When Billy came knocking

I’ve had a great email from long time reader and friend of the blog Michael Sarsfield. Michael is a Brownhills expatriate, currently living in Swansea. After reading my questions about Anglesey Wharf and nearby cottages, he’s written a really nice piece about his childhood memories of the place.

Thanks, Michael. Brilliant, cheers. Really wonderful stuff.


Anglesey Wharf and cottages, from Ray Shill’s book ‘The Wyrley and Essington Canal Through Time’.

Michael wrote:

Hi Bob, Mike Sarsfield here from Swansea Wales. With regard to your questions:

The cottages in the picture I knew as Wharf Cottages. If they are the right ones they are on what was Wharf Lane.

The cottage on the left was where my Grandfather lived. He was John, but known as Jack. His wife was Edna Jefferies (my nan). My grandfather I believe worked at Anglesey Sidings as a crane driver.

The cottage on the right was lived in by a Mr & Mrs Meecham. Mrs Meecham used to feed the swans on the canal and one of these – Billy – used to come and knock on her door when he wanted to be fed. I believe that this story and photographs were published in one of the local papers at the time.

The Long Building on the right was the old stables for the barges. the little building attached to these was used as a pay office by NCB. My father used to travel from the offices at Hednesford and pay out.

From the picture – to the left of the cottages was the railway crossing shown on you site recently and today I believe that this forms part of the Chasewater Railway. [Not sure about that – can Chasewaterstuff or OakParkRunner confirm, perhaps? – Bob]

I left Brownhills in 1959 and my grandparents were still living there into the late 1960s. As far as I know when they left no one else moved in.

As for Jasmin Cottage, I remember it, it was on the opposite side of the road as shown on your map. I believe that an old lady lived there, because I visited there with my Nan once. I was around 4-6 years old then.


This photo would have been taken facing the opposite direction to the one above, with the photographer’s back to the cottages. Note the familiar loading chutes, which still exist. Image from Andy Dennis.

The washery and loading tower was behind where the photo was taken from.

I spent many happy times there, watching the trains going up and down, with the level crossing keeper – helping him with the gates. I didn’t go too close to the barges, in case I fell in the cut. I can say that when I stayed in the cottage on holiday, it was very spooky with the sounds of the canal, wind in the telephone wires, and right outside the bedroom window was a telegraph pole with a blueish light on it all night.

I will be interested to hear and read any other comments readers may have.

Happy Easter to All.

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7 Responses to When Billy came knocking

  1. Sue Woodward says:

    I remember visiting his grandparents with Michael and playing in Wharf Lane – and the wearher was always glorious!

    Sue Woodward (nee Bullock)

  2. Martin says:

    I can remember the Wharf Lane very well, a railway track also crossed the wharf lane joining up with Anglesey sidings, carrying the coal from nearby coal mines and just pass there, was a farm house, in the 1940s 50s a family named Allports use to live there

  3. BRIAN WEBSTER. says:

    I walk the towpath every day with my dogs, & can relate too the pictures. Obviously, no cottages, but 2 of the loading chute’s are still there ! Great photo’s. I actually back onto the canal only a few hundred yards away from Burntwood bridge,

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  6. Brenda Ward says:

    Mike Sarsfield would you allow me to reproduce your childhood memories in the BCN Society Journal Boundary Post please. Any interesting items like this are so well worth recording.

  7. Pingback: Mike Sarsfield remembers Lichfield Road and Brownhills in the 1950s – do you? | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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