I’ve long been interested here in the lost chemical works in Brownhills that once produced tar and cleaning chemicals, and latterly scrapped old aeroplanes and military waste for the valuable metal alloys they contained.
The adjacent area of canal has always locally been known as ‘The Chemical’.
In the scrapyard days, Super Alloys as it was known was a magnet for local kids and tatters alike, and often had an interesting array of decaying military waste around the building.
One of the things it was most notable for, though, was the huge chimney that was a landmark visible for miles. It was finally demolished in 1987. The site is now, after a long period of dereliction, a warehouse for the Castings company.
Recently, in the whole heap of stuff donated by Sir Gerald of Reece to the blog, he sent some really clear photos of the Super Alloys stack being demolished, which I intersperse through this post. They are wonderful and I can’t think where I was when this happened, but I certainly missed it.
I also think that the curious image I featured here on Saturday was the remainder of the smelting furnaces at the site after demolition.
Gerald Reece had this to say about The Chemical in his book ‘Brownhills A Walk Into History’, which he features the following passage.
Brownhills Chemical Works opened in 1870. In its early days it was a chemical plant producing acids and other coal based derivatives. It took some of its raw material from the Gasworks in High Street. The Chemical Plant took on many guises during its lifetime. One of its functions during and after the 1939-45 war was to recycle the scrap alloys from crashed aircraft. Brownhills Smelters was formed on 2nd December 1947. They were superseded by Super Alloys. When this Company went out of business the buildings were allowed to fall into an unsightly and unsafe condition. The Chimney, ‘The Chemi Stack’, a landmark for 120 years was felled in 1987. The demolition was carried out by Colin Jones of Porthmadog.
Now somewhere else (and I can’t for the life of me think where) it’s been stated that the famous chimney at the factory, pictured above beeing blown up, had the charge detonated by someone local who entered a competition to do it. Who was it? Possibly a local child?
Gerald has also asserted that a number of souvenir hand bells – which are surprisingly common – were cast out of metal recovered by Super Alloys and sold as mementoes. You can read about that here.
Local historian Clive Roberts stated in his book ‘Snippets of History in and around Brownhills’ that for a while, before the war, the factory produced tar and the like, which would tie in with the gas works; but I’m also under the impression that Brawns of Home Farm Sandhills had something to do with the factory in the early days.
Obviously, I’m interested in anything you have to add here. You can comment on this post, tug my sleeve on social media or email me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.
Years ago, I wrote a post enquiring about the war scrap days, postwar and in to the 1980s, after finding some photos on an aviation forum – you can read the original post here. Forum contributor Wildcat back in 2006 said:
I spent many hours ‘browsing’ around the Super Alloys yard in the mid/late 60’s. What a treasure trove, if only I had realised exactly what I was playing with.
Entry as Matt said was from the rear ( I went in round the back of the ‘egg factory’). A couple of menacing dogs kept most away, but for reasons unknown they were always friendly to me and little brother. I remember seeing a few cockpits/fuselages as well as Anson Mainplanes and a large white fuselage under a canopy.
Nuff of the memory lane waffling, hears a couple of pics from the front of the yard. The condition of the Javelins is remarkably tidy ( doubt they had been there long) What price those fuselages today!!
I also found the images below on Flickr. in user Bobdcuk’s stream, from 1979: