A sound foundation?

This house - photographed here from the cananl bank itself - wis said to have been built at the level of the canal, and subsequently sunk as a consequence of subsidence. The walls and roof are remarkably true.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been told by an assortment of teachers, old timers and local historians that the house by The Black Cock Bridge in Hall Lane, Walsall Wood, was originally built at the level of the canal and subsequently sunk due to mining subsidence. I’ve seen this line asserted so many times now that it’s more than local folklore; it runs in the Walsall Wood DNA like red hair or a big nose. Everyone knows it, so it must have happened.

I’m sorry, I know this is going to be contentious in some circles, but I think it’s untrue. I think the idea that a house could sink that far, whilst still maintaining true walls and roofline is stretching credibility to breaking point. I simply can’t find anything other than anecdote to say this happened, and I’d like readers help with this. I’ve also donned my tin hat as I’m sure the storm from some corners will be blustery and intemperate.

The land around falls away from the bridge incline. Hall Lane remains at this level all the way down. Cottages over the road have no bracing, yet appear to have been built during the same period.

In Brian Rollins book ‘Coal Mining in Walsall Wood, Brownhills and Aldridge’ the author asserts that as a contour canal, the Wyrley & Essington was originally built following the contour and was at ground level. Thus, as the coal beneath it was extracted, the land around sunk, necessitating the ‘building up’ of the embankments to maintain the canal level. I’m sorry, I have immense respect for Brian, but I just don’t buy it.

This theory would appear to suggest that the whole area sank by what is approaching 15 feet, otherwise there would be a series of severe steps in the landfall away from the bridge. The cottages either side of Hall Lane seem contemporary, and face each other over the road. Are we really to accept that these buildings – including, one assumes, the entirety of what was then Bullings Heath, Black Cock pub and all – gracefully settled this distance without displacing walls, roof-joists or untruing a single window?

If such a drop did occur, one would expect it to cause huge changes in localised drainage, affecting the falls of creeks and natural drains, yet mapping from the period shows little if any change over time. Also, where did the sink finish? There is no corresponding exit ‘step’ from an area of subsidence. Why not? This isn’t making huge sense.

Finally, are we really to imagine that the canal banks were steadily built up – and presumably the canal bottom filled in – with all the edging brickwork, ash paths and running bracers – on a continual basis? This seems absurd. I can see no stratification in the banks, not evidence of even primitive piling or otherwise – and where is the subsequent cant on the Black Cock bridge? How was the sudden ground-fall compensated for?

The view from the opposide side of Camden Street, on the same side of the bridge. This land sits beneath the canal by about the same amount as the cottage, yet appears fairly flat. What gives?

I intend to return to this in coming weeks to discuss it further. I am happy to be proven wrong – but I’ll only accept sound information, anecdote is not evidence. Were there really such difficulties with the canal line, there will be documentation relating to the works. Like wise, were the area to drop as much as it did, I would expect there to be confirmation in the records of the UDC or Country Surveyor. There is an interesting mapping record which I will come to in a subsequent post.

I would expect subsidence to occur in the area. I’m not denying the existence of the phenomena, just the extent. Many buildings about The Wood have bracers of one kind or another, and there’s no doubt whatsoever that buildings hereabouts sank and were damaged. That is not in question. However, one only has to destabilise the corner of a building by a few inches to cause catastrophic structural problems. I’m questioning the massive extent, not the occurrence.

This is an open-minded debate and I’m not trying to rewrite history, Just investigate it. Oral history is an immensely powerful force and sometimes the tale is twisted in the story that’s told.

What do readers think?

Slip sliding away? I don't think so.

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51 Responses to A sound foundation?

  1. Marco says:

    Tend to agree with your analysis, although what is claimed is not at all impossible. The only way integrity of the structure is maintained is if the whole foundations were to sink at the same rate – or maybe the house is built on a raft foundation (commonplace in areas of settlement).

  2. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Brian Rollins book , which is copywrite, by the way, gives full details of his background and qualifications..see page 5. Pages 83 and 83 detail his personal experience of dealing with the subsidence mentioned in your article. Page 97 lists his sources and acknowledgements.
    Local libraries have copies of the book,I believe.
    I wish you and your colleagues success in your own documentary research and look forward to your future revelations.
    I would recommend that you don’t take the easiest route, that of knocking on the door of the photo you have shown. Local DNA may include the propensity to “land a haymaker” without warning.
    must dash..dirt to scratch, eggs to lay and all that regards
    David Evans

    • Hello David.

