PATENT SHAFT

The Patent Shaft and Axeltree Company Est 1940

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Brunswick Park: Maybe the gates could be resited here?


Brunswick Park was my playground and many others that lived in the area it was opened by the Mayor Alderman Richard Williams J.P. on the 21st June 1887, to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. By the way I was not there myself.

Designed by William Barron and Son of Borrowash, Derbyshire, its 28 acres were purchased by Wednesbury UDC for £3,000 in 1886 from the Patent Shaft and Axletree Company Limited, and named after their Brunswick Ironworks. The site’s pit mound was retained as a feature.

For those interested William Barron (1800-1891) came to prominence in the 1830’s when the Earl of Harrington commissioned him to work on the grounds of Elvaston Castle, Derbyshire. Respected landscaper Humphrey Repton had originally been called in by the third Earl to oversee the project, but Repton turned down the commission, daunted by the unerring flatness of the estate. So, in 1830, the fourth Earl turned to previously untried gardener William Barron. Barron (pictured) spent the next 20 years working on the surrounding gardens, woodlands and pleasure grounds, introducing many revolutionary designs and techniques to the grounds including spectacular topiary, intricate drainage methods and a pioneering technique for transporting fully-grown trees from one location to another - a method necessitated by the Earl's impatience to see his gardens in full splendour.

Barron's work at Elvaston (Grade II* listed) established him as one of the most respected landscapes of his time and he and his successors enjoyed much prominence in the business for the next century. Other notable schemes attributed to Barron include Craig-y-Nos Castle and Country Park in Powys (Grade II* listed) and Abbey Park in Leicester (Grade II listed). It is recorded that a favourable site visit by the committee to Abbey Park resulted in Mr Barron’s subsequent commission for Brunswick Park.

Having lived in Crankhall lane for over 20 years and then Brunswick park road, the map looks incorrect, see what you think?

Well, below explains.

Bound on its western edge by Walsall Road/Wood Green Road, showing the line of a tramway, and on its eastern edge by the South Staffordshire railway line. Some housing is present across from the cemetery on Wood Green Road and on Foley Street (backing onto the park), but none appear yet on Crankhall Lane (now Brunswick Park Road).
The Lodge (1887), and its associated timber gates and railings, formed the main gateway to the park.
The Bandstand (1887), was probably supplied by the park’s creator, William Barron. Originally located in the north west of the park in an open setting, it was of a rustic construction.
To the eastern boundary is The Lake (1887).

Two Tennis Lawns were I often played are also shown in this open grassy area of the park, and to the south-east a Bowling Green used well after the Patent Shaft closed by the ex workers, and so were the benches, I used to see the ex workers sitting and chatting. To its west are marked some buildings/structures - possibly greenhouses - although this is not clear from the plan or any available literature.
The southern end of the site was dominated by the former pit mound. This was landscaped with a network of paths leading to the summit. The photograph shows a low wall with hedge along the path edge, and seats at intervals up the slope. A pair of Seating Shelters (1887) were located on the levelled top of ‘The Mount’, positioned to give extensive views over the park. They were apparently of a similar rustic construction to the bandstand.

Little has changed over this time apart from:
Crankhall Lane renamed Brunswick Park Road & housing now appears along here.
Drinking Fountain (1899): now appears on the map. This would be the cast iron original shown in the accompanying photograph.
Electric Clock (1911): donated by William Hunt to commemorate the coronation of George V. Positioned to the north west of the park, close to
the site of the original bandstand. The pillar was cast by Hardy Padmore and Company of Worcester, and the clock supplied by the Synchronome Company of London.
The bowling green seems to have been removed and incorporated into a general open grass area.


The original bandstand and shelters have gone (their rustic construction weathered badly). A new Bandstand (1928) was donated by Arthur H. Johnson O.B.E. from Northampton. Located more centrally - to the north of the ‘The Mount’. Here a terraced amphitheatre was created to accommodate seated audiences, each level being shored up with some Patent Shaft furnace slag, the residue of smelted ironstone, which I have seen plenty, trust me its very hot!!. The bandstand is octagonal in shape and is the only surviving example of its kind in the modern borough of Sandwell.
Bronze Lamps (1929): An additional gift from Arthur H. Johnson O.B.E. The two lamps took the form of nude female figurines, we used to laugh at them when kids, atop brick plinths, and sited either side of the stepped bandstand entrance.
The Pavilion (1926): located north east of the putting & bowling greens. The pavilion was a very popular attraction within the park, serving light refreshments and housing public conveniences.
A Whalebone Arch (post 1926): graced the approach to the pavilion.
The Lake has been remodelled as a Paddling Pool (1931). Been in there many times,
Two bowling greens, a putting green and two tennis courts appear on this map.

The paddling pool has been filled in & tarmaced for children’s play equipment. A multi-use-play-area has been added to this site more recently (2004). The pool was relocated westwards into the open grassland. This has since been filled in. For those that remember the whale!! one bone of the whalebone arch developed a fracture at its base in 1963, the pair had to be removed for public safety. Severe structural damage to the pavilion, caused by mining subsidence necessitated its demolition in 1990. Although the bandstand is still an important feature of the park, the bronze lamps no longer exist. The original fountain was replaced with the current model (date unknown).
The top of the Mount has been levelled for a football pitch which I payed on many times and there is a car park nearby off Brunswick Park Road.
On later maps a building associated with the bowling green is shown. This can be seen in the photograph also indicating the location and extent of the glasshouses. None of these buildings remain. The putting green was replaced by a crazy golf course and a new children’s play area installed in this location in 2002.
In 2005 the Bandstand was restored to its former glory and is now the focus for local events and concerts in association with the Friends group


A Multi Use Games area was constructed in 2005 on the site of the former play area.

In 2006 a toddler play area was installed to complement the junior play area constructed in 2002

BUT NO GATES

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Our history is being eroded just like these gates, please help me to restore these gates and the history they stand for. Well it looks like we have saved the gates and thanks to everyone that helped.

If you have any comments or maybe a bit of history about the Patent Shaft then please email to the address below. I will endeavour with your help to restore these gates and hopefully the memories they represented.

 

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