1987: The end of a landmark

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 final hours of the Superalloys stack, 1987. Image kindly supplied by Gerald Reece.

The adjacent area of canal has always locally been known as ‘The Chemical’.

The stack begins to fall…
Image kindly supplied by Gerald Reece.

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.

The Chemical, or latterly Super Alloys, was located where the large Castings warehouse is now. Imagery from Apple Maps.

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 think this is what remained of the Superalloys furnaces. Image kindly supplied by Gerald Reece.

I also think that the curious image I featured here on Saturday was the remainder of the smelting furnaces at the site after demolition.

Nearly down… Image kindly supplied by Gerald Reece.

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 They were superseded by Super Alloys.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.

The Super Alloys chimney was demolished in 1987, but do you know who pushed the plunger? These images are from Gerald Reece’s book ‘Brownhills a Walk into History’ but another set are on display in Brownhills Community Centre.

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?

A landmark is reduced to rubble. Image kindly supplied by Gerald Reece.

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.

Gerald Reece believes this bell was cast from metal recovered possibly by Superalloys in Brownhills.

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:

The Chemical, or in the time pictured, Superalloys works. Picture taken from The Aviation Forum, as posted by user Wildcat on the 21st February 2006.
Listed as ‘Brownhills Scrapyard 1977-York wings’ Photo taken from the Flickr photostream of user Bobdcuk.

Browse Bobdcuk’s Flickr stream, where I found the 1977 images.

Listed as ‘Brownhills scrapyard 1977 – Typhoon’ – the remembered military vehicle scrap is piled in the background, and also note the familiar view to the rear. Beneath the soil in the middle distance lies the Staffordshire Hoard, as yet undiscovered. Photo taken from the Flickr photostream of user Bobdcuk.
Listed as ‘Brownhills Scrapyard 1977 Typhoon’ – notice the welly being used as a glove, times were hard then… Photo taken from the Flickr photostream of user Bobdcuk.
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Urgent help needed with the Daffodil Appeal in Brownhills…

I have an important and urgent request here from reader Julie Gray who is staging a collection for Marie Curie cancer care this Sunday, 24th February 2019 at Tesco in Brownhills and she needs some help if at all possible.

Julie wrote:

I am the community fundraiser for Marie Curie – we have a Daffodil Collection this weekend, 24th February 2019 at Tesco, Brownhills

I am struggling for assistance – could anyone spare two hours of their time please to help for a great cause?

Please call me on 0797 907 5877.

many thanks
Julie Gray

If you can help, please do call the number above – cancer charities are very important to me personally and make such a great difference to those suffering.

You can find out more about Marie Curie Charity’s work here and about the Daffodil Appeal specifically here.

You can of course also contact me on social media, by commenting here or mailing BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com and I’ll pass any messages on to Julie.

My thanks and best wishes to Julie for helping this charity.

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Tree, cheers!

Here’s an important one from old pal and top Brownhills community person Susan Forster of Brownhills. Every year I receive complaints that Brownhills has no Christmas tree, the lights aren’t good enough and so forth – we even made the national news over it over it a few years ago.

Well, Susan is proposing to do something about the situation. Since Christmas trees in Walsall have for many years had to be privately or community funded, if we want one here in Brownhills, we’re going to have to raise the money, and we need to get is sorted by midsummer.

To this end, there’s a meeting at Brownhills Community Centre (The old Central Boys School or Annexe on the Miner Island) in the Lamp Arts facility there this coming Saturday, 23rd February 2019 at 10:00am where those interested can share ideas, hear proposals and get the ball rolling.

As I promised all those years ago I am happy to make a substantial cash contribution to this. But we all need to help, and we need to raise a lot of money to carry it off.

Every year I get bombarded with complaints – well, if folk want this sorting, now’s the time to get involved. It will not sort itself.

I will be sharing news from the appeal here, and I’d like to publicly than Susan for taking on this huge task – Brownhills has a true asset in this fine lady and I wish her and the appeal well.

If you have any comments or enquiries, comment here, pin me down on social media or email me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

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Did you know the Kennedy family from Occupation Road?

An odd little one here that’s come to me from a reader who has received a letter from a firm of Lincolnshire solicitors who are trying to locate members of the Kennedy family who may at some point have been resident in Occupation Road, Walsall Wood.

Did you know the Kennedy family? Imagery from Apple Maps.

The solicitors – Andrew Jay & Co. – are administering an estate and are looking for Margaret Kennedy, Peter Kennedy, Ashley Kennedy or Jason Kennedy.

If you know these people, please show them this post and ask them to call Graham Bembridge from Andew Jay & Co. on 01427 612412 or email Graham.Bembridge@AndrewJay.co.uk. Quote reference GRB/JUB003/37381.

I would ask that people knowing the whereabouts of the people listed do not share their information without asking them first, please.

If you have any queries, please mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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Another Brownhills XI

A reminder to readers who may remember Brownhills Cricket Club that Dave Slatcher is still looking for former member s to hold a reunion some point in the future.

As an incentive, former Brownhills cricketer and local teacher Eryl Powell has dug out yet another interesting team photo of a 70s Brownhills XI – the fact that Superalloys chimney is still visible on the skyline behind them will help date this wonderful image, I’m sure.

A 1970s Brownhills Cricket Club team. But who’s here, and when? Image kindly supplied by Eryl Powell.

We’ve covered Walsall Wood cricket a fair bit here over the years, but nothing much about Brownhills which I find surprising.

Former Brownhills Cricket Club member Dave Slatcher is proposing a Brownhills Cricket Club Reunion, which seems like a cracking idea to me.

He wrote:

About time we had a reunion for anyone who played, or was a relative of a former player from Brownhills Cricket Club, please circulate and share, and anyone interested please contact me on slatch@talk21.com.

I’ll then collate names to try and sort a date and venue…

You can also find Dave on Facebook here.

In the meantime,

If you have any recollections of either club, or have anything to add, please do comment here, tug my sleeve on social media or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

The local sports clubs were a vital part of our communal history and it would be great top build up more of a history of them. Let’s see if we can…

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Voices from the past: Our part in making cholera history

A lovely video podcast has been sent to me by Dave Moore of Lichfield Waterworks Trust about the pumping station in Lichfield that many people are surprised to discover, fed the Black Country with water for nearly a century.

The video, narrated by Graham Fisher and featured here on History West Midlands, goes into the way the pumping station worked, and it’s massive significance to the public health and wellbeing of our region. You can watch it below.

Find out more about this film here.

Dave said of the film:

This podcast forms the foundation for a project we will start soon called ‘voices from the past’. In the podcast you should he me mention that we need to give a voice back to the people who died in the cholera epidemic and the people who worked tirelessly keeping the water supply going.

Voices from he past will give an opportunity to anyone who is interested in history, to work with us and learn new skills and a new way to look at the past.

We will put on several training days at a nice venue and show people how to do family research, social history and oral history.

I think that this will be a great opportunity to connect non-professional historians with the community and the past, bringing people together to lean and develop new skills.

Dave Moore, late of this parish and tireless campaigner for all things local and historical is doing interesting for the Lichfield Waterworks Trust, and  taking a really unique approach.

Sandfields, although located on the southern edge of Lichfield, was a key force in supporting the growth and health of the Black Country further south. The provision of clean water, as Dave points out, prevented the spread of disease and helped our towns safely reach higher population densities.

Sandfields fed the reservoirs of the Black Country via a huge cast iron main that ran along the railway through Brownhills. We’ve covered that quite a bit here, and the main remained in use until past the middle of the last century.

Please check out the history of this almost forgotten gem, join Dave’s Facebook Group, attend the meetings or just help by sharing what you know of this fascinating building.

If you feel you can help, please comment here and I’ll hook you up with Dave, or send me an email at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot Com. Cheers.

Sandfields is a remarkable place, as I found out when I visited it in 2001.

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Close to the wall – but where?

A quick mystery for a Saturday: This image was found in the whole wedge of stuff generously donated to the blog by Sir Gerald of Reece recently, and the young David Evans is very puzzled by it.

I’ll be honest, I’m 50% sure where it is, but I’m not going to say anything as I don’t wish to lead the witnesses, Your Honour. If it’s where I think it is, this place has gone, but was very notable in Brownhills.

So, what do you think?

Once a local landmark, I think. An intriguing image supplied very generously by Gerald Reece.

If you recognise anything about the place in this photo, please do get in touch: You can comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my sleeve on social media.

The donor of this remarkable image, Gerald Reece is of course a talented and superlative local historian, indeed now resident in Devon, who wrote the seminal work ‘Brownhills – A walk into history’ upon which this blog stands.

Thanks to Gerald for his generous donations – he is a real gentleman and it’s on his shoulders as the foremost historian of Brownhills that this blog stands.

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Don’t tell him pike!