      I’m having some difficulty understanding your point, to be honest – I’d have thought that, as a man clearly involved with local history, you’d welcome a discussion on this subject. The thinly veiled hostility is a little unsettling, and I find neither reason nor call for it.

      I’m fully aware of copyright, and also the conditions of fair use. I always attribute my source. What’s your point?

      I recognise the achievements of Brian and continually pay tribute to his work. I have immense respect for his integrity and knowledge, although none of us are infallible. I have the book in question and read those sections before I posted. They raise more questions than answers.

      Any research I, or anyone on my behalf, engages in is thorough, polite and carefully studied. I’m sure that the resident of that particular property will bs very appreciative of your suggestion that they are prone to visiting random acts of violence on strangers. I’m sure they are actually fine people.

      I look forward to engaging with anyone on this question, but I find your approach bewildering.

      It’s not unreasonable to expect proof of an assertion. One of the tenets of research is that there are no hard truths and no sacred cows.

      I am happy and willing to be proved wrong. Are you?

      Best wishes

  3. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    I look forward to reading our own research into this matter, as I have said. As you preclude anecdote from your “debate” you leave yourself the challenge..of finding documentary evidence to disprove or confirm the “assertions” detailed in the book, and what the unnamed teachers told you. In the process you bring note to a building which the present owners or occupants may not welcome. Have you considered this before including it in this globally accessible blogsite? My advice was to you..hence “I would recommend that you don’t…”
    Do your own research and bring it to the debate , Bob. I think you have given yourself a very big task. Brian’s book is based on extensive research and personal experience which he kindly sets out in his book.

    Best wishes

    David Evans

    • Mike hawes says:

      A very strange line you are taking here, it appears that no debate can be mooted and that this story can’t be brought to a global audience for some obscure reason. The fact that this story is in various histories of the area and is even published in a book which can be purchased online by anyone around the globe your stance here is very strange.

      For many years I have used the canal , I’m from Aldridge and even as a child I thought this story strange. My grandfather was a miner and even he reckons the story was a myth.

      Lets be utterly honest – two mins walking round the area will tell you it can’t be right , that the Black Cock inn settled like on an elevator and ended up 15 whole feet below where it was? It would have take the canal with it given that the canal has man made sides in that particular location . If it had happened as they say they’d have been repairing the canal almost on a daily basis with major works. No evidence of such works exist.

      Oh and it’s **copyright**

  4. kate Goodall says:

    I had to check it wasn’t 1 April!

    I find it hard to believe that settlement could have occurred in such a conveniently synchronised fashion over a fair-sized area of land. Although Marco makes the point about raft foundations, I’m not sure they’ve been around for all that long (relatively) in the UK, or have they?

    Bit confused after an admittedly brief read. Is the folklore saying that the house pictured gracefully settled? Are there any dates of what’s supposed to have happened when?

    • Hi Kate

      No, it’s not April fools day…

      That is indeed the contention. I haven’t got dates for the construction of the house yet, but it’s certainly over 100 years old. I would imagine the dwellings less than 40 feet away are contemporary with it.

      Legend has it that the house was built at the level of the canal towpath and sunk what appears to be 15 feet due to subsequent subsidence caused by mining. We all locally know this to be true because it’s repeated so often. I’m just questioning it to see what readers think.

      I don’t believe the house to be of a rafted construction – I don’t think that technology existed then, although it could possibly be built upon bedrock. Haven’t noticed if there’s a cellar or not.

      What’s of more surprise to me really is that this house is the only one in the immediate vicinity with any anti-subsidence bracing even fitted. Such a huge sink would surely not be uniform and we’d have ended up with at least one ‘crooked house’.

      But I could be wrong.

      Best wishes


  5. Andy says:

    I’m calling this as Bob being right. There’s absolutely no way a canal could suffer the kind of subsidence described and not breach. It’s impossible.

    For definitive proof the original survey for the canal would need to be looked at which will detail embankments constructed. BW may have it. A good person to speak to would be Laurence Hogg http://www.laurencehoggproductions.co.uk/ He knows the canal well and would probably be able to tell you if FMC or one of the other carriers ever recorded the canal as being out of use because the bottom fell out of it.

