Follow my drift?

Beneath this unassuming scrub is a whole industrial history.

I’ve had some interesting contributions on the subject of Anglesey Wharf and the drift shaft there. Both Andy Dennis and Chasewater Wildlife Group’s Graham Evans have added hugely to the debate with the following information. My apologies to both Andy and Graham for taking a week or so to get this material up on the blog – it’s been a mad week, to be honest.

I’m trying to locate a copy of the video ‘Last Coal From Anglesey’ without success. If anyone knows of a copy, please shout up.

Andy went exploring the site of Anglesey Wharf, and found evidence of the shaft still extant, just as Dave Fellows had pointed out. I explored some of this area the Saturday before last, but the grass was so wet it was proving quite unpleasant, and I gave up. A bit hat tip to Andy who must have got soaked – and filthy. Nice work.

Andy said:

Hello Bob

Your map / photo pinpoints the location and I found the wall relatively easily. You can just about see a little of it in Google Earth about 105 metres north (1.3 deg E) of the canalside grating, but it’s easier to approach from the northern end. Going good-soft, soft in places.

I have included the following pictures…


Meanwhile, Graham Evans took time off from counting the gulls and keeping an eye on the poor little ringed plovers to update his Chasewater Historical Timeline, still available as print out and keep PDF files on the Chasewater Wildlife Group homepage (down there, on the right). On the ‘News’ page, graham published details of the sequence of events, which is most welcome.

Graham presented the information as a table, but this WordPress them won’t allow me to lay it out the same way, so I’ve winged it a bit.

Graham published the following:

Yet again, it’s great to see Brownhills Bob being so fantastically enthusiastic about Chasewater’s history and I recommend everyone to click here to read about his investigations.

It reminded me that I haven’t updated the Website’s pdf files of the chronology for rather a long time and I thought it would be a good idea to at least copy below the updated version of the period Bob is currently investigating. There is so much to add, clarify and correct so please feel free to offer your ideas and knowledge so that we can build up a true picture of our fascinating heritage.

  • 1920: The drivage of a drift is approved from the main haulage way at Bass seam level (273 feet) at No 2 to Anglesey Wharf, a distance of 864m (945 yards).
  • 1921: Very low water levels in the reservior are recorded.
  • 1922: Shafts at the Cannock Chase Colliery Co No.5 Pit are sealed but the colliery’s power station is expanded and electricity is used to power Chasetown, Chase Terrace and Boney Hay.
  • 1923: The Plant Pit becomes the centre of operations for the Company. Washery and new screening plants are installed to which an overland endless rope haulage (2200 yards) is provided from No 8 Colliery, where a 60hp twin cylinder steam engine to drive the haulage is located. The drift from No.2 to Anglesey Wharf is opened on 16th April after two years in the construction by a team of miners working three shifts a day. It runs for 945 yards at a gradient of about 1:10 and the 120 horse-power electric motor provides continuous haulage of coal tubs to the wharf, where newly constructed conveyors can directly screen and load the coal onto narrow boats. Coal drawing from the shafts of The Fly now ceases.
  • 1924: The new workshops at the Plant become known as ‘Wembley’ after the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley which was opened on St. Georges’ Day this year.
  • 1925: Floating Water-plantain is recorded as ‘plentiful in shallow water at Norton Bog.’
  • 1926: The General Strike.
  • 1927: No 9 Pit closes as a drawing pit but the Anglesey Wharf to Fly Pit drift is extended to link with The Plant (No 3), Eights (No 8) and No 9. Coal needing screening goes via the overland rope haulage to The Plant (No 3) where the slurry beds obliterate Norton Bog.
  • 1935: The Cannock Chase Colliery Co still employ 83 horses underground and 12 on the surface.
  • 1937: The pump engine on the dam is bought for scrap by J. Cashmore Ltd, leaving the pump/engine house an empty shell.
  • 1940: The Fly Pit closes and haulage along the drift also comes to an end (although is referred to as disused on a 1938 map).
  • 1940’s: Sheep are grazed on the north shore heath with a sheep-wire fence keeping the animals from the water’s edge. (This fence was only rarely inundated at the time but the fence stumps were only recently exposed by the 2010 drawdown, implying formerly much lower water-levels or considerable subsidence). Many locals shoot the wildfowl ‘for the pot’ with good numbers of Mallard, ‘Black and whites’ (Tufted Ducks) and occasional Pochard and Teal.
  • 1947: Nationalisation of the coal industry. Pits 3, 7, 8 and 9 are still operative. The Plant Workshops become the Area Central Workshops serving all the collieries in the Cannock Chase Coalfield. Around this time a belt of willow saplings are planted along the north shore as a ‘hide’ for wildfowl hunters. Shooting licences can be obtained from Lawton Hall for 15 shillings a year

