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Brindley Heath


Brindley Heath brings together two important episodes in the history of Hednesford

Part of this site formed the western boundary of a colliery that was a prominent feature of the landscape for almost 70 years.

A few years after the colliery opened, the colliery company purchased a disused military hospital to house its employees and their families. The site became a thriving community known as Brindley Village, which was located about one and a half miles west of here.

This trail passes close to wildlife sites of international importance. Cycle wheels, horse hooves, and feet, can severely damage these sites, and out of control dogs disturb wildlife. Please help us to protect wildlife by remaining on designated routes and by keeping dogs under close control

West Cannock No 5 Colliery

West Cannock No 5 Plant (sometimes known as The Tackeroo or Fives) opened here in 1914. By 1919 the colliery employed 403 men, and its output was rising steadily

A postcard showing West Cannock Colliery No 5 Plant c1920.
Image courtesy of the Museum of Cannock Chase

A miner being comforted after an explosion at the
colliery in 1933, which killed six men and two horses.
Image courtesy of the Museum of Cannock Chase

Disaster struck in 1933 when, on May 16th, an explosion of firedamp ripped through the pit. Firedamp is a combustible mine gas consisting chiefly of methane that explodes when mixed with air. Six men died in the disaster, two were injured and thirteen were affected by afterdamp – the deadly poisonous gas that is formed after a firedamp explosion. On his deathbed, William Higgs described to his father the inadequate ventilation where he was working. He was about to leave when the blast occurred.

When it was nationalised in 1947, the colliery was renamed West Cannock No 5
Colliery. Production continued to rise through the early 1960s when the yearly
output was over 1,000,000 tonnes. It was not to last though, as the colliery had long been dogged by water problems that grew worse. In 1976 water affected the main production area and output began to decline. On December 17th 1982 the
colliery finally closed. Ironically, a new world record had been set the year before
when four seven-man teams tunnelled 251.4 metres in just five days!

Image courtesy of the Museum of Cannock Chase

The West Cannock Colliery Rescue Team

There were many local rescue teams that operated both across the Cannock Chase coalfield and within the wider region.

Rescue teams held annual competitions intended to display their skills and expertise in performing mine rescues. The competitions were entered into with great pride and the winners could go on to compete regionally.

The site today

In its last decade the colliery implemented a scheme that involved planting 7,000 trees. In 1975 a further 2,000 trees were planted on a newly landscaped tip. Many of the trees that you see here today are part of this legacy. The colliery’s surface buildings still remain and the site is now a small light industrial park
managed by Staffordshire County Council

Brindley Village

The Military Hospital

During the Great War a hospital was built at Brindley Heath to treat wounded soldiers and troops taken ill at the nearby military training camps. After the war
the hospital treated soldiers suffering from shell shock and gas attack, until 1924
when the hospital closed.

A postcard of the hospital after the Great War.
Image courtesy of Ray Smith

A new community

In 1924 the site and its buildings were taken over by the West Cannock Colliery Company. The abandoned huts were converted to bungalow-type dwellings, which were used to house miners and their families. The settlement soon became known as Brindley Village and by 1928, 58 families had moved there.

By 1929 Brindley Village had its own school, club and shop, and the hospital chapel had been re-dedicated as St Mary’s Church. However, in the late 1940s, the local Council decided that the villagers needed new homes. By 1955 all of the huts had been demolished and the families had been relocated to nearby Brindley Crescent.

The entrance to Brindley Village
Image reproduced by kind permission of Mr Dick Mason.

The ‘lost’ village

Few signs of the village remain. The site is now overgrown and to the
untrained eye looks much the same as any other part of Cannock Chase,
but for those who lived there, memories of Brindley Village and an
affinity to their old community remain strong.

Information provided courtesy of AnthonyHunt

Explore and discover
The Tackeroo Railway

During the Great War, two military camps were set up on Cannock Chase. In 1915 a railway line known as the Tackeroo was built to serve them. Primarily a goods line bringing in much needed supplies and equipment, it ran from the main line at Milford to the West Cannock No 5 Plant sidings here in Brindley Heath. The train that ran on the line became known as the Tackeroo Express.

The Irish labourers who helped construct the
Tackeroo railway were an unruly bunch, and
George Taylor, their foreman, had problems
controlling bad behaviour. In A Town for Four
Winters, C.J. and G.P. Whitehouse tell us that Matters finally came to a head when, in an improvised and flare-lit “ring”, George downed the Irish champion after a long-drawn-out and bloody bare-knuckle set-to. George’s life-long souvenir was a broken knuckle, but there was little more trouble.

The Tackeroo Express on the nearby Tackeroo railway line.
Image courtesy of Ray Smith

Our Tackeroo Express, Our Tackeroo Express!
The scenery is wonderful as you all confess,
Everything is splendid, especially the Mess,
From the sparks that fly, as we pass by,
on the Tackeroo Express.

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