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.
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.