    It’s a nuts urban myth.

    • Thanks, Andy, that’s really useful information – I shall contact him as soon as I can.

      Best wishes


    • Mike hawes says:

      I’ve read loads of histories of the local canals and major works (and it would have been very major works) have never been mentioned. My grandfather used to laugh at this as a myth .

  6. Andy says:

    Thinking about this it seems even more ridiculous. The Wyrley and Essington pound is huge. It stretches from Wolverhampton to Chasewater to Rushall. If the floor fell out of the canal it wouldn’t be water tight. A section could be isolated with planks in bridge holes but the amount of water involved would be immense until that work was carried out.

    Also it’s not a small section that these people would have us believe has sunk. The whole of Hall lane is on an embankment and the fields on the opposite side of the road are at the same level – Did Shellfield drop down 15ft at the same time?

    • George says:

      Bit late to reply on this but felt I had to comment. Your expression about the land dropping 15ft seems to imply that it takes place suddenly, it would not. Although the roof falls suddenly as the mining moves forward, the land on the surface would take many years to gradually fall.
      The bottom would not fall out of the canal, but would gradually rise up the bank, which would be built up as required. this is well documented for the Cannock Extension.
      There are many areas of the canal network much larger than the Wyrley and Essington and they do sometimes breech.

      • George

        I welcome your comment, but you are (perhaps wilfully) misinterpreting what I say. At no point did I imply this was sudden. You seem unable to discern the nuance in my writing between legend, speculation and provocative questioning.

        I really suggest you read the two follow up articles to this before jumping to conclusions.

        I understand very well how subsidence works. It’s because I do that it’s possible to call the legend out.


  7. David

    I’m asking a broad question about an issue of local historical interest. There is absolutely no need for any hostility whatsoever.

    Despite your smokescreen, there’s no reason for concern by the residents of the house mentioned and I’d be grateful if you’d stop publicly insinuating unpleasant things about them. Any more and I’ll place your comments on permanent pre-moderation. I’m perfectly open to good natured debate but will not have people whom I do not know treated in such a disingenuous manner.

    I’m putting this up for debate – no weasily quotes – because it’s really interesting. Brian knows his onions and I’m sure that if I’m wrong there will be extensive proof. I’m just seeing what happens. History is a living, breathing thing and should be challenged and engaged with at any opportunity. It’s a curiosity. It’s about our common industrial history and our recent past.

    Quite why you feel so threatened every time someone challenges your perception of history is a mystery to me. Perhaps if this blog annoys you so much you’d be better off frequenting another – however, I’d hate to lose you.

    You’re an interesting contributor with plenty to say, but your utter hostility to any challenge to accepted norms is baffling.

    I intend this blog to be a good natured endeavour, and it takes a massive amount of work. I have a day job, family and other stuff to look after too. I don’t expect it to be a battle zone. After a day at work, I want this to be a comfortable, interesting exchange of views, like a debate in a pub. I’d like to think that the readers here could meet for a pint and enjoy each others’ company.

    If I’m talking bollocks, tell me, I don’t have a problem with that. But I expect more proof than unnamed sources and third-hand tales. I expect civility and the sportsmanship of temperate, sensible discussion.

    Best wishes


  8. D.Evans says:

    HI Bob
    You have questioned an author’s account on this topic. It is now up to you to show this to be incorrect or not. No hostility from me.Just interest to see how your own research based on documents will add to or correct what has been written. I have no views on this matter. I am open-minded .. and patient enough to wait and see what your research brings. At the moment I tend to think that Brian Rollins knows what you was writing about as he was professionally involved at the time…but lets see what you can add.
    As you imply, this is your blog-site and as “curator” you are doubtless responsible for its contents. You are also responsible for what you choose to write. I think a less contentious style, apparent through your choice of phrase and vocabulary at times would be beneficial, don’t you ?


    David Evans

    • Hello David

      This is indeed my site, in that I write and edit it on the whole. But the most valuable stuff here isn’t the content I write, but the wonderful things the readers contribute – I’ve learned so much from them. This is a little community and I’ll defend it until the end. I’ve only censored a handful of comments in it’s entire existence, mainly for legal and abusive language reasons.

