Scouting out the history

I have been contacted by the Group Chairman of 2nd Brownhills Scout Group, Clive Chapman, who’d like to hear from locals who may have been Scouts, or people who worked with the group over the years – it’s their 100th anniversary next year, and Clive is looking to record the group’s history and organise a celebration event.

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Seam stress

Now, since it’s been a few days of catching up with little bits and pieces, here’s something massive for readers to get their teeth into – this is a historical artefact which I’ve been lucky enough to find, and I’m very excited about it.
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World War One Centenary events in Walsall this Monday

As you will no doubt be aware, it’s the centenary of our entry into World War One on Monday, 4th August 2014, and Walsall Council and other organisations in the borough have arranged some interesting, respectful and well considered events to mark the 100 years.
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Safe as houses?

I’m pleased to say that, somewhat like rust, Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler never sleeps, and his tireless and somewhat relentless pursuit of the evidential history behind some of the commonly accepted ‘authoritative sources’ of local mining history continues unabated.

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Cherished Reg

I’m surprised and delighted to note there’s a rather excellent new blog on the scene, and it features the work of a rather wonderful chap who has previously contributed a huge amount to the Brownhills Blog – Reg Fullelove.

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An electoral deformity

It’s interesting to note that Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler is coming over all iconoclastic again – and I, for one, welcome it, as Peter has a fine record of kicking over the statues of the local mining history – particularly in regard the the Harrison colliery dynasty.
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West of here – welcome to WyrleyBlog

Local historian, researcher and author Clive Roberts has been in touch to alert me of a new blog on the scene – I’d spotted it a few times in my site stats, but not had chance to check it out. It’s actually rather wonderful.
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Vapour trials

The really fascinating thing about curating this blog is the way it inspires people to look into not just history, but the retelling of it; I have been banging on for years that we need to be careful not just of our own accounts and beliefs, but also of those accounts we hold as truths from authoritative sources.

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Swept everything before it

Last weekend, I revisited for the first time in ages the subject that was once so prominent here – Chasewater dam – but not in reference to the recent renovations, but to the creation of the reservoir and the failure of the earthwork dam in 1799.
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When the dam burst

Chasewater has been, as any long-term reader here knows, a continual and recurring obsession of mine – I love the place; I grew up with it, visiting regularly I came to love its air of faded, end-of-the-pier decay and beautiful, often unexpected wildlife.

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Both sides, now

Here’s a thing I’ve been trying to get round to for a while now, but scanning booklets is a time consuming and laborious job – but in this case, very much a worthwhile one.
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A little to the east

Following on from the post ‘Old ground’, reader Mike Armstrong asked for more of the Lichfield and Whittington area – so here you go.

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Old Ground

Here’s some mapping I’ve been meaning to run since reader Peter mentioned it in the comments to the post ‘Keep out of Cotterill’s road’ on Friday last – I may have posted similar before, but if I have, I can’t find a copy.
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Sweet James

That there Clive Roberts – documenter of the history of the Shire Oak Inn and collector of local postcards – has been at it again He’s picked up another postcard of Brownhills at a fair, and mailed me scans of the front and back to post here on the blog.

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Cannock Chase Messines Model on Countryfile

The first world war model of Messines, it’s history and recent archeological dig have been the talk of Staffordshire for a while, and tonight formed the basis for a great article on the BBC program Countryfile.
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A fit of Peake?

I had this one in a couple of days ago from Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, who continues his dogged research into local mining history, and the relationship between those above ground and those whose labours they depended upon beneath them.
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Stag do?

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This is just a quick note to warn people given to exploring the open spaces of the area that the deer population are getting amorous.

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Local or distant?