As ever, thanks to Andy and Graham, and if you have anything to add, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. That’s BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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16 Responses to Follow my drift?

  1. Graham Evans says:

    Hi Bob,
    I have a copy of the video ‘Last coal from Anglesey’ somewhere – just need some time to find it! It would be great to get some digital copies made.

  2. Graham Evans says:

    ‘Last Coal Run from Anglesey’ now found and you’re welcome to borrow it. Its a 35 minute video made in 1999, and not seen by me for many years since I no longer have a video player.

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    Thanks, Bob and Graham. I hadn’t realised the extent of the drift. And I’m not so intrepid; it was actually quite dry.

  4. david fellows says:

    Actually it doesn’t look as overgrown as it was when I was last poking around there about 10 years ago! At that time there were some concrete blocks where the entrance was that looked very much like the ones on the 1923 photo.
    Good work

  5. pedro says:

    Thanks to Andy and Bob.

    Armed with the pictures, a map and Google Earth it is almost like going yourself!

    All the best Pedro.

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  10. first time I’ve got into the rout of the drift this morning followed wall to walls end could not work out where entrance was though .I loved it am very interested in mining history

    • got a picture not original photo but it shows a gate that was fixed to the drift entrance I know it might sound mad but it would be interesting to excavate the entrance .after all this piece of history needs preserving

      • Hi Richard.

        I don’t think you’ll be terribly lucky there, to be honest. Looking at it pragmatically, the drift was built in the early 1920s to replace the haul shaft at No2: the fact that it’s listed as disused in 1938 whilst No2 didn’t close until 1940 seems indicative of something problematic.

        The drift itself was clearly filled, and possibly backfilled quite early, as it vanishes from the mapping record. However, were it open now, one would imagine it would be pretty much full of water as the surrounding land is very, very boggy at the entrance level (years of seepage from the dam can’t help that). The area was filled again in the early to mid 2000s with spoil from the CHasetown Bypass.

        Only ground radar or similar scanning would really give a clue what was still extant there, and would be hugely expensive. What would we excavate it for, anyway? A drift was common enough – maybe not here, but it was hardly remarkable technology. Whilst it’s a historical curiosity, I don’t get much historical value in the industrial archeology here, particularly as this is surrounded by a site of Special Scientific Interest and therefore environmentally sensitive.


  11. very interesting bob .yea your right just dreaming do you think inside the drift was concrete or just timber lined. would there have been a wall the other side . or was the remaining wall to keep soil back .I love mining history but also railways &history of this area .

  12. what are the purpose of the pipes that can be seen sticking out of ground o n ground near anglesea canal are they something to do with the mines

    • The red and yellow ones with little caps? They’re monitoring wells of boreholes. The lids are unlocked by environmental engineers ever so often, who drop a sampling dipper into them and take samples of the water, which is then lab tested for changes, toxins, other nasties.

      You find them in sties like this, former landfills, and often around environmentally sensitive sites like scrapyards, fuel stations etc.

      Here’s one near Chasewater dam

      As to your other question, I doubt the shaft was concrete all the way down, but the entrance portal clearly was


  13. thank you bob

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