      The material I write is written in my style, and that’s that. I try to be lively, enthusiastic, passionate and bluntly direct. I’m aware that at times it unsettles. If that offends, then so be it. I don’t know any other way to do this. On the whole, people seem to get it. When they don’t, I move on. I don’t write for a living. This is just me. Other people do good prose, I just drawl rubbish.

      I will say this though – if just one person walks over the Black Cock Bridge, or along the canal, and looks over Bullings Heath and thinks about the subject because of something they read here, then this has worked. I want people to actively explore their history and environment. I don’t care if I’m right or wrong. I care about the the relationship people have with their surroundings.

      I want people to read Brian Rollins work. I want people to look at the bracers and buttresses in local buildings. I want people to question why the land is the shape it is. I don’t give a toss if they prove me wrong in the process, because this so isn’t about me, you or the Brownhills Blog. It’s about where we live, and loving that place with all your heart, regardless of it’s faults.

      Best wishes


  9. stymaster says:

    I’ve read Brian’s book, and it asserts that when surveying subsidence measurements had to be taken from Shelfield in order to get a datum, so there’s the claim again that the whole area has sunk. The buttressing on the factory units next to the Horse and Jockey is also claimed to be as a guard against subsidence.

    I’ve also read in another book that the bracing rods were often fitted as a precaution.

    Houses of that era would not be built on rafts: many have little in the way of foundation at all: the construction (using lime mortar) is more tolerant of a little settlement than a modern, conventional brick building. My own house (of a similar age, I’d say) has settled a little, and one opposite has a substantial twist where it has sunk unevenly.

    Chatting once to an old chap that lived locally, he claimed that mining subsidence affected area between Coppice Rd’s western side/Hall Lane and the canal more severely (he was involved in the surveying for the Bridgewater Close estate). This would seem to be borne out by the fact that more old houses remain east of there, many of them dating from around the time of the pit expanding hugely and Walsall Wood growing after 1874.

    However: much of this is anecdotal. Andy is right about the Cannock Extension north of the A5: photographic evidence exists- I’ve seen it, being a canal saddo, but strangely none does of similar work on the Daw End Branch as far as I know. The Daw End Branch here, is of course, much older. While it’s clearly a contour canal (look on a map), the evidence at Bullings Heath shown above is odd. The canal is very old (older than Walsall Wood Colliery, IIRC- I don’t have the book to hand), but the bridge and house are also quite old- they must have been there during most of the mining (c.1874-1964, I believe), and it does seem odd for them to have sunk in a vertically straight line.

    I’ve often wondered if the whole contour canal thing has been exaggerated- surely for relatively short sections you’d have to build a bit of embankment or dig a little? Can you really find a perfectly level line to follow?

    I really don’t know. I’m not a geologist, I know little about civil engineering or mining. I’ve heard the stories, read the books (and anyone reading Brian Rollins’ books would have to have a great respect for the bloke’s experience and knowledge), but it does all seem a bit odd. It would be great to be able to get hold of the original survey, but that’s pretty old now…

  10. CAZ says:

    Hi Bob, I’ve never read the book, but as someone living in the area I’m very interested in this.
    To lighten the mood……..I think the land is definately slipping down. How do I know this? Well I walk up the Blackcock Bridge most days and I’m definately struggling more now than 25 years ago.I had put my lack of breath down to not enough exercise,getting older, and most definately fatter LOL Now I know better……the hill’s obviously getting steeper as the land slips down further
    Seriously…..in the 28 years I’ve lived in the area I’ve seen no signs of subsidence /cracks appearing in my home, thank goodness.
    When did the land supposedly slip? ……….I’m not really sure I want an answer as every year my insurer asks if there’s been any subsidence in the area and I tell them honestly “no”.
    How do I stand now I’ve read your blog?
    BTW the house in the fourth picture is not taken from Camden St. but Green Lane.
    There was confusion because the council put up street signs which indicated it was Camden Street but after complaints they were changed.
    good luck Caz

    • Hi Caz

      I have that feeling every time I haul my bike up the Black Cock Bridge. Only the Shire Oak hill beats it for relentless, grinding drudgery. I’m sure it’s getting taller too. But the downhill side – whichever direction you travel in – is definitely shorter than when I was a kid. It seemd to go on forever then 😉

      Since the mines were generally filled (lets try not to think what with) I would think the worst of the subsidence has long done. Since I’m arguing that it probably wasn’t as bad as folklore would have it, I think your insurance is still safe.

