Lichfield Waterworks Trust – August 2016 public meeting this Thursday


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 Thursday evening (25th August 2016) there will be a public progress meeting for the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group.

Its worth noting The Trust have announced that they had been successful in securing the building for the future as revealed here last year.

Note the return to the usual venue – the meeting takes place at the George IV, Bore Street, Lichfield from 7:30-9pm.

Dave wrote:

Dear BrownhillsBob,

The next monthly progress meeting of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust will take place on:

Thursday 25 August 2016 at 7.30pm, in the rear meeting room of the

George lV
Bore St
WS13 6LU

Tel: 01543 523025

July Meeting notes can be downloaded here

Full Steam Ahead, Steady as She Goes.

The trust is now in negations with persimmon Home Ltd where we are working jointly to prepare and agree a licence for access to undertake a site investigation/assessment study that will last six months. We have asked that as part of the licence agreement, we will open Sandfields Pumping Station for 3 hours a week to allow supervised visits by member of the trust.

We see the issue of this licence as the first stage of an ongoing process to hand back Sandfields Pumping Station to the public, and a significant step towards protecting this unique piece of our industrial heritage.

The draft licence is now complete and has been returned to Persimmon Homes Ltd for their approval.

The trust is also very busy preparing a bid for a Resilient Heritage Grant. The Resilient Heritage Grant will enable the trust to commission a specialist engineering company to conduct a feasibility study on the 190 HP Cornish Beam Engine with a view of returning the engine to steam operation again.

The Resilient Heritage Grant will also be used to fund some training for members of the trust, so that we can allow access to the building to the public.

The trust is now looking for volunteer building supervisors to conduct organised visits to the pumping station. If you would like to become a building supervisor, please let us know. Full training will be given free of charge and we will issue a certificate of competence.

This is an incredibly exciting project, and we would like everyone to become a part of it, so please consider joining the Lichfield Waterworks Trust by clicking the membership link here.

Online membership application form

Membership is free, but a small donation would always be very much appreciated. We have an enormous amount of expenditure coming up with the legal fees relating to the access licence, so any amount, however small, will be most welcome.

You can donate either at our online donation link here.

Link to our donation page of our website

You can also do a direct bank transfer:

Bank Details:

Account Name: Lichfield Waterworks Trust
Sort Code: 40-28-18
Account Number: 02050722


Please make cheques payable to; Lichfield Waterworks Trust, and send to our address:

22 Walsall Road
WS13 8AB

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, rather than that which we seem to have here in Walsall, where we regard heritage architecture as merely ‘fuel’.

Please do attend if you’re able, it’s sure to be enlightening and educational.

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Shock closure of Shire Oak pub


The revamped of the Shire Oak was welcome, but sadly doesn’t seem to have been popular.

Surprising news has reached me that the Shire Oak Pub, landmark at the southern tip of Brownhills, has closed less than twelve months after an extensive refurbishment.

It’s not clear what’s happened at the once popular pub, but it’s been shut since yesterday (Monday, 22nd August 2016) and rumours suggest the pub has been handed back to the owners, Punch Taverns.

There had been some disquiet locally as the establishment, which reopened after a costly revamp in November 2015, had received middling reviews for food and service, and had met with some criticism.

Hopefully the pub will reopen soon with new management and a positive outlook for the future. I’ll post more information when I get it.

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New store opening in Brownhills today!

Opening today, Monday 21st August 2016 – a new store in units 26-28 Silver Court, up near Smartronic.

Offers Bargains opens at 10am with big offers on products for the kitchen and home.

I wish the proprietors the very best with their new venture and look forward to checking it out!


A new business for Brownhills!

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A remarkable local rail journey – stepping right out of time

There’s currently a buzz in the local rail community and in some groups on Facebook about a 1968 cinefilm recently converted to digital and uploaded online by rail historian and blog regular, Ian Pell – it’s a remarkable, wonderful thing, and Ian has written a fascinating account of the film and line it covers especially for the blog, which I feature below.

The film is a recording by a young Trevor Cousens of something perhaps unthinkable today – a bunch of rail enthusiasts, that would later become the Chasewater Railway and associated society took a loco and navigated a derelict line as far as they could, around Chasewater and back, then off to Norton Canes.

The film itself features above, with stills inserted in the text and in a gallery at the end of Ian’s article. It’s like a voyage into history – those women by the line, the children, the puzzled householder – they step right out of time. Stunning stuff.

