These chains…


Norton Canal closure plan from 5th April 1963 – subsidence and water loss combined with the closure of mines had made the navigation untenable. Image courtesy of Ian Pell, via Philip Burton. Click for a larger version.

A quick one for Sunday, and the mapping and canal aficionados out there – a wonderful donation to the local history community reached me a few weeks ago from the wonderful Ian Pell, via the great generosity of Norton Canes historian Philip Burton, who found the  remarkable bus image featured here last year.

Philip said:

Hi Bob

Please find enclosed plans with the following info from Ian:

The canal was closed by an Act of Parliament dated 5th April 1963 and the accompanying plan is annotated with notes regarding the filling in of the canal in 1963.

The plan also gives some more recent works annotated in red.

The Norton Branch Plan is dated 4th December 1920 although this is clearly a revision of the 1890s original.

These maps are 2-chain plans created by the various railway companies’ Estates departments to illustrate neighbouring land ownership, line features, etc. The second plan of the ‘New Conduit Sidings’, the Colliery sidings, the Five Ways Branch and the Norton Mineral line was drafted in 1897.

The detail on these plans are far superior and detailed from those of OS. Just imagine they were created using a 2 chain length of chain, etc. and then hand drawn and in some cases coloured. Truely wonderful.

Kindest regards

I adore this type of plan, and have featured a few here before including one of The Conduit in Norton and a fascinating plan of Walsall Wood Colliery operations under the adjacent railway.

Thanks so much to Phil and Ian for passing them on – and I’d point out to readers that Phil’s Norton History website is thriving, as is the associated Facebook Group.

Anything to add? Please do comment or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.


Norton Colliery Sidinds in a December 1920 plan. The detail on this is extraordinary. Image kindly supplied by Ian Pall and shared with the blog by Philip Burton. Click for a larger version.

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1 Response to These chains…

  1. Ian Pell says:

    I had hoped Phil had copied you the plans. Glad to see he did and that they can be enjoyed by the blog.

    I always enjoy the amount of detail which can be gained from these maps. There is usually a written index of adjoining ownership which accompanies the maps which adds further details. It is also worth remembering that copying of such maps was originally not easy and amendments were hard to untake. In many cases, the copies we have, while printed in the 1920’s were being added to by hand written notes well into the 1960’s! It also shows how much of the original infrastructure was still going in the 1960’s, little changed from its original construction.

    The more observant will notice that the bridge which carried a tramway and then a track under the line between Norton Green Colliery (Conduit No.4) and the canal has two Bridge Numbers. This was because it was actually two bridges; No. 10 was on the original Norton Branch which terminated in the dead-end sidings on the rigth of the map; No.15 was part of the numbering for the Norton Extension branch to East Cannock Junction. The original line was numbered from Norton Junction; the extension from East Cannock Junction! The Five Ways branch although having bridges did not appear to have been given numbers.

    The Norton Branch suffered throughout its life from underground fires and subsidence as a result of mining activity. Unlike parts of the South Staffs line, the railway company did not consider it worth protecting the line by “owning” the mining rights under its formation. The canal suffered even more badly and its fate was actually sealed by subsidence, along with declining traffic from coal mining which was actually causing the problem in the first place! Ironic?

    Kind regards

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