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History And Us is a community of passion for people to engage with their history and heritage. Here we provide a space where people can contribute articles and share historical facts and thoughts with others. In this space people and organisations can showcase their own work and inspire others to explore history.

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Transport
22 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Miniature Railway at Trentham Gardens (August 2013)

Looking back through my archives, and there was a Miniature Railway at Trentham Gardens that I saw back in the August 2013 day trip to the Trentham Estate. It is near Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. Didn't have a ride of it at the time, but a return journey would have been about £2 each. There was a station here called Boathouse Station. The train they use is called Fern.

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Miniature Railway at Trentham Gardens (August 2013)





Looking back through my archives, and there was a Miniature Railway at Trentham Gardens that I saw back in the August 2013 day trip to the Trentham Estate. It is near Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. Didn't have a ride of it at the time, but a return journey would have been about £2 each. There was a station here called Boathouse Station. The train they use is called Fern.


During a day out to Trentham Gardens near Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, during August 2013, I noticed on my map that there was a Miniature Railway in the gardens to see. So while there I popped over to have a look at it. I didn't pay to go on it myself, but there was a charge of £2 per person (not sure if kids were free or not).

People get to ride up and down on the Miniature Train to and from Boathouse Station.

The Trentham Estate was originally home to Trentham Hall. There had been a house here since the 16th or 17th centuries. But the last house to be built here was by Charles Barry in the 1830s. It would have been fully demolished in the early 20th century, but part of it was demolished, but most of the shell remains. The gardens were designed by Capability Brown in the 1750s. The house and gardens were derelict when St. Modwen Properties purchased the site in 1996. But they restored the gardens and opened them by 2008. There is also a shopping village here.

Now back to the miniature railway.

It would have been open at Easter 2020 holidays (04/04/2020 - 19/04/2020), but assume that the gardens were completely closed during the lockdown / pandemic. Trentham Fern Train Trips this Easter. Tickets would have been: for a Return trip: £2 per person. Return trip with Annual Ticket Holder discount: £1.50 per person. Single trip: £1 person.

 

The photos below were taken during the 11th August 2013.

The tracks are of a narrow gauge. This way to the station.

Welcome to Boathouse Station. The Railway is open. The fare is £2. Way in to the right.

Passengers sit on the open carriages as the miniature train goes around the rails.

The train arriving at Boathouse Station.

The engine the driver sits on was called Fern. This is also called the Trentham Railway.

Everybody had got off including the train driver, while it waits at Boathouse Station.

Near the station the train can only got at a very slow 2 MPH.

A look further down the line to Boathouse Station.

Waiting for the next passengers.

There was also some wooden sheds to the left, maybe they store the train in there?

Later saw another passenger load having a ride on the Trentham Railway.

The train just goes around the track in circles. I think there was only one station.

The last I saw of it, the train was going around and on to complete the loop with a handful of passengers.

For another post about another light railway in a park. Have a look at Evesham Vale Light Railway in the Evesham Country Park (August 2014).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks to all my followers.

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80 passion points
Classic Architecture
21 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Tour of Sarehole Mill during the Open Day in October 2013

Come with me as we have a wonder around Sarehole Mill. This was during the Open Day in October 2013 during the We Are B28 Hall Green Arts Festival. The mill had been restored again to full working order in the Winter of 2012-13. The last full restoration was back in 1969! After a look outside we go inside and up the mill to see the machinery where they grind flour, using the water wheel.

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Tour of Sarehole Mill during the Open Day in October 2013





Come with me as we have a wonder around Sarehole Mill. This was during the Open Day in October 2013 during the We Are B28 Hall Green Arts Festival. The mill had been restored again to full working order in the Winter of 2012-13. The last full restoration was back in 1969! After a look outside we go inside and up the mill to see the machinery where they grind flour, using the water wheel.


My previous Sarehole Mill / JRR Tolkien posts are here:

Sarehole Mill

On Sunday 6th October 2013, there was a free Open Day at Sarehole Mill during the We Are B28 Hall Green Arts Festival. While thre I got a chance to look around the mill, including around the Mill Pool, and more importantly inside. You could head up the wooden stairs and get to the top of the mill, and see the machinery in action, or what used to be used. The mill had been restored over the Winter of 2012-13 (including the dredging of the mill pool). The last major restoration took place back in 1969.

Some history. Sarehole Mill is a Grade II listed watermill located in the Sarehole area of Birmingham (now on the Moseley / Hall Green border). You can access it now via the car park on Cole Bank Road (via the building used as the shop and ticket office now). The River Cole flows past the mill through the Shire Country Park. It is known for it's association with J. R. R. Tolkien.