This is nice, quick one that came in at the weekend from reader and friend of the Brownhills Blog, Stuart Cowley, whose passion is Marching Jazz Bands and their history…2511-0

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Inner Hays

Here’s another ride cam for all those who ask for them – including Trev in Oz, Rob Flodders and BillyTheBez – this one is edited, realtime bits of a mostly off road journey from Jerry’s Lane, near Weeford, up the bridleway that is Knox’s Grave Lane to Packington, then into the wonderful Hopwas Hayes Wood.tumblr_mss53rl8jJ1qib2vgo4_1280

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Chasing the rainbow

I’m still, after several decades, exploring Cannock Chase – since getting wonderfully lost around the quarries near Bevin’s Birches last week, I’ve developed a thirst for spots I’ve not been before.P1070053

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The last big weekend of the summer

It’s been another heat bank holiday weekend, and I got to cycling over the Chase and through East Staffordshire – too many pictures for 365days, so I thought I’d do a gallery.[caption id="attachment_15473" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Elderberries, Walton upon Trent Elderberries, Walton upon Trent[/caption]

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Back down the old Kit Bag

I had fun over Cannock Chase yesterday, exploring the area around Wolseley Plain and the old quarries near Bevin’s Birches – while there, I also cycled down Kitbag Hill, the sharp semi-road incline that forms part of Marquis Drive between the old RAF Hednesford and visitor’s centre and the old level crossing at Moor’s Gorse.
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Coming down from above

Yesterday, on a borrowed mountain bike I headed out to Brocton Fied on Cannock Chase, and starting near the Glacial Boulder and trig point, I threw myself and the bike down into Sherbrook Valley, then followed the stream down to Stepping Stones.

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Book search – can you help?

I’m looking for a book – everyone knows that local history books get rare once they sell out of their initial runs – very often, titles appear fleetingly, and disappear into the ether without ever really being seen again.

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Out on the common…

Walsall Council’s Countryside Services Manager Kevin Clements has been in touch – he wants me to let readers know that there’s now a booklet available for download, which details the work proposed for Brownhills Common, and he’s also written an interesting piece for the blog about the planned tasks ahead, and why they’re so important.
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The man in the centre

I’ve received a fascinating enquiry from reader and friend of the blog Tony Briggs, who sent me a lovely photo, and other than his grandfather William Briggs being in the middle of the group, he knows nothing about it.
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Following tracks

The wonderful local rail historian and Brownhills Choral Society chronicler Ian Pell has been in touch to tell me that the book he mentioned, ‘Walsall Routes’ is now available to order from the publisher, as well as from Amazon.
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If you’ve a song to sing, sing out!

The Young David Evans – working with a number of sources, including the Fullelove family and members of the Choral Society – continues his meticulous and fascinating documentation of the history of the noted, famous and popular Brownhills Co-operative Choral Society.
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My Fair Lady

This is a wonderful article from local history rapscallion Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler which I think readers will really, really enjoy. Peter has developed a reputation hereabouts for being something of the iconoclast; formerly he has not pulled punches in his explorations of mining and industrial history, often to the surprise of readers. Continuing this theme,…

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Tearing up the forest

Here’s a video I’m posting specifically for Rob Floders, who I know enjoys my cycle videos – Rob’s having a really tough time at the moment, and although I know a daft video can’t make anything better, I hope it makes him smile just a little.
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Mum’s the word

This is just a quick note to warn people given to exploring the open spaces of the area – particularly dog walkers – that the red deer population are giving birth right now. The heaths around Brownhills, Clayhanger, Pelsall and Chasewater in particular are likely to be host to rather grumpy, aggressive mothers guarding their…

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Where the art is…

Just a quick note to point out to readers that there’s some great coverage of the unveiling of Burntwood’s new mining memorial over on Lichfield Live – I passed through at about 2:45pm and it certainly looked very busy indeed – it seems like everyone had a great day.
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A long storey

This is something I’d like to expand on for a bit of summer picture fun, if any readers are up for it – since I featured Steve Wilcox’s remarkable Walsall panorama last week, and Rose Burnell’s great Chasewater image, I’m looking for odd views, panoramas or shots from on high of Brownhills or the wider area.
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The love of the common people

There has been some comment locally about the Brownhills Common thing. I’m not going to push it again too much, as folk must be sick to the back teeth of it, but I have to get a plug in for a couple of excellent blog posts published today.

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Language of the underground

Our good mate Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has struck gold again. This transcription of an article from the Lichfield Mercury, of Friday, 4th January 1904 is a real gem, both for those with a keen interest in mining at the time, and those who are scholars of the nomenclature and language of our area.

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Into White

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to edit this up due to being somewhat busy with other stuff, but it’s not worked out so bad. A ride from near Maquis Drive, on Cannock Chase, up over Rifle Range Corner, past the old Butts, down into Abrahams Valley and out onto the A513 at Seven Springs.

