WEST CANNOCK No.3 RE-OPENED

Well not really it's a bit tongue in cheek that headline, or wishful thinking.

It is actually the tunnel that went from West Cannock No.4, 1 and 3 plants down to the other side of the main Cannock to Rugeley mineral line, from were it emerge alongside West Cannock No.2 plant which closed in 1887 in the valley below East Cannock Colliery, it then ran over land going under the East Cannock Rd below the Globe Inn to end at East Cannock canal basin.

 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Karen & Gary Cooper for letting us print this story and for letting us see and examine the tunnel.  Thanks to you both

 

The Story.

The owners of 379 Cannock Road, Hightown Hednesford (on the Chadsmoor side of the Bridge Inn) Mrs Karen Cooper &  husband Gary were developing the site adjacent to their property to build a new house. The builders were at work digging footings when they hit a brick structure no more than 2ft 6in below the surface. On clearing the earth away they discovered the top of a red brick arch, after consultation, Karen called the building inspector in charge who asked told them to to completely clean the top soil away and take off the crown. It was then that the problems really started, ever tried to smash down into an arch, eventually entry was gained and they found it to be a tunnel full of red ash from a pit mound. The inspector required the red ash removed and tunnel filled with concrete (This is were the CCMHS got involved).  In the meantime Karen being an inquisitive type of lady contacted the Museum of Cannock Chase and asked them if they knew what the structure was but the answer was no they did not. The museum then contacted the CCMHS through Maurice Davies who phoned me (Alan Dean) on Thursday 8th April and passed on Karen Coopers phone number and request for help identifying the tunnel. I contacted her immediately and  explained that what she had in her garden was the remains of the twin track tramway used to carry coal to the canal basin at East Cannock. I reassured her that it was nothing more sinister than that but could we come and have a look and take some photos, no problem she said but there is now quite a lot of water in there after this rain. So armed with wellingtons, camera, and torch, Mick Drury, Mick Lucas and me went to have a look. When we arrived there was a short section of about 10ft opened and cleaned out we had a good look round, the fill had shrunk away from the top on settling and you could see quite away into the tunnel. I took some photos and we went away quit pleased that we had seen a piece of history that we thought had gone for ever. But no, on the next day Good Friday 9th April, Karen emailed me at 06.19am to say they had taken the top off the tunnel (the lady could not sleep) for a distance of say 30 ft and cleaned the inside and the concrete was set to be poured that day did we want another look as they had found a bottle and a vehicle and the tunnel had been revealed in all it's former glory. Well we could not miss the chance to see the tunnel with its top off  we got there at 8.15am and could not believe our eyes the tunnel was in the same condition as when it had been filled minus the top. While we were there the next set back for Karen's new house was came to light part of a neighbouring property on the Chadsmoor side appeared to have been built on the tunnel which gave obvious cause for concern. So on Good Friday plans to fill the tunnel with concrete were put on hold indefinitely. Then today Sunday 11th a Cannock Council Building Inspector advised Karen to block the end abutting the neighbouring boundary and  also to block the other end of the open tunnel/trench with corrugated steel piles and continue to mass fill with concrete as previously planned.

Well Karen's tunnel will be a talking point amongst local people for sometime to come, it cause quite astir with "some people" but Karen & Gary say they are not sorry to see it go but are pleased they had the opportunity to have seen it.

 Karen Cooper & Mick Drury peer down into the past 

Some Tunnel Facts:  - The dimensions of the tunnel were 8 ft 1in wide and 5 ft high from sleeper level to top (inside) of the arch apex, the walls and arch were 9 inches thick, bricks made at West Cannock brick works at No.1 plant. At floor level on the one side was a 4 inch/four hole flanged pipe possible a water range for water was pumped up to the top pits 1s & 2s pit until the 1950s from Stafford lane pool. The other side of the tunnel again at floor level was a 4 inch screwed range with parallel box joints possibly a compressed air range and also but in what position in the tunnel we do not know because it had been removed was a 2 inch steam range with unions and a steam trap. The sleepers were still in situe but obviously had rotted away along with the track for the slusher that had been used to fill the tunnel in about 1961. In the south end of the tunnel was found a brown glazed bottle which turned out to be a large ink bottle the type that offices used to keep ink in there was also a vehicle of some description a dan or tub but we were unable to see it as this end of the tunnel had been back filled again. In the garden the builders had unearthed a 3/4" steel wire rope the type used on endless haulages which in typical pit fashion was coiled everywhere.

PS: - Guess how is the proud owner of a hand made West Cannock house brick with the immortal words "WEST CANNOCK COLLIERY" cast into it circa probably around 1882 -1890. Only two were found with names I have the first one that came out and Mick Drury claimed the second one.

Photos Day 1   

           

Photos Day 2

             (       old rope buried in garden

Below is an ode penned by Mrs Karen Cooper to commemorate the find in her garden

AN ODE TO CCMHS

 

We began to dig in the ground

with a large JCB we had found.

Right under our nose a problem arose

and I gave a loud shrieking sound!

 

The inspector was called to the site

I didnít get much sleep in the night.

It could be a well or it could be a cellar

so keep on digging, said the council fella.

 

So we dug with all of our might

we found an astonishing site,

Its a tunnel...oh no. That means trouble

better dig out the red ash and rubble

and seek help for our historical plight

 

The CCMHS arrived on the scene,

there was Mick Drury and Alan Dean.

Why this is fantastic its gives us such pleasure,

I'll jump in the tunnel with camera and measure

and take sizes of this ravine.

 

We had better act rather quick

shouted Alan to his mate Mick.

For today we have found history under the ground,

and the prize of a WEST CANNOCK BRICK.