Huge progress being made on local canal restoration

All pictures an captions from Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust press release.

Tom Reid from the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust has been in touch to let us know about the progress they’re making in opening up the former canal towpath as a walking route between Barracks Lane and Summerhill, aided by corporate volunteers.

If you’re unaware of the local canal restoration that’s steadily progressing this excellent blog post by Christine Howles explains more about it. The trust run regular work parties and all are very much welcome, whether you’ve a specialist skill or not!

At the moment, the volunteers are not only beavering away on the route of the lost line between Barracks Lane, Ogley Hay and The Boat restaurant, on the Lichfield Road at Summerhill, but also at several sites, including Borrowcop on the A51 at Lichfield, and other places along the route of the lost line.

To find out more, please pop along to the Lichfield and Hateherton Canal Restoration Trust website here.

Tom Reid wrote:

Corporate Volunteers Boost Lichfield Canal

Volunteers from companies as diverse as BT, Amey, E.ON and Jaguar Land Rover have been helping Lichfield’s Canal Trust to

make great strides in restoring a waterway that was abandoned in the 1950s.

In recent months canal walls creating a channel leading up to the M6 Toll aqueduct have been taking shape and a great start has been made on the kilometre-long Summerhill section of the Heritage Towpath Trail from the Oddfellows in the Boat Inn to the M6 Toll aqueduct.

Such has been the scale of progress that Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s Engineering Director Peter Buck is planning for the day when the wheelchair-friendly Towpath Trail will be open to the public from the Boat Inn on Walsall Road to Brownhills and boat trips will run from the Boat to the aqueduct.

The purchase of the Summerhills land was made possible by a Social Investment Business Community Award less than two years ago.

Peter said: “Before we got this piece of land we never had access to the aqueduct.

“We’ve restored  the canal culvert at Cranebrook  incorporating an access road so we can actually get cranes and construction equipment up to the M6Toll aqueduct so that we can build the guillotine lock, which will be one of the deepest, if not the deepest, in the country.

 “The intention is to move our cabins early next year onto a hard-standing area by the aqueduct and that will be the construction area for the new lock and pumping station.”

Paying tribute to the volunteers, Peter said: “We’ve had fabulous cooperation from the visiting corporate groups and it’s cascading in.

“Many of the corporate volunteers come from different departments from the same organization, but they’re all saying ‘can we come?’

 “We had 40 volunteers on one day and the smallest group was three but they all did a fabulous job.”

A 21-strong team of volunteers from the Waterway Recovery Group, part of the Inland Waterways Association, with two vans spent a weekend working on the canal restoration at both Darnford Park and Summerhill.

Peter said: “The Summerhill team struck the formwork to the rear concrete towpath wall over the Cranebrook culvert, cleaned, oiled the timber shutters, placed the mesh wall reinforcement, re-erected the formwork and installed props to the opposite wall which forms the canal channel over the culvert. All in one day!

“The WRG team then got stuck into completing the timber edging and stone towpath on the Heritage Towpath Trail between the culvert and the M6Toll aqueduct. Not having an excavator to load stone into our six tonne dumper did not deter our hard working WRG guests, they just loaded the dumper by hand with shovels!

“And at Darnford Park the WRG Team took control of the LHCRT excavators and dumpers and set about forming the base of the central environmental mound alongside the A38. After a good deal of scrub bashing a start was made to forming the upper canal basin and the excavated material was moved by the dumpers to form the base to the central environmental mound along the noisy A38.”

While the corporate groups have been coming and going, the Trust’s own Green Team have been steadily laying the unkempt hawthorn hedge and interplanting native saplings along the kilometer-long Summerhills section.

Meanwhile, the work of the Trust’s regular volunteers on the Tamworth Road site mean that the day when Pound 27 is in water is coming closer.

The clay base is complete in the winding hole by the A38, thanks to the loan of a 13-tonne JCB from Chase Civil Engineering which was used to place and compact the puddling  clay.

Stop planks have been installed at the narrows and more clay has been laid along the base of the towpath wall, while Geomesh has been stitched into and soil placed to the off side concreted canal bank batter to enable plants to establish and wildlife to flourish along the canal margins

The final stage before rewatering is the installation of a penstock, a gate valve which will allow the control of water through the weir at a rate acceptable to the Environment Agency and into the adjacent Darnford Brook.


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Woodmen slain by keener Heanor

 A warm  welcome was given  by  Heanor FC  to the visiting  Wood supporters

A warm welcome was given by Heanor FC to the visiting Wood supporters

Last Wednesday (19th October 2016) Walsall Wood travelled to Heanor Town and sadly, came away soundly beaten following yet another injury.

It’s not going so well for the Woodmen this season. Bill Shaw was at the match, and doesn’t mince his words:

Hiya Bob,

The injury list continues to grow, we were playing well last night with yet another patched up side, but losing Drew Aiton at half time to a nasty looking knee injury was a body blow, from which we never recovered and Heanor totally dominated from then on.

Don’t write us off at Westfield on Saturday, but I for one wouldn’t put my mortgage money on us.

We’ll really be glad to see the end of October but we still have Lye Town at home on Saturday 29th, oh happy days.

