Picture this: A Chasewater childhood

Drawn from memory – the old South Shore cafe at Chasewater, as it was before the innovation centre was built in the late 90s. Remember the big windows well. Drawing generously shared by Stuart Cowley.

A wonderful one reached me yesterday morning from old pal of the blog Stuart Cowley, whose memories of growing up at Chasewater in the 1960s and 70s have been some of the most popular posts in the history of the blog.

You can read the first one here and the second one here.

Out of the blue, Stuart drew the above sketch of the cafe there from memory. That’s the one on the south shore where he used to work, and I remember it well, particularly the outdoor seating area with the low wall. The building survives to this day, but not many people realise, it does so as the Ranger’s Hut near the back of the craft workshops.

Stuart wrote:

Now here’s something for the weekend. I’ve commented before on the blog about my memories of the cafe over Chasewater.

It’s where I spent most of my weekends in the summers of the 60s and early 70s on account of my mom, nan and sister working there. It’s where I got my first pay packet of a bag of thrupney bits aged about 9 for clearing tables.

Many happy memories.

So with walking over there and reminiscing the other weekend I thought I’d have a go at drawing from memory and comparing it to a photo as it is today. So all of it used to be a sit down cafe with half of it converted to an amusement arcade at some point in the 80s. Keep in mind I’ve not done anything arty in about 40 years but it will give you some idea.

That’s absolutely fantastic, Stuart, and I thank you for it, and I’m sure it will jog memories – but I’d love to see some photos. There must be loads out there in family collections and so forth.

I’ve included the second of his Chasewater memories posts below, to jog memories – and those pictures, too – they really are wonderful images. If you have anything to share, please do – either comment here on this post, tug my coat on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!

How many passing by realise this anonymous hut was once a cafe and amusement arcade? Image kindly supplied by Stuart Cowley.

Original post:

Regulars will remember that recently, I featured a post from reader Stuart Cowley, who generously recounted his memories of of summers spent in and around Chasewater, where his family worked at the cafe in the 1960s.

Stuart’s piece garnered much great feedback, and in response, last week he was good enough to venture into the loft, and recover some family snapshots. I think you’ll agree, they’re rather wonderful. I recall that bungalow – I’d forgotten all about it. The picture of the ladies in the serving hatch is splendid, and beautifully redolent of the period.

Thank you to Stuart for taking the time, and if anyone else has anything they’d like to share, please don’t hesitate: comment here, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!

Stuart wrote:

Evening Bob,

Having been up the loft over Christmas I have located some photographs that I mentioned previously in and arround the cafe.

One is of me aged about 6 (1966) stood outside the caretakers bungalow which ajoined the back of the cafe.


Picture generously supplied by Stuart Cowley.

Another is of some of the staff including my sister Angela  (nearest the camera) looking outside of one of the serving kiosks, again about 1966

This kiosk was at the back of the cafe overlooking the seated terraced area.

002 - Version 4

Picture generously supplied by Stuart Cowley.

The photograph at the kiddies section of the permanent fair was taken about 1964  looking from the back of the fair facing the lake.

The one of me stood at the wall would have been 1969 ish.

These photos are colour with the exception of the one at the fair but I couldn’t figure out the scanner so appologies for that.

002 - Version 2

Picture generously supplied by Stuart Cowley.

The original cafe had two large seating areas with a large L shaped serving counter .

Big windows at the back overlooked the sun terrace, ornamental pond, then large lawned area dropping down towards the lake (later pitch and put)

There was also an outside kiosk between the sun terrace and pond.

The St johns ambulance room was based in its own room at the end of the building, that’s where you see the flag flying on the cine clip that ypu put on the website.

002 - Version 3

Picture generously supplied by Stuart Cowley.

The permanent fun fair consisted of (looking from the road left to right in the area of the car park now) the kiddies rides, waltzers, dodgems, big wheel , large wooden big dipper, fun house (the fun house backed on to the go kart track). other arcades and stalls ran along the back.

In the mid to late 70’s the fair dissapeard, the cafe was turned in to a large amusement arcade with small snack serving area and a new kiosk opened at the front, other kiosks were closed down.

Hope that all helps to build the picture


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6 Responses to Picture this: A Chasewater childhood

  1. Ivor Sperring says:

    About 1953/54 I pitched my two man tent on the banks of Chasewater, the side nearest to the A5. I stayed there for about 2 weeks in the long summer holiday from school. While I was there I was befriended by some members of a sub aqua club, I think they were from Birmingham. They were very generous to me and I had great time simply being there, watching these people and listening to what they had to say. It was an unforgettable time,

  2. paul brevitt says:

    i remember the caretaker who lived in the bungalow attached to the cafe by the main gate is name was sam cann’t remember his other name he used to pay me and my brother half a crown to pick litter up around chasewater. My dad duse to collect money off the cars at the hednesford road gate .

  3. Clive says:

    Good sketch new where it was with out explanation, spent some time in the first aid room (far right out of sketch view) stepped on some broken glass which was in the water by the castle.

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