John I Chapter IV (now and then)

Some time back I found a black and white photograph of coal-laden boats at Anglesey Wharf, one of the places from where Cannock Chase Collieries shipped out their coal. I had it in mind to take a “now” picture, but as my motto is not carpe diem, I let it drift. A couple of weeks ago I took a print of the “then” picture so that when I passed the scene I could try to get the right angle. There was a substantial bush in the least convenient spot; it was as though someone had had the foresight to obstruct just such a project.

Anglesey Wharf then …
… and now

Today, however, I found that the rangers have been at work clearing scrub along the towing path side. So, here are the two pictures for comparison. There is little to go on, only the two metal chutes, which have lost their wings, and the general shape of the canal.

Ordnance Survey 1882-83, reproduced with the permission of the National Libarary of Scotland.  The photographs were taken from north of Burntwood Road Bridge, close to the long building.

What has this to do with my kindred? Well, great grandfather John Dennis would have passed this spot on his way to and from work six days a week. He would set off from his home at Howdle’s Cottages, in the bottom right corner, going northwards, across the canal at Burntwood Road Bridge, and along the railway, perhaps hitching a ride, to The Plant pit (off the north of the map). On the black and white image John would have walked along the path in the bottom right corner and then along the railway on the far side of the canal, passing right to left behind the conveyor. Parts of the route are now inaccessible and there are few remnants of the mining industry that so dominated the local economy.

I suspect the black and white image is from the time when the collieries were closing in the early 1960s. Maybe that is why it was taken. There are some others from a similar time.

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