There had been a mill on this site as early as 1542. It was once known as Bedell's or Biddle's mill, after a name of an early owner. By 1727 it was known as High Wheel Mill. Matthew Boulton leased the mill as early as 1755, and he converted the mill to metal working. The current mill was built in 1771 and was in used until 1919. After that it fell into disuse and was derelict until it was restored in 1969, and taken over by Birmingham City Council. The Birmingham Museums Trust took over the running of the mill from the Council in 2012 and is now a museum.

 

Map of the area that Sarehole Mill is located in. Many buildings along the Cole Valley are now lost (including Sarehole Hall), but you can walk through th Shire Country Park. Today the John Morris Jones Walkway goes from Cole Bank Road to Robin Hood Lane.

 

This map shows more of the area around Sarehole Mill including Moseley Bog. Was used to illustrate the area that J. R. R. Tolkien grew up as a child.

Maps above taken from the Sarehole Mill Guidebook published by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in 2002.

 

Painting of Sarehole Mill in Hall Green, British School. 1850-1900. View from the Mill Pool.

Painting by George Willis Pryce (d. 1949) of Sarehole Mill. View from the Cole Bank Road.

The paintings above are Public Domain Dedication images taken from the Digital Image Resource of the Birmingham Museums Trust. Free to download.

 

Now onto my own photos of Sarehole Mill from the October 2013 visit.

After heading through the shop, you pass the Bakehouse to get into the courtyard area of the mill. What to do at Sarehole Mill?

Welcome to the Mill -----> Entrance to the mill is to the right.

The outside courtyard area of Sarehole Mill. On the day of this visit was a market for the We Are B28 Hall Green Arts Festival.

You can head out to the back of the mill and go round the garden area. There is also a back gate entrance / exit to the mill this way.

View of Sarehole Mill from the back. Remember to close the gate behind you.

Deep Water sign. Close the gate as you go in and out of this area.

View of Sarehole Mill from the Viewing Platform. Was a nice mirror image in the Mill Pool at the time (other times of the year the Mill Pool is usually full of algae).

Panoramic of Sarehole Mill with the Mill Pool.

During the Open Day, the view of Sarehole Mill was quite clear from the Wake Green Road. Usually this is all overgrown. You can imagine the artists that painted this view being on Wake Green Road when there wasn't too many trees growing on this side.

It's now time to explore the inside of the mill.

A view of the waterwheel as it was spinning at speed. Waterwheels had been used at the mill for centuries until it was replaced with a steam engine in 1852. It collects water from the Coldbath Brook (which flows into the River Cole). This is the north waterwheel.

Large cogs and gear wheels. The Mill Machinery. The power generated through the waterwheel is transferred to the mills gears to work all the machinery in the mill. The north waterwheel drives the gears which turns three pairs of milestones on the first floor.

The Flour Bins. Some of the many cogs / gear wheels that turn when the waterwheel is moving. The south waterwheel moves these gears and the flour bins where flour fell through hessian chutes from the dressing machines on the floor above.

This is the Sack Hoist. The ground floor of the mill was often called the bagging floor. Where wholemeal flour and the sieved graded flour was collected and put into sacks and bags.

One of the Millstones. The hopper is at the top. Grain falls through the chutes from the storage bin above. Below that is the vat. It collects the meal as it comes off the stones. Other parts include the shoe which directs the grain into the centre or eye into the millstone. Finally the iron damsel knocked against the shoe, shaking the grain into the millstone.

The Mill Machinery here was the crown wheel. This is near the Flour Dressing area. When grain has been ground it is called meal or wholemeal. This is a mixture of flour and bran. Dressing machines were used to separate the finer flour from the bran producing white flour. White flour was preferred in Victorian times to make white bread.

Now up to the roof of the mill. Mind your head. Up here was a pulley wheel. Steps ahead on the Tolkien Hobbit trail (link at the top for a post to that). This was the attic floor or garner where grain was stored before milling.

Another view of the pulley wheel in the attic / loft of the mill. Head room is quite low up here, so you have to duck and be careful. Farmers would bring their grain to the mill and it would be stored up here in sacks hoisted up from carts.

Next up in the attic / loft area was The Lucam. The trapdoor in the Lucam only opens upwards  and is hinged with leather hinges. The sack hoist mechanism once connected to the waterwheel but is no logner in place. The grain would be stored up here until the miller was ready to grind it. It would then be released through the holes in the bottom of the bins, into the hoppers above the millstones.

Saw this wooden wheel. Appears to be a strap around it. This was inside of the lucam, the projecting structure at the front of the building. This was where grain sacks woule be hoisted through the trap door into the garner from carts below.

Heading downstairs from the first floor. It looks like that they replaced the original staircase with a new wooden one.

The steam engine. There had been a steam engine at Sarehole Mill since about 1852. It was a sizeable investment, but the waterwheel had been repaired in 1851. This is not the original Sarehole Mill steam engine. But is of a similar size. Compact steam engines were suitable for small workspaces. This engine was used for over 100 years. Owned by Smith & Co which began in London in the 18th century. This one came from the Messina factory in Italy. It closed in the 1860s and the engine came back to London where it was in use until 1948. It was displayed at the 1951 Festival of Britain and was donated to the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry in 1952. It came to Sarehole Mill in 1975.

A Tull seed drill. Probably a Jethro Tull seed drill. Used for positioning seeds in the soil and burying them to a certain depth. It is possible that the miller or local farmer grew the grain in the surrounding fields. The land that is now the Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground could have been used for that purpose.

In this room was somewhere for kids to make something with straw (by the looks of it). This would also be used as a school classroom for visiting school children and their teachers.

I later saw kids with their moms making something down there. They would learn all about the mill in here, and make things with straw, such as weaving a basket.

 

Beyond Sarehole Mill, there are walks along the Millstream Way in the Shire Country Park. Head towards Yardley Wood via the John Morris Jones Walkway, The Dingles, Trittiford Mill Pool and the Scribers Lane SINC. Or head towards Small Heath via the Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground, Greet Mill Meadow, Blackberry Way and Burbury Brickworks Nature Reserve. I've not been beyond the Burbury Brickworks, but you can walk or cycle as far as The Ackers Trust and Grand Union Canal. All along the River Cole.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks to all my followers.

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70 passion points
History & heritage
20 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The remains of a fortified manor house at Weoley Castle

Did you know that Weoley Castle was once a fortified manor house for the Lords of the Manor of Dudley? Dating to 1264, it was built for Roger de Somery. There is evidence of the site dating back to Norman times and being surrounded by a moat. Now owned by Birmingham City Council and run by the Birmingham Museums Trust. I saw it in December 2015 from outside of the gate / fence.

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The remains of a fortified manor house at Weoley Castle





Did you know that Weoley Castle was once a fortified manor house for the Lords of the Manor of Dudley? Dating to 1264, it was built for Roger de Somery. There is evidence of the site dating back to Norman times and being surrounded by a moat. Now owned by Birmingham City Council and run by the Birmingham Museums Trust. I saw it in December 2015 from outside of the gate / fence.


Weoley Castle

I went to check out Weoley Castle during December 2015. At the time the site was closed, so was only able to get my photos through the green gate and fence. It is located off Alwold Road in Weoley Castle (the suburb that was named after the castle / manor house).

Now run by Birmingham Museums Trust and owned by the Birmingham City Council. The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade II listed building. There is more details on the offical Birmingham Museums website About Weoley Castle. The ruins are well over 750 years old. The fortified manor house was built for the Lords of Dudley. The castle used to be surrounded by a large deer park which stretched for 1000 acres.

The castle had arrow slits, a moat, a curtain wall, towers and battlements. But all of that is gone now, apart from the stone remains visible above ground.

In 1264, Roger de Somery was licenced to crenellate his manor house. Fragments of a 13th century wooden buildings have been found here. There was also a detailed survey of the site in 1422. Most of the ruins we see today dates to the 1270s. The King at the time (Henry III) gave the Lords of Dudley permission to fortify his castle in stone.

Although described as a castle, it was just a fortified manor house, surrounded by a large moat. Moated sites were common across Birmingham, but none remain today.

 

On this sign below is drawing of what Weoley Castle could have looked like in it's heyday. The Bourn Brook flows under the castle site, it used to feed the water into the moat. It's now in a culvert. There had been a farmhouse on this site for many centuries, but was described by the 17th century as a ruined castle. The Birmingham Corporation bought the estate in 1930.

The nearby road Alwold Road was named after a Saxon chieftain in the local area. After the Norman Conquest the land was given to William Fitz Ansulf who became the Lord of Dudley and lived at Dudley Castle. What you see today was built for Roger de Somery, who was the Lord of Dudley at the end of the 1200s. By 1485 the castle was owned by William Berkeley, who lost the castle when he fought for Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. The Dudleys sold the land in 1531 to Richard Jervoise a wealthy cloth merchant. He didn't live here. A farmhouse was built nearby in the 18th century. It remained rural land until 1930 when Mr Ledsam the then owner of the land sold it to the Council. The archaeological digs took place here between the 1930s and 1950s.

