Former Rose Lane and Brades Hall- From agriculture to industrial tips

This area of land forms quite a complex challenge to describe and also define visually  in terms of what it used to be and what it has now become. It is the middle part from which the land changed use from rough animal grazing in the major part, to phased housing development commencing from the 1970’s. It is the tipping part which forms the most controversial aspect. There is a great deal of overlap with land uses and planning applications associated with the rattlechain brickworks and subsequent land sell offs by the conman Sydney Sheldon who trashed the brickworks from the 1960’s onwards.  These will be referenced. The physical address of the brickworks itself is listed as being at Rose Lane.

The former Rose Lane ran as a paralleled  elbow to John’s Lane on the Eastern side, and from The Dudley Road/Tipton Road across to the aqueduct underneath the Birmingham Mainline Canal and railway line to the North. The wider lands both East and West of this division is in a large area stretching from the East across land to The Gower Branch Canal at one side, with  The Dudley and Tipton Roads to the South. West of this was the area of the former Tividale Sewage works, and the Rattlechain brickworks , including the “new” pit dug in the 1950’s which later became the “Duport’s Tip” .

Overlay map of Rose Lane in red from survey map of 1904, showing the extensive “burial” of former agricultural land by housing developments, stretching across the former road.


Panoramic view from 1950 showing Rose Lane marked in red. To the left The Rattlechain brickworks and Rattlechain lagoon, the Tividale sewage works, and bottom left, The Vono Lagoon.

The agricultural lands appear to have been prized by industrial actors for the advantage of their increasingly commercial activities, but also by various local authority projects judging by the planning history. Unfortunately these appear to have conspired in creating tips then housing for mutual benefit, and little environmental gain.

By the end of the second World War , the area West of The Rattlechain brickworks appears to have been largely agricultural grazing land. To The West the industrial concerns of Vono and The Rattlechain brickworks , as well as the Tividale Sewage works are quite definable. A strange barracks type formation is shown to the South of the brickworks, and i am not sure what this is, though maybe stacks of bricks? Only limited housing appears at Lower Chapel Street, off the Tipton and Dudley Roads where Rose Lane starts, and finishes at the aqueduct underneath the Birmingham Canal and railway line. Only the allotments off Dudley Road appear to encroach on the grazing area West of the Lane, which is bounded by the Gower Branch Canal and Mainline canal to the North.


1 Vono lagoon, 2. Vono Sports ground and associated lagoon, 3. Area of Rattlechain brickworks pit (Rattlechain lagoon), 4. Rattlechain brickworks, 5. Birmingham Mainline Canal, 6. Gower Branch Canal, 7. Brades Hall Farm, (Monks Farm), 8. Dudley Road allotments. 

Red= Rose Lane

Another 1950 view of the undulating land beyond Rose Lane looking towards the Birmingham mainline Canal and The Gower Branch canal

The land is described as “poor” by The Ministry of Agriculture, in a letter concerning a proposed development in 1952. This is obviously a matter of their opinion, but i would say that it appears much more pleasant from this view, than the vile foundry sand dump and punctuated by toxic waste that it became from the early 70’s! This application map numbered 994  shows Rose Lane marked clearly.

I have looked at the planning history for the brickworks  site in the 1940/50’s HERE, and the wider Rose Lane area encompasses many of the plans from this era, some of which were never enacted despite being granted permission.  Of particular note is application 216, of which there are some references to tipping, but this permission was NEVER a licence to tip across any lands East of Rose Lane, and referred ONLY to the former Rattlechain pit. A map of the site shows the locations of the non actioned 994 and of the 216 application, as well as the extended sewage works sludge drying beds . It is also apparent that the area between the Brades Brook and The Gower Branch canal is proposed as a Tipton college Sports ground.


1955, and route of Lane clearly visible on right of picture. Sheldon’s new marlhole has began to carve a visual scar into former agricultural land to the south of the brickworks.

A useful descriptive summary of the lands around Rose Lane is given, in part of a report in 1958 

The Vono company, and their successor even more so, (Duport) ,appear to have had a major destructive impact on the areas of land West of Rose Lane. An application 1311 for “the tipping of material at Tipton Road” was granted in 1953.

A further application 1734 “Levelling operations and erection of dwelling houses” came along in 1955. This was originally refused by Rowley Regis Council, citing the fact that it was at odds with the wider scheme for the area. It involved an extension of the carriageway at Dudley Road, and the demise of the allotments with three separate plots of land identified as A, B, and C.


However, at a sub committee meeting of Rowley Regis in April 1956, permission was recommended for approval for area A.

By 1961 the extent of the area can be seen to becoming increasingly overtaken by industrial concerns from The West. The mess of the Rattlechain brickworks new pit is encroaching on the road, the sewage works has expanded to the West also with sludge drying beds, and of course, the Rattlechain lagoon, once one single pit has now acquired a smaller “subsidiary” lagoon carved out by creating a causeway path.

The River Tame from Oldbury is visible, as is the Brades Brook which runs and meets the river. On the right of the Gower branch canal is the Brades Hall Farm, run by the Monk family. Though they owned land on this side to the East of the canal, I am not sure if they ever owned land to the West of this, and the term “Brades Hall Farm” has confusingly referenced the land to the West of the Gower branch in site licences, which I do not believe to be an accurate characterisation of this area.

Aerial photo from 1961, showing the East of Rose Lane as still largely agricultural land, but the blight had began to sweep across from the West.

