspend meetings and activities like any other such organisation, but the task of saving Sandfields still goes on and Dave has lots of news to share.

Dave wrote:

Lichfield Waterworks Trust April Newsletter

As you are no doubt aware of the current global coronavirus pandemic the trust, as with many other organisations has had to suspend its onsite activities and meeting.

From its initial inception, the trust has always put the safety, health and wellbeing of its members first and foremost. Therefore, we will be following government and heath professional guidelines to keep everyone and the NHS safe.

As soon as the lockdown restrictions are lifted, please be assured we will re-commence work on site at the earliest opportunity.




The trustees would like everyone to know that we are thinking of you all and looking forward to the days when we can resume some normality.

Latest News

Building Lease Update:

Two trustees met with Persimmon on Tuesday 5 November to discuss the lease. The trustees have also met to discuss the offer made by Persimmon Homes Ltd. While the overall details of the lease still need to be negotiated and there are still some outstanding issues that need to be addressed. The trustees have a great deal of confidence in the teams of volunteers who are making things on site happen. The trustees have also carful considered the enormous and significant contribution the members have made to this project, therefore the trustees believed that it’s time to stop kicking the problems back and forth and instead to move things forward.

We have therefore agreed that we are in a position to move on with the lease. We have informed Persimmon Homes Ltd and are waiting for them to contact our solicitors.

The trustee would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your ongoing help and support.

Important Note:

After the visit by Historic England on 16 Jan, the site has unfortunately been placed on the Heritage At Risk Register.

This is indeed sad news to see that this magnificent piece of industrial heritage is now officially at risk of permanent loss.
 
The trust is committed to continue working with the owner, Persimmon Homes Ltd to find a sustainable solution that will bring this building and its historic contents aback into a community use.

Archive and Historical Research Team Report

The heritage of the modern water industry is almost entirely absent, despite its unarguable relevance to human development.

Document of the Month April 2020

Specification for a Cornish Beam Engine

William Vawdrey is the second son of the late Rev. A. A. Vawdrey, who was for many years Vicar of St. Agnes, Cornwall. Born at St. Day Vicarage on the 17th ‘of April 1840. As a youth he was sent as a student to Messrs. Harvey and Company’s Foundry at Hayle, where he remained seven years. He was then employed in erecting pumping and winding-engines for Messrs Eustace and Son and other owners.

In 1865, after passing the requisite examination, he entered the Royal Navy, but soon afterwards retiring from the service he was appointed assistant engineer to the South Staffordshire Waterworks under Mr. J. R.McClean.

Two years later he assumed full charge of the works and remained with the company up to his death on the 2nd of January 1895. During these 30 years of service Mr. Vawdrey proved himself a most able and energetic promoter of the company’s welfare and substantially developed the activity of South Staffs Water.

Vawdrey designed, specified and tendered the 65-inch Cornish Beam Engine at Sandfields Pumping Station, known today as engine number 4. The South Staffs Water archive still holds copies of the original engine specification written in hand manuscript. These documents are a treasure and will provide educational, study and research opportunities for many years to come.



Linda Shapiro has been studying Victorian culture for many years, her research work can be seen on her website Dewsbury Victorian Family’s. She has painstakingly transcribed this document and a number of others relating to the construction of the original impounding reservoir at Stowe Pool and a number of transaction from William Vawdreys’ daybook.

Here is a sample of the transcribed manuscript for you to enjoy. We will in due course be releasing a full version of this transcript for study, comment, a study day, booklet and a talk.


The Contract shall include the Engine Boilers, Pumps  Air Vessel, and other works and all duplicates. Tools and Materials hereinafter described with all needful 8888 and complete apparatus, appendages, attachments, appliances, and connections  jointed fixed and set to work; and comprise also all proper and necessary floor joists to support the stone landings of the working floor, and the plates for floor of Cylinder stage and other floors, together with access frames and plates for the same wherever required and also all holding down bolts washer plates, bed plates beams, spring beams, bearers, handrails, balusters and other matters and things whatsoever pertaining  incident or appurtenant to the Engine, Boilers, Machinery and other works and apparatus and their supports fixings attachments connections, appliances and conveniences respectively including all waste and other pipes to the outside of the buildings and all pump work as far as one pipe outside of the air vessel.

The Engine shall be of the kind known as a Cornish or single acting expansive condensing Beam Engine, and shall be made according to the most improved construction and arrangement in all its details and be finished bright in all parts usually so finished by the best makers of first class Water Works Engines, and the working gear shall be so arranged that the steam may be cut off at any point from one sixth of the stroke downwards as may be found desirable, and that the Engine may be capable of making fully ten strokes per minute  continuously, with a pressure equal to (135 lbs, one hundred and thirty five pounds) to the square inch on the pump bucket, and the Contractor shall so proportion and construct the Engine, Pump valves, Air vessel and other works as to enable the Engine satisfactorily to work through  a 24 ins diameter Main at the above named speed and pressure and throw at each stroke the full quantity of water due to the area of the bucket and length of stroke without loss through valves, and if upon trial the Engine shall not be found capable of doing this continuously the Contractor shall make such alterations in any parts thereof as shall be required to enable it so to perform the work aforesaid.


As you can clearly see, this is a beautifully written technical document with all the nuances of Victorian culture. It is a joy to read and study, so watch this space, there will be more to come.

We feel privileged here at Sandfields because it is one of the rare industrial building that still holds a comprehensive archive of materiel form the past. The archive record held at Sandfields Pumping Station is an invaluable record and a window to the day to day activity of operating a waterworks. Here we see evidence of working practices and skills, now lost.

If you hold an interest in history or are just curious about the past and want to learn more, then why not drop by for tea.

3D Walkthrough

Dudley Technical College has been extremely kind in producing a 3D Walkthrough for the trust. This is an amazing piece of work that not only showcases the site, it also provides an opportunity to those who are unable to visit the site or climb the stairs

Please click on the image below

History West Midlands – Podcast

History West Midlands have produced a stunning podcast titled – Making Cholera History in the Black Country.

Presented by writer and broadcaster Graham Fisher and Directed by Andy Partington, featuring David Moore, the podcast gives a detailed history of both Sandfields pumping Station and the story of clean water.

Please click on the image below

Donations

The current global coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the trust. With no onsite activity, meeting, talks or raffles we are seriously down of income. We do manage our money very carefully and have no paid staff, therefore we will get by. But it would be nice to hit the ground running as soon as we get a return to normality.

We have lots of events and activities planned, so if you can give a small donation, we can get things on the moves as quickly as possible.


 
We will also always invest in our people and we are planning further training days soon. All these costs soon mount up, so if you can donate, then please visit our donation page here.
 
Any amount is helpful, is well appreciated and will be carefully spent preserving our industrial past for our future generations, developing skills for our people and making our community a better place
 
Please make cheques payable to; Lichfield Waterworks Trust, and send to our address:
 
22 Walsall Road
Lichfield
WS13 8AB

Membership

Do we have your correct details? We do our best to get things right, but occasionally something slips of the tray. Please let us know if we have your correct contact details, or you would like any additions or amendments.
 
We would like this opportunity to welcome a few new members.

Thank you for joining the Lichfield Waterworks Trust. We hope you will enjoy your membership and become part of a very exciting heritage project that will benefit the people, the place and the community.
It would really help us if we develop and grow our membership. If you are not already a member and would you like to be a part of one of the region’s most exciting heritage projects then please, join us now by filling in Membership Application Form by going to our membership page here. It is free to join and be a part of this incredibly exciting project.

Finally

 
Thank you everyone for your continued support and helping to make a difference in our community.

Do pop over to Dave Moore’s blog and check out the history of Sandfields Pumping Station, an almost forgotten gem – the group also has a Facebook page.

Dave is, of course, one of the leading lights of Lichfield Discovered, along with Kate ‘Cardigan’ Gomez from Lichfield Lore.

It’s great to see people like Dave encourage a better attitude to our historic buildings -please do attend if you’re able, it’s sure to be enlightening and educational.

 

Posted in Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Just plain daft, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When poor Pollie had toothache…

Moors Gorse pumping station if I’m not mistaken. A lovely card from Ian Broad.

Top bloke Ian Broad has been in touch again this week, this time with a postcard mystery, as he knows we love those here on the blog!

Ian has currently been working on a series of ‘100 years apart’ old and new contrast images, the first three of which be seen in this post here and the second set can be seen here. I featured another, third set here last weekend and have yet more in the bag. These brilliant images have caused quite the stir – a wonderfully popular project from a great blog contributor.

But today, something a little different. Ian has the above postcard – which if I’m not mistaken is Moors Gorse pumping station, situated on Cannock Chase where Marquis Drive crosses the A460 Rugeley Road by the former level crossing at the foot of Kitbag Hill.

The postcard has not been postally used, and the reverse says:

You know my ability with handwriting is dreadful! Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad. Click for a larger version.

Ian asks:

Hi Bob

A post Card Mystery!

Does anybody know anything about the folks in this undelivered post card? I’ve tried to find where 25 New Buildings is but can’t find any record. Post card isn’t dated. It’s from Pollie to Annie Cartwright.

Pollie has toothache so she didn’t go to Walsall and Annie has had a cold!

Cheers
Ian Borad

So, what do you guys think then? You know the drill… If you have anything to say, please do comment here, find me on social media or even mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Thanks to Ian for another wonderfully thought provoking post.

 

Ian has previously supplied lots of material for the blog. including an eternally popular 1982 Shire Oak School leaver group photo outside the Royal Oak pub in Shire Oak and lots about the history of Ian’s family shop Tom’s Cabin, a fixture of Brownhills for many years throughout the 1980s.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

A coin of some value

Image from an eBay sale by Gutteridges.

A great spot on eBay here for folks into local church history. Most of you will know that Walsall Wood Church of St John is older than Brownhills, which was ex-parochial until St James’ was constructed in 1850. Walsall Wood has had it’s lovely, devotional Church of St. John since 1837.

