April 29th – I made another call on my way home to check out the latest work on the heathland restoration on Brownhills Common between the Chester Road and The Parade, south of the Watling Street. Much local comment had taken of mass tree felling and carnage, so I was wary.
I needn’t have worried: The careful project continues to strip out most of the coniferous trees and saplings here, and standing upon a mound that was once a conifer plantation most of my view was now the varying greens of deciduous growth. Native saplings have been left, and the whole area opened up to the light.
Yes, there are tractor tracks on the main footpath, but other than that easily remedied damage, the work seems to be sensitive and in line with original plans.
You can already see the improvements in biodiversity and birdlife here, and that can only be great for the future of this wonderful heath.
April 26th – Clayhanger Common,early morning, not long after dawn.
Yellow army I surreptitiously helped establish here is massing around the grassland. Standing proud, in defiance of the land’s former history as a rubbish tip.
These flowers are a symbol of great progress, undercover as bright yellow, beautiful spring sentries.
May their invasion recur every year without resistance being encountered.
March 8th – Passing again from Shenstone in daylight, I stopped to take in The Little Holms, the western end of Shenstone’s Lammas Land, a public space that runs along the whole upper side of the village from rear the pumping station to the Birmingham Road, along the Footherley Brook.
This lovely spot gives a great view of the Victorian pump house, still in use with twin 200 horsepower electric pumps. With a storage reservoir underneath, this facility feeds Barr Beacon reservoir, and keeps Walsall and North Birmingham fed with clean water from it’s boreholes.
Brought into use in 1892, it pumps water from a 131 feet deep, 12 foot diameter well, with a 597 foot heading. The steam pump was retired in 1957, and now a 60 horsepower submersible well pump tops up a 10,000 gallon tank under the pumphouse.
After treatment there, water is pumped by 200 horsepower pumps up to Barr Beacon reservoir for distribution. These pumps can supply 1,500,000 gallons per day, and are backed up by emergency generators.
The cottages were originally for the workers, but I think they’re private now. I love the attic conversion in the end one – that gable wind is gorgeous.
December 8th – A shock today, commuting on a cold, hard morning with the wind against me; I noticed today that the leaves had gone and winter was truly here. It was chilly, and I felt it in my bones.
The sun shone, though, and passing on the Ring Road, I noticed the site of the proposed new cinema between Tesco and Stafford Street in Walsall had been cleared of scrub and it looks like work might be about to start here.
It’ll be interesting to see what develops.