  1. Rattlechain lagoon. 2. Rattlechain brickworks. 3. Birmingham Mainline Canal. 4. Tividale Sewage Works. 5. The new Rattlechain brickworks pit that would become “The Duport’s tip”. 6. Dudley Road allotments. 7. Brades Hall farm (Monks farm).     8. The Gower Branch Canal.

Rose Lane in red. 

By 1962, the summary of land uses is expressed in an application to turn part of the land into a scrap yard, and concludes that the phosphor bronze company never took up the occupation of the site. But did the crook Sheldon use the part of the permission for tipping as his own commercial free for all? A further application for part of the land bordering the West of Rose Lane was made in 1963 for residential use, but was withdrawn, along with another just months later.

From this point on however the days of brickmaking appear to have been on the wain, and increasingly the authorities appear to have supplemented a very profitable retirement for the Chelmarsh conman along with those other scumbags of the area Vono who were also looking to use the area as a dumping ground for their disgusting company. This 1960’s swindling, I have looked at here, including plans to start building houses off the Tipton Road.

It was clear by this picture below from October 1971 that the area had been lost. The landscape resembles carpet bombing, particularly to the West of Rose Lane, and that West of The Brades Brook. The Brades Hall farm also appears derelict and it was around this time that the vile “Monk’s tip” came into being thanks also to the sheisters from British Waterways. Like Sheldon, this family left the area with a vile legacy and it certainly wasn’t pig shit they left behind. The Rattlechain brickworks in this year was virtually destroyed by a fire, and little remained of it thereafter. New houses appear to have been built, Warwick Gardens etc in the area of land that housed the former Tipton Road allotments. (Area A in the 1734 application.

Destruction in action

  1. Rattlechain lagoon. 2 Tividale Sewage Works. 3 Tividale sewage works extension ref 1082    4. The newer Rattlechain brickworks pit that would become “The Duport’s tip”. 5. New houses  6. The Gower Branch canal.

From the early 1970’s onwards vast amounts of unsanctioned tipping of demolition wastes appear to have taken place across the whole area East of Rose Lane, and it disappeared under what became “The Brades Hall tip.” This eventually resulted in a site licence, to continue this agricultural land destruction and then  encompassed other subsequent licences, of which areas are looked at elsewhere on this website, with the purposes of building more houses.

Of concern about this site for many years has been the levels of landfill gas associated with these and preceding  operations which took place here, some of which were illicit  in nature, and in some instances criminal- such as the depositing of poisonous wastes that led to a successful prosecution in 1976.

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Oh Rose (Lane)- Thou Art Sick#2

William Blake


Aerial photo from 1961, showing the East of Rose Lane as still largely agricultural land, but the blight had began to sweep across from the West.

  1. Rattlechain lagoon
  2. Rattlechain brickworks
  3. Birmingham Mainline Canal
  4. Tividale Sewage Works
  5. The new rattlechain brickworks pit that would become “The Duport’s tip”.
  6. Dudley Road allotments
  7. Brades Hall farm (Monks farm)
  8. The Gower Branch Canal.

Rose Lane in red. 

In early 1975, Rose Lane in Tividale had seen 250,000 gallons of sulphuric acid and paint wastes deposited illegally on land scheduled for housing development by two companies . Four men had been charged with the offences, and one name in particular, Ronald McCrum had been fined for his part in the environmental crime.

Note the exact dates concerning the fly tipping of known wastes, 3rd March and 16th April 1975 as this will become important.

But as this article from the 6th May 1975 Birmingham Post shows, there are some question marks raised by the circumstances, as the article refers to the police catching a perpetrator in the act of waste tipping at Rose Lane in the dead of night , but on a date AFTER those attributed to “McScum” and friends.

The “privately owned tip” is a mystery, as there is no tip as far as I can find that ever had planning permission on this land, but there were plenty of very dubious tip applications around this area by the brickworks conman Sheldon, and soilage by those other twats of Dudley Port- Vono and The Duport Group, who did much to destroy this entire area. The quote from Ken Harvey- the waste disposal officer for the WMCC appears uncertain as to the facts of the case.

Does this infer that McCrum and his company were caught out on this date, and the prior offences were ascertained by confession, or by other means, or was this another example of another firm caught fly tipping hazardous wastes illegally?

It also raises questions as to how Metro waste disposal and the other firms were snared by the WMCC. Covert surveillance by cctv would not have existed at this point in time, therefore the sources of intelligence would have had to be arrived at by other means available such as

  • covert asset placed in a suspected rogue company
  • information from whistle blowers
  • phone tapping
  • 24 hour surveillance of suspected firm and following of vehicles out of premises.
  • 24 hour surveillance of suspected dumping site
  • Pure serendipity of police being in the right place at the right time.

Given that the WMCC were not MI5 or even CI5, most of these would have been unlikely, so perhaps it was a rare example of the rossers being diligent for a change.  😮

The other questions and observations I would raise are

  • How or if this incredible amount of waste was removed off site, and how was it “safely” dealt with? 
  • Whose jurisdiction was it to remove the waste and clean up the site?
  • Or was it just left to remain there on site?
  • To confirm the content of the material and to initiate a prosecution, this would presumably have required chemical testing of the actual material found to have been dumped at the particular time of the offences, and to compare this with other content on the site to confirm that nothing else had been dumped there illegally or otherwise prior to this by other persons. 
  •  Surely the extent of the contamination and if it had spread to controlled waters or anywhere else would have been undertaken by the West Midlands County Council pollution Control or the local authority at Sandwell at the time? At least that is what any reasonable person may assume to be their very remit? 