I remain indebted to Ian with for yet another astounding, and very special piece of local history, and also to all the other people who made this possible – Trevor Cousens, of course, but Philip Burton of the Norton Canes History Group on Facebook, John ‘Chasewaterstuff’ Daft, and all who have commented and reminisced online.

If you have anything to add, please do – either comment here of mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.


finance Survey 1:25,000 1947 map of the Norton Pool area prior to 1949 closure of Conduit Colliery.

Conduit Colliery Mineral Line – 1968, A journey into the unknown.

The Mineral line between Conduit Colliery and the Conduit Colliery Sidings of the former Midland Railway was constructed around 1892-94 to connect the colliery with both the Midland line and also the Cannock Chase Colliery line (part of the original Cannock Chase and Wolverhampton Railway – CC&WR). The former formed a head-on junction with the line just after the 2 loop sidings known as the ‘Cannock Chase Sidings’. In 1862-67 the CC&W Railway had been constructed from Anglesea Sidings on the South Staffs LNW&R line as far as a junction with the Norton Branch of the LNW&R between Coppice Colliery No.6 siding and Conduit Junction. The CC&WR was intended to extend westwards to eventually join the Great Western Railway just north of Wolverhampton, but in reality this never came to fruition.   The section of the CC&WR between the Conduit Colliery Sidings Junction and the Norton Branch was itself closed and removed in the 1870’s when the LNW&R fell out with the CC&WR. This meant that the LNW&R withdrew the use of their locomotives on the CC&WR leading to the Cannock Chase Colliery Company, which in effect owned the CC&WR, having to purchase their own locomotives to operate the system.


Approaching Norton East Road – there is track somewhere? Mowing in operation

In 1878 the Norton Branch Extension to East Cannock Junction was opened, which probably had some bearing on the CC&WR closure, but by 1882 the Midland had opened the Walsall Wood branch as far as the Cannock Chase Sidings to form their junction with the CC&WR line. This gave the Midland Railway a foot hold into the lucrative Cannock Chase Coalfield.  On the 10th March 1895 traffic was sufficient that they introduced a signal cabin at the junction of the lines, calling it ‘Conduit Colliery Sidings Signal Box’. The box controlled new signals in both directions from both the CC&WR line and the Conduit Mineral line, onto the Midland Railway. The box was down graded when the passenger service between Aldridge and Brownhills Watling Street ceased in 1933 and when part of the down line was used for wagon storage.


‘Planet’ takes a break at the level crossing – children look on.

Meanwhile the LN&WR had completed their branch from Conduit New Sidings to Coppice Colliery at Five Ways, Heath Hayes. The Conduit Colliery No.3 (Jerome’s) headshunt to Conduit Junction on the Norton Branch was from that date was incorporated into the branch, becoming known as the ‘Five Ways Branch’.

The Mineral line also had 2 through sidings before it met the Midland Railway, and at the junction there was also 2 sidings built adjacent to the formation of the redundant section of the CC&WR. These formed a ‘Wharf’ and also acted as a ‘turn-back’ for traffic from the Mineral branch heading over the causeway towards Cannock Chase Colliery No.3 washery, the Colliery Workshop at ‘Wembley’, Chase Terrace and the CC&WR line to Anglesea Basin, the landsale site at Anglesea Sidings and the sidings and connection with the South Staffs line. In the 1880s this route often proved valuable as coal traffic to the south was route via Lichfield Trent Valley to Rugby and beyond.


Bewildered “local” approaches the “Leader” of the expedition.

This was the complex network of lines in the Norton Pool area which virtually remained untouched until the 1960’s. But that’s another story!

