Charles G. Harper writes in his book The Holyhead Road (published in 1902) a vivid description of the area immediately south of Norton Pool:
We have reached that abomination of desolation called Brownhills. Words are
ineffectually employed to describe the hateful, blighted scene, but imagine a wide and dreary stretch of common land surrounded by the scattered, dirty and decrepit cottages of the semi-savage population of nail makers and pitmen, with here and there a school, a woe-begone chapel, a tin tabernacle, and a plentiful sprinkling of public houses. Further imagine the grass of this wide spreading common to be as brown, and innutritious as it is possible for grass to be, and with an extra-ordinary wealth of scrap iron, tin clippings, broken glass, and brick-bats deposited over every square yard, and all around it the ghastly refuse heaps of long abandoned mines. Finally clap a railway embankment and station midway across the common, and there you have a dim adumbration of what Brownhills is like.
Chasewater Heaths is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, being a region of dwarf shrub heath lowland. For some information see here
Gosh abomination of desolation called Brownhills - Bob will like that!
As for dim adumbration I had to look that up.
Can I take it Peter that Charles G. Harper was not enamored with the fine and resplendant parish of Brownhills? Regardless that is a lovely bit of writing, you have to admire the chap ! Well done and many, many thanks for sharing.
You are right I don’t think he was too impressed with Bob’s neck of the woods. Semi-savages he says!
And adumbration! That would certainly be a great “”word for the day”, I had never come across that before.
Now BrownhillsBob has recently started a blog of his own about life in the northern wastes of Walsall, but I am sure it has improved a little since Harper’s day.
Yeah, it's improved a little. All the tin clippings have been collected and sold for scrap... seriously, Charles Harper sounds like a fun kind of a bloke; at that time there was a fashion for literary travelogues for the nascent tourist, a preoccupation of the monied class - therefore, it was quite normal to use this kind of language toward poorer areas. Sad, really.
Cheers for the mention
We were almost talking about you behind your back, but I guess we was rumbled , as they say.
Of course another interesting travelogue written in 1933 is An English Journey by J B Priestley 1933
Yeah, I'd forgotton the Priestley, must pull it down from the shelf - of course, it's a noble tradition and very few were sneery - in fact, quite the reverse. Think of Cobbett's Rural Rides, or the gruesome reality of Orwell'd Down and Out in Paris and London.
In alighter vein, I'm a big fan of Arther Mee's King's England series, and of the 1970's Shell guides.
The people of this county have been particularly famous, and more than any other county in England, for good footmanship, and there have been, and still are among them, some of the fleetest runners in England; which I do not grant to be occasioned by any particular temperature of the air or soil, so much as to the hardy breed of the inhabitants, especially in the moorlands, or northern part of the county, and to their excercising themselves to it from their childhood; for the running foot-races seems to be the general sport or diversion of the county.
A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain by Daniel Defoe, 1724-7
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Photo taken in Burntwood, Staffordshire, UK
Misplaced? Suggest new location