Following the public confirmation of the case at Rose Lane, a letter from Ken Harvey, the County Waste Disposal Officer,  to The Director of Environmental health at Sandwell council, S. Hogg,  reveals that this site was “Brades Hall Tip”, yet it is clear that this site was also a site for residential development for The Greaves Organisation.

The date of the letter, 3rd December is therefore written 7 months AFTER the publicised article in The Birmingham Post.

He states that “a great deal of toxic waste has been fly-tipped in this area.” He warns of heavy metal contamination, and the threat to future vegetation.

Harvey considers that the matter is important, (oh you don’t say) 🙄 , and does not know if any samples were taken by the developer of the site. He considers it not the place of the WMCC to approach the developer yet considers that all should be aware of the “pollution implications”- probably except the poor bastards buying houses on the contaminated land that is, no doubt.   😥

Many of the observations and questions that I posed above appear woefully absent from the content of his letter.

A letter from Greaves, the West Bromwich based developer on 14th January 1976, appears to confirm that they were in the process of selling this land to The Spiral Housing Society of Birmingham. The letter identifies 126 plots of land, and that there had been some “fly sludge” tested that had been tipped in MARCH 1975.

This would appear to indicate that the samples were linked to the paint wastes tipped by McScum on 3rd March 1975, BUT NOT THE SUBSEQUENT SULPHURIC ACID WASTES, OR THOSE REPORTED IN MAY OF THE SAME YEAR IN THE BIRMINGHAM POST ARTICLE.

So this means that these samples were not accurate for the character and amount of waste  that was dumped!

Greaves, it is stated would accept all liabilities with the site being free of contamination after being filled and levelled, and they claim that the tests showed no contamination to the soil on the site. Well how bloody convenient when you are flogging off land that was known to have had “a great deal of toxic waste …fly-tipped in this area…”.

One might be a little sceptical of one company selling off contaminated land to another without much scrutiny, but if you do your homework on this company, you will know that Greaves was at this point in time a failing company, who went bankrupt in this very same year of 1976.  At this time, a number of other local developers and builders had also gone bust, and the industry was in freefall. The following article from The post of November 28th 1979 confirms that they were over £6.5 Million in debt and had left behind a string of unfinished housing development sites when they were finally wound up.

The analysis of “fly sludge” test results, presumably of the paint wastes  amount to very little, and do not even identify where they were taken from. In fact, in light of the Greaves Organisation’s financial predicament, I would call them out as confabulated, and untrustworthy bullshit. Was it employees of Greaves that actually took them from the site? but in any case, where were the samples taken by The West Midlands County Council in order to pursue a cogent prosecution?

One should note that the firm carrying out the tests, who could not verify from where they had been even been taken, were Bostock, Hill and Rigby. This particular consultancy also carried out a bloody awful assessment of the Albright and Wilson contaminated land at Strode Road fields in Clevedon. As it is, the levels of Chromium, I assume Chromium v1, are not low at all. The health risks associated with this chemical and to communities are well known.

There are no test results of any soil identified in a letter dated 3rd June 1975, so how the claim is made about no contamination is also to be seriously questioned.



The uncertainty surrounding a development site where toxic waste had been dumped and where individuals had been prosecuted on this known basis produced that other toxic outcome- the multi-agency meeting. And so it was on 15th January 1976, a number of people met from the WMCC waste disposal department, SMBC planning and environmental health and those dirty players in the game Severn Trent Water- at this point still a public concern.

There are some extraordinary observations made at this meeting, but first it should be stated as to what authority had even sanctioned the obvious bloody free for all that had been going on at the “Brades Hall Tip”.

  • The meeting concerned the known dumping of toxic waste on the site.
  • Harvey’s letter had not identified which area of the site was involved.
  • The planners at SMBC were worried about houses being built there in light of this.
  • It is clear that SMBC were not happy that they had not been informed of the situation much earlier, presumably this would have led to refusal of the application?
  • Thelma Hillman, of the WMCC states that the prosecution meant that they could not disclose the information because of the prosecution. I would call this out as bullshit also, as the council presumably dealt with legal matters themselves and prosecutions, so did Harvey’s team consider themselves above their supposed local authority colleagues?
  • It was not known “how much material would remain in the ground”– which appears to confirm the test results and claims as of Greaves as crap. Just because it “drains through”- how does this make it safe?
  • Cope of SMBC claims that it would not be representative to take samples from across the site because of its size and present condition. By this I take it to mean that ground had subsequently been shifted around the site considerably , and was not as it had been when the wastes had been tipped- meaning that the contamination could have been buried or shifted around into an area that was unidentifiable?  The idea that such a body would not demand that representative samples SHOULD and MUST be taken in such circumstances perhaps raises the question of if this department was fit for purpose?
  • And then perhaps the most extraordinary statement of all from the prosecutor of the WMCC. Somehow, that if tests were taken after all the work had been carried out , then the samples would be representative if they were taken AFTER the houses had been built and taken in the back gardens. I will just leave this statement there…. 😯

How incredible that Hillman was even in such a position to call the odds like this. In my opinion this amounted to aiding and abetting the criminal fly-tippers, in that the controlling regulator who had brought the prosecution was quite happy to allow the site to be levelled and all of the toxic waste that had been identified dumped- some quarter of a million gallons” could magically disappear, and everyone could go home happy- except of course the blighted new house owners who would be blissfully unaware of what was in their backyard.