Old pal of the blog and top Wood Mon™  Brian Beard spotted this memorial coin – presumably struck for subscribers(donors) to the new church in Walsall Wood in 1837 – for sale on eBay, at the time of posting for £65. The seller, Wednesbury based Gutteridges, says they obtained the item as a result of a house clearance.

You can see the original sale here.

Image from an eBay sale by Gutteridges.

The coin appears to be copper, and notes:

This church erected to the glory of The Triune Jehovah [Holy trinity as I understand it – Bob] and for the eternal good of souls was built by voluntary subscription.

Consecrated Aug 22nd 1837.

Eph.11.20.21

[Ephesians, I think: Perhaps a Bible scholar could look that one up? – Bob]

Image from an eBay sale by Gutteridges.

On the other side is a nice relief of the original church, before either extension, and as it was originally built, and the test says:

‘An habitation for the mighty God of Jacob St John’s Walsall Wood’

I have no connection with the seller, and just wondered what readers might have to say about this curious bit of ecclesiastical ephemera: Are there many about? Do your family or relatives own such a coin? Comment here, mail me or find me on social media. Please have your say!

Thanks to Brian for a remarkable spot.

St Johns looks a bit different today to how it did on that coin. Not just the 1980s aberration at the tower end, but the flanks added at the sides and rear by the Victorians which make this a much bigger church than it was when opened in 1837. Image from my 365days archive.

For those who want to know more about the history of St. John’s, way back in 2012, local lady Jenny Langford donated a printed booklet entitled ‘The Parish Church of Walsall Wood, A Short History’, which does exactly what it says on the cover. David Evans subsequently took great effort to scan each page, then sent them to me by email. I reassembled them into a .PDF file for readers. 

You can download a copy here – it’s well worth a look.

There’s a similar history of St. James’ Church in Brownhills, which has been available online for some time. It appears to date from the 1970’s or 80’s.

Click on the image above to download the .PDF file. It’s 4.1 megabytes in size, so it may take a while on a slow connection.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Churches, Environment, Features, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Local History, Local media, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In memoriam, Eileen and Bill Gough

Susan Arrowsmith has been in touch and asked me to share with you all the sad news that her parents Eileen Gough (nee Bradshaw) and Bill Gough recently passed away within days of each other.

Eileen and Bill Gough. Image kindly supplied by Susan Arrowsmith.

Formerly Brownhills residents before moving to Walsall Wood and High Heath, the couple  were well known and respected locally.

Obviously in these difficult times the funeral service is limited in attendance, but Susan would like folk to know when her parents will be taking their final journey.

Susan wrote:

These are strange times when news does not circulate the way you might expect.

Eileen Gough (nee Bradshaw)  Bill Gough (my darling dad) was a Brownhills lad born and bred, a long serving member of WW Boys Brigade. Both lived on the Chester Road, Shire Oak until married before moving to the Wood then into High Heath.

If you think there might be people in your sphere who knew them then please do pass this news on.

Their double funeral is Friday 24th April 2020 up at Fradley and will passing through Walsall Wood, Clayhanger, Brownhills and Shire Oak.

Such a happy couple. Eileen and Bill, rest in peace. Image kindly supplied by Susan Arrowsmith.

The funeral is limited to 10 people but I would like for as many people as possible to know they are making one last journey at 9am. Thank you.

My sincerest condolences and sympathies to Susan and all of the Gough family and their friends, and my gratitude goes out to Susan for letting us know.

 

Posted in News | 12 Comments

Barnetts Lane Cemetery: An important update from St James Church

I have been asked to post a public notice here by Roger Corbett, Chuchwarden of St. James Church in Ogley Hay, Brownhills and by default responsible for Barnetts Lane Cemetery in the town, operated by the Diocese of Lichfield.

The community came forward and worked very had last year to get Barnetts Lane tidy. The community effort was very much appreciated, mostly. Image from the Cemetery Facebook page.

This is a remarkable thing that’s very strongly worded. I have been asked to post it here and I am doing so as is my public duty.

What I will point out is that if you have anything to say about this, best course of action is to contact the Church.

There is a Facebook page staffed by a volunteer here.

St James Church Brownhills
Barnetts Lane Cemetery

This cemetery is currently still open. We want it to remain so long as possible to enable family and friends to visit their loved ones. This means taking all necessary precautions and maintaining social distancing when you are there

Please do not use the benches as use by multiple people can be a source of infection

As long as the rules are observed it should be possible to keep the Cemetery open

We need to point out now that the grass is currently growing. It will continue to grow, and we are unable to do anything about it. No one is able to do anything as cutting things back is not classified as “necessary work”

This year it will overtake us like never before and we simply have to accept this. It does mean that the area will become quite overgrown. If it becomes dangerous then consideration will have to be given to closing the cemetery for safety reasons

Please stay safe

Roger Corbett
Church Warden

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A shady mystery!

Thanks to longstanding contributor John Anslow, I have a Shelfield mystery for the readers and researchers this fine Sunday – all help with this would be appreciated, please.

John, long time contributor with his late brother Paul sent in a fascinating article last week regarding a collection of Victorian portrait photos, wherein John also informed us of Paul’s sad passing.

Encouraged by the interest in his latest historical conundrum, John’s raised an interesting question from an old news clipping: Where was Shady Park in Shelfield?

John Anslow wrote:

It looks like the typeface of the Lichfield Mercury, but not sure. It’d say like John, 1920s-1930s. Click for a larger version.

Hello again, Bob.

I found this dog-eared and yellowing newspaper cutting while sorting through a box of old documents the other day. It has no date but, judging from the hats and other attire, it appears to be from the early 1930s.

It describes the opening of a new pavilion at Shelfield Y.M. Sports Club by ‘Mrs. Reece, of Walsall Wood’.

Lucy Reece was the wife of Sid Reece, tenant of Dairy Farm around the time of the Great War. This farm, with its magnificent barn, has previously been the subject of much interest on your blog.

The secretary of the club, Teddy Nash, also pictured here, subsequently married Lucy’s daughter, Mary.

Also referred to in the cutting are several people who would have been well known in Shelfield and Walsall Wood for their charitable work and public service; they include Arthur Newbould and Doctor F. R. Roberts.

Arthur can be seen in the picture of the Nurses’ Fete you published in 2014, and Dr Roberts has been mentioned previously here in comments by Reg Fullelove and David Evans.

Do any of your readers remember the sports club or the pavilion? I confess the name “Shady Park” is unfamiliar to me.

 All the best,

 John Anslow

The clipping (above) mentions many locally well-known names in recording the opening of a new Sports Pavilion at the aforementioned park; but I can’t find it in the online archives – nor can I find mention of it anywhere else.

I’m assuming it’s what is now known as ‘Shelfield Park’ or ‘Parklands Playground’ – here’s how it was recorded in 1938:

National Library of Scotland archive Ordnance Survey 1:2,500 scale mapping of Shelfield, issue dated 1938. Click for a larger version.

Note that the park had buildings in the 1930s which would probably be pavilions. Opening Sports Pavillions was a popular leisure investment by councils, social organisations and companies in the interwar period: Many are recorded including Walsall Wood, Lichfield, several in Walsall and across the wider Black Country.

But I can find no reference to this.

Here’s what the park looks like today in modern Google Earth imagery. Click for a larger version.

So: What do you know? Can you help?

If a better crate-digger than me can find this in the archives, or another reference to it, so that it could be dated, that would be most excellent. I welcome all contributions, as always: Comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or find me lallygagging on social media.

This is a fine contribution for which I am, as ever, indebted to John Anslow. The brothers Anslow have shone a beautifully crafted light upon some of the wonderful, little-known corners of Walsall Wood history – from sneaking into garden parties to cocksure monstinks; from dignity in poverty to odd interconnected stories, the Anslow boys have been behind some of my very favourite things to share here.

I am honoured to be able to feature these contributions here. Thank you John.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Taking the Hammerwich, Hednesford and Chasewater hundreds!

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Old friend of the blog Ian Broad has been in touch again to continue his series of hundred years apart photos – this is the third set – he’s creating as part of his lockdown exercise bike rides.

The first three images be seen in this post here and the second set can be seen here. Thes brilliant images have caused quite the stir – a wonderfully popular project from a great blog contributor.

Spring Valley, Heath Hayes. But where was/is it? Can you help please?

You can actually help Ian here too – he’d like to know where the above image is taken. Do you have any idea, please? Heath Hayes isn’t my speciality, so contributions welcome on that one.

Hi Bob,

As I live in Heath Hayes I thought this might be a good 100 years project  pic.  However, I can’t find it… No reference to it apart from this postcard.

Any idea where it might be?

Thanks.

Ian.

Please do comment or mail me.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Jill Manchester did this with great success a few years ago in Walsall Wood.

Ian has previously supplied lots of material for the blog. including an eternally popular 1982 Shire Oak School leaver group photo outside the Royal Oak pub in Shire Oak and lots about the history of Ian’s family shop Tom’s Cabin, a fixture of Brownhills for many years throughout the 1980s.

The bike is a lovely touch. Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

I shan’t identify locations, I’ll let readers work them out…

Thanks to Ian for another great post and very thought provoking set of images, and if you have any views on this wonderful work, please do comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Posted in News | 18 Comments

Why not stay at home Wednesday and meet Walsall Humanists in your lounge?

Here’s a quick plug for Lichfield, Walsall and South Staffordshire Humanists – a philosophical debating group – who have their quarterly meeting this Wednesday 15th April 2020 at your home! They are trying this time, since Coronavirus restrictions mean they can’t meet in the usual pub, a videoconference on Zoom instead.

The meeting kicks off at 7:45pm and goes on until about 9:45pm.

Old pal of the blog, Charles Street let me know about the group and their meeting schedule a while back, and this video meet-up looks like fun! Also don’t forget the fact that’s it’s completely free to attend.

If you’re interested in philosophy, the nature of what we believe and accept, this could be a great evening with like minded people. Without leaving your house!