Over the years, writing a great deal about Chasewater, I’ve become used to hearing the recounted mythology of the lake north of Brownhills. One legend says excess bombs were dropped there during the war, another that it was covered at night to prevent it guiding German bombers.

I’ve heard all the old chestnuts, but a personal favourite is the lake monster myth.

Beneath these still waters – what lurks?

People say the reservoir had a huge fish, varying from a ‘monster pike’ to something more Loch Ness in ambitious scale. But like the wartime tall tales, I generally consider these things to be harmless and entertaining falsehoods.

I’ve never seen a monster sighting documented, until the great Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler spotted this gem last week in the newspaper archive – from August 2nd, 1955’s edition of the Birmingham Gazette, a 3 foot long fish-behemoth that was 2ft6in around.

This is a great little local story – a monster mystery, fire service frogmen (frogman is a great term we don’t seem to use today), a man who is utterly convinced by what he’s seen and a slightly aloof reporter.

Please everyone, share your thoughts. Have you seen a monster in Chasewater? Did you know Mr. Brindley? What of the 1929 incident? So much here to chew over.

Thanks to Peter for yet another great spot. If you want to add something – please feel free. Comment here, have your 2p on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Tight lines!

‘An amateur frogman, Mr. George Parkes, of Aston Fire Station, Birmingham, is shown where the monster lay by Mr. Brindley. His search failed, however.
From the Birmingham Gazette, 2nd August 1955.

ANOTHER MONSTER IN NORTON POOL

‘I saw 9ft. fish with armoured scales’

There is a monster at the bottom of Norton Pool, near Walsall. It is about 9ft long and 2ft. 6in. around its middle.

That is at least what NMr. Harry Brindles, from Rushall, says. He saw it lying near the bank basking in the sun in 3ft. of water, as he walked by.

Birmingham Gazzette, August 2nd 1955.

It has been there for years fouling the lines of anglers from Walsall and Chasetown but they never managed to see it. All they saw was a broken line where there should have been a tasty bit of pike bait, two hooks and lead sinkers.

Thrives on hooks

If all that is told in the ‘locals’ around Norton Pool is true the monster thrives on fish-hooks.

Mr. Brindley who lives in Bickley Road, says it looks like a huge pike, greenish-grey in colour thickly armoured with scales.

Yesterday he said: ‘I h’I just gaped at it for a few minutes, then I must have moved, for it slid off into deeper water.d just gone for a stroll by the pool and was just standing looking out over the water – there’s about 200 acres of it – when I saw this great thing come gliding into the shallows.

‘The bank is pretty steep just there, and I was looking straight down on it. It seemed to be basking in the sunshine.

‘I just gaped at it for a few minutes, then I must have moved, for it slid off into deeper water.

‘It is said that the pool is more than 100ft. deep in places caused by mining subsidence, and I reckon it must live in one of those holes.’

May call in frogmen

Mr. Brindley is thinking of writing to the Birmingham Underwater Exploration Club, a group of civilian frogmen, in the hope that they will begin to hunt for the monster.

‘I’ve been combing through all kinds of books to try to find a fish like it, but I’ve not come across anything yet.’ Mr. Brindley continued. ‘And I refuse to believe it’s a pike.’

There was a ‘monster’ in Norton Pool in 1929, when local anglers spent weeks hunting it with special bait and extra strong line.

They landed it eventually – an outsize and unusually ferocious pike.

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Don’t miss Walsall Wood away at South Normanton Athletic this afternoon!

Lees Lane – home of The Shiners. Image from the club website.

Saturday 16h February 2019

After a two-week break in the schedule to allow for bad weather…

Walsall Wood FC away to South Normanton Athletic FC

Don’t break your Wood vows be there and be faithful to your local heroes!

3:00pm kickoff

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

M J Robinson Structures Arena
Lees Lane
South Normanton
Derbyshire
DE55 2AD

Check out the club website here.

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Why not Stay and Play – at Brownhills Community Centre this morning

If you’ve a child or children under 4 years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 16th February 2019 from 10-11:30am.

It costs just two quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery teachers.

There are games and toys and all manner of fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

A Play & Stay group located within Brownhills Community Centre and The Lamp.

BROWNHILLS STAY&PLAY 
Saturday 16th February 2019

This week our messy play tray will be hundreds … maybe thousands 😵 of tiny rice krispies with different sized cars to encourage lots of making crunching sounds and emptying and filling maybe a little sneaky tasting 😂 our creative table will be open to all requests and our sand tray will be open as always 👍🏼

….Along with all our other areas of play within the nursery setting.

See you all Saturday!

10.00-11.30 
£2 per child 
Healthy Snack included 

Feel free to invite your friends with children aged 0-4 years and share our events 👍🏼

This group is held at Little Green Dragons Day Nursery within Brownhills Community Centre every Saturday morning. 

Add our Facebook Page – 
Brownhills Stay&Play 🌈🌈

The Community Centre is what my generation would know as ‘The Annexe’ – the old Central Boy’s School, now a bustling community resource. To find out more,  you can pop in or call them on 01543 452119.

The Community Association have lots of stuff going on, and loads of great facilities, right in the heart of Brownhills. I love what they’re about and all the great things they’re doing.

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The weather may be mild but you can get Frozen in Brownhills this Saturday!

There’s a great sing-along showing of kid’s cult classic animated film Frozen this Saturday afternoon (16th February 2019) in the cinema right at the heart of Brownhills: The Lamp, at Brownhills Community Centre.

It kicks off at 1:30pm and you can book tickets online. The audience are invited to sing along for a fun showing of a wonderful, feelgood film. 

Why not let your kids go?

Brownhills Community Association wrote:

Sing-along Frozen
Saturday 16th February 2019 @ 2:00pm

A film for all the family. Come to the cinema on your doorstep to sing along to all the hits from this classic Disney film.

Synopsis

When their kingdom becomes trapped in perpetual winter, fearless Anna joins forces with mountaineer Kristoff and his reindeer sidekick to find Snow Queen Elsa and break the icy spell. The journey leads them to encounters with mystical trolls, a comical snowman and magic at every turn.

Doors open @ 1:30pm for 2:00pm showing

Tickets

£4.00 (£3 Concessions)
Call the Box Office between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday to Friday on 01543 452 119 or order safely online

Tickets available online at the link below (no fees) or from 01453 452119.

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-lamp-arts-centre

Not even sorry.

If you haven’t yet visited The Lamp for a show, you really are missing out; it’s a wonderfully modern and intimate community theatre with a wonderful atmosphere operated by a lovely community of dedicated folk, located in the old Annex or Brownhills Central Boys School right there on the Miner Island in Brownhills. You can find out more here.

Please ring the crew on 01543 452 119 if you have any queries or need any help or email: info@thelamparts.co.uk.

There’s loads going on at the Activity Centre on the Miner Island in Brownhills!
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Buses by Night 2019 – great local event on this Saturday!

This Saturday afternoon and evening (16th February 2019) there’s a great, innovative event taking place at Aldridge Transport Museum just off Northgate – Buses by Night, which is your chance to ride on some great old vehicles and see the local sights and photography hotspots – like Lichfield Cathedral – at night.

The Museum said:

Come and have a ride on buses into the early evening, remember what it was like to ride home from work or school on a cold winter evening!

See event Facebook page for more details

See our website & Facebook page for updates

Aston Manor Road Transport Museum
Shenstone Drive, Off Northgate, Aldridge, Walsall W89 8TP

Event Admission £5 adult, £2 child, £13 family

Event will run from 14:00 to 20:00
01922 454761 Registered Charity no. 519216

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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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There’s a great autism support group meeting in Brownhills today and every Tuesday!

Just a heads up to let folk know that there’s a popular and regular autism support group meeting in Brownhills every Tuesday lunchtime from 1:30-2:30pm at the Smithy’s Forge pub, Lichfield Road, Brownhills, just off the Miner Island.

For parents, carers, etc. of children and adults with autism.

Weekly support group every Tuesday at the Smithys Forge, Brownhills 1:30-2:30 🌈


The group has been running for a few months now and is growing in popularity – so why not pop along to see what it’s all about?

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Man being treated for stomach wound following shooting incident in Walsall Wood

Yesterday evening, Sunday 10th February 2019 there was a shooting incident on the car park of Better Gym, Walsall Wood, following which a man is currently in hospital being treated for a stomach wound.

This kind of incident is very unusual in Walsall Wood. Imagery from Apple Maps.

I would ask that anyone with information – no matter how small or insignificant it may seem – to come forward and talk to police or Crimestoppers. This kind of crime is incredibly rare in our area and I feel sure there are people around Walsall Wood who will have witnessed this awful event.

West Midlands Police said:

Police were alerted by ambulance colleagues at 8.50pm yesterday (10 Feb) to a patient they were treating for a gunshot wound to his stomach.
The shooting happened in a gym car-park on Walsall Wood Road, Walsall, at around 8pm before the victim, a man in his 40s, made his way to an address in Aldridge where paramedics were called.

