I’ve had this article from The Young David Evans in for a while now, as I wanted to find time to illustrate it with some great mapping. David’s exploration of the places of his childhood, and his interpretation of the current physical geography is fascinating. My thanks as ever, to David for sharing.
In the modern world of asphalted roads, acres of hardstanding and housing estates by the square mile, we tend to forget that our landscape is riddled with lost brooks, springs, natural drains and man-made culverts, and all have to be managed to prevent flood and ensure adequate drainage, whilst still maintaining irrigation.
Areas of the local landscape are actually very wet indeed – The Slough, Clayhanger Marsh, Ryders Mere, stretching round to Stubbers Green through Jockey Meadows. These are all essential drainage bands, and ensure not just continued relief of higher ground, but maintenance of our biodiversity.
Here, David explores a stream he thought lost, remembered from his childhood.
Here’s what he found…
This part of the 1902 Ordnance Survey map of Walsall Wood shows the course of a stream at that time. It seems to rise in a pool to the east of the Kings Hayes Farm (highlighted) and flow past the farm and join another watercourse, from a spring which is identified as ‘spout’ to the south-south east. Both combine to flow under the road and continue in the shallow valley that exists, almost parallel to Coppice Lane. Interestingly, like the Brook, mentioned in the article Downstream, this brook also flows under a railway, the Walsall Wood Bridge Extension, and also the canal, at the centre of the above map. The stream then continued past Coppice House towards Stubbers Green Road.
I wanted to see what, if anything, remains of the original course of this stream. A lot of the landscape has changed dramatically since the time the map was made, and what I document here is that which can still be discerned nowadays.
Seen from the adjacent transport yard, the stream turns and flows to some sort of culvert. From hereon the original course of the stream is lost, as can be seen in the images in Google Earth.
This stream, and the memories it may evoke, is a gentle witness to times and way of life from many years ago, to the dramatic and irreversible changes brought by the industrialisation of the nearby land, and forms another part of our local history.
Interestingly, since the Vigo is a former landfill, it’s intriguing to note the following from the Friday, 13th September 1901 copy of The Lichfield Mercury, spotted by Environmental correspondent Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler:
AN AWKWARD MATTER – The Clerk read a letter from Messrs. Shelton, Walker and Taylor, complaining that the Council had been depositing rubbish on King’s Hayes Farm, Walsall Wood, close to the road, and giving the Council 7 days’, notice to remove the rubbish and not to trespass; on the land again.
The Surveyor reported that he had visited the spot and found that some hundreds of loads of rubbish there. It would be a big job to move it. The night soil foreman (Mr. Harrison) was called upon to explain, and said the rubbish had been tipped there for the last ten years. A complaint was recently made and none had since been deposited there. The Clerk was directed to reply that the work of removal was proceeding.
So the question kind of remains, what on earth did they do with all that rubbish?
Both myself and David would like to express our gratitude to Mr. Simon Taylor, owner of the land and of the busy adjacent industrial site, for so readily allowing David to take these photos for everyone to share and appreciate.