Charles said:

Hello Everyone

Quite clearly we will not be meeting at our usual venue for our April meeting.

So we are going to try a Zoom Video Conference. I am advised with the system that we have that we can have a meeting for up to 100 for 40 minutes. How we will cope is anyone’s guess. Sometimes the system allows a first meeting to continue past the time. However the other option is to schedule another meeting immediately afterwards.

So here is the plan.

We will meet at 7:45 pm British Summer Time. Wednesday 15th April. I mention BST in case, this time, any of our overseas friends choose to join us.

Then at 8:35 we will schedule another meeting and continue.

If you want to participate, if you haven’t already done so, please download the Zoom Communications app. Then please reply to this email so we know who to send invites to with the relevant entry code and password. If there are any topics that anyone would like to discuss please mention that too.

The email address is: lichfieldhumanists@live.co.uk

What could possibly go wrong?

If this works, at this time, we might even meet more often given we have zero traveling time.

The Lichfield Walsall and South Staffordshire Humanist Group LWASS meeting. 

3rd Wednesday meeting every quarter for those interested in Humanism, Atheism, Secularism and related subject areas.
We meet on the 3rd Wednesday every quarter January April July and October at 7:45 pm ish until 9:45 pm ish for those interested in Humanism and related matters.
However if you are enjoying the debate you can stay until  closing time if you like  Zoom boots us off
Venue: Your Home where we are all staying.
The Walsall Arms – 17 Bank Street, WS1 2EP

Humanists UK can be explored at https://humanism.org.uk/

Humanism is a comprehensive life stance that upholds human reason, ethics, and justice, and rejects supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition.

If you would like to know more about Humanism the following link may be a good place to start.

Regards Chas

If you tune in to the meeting please drop me the word and tell me how you got on – the Humanists have a whole bunch of stuff going on and their website above is worth a look: I’ve always been a big fan of Birmingham Sceptics in the Pub who post some very interesting, thought provoking stuff on social media.

Tell me more: Comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my coat on the antisocial media.

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A monumental mystery!

A bit of an interesting mystery today on the blog – Walsall Wood Church of St. John is one we’ve covered a few times over the years, and at heart it’s quite an old building. Heavily extended both by the Victorians and in our living memory, it’s still recognisably the same church, but now considerably larger.

Walsall Wood Church before the 1980s extension…. reproportioned it. note the tall monuments in the front churchyard. Image kindly supplied by the wonderful Bill Mayo.

However, David Evans is curious about a mystery connected with this fine building. At some point in recent decades, the front churchyard was cleared of monuments and memorials. This is not unusual, as many old churchyards contained decaying structures that were often tidied to improve the church for parishioners – this happened at Pelsall and Brownhills, of course.

David has long mused over an obelisk-like, tall memorial in front of St. Johns that disappeared during the clearance, and he’d love to know more about it.

I’ll let David talk you through it with the aid of a couple of great period photos from the wonderful Link family.

HI Bob

We are fortunate in having such generous local people who contribute with good heart to our communal history. Over recent years your wonderful blog has been instrumental in seeing this rich history brought to light and flourish so well

One of the enduring mysteries in Walsall Wood is the Lost Obelisk that once graced the grounds of St John’s Parish Church. Very old images of the church appear in Bill Mayo’s local history books… These manly being from around the turn of the 20th century.

This wedding photo at St Johns Church, High Street Walsall Wood was taken in 1956 and was kindly offered by Mr and Mrs Lynk a few years ago. It shows the view towards the nearby corner with Coppice Road and the Co-op butchers and grocery shops there and the now demolished houses at the corner with Brookland Road and Lichfield Road.

Mr and Mrs Lynk kindly let me scan two of their wedding photos which show that this Obelisk was still there in 1956… A helpful date to have.

But the mystery of what happened to the monument, and who and what it commemorated still remains unresolved.

kind regards

David Evans

This image was taken outside the front door to the church and shows the High Street shops near Headley’s shop… It also shows the lost obelisk in front of the dark tree.

Can you help with this? If so, please do: Comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my sleeve on social media. Thanks to David and the Link family for the continued generosity and a great puzzle!

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Another hundred years apart

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Old friend of the blog Ian Broad has been in touch again to continue his series of hundred years apart photos he’s creating as part of his lockdown exercise bike rides.

The first three images featured last Sunday can be seen in this post here and caused quite the stir – a wonderfully popular project from a great blog contributor.

Jill Manchester did this with great success a few years ago in Walsall Wood.

Ian has previously supplied lots of material for the blog. including an eternally popular 1982 Shire Oak School leaver group photo outside the Royal Oak pub in Shire Oak and lots about the history of Ian’s family shop Tom’s Cabin, a fixture of Brownhills for many years throughout the 1980s.

I shan’t identify locations, I’ll let readers work them out…

Thanks to Ian for another great post and very thought provoking set of images, and if you have any views on this wonderful work, please do comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Posted in News | 12 Comments

Some very sad news, yet another fine man has left us – but he left us a puzzle to be going on with

In all probability, this scholarly looking gentleman is Thomas Reakes (1831-1903), vicar of Walsall Wood. Image kindly supplied by John Anslow.

Today, after a week of chaos and bad health, I have finally picked up the reigns of the blog again to catch up. Now nearing full speed again, I’m actually rested and recovering, so welcome back folks – let’s try and keep ourselves distracted in the curious, strange times we find ourselves within.

It’s my solemn duty first of all to share the very sad news that Paul Anslow, long time contributor to the Brownhills Blog, passed away suddenly in January. Paul was of course, brother of John and over the years the brothers Anslow have shone a beautifully crafted light upon some of the wonderful, little-known corners of Walsall Wood history – from sneaking into garden parties to cocksure monstinks; from dignity in poverty to odd interconnected stories, the Anslow boys have been behind some of my very favourite things to share here.

I would like to extend my condolences and deepest sympathy, and of course that of all of the readership, to John and all of Paul’s family and friends. I wish I’d met him. He always sounded like a fantastic bloke. Reading John’s email below, he sounded a real character, too.

Thank you John and belatedly to Paul too for all you’ve contributed. Paul will be very much missed here but he leaves behind him such a fine foundation for any scholar of local history. Something to be forever proud of. I will ensure it’s kept online for as long as I have breath.

John Anslow wrote:

Dear Bob,

Sadly, I have to tell you that my brother, Paul, died suddenly in mid-January. It was completely unexpected.

We used to speak on the telephone every evening and often discussed local history, particularly the Walsall Wood characters and stories he had heard about from our parents and grandparents. He was a mine of information about the late Victorian and Edwardian eras and had an enormous collection of CDs featuring the great singers of those periods such as Luisa Tetrazinni, John McCormack and, of course, Enrico Caruso.

We had recently been talking about submitting a short piece to you concerning a page of four photographs dating from around 1880. Paul was convinced that the fellow in the top right was Thomas Reakes, vicar of Walsall Wood during the late Victorian years. We were going to ask if you or your readers could confirm this, and maybe even offer suggestions as to the identity of the remaining three.

Your request for submissions to your blog last week spurred me into writing something, which I attach as a pdf together with a scan of the page in question.

To close, I must tell you something that might amuse you. At Paul’s funeral, his daughter, who is completely bilingual in Welsh and English, gave a brief address to the congregation in which she recited the first line of a poem she had written in Welsh and which had won first prize at a local eisteddfod when she was in primary school. The subject for the competition was ‘My Dad’.

The one person in the congregation who spoke Welsh smiled on hearing the verse; Helen translated for the rest of us:

 ‘My Dad swears
Farts
And listens to Caruso’

 That was Paul.

Keep up the good work with the Brownhills Bob Blog, William. It’s sorely needed during these difficult times.

 Yours sincerely,
John Anslow

John also wrote:

Hello Bob.

I’d like to tell you more about the photograph album that belonged to my great- grandmother, Hannah Eliza Jackson (née Street), who lived at the thatched cottage on Streets Corner until her death in 1935.

Judging by the clothes and hairstyles, the photographs cover the period from about 1880 to 1910 but, sadly, I cannot identify many of the people portrayed. You and your readers might, nonetheless, be interested in this record of Walsall Wood fashion, and may even suggest a possible name or two.

The album includes photographs of some of Hannah’s immediate family, but also of local worthies such as Mr Bradbury, the colliery manager, whose portrait (with bicycle) prompted a discussion on your blog in May 2014.

So top right is in all likelihood the Vicar of Walsall Wood; but who are the rest of these folk? A beautifully scanned snapshot of history from John Anslow. Click for a larger version.

The page I’ve attached comprises four cartes de visite. It includes one at the top right that my late brother, Paul, was certain was Thomas Reakes (1831-1903), vicar of Walsall Wood. He is recorded on the 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses listed respectively as “Vicar of the Parish (Walsall Wood)”, “Clerk in Holy Orders” and “Clergy from Ch of England”. He also appears on the 1871 census as a schoolmaster in Tor Moham, Devon.

There was a tale in my family that the vicar’s wife, Elizabeth, undertook the role of census enumerator in Walsall Wood and, being a trusting and unworldly soul, she was was often given false information, particularly about the names and ages of children. Having never found any serious inconsistencies in my own family’s census records, however, I have to wonder whether this story gained something in the telling over the years.

The identities of the other three sitters are unknown to me. The fellow at the bottom left has an air of prosperity about him, with his dog, his gun and his broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat. That lady is presumably his wife, but who is the fellow with a passing resemblance to Lord Palmerston? [I’m a bit startled there by the resemblance to Sir Gerald of Reece, of this parish, to be honest – Bob]

Hannah came from a respectable, working-class family (her father was a bricklayer) and she married a coal miner. Her sons all went down the pit and her daughters into domestic service, so Paul and I often wondered about the people in the early photographs. Might they have been employers rather than family? Then again, as anyone with photographs of their working-class ancestors will confirm, our forebears often dressed well and showed a dignity and style that would shame many of their modern descendants.