He’s in hospital with serious injuries consistent with a firearm discharge.
The offender is believed to have made off in a car being driven by another man. The motive is not clear at this stage and enquiries are on-going to identify and arrest the offenders.

Anyone who witnessed the incident, or has information that could help enquiries, is asked to call West Midlands Police immediately on 101 or Live Chat at WMP Online between 8am and midnight quoting log number 2352 from 10 Feb. Alternatively, people can call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

You can contact West Midlands police directly by calling 101, or talk to them on live chat here. Crimestoppers UK can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111. Please quote log number 2352 from 10th February 2019. 

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The Brownhills tramway to nowhere – a railway expert writes

I always love expanding railway and related threads here on the blog – and it’s always great to hear from local railway historian and expert Ian Pell, this time on the matter of  the lost and somewhat mysterious tramway that is said tohave run close to the original route of The Parade in Brownhills, before it was a road.

These beautiful trees appear to be concealing an interesting bit of local industrial history. Image from my 365days journal.

As I hoped, Ian (who has done so much to expand railway matters here on the blog, and in whose debt aI remain) spotted this the Parade post and sent me a couple of articles with his thoughts on the matter.

One thought that has occurred to me is there was a colliery for a while slightly to the west of Watling Street School, and perhaps the tramway served that and shallow mining south of what would be Chasewater?

I’m sorry to say I know less than bugger all about the collieries around Watling Street, but perhaps the tramway served them? Image from the National Library of Scotland Archive from 1884 1:2,500 scale mapping. Click for a larger version.

In true local history ‘And furthermore!’ style, Ian sent a second piece soon after the first, further expanding on the question.

He wrote:

Hi Bob,

Good to see you back on form.

Tramway to and from nowhere in particular.

Been giving the tramway across Brownhills Common some thought.  
To me, there are two possible uses which spring to mind.  

Firstly, was it used in the construction of the reservoir at Chasewater?  If so, it would connect the newly opened Wyrley and Essington canal from a wharf near to the location of the older wharf build by the L&NWR in the 1850’s.  The canal opened around 1797, the same time as the original reservoir, but as the reservoir was I believe rebuilt in 1800, it is possible it was used for that.   From Watling Street the 1880’s OS map does indeed show some sort of track between Watling Street and the reservoir, albeit not in a form which suggests it was a tramway.

The other possibility is that it was a tramway from Pool Lane Colliery in the period up to the 1850’s, again to a canal wharf.  The existence of a ‘coal wharf’ on the canal is borne out by G. Bradshaw’s Feb. 1829 map of the canal and roads of the area (there were no railways at this time!).  

1829 Bradshaw.  Map of canals and roads (extract). Click for a larger version. Image kindly supplied by Ian Pell.

Certainly, the tramway in what ever form appears gone by 1858 when the railway arrived.

There are no records of any tramways in this area using locomotives, so it was most likely to be horse drawn wagons.

Most people associate Bradshaw with Mr. Portillo and railways, but this is not the case.  He first published canal navigation maps of Lancashire and it wasn’t until 1839 that the railway timetables, and later, the Guides began to appear.

Thanks to GB for indicating the ‘coal wharf’ on his map.  Is this a clue, or was it being used to bring coal to Brownhills from, say, Pelsall Colliery?

Apart from the lack of railways, the map also doesn’t show the Cannock Extension (1863 to Hednesford) of the Wyrley and Essington canal.  Interestingly, Ford Brook is shown, as is the enclosed Norton Hall (possibly not where you might have thought it).

Returning to the tramway, my money is on the pit – no, not the one on Oak Island!  Of course, all the above is pure speculation and conjecture on my part – unless anyone know different?

Kind regards
Ian

Brownhills Common around Watling Street is now a peaceful wildlife haven, but once thundered to the fire and anger of a coal mine in full swing. Image from my 365days journal.

Some time later, Ian was struck by the ‘…and another thing!’ impulse and wrote:

Hi Bob

Below is a map dating from the 1850s and as you can see the tramway embankment stops to the north of the L&NWR railway. To the south of the railway there is no indication of earthworks between the railway and the canal,; not even a track or a coal wharf!  It would appear to stop at the junction with Pelsall Lane and the High Street, where the Brownhills UDC headquarters was later to be built.   It preceeds the railway and so its end is probably coincidental.  To the north of Watling Street the ‘tramway’ again has no clear definition and does not appear to exist.  There is one other interesting note at the Watling Street, a reference to ‘The Machine House’.  Any ideas what this was?

[Bob’s note: The machine House, like Frog Hall, has been a mystery for years. I suspect it may have been a pump for local shallow mining operations: Coal was very near the surface there and Cox’s pit in particular was so shallow wives could, it is said, shout down the shaft to men working below, so a general pump may have been a useful and profitable enterprise if say, hired to jobbing miners, a lot like the one near Engine Lane was suspected to be.]

1850s OS map extract kindly supplied by Ian Pell. Click for a larger version.

The map can be dated pretty accurately as the Norton Branch is shown as a black line towards the left of the map and the Midland Railway Extension No.2  is on the right, again in black, entering Anglesea Sidings.  This indicates that these were the proposed routes of the lines and that construction (Norton Branch opened 1858) had no yet been undertaken .

The red line (which incidentaly is the purpose for the map) comes from the Walsall Wood direction and heads towards Chasewater. The Line is to the east of the settlement of Brown Hills and cuts across the Common and Parade areas.  It also shows that at the time Clayhanger was a much greater developed settlement than Brownhills.   But what is this line? 
 It’s actually the original propsal for the Midland Railway No.1 route.  This became the Walsall Wood Branch and skirted to the west of Brownhills, rather than to the east as originally proposed.

Yet another part of the mystery.

Kind regards
Ian       

I’d like to thank Ian for yet another expert article on railway and local history, which I’m flattered and honoured to feature it here. It fills me with pride that I can feature material of this quality here.

If you have anything to add to this, please do feel free: Comment here, hit me up on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Chasewater, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | 16 Comments

Great news: Missing Norton teenager Kassie Griffiths found safe and well

Thanks to you all for your help – Norton Canes teenage Kassie Griffiths who went missing yesterday (Saturday 9th February 2019) has been found safe and well.

Dan Griffiths said:

*** NOW FOUND ***

A massive thank you to everyone for their kind words, shares, likes, tags, etc. without the generosity and love of the people who have helped we wouldn’t have made it through this ordeal and certainly wouldn’t have been able to return her home. 

From the bottom of mine, her mother and her step mothers hearts you have been a godsend and we cannot begin to express our eternal gratitude for the love and support we have received.

Dan (Kassie’s Dad)

Images posted on Facebook by Dan Griffiths

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chasewater – what of the far pavilion?

An image has been sent to me by a reader this week they tell me they’ve found on internet auction site eBid, but I can’t locate the sale: It’s a fascinating picture of Chasewater before it was developed, so it really is worth posting here.

A remarkable postcard image of Chasewater. Can we identify where and when it was taken please? Image from action site eBid. Click for a large version.

This… is remarkable. We have a sail boat of some kind (sorry, my expertise with sailing craft is only surpassed by my knowledge of brain surgery) with other boats along an undeveloped shoreline. There is an ornate Pavillon in the background, with people dotted about, and a flagpole.

The image is remarkably clear and I’m interested in where it was taken from and looking towards, and what the date of it might be. The only real thing linking it to Chasewater is the postcard says ‘Norton Pool’.

Now I’ve heard mention of a pavilion before, and the sailing club is old, as mentioned in the 1950s news clipping from Aer Reg last week. So this could, theoretically, be a very old image.

If you can help with this query, I’d love to hear your views. You can comment here on this post, ping me on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Cheers to the anonymous reader who sent the image in.

Just to add to this, there is from that sailboat probably a view of the Chasewater Dam pump house, about which there’s been lot of debate about in the past, and courtesy of reader and contributor Ruth Penrhyn-Lowe, we have from a previous article the clearest scan ever of a remarkable postcard, which gives far more detail than previously seen.

Background can be found in this article, and this one too. Readers may also like to gen up by reading this exploration as well.

Thanks to Ruth – it seemed like a good accompanying image to get readers thinking!

chasetown 3
A remarkable, and beautifully scanned image from Ruth Penrhyn-Lowe. Click for a full-size version.
Posted in Brownhills stuff, Chasewater, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Why not Stay and Play – at Brownhills Community Centre this morning

If you’ve a child or children under 4 years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 9th February 2019 from 10-11:30am.

It costs just two quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery teachers.

There are games and toys and all manner of fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

A Play & Stay group located within Brownhills Community Centre and The Lamp.

