After the gold rush

I thought that today, I’d dig some interesting mapping out of the archive. In the light of Gerald Reece’s talk on Brownhills and it’s colliery history, I thought this 1884 1:2,500 scale plan of Wyrley Common was due an outing. It shows – in some clarity – the extent of mining in the Engine Lane area at the height of the Victorian period.

These aren’t the initial shallow pits that must have made Brownhills akin to the Klondyke; these are the deep, precisely engineered collieries that came with the advent of some mechanisation, rail links and better pumping technology.


Fragment of the sheet covering the Cathedral Pit and the little-mentioned Wyrley Common Colliery. Click for a larger version.

Click on the image below to load the full version; it’s about eight megabytes in size and a large image. There are some interesting things to note, and I’d welcome comment and look forward to seeing what readers find. Note the wharf at The Slough, and the remnants of old workings around the Coppice Side area – this is what Gerald referred to as ‘Palmers Hay’. Big House Farm is a name that survives to this day – but not in that location, which I find interesting. The tramways around Conduit Colliery – to the canal – are also fascinating, as is the pit on what would be Brownhills Common today, immediately adjacent to the Chester Road.

As usual, please comment here or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot Com. Cheers.

Wyrley  Common 1884 small

Ordnance Survey 1:2,500 sheet covering Wyrley Common, scanned from a paper facsimile. Click for the full-size version. May take a while to load.

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8 Responses to After the gold rush

  1. Dave Fellows says:

    On the subject of The Slough, I had a poke about at the ruins of what I thought was a Lock on the slough arm (on the map it’s the narrow bit just to the left of the number 992). But I could never see what use a lock would be there if indeed it was a lock, ground levels didn’t seem right etc. It was about ten years ago since I was last there and took some photos of it. Does anybody know anymore about this? Some fascinating stuff around there if you can find it, oldest part of industrial Brownhills.


    • Pedro says:

      Hi David,

      I will have to check when I can get hold of a book, but the very point that you indicate may be the point from where the cut was extended. Prior to 1849 Phineas Fowke Hussey had leased the rights to Hanbury, and the canal existed to a point somewhere near. After 1849 Harrison had the rights and extended the canal northwards to cross Engine Lane.

      Did you find any evidence of Slough Cottage?

      Regards Pedro

  2. Pedro says:

    Thanks Bob for the map, it helps to put things that Gerald spoke about in place.

    Regards Pedro

  3. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    thanks for putting these maps on your blog again..The narrow gauge tramway is a very interesting feature. A cup of tea and chat with a good man last Saturday..he had taken a fork and spade and found this..many years ago..and gave a perfect description of its route from the cathedral towards the canal via Engine lane. He was not well enough to attend the talk, hence my visit!
    I wonder where the stables . blacksmiths were in those days.
    Did the local coalmine bricks have the brickworks names on them at that time?

    kind regards


  4. dave fellows says:

    If I recall correctly there were the remains of an old gate post and a few “lumps and bumps” in the vicinity of Slough cottage. The old shafts in the Slough were still quite noticeable, but didn’t get too close! The mineral tramways could be traced quite well too, and there were a few remains of the track left in places in the undergrowth.

  5. Clive says:

    Many thanks for the maps Bob.

  6. pedro says:

    Big House Farm Shocker!

    William Howdle, Big House Farm, Brownhills fined £3 for selling milk which, it was alledged, had been adulterated with 11% water.

    Lichfield Mercury 13 November 1914.

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