I shall be pleased to read comments from you and your readers and will submit a few more scans from the album if you think they would be of interest.

As ever, John Anslow

Thanks to John for a wonderful photo puzzle – and more of this kind of thing is always welcome. Thank you so much. I am with you in your loss.

Can you help identify any of these dignified folk? Please comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Plea to find family of deceased Walsall resident: Can you help please?

Walsall Client Welfare Services Department have issued an appeal to trace any family of a Walsall resident who recently passed away at New Cross Hospital – Michael Hinton, aged 79, of 30 Lister Street, Willenhall.

Mr. Hinton had been a Willenhall resident for many years. Image from Apple Maps.

I realise this appeal is not immediately local, but relatives can be spread far and wide so these requests are essential, and I really feel for anyone who passes away alone.

Client Welfare Services  issued the following request:

Local residents are being asked to help with the search for relatives and friends of a man who recently passed away at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton after a short illness.

Client Welfare Officers are keen to get in touch with any family members or friends of Mr Michael Hinton, aged 79, of 30 Lister Street, Willenhall WV13 2HQ, where he lived for the past 30 years. His previous address to this was 19 Webb Road, Toll End, Tipton.

Mr Hinton was a widower when he died, his late wife was Margaret Valerie Hinton (nee Crombie).  

Mr Hinton was involved in the Civil Defence Corps with the Civic Defence Division in the ’60s. He is believed to have worked at Alfred Allen Fasteners, Deepdale Road in Lower Gornal, Sedgley as a driver until 1982.

Mr and Mrs Hinton loved dogs and cats, and Mr Hinton leaves behind his beloved dog Bella, aged 11.

Officers extend their sympathy at this time and would be grateful to hear from any relatives or friends of Mr Hinton, or anyone who might have helpful information about his family so that proper arrangements for his funeral can be made.

If anyone has any information about Mr Hinton’s family they are asked to contact Walsall Council Client Welfare Services on 01922 655551.

Thanks in advance. If anyone would prefer no to contact the council directly for whatever reason, email me at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot come and I’ll pass any messages on.

Although such appeals by Councils are a legal requirement, I’ll always support them and run them; this blog has a large readership now, and someone out there may just unlock a mystery. It must be horrible to lose a parent, sibling or child and not know, whatever the relationship between you. Nobody should ever pass unmourned. Closure is important.

If you’re wondering why we suddenly see a lot of these, Walsall Council (as with any authority) have always had a legal duty to trace relatives in such cases, but formerly used classified adverts in local papers. Recently, they’ve wisely started using social media, too.

Thanks.

Posted in Environment, Local History, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Right down the line

Just a quick heads up as the great Canal Hunter Andy Tidy posted two new episodes of a great canal history series on YouTube that I have plugged before about lost local canals – episodes 3 and 4 of Ogley Locks, covering Wall to Lichfield and Sandfields Pumping Station.

Andy Tidy is of course the proprietor of the Jam Butty, a boat selling preserves that will be recognised by anyone attending a local canal event.

At wall, it’s hard to believe the canal came this way, but you can still see the line if you look hard.

The new episodes are a further exploration of the lost Ogley Locks, a flight on the Wyrley and Essington from Ogley Junction (near Grasmere Gardens in Brownhills) down to Lichfield – a huge flight  on a section of canal closed in 1954, and currently being restored by the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

You can see the first two episodes in the series here.

Ogley Locks used a huge amount of water for every boat passage through the whole 30 locks on what is now referred to as the Lichfield Canal, from Ogley Junction to Huddlesford Junction.

Andy Tidy has created a wonderful series that I adore, and You can subscribe here – there are already a lot of great episodes, including one on the lost Slough Arm in Brownhills and all about the Black Cock Bridge which I featured previously here.

My congratulations to Andy for a lovely, beautifully produced and informative series of films. I commend you to subscribe.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

A hundred years apart

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

A nice diversion here from the relentless tide of bad news – old friend of the blog Ian Broad has been in touch to say that he’s using his current downtime to undertake a rather interesting photo history project – he’s trying to take modern pictures from the same angle as well known historic images.

Jill Manchester did this with great success a few years ago in Walsall Wood.

Ian has previously supplied lots of material for the blog. including an eternally popular 1982 Shire Oak School leaver group photo outside the Royal Oak pub in Shire Oak and lots about the history of Ian’s family shop Tom’s Cabin, a fixture of Brownhills for many years throughout the 1980s.

It’s always good to hear from old friends!

I shan’t identify locations, I’ll let readers work them out…

Ian wrote:

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Hi Bob,

Hope you and yours are well.

I’ve been using some old pics during my cycle rides (from your blog) to create 100 yrs apart pics.

It’s hard to capture the angles exactly as the iPhone is quite a wide angle lens.

I’ve also noticed that most old pics were taken from the middle of the road! Not too much of a problem to do that at the moment with such little traffic about.

As a cyclist I’ve also tried to find pics with bikes in them and then put mine in the same place. I’ve got quite a few more to do yet. The old Crossed Keys pub pic at Heath Hayes / Hednesford is one I want to get next.

Hope you like the pics.

Thanks to Ian for another great post and very thought provoking set of images, and if you have any views on this wonderful work, please do comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Posted in News | 11 Comments

Can you help identify a local Landy?

This series one may have been owned locally, possibly at Shire Oak Quarry – it was thought to be yellow then; do you recognise it? Image kindly supplied by reader Glenn.

And now, as a famous comedy crew used to say, for something completely different.

I was interested yesterday in comments about me not running an April fool piece here on the blog; whilst I think perhaps, on reflection I might have done, the general absence of such japes in the wider media made me think I’d judged the mood reasonably, but I would like to take folks up on one point made so eloquently by Graham: He asked if there was anything readers could do to help.

Yes there is, please – I need contributions. Short, long, photos – whatever. Please send me stuff in to share. My work is keeping me very busy at the moment but I am keeping the blog running so any help with diversionary material would be lovely. Everything is welcome.

You can mail anything you have to me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Anyway, today we have something rather unusual which is sure to get the petrol (or diesel) head’s motors running – an enquiry into the history of a series one Landrover that could have been owned locally.

Reader Glenn writes from Hampshire:

Hi there Bob!

Hope you’re keeping well!

I came across your blog while doing some research into your local area and I wondered with your local knowledge if you might be just the man to help me!  Also, it was a pleasure to find a good old fashioned blog in these times of Facebook, it was heart warming and reminded me of how the internet used to be in the good old days (the 90s!) 🙂

Anyway, the reason for my email;  I am the current owner of a 1950 Series One Land Rover which I’d like to trace the history of.

I bought her off a lovely old chap in his late 80s, who took her to the Orkney Isles and back! But he also told me he purchased the landy from ‘a man who lived in a quarry and ran a haulage firm near Tamworth’ in the early 1960s. The car was painted yellow then. I’d dearly love to find out which haulage firm and which quarry might have been. I was told by a trucker on Facebook that there used to be a man living in Shire Oak/Brownhills quarry around that time, but I’ve exhausted all my internet leads.

I wondered with your local knowledge and contacts whether you might be able to give me any clues on tires mystery?

All the best,

Glenn
Hampshire

Well, I guess we are sort of near Tamworth and it’s entirely possible the vehicle was owned locally; but let’s not forget Tamworth is surrounded by quarries – at Hints, Packington and to the south along the tame from Middleton to Kingsbury and on.

If you remember a little yellow Lady locally, this could be the one, though – so what do you know? I do know we have a few vehicle fans in the readership so any help is a boon.

Thanks to Glenn for a lovely, offbeat enquiry and to all who can maybe help. Comment here, tug my sleeve on social media for mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Cheers.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

A break with tradition…

Normally on this day every year I run a hoax or joke article for you folk to enjoy.

With the situation as it is this year, right now my heart just isn’t in it and I don’t think it would be appropriate.

I did have what I thought might be a good one lined up for April fools Day this year, but I’ll keep it until we’re in a sunnier clime, and we’ll enjoy it the better.

Stay safe folks.

I know how he feels.

Posted in News | 4 Comments

St Giles Hospice needs us more than ever right now…

An important one brought to my attention by David Evans here: A charitable institution down the road that’s very close to my heart needs community support more than ever right now – despite the ongoing pandemic, hospice and palliative care services are still desperately needed and St. Giles relies on our donations to keep running.

With events cancelled and charity shops shut, it’s now more important than ever that we get behind St Giles.

They wrote:

St. Giles Hospice needs our help more than ever. Image from eHospice UK.

It takes a community to make a hospice and we’ve never needed you more than we need you today.

This is an extremely worrying time for everyone, especially our patients and their families who are living with a terminal illness. As a hospice we are experiencing a big increase in people needing palliative care at this time.

We’re continuing to care for the community’s most vulnerable people which is easing the burden on the NHS. Our dedicated care teams are still out there working 24/7 in our hospices and our community.

Our shops have had to close, our events are being cancelled and our income has almost dried up meaning that we are now reliant on donations to continue our work in your local community.  We’re extremely worried about the impact the coronavirus outbreak will have on your hospice’s future.

But, we need to raise £850,000 every single month just to keep our service going.

See below for some of the ways you can support.

For some light relief…Orange Week, April!

Wherever you are, whatever you do, make sure it’s orange this Orange Month!

When? 1st April – 30th April

Where? At work or at home!

What? Go orange for one day, the whole week, or the whole month in support of St Giles!

Simply think of a ‘bright’ idea – from wearing some wonderful orange attire, to decorating your desk/home in all things orange – or if you’re at home you could walk ‘virtual miles for St Giles’ to help us raise vital funds for local people.

Visit our website https://www.stgileshospice.com/

For more information on any of our campaigns or how to support St Giles Hospice during Covid 19 please contact me, Joanne. I would love to hear from you.

Joanne.barlow@stgileshospice.com

07805759985

Thank you so much for your continued support!

