Gathering moss

Rather rough 1921 1:10,000 Ordnance Survey plot of Shelfield/High Heath. Click for a larger version.


The Clayhanger subsidence and pumping station thread seems to have provoked much interest in the past week. There has been a great deal of reader comment, and I have further bits to add to the story in coming days.

One email I had did stand out, though, from Laurence Thacker. Laurence asked the following question, and I haven’t a clue as to the answer.

Laurence wrote:

Hi Bob,

I have just been reading your latest piece ‘Fighting a losing battle’ and it reminded my of a story told by my grandfather about an involvement his relative had with the building of a similar works in Shelfield in the mid/late1800’s.

Having done a little searching I discovered you had already posted a piece about the site at Mosspits earlier.

The story we were told about the sewage works, tells of a local business entrepreneur who apparently paid to build the facility only to run into problems when a brick storage tank cracked and rendered the plant inoperable, although the exact details are not known, it was said to have led to the bankruptcy of the individual and the plant being left unusable.

We think the family involved, either as the sole owner or possibly an investor, was a Mr. Williams who was born and lived in Pelsall.

Unfortunately there is no documentary evidence to support this account so offer this only as a possible lead as to the origin of the site.

Best regards,
Laurence Thacker.

This is fascinating, and we still know relatively little about Mosspits, so I think you can guess what I’m going to ask: what can we find out about this lost pumping station, and if there is any verity to this bit of interesting oral history?

Please, do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

While we’re about it, reader Peter has been thinking laterally about Silver Court and noticed something remarkable, and I’ve also had some interesting input from Walsall Council, who own the building. That one really isn’t straightforward.

In the mean time, however, Peter reminded me indirectly of an image I’d forgotten, sent to me by Brian Stringer a couple of years ago.


Brian believes this image originates from around 1952. Click for a larger version.

There’s a post here discussing this remarkable image. The interesting thing is it shows the pumping station and the encroaching floodwater – from this it can be seen that the railway embankment did seem to be acting as a ‘dam’ for the rest of the village. Note that the houses mentioned in the 1952 newspaper article have gone. Is there any way we can nail this down? Brian is specific about the dates, so I’m wondering if this is from 53-54.

Thanks to peter for spotting that. As they say, stay tuned…


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5 Responses to Gathering moss

  1. Pedro says:

    There are about 40 odd mentions of Mosspits in the Lichfield Mercury from about 1906 to 1913, and a couple in 1921.

    1912..the Streets and Sanitary Committee recommend that the existing engine and pumping plant be overhauled and guard rails be fixed round the engines at Mosspits, and Allbutts Road…

    Anything specific?

  2. Pedro says:

    Finance Committee April 1906…Mosspits sewage and purchase of land, £550.

    November 1906…that Messrs Willcox and Raikes be notified…in connection with Mosspits sewerage , the District Council had no objection to Mr Cunliffe proceeding with the contract, at the beginning of next year; that the question of laying a duplicate sewer towards the sewage farm from the hydraulic main at Clayhanger be deferred at present, owing to mining subsidences…

  3. Pedro says:

    April 1883, the Board then proceeded to Clayhanger and met Mr S Bailey in reference to compensation for land taken for sewage works.

    March 1884…Alderman Coxon and the sewage farm committee had visited the property adjoining the sewage farm, on Saturday last, and they never saw the land in a worse state. The stream was stanked above by the riparian owners, and the brook was somewhere about 18 inches above the outfall…

  4. Pingback: Following the map – those abbreviations in full | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  5. Maria smith says:

    Hi Brownhills bob.Is there any chance you could point out on the ariel picture of Clayhanger,which is high st.And which is Church st please only my family come from Clayhanger ,The Ansells and lived at number 4,Church st,if I remember correctly and I’ve forwarded this photo to my sister in law in Canada who’s husband,my brother,Michael Edwards was one of the sons of Lily Edwards,Daughter of Tom and Sara Ansell.Michael sadly passed away last year and I’m trying to find out different things for my sister in law Steph.I believe you and Michael were in touch on line at some point? Thank you for your great info on Brownhills and Clayhanger,it’s great for me too having now lost most of my family….

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