Rattlechain Lagoon (or mere) is a chemical Hazardous waste lagoon located in Tividale, Oldbury,Sandwell West Midlands near Birmingham.



Rattlechain lagoon was originally a clay pit created by Samual Barnett to supply materials for his Rattlechain & Stour Valley Brickworks. On September 9th 1899 the nearby Birmingham Canal New Mainline burst its banks, and this “water leak” flooded the clay pit to a depth of 300’. In the 1940’s, Albright and Wilson obtained the use of the pit as a waste disposal facility. They were a military contractor during World War Two producing white phosphorus based weapons. For the next 32 years the company tipped industrial waste into the pit – all totally unregulated and unrecorded. It is this toxic legacy which defines it as “a hazardous waste site.”

Public concern about what was being tipped there appears as early as 1957.

What “lies” beneath the water is a long story of denials, deceptions and a stain on the local area.


Rattlechain lagoon is a few hundred metres from Tipton Road (A457). It is surrounded by two legs of the Birmingham Canal, the Dudley Canal, and the Gower Branch Canal. It is a scant 60m from one arm of the Birmingham Canal. The River Tame runs past, about 150m away. Newtown Primary School is 500m away. The industrial units located nearby are giving way to new housing estates. The garden fences of some houses on Callaghan and Wilson Drives are within 20m of the lagoon.

Rattlechain lagoon is located in the middle of a heavily populated town . It is within the Sandwell Metropolitan Borough near Birmingham. The actual location is off Johns Lane in Tividale, Oldbury, West Midlands, National Grid reference S0 974 913. It also together with the chemical factory at large that supplied it within the parliamentary constituency of WEST BROMWICH WEST. The area is recognised as one of the most deprived in the country, and this has been linked to polluted areas in Britain.

Cat above Rattlechain toxic waste lagoon

Cat above Rattlechain toxic waste lagoon

The site is visited by birds and waterfowl, including swans, geese and ducks. Foxes and domestic cats visit the site.

Rattlechain Lagoon is known to contain several tonnes of  white phosphorus, as well as other highly toxic chemicals.

We will attempt to tell its long story, (warts and all) , and record the changes that have and will take place on the site in the coming years.

Look at the map. Zoom out and see where it is.

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7 Responses to Home

  1. John says:

    I find the information about the Rattlechain Lagoon very concerning. Why has these issues not been brought to the public’s attention before?

    What secrets do other local beauty spots hold? What will local people and wildlife suffer in the future following the consequences of such disgusting coverups from the past?

    • Ian says:

      Yes you’ll certainly “find it in Sandwell”. This one is just the tip of the iceberg, and some people like to publicise it’s “a borough to be proud of.” Unfortunately these type of things get buried like bad news John.

      • Mark Wilson says:

        The legacy of the Industrial Revolution (and what came afterwards) has left an impact on the Black Country (and parts of Birmingham) in general. There will possibly other sites dotted around where there are toxins beneath the surface water or soil, depending on what the site is or what was manufactured there. In fact, this is probably almost certainly the case.

  2. Rosemary says:

    I am so shocked to find this is in my local area! Very concerning!

  3. Lez says:

    Fantastic website – it’s about time people get to know about this Lagoon – Well done!

  4. heather ackrill-carron says:

    I am researching my paternal grandmothers family and was told that they worked for Sheldon Brickworks. Looking for information under the name of Sheldon gave no info or responses. Then fortunately I log in Tividale canal, and have turned up a wonderful cache of information, Sheldon name crops up in some reports but the owner is named as Samuel Barnett. I am still researching but would like to thank all the people who have made a contribution to make the “Lagoon” an issue. Who in their right mind would want to PURCHASE a home within wind distance of this toxic waste. Were all the buyers made aware of this before buying, are their funds in keeping for any health issues now and in the future? Any families with the name of Goode or Biggs in their tree, I would love to hear your response too.

  5. Chris says:

    The local council by there own admission boast about how many millions of pounds they have generated through sales of land in sandwell without considering the safety issues regards this site I have lived in sandwell all my life and know that this site has been used by albright &wilsons for years.And on one occasion the water level droped in this pool and people living on the site next to tip where advised to stay indoors and keep windows closed.This plan needs to be halted

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