Joanne Barlow
Regional Fundraiser

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Services for Walsall’s vulnerable and older folk during the Coronavirus outbreak

As the Coronavirus situation has developed over the last couple of weeks, services have been formed to support the vulnerable, elderly and isolating during this uncertain and strange time.

Our local hub for advice, help, support and all manner of related services is at Manor Farm Community Association and you can contact them on 0121 380 6690 or email them on COVID-19communityhelp@walsall.gov.uk.

John Morris from Walsall Council explained:

Good afternoon all,

We come to the end of a very strange, unique week.

I hope you are all keeping well and coping with the restrictions in your everyday life, which are new to nearly all of us?

Please see attached the poster, outlining the council’s response to the community regarding the coronavirus situation.

We now have a hotline email and telephone number that goes live today. Anyone in Walsall that needs help can email or call for assistance.

You will also notice that the hub for the East (covering Aldridge, Brownhills, Clayhanger, High Heath, Pelsall, Pheasey, Rushall, Shelfield, Streetly and Walsall Wood) is Manor Farm Community Association.

If you want to volunteer your services to help, please visit https://onewalsall.org/coronavirus-how-you-can-help/

I recommend that over the weekend you should email COVID-19communityhelp@walsall.gov.uk if you need help, there will be staff working at the community hub, but only at certain times, so please do be patient.

I will check my emails at various times over the weekend and if you contact me I will give best endeavours to pass them on to the relevant service.

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered or gone out of their way to help an support the community this week.

Stay safe and have a good weekend.

John Morris

Locality Manager – East
Resources and Transformation
Walsall Council
Civic Centre – 1st Floor Zone 1b
Darwall Street
Walsall WS1 1TP

Mobile: 07852 421421

Email: John.Morris@walsall.gov.uk

Do stay safe everyone – my best wishes to you all.

 

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Two charged following armed robbery at Brownhills shop

Silver Court, Brownhills. Imagery from Apple Maps.

Many readers will be aware of a police operation that took place in Brownhills High Street near to Anchor Bridge on Tuesday evening, 245th March 2020 – police raided a flat and arrested two men.

The raid followed an armed robbery at the Lifestyle Express shop in Silver Court, Brownhills.

Police issued the following statements:

Two charged following armed robbery at Black Country shop

Two men have been charged with firearms offences following an armed robbery at Black Country shop on Tuesday evening (24 March). 

Lewis Crutchley, aged 21, and Jordan Cattell, aged 23, were arrested on suspicion of trying to hold-up Lifestyle Express in Brownhills with a store a sawn-off shotgun. 

Last night the pair were charged with possession of a shotgun, possession of ammunition, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. 

Crutchley and Cattell were both remanded in custody, and are due to appear at Wolverhampton Magistrates court this morning.

Two arrested after armed robbery at Black Country shop

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of trying to hold-up a Black Country convenience store with a sawn-off shotgun.

We received a 999 call from the shop in Silver Court, Brownhills, at 7.15pm last night (24 March) reporting two men bursting in and demanded takings.

The shopkeeper bravely tackled the men and they fled empty handed.

Enquiries led us to identify a flat in Brownhills High Street where it’s believed the offenders ran to – and just after 9pm our armed police raided the address and arrested two suspects.

A search of the property led us to recover a firearm similar to the one used in the attempted robbery, plus an improvised ‘slam gun’ loaded with a shotgun cartridge.

The weapons have been seized for forensic analysis.

Men aged 21 and 23 have been arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery and firearms offences; they remain in police custody for questioning.

Detective Inspector Jackie Nicholson, said: “We’ve recovered two firearms, including one homemade gun. These are significant seizures and were undoubtedly designed to be used to commit serious offences.

“Inquiries at the scene helped us identify an address of interest which was quickly contained before officers moved in to make arrests.

“We understood the offenders may have pulled a firearm on a member of the public shortly before the robbery. 

“We’re appealing for witnesses. If anyone saw two men in the area shortly before the incident or them running from the scene we’d like to hear from them.”

Anyone with information is asked to message us on Live Chat via or website and quote crime ref 20WS/76045F/20.

My sympathies to anyone affected. 

This post is for information only and comment is not invited, cheers.

Posted in News

Police urgently looking for Missing man Nigel Beesley- please help if you can

Image from West Midlands Police.

One that’s playing on my mind in recent days and because of the current situation understandablly,is flying below the radar but is very important indeed.

Please – take a look at the photo above – 58 year old Nigel Beesley went missing from sometime after his last confirmed sighting at 7:20am on the 18th March 2020 on the corner of Walstead Road and West Bromwich Road in Walsall.

Have you seen this gentleman? If so, please contact the police who are very concerned for his welfare.

West Midlands Police issued the following request:

MISSING – We’re appealing again for help tracing Nigel Beesley who has gone missing from Walsall.

The 58-year-old was last seen on the junction of Walstead Road and West Bromwich Road just after 7.20am last Wednesday (18 March).

He has recently suffered a close bereavement and we’re growing increasingly concerned for his well-being.

Nigel is described as white, 5ft 6ins tall and has greying hair. He may be wearing a blue three-quarter length coat.

If you see him, please get in touch via Live Chat at west-midlands.police.ukplease get in touch via Live Chat at west-midlands.police.uk.

Posted in Environment, Events, Interesting photos, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A sad but timely message from New Hall Mill

P1040438

New Hall Mill is a splendid place, restored and run by wonderfully dedicated volunteers.

One of the incidental effects of the current pandemic (how odd it is to type those words) that is slowly dawning on me is that most of the things that I treasure about summer are unlikely to happen this year much, if at all.

You all know I love cheesy garden fetes, church fayres, floating markets, boat rallies and festivals, not to mention the steam and vintage events? Well, it occurred to me in the last few days that most of these events won’t happen this year now: Even Pelsall Carnival has been cancelled.

One of my favourite things about curating the blog in summer is knowing I can direct a healthy flow of interested folk to great, otherwise hidden local attractions, like New Hall Mill. I love the place and adore getting them better known – the mill is gorgeous and so quintessentially English it’s impossible not to love.

My old pal Alan Dawson wrote to me a few days ago to say that sadly, this year the first few open days have been wisely cancelled, and rightly, a question mark hangs over the remainder.

This is absolutely the correct action, but by jove, I’ll miss these folk and their events.

The Friends of New Hall Mill said:

Hi Bob

New Hall Mill – Coronavirus

I hope that you are well and keeping yourself socially distanced from others in these challenging times. It would seem that we are about to have a very quiet summer with event cancellations increasing daily.

We are aware of the interest that your blog creates, many visitors to the mill indicating that their attendance was the result of your promoting the open days, for which we are immensely grateful.

Could you please post the following information on your blog?

NEW HALL MILL – Unfortunately, we have to report that along with many other organisations, we are having to cancel our open days in May and June. The remaining dates in July, August and September have been left pencilled in, we will take government advice nearer the time as to whether they can proceed. Should that be allowed, then the details will be published. 

Access our Face Book page NEW HALL MILL for regular updates

Many thanks in anticipation, Best wishes from New Hall Valley

Alan Dawson – A friend of New Hall Mill

More details can be found on their website – www.newhallmill.org.uk or their Facebook page here.

Obviously, I would imagine the same goes for similar attractions locally like Balleny Green miniature railway, Clay Mills pumping station, Klondyke Mill at Draycott and so forth.

This is so very sad but I will be so ready to welcome them all back when this strange time passes. My best wishes to Alan and all at New Hall Mill, and to all those volunteers, organisers and grafters who put events on and now find themselves oddly spare for a season.

My sympathies. See you on the other side.

Posted in cycling, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A flight into local canal history

Just a quick heads up to a great couple of new episodes of a great canal history series on YouTube that I have plunged before by a man very familiar to local canal fans: Andy Tidy, proprietor of the Jam Butty, a boat selling preserves that will be recognised by anyone attending a local canal event.

Ogley Junction ion a winter’s morning in 2016.

The new episodes are on the lost Ogley Locks, a flight on the Wyrley and Essington from Ogley Junction (near Grasmere Gardens in Brownhills) down to Lichfield – a huge flight  on a section of canal closed in 1954, and currently being restored by the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

Ogley Locks used a huge amount of water for every boat passage – I believe Ogley flight accounted for 19 of the locks on the whole 30 on what is now referred to as the Lichfield Canal, from Ogley Junction to Huddlesford Junction.

Andy Tidy has created a wonderful series that I adore, and You can subscribe here – there are already a lot of great episodes, including one on the lost Slough Arm in Brownhills and all about the Black Cock Bridge which I featured previously here.

My congratulations to Andy for a lovely, beautifully produced and informative series of films. I commend you to subscribe.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Appeal for volunteers to help with vulnerable folk during the Coronavirus outbreak continues

The Coronavirus situation is ongoing and many of you are concerned about the vulnerable, the isolating and the less able in our communities, and are offering volunteer support to them.

As the days have gone on, frameworks have begun to evolve where this can be carried out in an official capacity with support from councils and community groups to ensure safety and social distancing etc.

It’s at times like this community is most valuable and so many folk are offering themselves selflessly to help. It’s a real point of light in the darkness.

To this end, Kevin Pitt, the Police, Engagement and Consultation Officer for Walsall has sent the following message – to sign up, click the link, and fill in the online form.

Thank you all. Together, we will get through this.

Kevin Pitt wrote:

I hope you are all well and taking care during the current health emergency.

We are working with Walsall Council and other partners to offer support to individuals and communities in the current, difficult circumstances.

Walsall Council, along with One Walsall, the borough’s volunteering bureau, is collating a list of volunteers that can support residents in need which will be co-ordinated through 4 hubs across the borough.

Could you do anything to help – to quote a phrase ‘every little helps’, so whatever you can offer will be appreciated.  If you think you can help, please follow this link to fill in the online form: https://onewalsall.org/coronavirus-how-you-can-help/ 

If you know if any community group or business that is closing down or reducing it’s services please let me know so that we can get a picture of what is happening in our local community.