      I’m interested in the breakpoint between Green Lane and Camden Street, I’m not really sure where it is. Can you elaborate on that, please?

      While you’re here, have you noticed this comment, which may be of interest to you?


      (Last comment from Patricia)

      Best wishes


      • stymaster says:


        The area has subsided, I’m sad to tell you- that’s not in doubt. I had to disclose that for my house as the homebuyer’s report when we bought it said the house had settled- but it said that it was a long time ago and unlikely to move again- the house has been there for about 140 years- it’s going nowhere, as Bob’s said, all the movement is probably finished by now.

        I think you’re right about Camden St/ Green Lane. My understanding is that the line is the centre of the bridge. Walsall MBC got a good few street signs in the wrong place about that time- Westgate/Barns Lane is one I know of- the error is only a few feet, but it’s an error none the less. You and Bob are right about the apparent slope of the bridge too- always a struggle at the end of a long walk.

      • CAZ says:

        Hi Bob and Stymaster,
        Thank you for your comments, and thanks for the link to Patricia.
        On checking house deeds/ valuation report I can’t find anything to suggest theres a subsidence problem. The mining report states, as you said Bob, that any subsidence due to mine workings, which ended 1960, should now have ceased.[this was back in early 80’s]
        Not sure where Camden St. actually starts. On the land document I have, Camden street is written all the way over the Blackcock Bridge.All the houses from the junction with Hall Lane are Green Lane.When new street signs were erected a sign stating Camden Street was placed directly opposite Hall Lane, with no mention of Green Lane anywhere. Over the years there has been all sorts of delivery problems with lots of things ending up in Green Lane, Shelfield, so residents complained and the new sign that went up opposite Hall Lane junction now states Camden St. arrow to the right and Green Lane arrow to the left, so I’m assuming the divider line is the junction with Hall Lane.
        Another puzzler for me,is where does Green Lane ,Walsall Wood end and Green lane, Shelfield begin?……… I know that the two houses just past Coppice woods on the way to Shelfield are listed as Walsalll Wood, and yet I would have thought they were nearer Shelfield?
        best wishes Caz

  11. Jim says:

    The steep banks of the canal appear to be shown on the maps in 1885 the house itself appears to have been built 1902 – 1919 so this doesn’t lend credence to the sinking theory. Is the bridge dated? Surely it would have needed to have been rebuilt if the banks were rebuilt

    • stymaster says:

      Hi Jim. Pretty sure the bridge has no date. The canal itself dates at around 1794-1796. The Wyrley & Essington canal was authorised in 1792, some was open in 1794, and it reached Huddlesford (the bit that’s no longer navigable) in 1797, and the section we call the Daw End Branch now is shown as the Walsall Wood Extension on a map reproduced from a 1796 Carey’s map, and is shown as reaching Hay Head Limeworks.

      I don’t know if the bridge is original: some other old bridges on this canal are brick arches (Winterley Lane) but some are brick and Iiron/steel: to me the current Blackcock Bridge looks newer than 1796, with it’s girder construction- though it’s clearly quite old, and this may be a modification to strengthen it. Can anyone remember the construction of the old Clayhanger bridge, pre 1994?

  12. clive says:

    Hello Bob and readers, I have had a look at the OS map of 1888 and 1902 maps, and the difference in high of the canal running along Hall Lane, on the 1888 map its 474.3 feet above sea level, and on the 1902 map its 473 feet above sea level, a difference of 1.3 feet. I know this is small in the time scale we are talking about, but thought it might help. by the way the brook which flows from Clayhanger to Walsall (over the back of Coppy Woods) doesn`t flow uphill in any part of its journey, and there not much difference ASL between the land round the brook and the Black Cock. so it cant of dropped much? food for thought.
    Best wishes to all.

    • stymaster says:

      Clive, just a thought, could one map record the towpath height, and one the water? The W+E canal and it’s branches are generally accepted to be at the “Wolverhampton Level” of 473 ft.

      • Hi chaps.