Cope of SMBC thought that there might be a blight on the site- (erm built on an unsanctioned tip), if people thought that toxic waste had been dumped on it. Oh you don’t say dickhead… 🙄

In this instance, I seriously do not know who is the more immoral, McScum and the toxic waste dumpers, or the officials  at this meeting and their organisations, who appear to action the cover up of their crimes, all for the sake of a few fucking houses from a bent and failed housing developer. 

Perhaps we needed Velma from Scooby Doo and the gang here, instead of Thelma and the WMCC!


  • Cope continues that people may think that there is a danger associated with the site What and to whom was his first duty, the public or a pissing West Brom firm?
  • And then what I consider to be the biggest bullshit moment of all- a tale from Hillman that she could identify, where on this expansive site remember, that apparently earlier the WMCC could not to take “representative samples”, that the original fly tipped waste had in fact been dumped down a “deep hole”- 20-30ft diameter . 250,000 gallons. cf an olympic standard swimming pool contains around 550,000 gallons of water. 
  • “and therefore it should not be necessary to consider the whole of the site as being at risk”– absolute bullshit!
  • Drawing holes on maps from the say so of one person’s recollection of events from a site that had changed over time- sounds a very accurate way of going about proving something doesn’t it?  🙁
  • The conclusion of the meeting is frankly scandalous. These are not the actions and rationale of a professional outfit, and if this is the case where such matters were decided, it raises serious questions as to the integrity of investigations into such matters at this time, and of the safety of such sites for development today. 


Scooby Doo No GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The results obtained from this dubious starting point appear to have been equally dubious. Eight samples were supposedly taken, though there is again no reference or statement as to what quantity, or why only the six metals were tested for. The issue of the 250,000 gallons of sulphuric acid, do not appear to have even been examined! I’m pretty sure that it would not be a very good idea to sink foundations into such contaminated land!

Another letter from someone called Malcolm Payne and Associates, presumably for The Spiral Housing Society, queries the depths at which the samples were taken, from the pit remember, and not the whole site, that had seen a great deal of shifting around of material before the tests were taken.


The response from Sandwell Council’s Hogg, reveal that they were taken at depths of 12 and 25 feet. Remember that Hillman at the meeting had described the toxic waste dumped area as “a deep hole” . He claims that the results would be consistent with ordinary soil samples.

The concluding statement should perhaps have been shown to McCrum and the others’ solicitors, as to my mind it implies that the conviction was unsafe, based upon the conviction of Hillman that this was where they had dumped the toxic waste!

“As you are aware, the reason for taking the samples was in an endeavour to locate the site of a pit into which alleged toxic material had been tipped, and the results of the samples could, in fact, indicate that we have been unsuccessful.”

Of course, I believe that they had been “unsuccessful”, because this was not the place where McCrum’s toxic waste had been dumped, and one may also speculate, that if a financial loss was to occur a development company for this , that they might make pretty bloody sure that no toxic waste was found in any test results when the site had been narrowed down so helpfully for them by the WMCC officer. Again perhaps another form of divination was needed to determine the actual location of the pit; piss take Pegs “Markers of the Mahyong” , Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks Tibetan stone throwing technique, or even the staff of Ra come to mind….

It is clear that Payne and co took this as a green light to proceed with the development, with no problems at all. He assumes that the depths involved mean that safe development could take place, but again, I would note the absence of any testing for sulphuric acid.


Hogg gave a quick response, and a sleight at the West Midlands County Council. The fact that “low concentrations” of material had been found in the site identified by the WMCC themselves after raising the matter appear to leave them looking rather stupid- particularly Ken Harvey. The idea however that all of this should now just be forgotten, and only test in the gardens is scandalous on the part of this Sandwell Council officer.


In other words, just let’s cover up the toxic material that we could not find and pretend it’s no longer there by claiming that the garden soil is fine.


The letter Hogg refers to is shown below. Harvey also believes that it to be “not a particular problem in this location”. Yet neutralises this with the clanger that their information (and prosecution) was based upon “a large quantity of toxic chemicals… (having been)…deposited in the area. ”

Furthermore he also speculates that the waste may have moved through the sand – (foundry sand, probably with phenolic binders that give off carbon dioxide) and along the clay bed, though there is no positive evidence to support this. AND THIS IS THE MAN WHO GRANTED WASTE DISPOSAL LICENCES SUCH AS THE ONE AT RATTLECHAIN, WHAT A BRAIN HE WAS!


But Harvey before his death in 1980 went on to submit evidence to The House of Lords Select committee on hazardous waste on behalf of the WMCC. He cites under “Adequacy of scientific testing in the field”, (so that rules them out then) 😆 ,instances where development sites have produced great difficulties, in light of the contamination that had unexpectedly been found after development had begun, or perhaps more to the point, the developers had failed to identify the risks- like at the Spiral Homes Temple Way development site where toxic wastes had been dumped apparently, but not found.

He gives a remarkably interesting case in Sandwell where “fly tipping of hazardous waste had occurred that was development for housing purposes”. Oh that sounds familiar Ken tell us more…

“This authority aware of the the implications , raised the matter with the District Authority, and soil samples were taken as a result, indicating alarmingly high levels of toxic metals, including lead. ”  

That’s extraordinary Ken, and how did you and they deal with this potent risk?

“It was possible to redesign the layout , in this case, such that the majority of contamination was under pavements, roadways and a traffic island. A number of dwellings had to be reallocated to a type with landscaped gardens (to prevent disturbance or vegetable cultivation) etc after removal of contaminated soil to a depth of two metres.”