Brownhills Stay & Play

Saturday 9th February 2019

LOVE…LOVE…LOVE…. ❤️❤️❤️
This week we will be getting messy with valentines love heart jelly play 

Also Creating very special cards for our loved ones to take home for Valentine’s Day ❤️❤️

Along with all our other areas of play within the nursery setting.

See you all Saturday …. 
10.00-11.30 
£2 per child 
Snack included 

Feel free to invite your friends with children aged 0-4 years and share our events 

Thank you everyone hopefully see you Saturday 👍🏼

This group is held at Little Green Dragons Day Nursery every Saturday morning … 

Feel free to pop in and enjoy some quality time with your little ones ⭐️
Add our Facebook page – Brownhills Stay&Play 🌈🌈🌈🌈

The Community Centre is what my generation would know as ‘The Annexe’ – the old Central Boy’s School, now a bustling community resource. To find out more,  you can pop in or call them on 01543 452119.

The Community Association have lots of stuff going on, and loads of great facilities, right in the heart of Brownhills. I love what they’re about and all the great things they’re doing.

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Locating a lost airbase…

It’s always great to hear from old friend of the blog Ian Broad – many of you will remember that Ian lived in the now derelict quarry bungalow at Sandhills, Shire Oak and his family owned the shop Tom’s Cabin in Brownhills for many years.

Ian also sent in a wonderful photo of 1982 Shire Oak School leavers outside the Royal Oak pub in Shire Oak. Well, this time he’s turned his hand to something different: RAF Hednesford.

The long-gone RAF Base up on the Chase existed from 1939 until 1956 and was finally mostly demolished by 1970. For most of its life it was a training camp for aero mechanics, but later became a more basic induction and squarebashing camp.

You can read more about RAF Hednesford here: There is also a great discovery trail you can follow here and exploring the area is a historical voyage of discovery – few today visiting the quiet wooded areas would imagine the noise and extent of the camp 60 years hence.

Ian’s friend Steve Blower has overlaid a wartime aerial image of RAF Hednesford over modern imagery. It’s really quite astounding, and excellent work – you can explore the image below.

RAF Hednesford for it’s heyday overlaid on modern Google Earth imagery. Image supplied by Ian Broad, and created by Steve Blower. Click for a larger version.

Ian wrote:

Hi Bob,

Well, not strictly Brownhills but I know you like Cannock Chase. 

I like comparing photos from past with the same location in the present. I asked my old school mate Steve Blower to do this pic for me. He’s much better in photoshop than me. 

Here’s a pic of the Marquis Drive / Brindley Heath (top pic) area from google maps and the same pic with RAF Hednesford overlaid on the same. 

Thought you might like to see the comparison. 

Best,
Ian. 

The current Google Earth imagery from the area: Little trace remains. Click for a larger version. Image supplied by Ian Broad.

Thanks to Ian and Steve for a wonderful, thought-provoking contribution. This really is most fascinating.

Thanks to Ian for another great post, and if you have any memories of RAF Hednesford, or anything else concerning the military history of the Chase and wider area, please do comment here, shout me on social media or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

You can meet the Vikings this Saturday in Stonnall

For a bit of fun on a winter Saturday, I notice Oak Tree Farm down in Stonnall have a Meet the Vikings day running this Saturday 9th February 2019 from 10:00am until 4:00pm, with fun for all the family.

The organisers said:

The Vikings will be at Oak Tree Farm this weekend, Saturday 9th February 2019.

If you would like to come and see them we are open 10 :00am until 4pm.

A viking battle will take place at 1:00pm and vikings will be around the farm for a chat.

Free admission to farm – feed buckets £2.50 each if you want to feed the animals.

Viking re-enactment groups are a popular thing at the moment. You can meet these folk on Saturday.

There are all the usual animals and fun stuff to see down there, so what’s not to love?

You can find out more at Oak Tree Farm’s Facebook page here.Oak Tree Farm is located through the second gate on the right, Gravelley Lane, Stonnall WS9 9LB (That’s just down the Chester Road, left after the turning for Stonnall Village).

Your kids could meet kids like these. Just down the road. Oak Tree Farm is fab – image posted on the farm’s Facebook page.
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A sunny morning in Pier Street

Continuing with the donations from the wonderfully generous Sir Gerald of Reece, and following some discussion on Facebook over the weekend, here’s a couple of fascinating images from a little-mentioned part of Brownhills: Pike Helve.

What a lovely picture of a lost time – 29 to 37 Pier Street. Image kindly supplied by Gerald Reece via the young David Evans.

Pike Helve was a small community of houses that stood at the end of Pier Street by the canal, just adjacent to the ‘Iron’ pedestrian bridge that was replaced in 2007.

In the days these photos were taken, Silver Street and Pier Street were effectively dead ends to all but pedestrians, and Pike Helve was little more that a hamlet on the footpath from Brownhills High Street to Clayhanger.

Pike Helve was not known for being a particularly well-off neighbourhood, but it did have a pub: The Fortune of War, or Pier Inn.

The rear of the terrace above: Note that although down at heel, the yards are beautifully tidy. Image kindly supplied by Gerald Reece via the young David Evans.

I suspect these images depict Pike Helve not long before it was demolished, and capture a lost little community – a postman, caught in time chats to two ladies on a sunny morning, their dog wandering towards the photographer. The houses are shabby, but tidy and four-square.

Thanks as ever to Gerald Reece for his lovely donations and to David Evans for his tireless effort in scanning this material – in the face, at the moment,. of a bout of the flu. Get well soon old chap!

39-41 Pier Street, and the Pier Inn. Image kindly supplied by Gerald Reece via the young David Evans.

If you have anything to add, please do: You can comment here or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemal dot com, or even shout me on the usual social media channels.

I include below an earlier article by Elizabeth Hampton, who grew up in Pike Helve and shared her wonderful, warm memories:

EPW060275
The community at the canal end of Pier Street, shown top left – known as Pike Helve (and oddly marked of a few maps as ‘Pike Hill’) was poor, but well known. Image from Britain from Above/English Heritage.

I’ve had a lovely contribution in from reader Elizabeth Hampton, who found Reg ‘Aereg’ Fullelove’s poem about Brownhills High Street in the Rhyme and Season article here last week – this is a wonderful memoir which I’m sure readers will love.

I’ve actually split it into too, as there’s so much lovely material that it’s worth breaking into separate posts. In this one, Elizabeth remember Brownhills in her post-war childhood, and mentions some very familiar names.

Thanks so much to Elizabeth for a wonderful contribution – please do join in; comment here of mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!

Elizabeth Wrote:

I was born in 1938 in South Yardley but moved to Broownhills before I was one and my two brothers born 1940 and 1942 in Brownhills. We also had two elder brothers 10 and 12 years older than me. We lived in the infamous Pier Street just of the High Street, My mother and father doing their very best in the terrible rented terrace house for us to keep us clean, well fed and loved. Against all the problems of no water in the house, only a tap in the yard for all living in the terrace and outside toilets.

My brothers and I remember other shops . At the top of Pier street turn right there on the corner was Kingstons Shoe Shop. (He was also our Landlord) They was also Holmes the Green Grocers (in which the sisters worked) Starbucks the Butchers (son Tommy went to school at the same time as our Tom) I think Caters Electrical shop was there before they moved over the road to the bigger shop. There was also another shoe shop called Kingston One time there was a dentist, (which I had the pleasure of going to) and of course the Co-op, there used to be Smiths (who also sold homemade ice-cream) and I don’t know if it was taken over by the Co-op Butcher shop or whether it was side by side. Selwyn Smith was further down the High Street and I used to go to Junior school at the same time as Joyce Smith his daughter. (As well as Dena Webster, Betty Hampton (funny enough which is now my name).

Selwyn Smith and his competitor Mr. Pelari kept generations of kids happy with their local ice cream. Image from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

Across the road just near to Brickiln Street was my favourite Sweet Shop, run by I think Mrs. Shrigley and her husband. We would go in with our sweet coupon and she would make it stretch as best she could. An ounce of this from one jar and ounce of that from another. We had H. Brookes clothes shop which used to belong to the old Kent sisters. My Mom used to buy our clothes from there. Then there was Craddocks. I remember Joes, and of course Mrs. Daft’s fish and chip shop.

I cannot remember now if it was Mrs. Daft who fell into the Canal and my brother Matt got her out. He received a certificate from the Royal Humane Society for doing this. I know he had just had his wages and there were still in his pocket when he jumped in and my Mom hung his pound notes on the line to dry.

I think most of us of a certain age remember Joe’s in Brownhills High Street – not as the book says, a cafe, but a sweet shop and tobacconist. They had a fantastic range of ice cream in exotic flavours, and they sold fireworks around bonfire night. Lote’s, of course, was the rather dark jewellery shop, and just out of shot, next door, was I believe the Ash & Nephew off-license. From ‘Around Pelsall & Brownhills’ by David F. Vodden.