        Between the maps of the 1880’s and early 1900’s, there was an attempted resurveying of the UK which proved abortive. It’s hard to tell where the benchmark on the canal bank south of the Black Cock is located, on the edge or the towpath. Could be interesting to see if I can find it. Since the canal path was seeing a lot of horse traffic at that time, and was probably a mixture of rock, mud, halfenders and horse manure, I doubt this is relevant, as Stymaster points out, the water level and fixed infrastructure like overflows is based on a datum water level of 473 feet. It’s an interesting question, though, as one would imagine towpaths with their hard loading would be subject to constant erosion by dobbin and his pals. Wonder what the repair policy was?

        There’s a map somewhere I was looking at (1938 I think) that gives datum of canal surface as 473, and footpath as 474. Will see if I can dig it out for the next post. That was post-retriangulation in 1935, so can be trusted to a greater degree. The one point of clarity in this is that the canal surface itself can’t ever have changed much from 473 feet.

        Cheers for the contribution folks


  13. paul ford says:

    Hi Bob and all

    Brownhills UDC minutes: 20 Dec 1905: the ‘canal company were on about raising this bridge [Black Cock] and that now would be a good time to raise the approaches’: Resolved – this be done.

    Brownhills UDC minutes: 21 Aug 1918: Surveyor’s report… ‘with regard to the bridges at Clayhanger Rd, Black Cock and Hollander’s Lane… The surveyor pointed out that owing to the subsidences caused by mining operations and the periodical raising of the canal to maintain the original levels the approaches were becoming very steep and dangerous especially to vehicular traffic…. if it continued it would eventually end in one part of the district being cut-off from another…’

    Great debate – i hope this is of interest. I did a little on Wm Yates on the other page for you as well. Did you get the email with the ‘Daft’ picture on?

    • Hi Paul

      Sorry, picked it up last night. Didn’t think you were in Fridays, or I would have replied sooner. Your work is always fabulous and the Daft picture is superb and will make an appearance soon (bet that’s got readers wondering!)… I was unaware of the Yates map being sold in that way and will despatch a runner forthwith to get hold of one. I’d love to learn more about it.

      That’s really good stuff. It’s particularly interesting because the house in question doesn’t appear until the 1919 map. Andy Dennis has contributed some good stuff by email which I hope to feature tonight. It makes be wonder what the relationship of the house is to the canal; it bears a canal number, like several do in the area (there are a pair in Lindon Road which are probably contemporary), and if the house was built after a period of subsidence. Of course, it doesn’t take a great degree of slippage to make an already steep ascent perilous. I’d love to know to what degree.

      Still can’t see a whole house dropping that far unscathed.

      Thanks, Paul, you really are a star and I alway look forward to your contributions. My apologies for not replying sooner. I’ve still got a followup post half-written about the bungalow at the quarry, but information still trickles in.

      I don’t know where folks like me would be without the dedicated and thorough work people like yourself, Stuart and Ruth do. You are a credit to Walsall’s Library Service, The Walsall Local History Centre and to the town itself. I remain indebted.

      Best wishes


  14. clive says:

    Hello Stymaster, yes your right, I had miss read the map. 1902 should be 473.2 at the BM. sorry.

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  16. kate Goodall says:

    Three comments from me.

    1. Hi Paul and say hello to Fat-boy Ford from me
    2. I’m completely unconvinced that house uniformly and obligingly sunk several feet. And anyway the timeline doesn’t fit, does it?
    3. If you want to know where Camden Street starts, Green Lane ends etc, you need to speak to the wonderful Mrs Margaret Allen at Walsall Council. Margaret has worked for the Council for something daft like 46 years now and she knows her onions when it comes to the Road Register. Soppy this, but she worked with my dear old Dad & remembers him heralding my arrival in the world. Top woman for road facts.