Doesn’t it make you feel safe in your scruffy 1970’s built home that Ken Harvey, S Hogg and co of Sandwell Council were in charge of making sure that developments were not being built on contaminated land, that is “the majority” of it not being so.  😳

He also enthrals us and the Lords with a story about phosphorus wastes igniting from a canal arm , that had been used to infill another development site in Birmingham! Apparently “phosphorus is quite safe under water”– except if you are a bird ingesting this banned rat poison in a hazardous waste site sanctioned by a THICK TWAT 😥

So what we had here is a combination of the following at Land around Rose Lane.

  • A totally incompetent County Waste disposal officer, and a department which failed to get in touch with the local planning authority and the housing developer, and who were fully aware that a housing development had commenced.
  • A housing developer in Greaves who went bust, before the development had finished.
  • A housing developer who offered up extremely dodgy samples of alleged “sludge” that had been fly tipped.
  • A county waste disposal officer who might as well have been mystic meg in terms of locating alleged dumping of toxic waste.
  • All complicit in covering up the waste and its location from future residents whose houses and gardens could be built on top of material hazardous to human health! 

One wonders with all of this how the convictions obtained against McCrum and Co by the WMCC were even safe, if it had not been for the enormous quantities involved which appear to have just magically disappeared?  Of course the contaminated area could have been dug up and just as easily been fly- tipped somewhere else to get rid of the problem before any sampling took place.  😕

Further developments under vague site licensing by the WMCC would see a demolition waste dumping darby on land both East and West of Rose Lane, particularly of Vandyke brown foundry sand. If there were any roses on Rose Lane, they would quickly have been diminished by the phytotoxic crap smeared and scraped across the canvas like the stuff that Bob Ross would have painted only in his worst post apocalyptic nightmare.

Overlay of the former Rose Lane showing the extent of modern housing including the Temple Way Estate referred to in this post.

Here’s a good song mentioning “cowboys”, “Roses” and “scars”, by a rather aptly named band….

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Oh Rose (Lane)- Thou Art Sick#1

William Blake

In the case of the now little known Rose Lane of Oldbury, “invisible worms” came by lorry under the guise of some “transport” haulage company or “waste disposal” operation and left the land saturated with chemical sickness.

Rose Lane ran in an elbowed parallel with John’s Lane, starting in Dudley Road East and terminating underneath the tunnel of the Birmingham Canal and railway line. This in fact today is all that remains of it.

A stub of Rose lane off Dudley Road East now amounts to a narrow passageway.

It crossed an area belonging to the former Rattlechain brickworks, and the parcels of land adjoining it became increasingly sold off by the conman Sydney Sheldon for housing concerns. At the same time, Sheldon appeared to entertain very dubious characters whom it appeared tipped waste in this general area. What type of “arrangement” went on here is left to history, but even Albright and Wilson lamented the fact that they had observed a lorry tipping liquid waste which had run into rattlechain from this area!

One aspect of this site is that it formed part of one of the first successful prosecutions under The Deposit of Poisonous Wastes Act 1972. This Act came into force after numerous public stories of hazardous waste tipping, especially barrels of cyanide that were being found lying around in public areas. Even Rattlechain and The Gower tip had dumped cyanide turn up. The West Midlands was the central focus of this aggressive criminal fly tipping , not only as a result of the dirty industries in the area that produced the waste and wanted to get rid of it cheaply, but also from industry outside the area, who did not want it in tips in their “posh” areas. It was both a failure of legislature as well as the companies who wanted to offload their dangerous crap with few questions asked.

In a report in the August 6th 1976 edition of The Birmingham Evening Mail, it is revealed by whistle blower Keith Boyd as to how “deadly bribes” could be offered by waste companies of dubious character to get rid of waste at tips who were not meant to receive such wastes under after the DPWA, and by now, The Control of Pollution Act. 

One can only take his claims at face value, and the firm that he worked for is not named. I have little doubt however in believing everything that he said to be true.

The article mentions that four men from firms from the Bilston area were to be charged the following month in connection with 38 charges of illegal dumping and forging documents. This incident refers directly to matters relating to Rose Lane and chemical dumping which took place there, as we shall see later on in this post.

Boyd describes how easy it was for a rogue company to give a bribe to tip the waste, in this case more alleged cyanide. It is also alleged that harmful wastes were disposed of, into a nearby stream. Though the company remains unnamed in this article, and “the former managing director” of the company named by the ex employee denied the allegations, the subsequent prosecutions of those responsible for the Rose Lane issues, and the circumstances, lead me to believe that they were one and the same , or else a very similar rogue trader operation.

The article then appeared under a new headline the following evening.


Details of the charges were given in The Birmingham Daily Post of 29th October 1976.

On Halloween,  the Evening mail  revealed the details of the outcome of the successful prosecution at Wolverhampton Crown Court of the four men and two of the companies involved in the dumping of toxic waste at both Moxley- (Moxley Tip), and at Tividale- Rose Lane.

The two named Bilston companies were Aqua Descaling Company Limited, and Metro Waste Disposal Limited. At Moxley 65 drums of cyanide were attempted to be dumped with a cash bribe to the tip operators.

The four men on trial were HORACE MILBURN, RONALD McCRUM, PETER LOTE AND GERALD PEAKE. Peake it is revealed, had died in a road accident before the case had come to court. McCrum, “former director” of Metro, and Milburn, both pleaded guilty to two charges of depositing poisonous waste. Lote had his charges lay on file. McCrum had a 12 month prison sentence suspended for two years and was fined £400 and Milburn 6 months suspended for 2 years and a £200 pound fine.