Going back to Pier Street, if you turned left there was the
Weslyan Chapel
and when I left School the Education Offices,( where I got my first job)
Mount Zion Chapel.
Shops Luckmans,
Tomlinsons Paper Shop, where my Dad would go every Saturday to pay for his papers and have a chat and pay on his card for our Christmas presents – books , toys etc.
Ann Seedhouse the Chemists.
The Corn and Seed Shop

The Regent Cinema where I spent many a happy Tuesday and Friday night downstairs could not afford to go upstairs. We use to have two films a week. Mr. Turner was always around and if we left anything like a hat or gloves he would nine times out ten have it there for you.

The audience at one of the last Saturday Matinee shows at the Regent Cinema, Brownhills, in 1962. Taken from 'Around Pelsall & Brownhills' by David F. Vodden.
The audience at one of the last Saturday Matinee shows at the Regent Cinema, Brownhills, in 1962. Taken from ‘Around Pelsall & Brownhills in old photographs’ by David F. Vodden.

I remember going to see Victor Mature in Samson and Delilah and the film broke down and he gave us all our money back or we could go another night.

There was also another Fish and Chip Shop near to the Cinema going towards the Station and across the road by Church Road was the Post Office. [Saults? – Bob]

I also remember Princeps and Bradburys with their large windows.

We also had the fair every year on the ground by Silver Street.

I see in the poem he mentions hairdresser Tommy the Black, does he mean the coloured Barber who had his shop further on than the Cinema and was named Mr. Brown. I think his wife was also a ladies hair dresser. My father used to go there for his hair cut for years and when my Dad retired due to ill health this Barber would not take another penny for cutting my Dads hair.

[Bob – I believe Tommy Brown was Tommy the Back as he was then known, he used to work from a shed behind his wife’s shop about where Wilkinson is today. If I’m wrong, please do correct me – Bob]

mbp012_2
In the 60s, Brownhills was home to several Emporia, including Prrinceps and Bradbury’s. Image form ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

My two brothers and I when we meet will often go over old times (maybe to the boredom of our families) and wonder whatever happened to some people. For instance there used to be a family called Cresswell who lived in Pier Street, who really were much poorer than us, a lovely family and very intelligent, we can recall Freddie and Winnie. I remember their father dying and their poor Mother being left to brig them up.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Followups, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Great news: Anthony Horton found safe and well!

Great news – Police in Walsall have just announced that Anthony Horton form Pheasey has been found safe and well.

Thanks for your help everyone, Anthony Horton from Walsall who went missing last night (Tuesday 5th February 2019)has been found safe and well.

Thanks to all who took the time to share this appeal, and for all who kept a look out – and of course to the Police for their hard work and kindness.

Posted in Environment, Events, Interesting photos, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s a great autism support group meeting in Brownhills today and every Tuesday!

Just a heads up to let folk know that there’s a popular and regular autism support group meeting in Brownhills every Tuesday lunchtime from 1:30-2:30pm at the Smithy’s Forge pub, Lichfield Road, Brownhills, just off the Miner Island.

For parents, carers, etc. of children and adults with autism.

Weekly support group every Tuesday at the Smithys Forge, Brownhills 1:30-2:30 🌈


The group has been running for a few months now and is growing in popularity – so why not pop along to see what it’s all about?

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Coppice a load of this

The postcard found last week on eBay showing ‘The Coppice, Brownhills’ had much more interest than I expected. Although there was some speculation to the contrary, I’m sure it showed Birch Coppice long before most of it was destroyed by the clay pit.

Well, in the huge amount of material donated by Sir Gerald of Reece to David Evans last week, there is a post and of ‘The Coppice, Brownhills’ from a more familiar angle: The canal just up from the Pelsall Road Bridge, between there and the Jolly Collier.

The card is labelled ‘T. Jayne, Brownhills’ whom I’ve never heard of. Have you?

It still looks a lot like that today, with birch woods on the canal bank leading up to the clay works.

A brilliant 1955 photo from Patricia Cotton, showing Dora Rathbone, nee Hemming, her son Bob and Patricia Cotton’s brother, Tony, paddling in the canal near the Jolly Collier. On the horizon is an rather interesting structure… Image very kindly supplied by Patricia Cotton.

We have, of course, seen a photo from around this location before: Kindly supplied by Patricia Cotton. We can identify this wonderful 1955 image as being on the coppice side of the canal on the Jolly Collier side of the Pelsall Road bridge, as the truncated remainder of the South Staffordshire Waterworks surge stack by the railway is clearly visible on the horizon.

I’m thinking that before the clay pit, and until it grew in size, this part of Brownhills may have been considered a bit of a beauty spot. Was it? What do you know? Do you remember it?

The Coppice, Brownhills, probably pre-Great War. Image from an eBay sale posted by Captain Oaty. Clcik for a larger version.

Come on folks, what do you know? Please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com – or tug my coat on social media.

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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.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Chasewater, Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Meet your local coppers in Brownhills this afternoon!

Sorry for the late notice, but there’s another local police pop-up event this afternoon Saturday 2nd February 2019 where you can meet the local policing team and discuss issues that are important to you.

It takes place in Brownhills Library, in the Parkview Centre, just off the Miner Island and starts at 2pm.

At these informal events, you can chat to the local policing team about stuff that concerns you, get crime prevention tips, WMNow signups and public safety advice.

I must say, it’s good to see the local police making such concerted efforts to reach out to the public.

Also, if you haven’t signed up for WMNow, please do – it’s free and you can select to receive alerts on all kinds of local issues. It’s a fine thing.

 

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local media, News, planning, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why not Stay and Play – at Brownhills Community Centre this morning

If you’ve a child or children under 4 years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 2nd February 2019 from 10-11:30am.

It costs just two quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery teachers.

There are games and toys and all manner of fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

A Play & Stay group located within Brownhills Community Centre and The Lamp.

Saturday 2nd February 2019

Following the recent cold weather and the enjoyment from last week  ❄️
We will be continuing to explore ice in our messy play tray however this week there will be dinosaurs that are very stuck and need to be smashed out 🦕 🦖 

Along with all our other areas of play within the nursery setting.

See you all Saturday …. 
10.00-11.30 
£2 per child 
Snack included 

Feel free to invite your friends with children aged 0-4 years and share our events 

This Stay & Play is held at Little Green Dragons Day Nursery every Saturday morning …

Feel free to pop in and enjoy some quality time with your little ones ⭐️
Add our Facebook page – Brownhills Stay&Play 🌈🌈🌈🌈

The Community Centre is what my generation would know as ‘The Annexe’ – the old Central Boy’s School, now a bustling community resource. To find out more,  you can pop in or call them on 01543 452119.

The Community Association have lots of stuff going on, and loads of great facilities, right in the heart of Brownhills. I love what they’re about and all the great things they’re doing.

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Chasewater Friends have a litter pick and social this Sunday

The revitalised Chasewater Friends group are holding a litter pick at out favourite country park this Sunday morning, 3rd February 2019 and would like to invite interested folk to join them.

Gear will be provided, and there will be tea, biscuits and chat afterwards – meet at the Innovation Centre at 10am, wear old clothes and stout footwear.

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I adore Chasewater, and I know many of the readers do too. It’s time it was promoted better – can you help?

Chasewater will massively benefit from an active community of friends and I look forward to seeing their progress – Chasewater is a great asset not just to the local population but to the local ecology and we need to cherish stand look after it’s interests.

You can find out more about the Chasewater Friends at their Facebook page here.

An event page with details of the litter pick and latest updates can be seen here.

The organisers said:


Chasewater Friends

Chasewater Friends are holding a Litter picking event on Sunday 3rd February 2019 at Chasewater Country Park.

Come along and meet the Rangers, and help keep the Park spick and span!

Join us for a lovely hot cup of tea or coffee, and even biscuits! After the litter pick we will meet up in the Innovation Centre for a chat about the Friends group, and how together we can nurture and support this wonderful space in our community.

All ideas welcome! 

Meet at 10am at the Innovation Centre, wear comfortable old clothing and we provide the bags and pickers.

For more information, please email chasewaterfriends@gmail.com

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Live Yoghurt!

Regular readers will no doubt remember that I ran a special appeal here a few weeks ago for Jack McCreath who wanted to get in touch with former band-mates Gerald Reece and Bernard Howdle – they were in a folk band called The Yoghurt.

I knew at the time of writing that Gerald Reece – who as well as being a folk musician is a noted local historian – was still about as the young David Evans is in touch with him on a regular basis, and pretty soon after I posted I think the lads had connected back up.

Since then, there have been a few enquiries about this remarkably named band, and Gerald, in a whole tranche of material he’s recently send to David, included the following image of the band in action:

The Yoghurt in action, featuring the one and only Sir Gerald of Reece. Image kindly supplied by the man himself.

I have no idea of the date, the location or indeed, who is who so contributions on any of these points are welcome, but I have a feeling Gerald is centre. I’d love to know more about this.

Gerald also included this poster – nice use of facial hair as a branding device.

Great range of facial hair! A poster for The Yoghurt as very kindly supplied by Gerald Reece.

I’m hugely grateful to all those who helped locate The Yoghurt’s missing members, and to all who suggested where they might be found. One of the greatest powers this blog has had over the years has been to reconnect old family and friends and it’s always lovely to have another success. Thanks to all for such great community spirit.

Gerald Reece is of course a talented and superlative local historian, indeed now resident in Devon, who wrote the seminal work ‘Brownhills – A walk into history’ upon which this blog stands.

If you remember The Yoghurt, or can answer my questions about the photo, please do get in touch: You can comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my sleeve on social media.

Thanks to Gerald for his generous donations – he is a real gentleman and it’s on his shoulders as the foremost historian of Brownhills that this blog stands.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, planning, Reader enquiries, Shared media | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Can you help tell the story of a local historian please?

I have an enquiry in here from old friend of the blog Peter Chadbund who’s long had an interest in the life, times and work of respected Norton Canes local historian and writer Jack Harrison.

Jack wrote the sought after and in some quarters controversial book ‘The King of Norton Canes‘ amongst other works, a title that remains sought after and discussed to this day. The book was published in 1990 and like Jack’s earlier work ‘Above the Black Diamionds’, is now very hard hard to get hold of.

Well, Peter is trying to find out what became of Jack. I’ll let him explain.

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A very hard book to find now.

Hello Bob,

You may recall that we corresponded some time ago withregard to Jack Harrison’s books.

I am trying to tie up the loose ends of various things, including miscellaneous notes that I made about Jack and his tales. The reson for my contacting you is to ask if you know when Jack died – I was told that he passed away a few years ago (if he was still alive he would be 110!) but I cannot find anything on the internet about his death (in fact there is very little about him at all on there). 

Years back when I was singing around the folk clubs I put togerther a little “show” telling about Jack’s life and singing songs based on some of his stories, which I would like to compile into a readable document, thus it seems only fitting that I should include the date of his passing.

Best wishes for 2019
Peter Chadbund

If you can help, please do get in touch – Comment here, hit me up on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Cannock Chase, Chasewater, Fun stuff to see and do, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

There’s a great autism support group meeting in Brownhills today and every Tuesday!

Just a heads up to let folk know that there’s a popular and regular autism support group meeting in Brownhills every Tuesday lunchtime from 1:30-2:30pm at the Smithy’s Forge pub, Lichfield Road, Brownhills, just off the Miner Island.

For parents, carers, etc. of children and adults with autism.

Weekly support group every Tuesday at the Smithys Forge, Brownhills 1:30-2:30 🌈


The group has been running for a few weeks now and is growing in popularity – so why not pop along to see what it’s all about?

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New Year 2019 photo competition – the results are in!

Mark Hollowood
Winner!
Julie Handley
Winner!
Eryl Powell
Winner!
Tracey Newton
Winner!
Claire Georgina
Winner!
Fred Butler
Winner!

Right, it’s been a hellishly difficult thing to do, but the judges (Myself Bob, Phil Griffin, David Evans, Linda Mason, Phil Griffin, the young David Evans and the Wee Pickle have pondered and head scratched in the last two weeks to find the winners and runners up of the BrownhillsBob/Brownhills Blog 2019 New Year Photo Competition.

I’d like to thank all entrants for their patience, and for their wonderful, beautiful entries. If you haven’t won, our commiserations, but there were so many brilliant images it was a very tough task. Yet again we were astounded and very proud of the very creative, talented folk out there. You’re all fantastic.

You can see the entire gallery of entries by clicking here.

If you were unlucky, there will be a similar competition over the midsummer as we did last year.

There is an additional runner up of David Evans who entered, although he was a judge – but his picture was such fun he gets a special mention! He’s a top lad. Thank you mate. Gwarn The Wood!

The winners, who each win a mini keg (8.8 pints) of Backyard Brewhouse ale which is brewed in Brownhills to great acclaim – (you’ll have to collect from the Brewery in Lichfield Road) are Claire Georgina, Eryl Powell, Mark Hollowood, Tracey Newton, Fred Butler and Julie Handley. We all agreed these were superb images that conveyed the spirit of the season or local area.

If winners are teetotal or too far away we’ll sort something out.

The runners up will each receive a book prize: I have a selection of used but good condition books on local history or themes and I’ll pass the list around: Pick the one you want and I’ll post it to you. Runners up are Simon Cartlidge Swain, Suzanne Symes, Stuart Cattle, Emma Mycock, Andy Matthews and Donna Purchas. Again, all are excellent images. I was very hard choosing winners.

I will be in touch over the next week or so with prize winners – please bear with me as I’ve not paid for the beer yet and I’ll need to know what they have available at the moment and what your choice is. Sorting out the prizes is always a fairly long process. Please be patient 🙂

Prizes are as ever, are funded out of my own pocket – there are no sponsors and no funny stuff, this is purely for the community and the fun of it. The judges decision is final.

This competition has been for enjoyment and good feeling, thank you all for being so wonderfully community spirited, and for sharing the very best of what you found. It’s been a blast.

Thank you everyone.

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When The Wood saw stars…

Last week I teased that David Evans had been granted access to a remarkable local football artefact, the souvenir program and signed photo of a star-studded charity football match the took place at Walsall Wood FC’s Oak Park ground on Sunday, October 20th 1963.

I’d heard much said about this unusual sporting occasion: That stars like Sean Connery and Tommy Steele played on the hallowed turf in Walsall Wood. I’d always thought the claims fanciful – but no, I was wrong: The match did indeed happen.

A celebrity eleven at Walsall Wood FC with some remarkable signatures. Who can you spot? Click for a larger version – thanks to Mr. George Taylor for generously sharing this remarkable material.

And it did feature… Sean Connery, Tommy Steele, Des O’Connor and a whole bunch of other stars of the day. Lord alone knows how a Fire Service Charity based in the Midlands and a relatively small local football club pulled this off.

But they did. You can peruse the program by clicking on the pages in the gallery at the foot of this post or by downloading it in PDF form by clicking here.

David wrote:

I received a phone call from Andy Roper, President of Walsall Wood Football Club a week ago. This amazing copy of the souvenir programme and the autographed photo has been very kindly donated to the club by the executors of the late Mr Jess Teesdale.

Mr Jess Teesdale was present at this amazing event and was himself a successful local footballer who had a trial for Shrewsbury Town FC.

Along with this wonderful artefact two trophies that Mr Jess Teesdale won during his football career have been kindly donated to the football club to be awarded by them to deserving players in the Junior sections, in his memory.

This is a lovely gesture by Mr George Taylor, not only to make this offer to the club, but especially to offer to Brownhills Bobs blog so that this piece of local history can be appreciated by the many readers of the site, nationally and internationally, and also that it may be preserved for posterity digitally.

David Evans
January 2019

Thanks to George, Andy and David for a really remarkable bit of communal history – which also goes to so that sometimes, the truth really is stranger than you can actually imagine..

Were you at this match? Did you stare open mouthed as the great and the good arrived? Did a star sign something for you?

What do you remember of the day the stars played at Walsall Wood? Please do comment on this post, email me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or add your two penneth on social media.

Click on any page in the gallery below to see it full size.

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It’s a fair Coppice!

Here’s an interesting postcard spotted on everyone’s favourite tat bazaar, eBay this week – a card I’ve seen before but never, ever in this clarity. It’s fascinating.

The Coppice, Brownhills, probably pre-Great War. Image from an eBay sale posted by Captain Oaty. Clcik for a larger version.

The card shows a lady and child, posed sat in a wood, with the name ‘The Coppice, Brownhills’ – there’s no date whatsoever but I suspect it’s late Victorian or pre Great War at least – it’s published by Jackson, of High Street, Brownhills.

I suspect it’s a photo taken in Birch Coppice, the remains of which still exist behind the Hussey Estate just off Coppice Lane; once it stretched over the land from the estate all the way to Coppice Side. It was, of course, mostly destroyed for the clay pit.

There was a large house on Coppice Lane called The Coppice, which appears, like Coombe House nearby, to have been a manager’s house. It’s unclear when that was demolished. Coombe House was lost in the early 1970s.

What I’m wondering is this: Are the lady and child known, can we identify a location more specifically, and who were Jacksons in Brownhills High Street?

If you fancy buying this card the auction is running and it’s £5:50 at the time of publishing this post and can be viewed by clicking here.

Come on folks, what do you know? Please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com – or tug my coat on social media.

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Walsall Wood FC at home against The Mikes this afternoon!