  17. D.Evans says:

    HI Bob
    readers may like to glance through Brian Rollins earlier publication, Coal Mining in Walsall Wood, Brownhills and Aldridge published in 1994 by Walsall Local History Centre. ISBN 0 9446652 34 1, in particular pages 4,5,6 the Foreword, where he sets out the reason for his writing; pages 57 to 60 Walsall Wood Colliery and Subsistence which includes reference to the matter of rodding of house; and the scale section on page 38 which shows the location of the mine underground workings
    Brian Rollins later book, referred to in and earlier part of this article, gives the thickness of each of the named seams.
    The photo in this earlier book on page 58 , shows Lorne Cottage (built circa 1900), my grandfathers house. It is still standing, and in good condition , showing the effectiveness of the rodding against the subsistance there.
    Brian Rollins’ earlier book is available through the local libraries, but, like his later book, probably sold out soon after its publication.
    best wishes
    David Evans

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  20. simon burgess says:

    I think you are right Bob if the cut banks have been built up then it should be at least 20ft deep and trust me as someone who’s jumped off the top of the foot bridge on hot summers days its only about 5ft deep and makes your knees touch your ears when you hit the bottom.But my step dad who’s lived in Walsall Wood for 80 plus yr s assures me that it used to be level so I’m non the wiser. The ground has defiantly sunk at the bottom of Brookland Rd, as you go over the old bridges at the bottom there is a big dip now and yr s ago it used to be level and the houses on the left are all still standing. My mom’s house in Beach tree Rd is 6″ out from one end to another I never noticed it growing up there but new it makes me nearly stumble over when you walk from room to room.

    • George says:

      Dear Simon,
      Bit late to comment, but here goes. A canal would be filled in and re puddled to 5ft deep, as the pressure of deep water would be too great the deeper the water the worse it gets. Particularly on an embankment.

  21. CAZ says:

    I think this blog is saying as much about people as it is the history of the cottages. It’s funny how their memories and perception of things, can be so different. Simons stepdad is sure the houses were level but another man I know who’s lived by the Blackcock his whole life says they were not. He said the houses have slipped down and the canal wall raised but there was always an embankment.As for me……I must have been blind as a bat as a child as I regularly played in Coppice woods but never noticed the houses there at all.

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  24. Tracy McDowell (was Cartwright) says:

    Hi Bob
    The house in question was my Grandparents house my Mom was born there in in 1945 as were all of her brother’s and sisters, there was 8 of them in total, my grandparents definately lived in the house pre World War 2 untill my Nan’s death in 1986. The house adjoining it was my Grandads parents house. I have spoken to my Mom and she told me in her life time the house has never been level with the canal, but i think my Nan had told her that they used to be level, until the banks were built up. The the small plot of land in Camden Street next to where the pump stations is used to have two houses, the one belonged to my Mom’s great Grandma and the other belonged to Coopers Coal Merchant.
    I also remember that in the late 70’s early 80’s my Nan and other people were protesting about the bridge being in a dangerous condition, me and lots of other little children sat on the bridge stopping cars going over, I`m sure it was in the local newspapers but i was only young. I think that was the reason for the green foot bridge.
    I have also been told that you were trying to find out if my Nan’s house had a cellar? It did not, if you want me to ask my Mom any more questions please feel free and i will do my best to help.
    Kindest Regards
    Tracy McDowell

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  26. Steve says:

    Hi Tracy
    Was coopers coal merchant ,Frankcooper I used to help my father fill the bags of coal at Walsall wood pit when I was a young boy of 11 ,would not be allowed now ,the things we would do for a few coppers .I have lots of happy memories of Walsall wood ,my mom used to say the houses in hall lane were level with the canal and the houses have sunk over the years .I have only recently started reading this blog with great interest

  27. Mike hawes says:

    If you buy a house in Aldridge, at least the town centre side of the railway, you have to get a subsidence report about local mining in the area. I find it utterly implausible that the the houses in Oakwood Close next to The Black Cock , built as they were in the 80’s would have been built at all were there that level of subsidence or at the least the most minor risk of it . Houses further down are newer even than that – not a chance they’d have been built .

    It’s a lovely story but no one who ever spent more than five mins in the area can see it isn’t right. I’m not saying the area hasn’t seen settlement in the hundreds of years but not an elevator style 15+ feet as the folklore has it.

    A good place to see settlement is at the the old RAF Hendesford site , pictures of the site especially the parade ground show it level, now it;’s got a marked slope to it , in the woods to the side there are areas taped off due to how dangerous the area is for subsidence. In this case imagine building on there ? in 50 yrs? 100? no one would do it.

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  34. pauline pennell //was anslow says:

    bob I lived on Camden st about 60 years ago and the mole family lived there / I can remember men working on the bridge and at this time I was only a young girl and that house seemed lower down as they made the bridge higher I like what you are doing thankyou I really miss home and this keeps my memorys going

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