The shed of pyrotechnical delights

The magazine and Walsall Wood Colliery would now be in the car park of the Oak Park Centre. Image from 1915 1:2,500 mapping. Click for a larger version.


Following Chris Smith’s great enquiry about his family and connections with Walsall Wood Colliery last week, I’ve had a great submission from old friend of the blog Charles Street who realised there was a fleeting image of the pit explosives magazine in a film he submitted to the blog a few years ago.

Lots of locals – lads, in particular – commented on social media that they tried to get into the building and to the pyrotechnical wonders inside. I’d wager it’s a good job they never managed it – but it has stirred some amusing and fun memories out there.

The magazine, as the map shows and you all agreed, stood on what is now Oak Park Active Living Centre’s car park and stored high explosive for use in the mine. There were similar structures at other local pits.

The explosives store as caught in a home cinefilm recorded by Charles Street’s father, Kindly supplied by Charles.

Charles said:

Hi Bob

Please find attached a picture of the old explosives store, this is a still from my Dad’s home movie taken around 1965.
Sorry the quality isn’t great but it shows the explosives store which the building in the foreground and the (then) newly built council houses along Brownhills Road in the background.
I remember the explosive stores as a kid, my dad reckoned it was in the middle of the field on the premise if it ever blew up it would do no damage other than to the shed it was stored in, as the houses were well back from the field.

If seems despite my scepticism, these things were a lot moire secure than it would appear!

This fragment from 1:10,000 mapping in 1884 between Norton Pool (Chasewater) and Watling Street shows a magazine in the fields behind what is now Highfield Farm. Click for a larger version.

You can see Chas’s original video, recorded by his father and posted on the blog some years ago blow – thanks as ever to Chas for a great, thought-provoking submission which I’m sure will provoke debate.

If you have anything to add, please do: either comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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4 Responses to The shed of pyrotechnical delights

  1. Chris Smith says:

    Thank you Chas. I was told that the location was to ensure an explosion would not affect the surrounding area. As a kid I believed it, but now I would be very sceptical.

  2. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    memories of the pit ponies in that field off Brownhills Road during the mine close- down for the two weeks’ summer holiday. The ponies were blind folded.
    kind regards and many thanks for this splendid article

  3. Sharon Collins says:

    I remember, after the pit closed there was a coal truck left on the old rail track. We used push it up to Thacker Barrows bridge, the girls would clamber inside and lads would all push together, as soon as it started to move they too jumped in and we rode it down to Walsall Wood station. The tracks were there for a while, we spent many happy hours there. There was also great a couple of pools, I think they had been part of some sidings, which got dug up. Lots of newts and frogs, cause they have gone now but great innocent fun, no fights and lots of laughter.

  4. Rob Bird says:

    My Grandfather looked after the pit ponies. My mother used to feed them. I remember making a den under the railway bridge in Walsall Wood in the mid 70’s. Think it has been made into a walk way now. Lived in one of the houses opposite the field throughout the 70’s. I was at school with one of the Thacker’s at Shire Oak.

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