Growing up in Clayhanger – Pear trees and rising water

clayhanger

Clayhanger from the air, as Martin Dingle’s grandfather would remember it, in an Aerofilms image supplied previously by Brian Stringer.

One story here that recently prompted much discussion and took me somewhat by surprise was the article by Martin Dingle on the history of the very local Tettenhall Pear – well, Martin’s been back in touch after talking to his Grandfather, and his some great recollections of Clayhanger.

What none of us realised was that there was actually a picture of the Dutton’s Tettenhall pear tree already on the blog!

I’d like to thank Martin and his Grandfather for a great article and welcome anymore he has – Martin also sent me a wonderful piece on Linley Woods which I shall post up as soon as I’m able, but sadly the current rash of news stories has rather disrupted the schedule.

One further question, Martin. Dingle Road in Clayhanger. Any connection?

Please comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com – thanks to Martin for a really interesting curiosity.

Martin wrote:

Hi Bob,

Another update for you regarding the Tettenhall Pear story.

We spoke to my grandfather over the weekend and he was very touched by the article on your blog.

We managed to print off an old map of Clayhanger and tried to work out the relative position of his house compared to the Tettenhall tree in question. It turns out this conversation tied in several of your former stories and blogs.

map-clayhanger-2

Martin and Grandfather’s annotated map – click for a larger version.

Firstly, my grandfather was born in the row of houses by Clayhanger bridge which subsided and were eventually demolished. I have since read up on this and have seen it has been widely discussed across your pages. I would very much like to hear from anybody who was also living in these houses at this time. There are posts and comments on your pages suggesting readers were present there at this time. Going on from this, it then transpires that the house in question possessing the Tettenhall pear tree is none other than the Dutton house adjacent to the canal. A quick search across your pages again revealed information on this (and how it had subsided) but best of all the photographs you have of this house show THE ACTUAL TREE! It is to the left of the house when looking at it from the canal side. Pretty overwhelming for my grandfather to see, so thank you very very much for that memory.

Dutton's House. Long gone when I was a kid, when the tip operated, this was a cutting, like a bund around the refuse mounds, full of brackish water and a lone, decaying telegraph pole tilted at 45 degrees. I have several reasons to doubt the claims about such axcessive subsidence. One sees this claim bandied about a huge amount, and subsidence locally remains a massive problem, but there isn't 'twenty feet' of house below the embankment there, more like ten, and large buildings dont generally subside evenly, yet the roof is still die straight. Taken from 'Memories of Old Brownhills' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

Dutton’s House. Long gone when I was a kid, when the tip operated, this was a cutting, like a bund around the refuse mounds, full of brackish water and a lone, decaying telegraph pole tilted at 45 degrees. I have several reasons to doubt the claims about such axcessive subsidence. One sees this claim bandied about a huge amount, and subsidence locally remains a massive problem, but there isn’t ‘twenty feet’ of house below the embankment there, more like ten, and large buildings dont generally subside evenly, yet the roof is still die straight. Taken from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

So my granddad was actually born in the last house in the row next to Clayhanger railway bridge – by last I mean the one nearest to the bridge itself. In one of your blogs there is a picture showing this house having just been demolished. It sits as a pile of rubble. I have shown him all of these pictures. He also remembers sitting on/playing around the ‘Sump’ pump opposite in the fields as a child. He said there was a farm in that area and there was a farm track with a gate, and he used to sit on the Sump and whenever the farmer came down the lane he would run and open the gate and the driver would give him a coin. From his story, he tells me the houses were already condemned by the time they moved in, and they had to talk the necessary parties into letting them move in/stay as they could not afford anywhere else at that time. Granddad clearly remembers the back gardens steadily starting to sink away evenly right across the entire row of houses, and over the years the water level rose from the other end of the houses and eventually began to pool up. The flooding started at the far end and worked its way up towards the bridge end, so their house was in fact the last to have a flooded garden. The water levels steadily rose and eventually went around and finally into the back of the houses and by this time the road at the front was also partially submerged. The council told all of the tenants they had to leave, and this process began from the end furthest away from the bridge end. As such our family were the very last to leave. My granddad says as they were climbing on the cart(!) to move their belongings just up the road to their new house (number 21 he recalls as marked on the map) he jumped off and ran back into the house and had one last look in all of the rooms. He still says he can picture them all.

oldtip043_2

Clayhanger was blighted by flooding when this image was captured in the 1950s. Image from ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

He also remembers the Dutton House vividly (thanks for the pictures!) I forgot to ask whether it was ‘higher’ than in the pictures due to the subsidence as widely discussed in your blog so I shall raise this question again, but I should imagine he will be able to easily answer this.

clayhanger-3

Just how much this house sank is open to question. Image from a Walsall Observer news report.