Heanor Town 3 v 1 Walsall Wood

This was certainly a game of two halves, with Wood the better side in the first and then after losing Drew Aiton at half time finding themselves almost unable to get out of their own half in the second, as Town gave them a real battering.

After only four minutes Lewis Taylor Boyce on the Wood right crossed to the near post, debutant Richard Gregory seeing his first time effort saved by the legs of keeper Joe McCormack.  Two minutes later Steven Hayles played a ball forward that was flicked through the home defence by Gregory, McCormack out bravely to save at the feet of Drew Aiton.  On 11 minutes a long ball out of defence by Shawn Boothe was passed back by a defender, McCormack having to race from his area to kick clear from Gregory.

A minute later Town nearly went ahead, Nathan Benger crossed from wide right, Chris Smiths diving header cleared off the line.

On 19 minutes a right wing free kick was delivered to the near post, Ben Birch forcing the ball home to put Wood deservedly ahead.

Four minutes later Alex Brown threaded a ball into the Wood box, keeper Andy Hughes saving bravely at the feet of Benger.  A minute later Benger got clear wide right, his cross too hard for Elliott Reeves who could only flick the ball wide of the far post.  Three minutes later Benger again raced down the right, his ball inside hit first time but blocked by Boothe.

29 minutes a lovely ball by Lewis Taylor Boyce into the right of the box put Aiton in on goal to roll a cross shot narrowly wide.  Three minutes later a suicidal roll out by McCormack was intercepted by Nick Wright on the left of the box, his square ball right found Gregory, his first time effort blocked by a very relieved keeper.

On 36 minutes Reeves crossed from the right to pick out Benger, his goalbound effort kept out by Birch and keeper Hughes.  On 41 minutes Dominic Wilkinson ran onto a ball into the right of the box and went down under a mistimed challenge. Benger firing home the resultant penalty.

Wood had the last word, Aiton won the ball on the right of the box and fed Harry Harris who set up Gregory to hit a first time low drive that a flying McCormack pushed round his left hand post.

For the first 25 minutes of the second half apart from a 40 yard effort by Harris that just missed the right angle it was constant Town pressure but they couldn’t break down a hard working defence, then on 70 minutes Benger collected a ball forward from a left wing throw, cleverly played in Reeves into the right of the box and he hammered the ball home.

Six minutes later a rare Wood excursion over halfway saw Lee Parsons go on a powerful left wing run before cutting inside and finding Gregory, his low drive half blocked giving McCormack an easy near post save.

Town went back on the attack from this point and made certain of the 3 points when on 86 minutes a free kick on the edge of the D was fired home by Benger.

The loss of Drew Aiton (Woods leading scorer) was pivotal, but Town really gave them a second half working over and in the end deserved the three points.

Wood face Westfields on Saturday with a horrendous injury list, a time for someone or two to step up and become an unlikely hero.

Bill Shaw.

The Teams:

Heanor Town – McCormack, Marriott, Seale, Smith (captain), Hall, Whitmore, Wilkinson, Brown, Benger, reeves, Layton, Conway, Naylor, Daley, Power.

Walsall Wood – Hughes, Ricketts, Hayles, Boothe, Birch, Deakin, Wright, Harris (captain), Gregory, Aiton, Taylor Boyce, Parsons, Beckett, Mansell, Edwards, Taylor.

Walsall Wood are a good team and an excellent, community-spirited club. They need our support – please do attend their games if you can.

As ever, thanks to Bill for the report – always appreciated – for The Good of the Wood!

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Coming soon: great Halloween kids party in Brownhills!


Why not bring the kids for some Halloween fun?

Friend of the blog Jamie Bailey has been in touch to ask if I’d give the Catshill Community Association Halloween children’s party event a plug – it takes place on Saturday 29th October 2016, at the Catshill Community Centre, Catshill Road, Brownhills, near Millfield School.

It’s running from 4-6pm, and only £1.50 for kids, and tickets can be purchased from Amanda on 01543 361958.

Jamie had this to say about the Catshill Community Association, which he’s involved with:

The Catshill Community Centre is a great place that has been fully refurbished by Walsall Housing Group for the local community to use.

There are a variety of users from toddler groups, women’s groups etc. We as a commitee are determined to get the centre used to its full capacity and bring back some of that community spirit that’s seems to be lacking.

We always welcome New committee members and would love to see new and old faces.

Catshill Community Centre,
60 Catshill Road,

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Acoustic Night at The Chase Inn tonight!


The Chase Inn: a great local pub

The Chase Inn at Newtown, Brownhills goes from strength to strength – there’s not only great ale and a warm, welcoming atmosphere, but great live music too – and tonight, Thursday 20th October 2016,  the pub has it’s regular Acoustic Night.

The Chase inn said:

Don’t forget our Thursday night acoustic session, running from 8pm-late!

Dan Firman will be playing the best of acoustic music, but you will also have the opportunity to grab the mic and sing your faves while Dan plays!

Drinks across the bar are £2.50 a pint and we will be having some free bar snacks too.

Come along for a great night and support local live raw music… See you all there!