Another piece from the Daily Post of the following day stated that a lorry had been left full of toxic waste from these shysters in a Wolverhampton Street for two years, putting the public at serious risk.

Note the address of Burbage of McCrum, as will be revealed further on in this post….

More detail ,particularly about the acidic wastes dumped and their location, is revealed in the subsequent minutes of the West Midlands County Council Waste Disposal and Pollution Control subcommittee dated 22nd December 1977 by county waste disposal officer Ken Harvey. A third company “Commercial and Domestic Services Limited” is also named and it is also revealed that earlier successful prosecutions had already taken place after 1974 when irregularities were first being investigated.

It is stated that “some 250,000 gallons of toxic waste had been illegally deposited on land at Tividale scheduled for redevelopment as housing.”

The housing development referred to was known as “The Spiral housing development” and located off Rose Lane on what is now The Temple Way estate. The principle liquid involved was reported to be sulphuric acid. 



Absolutely pathetic fine!

But further charges were to be revealed against McCrum, with another of his fraudulent waste disposal operations in BRASWAY DISPOSAL LIMITED. 

The charges of tipping cyanide and dumping waste at sea were outlined in the 22nd February Birmingham Daily Post.

“Honour” – MY ARSE!

Incredibly, the director of the parent company, a Mr Reg Swaby, claimed that the company were “blameless”.  😆

Minutes of the 19th April 1979 West Midlands County Council waste disposal and Pollution Control Committee reveal McCrum’s name appearing again along with Ronald Low, Daniel Hobbs, and  Alfred Paddock!

It is clear that this “disposal” operation was a criminal enterprise, not only dumping chemical waste in the region, but nationally and defrauding other companies of money in the process.

Minutes of the 20th March 1980 West Midlands County Council Waste Disposal and pollution Control Committee reveal the following about the resulting trial.

“Brasway waste disposal Ltd, Leabrook , Wednesbury , a subsidiary of Brasway Ltd was formed in February 1973. The company moved large quantities of toxic waste, using their yard at Wednesbury for bulk storage and/or treatment before disposal at various locations throughout the country.

In the summer of 1974, a comparison of quantities of wastes taken into Brasway’s yard against quantities subsequently removed revealed major discrepancies. Discussion with the company failed to resolve these discrepancies.

More than 300 tonnes of Waste Cyanide Hardening salts were known to be stored at Wednesbury pending ‘treatment’. Officers had expressed doubt over the mechanics of this treatment operation. The company repeatedly ignored comments and advice given by the monitoring authorities as to the suitability of disposal routes.

A change of management in early 1975 failed to bring about any real improvement in the situation so the Pollution Control Division initiated an investigation. Disturbing facts quickly became apparent and the matter was referred to West Midlands Police.

The subsequent joint investigations resulted in allegations that  approximately half of all liquid toxic wastes handled by Brasway ended up in the adjacent Leabrook (between April 1974 and June 1975 a surplus of over 3 million gallons of toxic liquid waste and 1000 tonnes of solid waste- mostly cyanide had gone into Brasway yard and not emerged. This was far in excess of the storage capacity. Pollution Control officers initiated a surveillance programme.

On 7th June 1976 , Brasway Waste Disposal Ltd, pleaded guilty at West Bromwich magistrates court to nine charges under The Deposit of Poisonous wastes Act.”


Obviously not “blameless” when they pleaded GUILTY!

The reaction from the waste disposal officer, in an article reported in The Ends Report,  Thelma Hillman, is to be expected, when such characters could just operate a scam company in this way.

“The charges related to the illegal dumping of cyanide wastes at sites in Derbyshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands, and at sea off Birkenhead. However, because of the offences took place before Section 16 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 was implemented, the local authorities in whose jurisdiction the dumping occurred are unable to recover the costs of removing and disposing of the dumped wastes.

Mrs T Hillman, Divisional Engineer in West Midland County Council’s Waste Disposal Department, indicated that she was “very disappointed” with the sentences. Although she believes that “illegal tipping is not as rife as it was before waste disposal site licensing was introduced under the Control of Pollution Act”, Mrs Hillman also highlighted a problem increasingly shared by many local authorities – that the combined effects of local government manpower cutbacks and the diversion of resources to waste disposal surveys and site licensing required under the Control of Pollution Act are having a detrimental effect on the surveillance and prosecution of illegal waste disposal. Under the circumstances, she believes, “the general level of fines is not as severe as it should be”.

It is interesting to note, that this is not the end of the sulphuric acid tipping tosspot McCrum’s story, as it appears he had regular form , and had been at this dodgy business for years. A piece from The Coventry Evening Telegraph of 11th January 1972, at the height of the cyanide dumping scare which initiated the Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act, reveals a whistle blower driver, at a “Death tip” in Wolston. It reveals that waste was being poured into an open pit with no questions being asked. One of the companies named who dumped at the pit were PURLE WASTE DISPOSAL LIMITED. But just look who was the ex manager of this company’s Shilton, Leicester depot for two years, why none other than the Briar Close , Burbage barrel dumper Ron McCrum! The comment attached by him in this story is quite extraordinary.

“small engineering firms might be tempted to dispose of cyanide by disguising it as non-toxic chemicals for the sake of cheapness he said”

Obviously his next move was in the rogue Bilston companies, doing just this!

…and just as a footnote, I wonder if this was the same Ron Fred McCrum who had had his collar felt a few years earlier in 1958 as a 23 year old in Rugby?

