Whose Fault is it, anyway?

Here’s one for the Knaves Castle/The Fault/The Fort inquisitors out there. It’s been a while since I raided the mapping archives, so I thought I’d go rooting through the cartographic record, and see if I could find ‘The Fort’. Sadly, no luck, but the maps are interesting anyway.

First up, here’s how the area looks today, from Google Earth – a dense mix of largely postwar estate housing and open heathland. I always think of this area as being called ‘Newtown’, but other than being recorded on recent maps, I have now idea where the name originated, or who with. I see the name appears here on the 1962 plan, buried amongst the maisonettes of Castle Street. Anyone know any more about that?

Sorry about the rough way these maps render – click on them and they’ll become clear.

As usual, comments, catcalls and corrections welcomed. Comment here, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

The approximate area covered in Google Earth. Note the setates nound by the canal – that line retains Brownhills from spreading east. It’s like a frontier, sometimes. Click for a larger version.

Ordnance Survey 1884 1:2,500 draft. Note the area is really densely populated, probably as thickly as anywhere in Brownhills at the time. Note Knave’s Castle, and every single well seems to be marked. Click for a larger version.

Ordnance Survey 1902 1:2,500 draft. The Fault appears, although the 1884 didm’t record the street names here. Note that as in the 1884, there appears to be Knave’s Castle the antiquity, and a building bearing the same name. Interesting also is Craddock’s Building, an odd name. Click for a larger version.

Ordnance Survey 1919 1:2,500 draft. I see Craddock’s Building is now Watling Street Farm – it was, of course, obiterated by the construction of Brownhills Comprehensive School. Knave’s Castle the building still exists with a small orchard, but the antiquety is no longer drawn, and marked ‘Site Of’, which suggests it was flattened for farming. Click for a larger version.

Ordnance Survey 1938 1:2,500 draft. Much development has taken palce, and The Fault is now Castle Street. A nascent Deakin Avenue is forming, leading to Watling Street Farm. The antiquity is no longer marked, and has been overbuiltt, but the name still persiats in the nearby building. I’m also interested in Sutton Road Wharf. Why Sutton Road? There’s no road bearing that name near here? Click for a larger version.

Ordnance Survey 1962 draft. Knave’s Castle – the building – still recorded, and later preserved in the street name ‘Knave’s Castle Avenue’. I’m interested in the ‘Works’ marked just west of Howdles Lane, off the track from the Watling Street, also the building opposite it on the south of Watling Street. Also note the “Castle Club’. Click for a larger version.

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8 Responses to Whose Fault is it, anyway?

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    Thoughts about Knaves Castle, The Fort and The Fault and nearby places.
    Great work again, Bob! The fascination for me in the 1962 mapping is that is preceeds a period of sweeping change in which much of the property north of the Watling Street and on the south side, such as the Anglesey Arms and Fox’s Row, to clear unfit housing and widen the main road.
    Knaves Castle
    The 1919 mapping marks “Knaves Castle (site of)” [antiquity] and I wonder if this captures a moment in time when the ground had been cleared in preparation for the buildings that appear there in 1938.
    I suspect the Knaves Castle annotation to the west refers to the buildings in that area, perhaps as accessed by the drive that curves up from Watling Street. This appears to be confirmed by the 1911 census.
    Dad, who lived in the mapped area all his life (1926-2009), and others of his generation used “Newtown” or “The New Town” to describe the area east of the cross roads at Watling Street / Chase Road, including the Chase Inn. This is borne out by the sequence of addresses in the 1911 census. The bridge where the railway goes under the road is known as Newtown Bridge.
    I’m very surprised to see New Town marked where it is in 1962. The 1902 and 1919 name what is now Castle Street as the Fault and the 1911 census refers to the Fault and The Fort. You describe this map as a draft – could this be a wrinkle to be ironed-out for the final version?
    Castle Club
    This was always known as Doody’s Club, after one Gerald (?) Doody who ran the place. I only knew it as the Castle Club when it moved to the corner of Howdles Lane in the late 1960s as part of the general clearance in the area, partly do do with dualling the Watling Street. Previously, the corner site (No. 2 Howdles Lane) was occupied by an elderly couple, who had a small holding with a ramshackle old cottage, chickens, pigs, a goat and various produce.
    When it was demolished I remember going into the site to see the works on the main road. They opened up the culvert, which appeared to be the original Roman construction, with dressed stone and, just a we we told in school, big stones at the bottom getting preogressively smaller on top. I gather it was thought strong enough the carry the resurfaced road and remains in place today.
    Flats opposite Howdles Lane
    On the 1962 mapping the Angley Arms and Fox’s Row are still there. On the aerial photo of Chasewater and area from Jun 1863, they appear to be under construction.
    I think the house at 91 Watling Street was the old toll collector’s house.
    I seem to recall the works west/south of Chapel Street made wheelbarrows.
    Lost pub of Chapel Street
    Note the changed shape of 9 Chapel Street. When Dad was about 8 years old he lived at that house, which he said was previously a pub (or beerhouse). Its upper floor overhung the road. This was so barrels could be lifted from a cart below and kept in a sort of loft so the bar could be fed by gravity. He never know its name.
    Transport Priorities
    Note the geometry of the Watling Street / Chase Road junction. Presumably, when the railway was built the road had to play second fiddle. I remember it being staggered in the 1960s before dualling and straightening. At the time this was among the most imporatnt and heavily trafficked roads in the country. In my father’s childhood the played marbles on the main road without fear of harm. In mine it was unpleasant just walking to school beside the thundering nose-to-tail stream of lorries. Crossing the road was a nightmare. The road was full of large pot holes that filled with rainwater and vehicles splashing through them would soak inattentive pedestrians – a version of fartlek training was essential in such conditions. To repair the road, the eastbound stream was diverted via Whitehorse Road and Howdles Lane. Nose-to-tail, crawling and idling all day. Then the M6 opened and a proper job could be done.
    There was a well-sinker living in Howdles Lane in the 1881 census. Good business! He was Henry Howdle, son of George Howdle, who, I believe, was the developer of Howdle’s Cottages – see 1884 and 1902 mapping and 1881 census. In 1871 it was Howdle’s Row.

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  3. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    part of a letter I received last October ,in response to a request for information, from a kind-hearted lady who had lived there at Knaves Castle a long time ago, and who now lives in Scotland. The revelent part of her letter reads ;-
    “Yes, we lived in “Knaves Castle”, no 33 Watling Street, for about two or three years. I was nine when we moved to Aldridge (This gives a pre-WW2 date as the lady worked at Aldridge Airport during the war)…part of the castle wall formed an archway which led us to the back of our small house. We were right behind the sweet shop.Further along, behind us there was an old cottage. Madge Scott lived there with her sister. I am afraid there are no photographs but I remember the orchard. It was a continuation of our garden and a useful “shot-cut” to our friends the Stannards. We called back at no 33 a few years ago but only saw the outside, and it had changed beyond recognition. I went to “Deakins” chapel furher along the Watling Street for a while but changed to a small chapel almost opposite the sweet shop. The Minister was Mr Green.
    Mim ”


  4. Andy Dennis says:

    Brookes’s shop? My lot went to Park View, which must have been Deakin’s. The other was said to be the “Little Chapel” – no disparagement intended – I was no fan! What put the lady off? I can guess, but it would be nice to confirm!

  5. bob houghton says:

    I am involved with a project of writing up the stories behind the names of soldiers who died in the wars and are commemorated on local War Memorials. My latest person is Thomas Fairfield, who was killed on The Somme in Nov 1916.

    He was born and brought up on Fox’s Row, about three houses from the Anglesey Inn and lived there from 1890 until he married in 1912. He spent most of the next two years with or near his In-Laws in Boney Hay. By 1914 he had moved to The Fault.

    He had four children of whom only three survived him and was a miner before he joined up in 1915. His wife remarried soon after his death and moved to Yorkshire.

    I have found the information on your site very useful, especially the maps showing the precise locations of his homes and the picture of The Anglesey.

    I am now trying to find out where he went to school and where he worked before joining up. I believe Essex Street Records Office have a record of him at a Brownhills school, but don’t know the details and that he probably worked at Walsall Wood Colliery in the early years

    I would appreciate any help and advice and I would also like your permission to use any pictures you have of Fox’s Row and / or The Anglesey Inn on our web site once the story is completed.

    My direct email address is bobshoughton@aol.com

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