Many thanks.
Kevin.

Message Sent By
Kevin Pitt (Police, Engagement and Consultation Officer, Walsall)

Posted in News | Leave a comment

A quick note…

Hey folks.

Unprecedented times here at the moment, you don’t need me to tell you.

Right now because of these issues updates to the blog may be days apart or very brief, and not very history related.

Sorry about that.

At some point I, or we all will be quarantined I guess and my productivity will rocket, I have no doubt.

History types will be glad to hear I have a load of stuff in storage to come, to give you reading in coming weeks and hopefully, this blog can be a small comfort to those confined to barracks and wanting memories of the good times.

Please bear with me, and accept my apologies.

The blog is not going anywhere, or shutting down, but right now we’re all navigating choppy waters.

I’m looking forward when all this is clear to being on top of the Weavers again, with my bike, good companionship, a nice cool drink and the sun on my face.

Somewhere, in the distance, this unpleasantness will be a memory. See you there.

And I’ll take you all along, as I always have.

Stay safe
Bob

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Important Coronavirus crime prevention advice: Beware, there are scammers about

We find ourselves currently in uncharted waters as a country, facing our biggest challenge since the Second World War – Coronavirus. Sadly, like times of adversity throughout history, there are a minority of criminals ready to exploit the situation.

Image from Live Science.

Here’s an important message on how to protect yourself from such sumbags sent by Kevin Pitt, Police Engagement and Consultation Officer for walsall, which I received via the excellent WMNow service – you can sign up for that here, and keep up to date with local policing and community information in your area.

The news channels, social media and conversations are dominated by Coronavirus so we are using this WMNow message to provide some crime prevention tips specific to the outbreak of this virus.

Times like these can bring out the best and worst in people. While some will be looking out for vulnerable relatives and friends we also know a small minority will be looking to profit from worry and concerns.

Action Fraud has received multiple reports about fraud linked to Coronavirus. We are therefore asking you to share some crime prevention advice with loved ones to ensure they aren’t tricked by fraudsters taking advantage of people’s worries.

In recent weeks they’ve seen reports about coronavirus-themed phishing emails attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.

One tactic used by fraudsters is to contact potential victims over email claiming to be able to provide a list of coronavirus infected people in their area. In order to access this information, the victim needs to click on a link, which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make a payment in Bitcoin.

People have also paid money to online sellers for purchases that have never arrived.

The number of these reports are expected to rise as the virus continues to spread across the world.

Please share the below crime prevention advice with friends and family members so fraudsters cannot profit during this time.

Don’t click on links or attachments in suspicious emails

Do not respond to unsolicited messages asking for personal/financial information
Install latest software and updates on devices

If you are looking at making purchases on sites you don’t know or trust then make sure you do research of the company first before making the purchase, ask family and friends for advice

If you do decide to make payment use a credit card as the majority of credit card providers insure purchases made online

Keep in contact with your loved ones, especially if elderly or more vulnerable and make sure they are safe and comfortable

We are also aware of hate crime cases of a racially aggravated nature involving abuse connected to Coronavirus. We are also aware that there may be incidents that are not being reported to us.

We take all reports of hate crime seriously and, in order to respond to this, we need to know about it. If you feel you have been targeted please contact us via Live Chat at west-midlands.police.uk between 8am and midnight, call 101 anytime and in an emergency remember to use 999.

Finally we know that with an ever changing picture of the spread of Coronavirus you have concerns or questions and will be looking for the latest information. We recommend that you visit the NHS website or Gov.uk for the latest detailed advice and guidance on the response to Coronavirus.

Thank you.
Message Sent By
Kevin Pitt (Police, Engagement and Consultation Officer, Walsall)

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Remembrance: Pursuing an important question from John Bird

Old friend of this blog and highly respected Brownhills Royal British Legion member John Bird  wrote to me some time ago asking why our MP, Wendy Morton, only ever seemed to attend Aldridge’s Remembrance Service on Remembrance Sunday morning and not Pelsall or Brownhills (she also usually attends the Walsall Wood one, which unusually is always in the afternoon).

I said then, and I still agree: This is a very good question.

Remembrance is a proud event for all our district communities. Image of Walsall Wood war memorial kindly supplied by David Evans.

John is a fine campaigner and gentleman, and I have featured articles from him before on the subject of our MP’s attendance at Remembrance in Brownhills, regarding Remembrance parade funding and other topics.

Recently, you’ll recall I posted that John and the legion received a cheque in support of the branch from the family of Eddie Fallon, a loyal local Legion member.

John has been in touch since his first communication about Remembrance Sunday attendance to push the issue and raise it with local Councillors.

I know with current evens this may seem like a minor thing but it’s worth asking and thinking ahead: Pelsall and Brownhills have beautifully respectful and well attended Remembrance services and our citizens, be they serving, ex forces or civilians surely deserve the same treatment as Aldridge and would like their elected Member to share their act of Remembrance?

I will keep asking this question as Wendy Morton’s office seem quiet on the matter.

John Bird wrote:

Will Wendy Morton attend Brownhills Remembrance Sunday Service this year?

Last year I appealed, using Brownhills Bob’s blog, to Wendy Morton MP together with Councillors Stephen Craddock and Ken Ferguson, to explain why the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Aldridge and Brownhills only attends the Remembrance Sunday Service at Aldridge.    To date no explanation has been forthcoming.

There were a number of contributors in support of my appeal. It was also suggested that it may be fair to all other Branches of the Royal British Legion if she were to attend each of the other services in the constituency in turn each year.

So, may I remind those involved, that you only have approximately nine months to make contact with each of the branches to make the necessary arrangements to achieve a fair solution to my appeal, after all she is the elected MP representing all of Aldridge and Brownhills.

Needless to say, I will leave it to you to decide which Branch is chosen for this for this year, other than Aldridge.

                                                                          John Bird. Brownhills.

I do think this is a valid question, and is not political in the slightest.

Comments are open here on the matter, and I welcome a reply from local councillors – you have the floor.

Comment on this post or mail me please – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Again, thanks to John for making an excellent, thoughtful point.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Churches, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Council, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Do you want to volunteer to help those in isolation or the vulnerable locally? Here’s how….

As the current Coronavirus situation evolves, a number of community initiatives are springing up around our area (and indeed, the country of course) to support the elderly, vulnerable and those who may be in isolation.

Isolation will make life difficult for those undergoing it. Image from BBC News.

Following the report I carried on Sunday March 15th which detailed the starting of a scheme in Lichfield, Walsall East Locality Manager and all round top bloke John Morris from Walsall Council is hoping to co-ordinate help and volunteers to this end for our geographic area, and yesterday issued the appeal below.

If you can help, please do: t’s at times like this community is most valuable and I thank the hundreds of you who have been in touch for your human kindness, selflessness and dedication to others.

John Morris wrote:

Promoting Neighbourliness and helping those who are isolated

Can you or someone you know volunteer and support anyone in your neighbourhood who is in isolation or vulnerable, or could be in the foreseeable future?

In response to the current situation around Coronavirus (Covid-19), Walsall Council and partners are working together in readiness to support our community, especially the elderly and vulnerable residents. 

If you as an organisation or an individual would like to help with this by volunteering (for example, shopping, picking up medications, etc.) or providing resources (for example, storage facilities, kitchen facilities, etc.), please contact me as soon as possible on the details below. 

Please share this message with others who may also want to give their support.

Thank you.
John Morris

Locality Manager – East
Resources and Transformation

Walsall Council
Civic Centre – 1st Floor Zone 1b
Darwall Street
Walsall WS1 1TP

Tel: 01922 653711
Mobile: 07852 421421

Email: John.Morris@walsall.gov.uk

 

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The Friends of Brownhills Common – March 2020 meeting tonight!

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We all love the common, but its management has proven controversial. Why not pop along to the meeting and discuss the issues with the experts and other users?

Here’s one for people interested in the issues surrounding Brownhills Common – theres a meeting tonight, Monday 16th March 2020 of the Friends of Brownhills Common group at the Environmental Depot, 200 Pelsall Road, Brownhills – WS8 7EN – please meet in the reception by 7:00pm.

Brownhills Common needs a good active friends group and this is your opportunity to join in and have your say in shaping the future management of the open space we all love.

The meeting is also open to the general public who may not wish to join the friends group, but are encouraged to attend and hear what everyone has to say.

It’s important that we recognise what a valuable, fragile and important habitat Brownhills Common is, and why it requires careful and measured stewardship.

If you’ve only heard the alarmists, it’s a good opportunity to go out and meet, talk and listen to people who understand the issues and want to preserve the wildlife, and to help shape the future of Brownhills’ greatest asset.

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

Geoff Heath, rest in peace

An important and sad announcement here from Sue Croxford, whose father Geoffrey Heath passed away on March 6th 2020 following a period of illness.

Geoff was a well known and respected man locally who was very much involved with the community.

Sue would like to invite all who knew and loved Geoff to his memorial service at 10:45am, Wednesday 25th March 2020 at Streetly Crematorium, followed by a gathering refreshments at King Street Club in Walsall Wood.

Geoff will be sadly missed. My condolences and sympathy to Sue and the family.

Sue Croxford wrote:

Geoffrey Heath – 01.12.1946 – 06.03.2020

Our family would like to invite Geoff’s family, friends, neighbours, former work colleagues, football and Boy’s Brigade friends to attend as we say our final goodbyes and celebrate his life.

A service will be held at 10:45am on Wednesday 25th March in the West Chapel at Streetly Crematorium, Little Hardwick Road, WS9 0SG and everyone is welcome to join us afterwards at King Street Club in Walsall Wood, WS9 9LN, for refreshments, to raise a glass or two and to share your lovely memories of Dad with us.

(Family flowers only please – any kind donations will be passed on to the Alzheimer’s Society)

You can donate via the JustGiving appeal here.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Special Brewes

An iconic view of Brownhills is currently for sale as a postcard on eBay.

