The dead pool?

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1883 Ordnance Survey 1:10,000 map from NLS archive showing a lost pool by the ‘o’ in Walsall Wood. Click for a larger version.

The young David Evans has of late been having one of his periodic rumination on the physical geography of Walsall Wood, that have previously proved so popular here on the blog – previously he’s looked for long-forgotten watercourses, the legendary Walsall Wood fault and recalled the commons and heaths before the housing was built here.

David has been mentioning in emails to me a lost pool in Walsall that would today lie under the area of the small row of shops just off Salters Road, between Streets Corner and the Vigo Road Junction. True to form, he’s been taking a look at the mapping and come up with another wonderfully thought-provoking article.

Just one note – the historic landfill record (which is fascinating to peruse on the Environment Agency website) has nothing on this, although it’s hardly surprising if no records were kept. Have a poke around and see what you can find.

Thanks to David, and if you have anything to add, please do – either comment here or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

David Evans wrote:

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1884 paper copy or a similar map, showing the pool near the top of the image, Click for a larger version. Image supplied by David Evans.

Salters Road had new council houses built along it in the 1930s and we have seen that the brook was culverted at around that time, when Oak Road and Coronation Roads were constructed.

Along the bottom of the back gardens of some of the houses in Coronation Road, which adjoined those houses in Salters Road, there was a dry ditch, which was a wonderful place for the local children like me to explore.

The old cottage, with the wooden shed and shops, where Mr Jones Butcher’s stood, is where the newer row of shops is today on Salters Road.

But, certainly in post war years, there was no pool, as marked on the maps above – just an empty ditch that led seemingly to nowhere. Like the brook which ‘disappeared down a drain on must have gone to Australia‘, we children could not fathom this mystery .

Perhaps Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler or David Oakley have a likely answer to its demise!

Interestingly, since the Vigo is a former landfill, it’s intriguing to note the following from the Friday, 13th September 1901 copy of The Lichfield Mercury, spotted by Environmental correspondent Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler:

AN AWKWARD MATTER – The Clerk read a letter from Messrs. Shelton, Walker and Taylor, complaining that the Council had been depositing rubbish on King’s Hayes Farm, Walsall Wood, close to the road, and giving the Council 7 days notice to remove the rubbish and not to trespass on the land again.

The Surveyor reported that he had visited the spot and found that some hundreds of loads of rubbish there. It would be a big job to move it. The night soil foreman (Mr. Harrison) was called upon to explain, and said the rubbish had been tipped there for the last ten years.  A complaint was recently made and none had since been deposited there. The Clerk was directed to reply that the work of removal was proceeding.

So the question kind of remains, what on earth did they do with all that rubbish?

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This view shows an interesting round clump of trees, just where the pool once existed. Imagery from Google Maps. Click for a larger version.

Perhaps we have found the ghost of the long-lost pool, and the likely reason for its demise.

David
April 2016

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5 Responses to The dead pool?

  1. alvin cox says:

    I remember a brook that that ran down the side of brook lane behind the then Collins Parcel Delivery Depot it used to enter from under the houses of laburnam rd, from what i was told it started up on Sandhills above Holly Lane but were it went from Brook Lane i do not know

  2. I think there was a pool down there somewhere as I remember as a young girl being on a raft on there.

  3. Must have been in your back garden David

  4. david oakley says:

    Hi Bob.
    “Dy’hear ? Don’t go near that muck-tip, and keep away from that pool ! Yes, mam,” I answered, gulping down the last of my breakfast jam sandwich, before setting out to join the rest of my young associates who I knew had received the same instruction that very morning. I made my way to the forbidden entertainments, with mam’s veto crossing my young mind like a fleecy cloud momentarily crossing the sun.
    We’d always had a muck-tip and a pool, just off Salters Road, just as we’d always had a rather vast common and a glorious flat field for football on the other side. I was glad that the recent research by Pedro, has indicated the likely early beginnings for this landfill. Between Salters Road and Brook Lane there stretched a low- lying, somewhat marshy terrain and my earliest memory is of seeing Council muckcarts building up this territory with ashes and other debris from local dustbins. After a good ‘ferk’ among this smelly debris, brushing aside old salmon tins and condensed milk tins, one could sometimes find some small article for which an householder could find of no further use This would be held up in triumph, frenzied digging all over the tip, would be the result. In an effort to legitimise my visits, as a six- year old, I had once suggested to mam. “Mam, let me go to the mucktip and I’ll bring back all sorts of good things.” I was somewhat bewildered when this turned into the family joke, and even in later years, when the mucktip was no more and Coronation Road had taken its place, my plea to visit the mucktip sounded in my ears more that once, and the ironical laughter that followed it.
    I remember the pool quite well. Modest in proportion, but oh, the fun we had in the summer, paddling and splashing about. The pool was no more than two feet deep at its deepest end, which meant that a youngster in short trousers, which most of us wore, could wade across with just the edge of his trousers getting slightly damp. Various methods of locomotion were tried, dustbin lids sank without trace, the moment you sat on them. The pool was too shallow for swimming but there was a camaraderie there. You belonged.
    As the landfill progressed, the pool began to shrink, until all was covered in. In later years, when I have thought about it, I have wondered if the pool was an ancient sandpit, attracting the water as being low lying. My reason for this is that on the common there were two sandpits, one featured on the map, two scars on the common, no more, about three feet deep. Never commercially worked, but useful for local people who needed a little sand or a bit of clay. We kids patronised them regularly, making clay models of all sorts of things, for baking in the oven if you could sneak them in. David Evans mentions a dry ditch. The pool was filled in by ashy landfill, which absorbing the water would, when dry, form a subsequent contraction The ditch ? Pure speculation, of course, but on your next visit, David, listen carefully, you may hear children’s voices and laughter, echoing through the years, 80 years or more ago, if so, you’ve found it. !!
    In conclusion, may I say that a six-year old today, would never be given the freedom that we were given, and rightly so, but this was the ‘30’s, remember, The side streets were so quiet, so devoid of motor traffic that football could be enjoyed with the ball only rarely ‘picked up’ and girls could skip with ropes stretched across the street. Many girls and even boys were ‘baby minders’ and would take the younger members of the family out of doors for long periods. The street was more like an extended family, with members ‘looking out’ for each other. Everybody felt safe. I cannot remember any tragedy involving unsupervised youngsters in Salters Road. We were a hardy, happy lot.

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