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Walsall Wood FC have a great reputation for entertaining football, and a keen, loyal and friendly bunch of supporters! Come join in the fun this Saturday and see some cracking football.

Today, Saturday 26th January 2019

The Wood are at home, entertaining The Mikes!

Walsall Wood FC versus Boldmere St Michaels FC

Kick off is 3:00pm

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood! 

Oak Park, Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood. WS9 9NP.

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why not Stay and Play – at Brownhills Community Centre this morning

If you’ve a child or children under 4 years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 26th January 2019 from 10-11:30am.

It costs just two quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery teachers.

There are games and toys and all manner of fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

A Play & Stay group located within Brownhills Community Centre and The Lamp.

We run our group every Saturday morning 10.00am-11.30am. 
We welcome all children aged 0-4 with a cost of just £2 per child.

This includes a healthy snack & drink.

Each week we play within Little Green Dragons nursery and always have a creative activity accessible alongside all other areas of play such as construction 🚧 small world area🚗 book corner 📚 home corner 🏠 maths area 1️⃣2️⃣3️⃣ with a range of activities to suit ages 0-4 years 🖍
We welcome all children age 4 and under and adults to come along too our play & stay community group 😁

Feel free to pop in and enjoy some quality time with your little ones ⭐️
Add our Facebook page – Brownhills Stay&Play 🌈🌈🌈🌈

The Community Centre is what my generation would know as ‘The Annexe’ – the old Central Boy’s School, now a bustling community resource. To find out more,  you can pop in or call them on 01543 452119.

The Community Association have lots of stuff going on, and loads of great facilities, right in the heart of Brownhills. I love what they’re about and all the great things they’re doing.

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Plea to find family of two deceased former Walsall residents

Walsall Client Welfare Services Department have issued an appeal to trace the families of two Walsall residents who recently passed away in local care homes – Mr. Royston Coles aged 86, of Walsall and Mrs. Edna Thompson aged 96 of Leamore.

Edna Thompson was a Leamore resident.

I realise these appeals are not immediately local, but relatives can be spread far and wide so these requests are essential, and I really feel for anyone who passes away alone.

Client Welfare Services  issued the following request this morning, 24th January 2019:

Assistance sought to find family or friends of deceased man

Local residents are being asked to help with the search for relatives and friends of a man who recently passed away at Crossways Residential Home on High Gate Road in Walsall. 

Client Welfare Officers are keen to get in touch with any family members or friends of Mr Royston Coles, aged 86, previously of 21 Autumn Close, Walsall, WS4 1DU. 

Officers extend their sympathy at this time and would be grateful to hear from relatives or friends of Mr Coles or anyone who might have helpful information about his family so that proper arrangements for his funeral can be made. 

If anyone has any information about Mr Coles they are asked to contact Walsall Council Client Welfare Services on 01922 655551.

This appeal was issued on Tuesday, 22nd January 2019:

Assistance sought to find family or friends of deceased woman
 
Local residents are being asked to help with the search for relatives and friends of a woman who recently passed away at the Willows Nursing Home in Darlaston.
 
Client Welfare Officers are keen to get in touch with any family members or friends of Mrs Edna Thompson, aged 93, previously of 297 Bloxwich Road, Leamore, Walsall, WS2 7BD.
 
Officers extend their sympathy at this time and would be grateful to hear from any relatives or friends of Mrs Thompson, or anyone who might have helpful information about her family so that proper arrangements for her funeral can be made.
 
If anyone has any information about Mrs Thompson’s family they are asked to contact Walsall Council Client Welfare Services on 01922 655551.

Thanks in advance. If anyone would prefer no to contact the council directly for whatever reason, email me at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot come and I’ll pass any messages on.

Although such appeals by Councils are a legal requirement, I’ll always support them and run them; this blog has a large readership now, and someone out there may just unlock a mystery. It must be horrible to lose a parent, sibling or child and not know, whatever the relationship between you. Nobody should ever pass unmourned. Closure is important.

If you’re wondering why we suddenly see a lot of these, Walsall Council (as with any authority) have always had a legal duty to trace relatives in such cases, but formerly used classified adverts in local papers. Recently, they’ve wisely started using social media, too.

Thanks.

Posted in Environment, Local History, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s not too late to ramble with a popular local historian in his latest book!

I had an email from local historian and author Clive Roberts yesterday, pointing out that his latest book ‘Ramblings of a Local Historian’ is still available, but is selling out fast – so be quick if you want a copy.

Clive has previously written excellent and sought after books on Shire Oak, Walsall Wood and Brownhills. He comments and contributes frequently here on the blog and is a stalwart of the local history community.

In this work, Clive covers a diverse range of subjects – including a lost canal wharf in Brownhills I knew nothing about, some great info on Manchester House in Brownhills High Street and the book will be packed with photos and archive material.

Clive wrote and published parts one and two of the pubs of Brownhills over the last two years, which have proven a great success, and this book continues Clive’s painstaking and fascinating work.

I know Clive also sells by eBay and can pop copies on there if requested.

Clive wrote:

Hello Bob and readers of the blog.

Just a reminder that my latest book is still available, but there aren’t may left.

The book is on sale at Brownhills Library. The book covers mainly Brownhills; there’s a bit on Clayhanger; Pelsall; and Walsall Wood also.

Price: £8 each and there’s 59 pages.

I will also put it for sale on eBay next week.

When they’re gone they’re gone, so please get in quick!

Best wishes
Clive L. Roberts

Clive’s previous works have garnered him a great reputation for well researched, engaging local history writing that uncovers detail that others may well miss. They are written in a friendly, conversational style and are an absolute treat.

If you have any questions or observations for Clive, please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at  Googlemail dot com, and I’ll draw them to his attention.

I wish Clive all the best – this is a fantastic book!

Posted in News | Tagged | 2 Comments

There’s a great autism support group meeting in Brownhills today and every Tuesday!

Just a heads up to let folk know that there’s a popular and regular autism support group meeting in Brownhills every Tuesday lunchtime from 1:30-2:30pm at the Smithy’s Forge pub, Lichfield Road, Brownhills, just off the Miner Island.

For parents, carers, etc. of children and adults with autism.

Weekly support group every Tuesday at the Smithys Forge, Brownhills 1:30-2:30 🌈


The group has been running for a few weeks now and is growing in popularity – so why not pop along to see what it’s all about?

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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.
Posted in News | 11 Comments

When the stars came to The Wood

Bit of a teaser here for something coming soon – lots of people hereabouts fondly remember a charity football match at Walsall Wood FC that took place on 20th October 1963 – well, intrepid football fan and researcher the young David Evans has been on the case and we have a whole tranche of material on this match to share with readers soon.

For starters though, take a look at this:

A celebrity eleven at Walsall Wood FC with some remarkable signatures. Who can you spot? Click for a larger version – thanks to Mr. George Taylor for generously sharing this remarkable material.

David wrote:

I have been given this autographed photo and full souvenir booklet to scan and will send the scans to the blog, from the 20th October 196 celebrity football match at Walsall Wood’s Oak Park ground.

I have been told that Max Bygraves and Sean Connery arrived in a big posh car at the ground… I hope to interview the person who has donated this to see if there is more to add.

The match was fund raiser for the fire brigade, organised by Staffs Fire Service so perhaps Godfrey Hucker can contribute info about this?

A very big thank you to Andy Roper, president of Walsall Wood Football Club for facilitating this and to George Taylor, the source of this wonderfully historic material.

Cheers
David

Thanks to George, Andy and David for a really remarkable bit of communal history.

Were you at this match? Did you stare open mouthed as the great and the good arrived? Did a star sign something for you?

What do you remember of the day the stars played at Walsall Wood? Please do comment on this post, email me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or add your two penneth on social media.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

On Parade once more!

Well, that’s a few parish notices sorted out, so we can get on with a bit of history – and a great enquiry has come in from well-respected community elder Doug Birch MBE who has posed a number of really interesting questions about Holland Park, the Black Path and The Parade.

An early postcard of the bottom of the Parade, looking toward Watling Street and the back of the Hussey Arms. Note footpath on one side only and the rough nature of the road. Image from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geof Harrington.

Without further ado, here’s the mail I had from David:

Hi Bob

 A plea for help from a very respected member of the community.
 
I have had a wonderful telephone conversation with Mr Douglas Birch MBE this morning in which the following queries have been raised. Please can your readers and researchers help to answer them
    
1. When was the Parade ( the road that runs from Chester Road to Watling Street in Brownhills) built and opened?  Who built the Parade?
 
2. When were the  lines of magnificent trees planted along the Parade, near to the Chester Road?
 
3. When was the Black Path in its present form laid out? ( This path runs from near the library, crosses the common and leads to the Watling Street, near the Comprehensive School, I think….Is this an old way or a new path?

4. Half way along the Parade was the cricket field. Mr Birch recalls there being an old cottage near the entrance to the cricket field..by some sort of a track? 