Occasionally, I like to share interesting local postcard images found on sale sites like eBay, and today I feature one that’s an old friend – the view down High Street Brownhills from the old Railway Bridge/Lichfield Road junction towards Shire Oak.

On the left is Brewes bakery on as it was then known, Brewes Corner – the corner of Lichfield Road and High Street, with a group of young lads out front. Along the generally quiet High Street, on this remarkably fine scan, once can see it’s a trading day as shop canopies are out, and people are around. There’s a horse and cart just beyond the Station Hotel on the right.

Foreground right, a group of men stand looking at the photographer, the Station Hotel behind. One the extreme right, one can just see the Station Brewery.

Wonder what the stepladders were for?

I notice this scan is so clear, a set of steps can be seen in the road by one of the shop canopies: No idea why, but try that today!

I’ve seen several versions of this card of the years, from photos clearly taken around the same time by the same photographer; some have a wider angle and the characters move and change. In fact, I discussed it some years ago in this post here.

I’m most interested with the reverse of this one. The seller, Antique Chapters, who has the card at time of publication at £15.00 (see link here) always features scans of the writing side in their sales and this is no exception: This one is stated as 1905 in the sale details, and was adressed to ‘Miss Florrie Marklew, County Asylum, Stafford.’

I can’t decipher most of it but it talks about Kingston and Jamaica but as you know, I’m no good at reading handwriting, so any help appreciated. The card is postmarked Brownhills, so I’m assuming some family connection with the Caribbean. I know Marklew is a fairly common family name locally.

Can you help decipher this, or if you have any view on the image, please do comment here, tug my sleeve on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

No idea what the writing says, can anyone help? Click for a larger version.

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Lichfield, Burntwood and South Staffs community pull together in light of Coronavirus outbreak

Great work from community minded people – and a huge hat tip to Lichfield Live too!

A very important story here, led by people I have an awful lot of time for: Lichfield District Councillors Sue Woodward and Dave Robertson, plus the wonderful Kate ‘Cardigan’ Gomez of Lichfield Lore, Lichfield Discovered and Lichfield Waterworks Trust fame.

I have a feeling the blog is going to be reporting a lot of community initiatives as the Coronavirus/COVID 19 situation develops, and this support network plan is really, really positive and I think, a great thing.

I’ve cheekily carried this one over from my old friends Lichfield Live – you can visit and read the original (and the rest of the great output of Lichfield Live) by clicking here. I can’t write this better than Ross already has, so I make no apologies for reproducing it.

My best wishes and thanks to Sue, Dave and Kate and all involved, and I hope similar plans will kick off in our immediate area.

Lichfield Live wrote:

Bid to create community database to support Lichfield and Burntwood residents during coronavirus outbreak

People in Lichfield and Burntwood are being asked to offer their help for community members who may need support during the coronavirus outbreak.

Additional restrictions are expected to be introduced next week as the country continues to battle COVID-19.

Cllr Dave Robertson and Cllr Sue Woodward say they have received a number of calls from residents concerned about the impact of an outbreak.

Cllr Robertson, Chair of Lichfield Labour Party, said:

“People are understandably concerned about the immediate and longer-term future.

“As councillors, we want to offer practical help but our numbers are limited and we don’t yet know how things are going to progress.

“We don’t want local people to feel that they don’t have the support they need at what may become for them a time of crisis but we do want to be prepared for all eventualities.

“We are therefore asking community and voluntary organisations across the constituency to commit to sharing a telephone number and email contact address for people to get help, even if it’s only a bit of moral support.”

Cllr Dave Robertson, Lichfield District Council

“We can show what a strong community we live in”

Discussions have now taken place with Kate Gomez, who has been involved with projects such as the Lichfield Repair Cafe, to develop a database of people others can call on in times of need over the coming weeks.

“I want to pull a simple database together – just the name of an organisation plus a secure telephone number and email – which can then be used to signpost people, even those most isolated, towards help.

“Whether it’s a bit of shopping by a trusted person or a willingness to drop vulnerable people a letter, this is a time that we can really show what a strong community we live in.

“When coronavirus is all over, I hope we can continue with this database for people who are anxious, lonely or just need someone to care.”

Kate Gomez

To add your organisation’s details to Kate’s Be A Friend database for Lichfield constituency, email lichfieldbeafriend@gmail.com.

“People are feeling very unnerved”

Cllr Sue Woodward, Labour county councillor for Burntwood North and leader of Burntwood Town Council, said it was important that the community pulled together.

“People are feeling very unnerved at the moment and we want to do whatever we can to offer help.

“We have a thriving community and voluntary sector locally and feel sure they will also want to help in their locality.

“They have people in their groups who have the appropriate security clearance and training in the safeguarding of adults and children who will ensure safe support in which people can have confidence.”

Cllr Sue Woodward, Burntwood Town Council

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Why not Stay and Play for longer – at Brownhills Community Centre this morning?

If you’ve a child or children under six years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 14th March 2020 from 10-12pm – note the newly expanded times!

It costs just three quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery professionals.

There are games and toys and all manner of creative fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

Come along and treat your mommy’s to a Mother’s Day stay&play craft morning 💐

Our messy tray will be egg boxes that our favourite micro bakery 🧁 (Bean & Baked kindly kept aside for us too use) 🙏
We will be painting these to create beautiful unique flowers for our Mother’s Day cards 🌸🌺🌼💐🌹🌷

There will be more activities such as decorating biscuits 🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪

Our creative table will be full of creative resources (stickers, glitter, pens, buttons, ribbons) to add to your flower cards to personalise and add as much sparkles and love as you wish 🌹 

Sandtray will be open and accessible as it is every week 👍🏼

…Along with all our other areas of play within the nursery setting:

• home corner
• construction
• small world
• maths area
• cosy book/music area
• baby sensory area

See you all Saturday!

Don’t forgot the outdoors area which is loved by all 🧊 🧊 🧊 (even in the cold weather 🥶 – wrap up warm 😂) (weather permitting)

10.00am-12.00
£3 per child
Snack included

Feel free to invite your friends with children aged 0-6 years and share our events

This group is held at Little Green Dragons Day Nursery every Saturday morning

Brownhills Stay&Play 🌈🌈

The Community Centre is what my generation would know as ‘The Annexe’ – the old Central Boy’s School, now a bustling community resource. To find out more,  you can pop in or call them on 01543 452119.

The Community Association have lots of stuff going on, and loads of great facilities, right in the heart of Brownhills. I love what they’re about and all the great things they’re doing.

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Walsall Wood match against Sporting Khalsa this Saturday OFF sorry!

Contrary to a very short lived blog post here (which will have gone out to email subscribers, sorry) there will be no Wood match tomorrow because of the virus situation. Sorry.

Apologies for the duff info.

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March community litter pick in Shelfield this Sunday afternoon!

Sheffield Pickers in action. That reminds me: Must be due another Dexy’s reunion about now. Image from the Sheffield Pickers group.

There’s a community litter pick this Sunday morning (15th March 2020) in Shelfield, organised by the fab Shelfield Pickers group.

It kicks off at 1:00pm outside Shelfield wish Bar adjacent to the Spring Cottage junction. Wrap up warm! All gear will be provided.

Wombles and litter picker groups are gaining in popularity – you can check out Shelfield Pickers here, The Brownhills Community Wombles Facebook page here, and there’s a Facebook page for Walsall Wood Wombles here. They’re all great community spirited collectives and you really are welcome to pop along.

Thanks to all who participate: Real community in action.

Previous local litter pick events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make this one even better!

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Parkrun is on at Chasewater this Saturday!

After weeks of cancellations due to weather, Chasewater Parkrun is scheduled to go ahead this Saturday 14th March 2020 after last week’s successful return – and it looks like being a great run!

Come for a run – these ladies have been missing you! Image from Chasewater Parkrun Facebook page.

For those concerned about the possible impact of the Coronavirus situation on Parkrun events in general, the Parkrun organisation have published the following statement which the Chasewater organisers have posted on their Facebook page:

Sensible and rational, I thought.

I know we have a lot of running folk amongst the readership, and in the mass of volunteer, community organised stuff in recent years, one of the most impressive demonstrations of this has been the growth of the free, Saturday morning Parkrun phenomena, where volunteers and runners gather every Saturday in local parks for a run, totally free of charge.

What a fantastic environment to run in! Image from Chasewater Parkrun on Facebook.

It’s not competitive – except against your own personal best – it’s properly marshalled and you have to register, but it’s a free, friendly thing that’s hugely popular and a stunning demonstration of community in action.

It’s suitable for runners of all experience levels and paces. Find out more at the event page here or the event Facebook page here.

Having run for years now at Walsall Arboretum and Cannock Chase, we now have a 5km Parkrun at Chasewater that happens every Saturday (events in the park permitting) – and has been attracting over 300 runners already!

It’s on this Saturday (14th March 2020) at 9:00am and the organisers have this to say:

What is Chasewater parkrun?

It is a 5km run – it’s you against the clock.

When is it?

Every Saturday at 9:00am.

Where is it?

The event takes place at Chasewater Country Park, Pool Rd, Burntwood, Brownhills, WS8 7NL. See Course page for more details.

What does it cost to join in?

Nothing – it’s free! but please register before your first run. Only ever register with parkrun once. Don’t forget to bring a printed copy of your barcode (request a reminder). If you forget it, you won’t get a time.

How fast do I have to be?

We all run for our own enjoyment. Please come along and join in whatever your pace!

Chasewater parkrun needs you!

It is entirely organised by volunteers – email chasewaterhelpers@parkrun.com to help.

We’re friendly!

Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in the South Shore café – please come and join us!

Please, if you go for a run this Saturday, drop me a line and let me know how you get on – this is a fascinating thing and it’s growth is really wonderful. Comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Just walking to the start shows the large number of runners already making this a great event! Image from Susan Williams.

