Chartered flight

Taken on Sunday, 9th June, 1963, and reproduced by kind permission of Lichfield District Council, 2012. Click for a larger version. A full quality PDF can be downloaded below.

This is a teaser. I have been supplied with eight images from this set, and frankly, they’ve blown me away. The image shown here will interest so many people – from Chasewater Wildlife Group, to Brownhills history enthusiasts, mining wonks and canal buffs.

The images are from Lichfield District Council’s archives, and have been very kindly scanned and supplied by top council officer Gareth Thomas. I can’t thank him for his wonderful act enough. All eight images in the set are fascinating, and there will be more to come at the weekend.

This image was taken on June 9th, 1963. It was a Sunday, and Chasewater – then I think still called Norton Pool – was packed. A big funfair is on the go, boats are on the water and there are cars and people everywhere. I note the water level to be quite low. It’s quite late in the afternoon looking at the shadows, which are being cast to the east.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what the event may have been?

Turn your gaze from Chasewater to Brownhills. Railways in full, pre-Beeching glory. Factories, mines and spoil heaps. Lost buildings. Brownhills before it entered the modern age.

Enjoy, and thanks again to Gareth. You can download a PDF version of the image (1.4 megabytes) by clicking the below link. It’s slightly better quality than the PNG linked by clicking on the small version above.

Chasewater and Brownhills, Sunday 9th June 1963

Comments are invited. More to come at the weekend. Isn’t this just wonderful?

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49 Responses to Chartered flight

  1. Clive says:

    Many thanks to Gareth Thomas, and Bob. Nice one.

    • fred butler says:

      Hey Bob .great pictures of Chasewater,I thought it may have been when the 24 boat race was on, but looking closely I cant see the big tent that was put up for the dance.And I think that itwas later in the 60 s. because gINO wAshington played there. You can see the conveyor over the canal by the basin you refered to a few weeks ago, keep it up Fred

  2. pedro says:

    Just when did the name of Norton Pool fall into disuse? There are numerous mentions of it in the archives, but seems to disappear from about 1916.

  3. Neil Taylor says:

    Thanks bob, ive spotted a turning point for the narrow boats near wharf lane bridge where the detached houses are now built,


    Neil Taylor

  4. BEV says:

    There might not have been an event going on at Chasewater, I remember going there on many occasions and it being packed with people enjoying a sunny day out, it felt like you were at a seaside resort with lots of booths selling Ice-creams and candy floss etc, people sailing their model yachts on the boating pond and speedboats pulling water-skiers, kids playing in the paddling pools whilst their parents sunbathed on the pink/grey terraces around the cafe. There was also a bit of a shingle beach on the far side if you couldn’t afford the entrance fee.

  5. Andy Dennis says:

    I was thinking the same as Bev. It was a Sunday.

    Norton Pool was certainly the local name and was known generally as “The Pool” in my childhood in the 1960s. I seem to recall (but beware memory!) it being “Cannock Chase Reservoir” and thought that was the offical name.

    The only great change I can think of that wold lead to rebranding would be the development of the south shore in the 1950s, when I think it was owned by Birmingham City Council. Was that the start of “Chasewater”?

    Chacewater (note spelling), near Truro, Cornwall was the home of Jonathan Hornblower, pioneer of the compound steam engine. He would be more famous today had he not been another victim of James Watt’s obsessive litigiousness.

    • Pedro says:

      Chasewater is the old spelling used for the place in Cornwall by all their local papers. Now I am not saying they put a “c” in it so as not to be confused with the Place in the “Black Country”!

      I mean, why add an “e” to Aldershaw?

      All the best Pedro

  6. Andy Dennis says:

    A few more things I noticed.

    Watling St JMI – no playing field or big playgound – I’m sure they were there when I started in 1965.
    Overall, much less tree cover than today.
    Buildings beside the old MR station, which I can’t remember.
    Other remnants of the mining industry that would soon disappear:- boats at Anglesey Wharf; strings of coal wagons on the spur from S Staffs Rly to the Grove; screen for loading boats, railwaymen’s cottages along Watling Street (not quite opposite Pool Road), various other buiidlings.

    There is also a round or maybe dome-like, whitish, feature at the top of the chute from the outfall basin. Any ideas? Something to do with sluice control?

    • BEV says:

      I Started at Watling Street in 1964 and we didn’t have a playing field and the playground was smaller i think and I remember when the Mobile classrooms went up they enlarged the playground and they flattened out the ground behind them as it was very uneven and sowed grass seed it was fenced off to keep the kids of it until it grew but I’m not sure what year that was, I also remember parents being asked to contribute to a swimming pool that never materialised.

    • Paul Brevitt says:

      Hi Any i was at Watling st county primary in the late 50s I remember a small tarmaced play ground then a area fenced off with bushes and if you passed the bushes you were out of bounds.Just out of bounds was a dip in the ground we called it the hollow we sometimes played in thehollow just past the hollow there was a small wood.all round the back of the school was common all down the side of the parade.

  7. Hi folks. Glad to see this image getting the attention it deserves…

    Chasewater became such (after it was formerly called Cannock Chase Reservoir) in 1956, renamed by cllr Waine of Brownhills UDC, who’d just bought it. His name was, of course, commemorated by Waine House.

    Graham Evan’s wonderful Chasewater History PDF’s list the following for 1956:

    ‘Brownhills Urban District Council purchases Norton Pool from the British Transport Commission for £5,600, which is for a total area of 272 acres and 2 cottages. The land on the eastern side of the lake (170 acres) is leased from NCB at a rental of less than £1 per acre.
    Upon the suggestion of Councillor Waine, and the distain of the people of Norton, the lake’s name is changed to Chasewater and at the official opening in May Councillor H.V. Fereday, chairman of Brownhills Council, says:
    ‘It may indeed seem bleak and dreary at present but I want you in your imagination to travel forward with me to a time when the bleakness and barrenness will have disappeared under a scheme of ordered development and beautification.’

    You can find the histories linked from the RH side of the Chasewater Wildlife Group homepage:

    The file in question is at

    In reply to Andy’s point about the litigious nature, I think we take a very narrow view of the old engineers; most were exceLlent project managers, but we’re really employing the genius of those whom they employed. Many names go unknown because the self publicists were so aggressive.

    Cheers all


  8. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    super photo..Go-Karting event?

  9. Gareth Thomas says:

    Bob, Great to see the photo(s) are generating such interest and your putting them to such good use, its also great to read the stories and views about the photo from locals and enthusiasts. I hope more people join in and share thoughts!

    Gareth 🙂

  10. Barry Carpenter says:

    Anyone spotted the steam train top left corner. I used the over lay feature on Google earth with the visability slider the compare the then and now. There is an interesting crop mark lower left crop running at 45 degrees across the field, a darker line. Its also on Google Earth. This could be a road or trackway?

  11. Clive says:

    Hi Bob and reader, bottom left of the photo you can see Mr Ferries yard in use.
    ( just below A5 road) theres so much to see on this photo, thanks to all involved.

  12. Gareth Thomas says:

    What I have noticed that I think could be potentially exciting is in the bottom left hand side of the picture. Careful studying with software at work is a bit clearer, but shows a dark kine (track) leading from the woods (about 3 field inwards from the bottom of the picture) that then leads down to a very faint circle or ring ditch. I think this could actually be very significant…

  13. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    another gentle scan of the photo. I think it may well have been one of the first Go-Kart events..held at the week-ends then.. Many cars parked up against the perimeter fence at the kart track (which is where the karters et al tended to park ). The overflow car park, by Pool Road is in use so its a big do. Not much activity on the water..pre sailing school days?
    Perhaps the first time this kart track was used for an event?
    Also noticed Bug Alley , Mount Conduit, and the old Civil Defence centre (where Aldis store is nowadays)
    I hope this helps

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  15. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    I googled go karting at chasewater which linked to Dave Clarks site;”Chasewater as I remember it in the 60s and 70s” is detailed, with photos ( look in the background) and a mention of Chasewater Motor Sport Show….. possibilities?

  16. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    spoke with Mike Stackhouse, Midlands Gokarting Society;-
    the second Sunday in the month was their regular event day at Chasewater, The track was originally a concrete roller-skating track which they converted. The large building on the Eastern perimeter of their track was the permanent fairground’s “Tunnel of Love”. Why were such high res. reconnaissance photos taken ( by the RAF? ) is a question posed by this image. First moves in planning for the Tollroad ,even then?

    • Kevin Barnett says:

      I remember the fair well, and here was my 1st memory of opening coke with a doobry that left a triangular hole, taught my self to swim in the boating pool off road cycled a 10 speed racer on the tracks all around. Climbed on the 2 or 3 sunken barges in the canal. Can also remember the kart track being built and 63 makes me 5 can we recall that far back. Later off road motor bikes on the wreck ( old slag heaps on pools ) I think it was called now spoiled in my opinion by landscaping into a park. No fun like the old days. Me my 1st wife on the beach as we called it on chase town side. What memories this photo holds. Oh and school x country in the 70 from chase water comp along the dam. Defo need to print a copy, thank you for this jump back in time. Oh one more got my 1st motor bike from the guy who sold yamaha’s from a house near the A1 on Norton side, any one remember the name of the shop ( house ) Barney

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  27. Mike says:

    I happened to stumble on this and was immediately taken back to my childhood. My late father was killed in an industrial accident on the large warehouse site that sits between Chasewater and west of the High Street. The barren areas to the N.E. of Chasewater were slag heaps from the local mines and I think by this time the local industrial railway had fallen into disuse as had some of the mines. I used to live in a Prefab in Edwards Road which can be discerned as the first turning on the right travelling up the High Street from its junction with Queen Street. The police station was on the corner and immediately next to it was the mortuary a place that filled us kids with trepidation if we had to walk past when the gates were open.
    The winter of 1963 was a record breaker and I do remember us pupils at Chasetown Primary School situated in Church Road took food to Chasewater to feed the swans that had been frozen into the water. The RSPCA were doing their best to free them and the event was filmed for the news on ATV? Television. Years later a clip from that film found its way into a Cadburys Drinking Chocolate TV advert and showed pupils 2×2 had in hand marching towards the camera, with guess who at the front? I would love to track that film down but so far without success. Looking at photo 6137 in the bottom right corner can be seen curved tracks which I think was a motor bike scramble circuit based in an old sandpit. There are so many memories, the photographs are very evocative.

  28. fred butler says:

    Are you Michael ( Brewin) Cooke ?

    John ( Fred) Butler

    • Mike says:

      Hi John
      The last time I saw you would be 40 years ago on the top deck of the No5 bus to Walsall. I hope life has been kind to you and that you are content and happy.
      Best wishes Mike Brewin

      • fred butler says:

        Yes I thought it was you, and yes to both your points, the 5 is now at 10 by the way,.If my memory is correct you went to live and work in the big city London ? i wuold be interested to ‘speak’ more if so let me know and I will send you some contact details to comunicate direct.?


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  32. Tracey Parker says:

    As I remember every weekend there was something happening at Chasewater, the fair was a permanent fixture there owned by the Swan family, I went to school with Jimmy Swan one of the grandchildren, I had a part time job there on the ducks at the weekends. It was always busy especially when the sun shone. I note that Knaves Castle avenue had not yet been built and the old farm house was still standing.

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