A shore thing

On Saturday last (9th February 2019) I featured a postcard image here of Norton Pool with a picture of a sailing boat on the water before an ornate pavilion, which I believe to be depicting Chasewater early in the 1900s.

This eBid postcard has prompted much debate.

Well, this raised some debate as I expected it to: People have said they don’t remember this pavilion at all, and anyway, it doesn’t look like Chasewater as there are no chimneys or signs of industry or the dam.

I’m convinced it is Chasewater, and David Evans and a few other people pointed out to me the following map – a 1:10,560 1921 of Chasewater. It shows a Pavillon on the shoreline, about where the sailing club is today.

Chasewater (Then known as Norton Pool colloquially and as Cannock Chase Reservoir officially) as depicted on an Ordnance Survey 1:10560 scale map of 1921. The pavilion is highlighted and I believe the photo was taken in the direction of the arrow from that shore. Image from the National Library of Scotland Archive. Click for a larger version.

The most interesting bit is that it’s on the arm of the lake that projects northeast, today called Fly Bay. It looks very much like to me that the photo was taken from the shore opposite.

Now the photo has quite a narrow field of view, and if you look at the map, You’d not see any chimneys in the field of view. Obviously, there will be one to the left of the image at the pit; but this is a postcard, so I’d imagine they kept it out of shot.

This is clearly the earliest beginning s of a sailing club on the reservoir, the precursor of the one that still exists today in near enough the same spot.

Fly Bay today, with Sailing Club central. Imagery from Apple Maps. Click for a larger version.

Now a couple of people have also raised the question of the steamboat that used to run on Chasewater – Reg mentioned it and David Evans found a familiar image of it in the recent Gerald Reece donation. This photo, which was shared with the blog some years ago by Bill Mayo, shows the steam boat that worked as a passenger ferry for a few years.

SteamboatonNortonPool(2015_02_2811_38_28UTC)
Those legends of a steamboat on Chasewater? Here it is… image courtesy of Bill Mayo, via David Evans – an image also held by Gerald Reece.

We have mentioned the steamboat before, in this article, in which I noted Chasetown publican J. Donaldson was the operator of the ill-fated enterprise to run the steamboat for pleasure trips on what was then Norton Pool; this advert was published in the Lichfield Mercury, as found by Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler.

From the Lichfield Mercury, May 1899.

I believe the author and active local historian Clive Roberts has done a lot of research on the Donaldson steamboat service, and believes it ran for a lot longer than commonly accepted, and also found out that the vessel was most likely built in Brownhills by a factory at Catshill.

Thanks to David and all who contributed to this enquiry – if you have anything to add, please do comment, tug my sleeve on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at goolgemail dot com. Cheers!

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2 Responses to A shore thing

  1. Clive says:

    Hi Bob and readers of the Blog. The steam boat was in service on Norton Pool for over 50 years, not bad going!
    By the way if anyone is interested I have found two books: Old public houses of Brownhills Part 1, and have dropped them off at Brownhills Library..
    Cheers Clive

  2. John Anslow says:

    As you mention in your first piece on this topic, Bob, myths do persist, sometimes resurfacing after years of lying dormant. One such concerns a steamer that sank in the Arboretum lake in Walsall.

    Paul tells me that there was a small pleasure steamer operating on that lake in Edwardian times and that it did indeed sink, though in a shallow region from where it was comparatively easily recovered. The myth of a sunken steamer lying deep in the lake persisted well into the 1970s and can occasionally be heard today.

    Another apocryphal story related to the proposal that a gondola should be bought for the boating lake. Councillor G. W. “Wingy” Warner (who became Mayor of Walsall in 1922) was reputed to have remarked at the meeting where this matter was discussed:

    “I propose we buy two, for brayding pairposes.” *

    This tale could well have been a deliberate piece of mischief put about by the opposition, but it was frequently retold by our grandfather, always with relish and a thickening of his own broad Black Country accent.

    *breeding purposes

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