So, we have determined and located the Tettenhall pear tree I was hunting for. I have no idea whether the Dutton house, or the tree, still exist today, but I will be heading up to find out soon. Thank you again for the info in your pages.

Incidentally, over the past couple of years my granddad has been documenting all of the stories of his childhood, growing up in Clayhanger as he wants us all to remember what it was like for him back then. There are pages and pages of very amusing stories, which he has hand-written and my mother has been typing them up for him each week…. this process is still ongoing. we are not too sure what to do with this information at the moment, but we shall see…

Feel free to use any of the above however you see fit.

Best regards,
Martin.

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11 Responses to Growing up in Clayhanger – Pear trees and rising water

  1. Sheila Norris ( nee Jones) says:

    Hi Martin,
    This really is a coincidence! A couple of days ago I told my father that I had bought a crab apple tree for the garden. He told me ( again) that when a child they used to go along the canal to Mrs. Dutton’s house to buy crab apples which she sold, ready bagged, for a few pence each. He has always insisted they were crab apples and that they could be eaten straight from the bag without cooking ( unlikely?) I wonder if they were really these pears or whether the Duttons had other fruit trees too.Dad was born in 1923 so we are probably talking about the early 30s here. He’ll be delighted to see the photo of the house/tree. Please let us know if it and the tree are still there as this was something he was wondering about himself. Thanks for sharing your Granddad’s memories on the Blog. Sheila.

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Martin
    excellent..thank you so much
    kind regards
    David

  3. aerreg says:

    hi shiela dad is correct about the crab apples they were a real treat i also remember the end of the spot common part of clanger island more memories bless you thanks

  4. stuart says:

    Evening all, thank you for this, it got me wondering…my grandfather George Wright of Old Hednesford rd worked for a while at the quarry in Clayhanger I believe, I can’t remember it in my lifetime so it would have been before the early 60s. I also understand that he was buried in an incident that may have caused him to retire early but again can’t be 100% sure. I just wondered what the best bit of reading would be to get some kind of insight in to his world as it would have been at the time.

  5. Clive says:

    Looking at the two photos of the Duttons house by the side of the canal, the tow path as been raised by about two feet between the two date of the photos being taken.
    Big thank you to all involved.

  6. Mary Mayo nee Wood says:

    My grandmother (Mrs Wood) lived in one of the old cottages on the Bridge Street side of Clayhanger Railway Bridge. I have an old address book which gives the number as 10 Bridge Street. I remember the cottages being flooded (late1950’s/early 1960’s). By 1963 my grandmother was living at no 39 Dingle Road.

  7. aerreg says:

    bbbhi mary and my apolagise to those who may be saying not reg again but
    mrs wood was part of my early working days she was a lovey grand lady i could tell and have done over the years spoke of her you see in the old chase town electricty days an important tool was a ladder we knew where we could borrow one when we were working in certain places CLAYHANGER WAS MRS WOODS not only a but a cuppa a good garden and a pig stiy i wont bore you any more except to say the cuppa bacon and runner beans are still in my mind as i write this a lovely person bless you all you will keep stiring my grey matter thank god

  8. Stephnie says:

    Hi all,it’s so lovely to hear all these story’s of clayhanger and see the fantastic pictures people post, it helps to give such a real insight to how things were and have changed. I currently live in clayhanger, and I have recently found out that my great grandad Thomas Meecham also lived in the houses that were alongside the canel and subsided. I would love to hear from anyone who new him or the family, as I never got to meet him myself. Thanks in advance, Steph.

    • Martin Dingle says:

      Yes, my granddad talks about Mr.Meecham often. I will quiz him for you and see what information I can uncover.

      • Martin Dingle says:

        My granddad says Mr Meecham used to keep rabbits… lots of them. When my grandfather visited him as a child Mr. Meecham actually gave him a baby rabbit as a gift and my granddad still keeps rabbits to this day as a result.

  9. aerreg says:

    hi stephanie yes i recall the meachams at clayhager also ron meacham who lived in the small row of houses behind the memoriol hall down barnets lane brownhills i whent to school with ron to use an old phrase clanger island it was because you had to cross water to get in the village my mother was born in the cottage down the garden as you enter bridge street it was a family community in those days every body knew eatch other i can recall other people who lived there mrs wright mr mrs lenton mr mrs clews howdles spring to mind and of coures the posh house of jones which survived the floods yes i was brought up with the tales of clanger the days of the trawford childhood days some stories made your hair curl but also happy days they did not have ritchess but love and care god bless you

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