There is no doubt that the scumbag McCrum and his colleagues in crime as crooked rogue trader enterprises should have served time behind bars for fly tipping dangerous chemicals and putting peoples’ lives and that of the wildlife in the environment at severe risk. This is just what they were caught out doing, by a law which did not go far enough, and I have no doubt their entirely dubious operations had extended beyond what the authorities were aware of and could prove when considering the quantities that went into the Wednesbury den of vice. 

But their “industry” was the tip of the iceberg, where any old Steptoe tatter with a tipper could set themselves up in “reclamation” or “waste disposal” with very few questions asked. And some of them got away with it, unlike him. The toxic legacy left behind at Rose lane however would continue to cause the authorities some headaches, and I will look at this in the second part of this story…….

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Perverted planning- An attack on local democracy and urban green space

Swearword box at the ready. This Conservative Government is increasingly becoming worse in its policy decisions.

The recent outlined changes to the planning system, which have been progressively watered down over the years to the benefit of Tory party political donor land owners and property developers are the final nail in the coffin for those who live in crowded, overpopulated areas like Sandwell.

It is the death knell for the limited pockets of green space that we have left, and the demise of distinct town boundaries of Oldbury, Tipton and West Bromwich. On the side lines like an excitable puppy we have the cheering unwanted Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street aka “Tonka the Great” or The Wealdstone Raider, who appears set on “saving” land in private ownership for the benefit of those who live in the hypothetical and typically agricultural concept of “greenbelt”. This is assisted land banking at its worst.

All of this swift policy has been achieved under the guise of what I consider to be the biggest health hoax  and utter scandal in human history, and an excuse and a cover for resetting Government and “the big society”- for a “society of friends” who live off the cream at the top of the pile.

The ghastly cult that was the Society of Friends of the likes of The Cadbury’s et al, were eugenicists who wanted “Garden cities” where the vermin were kept well away from the centre of affairs at the centre, occupied only by the great and the good. This cabal of Quakers and Unitarians drove the creation of The Town and Country Planning Act, which was an abomination in vision of its division of land classes and by virtue, people of different wealth and socio economic status, and increasingly divisions of race. The green belters still want to keep their areas white, and gate off everything else, there is no doubt about that , so let’s just drop the pretence about “saving wildlife” and the pretty views.

Greenbelt champion Street never misses an opportunity to crow about another “brownfield” site in the black country secured for development, but is less clear on how these lucky new private renters, (because none of these homes are ever built to buy affordably), will fit in to the picture of where their kids are going to go to school, where they will go to shop when the high streets are closing down because retail is dead, and in current times, how “social distancing” fits into this tapestry when there is no fucking room left to swing a cat.

Private “greenbelt” land protected on the posh outskirts of areas which are not in “the black country” in Sedgley and Wolverhampton, but tax payers cash offered for “brownfield” development taking away any hope of public open space in real Black Country areas like Tipton and Oldbury

The Conservatives, via Street, even paid for adds and posted adds on local facebook groups asking people who owned vacant “brownfield” land in Oldbury and Smethwick to consider putting it forward for the call for sites submission. 😕

Hey Smethwick and Oldbury, you live in a shit area. How about we build some more houses on your bits of green space that I call “brownfield”.                    Please show me where the greenbelt sites in Oldbury and Smethwick are?

“We… have the money”- by this he means giving landbankers OUR money!

Perhaps the mayor would have achieved his desired audience if he had targeted the tax avoidance/tax evasion bolt hole of Jersey instead, as I am pretty sure that none of them live in either of these two West Midland towns by choice.  😆

As for the technology, I remember well a development site in West Bromwich where some of this fraudulent “ultra heat treatment” technology was deployed to allegedly clear contaminated oily sludges on the land. This shite travelled down a brook and into a pool where it caused catastrophic damage to the wildfowl as a result of this bituminous material getting there as a result of this development and nothing else. The Environment agency were their typical incompetent self in being unable to identify this, yet were able to send me information detailing the exact same thing happening into the exact same site, via the exact same pathway sixteen years earlier in an FOI request. At some point I will get around to detailing this absolute environmental crime caused by housing developers in a post, but suffice to say, the boasts of industry about “clean up” are a fraud.

Also in recent times, another West Bromwich example of the failure of brownfield land remediation is shown by the Hall Green Road site, which again has been delayed due to unspecified issues relating to the chemicals that were dumped there many years ago by T&S Element. The developers treat local residents with contempt in not being able to give any date on when this exercise will be finished. It has now been going on years, and yet they seek further time from a council that unfortunately says “yes” every time. If it is more difficult to remediate this site than they anticipated, this means that their initial assessments carried out by environmental consultants were obviously flawed, so why should we believe that they are achievable now with safeguards?

This is part of one of the Doomwatch sites, SL57, issued on 3rd March 1978, licenced by the absolutely incompetent West Midlands County council, and I have no faith in any of these being able to be developed safely for residential end use with it’s “awful lot of problems”. And why, should it be asked, should this be done potentially with public money?

Let me be clear, I don’t hold any personal issues against Mayor Street, I met him at an Ask Andy session, and he was very accommodating, polite and personable, but just plain wrong in his vision for my area. I asked him specific questions about The former Duport’s Tip site fronting rattlechain lagoon, and that it was “owned” by a dubious “off shore” company registered in Jersey, whose affairs appear to be managed by a firm of solicitors in Manchester.