In 1966 a railway preservation centre was set up on the Midland Railway to the south of the Cannock Chase sidings. They were soon exploring the parameters of the network which remained available to them. As one of their adventures, the former Pitts rail ‘Planet’ 4wd locomotive was started up and traversed the line from its base at Brownhills West, over the causeway, to somewhere near where ‘Three Junction’ had existed (not far from the current ‘Chasewater Heath’ station). From here it retraced its steps back to Brownhills West before heading north again. However, this time instead of continuing towards the causeway, the points were set for the Mineral line and the train proceeded onto the mineral line. Trevor Cousens was an enthusiastic 17 year old with a cine camera. Hand holding his camera at the front of the vibrating ‘Planet’ he managed to film the proceedings. These were the days before ‘steady-cam’ but we have managed to record some snap shots of the journey as seen below. The adventure continued, over Norton East Road, where a previous expedition had been thwarted by the tarmac road surface. This time the party were ready and after removing several ‘trees’, pick axes were produced to ‘free’ the tracks over the road to the astonishment of the local populous. The party then continued to Brownhills Road where a similar procedure was carried out, which enabled the train to continue beyond the site of Conduit Colliery; the massive slag heap of its workings; to Conduit Junction. Here, the signal cabin’s shell remained with the point levers still intact. Unable to removed the padlock and unclip the points this was the end of the line. I’m sure if they had been able to change the points the film may have recorded the first arrival of a ‘Planet’ locomotive in Walsall Station!!


‘Locals’ discuss the effects of the locomotive’s fumes on their washing!

At this stage they retraced their steps back to Brownhills West, the mineral branch returning to its slumbers and eventual lifting shortly afterwards.

I must thank Trevor for his very kind gesture in making the film available, and permission to share it with us. Equally, a vote of thanks should also go to those with pick axes and shovels that enabled the ‘Planet’ to get as far as it did. I shudder to think how such a venture would be viewed today!?

Happy days and great memories.


Anyone know what happened to Planet?

The ‘Planet’ No.1 bone shaker after a repaint c.1970. This was the first locomotive to be used at the railway in 1966. The fate of this locomotive is still a bit of a mystery. Can anyone help?

Kindest regards


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Quorn prove too meaty for Walsall Wood following Shawbury feast

Images kindly supplied by Simon Evans

The agony and the ecstasy were felt this week in the Oak Park clubhouse, as Walsall Wood FC triumphed over Shawbury United away on Wednesday evening (17th August 2016), but were remarkably hammered by a resurgent Quorn yesterday afternoon (20th August 2016).

Bill Shaw caught both matches, and I run both reports here now. Sorry for not posting the Shawbury report in the week, but I just wasn’t able to get time.

Bill, as usual, doesn’t mince his words and his reports are below:

Hiya Bob,

Oh dear, this wasn’t very good, I’m not going to single anyone out, but when you sink to your knees, drop your head in your hands and you break your nose because you missed, you realise it isn’t your day.

We had lost Ashley Jackson and Louis Harris as they both picked up injuries at Shawbury on Wednesday night, Ash finding himself in plaster after chipping a bone in his left ankle. It certainly affected the balance of the side losing the two of them and we really struggled to make inroads into a well organised Quorn defence, but as their Chairman pointed out to me at the end, ‘It’s the first time we’ve beaten you in 7 attempts.’ So this was a game we didn’t expect to lose.

So we dust ourselves down and go again On Tuesday night, looking for revenge against Brocton for the opening day FA Cup defeat.

One swallow doesn’t make a Summer, by the same token one league defeat isn’t a disaster, so let’s stay positive and keep the faith.

Walsall Wood 0 v 3 Quorn

After two wins on the road Wood opened their home league programme with this horror show against a useful Quorn side who worked hard throughout and thoroughly deserved to go home with all three points against a misfiring Wood.

Quorn had the better of the opening exchanges and went ahead on 10 minutes, a left wing throw found Joe Hopewell who made the byeline, pulled the ball back across the box to find Reece Fyfe who scored with a low drive just inside the right hand post. It got worse two minutes later, the ball was delivered into the box, pinging around the area but Nathan Dale took charge and fired in a rising drive to put Quorn two nil ahead and firmly in the driving seat. Five minutes later Fyfe crossed from wide right to pick out Jevin Seaton, his first time ball back across the face of the box to set up Leavi Oshungbure to fire first time over.

Woods first chance came on 19 minutes, from a long clearance a weak defensive header was collected at pace by Karl Edwards who raced for goal, three defenders getting back to snuff out the danger. A minute later Edwards turned provider, cutting inside from wide left and finding Drew Aiton, he calmly stepped inside his marker but his low drive was bravely stopped by a last ditch defensive block.

On 34 minutes two Wood defenders stood looking at each other in the centre of the D, Fyfe raced through the middle of them to take the ball at pace and feed Dominic Brennan on the right of the box, he ran into the six yard box, keeper Conor McCarthy saving his low drive with his feet.

Wood’s reply was immediate, Lewis Taylor Boyce put clear wide left by Steven Hayles, he cut back inside and from the left edge of the box fired a rising drive over the far angle.

Four minutes into the second half a neat right wing move opened up the right of the Quorn defence, Aiton released Craig Deakin to race clear, he crossed into the box to find Joey Butlin whose volley was pushed away at full stretch by keeper Miljan Grubac. Eight minutes later Butlin put Aiton away wide left, his cross into the centre hit first time just too high by Sam Williams.

Back came the visitors when three minutes later Callum Thompson won the ball in the right corner, his near post cross found Liam Turner who under pressure finished weakly, McCarthy saving at the second attempt. Three minutes later Seaton got clear on the left, his ball inside collected at pace by Brennan, Hayles saving Wood with a superbly timed challenge.

Woods immediate reply saw Butlin release newcomer Nick Wright to race into the box to send a low drive just the wrong side of the left hand post. Then on 71 minutes a right wing free kick was met first time by Wright, loud hand ball appeals waved away as his goal bound effort was charged down. A minute later Butlin released Corey Currithers left of the box, his low near post cross deflecting behind for a corner off a desperate defender.

Quorn wrapped the game up on 88 minutes, with Thompson cutting inside from wide on the right, his vicious low cross deflecting off a defender and inside the near post to complete Woods miserable afternoon.

Three changes from their impressive performance against Shawbury on Wednesday night really changed the balance of the Wood side, Ashley Jackson finds himself in plaster after chipping a bone in his left ankle, a blow, as he’d started the season really well.

There’s no relief for Wood however as Brocton (shipping an alarming number of goals since beating Wood on the opening day) visit on Tuesday and then well fancied Coleshill Town are there on Saturday before Wood travel to Sporting Khalsa on Bank Holiday Monday.

Bill Shaw.

The Teams:

Walsall Wood – McCarthy, Deakin, Hayles, Boothe, Birch, Williams, Edwards, H. Harris (captain), Butlin, Aiton, Taylor Boyce, Beckett, Parsons, Adams, Currithers, Wright.

Quorn– Grubac, Carlin, Hopewell, Alcott, Brooks, Dale, Fyfe, Oshungbure (captain), Brennan, Turner, Seaton, Thompson, Medway, Kenny, Cunningham, Duncan.


Shawbury United, courtesy of Tims 92 football blog.

Hiya Bob,

Another win, this time with some lovely one touch football that should have brought more than just the two goals. Nevertheless it’s the best start of Swanny’s reign as Wood are one of four teams on six points from two games.

It’s three home games now, Quorn Saturday [review above – Bob], Brocton Tuesday followed by Coleshill Town on Saturday week.

Shawbury United 1 v 2 Walsall Wood

Wood kept their 100% record with an impressive performance against the Shropshire newcomers. They had to withstand a late barrage after ending the game with 10 men for the last 10 minutes after using all their substitutes and then losing Louis Harris getting injured.

It was an all action start for the visitors who had almost camped in the Shawbury half and it was no surprise when they went ahead in the 13th minute. A lovely one touch move on the right of the box ended with Joey Butlin releasing Drew Aiton to power in on goal before calmly hammering the ball past the advancing keeper Nick Ashley. It was virtually all Wood for the rest of the half with the newcomers with skipper Steven Faux prominent making the occasional foray forward. But it was Wood calling the shots, Craig Deakin twice firing over the bar. Ashley Jackson having a rasping low drive that was pushed away by Ashley and Ben Birch putting a far post header the wrong side of the post. The half-finished with Wood somehow only one goal ahead.

The second half started with Wood again in almost total control, on 51 minutes Aiton hit a rising drive from 25 yards that brought a great save from Ashley. Four minutes later Birch climbed highest at a right wing corner but powered a header wide. Four minutes later another intricate move carved open the home defence, Ashley this time pushing over a rising drive from Louis Harris. On 62 minutes Harry Harris delivered a central free kick into the box, Deakin cleverly flicked the ball on but just too far in front of Joey Butlin. Five minutes later a long ball forward was nodded down by Butlin to Harry Harris who was left thumping the ground in frustration as his goalbound effort was blocked. The home side put the Wood under a little pressure but an attack broke down and from a long ball forward into the home half under pressure a defender headed the ball back towards his keeper, Louis Harris chased the ball down reaching the ball just before keeper Ashley who made a brave block, with both players lying on the floor Harris swung a boot at the ball which bounced off the inside of the right hand post, Butlin beating a defender on the line to force the ball home in the 71st minute.

On 78 minutes from a left wing corner Paul McMullen powered a far post header back across the Wood goal and beyond the post.

Back came Wood to win a right wing corner five minutes later, a bout of head tennis ensued in the box ending with a diving header from Louis Harris pushed away by Ashley. Harris was injured shortly afterwards and left the field with Wood having used all their substitutes, now down to 10.

The home side pressed home their man advantage, but had no luck against a resolute Wood defence.

Two minutes into injury time a defensive mistake wide left saw Kieron Dovey race in along the byeline, pull the ball back across goal for Faux to score from close range.

Another injury stoppage saw the game go on until 9.50 but Wood held out to record a well-deserved victory.

Wood’s football at times was sublime bringing applause from the home supporters, but they shouldn’t have been holding on in the end. It’s now three home games in eight days as they look to consolidate on their best start in a long time.

Bill Shaw.

The Teams: 

Shawbury Utd. – Ashley, Hughes, Ballard, Hicks, Jones, Haynes, Dovey, Faux (captain), Cooper, Ellis, Armstrong, Loannoo.

Walsall Wood – Rock, Deakin, Hayles, Boothe, Birch, L. Harris, Williams, H. Harris (captain), Butlin, Aiton, Jackson, Adams, Beckett, Taylor Boyce, Currithers, Edwards.

Thanks to Bill for the reports and Simon for the  photos – much appreciated.

For The Good of the Wood!

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Christmas, 1957 – but who’s that girl?


Ogley Hay Girl School Nativity, Christmas 1957. Can you identify the girl fourth from right, back row please? A wonderful image from Kathleen Martin nee Schnabel.

As anyone who reads my other channels will know its been a hard week, and frankly, I’ve been too knackered to properly manage the blog – sorry for the lack of content over the last week and thanks for bearing with me.

Hopefully, normal service will be resumed soon, and in the meantime, I’m playing catchup again. So off we go…

In the last week, I’ve had the above wonderful image in from Kathleen Martin, whose maiden name was Scnabel. Kathleen is the shepherdess, front row left, and wonders if anyone knows the identity of the wee lass fourth from right, back row; she has names for all the others.

Kathleen wrote:

Hi Bob

Attached photo of Christmas play at Ogley Hay girls school 1957 have listed the names from left to right starting with the back row:

Pat Slatcher, Sandra Cooper, June Portsmouth, Pat Malpass, Angela Anthill, ??, Ann Scott, Sandra Kendall, Elizabeth Brookes

front row, Kathleen Schnabel, Mary Charles, Susan Watton, Sandra Harris, Janet Green, Yvonne Simpson, Sandra Hayward, Andrea Brownridge

Can anyone name the question marked girl on the back row?

Hope this photo is of interest

Thanks for a great blog Bob
Regards Kathleen Martin nee Schnabel.

Cheers Kathleen for the compliment, and this is indeed a lovely picture that’s sure to bring back memories for a lot of readers. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

Previously I’ve featured an Ogley School staff image and also reader and local historian Andy Dennis has sent me a couple of lovely school group photos featuring his mother, thought to be from the 1936 sports event at Chase Terrace, which was mentioned by Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler in comments to the same post.

Mandy Cockram has also sent in a couple of great images from the Girls School in the 1950s.

If you can help, please do comment or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

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Beware – garage and shed burglaries occurring again locally


Securing a shed or outbuilding takes a little work but could well protect your stuff from thieves. Image by Ian Myatt.

It’s time, I’m very much afraid, to issue another warning – it seems local burglars are at is again – In the last few weeks there have been a number of break-ins to sheds and outbuildings in the Brownhills, Walsall Wood, Pelsall and High Heath areas in particular.

I’ve seen a few reports over the last few days warning of incidents – the one in Walsall Wood in the Coppice Road area took place in broad daylight .

Please ensure you lock all your outbuildings, and secure your premises as best you can. Don’t leave valuables on view in cars, and make sure anything that could be used in a burglary – ladders, garden tools etc. – is securely stowed away.

There are some good security tips for sheds and outbuildings at this page here.

If you’re offered cheap tools, car stereo equipment or gardening kit, think hard about where it might have come from, and by all means grub the people flogging them into the rozzers – the stuff is probably nicked. Next time, it could be your stuff they take.

Anyone with information on the recent spate of thefts is urged to contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 or you can speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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