Why not get down there? You’re guaranteed an excellent time…

For the satnav folk, the address is: 6 Watling Street, Newtown, Brownhills WS8 6JS

You can contact the pub on: 01543 899568 or visit their Facebook page.

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Fancy a cuppa with a copper?


Whatever happened to the laughing policeman? Image from West Midlands Police.

Area Manager Laura Terry has asked me if I’d give a plug her ‘Cuppa with a Copper’ event taking place on Saturday, 22nd October at the Pelsall Village Centre from 11am to 1pm – at which you can informally meet members of the local policing and neighbourhood watch teams and discuss matters that concern you.

In the wake of recent crime and ASB issues locally, this could be a very good opportunity to take up the problems you may be experiencing with the local coppers and find out what they’re doing to help.

Although this event is in Pelsall, Laura is hopeful a session can also be organised for Brownhills once some issues have been ironed out.

Laura wrote:

Area Partnerships in conjunction with West Midlands Police have arranged a drop in session, to give you the opportunity to meet your Local Neighbourhood Team Police officer and Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator for the Pelsall Area.

‘Cuppa with a Copper’ will be held on Saturday 22nd October 2016, between 11am and 1pm at Pelsall Village Centre, in the foyer of the Library, High Street, Pelsall, WS3 4LX. Light refreshments will be provided, and a variety of community safety information will be available.

This session will run on a drop in basis – there is no need to pre-book or reserve a space, it will give you an opportunity to chat to your local Police and Neighbourhood Watch, as well as gathering some useful information about keeping yourselves and your property safe as the darker nights approach.

Please note; Reports of crime and ASB should be made using the usual routes. If you have an ongoing policing issue affecting you or your area, a report should be made to the Neighbourhood Police team via calling 101. If your problem is an emergency, an immediate call to 999 would be appropriate.

We look forward to seeing you.

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Raising damp

Untitled 9

These huts, in all probability, were not a Prisoner of War camp. Imagery from Apple Maps.

The question of Prisoner of War camps periodically arises here, and the subject, hugely illuminated by Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, still seems shrouded in mystery and folklore.

There is a common belief, seemingly groundless, that Italian POWs were stationed near Walsall on the Mellish Road and even might even have worked on road gangs during the war, but I can find little hard evidence.

In the course of recent discussions, we think a reader mentioned POWs in Sutton Park, but we’ve been unable to find the comment – at the weekend, Peter found the clipping below from the Birmingham Gazette of August, 1940, which helps light things up a bit.

He. said:

Hi Bob,

We have had a few articles on POWs and the sittings of the Camps. I remember that a reader, possibly Linda Mason mentioned Sutton Park.

My aunt also maintained that there was a Camp there, but until now I could not find much info.

Perhaps the cutting from the Birmingham Gazette of August 1940 will answer a few questions!


Cheers for that Peter – so they were internees, not POWs – little by little things become clearer.

Peter similarly helped with the question of wartime POWs around Stonnall, and his researches didn’t find a Staffordshire camp nearby; but that’s not necessarily conclusive as one can see in the article.

Anything you can offer on this subject at all is welcome: comment here please or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.


Can’t have been terribly pleasant I guess. Clipping from Birmingham Gazette, August 1940. Click for a larger version.

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Get mysterious and spooky with Brownhills finest!


I’m sure I’ve seen Morticia in Tesco at Brownhills…

Old pal of the blog and top local musical whizz Jamie Norgrove contacted me from Brownhills Musical Theatre Company last to ask if I’d plug their latest show – The Addams Family – which looks to be a real gem.

The show is running from 2nd-5th November 2015 at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock, including a Saturday Matinee on the 5yh. What better show for a post-Halloween treat?

Jamie wrote:

‘They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky’! The Broadway musical sensation The Addams Family is on stage at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock from 2nd to 5th November.  Brought to you by the multi-award winning Brownhills Musical Theatre Company, ‘The Addams Family’ is the creepiest, kookiest night out for all the family! This is THE best Halloween musical that brings the beloved and bizarre first family of comedy to life.

From the creators of the ‘Jersey Boys’ Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and Drama Desk Award-winning composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa, the frightfully delightful world of Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Grandma, Wednesday, Pugsley and Lurch come to spectacular life in this all new story, based on the characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams. The magnificently morbid family is put to the test when Wednesday announces her intention to marry, her prospective in-laws come to dinner, her ancestors can’t get back to ‘the other side’ and Gomez risks sleeping on the couch – all this hurling them into a night that will change their lives forever.

Will love triumph? Was Napoleon right for Josephine? Will Uncle Fester ever get a diagnosis for his rash?  Directed by Jamie Norgrove, with Musical Direction by Ian Room and Choreography by Michele Windsor this promises to be a night at the theatre that’s anything but ‘normal’, so come see for yourself!

If you’d like tickets please call our Ticket Sectetary: 01785 715368 or visit the PCS Tickets online box office.


Brownhills Musical Theatre Company are award winning, and have an excellent reputation for staging sellout shows, such as their ‘Brownhills Goes to Broadway‘, which received great acclaim.

Why not check out Brownhills Musical Theatre Company’s Facebook page or Their website?

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