It would have been nice to walk around the grounds, but when I went in December 2015 the gate was locked, so could only see it from the outside. I've yet to go here on an open day, but was probably best when it was closed to get it without any other people.

The ruins of the stonework to the left.

This was one of the oldest remaining buildings in Birmingham.

The moat would have gone all the way around the castle, where the lower grass levels are now.

There used to be an imposing gatehouse and a great hall, but you can't really see that now.

There would have also been private rooms for the lords and ladies of the manor, and there used to be a kitchen with a large fireplace for cooking. Bit hard to tell now where that was though.

It's remarkable that any of the stonework has survived. I suspect that it must have been destroyed by the mid 17th century (or in the 16th century?).

Probably buried for centuries until archaeologists dug up the remains. Then later the grass layers were changed to keep the stonework above ground.

More stonework details.

By this point I was running out of things to take, so was retaking the same stone wall again.

I also took a panoramic, of which a crop is seen below (was only grass to the right anyway).

More stonework details.

The ruins here reminds me a bit of the Priory Ruins in Dudley.

There also used to be a family chapel and stables on the site back in the 13th century onwards.

Also missing from Weoley Castle was a brewhouse that used to be somewhere on the site.

The ruins can be views from a Viewing Platform which is open every day. There is also tours of the site once a month from January to November each year (for a fee). Direct access to the ruins is on open days with a pre-booked guided tour. The viewing platform is free, but there is usually a charge for events.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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70 passion points
Green open spaces
19 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

West Smethwick Park a memorial to the Chance Brothers

Some of my earliest visits to Smethwick was in June 2012. I returned to Smethwick to find the Malcolm X blue plaque in West Smethwick. While there, I popped into West Smethwick Park where there is a pair of memorials for the Chance Brothers. One for James T Chance, the other for John H Chance. I didn't really explore that park at the time, so after seeing the memorials, I headed on.

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West Smethwick Park a memorial to the Chance Brothers





Some of my earliest visits to Smethwick was in June 2012. I returned to Smethwick to find the Malcolm X blue plaque in West Smethwick. While there, I popped into West Smethwick Park where there is a pair of memorials for the Chance Brothers. One for James T Chance, the other for John H Chance. I didn't really explore that park at the time, so after seeing the memorials, I headed on.


West Smethwick Park

I went to West Smethwick Park in Smethwick back in June 2012. At the time it was my second trip to Smethwick within a month (within 5 days actually), as I wanted to find the Malcolm X blue plaque on Marshall Street. While there I headed to the nearby park.

The park is located in the St Paul's ward of Smethwick. It opened on the 7th September 1895. The park features memorials to the Chance Brothers. The park was founded by Sir James Timmins Chance who donated the land as a park to the public forever. The park has memorials to both James T Chance and his brother John Homer Chance.

 

The park is located on Victoria Road in Smethwick. With Holly Lane to the east, West Park Road to the north and St Paul's Road to the west.

 

The main entrance gates from West Park Road.

On one of the terracotta gateposts it reads:

The Gift of 
James T. 
Chance 
for the 
use of the 
Public

Welcome to West Smethwick Park in Smethwick. Noticeboard with a map of all the park locations all over Sandwell.

Approaching the Memorial to James T. Chance.

The memorial is Grade II listed. It dates to abouyt 1900. Made of red brick and terracotta. In the centre is a bronze bust of James T. Chance (1814 - 1902).

Zoom in to the bronze bust of James T. Chance.

Below is this plaque which reads:

James T. Chance
M.A J.P. D.L.
For fifty years a partner in the firm 
of Chance Brothers & Co. 
at the Glass Works Smethwick 
and the Alkali Works, Oldbury
He purchased the land for the park, 
laid it out and endowed it 
and on September 7th 1895 opened it
A gift to the public for ever.
He also made the roads on its East and West boundaries.

A view slightly back of the central section of the James T. Chance memorial.

There is a fence / railings that goes all the way around the memorial.

Apart from the memorials to the Chance Brothers I also saw this outdoor gym exercise machine. A bit like rowing a boat.

Next up is the Memorial to John Home Chance. It was a stone drinking fountain. Dated to 1905.

John Homer Chance died in 1900. He joined the family firm in 1850. A ceremony took place here in June 1905 to unveil the drinking fountain.

At the top of the drinking fountain on this side it says John Homer.

On this side is says Chance A.D. 1900.

As far as I am aware the drinking fountain is no longer in use, and wasn't anything inside of it. Behind a view of the park and the trees.

The only other thing I took in West Smethwich Park was this sign, warning that there is no unauthorised access to water. And children must be supervised by their parents at all times.

I didn't have a full look around the park at the time, so I missed a large lake. Which is the Boating Lake. One day I will need to go back for a proper walk around.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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70 passion points
Modern Architecture
15 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Library of Birmingham and Baskerville House from 2010 to 2019

The view of the construction of the Library of Birmingham next to Baskerville House from 2010 to 2013. Then some other views in the years until 2019. Watch the cores of the Library rise, then the golden cladding then all the circles. Was even a view from where the Edward VII statue was installed.

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The Library of Birmingham and Baskerville House from 2010 to 2019





The view of the construction of the Library of Birmingham next to Baskerville House from 2010 to 2013. Then some other views in the years until 2019. Watch the cores of the Library rise, then the golden cladding then all the circles. Was even a view from where the Edward VII statue was installed.


Previous Library of Birmingham posts here:

Views of the Library of Birmingham next to Baskerville House. Construction from 2010 to 2013. Opened from September 2013. Views until the end of 2019.

2010

November 2010: views from the bridge on Centenary Way. The restored King Edward VII statue had just been installed in Centenary Square.

December 2010: slighty hazzy conditions at the end of the year.

2011

March 2011: A few more floors had gone up on the Library, up to about Level 3 or 4.

October 2011: The main body of the Library had reached the future home of the Shakespeare Memorial Room, while cladding had gone up to Level 3 or 4.

A perspective of the Library construction with Baskerville House from behind the statue of King Edward VII. Which had been in this spot for almost a year at this point.

December 2011: The rest of the golden cladding and windows goes up to Level 8. And the structure forms around the cylinder at the top where the Shakespeare Memorial Room and Skyline Viewpoint would be on Level 9. Cladding from Level 2 down to the ground floor was complete.

2012

November 2012: Only got a view from near the Alpha Tower towards the Library of Birmingham, Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory. From where I was would one day be part of the Arena Central development site.

2013

January 2013: A few days into the New Year and was these hoardings in front of Baskerville House. Cladding on the Library was complete.

The snow fall from the middle of January 2013. Can hardly see the Hyatt, while snow surrounds the Hall of Memory.

The snow was falling as I went past Baskerville House.

April 2013: From the bridge on Centenary Way. Compare to my earlier views from 2010 and 2011. From here the Library looked complete but wouldn't open for another 5 months. Flower beds were on the bridge over Paradise Circus Queensway.

August 2013: Near the end of the month, the hoards had gone, and the gardens opened up.

This landscaping would only last until about 2017 before Centenary Square was redeveloped again.

Broad Street panoramic including the Library of Birmingham, Baskerville House and Hall of Memory. Hanging flower pots in the middle. This is all now gone for Library Tram Stop.

September 2013: A few days after the Library had opened to the public for the first time, there was long queues as far as Baskerville House. I waited a couple of weeks more before going in for the first time.

I went into the Library of Birmingham for the first couple of times near the end of September 2013. Was still a lot of people around, but the queues were as long as when it first opened.

2014

November 2014: The Library of Birmingham had been open for 14 months and there was some scaffolding up on Baskerville House for some restoration work on the stonework. Poppies up for the annual remembrance commemorations.

2015

May 2015: A long queue on a Saturday morning at 11am to get into of the Library of Birmingham. Just two more years for this paving and the grass before Centenary Square was redeveloped again. Baskerville House shining brightly in the sunshine.

2017

December 2017: Nightshots for when the Library of Birmingham was lit up in all the colours of the rainbow when Birmingham was officially announced as the Host City of the Commonwealth Games 2022. Baskerville House lit up in bright white light. As was the Hall of Memory. Redevelopment of Centenary Square had started by this point.

2018

December 2018: Views of the Library of Birmingham from Bridge Street near the site of 5 Centenary Square at Arena Central (to date it hasn't been built). Formerly called 1 Arena Central. From here you could also see the BT Tower.

2019

December 2019: My last photos of the Library of Birmingham with Baskerville House were taken from Paradise Street, just beyond Town Hall Tram Stop. At the time Ice Skate Birmingham was in Centenary Square. Arena Central with the Alpha Tower and HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square to the left.

West Midlands Metro trams can now go past the Library of Birmingham. The extension to Centenary Square opened in December 2019.

For more tram photos in December 2019 at Town Hall Tram Stop see this post: West Midlands Metro tram in and out of Town Hall Tram Stop on the last weekend of the Birmingham FCM (December 2019).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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