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Marching on

I’ve had a blistering article mailed in from reader and friend of the Brownhills Blog, Stuart Cowley. Stuart, you’ll recall, has written and supplied some great material on the subject of Chasewater, and his pictures and recollections of the cafe there have been very popular.

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Gorgeous curves

Here’s a bit of a request stop. A few weeks ago there was a very positive response to my digitally contouring of an Ordnance Survey map in the analysis of the Watford Gap area near Sutton Coldfield.

I have a bit of clever software that can do this, and access to the mapping data to use as a canvas.

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Enchanting forest

Well, I made it. Yesterday, I cycled up onto Cannock Chase. Starting from Brownhills, I headed up to Chasewater – which was stunning – and on through Heath Hayes and Hednesford, up to Rifle Range Corner. The going at Chasewater was very heavy, and a fine, wet sleet was making it quite uncomfortable. Wrestling with turning back, I pushed on, and as the temperature dropped, the sleet turned to powdery snow and the air cleared.

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The fastest thing on the road

Just before Christmas, I got hold of a new bike cam. It’s a GoPro HD Hero black edition, which has some pretty nifty features, including less distortion from the lens and better performance in low light. I’ve been using it ever since I got it, but the weather and dull commutes haven’t been conducive to…

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Cycling trivialities

Thanks to everyone who took time to express opinions on my navel gazing contemplation on completion of my 365daysofbiking goal. I really was touched by the unexpectedly large amount of goodwill expressed about the project by a hugely diverse range of commentors. The compliments, encouragement and kindness are not something I’ll readily forget.

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Along for the ride

Just before Christmas, I got hold of a new bike cam. It’s a GoPro HD Hero black edition, which has some pretty nifty features, including less distortion from the lens and better performance in low light. I’ve been using it ever since I got it, but the weather and dull commutes haven’t been conducive to decent ride videos.

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Cervine suggestion

Today, we went up on Cannock Chase again, and I make no apologies for another feature on the deer. These lovely ladies were a smaller subset of the herd from last week, but on this occasion, they were a little more tolerant. They may well have been hungry. This is the closest I’ve ever managed to get to them.

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24 Carrots

A sunny, winter’s Saturday afternoon on Cannock Chase. The wild fallow deer in their usual spot, always happy to come for a bag of carrots. Skittish and nervous, they stay long enough to take our orange performance fee, then wander back to the safety of the copse. Three fawns were in the group, clearly this…

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Bending Conduit

Every so often (and so it seems, with increasing frequency of late) I’ll get a response to an article I post here that leaves me speechless with the sheer depth and breadth of knowledge it demonstrates. There are, it seems, some very, very knowledgable specialists reading the shambling pile of old toss, and I really have no idea why they’re sticking around, but I’m very grateful for their contributions and presence.

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Curious electric

It’s a curious fact of local history that little St. Anne’s Church, in Church Street, Chasetown, was the first church in Britain lit by electric light. The history of this installation, and of electricity coming to Chasewtown and Brownhills is inextricably tied up with the history of mining in the area.

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Rock and coal

Here’s one that is certain to create debate, comment and further articles. Alerted to it in the last week by both Gareth Thomas (Geographical whizz from Lichfield District Council) and Paul Daniel (data whizz behind the mechanism that keeps local news site The YamYam running so brilliantly), it’s a book scanned and published by that wonderful resource Google Books.

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Are you being cervine?

This is just a quick note to warn people given to exploring the open spaces of the area that the deer population are getting amorous. It’s rutting time for our large brown friends, and that means one thing: the heaths around Brownhills, Clayhanger, Pelsall and Chasewater in particular are likely to be host to rather grumpy, aggressive stags guarding their female harems.

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Castle class

I’ve had a lovely email from Tony Turner. Tony, you’ll remember, was born in a cottage at what was known as The Fort in Newtown, Brownhills. Recent historical debates here have focussed on where The Fort was, and whether it’s a conflation with a street known as The Fault, which later became Castle Street. Tony…

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Recovered history

The aerial image of Chasewater I posted on Thursday evening really has spurred on some creative consideration of the park’s history. I’ve been surprised and delighted by the memories and theories that have emerged relating to the stunning image, taken in June, 1963. I don’t think we’re any closer to identifying a specific event that…

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