Although I left Brownhills in 1960, I still think of it as my home town (despite having lived in Hednesford for some 44 years!), and since I finished work about 11 years ago, I’ve tried to have a walk around at least once a year. This has slipped a bit in the last two or three years but today I made it – complete with camera.I parked at Chasewater, by the Innovation Centre, instead of at the Railway – makes a change – and my trusty hound and myself went back over the bridge and turned left on to the public footpath by the old trotting track.The picture shows what’s left of the back straight. We went over to cross the A5 by the White Horse, and then on to the common.This pic shows the common not far off the A5. When we were kids, this area was long, tufty grass with lots of small pools in and around – almost impossible to walk across – so a great deal of work has been done to get the ground up to this standard.This is where the Brownhills St. James football team first started playing. This is somewhere else where a lot of work has been done. We never had a surface to play on anything like this – talk about jealous!! Passing through the gate and into the park we came to another pitch we used to play on.In fact, we were the first team to use it, the land the pitch is on was also reclaimed from long, tufty grass – you’d never believe it now. The only used to be a triangular path round the park leading from the entrance to some swings near the far gate, then across and along the fence by the cricket pitch to the ride called the ‘Boat’, then back to the entrance and the ‘Giant Stride’ and the ‘Witches Hat’.
On and out of the park and onto the Parade – an area that I don’t think too much of!Again, when we were kids, we used to have a kick-about along this area. If I remember correctly, there was a well spaced row of trees on either side of the parade but the grass area was just that – open grass. Now there doesn’t seem to be any light along there, the grass struggles to grow and when the leaves fall it becomes something of a mess (just my opinion but I much preferred the open space).Through Brownhills next, past the ‘Miner’ down the High Street and up Church Hill. Through the Church Yard and down Vicarage Road to Ogley Road. Turned left and went towards Newtown Bridge, getting on the canal side to walk back to Chasewater (I’ve got used to the name now, but when thinking back to Sunday afternoons of our youth, we still went for a walk ‘over the pool’ – a reference to the old name of ‘Norton Pool’).Walking along the tow-path, it’s nice to see that some of the residents on the far bank have made a very neat job of running their gardens down to the canal-side.Just putting my railway head on for a while, on the other side of this bridge, the railway and canal came together. It seems a shame that they both couldn’t have passed under the M6 Toll together, too. That bridge looks very wide just for a canal!That’s the direction the railway used to take. A level crossing across the road and on to Anglesey Sidings. The next picture faces the other direction.The track used to be here and a building which housed the old stables from way back. There’s plenty of room for a small station building and a run around loop, if only we could get there!The old track bed is still there for a lot of the way, but as you can see in top right of this photo, the road runs on some of it before running down to the island at the access to the M6 Toll. Shame. Not far to go to Chasewater now, so back along the canal. passing what is left of the loading gantry and the overflow from Chasewater.If the canal also gets full to overflowing, the water can run through the grating at the front of the picture and on to the low lying ground behind. Towards the basin and the start of the canal – where the water comes in from the reservoir.It would be nice to think that, sometime in the future, if the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Trust succeed in reopening the canal as far as Lichfield, and we at Chasewater Railway, should succeed in reaching the wharf, the basin would again be a hive of activity, this time for tourists. Well, we can but dream!