Oh brave new world

One of the most loved and respected contributors to the Brownhills Blog is the great Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove, historian, commenter, author, poet and honorary Grandfather of the blog.

Reg regularly digs out stuff for the blog, and it’s with pleasure I can share the press clippings below about the very beginnings of Chasewater as a municipal park rather than a post-industrial canal feeder reservoir it was then, and the big dreams our civic fathers had, yet as time proved not the experience to implement.

Chasewater did have festivals in the 60s and 70s. This image for one in June, 1970 was kindly shared by David Hodgkinson.

Reg gave the following clippings to David Evans who kindly transcribed them for us. Note that Brownhills Council didn’t buy the reservoir or land outright, the actual arrangement in practice was complicated, and still is. The actual ownership of Chasewater was then complex and one day I’ll research it fully. it is of course now in the care of Staffordshire County Council since Lichfield District Council baled out of the dam works in 2011.

We’ve touched on this before in this article, with more optimism from the council of the day, and old pal of the blog Stuart Cowley remembered his childhood at Chasewater fondly in this article here and a follow up here.

The articles are below:

Brownhills Council to buy Norton Pool for public lido
Express and Star, 14 July 1955
Scheme to convert Norton Pool, a spacious stretch of water between Brownhills and Chasetown into a public lido, was carried a stage further at Brownhills Urban District Council’s meeting last night. rejecting an amendment for reference back, the council approved purchase of the pool, with adjacent cottages, from the British Transport Commission for £ 5830.

It was also decided to constitute all the councillors a Norton Pool Development Committee “ to go fully into all matters concerning the acquisition, development and amenities of the pool”
Councillor Dr F R Roberts becomes chairman of this committee
After referring to coal still to be mined under the reservoir and to other technical considerations relating to the proposed development Councillor Harrison, a former surveyor to the council, urged that these proposals should be gone into before the council purchased the property and not after.

“The history of the pool, he said” was not encouraging. years ago there was attempt to popularise it with  service of manually operated paddle boats. They ended in decay, submerged in the pool. Next a yachting club was formed but this died a natural death” Pointing out that the council also had under consideration schemes for developing Holland Park, provision of a sports centre and public baths and sewerage schemes for Brownhills and Walsall Wood, Councillor Harrison said he did not think the district could stand a million pounds expenditure without one copper’s increase in rateable value.
Norton Pool, now Chase Water begins a new life
Local press report 11 May 1956
Known for generations as Norton Pool, the reservoir water covering about 200 acres bounded by Brownhills, Chasetown and Norton Canes – was christened Chase Water on Saturday.

Dr F R Roberts, chairman of the Brownhills Urban District Council’s Norton Pool development Committee, which by stages is to transform the water and surrounding land into a lido, confessed to a “genuine thrill” when he renamed the pool which publicly launched his committee’s venture

Surrounded by unkempt land and disfigured by a background of pitheads and pitmounds, Norton Pool had admittedly been of unprepossessing appearance, but a vision of what Chase Water is destined to become was conjured up by Dr Roberts.

Describing the council’s plans to provide an attraction for the whole of South Staffordshire. Dr Roberts said improvements to come included adequate approach roads, screens of trees to conceal unsightly vistas, seven miles of pleasure walks around the shores, interspersed by lawns and flower beds, swimming facilities, a paddling pool, a model yacht pool and chalets and refreshment pavilions.

 Veritable paradise

Welcoming the council’s guests Councillor H V Fereday, chairman of the Brownhills Council said his aim was to convert what had been a desolate place into a “ veritable paradise , not spoiled by coconut shies, skittle alleys and the like. We have the advantage that this place belongs to the community and we have no vested interests to placate or compensate”

A vision

“We of the development committee have seen a vision and intend to pursue it and bring it to reality. There is much to be done, but we are convinced this enterprise can and will be a source of joy to all who use it.”

Representatives of neighbouring local authorities were among the Brownhills Council’s guests and the many water sports enthusiasts present included members of Cannock Chase Sailing Club and South Staffordshire Hyroplane club. Exceptionally squally conditions caused several craft to capsize during a programme, which included a yachting race and displays of other craft.

There are some interesting questions here, which I’ll leave readers to muse on mostly, but I am intrigued by the mention of South Staffordshire Hydroplane Club. What happened to them?

To go with this, here’s an image from Lichfield District Council’s archive, supplied by top council officer Gareth Thomas in 2012. It was taken from a general aerial survey of the area undertaken for the council, so catching Chasewater busy was coincidental.

This picture was taken on June 9th, 1963. It was a Sunday, and Chasewater – was packed. A big funfair is on the go, boats are on the water and there are cars and people everywhere. I note the water level to be quite low. It’s quite late in the afternoon looking at the shadows, which are being cast to the east.

This is clearly a special event – does anyone know what it was?

Taken on Sunday, 9th June, 1963, and reproduced by kind permission of Lichfield District Council, 2012. Click for a larger version. A full quality PDF can be downloaded below.

Chasewater and Brownhills, Sunday 9th June 1963

Comments are invited as always. Comment here, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. You can always of course tug my sleeve on social media.

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3 Responses to Oh brave new world

  1. Stuart Cowley says:

    Interesting pic. I’d have been 3 at the time. It had used to get that busy to be honest, to the point where coaches were turned away and there would be a line of cars waiting to go in all the way up to the A5. If it was the 24 hour boat race that was on then there used to be large marquees for the events and I can’t see those. Interesting for me is picking out the second cafe that used to open up when it got busy. To the left of the image below the roadway just before the road is at a right angle. Really just one large counter with outside seating and a toilet block each end.You wouldn’t even know that it had been there now. Also interesting is the Bloxham cottages by the canal and image of the drift mine wall, following that line to the other side of the path you can see where it collapsed.

  2. Reg Fullelove says:

    i may be wrong but apart from the power boat festival wasant there a big dragon boat festival held there

  3. Pingback: Chasewater – what of the far pavilion? | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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