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Police arrest man following Clayhanger hit and run but still need witnesses

Following the awful incident that took place in Clayhanger on Saturday evening (7th March 2020), in which a cyclist was seriously injured in a hit and run collision in Bridge Street, Clayhanger , a man has been arrested and  a vehicle recovered in Bloxwich.

Bridge Street, Clayhanger is a road I cycle often. Image from Apple Maps.

Police are still appealing for information on the incident, and for anyone with information to please come forward.

I reiterate my sympathies to my fellow cyclist and his family and friends, and my thanks to the people who stopped to help him. The people helping are the very best of us and I thank you all.

Please think about what you say on social media as trials can and do collapse because of careless comment.

West Midlands Police issued the following statement on Tuesday:

Man arrested following Walsall collision

10th March 2020

A man has been arrested as we continue to investigate after a cyclist was seriously injured in Walsall on Saturday (7 March).

We were called to reports of a collision on Bridge Street in Clayhanger at around 6.45pm after a cyclist was struck by a dark 4×4 car which failed to stop at the scene.

Officers investigating the collision arrested a 20-year-old man from his home in Bloxwich yesterday (9 March) and he has since been released while enquiries continue.

A Land Rover defender has been recovered for forensic examination.

The 44-year-old man suffered serious injuries and remains in hospital in a critical condition.

Sergeant Alan Hands from the Serious Collision Investigation unit, said: “Although this arrest is a big step forward in our investigation, we are urgently appealing for anyone who saw a dark blue Land Rover defender in the area around the time of the collision.

“We need to work out exactly what happened and I’d also be interested in hearing from anyone who has dashcam footage before or after the collision, or saw the car leaving.”

Enquiries continue and anyone with information is urged to contact us via Live Chat at west-midlands.police.uk between 8am and midnight, or call 101 anytime.

Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111. Please quote log 3013 of 7 March.

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Alcoholics Anonymous group meeting in Brownhills this evening


Here’s an important one – Brownhills has started its own Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings at Silver Street Methodist Church in Silver Street, Brownhills that take place this and every Tuesday (10th March 2020) from 7:30pm until 9pm.

I’m told the meetings are very well attended.

All are welcome. Parking is free, the venue is wheelchair friendly and can be found at Silver Street, Brownhills, Walsall WS8 6ER.

This is a welcome move as Brownhills has been lacking in this area for many years.

My best wishes to all attendees, and all are welcome.

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Lichfield Waterworks Trust March 2020 public meeting takes place this evening

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Sandfields Pumping Station – a great historic building with immense history and social significance – not just to Lichfield, but to the Black Country. Lichfield Discovered and local historian Dave Moore have saved this valuable asset for the community.

Sandfields Pumping Station champion and public historian extraordinaire Dave Moore has been in touch to let me know that this evening, Monday 9th March 2020 there will be the monthly Public Meeting of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group.

The meeting is at the Bowling Green pub, Lichfield from 7:30pm and is of course open to anyone interested.

Dave wrote:

Lichfield Waterworks Trust March Newsletter

The next public meeting of Lichfield Waterworks Trust will take place on:  Monday 9 March 2020 at 7.30pm, in the rear meeting room of the
 
The Bowling Green
Friary Road
Lichfield
Staffordshire
WS13 6QJ
 
Tel: 01543 257344
 
Everyone is welcome to this social event so please feel free to join us and be a part of an amazing community heritage restoration project.

Do remember, the Bowling Green serves some great food and real ales.

Latest News

Building Lease Update:

The Trustees met with Persimmon Homes Ltd on Tuesday 18 February. Our initial assessment of the meeting is, Persimmon have offered us a 50-year lease at £1.00 per year with a 5-year break clause.

This is a much more advantageous to LWT than we expected. The only really grey area is around the repair and maintenance point, which we can negotiate/argue about a bit further down the line.

The trustees will meet on Monday 9 March 2020 to discuss, and hopefully we maybe in a position to agree heads of terms. While we believe this is good news, it is important to understand that the building is in quite a poor state of repair and the trust will need to raise a considerable sum of money and considerable effort to bring the building back into reuse.

Saying that, we have a great team of people working on this project who are willing to go that extra mile.

 Important Note:

After the visit by Historic England on 16 Jan, the site has unfortunately been placed on the Heritage At Risk Register.

This is indeed sad news to see that this magnificent piece of industrial heritage is now officially at risk of permanent loss.
 
The trust is committed to continue working with the owner, Persimmon Homes Ltd to find a sustainable solution that will bring this building and its historic contents aback into a community use.

Tonight’s Talk

Tonight’s talk is by a long-standing supporter and advisor to our project, Dr Jim Andrew. Jim is an incredibly knowledgeable individual on a wide variety of subjects Tonight he will be asking us ‘Could we learn something from the Victorians?’



The Great Exhibition of 1851 was housed in the Crystal Palace, a temporary building in London’s Hyde Park, yet this was probably the largest single build construction the world had ever seen.  It was 19 acres with an 8-acre mezzanine housing some 100,000 exhibits, half from the UK and half from the rest of the world.  The building was only finalised in July 1850, but it still opened on 1st May 1851. No computers or telephones on emails so how did they do it?  Could we learn something from the Victorians?

Site Report

The team are on site and in full swing mode. The office is now with the exception of rewiring, complete. The folks have done a splendid job. Walls and ceiling have been redecorated, the floors have been cleaned and oiled. The cold-water tank has been removed and the floor made good.
The room is looking clean, light and fresh. A perfect meeting room that will be a benefit to all.

Please do feel free to join us and be a part of an amazing community heritage restoration project.


The site is open for normal working on Friday’s between 10:30am and 12:30pm. As always you are most welcome to join us. Free tea and coffee is always available.

Engineering Team Report

Work to clean and lubricate the metalwork parts in the cataract chamber (this is the chamber immediately beneath the engine controls) is almost complete, and steelguard rust preventative has been liberally applied. The strategy has been to clean the metal parts of rust, but not to finish them to the standard adopted for the more visible parts of the engine, as this will take a long and it is more important that the parts are protected from corrosion and deterioration than to look “shiny”. The initial results from adopting this strategy have shown pleasing results.



Team members have been working on the water-return pump (which returned cooling water from the condenser tank to the adjacent canal), in an attempt to “free-up” as many elements of the engine before we attempt to move it again. The cover on the pump was seized solid with corrosion. A gas torch was used to heat the cylinder body and with some “gentle” persuasion by driving wedges around the rim of the pump body we were able to break the bond and lift the cover clear.



Not surprisingly the pump was full of water, which we syphoned out. The internal bore of the pump body was badly corroded. After cleaning out lumps of corroded cast iron and other debris we were able to expose the upper face of the piston, complete with valve…

Download the full report here

Health and Safety Report

Unfortunately, we had our first incident in three years working on site; a cut hand. While this was a minor cut, it goes to show that accidents can and do happen.

We have met with the team members and had an honest and frank discussion about this incident. We are delighted to say that the teams have come up with a number of great suggestions that will help us improve and make good safety no accident.



A very big thank you to everyone for embracing a heath and safety culture. We will be undertaking more training in the new year, so watch this space.

Electrical Installation Team Report

The electrical team are continuing doing some sterling work. We have now recommissioned the lighting in the 1870 building and have some temporary lighting in the 1960s building.

This was a tremendous help for Victorian Lichfield event.
 
The team continues to remove redundant and waterlogged damage wiring and is making preparations to install new submains in both buildings.

3D Walkthrough

Dudley Technical College has been extremely kind in producing a 3D Walkthrough for the trust. This is an amazing piece of work that not only showcases the site, it also provides an opportunity to those who are unable to visit the site or climb the stairs

Please click on the image below

History West Midlands – Podcast

History West Midlands have produced a stunning podcast titled ‘Making Cholera History in the Black Country.’ 

Presented by writer and broadcaster Graham Fisher and Directed by Andy Partington, featuring David Moore, the podcast gives a detailed history of both Sandfields pumping Station and the story of clean water.

Please click on the image below

Donations

Now that we find ourselves in a position where we feel we can enter into a lease agreement; we need to raise £5,000 to put the building to work to earn its keep. We have several ideas and events either booked or planned.

Despite the best efforts of the teams, the condition of the building is still poor and not the most user-friendly place. The one thing holding us back is funds to buy materials and some specialist works.

We need to install sub-mains in both the 1960 and 1870 buildings. Works needs to be done to the floors in the 1960s building to remove s the trip hazards and make the wells safe.

We need to make and adapt the steel tables to make a stage for events. We have people willing to do this work, but we need to buy materials.

Therefore, if you can donate, please visit our donation page here.

100% of what you give goes into the restoration fund. This is a most exciting heritage project that will bring a benefit to the whole community. Heritage restoration project like this build new skills, engage with the community, bridge inter-age gaps, enable people to make new friends and improve health and wellbeing.

We have no paid staff; all of our volunteers are priceless.


 
We will also always invest in our people and have a volunteer training away day on the 27 March.

All these costs soon mount up, so if you can donate, then please visit our donation page here.
 
Any amount is helpful, is well appreciated and will be carefully spent preserving our industrial past for our future generations, developing skills for our people and making our community a better place
 
Please make cheques payable to; Lichfield Waterworks Trust, and send to our address:
 
22 Walsall Road
Lichfield
WS13 8AB

Membership

It would really help us if we develop and grow our membership. If you are not already a member and would you like to be a part of one of the region’s most exciting heritage projects then please, join us now by filling in Membership Application Form by going to our membership page here. It is free to join and be a part of this incredibly exciting project. 

Finally

Thank you everyone for your continued support and helping to make a difference in our community.

Do pop over to Dave Moore’s blog and check out the history of Sandfields Pumping Station, an almost forgotten gem – the group also has a Facebook page.

Dave is, of course, one of the leading lights of Lichfield Discovered, along with Kate ‘Cardigan’ Gomez from Lichfield Lore.

It’s great to see people like Dave encourage a better attitude to our historic buildings -please do attend if you’re able, it’s sure to be enlightening and educational.

 

Posted in Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Just plain daft, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment