Supporting services

It’s been a while since I did a mapping post here on the blog, and yesterday, whilst visiting the open day at Christchurch, in Leamonsley, I saw a huge copy of the 1884 OS map of Lichfield that inspired me. If you ever get chance to see it, do so. A beautiful, A0-size hand-tinted copy, clearly for ecclesiastical use. A thing of rare and immense beauty.

The map made me think of the Wyrley and Essington/Lichfield Canal/Lichfield and Hatherton Canal, and the post I made yesterday regarding the wharves on the Birmingham Road, and how they, and Sandfields Pumping Station, developed over time.

It’s quite clear that this was, for a while, the grubby, industrial, ‘support’ area of the city. South from The Close and lofty theologians, lawyers and scholars, this was the lower tier of the class wedding cake. I’ve often wondered if the position of Leamonsley, outside Lichfield’s south western gates, meant it started as a dwelling place for the lower orders.

Things I remembered from these maps were the cricket ground – now all housing, built upon in the 1980s. There was an old tale that this pitch held the record for the longest ever shot in the UK game. The story went that batsmen hits a square six, and the ball lands on a passing goods train – arcane laws of cricket apparently dictate length of ball counts when it hits the ground. This didn’t happen until Crewe, theoretically, where the ball was retrieved.

I can’t find any evidence of this, I suspect it’s apocryphal – can anyone illuminate it?

I’m interested in Dovehousefield Cottages – why so remote? They were on the site of the Bison Concrete Works, itself now housing. Chappell’s Terrace in intriguing, too, as is the laundry that appears behind it.

While we’re about it: Maple Hayes – perhaps one for Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler and Andy Dennis, or maybe even Kate from Lichfield Lore. We know that many local ‘grand’ halls and houses fell into the hands of newly monied industrialists. I picked up that Maple Hayes – home to the Conduit Head for Lichfield, and now a school for Dyslexic children – was owned by the Worthington clan, of brewing fame. Is much known about the house and who owned it? The chap I spoke to was under the impression that it changed hands quite a bit, like Aldershawe.

One final thing caught my eye while taking a closer look at Leamonsley on the modern mapping record yesterday: Sloppy Wood. No kidding.


A-Z mapping of Leamonsley side-by-side with 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey mapping showing that Sloppy Wood is not an aberration or mapmakers joke. The continual confusion over the spelling of Leamonsley is not helped by there being a street called ‘Leomansley Road’. Click for a larger version

How did Sloppy Wood come about? There’s some good names there, too; Fitzherbet Firs, Lady Muriel’s Belt, Herbert’s Wood, Darwin’s Bath and The Slang, which I believe was defined here some time ago in the context of tithe mapping.

As usual, catcalls, contributions or corrections: comment here or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

1884 Sandfields

Ordnance survey 1:2,500 1884 map of Deans Slade and Sandfields. Note the path of what would become the Cross City railway line. The land was clearly purchased for the purpose, and may well have been under construction when the map was surveyed. The final northern section – between Sutton Coldfield and the junction here – was opened in 1884. Click for a larger version.

1902 Sandfields

Ordnance survey 1:2,500 1902 map of Deans Slade and Sandfields. The area is becoming more and more built up. Click for a larger version.

1928 Sandfields

Ordnance survey 1:2,500 1928 map of Deans Slade and Sandfields. The Cricket ground makes it’s first appearance. I note that despite an abundance of water, Sandfields Pumping Station has a well. Click for a larger version.

1965 Sandfields

Ordnance survey 1:2,500 1965 map of Deans Slade and Sandfields. There is no other mapping of this scale in the inventing period; by now the canal is disused, Sandfields has doubled in size, Bison are busy making concrete prefab components and Lichfield is expanding as a commuter resort. Click for a larger version.

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17 Responses to Supporting services

  1. Laurence Skermer says:

    Can’t help with the important stuff, but I can relate that the laws of cricket are entirely uninterested in the length of a shot. Once the ball has crossed the boundary it is ‘dead’ and that is all that matters . the length of sixes etc is a recent obsession of television.
    The cricket ground wasn’t built upon until much more recently – at the same time as Darwin Prak.

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    Worthington & Maple Hayes

    There is quite a bit about Albert Octavius Worthington on the web, so here are a few brief notes, all sourced from

    Albert was born with a silver spoon in his mouth in 1844 at Newton Park, Newton Solney, Derbyshire. It is now a hotel –

    In 1851 he was resident with father William, a wine merchant, who employed a nurse maid, cook, house maid and kitchen maid. In 1861 he was at Repton Priory School. In 1871 he married and lived with parents at Newton Park, now a brewer. By 1881 he and wife had moved to East Lodge a little way south of the New Inn, Needwood. He was referred to as a “Common Brewer”, but had fourteen servants!

    In 1891, 1901 and 1911 he lived at Maple Hayes. In 1891 he was J.P.D.S. Stafforshire and director of a brewing company. In 1901 he was director of a railway company and retired director of a brewing company. In 1911 living on own means. There were still at least fourteen servants.

    And those means were very considerable: when he died in 1918 his estate was valued at £1,365,975 2s 1d.

    • Andy, that’s brilliant – thank you. It would be interesting to know how many of the ‘great houses’ were actually still in the ownership of their constructors or lineage at the end of the Victorian era, and how many had been purchased by new money like, say Harrison?

      Is what we’re (trivially) observing here – a kind of minor-flight back into rurality of the newly rich – a real phenomena, do you think? It certainly must have been a factor in the class system for quite some time.

      Fascinating, thanks

      Best wishes


      • Pedro says:

        “The ‘decline’ has been confidently attributed to the permeation of the business elite by the anti-industrial and anti-commercial attitudes communicated by public schools and the old universities through their propagation of aristocratic and gentry values; and the readiness of the buiness elite to be thus permeated has been ascribed to the persistent tendency of new men of wealth to transform themselves into landed gentlemen.”

        FML Thompson..Gentrification and the Enterprise Culture: Britain 1780-1980 (Ford Lectures)

  3. ziksby says:

    The Rev.W Awdry tells a similar “cricket ball” story in one of his books……..
    Stepney is puffing past a cricket field with some “empties” when a batter hits a “six” and their only ball lands in a truck. Stepney does not realise and, when his driver sees Caroline racing after them with the desperate cricketers inside, he mistakes them for joyriders and speeds up, much to Caroline’s annoyance. At last, Caroline arrives at Ffarquhar and the men get their ball back, but Stepney’s driver notes Caroline looks exhausted and suggests that Caroline be rolled onto a flatbed. The cricketers ride back in a brakevan and Stepney and his crew watch the end of the game.

  4. Andy Dennis says:

    Mr Thompson may have a point about anti-commercialism (as personified by the impecunious Wooster), but it seems to me the real cause of the demise of great houses and estates was their inherent unsustainability in anything like a fair and just society.

    I suspect the answer is that at the end of Victoria’s reign quite a lot of great or large houses were still occupied by descendants, whether ‘old money’ or nouveau riche. My impression is that the real decline came later, coinciding with the beginnings of a welfare state and aspirations towards a “land fit for heroes”.

    Taking a step back, some estates go back to medieval times when wealth and power were concentrated in a tiny proportion of the populace. Landed gentry held large estates at the behest of the king, and were charged with financing the governance of the country through taxation, forced labour and military service. The social structure during the reign of Edward III, for example, was explored by Ken Follet’s World Without End, recently serialised by Channel 4, admittedly with some dramatic license!

    Familiar houses tell a story. Weston Park, Shugborough and Beaudesert were all granted to his supporters by Henry VIII following the dissolution of the monateries. As I understand it, though, the great rise in vast houses came as England grew in prosperity during Elizabeth’s ‘Golden Age’. Examples include Shugborough, Blithfield Hall (although the estate is much older), Moseley Old Hall and Bentley Hall, but perhaps the most ostentatiously lavish was Hardwick Hall with its expanses of very pricey window glass. A further impetus came with the favouritism of Charles II following the Restoration in 1660. Stowe in Cornwall is one notable example. I’ve long thought that Chillington might have benefited from this as Giffard and his folk assisted Charles during his escape from defeat at the Battle of Worcester (Boscobel House and the Royal Oak). All of these estates grew mainly on agriculture and royal patronage. Back then there was little value in the unenclosed land hereabouts, so there never was a great pile in the northern wastes of Walsall.

    In Georgian and Victorian times industrialists, merchants, bankers and other businessmen drew great wealth from manufacturing, trade and the resources of Empire. They were able to build fine houses, such as Maple Hayes and, as though marking the end of the era, Whitwick Manor. Just as the Elizabethans had, these businessmen wished to advertise their status in the upper strata of society. Perhaps they also wanted to keep their hands and morals clean by segregation from the hoi polloi in their increasingly polluted, insanitary towns and cities.

    All of this was only sustainable as long as a very few could control the wealth created by very many people working in poor conditions, including slavery, for low pay. The increase in taxation, especially under the Lloyd George governments of the early twentieth century, including inheritance tax (which would rise as high as 80%), changed this forever. The Great War reduced the labour force and the worth of labour was increased, including among women who had taken up work that only men had done previously. The great houses with their small armies of servants could no longer be sustained. The issue of availabity of domestic servants was covered by Dr Pamela Cox in Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs, aired by the BBC a few months ago. The times portrayed in Downton Abbey and Jeeves & Wooster were set in the dying embers of an centuries-long era.

    This didn’t happen suddenly. As I see it there had been a long history of growing dissent, through parliamentarian and religious movements, to the authority of the monarchy and established church, especially through the Stewart era, the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’, the rise of trades unions and the emergence of a progressive political movement that could challenge for government. Inevitably, there came a tipping point when the aristocracy and super-rich could no longer command a sufficient proportion of wealth to sustain their elite lifestyles and this hit home in the early part of the twentieth century.

    Beaudesert, home to the Marquesses of Anglesey, who benefited from mining of coal and ironstone, was restored after a fire in 1909, but when the family moved to Plas Newydd on Anglesey, they were unable to sell the estate and the house was mostly demolished in 1935. Bentley Hall was demolished in 1929 amid fears of mining subsidence. Apparently, the Maple Hayes estate was broken up and sold in 1950 and eventually became a school for dyslexics. The Mander family still has rooms at Whitwick Manor, which is owned by the National Trust. Shugborough’s last resident, descendant of the Anson family, was Patrick, Earl of Lichfield, the famous photographer, who died not long ago; his rooms have recently been opened to the public by the National Trust. And this has been the fate of many great houses. As their owners could not afford the upkeep they let them fall into disrepair (e.g. Hardwick Hall and Moseley Old Hall) or handed over the property to the NT in lieu of inheritance tax and stayed to live in part of the house; Chatsworth is one famous example.

  5. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    a big thanks to Andy, please. Maple Hayes Hall was used as the boarding school part of King Edward VI Grammar School in Lichfield for quite a few years ( Darwin House) until KEGS and the nearby Secondary Modern School , called Kings Hill, became a comprehensive school some years ago.

  6. Pedro says:

    I believe that there is credibility in the idea that the newly rich entrepreneurs sought “gentrification”, and in doing so prolonged the “class war”. We have an example, as Bob suggests, in the Harrison family. From their beginnings in Lime around 1840, and on to Coal, sees them progress from Stafford Street, Walsall via Norton Hall, Aldershawe, Orgreve Hall, The Knolls in Barton-under-Needwood and on to Wychnor, before its sale in 1976.

    It was probably the Captain, WB Harrison, who was the driving force, and a look at the life at Aldershawe shows that the gentrification was well under way before 1900. But were the family typical of the newly rich? Perhaps information taken from the book Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey may be helpful.

    In 1926 the coal industry was acknowledged to be in a complete mess. In the emergency debate at the start of the General Strike Prime Minister Baldwin began with a reprimand to the managers of the coal industry, saying that the whole machinery needed a radical overall. Lloyd George pointed out that three government inquiries had been commissioned into the state of the coal industry: the Sankey Inquiry, by his government in 1919, and the McMillan and Samuel inquiries commissioned under Labour and Conservative governments in 1924 and 1925. Each had concluded that the restructuring and the reorganisation of the coal industry was a national imperative. Each had called on the government of the day to direct the brains of the nation to draft legislation to place the coal industry on a secure footing. Each had pointed a finger at the coal owners, judging that they were largely to blame. And all had failed to deliver. Extraordinarily, given the coal was Britain’s biggest industry on which her balance of payments depended, successive governments, Liberal, Labour and Tory, had baulked at forcing the coal owners to reform. The misguided and obsessive preoccupation with the war between the classes meant that for all political parties during the 1920s and the early 1930s, the defence of the coal owners’ interest became synonymous with the defence of the realm.

    Evan Williams, President of the owner’s Assosiation, refused to give credence to the miner’s distresses, accused the union of demanding a national minimum wage for the sole purpose of achieving its political objectives, the nationalisation or socialisation (of the mines) by means of the power which national agreements give them, and to threaten to hold up the whole country and make an industrial question a political issue. Churchill on the other hand was of the view that it was not the Coal Owners business to fight Socialism, it was to manage their business successfully, and to fight Socialism as citizens.

    [Even such a staunch Tory as Lord Birkenhead said, “It would be possible to say without exaggeration that the miners’ leaders were the stupidest men in England if we had not frequent occasion to meet the owners.”]

    During the negotiations to end the coal strike, the coal owners were represented by their association, the Mining Association of Great Britain. [Col WE Harrison OBE is listed as a member of the Central Committee in at least one of the publicised Minutes of proceedings with the Miner’s Union in 1925] In contrast to the aristocratic, often flamboyant, super rich mineral royalty owners, the men who owned the land from which the coal was mined, the coal owners were a shadowy provincial body of men. Their strongholds were the dour granite buildings, stained by damp and dirt, the civic megaliths to the industrial revolution that crowded in the centre of the new towns in the Black Country, Yorkshire coalfields and at the heads of the Welsh valleys. Coal, iron and steel represented the whole of their lives, as Dr Outram concluded his study of the 44 men who in 1926 made up the Central Committee of the MAGB, ‘there status in society, and in their communities depended entirely on Coal; if it failed their moderate wealth and power was at stake. They had nothing else.

    Of the 44 members of the Central Committee, nearly half were JP’s, twelve had served at one time as County or Urban District Councillors, seven were Deputy Lieutenants of their County. With the exception of one, their public activities were confined to their County and their industry, a record that fell far short of the many wealthy northern manufacturers. Despite average fortune of £112,000 each few, if any, of the committee members followed the contemporary practice of dedicating parks or buildings to their localities…….As the months wore on, they became determined to destroy the miner’s union.

    In November 1926, the miners, driven by poverty and hunger, returned to work. The Coal Owners won their victory: they returned to less pay and longer hours. The strike cost the Treasury £30m….No steps were taken in the ten years after the General Strike to restructure the industry or to improve working conditions.

  7. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    it is the contributions of Andy and Pedro, among others, that make this blog something utterly exceptional . My thanks to both these kind gentlemen, please
    kind regards

  8. Pedro says:

    Long shots…

    Darwin’s Bath…”It was its delightful quietude which appealed to Erasmus Darwin when he settled there, on his marriage to Miss Howard, a Lichfield lady, in 1757. She died leaving him with three sons: on his second marriage in 1770 he moved to Derby. (Founded the Botanic Garden)”

    Lady Muriel’s Belt….there was a Lady Muriel Worthington

    Fitzherbert Firs…there was a William Fitzherbert of Lichfield and Swynnerton in the 1500s

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  10. Pedro says:

    Posted this also on Lichfield Lore…

    Not Sloppy enough!

    From Maple Hayes the seat of AO Worthington. Chas Foster the Master, and many names from the Big Houses for miles around.

    Lichfield Mercury 23 October 1903…

    “The pack raced him back through the end of Sloppy Wood, and across the the park into Jubilee Wood, round which he ran twice, when the hounds bowled him over between the cover and Maple Hayes Hall. Sloppy Wood was the next scene of operations where another fox was found directly. Hounds raced him across into the Jubilee cover, and thence round the gorse, when he crossed the park and ran into Sloppy Wood, round which he circled twice, and then the hounds got him and killed him…”

  11. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    I wonder where Gaia Lane gets its name? It runs round the back of the Bishop’s Palace .. to Bull Dog Lane

    • Andy Dennis says:

      Me, too. Odd that a Greek Earth goddess would be recalled in a street name in such an important ecclesiatical centre.

  12. Graeme Fisher says:

    Maple Hayes was still the boarding house of King Edward VI school in 1978

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  14. P Graham says:

    The Bison works made prestressed concrete. The lichfield city laundry was a big employer. Workers were brought in by bus from surrounding areas. The Handford family bought it and also various other laundry a in the area. Vans would go around and pick up laundry and bring to the main place and sent back out. The Handford family consisted of 2 brothers and 2 sisters. One of the sisters, Barbara bought out Longs in the market area. Longs was the place to buy school uniforms. How do I know, I worked at The laundry handling complaints before going to Bison as they paid more money.regarding comments about people being in service, my family were in service.

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