While I was researching the Birchills Irownworks post, I noticed that part of the story was falling off the south western corner of the maps, and covered Reedswood. We have addressed the story of Walsall Power Station before, but never the mapping record. I was so intrigued, I took a look at what was in the archives.
In a previous post, I noted:
Reedswood was the site of Walsall’s very own power station. Wedged into land between Birchills, Reedsword Park and The Beechdale, it generated electricity for about 70 years over the course of two separate stations. Wikipedia has this to say on the station’s history:
The first power station on the site was built for Walsall Corporation. Work began in 1914, and electricity was being generated by 1916, although the project was not officially completed until 1922. Cooling water was supplied by a pumping station on the Anson Branch canal, equipped with two Mather and Platt pumps capable of delivering 10.6 million gallons (48 Megalitres) per day. Spent water was discharged into the Wyrley and Essington Canal. Ownership of the station passed to the West Midlands Joint Electricity Authority in 1927, and then to the British Electricity Authority following nationalisation in 1948.
Construction of a second station, Walsall B, began soon after nationalisation. The station was officially opened on 30 September 1949. Comprising six cooling towers and six chimneys, the station burned ‘slack’ coal, which consisted of fragments of coal and coal dust. Coal was delivered by road, rail and canal. Water from the canal was used for cooling. The station closed in October 1982 after 33 years in use, and the stub of railway serving it was closed at the same time. The power station was closed as it was no longer deemed to be efficient.
It stood dormant for nearly five years afterwards, finally being demolished in March 1987.
Where there were once cooling towers and smoke, there is now a retail park, and little trace of the history remains, although most folk of a certain age remember well the cooling towers on the local skyline.
First, for illustration, here’s what the main station looked like on a 1962 plot of Reedswood:
In the above, slightly grey map, Birchills Ironworks would have been upper right. This was a station at the height of it’s power – at this point it would have been modern, easy to fuel (relatively) and reliable.
As can be seen, little remains. It would be nice to know what the removed factory in the lower right of centre was; was that Barton Conduits?
You can download a copy of this overlay for use in Google Earth at the link below. Instructions on using it can be found in this post. The overlay can also be used as a map in modern graphical Garmin GPS units like the 62, Colorado, Oregon, Dakota etc., but it’s only to be used as a guide, not a definitive plan.
Reaching back through the archives, the plans show the following progression of the station. Note the growth, and increasing suburbanisation of the surrounding area.