Silver caught?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the following map here of central Brownhills from the late 1960s, in answer to an enquiry tied up with the thread about the Salvation Army Hall in Brownhills. It’s a great map, and at the time it caused quite a bit of interest.


This is a 1:2,500 Ordnance Survey paper print of central Brownhills. I don’t have a date for it, but I suspect it to be late 60s, about the same time the photo was taken. The map is fascinating, and very large; click it for t he full size version. Bear in mind it’s been scanned from drafting film and is exhibiting some geometric distortion.

I promised to make an overlay of the map for use with Google Earth, so the location of new and old features could be compared, and faded in and out. I’ve finally got around to it.

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The above map overlaid transparently on current Google Earth imagery, click for a larger version. This isn’t the whole overlay, just the largest screenshot I could get at a reasonable resolution. See below to download the full overlay. Click for a larger version.

The full overlay can be downloaded from the link below, which is hosted at Box. For instructions on how to use it, see this post here. It’s a large file and will take a while to download.

Late 1960s Brownhills Central Google Earth overlay – 15.8 megabytes

The one thing that’s still causing me some bafflement is the issue of Silver Court; on that sheet it’s drawn symmetrically, yet in actuality, Silver Court is 10 units long on the north side of the offices, and 6 to the south. On the map it’s drawn 6-6. It’s also not well aligned on the map; the streets line up around it, as does the canal, but it seems as if the map was misplotted slightly there.

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Silver Court realigned. Note how the streets and everything around is misaligned. Click for a larger version.

It’s almost as if the development wasn’t built when the map was surveyed, and it was updated from a drawing or plan later. I remembered I’d seen an image of the construction of this odd mixed-use tenement block in Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington’s wonderful book ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’. Perhaps that could answer the question.


Sadly, this raises more questions than it answers. Click for a larger version. Image from ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

This shows 6 units of Silver Court under construction. It shows that the block is a modular design based of a shared single dividing brick wall, with fabricated inserts on the front (and presumably rear) – this was a common housebuilding technique of the day. The row could be easily extended.

Note the rear of the house on Silver Street; marked on the map, it must have been demolished and the end four units added to take advantage of the space. There must be a record of that somewhere…

I’ve come to the conclusion that Silver Court was added to this map probably before it was fully built; possibly before it was constructed at all, and that by the time it came to be constructed, it was extended to the north. Do any mapping geeks know if that’s common practice? Outwardly, the materials used in Silver Court are uniform, and don’t show any signs of later modification.

You can’t always trust a map… even the fine ones the Ordnance survey produces, so beware.

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This imagery from Bing! Maps shows that Silver Court, bottom left, is anything but symmetrical which is not how the map above shows it to be. Anyone know the story? Click for a larger version.


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9 Responses to Silver caught?

  1. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    many thanks..Most appreciated

  2. Edwina. says:

    How very strange, wonder why that happened, wonder who was responsible and wonder what if any are the consequences to future planning and is that why we have such weird twists and turns in our country? Probably wouldn’t happen now with google earth and the suchlike, but I wonder??? As you can probably tell I know nothing of these things …

  3. ohsimone says:

    This looks like the 1962 OS – the 1968 series has the full 10 blocks. I think I’d probably agree with your conclusion that the blocks were added to the map while under construction. I guess you’d need a dig in the Archives to see if approval was granted in stages…

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  6. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Brownhills Urban District Council minutes
    Meeting of the Council 9th January 1957
    minute 677 Rents of new Houses under construction
    inclusive rents of all post-war bungalows shall be
    1 bedroom..20/- per week, 2 bedroom bungalows, 23/- per week
    That the net weekly rents of post war non bungalow type houses and flats.. be
    ;- 2 bedroom..31/.9d, 3 bedroom.34/11d
    2 bedroom flats..29/9d .
    and that cases of extreme hardship shall be treated on their merits”


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  9. Mandy Adshead says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for the photo of the building of Silver Court as I, even though very small, can see my Dad working away on the roof. Much appreciated.

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