Weaving the Canes

Henry Harvey’s house (A relative, perhaps? – Bob). Image generously supplied by Alan Harvey.

Regular readers will recall fellow blog follower Alan Harvey requesting more stuff about Norton Canes on the blog. Feeling a bit guilty about my obvious oversight, I acknowledged Alan’s request and we all set to, finding some interesting stuff from the community across the water.

In the mean time, Alan dug deep in his own collection and sent me this wonderful, disparate collection of images and other ephemera, which I hope will spark discussion amongst the readership.

I’m particularly interested in ‘Thackers Shop’ – is that related to the Thackers mentioned at Highfield Farm, or Lawrence Thacker, of the Talbot-Stead tube and later barrow manufacturing family? Was this connected with (I think) a military surplus or electronics shop in Great Wyrley in the 60s and 70s called Thackers? (I may have some of that detail wrong, but suspect others will straighten it out).

I’m also interested in the contractor from Brownhills who was ‘clearing’ The Conduit site, Joseph Hubbard. Who was he, what became of his company and what else did they do?

As usual, comment here or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Conduit Colliery

The demolition of the Conduit Colliery stack, 1958, from the Cannock Advertiser. Image kindly supplied by Alan Harvey.

Big stack made stubborn stand against gelignite

A landmark disappears

The demolition of a chimney stack 230 feet high, reputed to be the largest in the Midlands, provided a memorable spectacle at the disused Conduit Colliery, Norton Canes, on Wednesday.

The razing of this huge structure, which was effected by a Wolverhampton firm, proved a formidable undertaking, and two hours elapsed, after the explosion of the first charge of 20lbs. of gelignite before the 2,000 tons of bricks came crashing to earth. Three attempts were made, and nearly 40lbs. of gelignite were used for the complete operation.

The colliery was the first to be closed after nationalisation, and the site is being cleared for industrial development.

The first charge was exploded against the chimney at 11:30 a.m. It did not bring down the giant stack, which was mounted on a base 20 feet square.

When the chimney did eventually fall, however, it came down in exactly the position anticipated, between two of the colliery buildings.

This feat was remarkable in itself, for the position of the buildings allowed the stack only two yards clearance on one side and four yards on the other.

After the failure of the second charge the consultant engineer, Mr. R. W. Bostock remarked: ‘I cannot understand how it remains standing. We demolish most other stacks first time with a charge of about 15 pounds of gelignite.’

Tribute to workmanship

Before the actual demolition of the stack, great holes were blown in the sides, six feet, six inches thick at the base, leaving only one side complete and leaving two supports on the other side.

In the main operation the object was to blow away the supports, a far more difficult task than was envisaged.

Mr. Joseph Hubbard, the Brownhills contractor who is clearing the site, said: ‘It was just fantastic – a tribute to the craftsmanship and materials of 80 years ago. We have had some tough jobs but I have never seen anything like this before.’

Before the final attempt workmen spent an hour-and-a-half  drilling holes in the supports for more charges.

And at 1:30 p.m., with spectators I asking whether it was ever going to come down. Mr. Bostock set off his charge. The stack shook violently seemed to hang in mid- air for a moment, and then broke in half as it tottered.

Thackers shop, Norton Square. Image kindly supplied by Alan Harvey.

Area map from a Norton Rate Book 1910-15. Image supplied by Alan Harvey.

75 Walsall Rd.Norton Canes. Image kingly donated by Alan Hrvey.

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21 Responses to Weaving the Canes

  1. Pedro says:

    How to bring down a chimney!


  2. Andy Dennis says:

    More Thackers than you can shake a stick at. Must be the most frequent name in the area.

  3. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a big thankyou to Alan and to all concerned,please. Was Thackers shop opposite Emerys shop?( which I believe is still there) These Norton articles really are revealing so much about the mining village and its life. Was one pit mound known locally as Mount Ararat, does anyone know, please.

    • Peter says:

      David Hi. I think that whoever took the photograph of Thackers shop (long gone now) was probably stood outside Emerys Clothes Shop on the corner of Chapel Street and Walsall Road. The building is still there but the last time I went past it was empty. If you look closely at the photograph you can see a chap with a horse and cart, he is probably outside another of the Emery proporties in Norton which used to rent out, amongst other things, cement mixers, for years he had an orange one on the path.

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  5. Clive says:

    Local News Paper, Date Jan 1902; The underground men of the Conduit Colliery have subscribed £20 to the Hammerwich Cottage Hospital.

  6. Andy Dennis says:

    The 1911 census records a Henry Harvey (49, coal miner) at Burntwood Road with wife Amy and 8 children. They had been married for 29 years and had 14 children, all living.

    The photo could have been around then and it does say 1909 bottom right, so perhaps some of the children appear.

    I guess the houses are long gone.

  7. Alan Harvey says:

    Hi, Henry Harvey was my Great Grandfather. He eventually became the under manager of the Conduit and Grove collieries. He died in 1925.His house was the second one from the right in the picture but I am not sure if he was living there then. He was also choir master at the Primitive Methodist Chapel, a real Victorian patriarch. The view is looking down the Burntwood Road from the Square to the Bridge, the Yew Tree Inn is just lost in the blur on the right of the picture. I have some more photos I’ll email to Bob.

    • Pedro says:

      Lichfield Mercury 18 October 1907 lists…

      studentships and prizes awarded on results of a special examination, conducted on Sat 4th May 1907, by Mr H Johnstone, HM Inspector of Mines, together with the general work of students…

      Class F prizes of 10s each…

      Henry Harvey, Jnr, Burntwood Road, Norton Canes

      • Pedro says:

        LM 17 July 1914 for Technical Institute Hednesford, results of Examinations..

        Mining Third Year…Harvey Henry… 1st Class Distinction.

  8. Alan Harvey says:

    Thanks Pedro,
    The Henry Harvey mentioned here is the son of the Henry mentioned above. He was born in 1888 and followed his father into mine management.

  9. Laurence Thacker says:

    “I’m particularly interested in ‘Thackers Shop’ – is that related to the Thackers mentioned at Highfield Farm, or Lawrence Thacker, of the Talbot-Stead tube and later barrow manufacturing family?”
    I am sure the family running Thackers shop has no immediate link to my branch of the family so no link to Thacker Barrows. The Thacker’s shop in Great wyrley did sell army surplus at some point as we did have occasion to go in from time to time through the 80’s-90’s.

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  12. I’m getting my mum to contact you. She used to work for Joseph Hubbard – and even worked for his daughter, Josephine for a LONG time…

    • Hi Richard

      Greetings from Brownhills.

      We actually managed to obtain copies of both books – thank you very much for your kind offer.

      If you have any memories you like to share, you’re most welcome to.

      Cheers, and thanks.

  13. Deryn Williams says:

    On the 1911 Census Thackers Shop was known as the Corner Stores and owned by my grandfather’s uncle John Madeley Williams. His given occupation was ‘Grocer, Draper, General Stores
    His eldest daughter Florence Sarah married a Herbert Horace Thacker who was born in Cheslyn Hay c.1878. In 1911 they were living in Walsall and he was employed in the business of pattern maker engineers.
    I would imagine they took on the store when her father died and it became known by his name

  14. Jan Edwards says:

    Any more pics of the Norton Canes Square

  15. tracey says:

    Jane Thacker and her husband William Read are part of my Read family tree, living on Hednesford Road. I will check my details but I thought it was Jane that owned and ran this shop?

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