Engine Lane – more historical curiosities

David Evans is still actively researching the history of Engine Lane in Brownhills following the emergence of the auction notice found by Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler last week. David has been chasing the Parkes and Otway connection with historical societies and museums. This, in itself, has returned a suggestion of an intriguing story.

David emailed the Museum of Technology.

From: museumoftechnology.com

To: David Evans

Sent: 13/03/2012 09:54:55 GMT Standard Time

Subj: Parkes & Otway

Dear David Evans

I am afraid I have nothing on our books about Parkes and Otway engines. I have asked one of our members who lives near Brownhills if he knows anything and I’ve pasted below.


Pam Halls

Parkes & Otway a bit obscure even up here, let alone in Cambridge.

There are stories about a pump in Engine Lane as early as the 1770s, probably a Newcomen but this was not the Parkes & Otway. An advert in the Staffordshire Advertiser of 28 March 1835 gives some information (attachment 1) although I am always a bit doubtful about the words ‘newly erected’ in 19th century adverts. The firm appear in Pigot’s Directory of 1828/29 (attachment 2) and there is a bit of information about them in an article in the New Zealand Analyst & Leader of 24 November 1861, which was actually copied from the Wolverhampton Chronicle, presumably of a somewhat earlier date (attachment 3).

Perhaps Mr Evans would like to look at the following websites, and contact them for further information. The local history society might help, but the address I have for them is a little dated

BrownhillsBob (via the excellent Burntwood Family History Group)

David Hodgkinson (curator of the original Brownhills history site, top chap)

Black Country History (The official archive project)

Brownhills & Walsall Wood Local History Society

Contact: Mr William Mayo

Brownhills, West Midlands

So the plot thickens. Odd to find your own site recommended as a source of information – an allegory for infinity there, I think.

A remarkable thing. I believe the clipping came from local historian Bill Mayo, although the email trail is unclear.

Parkes & Otway in the 1828/1829 Pigot directory. I believe this to have been supplied by Bill Mayo. Bill, if you're reading this, please get in touch.

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4 Responses to Engine Lane – more historical curiosities

  1. Clive says:

    Nice piece of work David, well done.

  2. pedro says:

    For interest, on Harry Smith Parkes see Wiki…


    Regards Pedro

  3. Pingback: Screen stars « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  4. pedro says:

    There is no mention of Parkes in the White’s Staffs Directory of 1834, but there is a Otway, Wennington and Co.

    1835 Samuel Lewis says…

    “There are several iron and brass foundries in the area, of which the iron foundry at Goscote is the most extensive, as well as the oldest, belonging to Messrs Otway and Wennington; steam engines of every power, cylinders, and cannon, besides the various other smaller articles of cast iron are founded here upon the most improved principle.”

    Maybe the engine was a venture between Parkes and Otway at a works in Capponfield only.

    (strangely Capponfield is not mentioned in White’s extensive Directory, any one know an alternative?)

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