The Parade route

There’s been a lot of interest and responses to my post on Saturday posing questions from Doug Birch MBE about Holland Park, the Black Path and The Parade, Brownhills.

Brownhills from the south east, looking broadly north, on April 12th, 1926. Image from the ‘Britain from Above’ archive. Click for a larger version.

We have more or less established from the fruits of the great Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler’s research that The Parade as we know it came into existence around 1928-1932 and appears to have replaced an old footpath, itself on the route of an old mine tramway which ran from Watling Street to Brownhills.

Well, thanks to eagle-eyed reader and old pal of the blog, we can actually see what the common looked like before the parade and Holland Park were constructed in 1926 – Aerofilms took a shot of that end of Brownhills in their local overhead run in 1926 – and what it shows it quite remarkable.

Now that the Aerofilms Archive allows viewing in high resolution, I’ve been able to zoom in to that area of Brownhills Common. What it actually shows is a barren, treeless heath with Watling Street School and the old St Thomas Mission Church upper left, the former Council House – now the Parkview Centre – left of bottom.

Running between the two is not a road but a track, apparently following some kind of embankment.

The area of Holland Park and The Parade zoomed in from the image above. Click for a larger version.

The black path clearly exists, and seems very close to its current route. To the west of what would become The Parade, there is some scarring which, as Geof Harrington said, could indeed by a rubbish tip or spoil dump.

There’s no sign of a building or cottage on the common. What is truly astounding about this compared to today is how open and devoid of trees Brownhills was then.

The one thing I would like to know is about the tramway: Where did is start and end, whom did it serve and where? I can’t think of a logical reason for it but it must have coat a lot to build, so it was clearly important to someone. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Thanks to Stuart for the spot. If you spot something interesting, or have any kind of input do share: Comment on this post, tug my coat on social media or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

This turn of the century 1:1,250 mapping shows no Parade as such, but several routes over the common, one, closest to the current road, appearing to be on some sort of embankment. The origins of the Black Path can be seen too. Mapping from the NLS Archive; click for a large version.
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11 Responses to The Parade route

  1. DaveD says:

    Is the triangle in the top center the knaves castle reservoir feeding the canal

  2. Pedro says:

    The newspaper report in the first article mentions the route across the Brownhills Common as “high mob.” Would this be the same as the “Black path?”

  3. Pedro says:

    February 1883 Mr. Roberts announced that a special committee had inspected the roads across the common and had decided to recommend a footpath along the edge of the common, over the bridge at the Boundary of the Public Buildings, and continue up the old tramway side to the level, and thence into Watling Street.

    (This could be the FP to the right of The Parade.)

  4. Graham says:

    I’m wondering if the tramway predates the railway and ran from a local pit down to the canal?

    Others will know the lie of the land better than me but, given the dead straight line and the effort made to build embankments and make cuttings, could it have had an incline down to the canal. It may even have been a steam hauled cableway?

    Whatever it is, as Bob observes, it is a very well engineered and expensive feature.

  5. Alan Harrison says:

    Graham is probably right,

    There used also to be a substantial mineral railway system around Essington, The most prominent remaining feature is probably the embankment, now used as a footpath, running across fields near Blackhalve Lane. There is also a footpath survival visible by the site of a former level crossing on the A4124 at New Invention.

    The system’s only link with the national railway network was on the Walsall-Rugeley line near Broad Lane. South of New Invention the mineral line connected with the canal.

  6. Pingback: The Brownhills tramway to nowhere – a railway expert writes | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  7. Pingback: The lost Brownhills tramway: Did they give a dam? | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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