5.  What was this track?
 
6.  When was the Band stand built… and demolished?
 
With my sincere thanks and kind regards
David

These are corkers and thanks to Doug for asking, and to David too for typing them up – where to start?

Well, we covered the early days of Holland Park in the Old Holland article here, and the bandstand itself has always been a fascination of mine, I’d love to know more about that.

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 Patch can be seen too. Mapping from the NLS Archive; click for a large version.

It has been said (and I’m hoping for help here) that The Parade followed the line of an early coal tramway. Is there any proof of that? There certainly wasn’t evidence of much of a road there on early mapping.

The trees – that fine avenue – I remember being saplings as a child; I remember when we had the cold winters in the 1970s the council used to erect a length of willow fencing on that grass as a snow-break.

Firemen practice hose drill in front of the bandstand at Holland Park in this evocative 1970s picture kindly shared by Godfrey Hucker. The building behind the fire engine was Brownhills town morgue.

I think the bandstand went in the 1990s but a remnant of it still remains, visible in the back wall of the toilets in Holland Park.

If you can help with any of these questions, it would make Doug a very happy man indeed – so please contribute if you know anything. Comment on this post, mail me or hit me up on social media.

The Junction of The Parade and Chester Road in Brownhills. Early 1960s, I suspect; note the lack of the Fullelove shelter. There’s the Hussey Arms in the distance; on the left the row of houses demolished for the Police Station. Just out of shot on the left would be the Fire Station. Image from a postcard for sale on eBay by GuyArab, spotted by reader Dean Rogers.
Posted in News | 19 Comments

Appealing for family and friends of Mr. Sam Bennett please

Hi folks.

Could anyone who’s friends with or related to Brownhills resident Mr. Sam Bennett please message Paula Horton (on Facebook here) please, or call John Horton on 07970678618. It’s quite important.

Thank you

Posted in News | 1 Comment

A great sing along showing of Mama Mia Here We Go Again this very evening in Brownhills!

Very late notice of something this evening (Saturday 19th January 2019) at Brownhills Community Centre on the Miner Island in Brownhills – a singalong showing of the feel good Abba-inspired film hit ‘Mama Mia! Here we go again’ in a relaxed, fun environment that everyone will love.

It kicks off at 6:00pm and there are still some tickets available! You can book online right now, so what’s not to love? Click here to buy yours – just £4 adults, £3 for kids/Concessions…

Brownhills Community Association wrote:

As it’s too cold for me glasses to steam up, it must be foggy out there. The 10 day forecast ain’t looking too grand either…

For a reminder of what that lucky old sun looks like, get yourself along to our special sing-along showing of this family favourite at the Lamp on Saturday 19th January 2019. Popcorn will be available.

Tickets from the website or drop into the office.
You’ll be sure of a warm welcome as we’re putting the heating on.

Tickets available online at the link below (no fees) or from 01453 452119.

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-lamp-arts-centre

If you haven’t yet visited The Lamp for a show, you really are missing out; it’s a wonderfully modern and intimate community theatre with a wonderful atmosphere operated by a lovely community of dedicated folk, located in the old Annex or Brownhills Central Boys School right there on the Miner Island in Brownhills. You can find out more here.

Please ring the crew on 01543 452 119 if you have any queries or need any help or email: info@thelamparts.co.uk.

There’s loads going on at the Activity Centre on the Miner Island in Brownhills!
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Here’s something for the kids to do late this afternoon in Clayhanger…

Lisa Taylor, one of the people who work hard to keep Clayhanger Community Centre a vital and well-loved resource for the village has been in touch to point out there’s children’s yoga on there late this afternoon (Saturday 19th January 2019), which looks like a great idea to me.

The session runs from 5-pm, and is for 7-14 year old boys and girls. Gear is provided and it’s just £4 a head. What’s not to love?

The volunteers at Clayhanger who work very hard indeed for nothing more than the love of their community deserve our support and respect and they’ve got some great stuff going on there – do pop down and check the place out.

The centre at Church Street – the former George and Dragon pub – provides excellent facilities and is a real asset to the community.

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Clayhanger Community Centre is the former George and Dragon pub in Church Street, Clayhanger. Imagery from Apple Maps.
Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just time to find out about the Friends of Chasewater right now!

I’m very late with this but just time if you’re quick to catch the start-up event for the rebooted Friends of Chasewater group, which has taken on a new format to promote our favourite reservoir and country park.

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I adore Chasewater, and I know many of the readers do too. It’s time it was promoted better – can you help?

There’s still time to pop to the Innovation Centre and find out what this is all about – and how you can help shape the future of the place and how it’s looked after.

The organisers said:


Chasewater Friends are holding a Launch Event on Saturday 19th January 2019.

10.30am – 12.30pm At Chasewater Innovation Centre.

We would love to meet you and chat about the group, its purpose and hopes, and hear your ideas and comments.

If you would like to join the Friends group, you can find out how!

There will be a short talk on the Park and its inhabitants, and free soup and a bread roll to keep you going! 

We look forward to meeting you

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Why not Stay and Play – at Brownhills Community Centre this morning

If you’ve a child or children under 4 years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 19th January 2019 from 10-11:30am.

It costs just two quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery teachers.

There are games and toys and all manner of fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

BROWNHILLS STAY&PLAY 
🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈
Saturday 19th January 2019
We will exploring our gloop & powder paint messy play tray 🎨 
Along with all our other areas of play within the nursery setting 
See you all Saturday …. 
10.00-11.30 
£2 per child 
Snack included 
Feel free to invite your friends with children aged 0-4 years and share our events … 
Thank you everyone hopefully see you Saturday 👍🏼
This group is held at Little Green Dragons Day Nursery every Saturday morning …

We also have spaces available within Little Green Dragons Nursery if you wanted to pop in and have a look around.

The Community Centre is what my generation would know as ‘The Annexe’ – the old Central Boy’s School, now a bustling community resource. To find out more,  you can pop in or call them on 01543 452119.

The Community Association have lots of stuff going on, and loads of great facilities, right in the heart of Brownhills. I love what they’re about and all the great things they’re doing.

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A festival of football – coming soon to Walsall Wood!

It’s a ways off yet, but there’s a great football event for girls interested in football coming this spring to Walsall Wood – and the organisers are appealing for teams.

Walsall Wood FC has several female teams under its umbrella and have a keen following. They play great football and are very popular.

On the weekend of May 18th-19th 2019, there will be a Girls Festival of Football at Walsall Wood’s Oak Park ground featuring competitions in multiple age ranges.

The organisers said:


Girls Festival of Football – 18th/19th May 2019.

In the past 24 hours alone we’ve been inundated with requests for entry forms – don’t miss out!

Email WalsallWoodLadiesFC@hotmail.com for further information or to secure your team’s entry.

Early bird team entry is just £30 before 31st March 2019, so get your booking in early to avoid disappointment. You can find out more by emailing the organisers on WalsallWoodLadiesFC@hotmail.com or visiting their Facebook page here.

An event page is also available here. It looks like a great weekend of wonderful football. Get over there and check it out!

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Lichfield repair cafe – get together and get things fixed this Saturday!

Never one to sit back and let life pass her by, that there Kate Cardigan from the wonderful Lichfield Lore is involved with the excellent Lichfield Repair Cafe project – which continues it’s regular residency this Saturday (19th January 2019) at Curborough Community Centre, Lichfield from 2pm until 5pm.

Kate, who’s more usually known for her excellent work with Lichfield local history group, Lichfield Discovered and other projects, started a community initiative to help people repair, recycle and put back to good use things that my be broken or need some love.

This looks like a great way to have fun, meet up with other like minded folk and also learn some new skills.

If you’re unsure where to find  Curborough Community Centere, check out their contact page here, and the address for twatnav wranglers is 37, Reynolds Close, Lichfield Ws13 7NY.

I’ll let Kate explain:

Hello! 

The Lichfield Repair & Share cafe meets again at Curborough Community Centre on Saturday 19th January 2019 between 2pm and 5pm. As a way of reducing waste whilst learning new skills, we have a team of volunteer repairers on hand to show people how to try and mend their broken or damaged items, rather than throw them away. 

Volunteers from the centre will be running a cafe with hot and cold drinks and cakes. Whilst there is no charge, voluntary donations are appreciated!

The cafe will be taking place at Curborough on the 3rd Saturday of every month and we are always looking for more people to get involved whether they want to offer their skills as a repairer or run a workshop. To find our more information, or to volunteer, please email lichfieldshare@gmail.com, join the group’s Facebook page Lichfield Repair Café or follow us on Twitter @lichfieldshare.

For more information, contact Kate Gomez at lichfieldshare@gmail.com or joing the Lichfield Repair & Share group on Facebook here.

Many thanks as ever!
Kate

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