Of course, the company is a total front for who really owns it. The former Black Country Development Corporation 30 years earlier, of which his combined authority is a poor man’s reinvention, had thrown a great deal of public money at this site, culminating in the ludicrous redevelopment of the former sewage works site right adjacent to the still active hazardous waste lagoon . The former Duport’s Tip was a vessel for over tipped foundry sand, for the great profit to the directors of that company, which sits there under a carpet of green to this day.

Sandwell council had refused the former sewage works application, but this was overturned by a Bristol based idiot on appeal. Much information was left out about the dangers of the rattlechain lagoon hazardous waste site, and SMBC presented a very poor case whilst calling no expert witnesses in phosphorus chemistry, or challenging the inaccurate assessments made by those on behalf of the appellant. Worst of all, they failed to challenge the integrity of the Cremer and Warner report, which was compiled in 1990/1 on behalf of BCDC in an attempt to see if the waste tipped at the former Duport’s tip was compatible with infilling a hole of toxic waste at the lagoon. The conclusion was that it was not. This report is so shit and void of detail (having been informed by the corporate liars of Albright and Wilson), it is shocking, but typical of “environmental consultants” at large, and I will at a time of my choosing outline this, as well as all the rest of the Duport’s tip/sewage works development history by the then site operators. 

Oh, and I’m also watching closely, the existence of two companies purported to be operating out of an address in Hampton In Arden.  😉 I just wonder what they actually know as fact about their locations of interest, and the detailed history?  😆 

Mr Street, a previous vocal critic of off shore companies operating freely in Britain, replied “..and so any application would have to be measured against all of those criteria to find suitable value for money, and actually to know that the developer is of reputable quality.”

Unfortunately environmental consultants are a travesty to the protection of the environment and the protection of wildlife habitat. They are paid liars and local authorities do not challenge anything that they say, so long as a report ticks the boxes of the planning regime. Lumping whole areas as the Conservatives propose to do in their white paper into so called “growth” areas are a means of dumping vast unregulated developments onto areas of The Black country by force. No local voice will be listened to, and no opposition will be tolerated. It appears that some grass roots Tories are not happy with these ideas, and perhaps the new MP’s for this area should think very carefully as to what their  electorate want and not follow the way of the Londoncentric ministers. Unfortunately, the only potential opposition in Labour, (a dictatorship of two parts in Sandwell),  also stick their tongues out like antennas pointing towards Westminster at the prospect of Government (tax payer) handouts for more brownfield building.  They are happy to flog off bits of land next to rubbish sites for residential like Hall Green Road, and more recently land at Bescot adjoining that of major land floggers, Severn Trent Water. It is just a monopoly board to them all.

A petition of over 400 local people was submitted to SMBC after the publication of Sandwell council’s  dodgy “Dudley Port Supplementary planning document”, opposing any further development around rattlechain lagoon and Sheepwash nature reserve, and this petition still stands to reject the so called laughable “garden city”. In reality, this prospectus for building on contaminated land has now been even further diluted by the new proposals with the tag line of every Street having to be “tree lined”.

“Brownfield” land CAN be used for something, turning it green for the benefit of people and nature, and not just more housing. 

Why would local people want to surrender an area of greened over space in exchange for more overcrowding, which I have looked at HERE? Worst still, why would they want an area ripped up and turned black again in the process which would take years to complete at risk to their personal health and wellbeing from the chemicals and waste and dusts buried there?

The trees in such areas  would be set in phytotoxic soils. “Urban forests” it seems, the buzz phrase of the BCDC back in the early 1990’s are starting to be deforested for housing at a rapid rate.

Here below are extracts from one of their PR brochures at the time “The Black Country Urban Forest: A strategy for its development.” There doesn’t seem to be much of a strategy now does there?  😥


We need to green brownfield land and make this area green and not black.

We need green shoots not metal foundations.

We need plants and insects, not bricks and mortar.

We need carpets of fallen leaves and not tarmac roads. 

We need a planning system designed by local people with consultation and not Westminster diktats. 

One has to wonder, what does this Government have to offer the people of the Black Country, except squalor, overcrowding and loss of public space, pretentiously dressed up as tree lined boulevards of “growth”  to rival those that  tax evading land owners and the political class are used to in their own foreign retreat second homes?

Fuck em! That’s five pounds I owe, but better than loosing a fiver than creating a Street with 50 pieces of  silver lining.


by any means necessary. 

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The Dukes of Bio-hazard- Albright and Wilson’s blazing trains


There are very few documented cases of the environmental release of white phosphorus on a large scale, (apart from its misuse in war….oh sorry “smokescreening”), but one such instance occurred in Ohio in the US in 1986, and yes you guessed it, it involved Albright and Wilson. This shipment was en route from their Varennes plant in Quebec Canada (under the ERCO brand), to one of their factories in the state.

I have found a couple of brief press clips of this from firstly The Reading Evening Post of  9th July 1986.

I’m glad the paper correctly identifies one of the uses of this “poisonous” chemical, rather than that which the Boss Hogg spinners at Albright and Wilson would claim as to how this building block would produce “everyday chemicals” . P4 will never be an “everyday chemical” because its manufacture is unnatural and it cannot exist naturally in the elemental form. The injuries described are obvious classic symptoms of the release of phosphorus pentoxide and phosphoric acid- the breakdown products of P4, but in this case the train also contained sulphur and other chemicals!


The Dundee Courier dated 10th July 1986 adds a few more to the injured list, and sheds a little light on how the resulting release of phosphorus pentoxide and vapour was tackled by the emergency services. 

This must have been a literal nightmare for residents as well as the first responders, and shows the dangers of carrying this chemical by these means and how injuries were sustained, when reportedly the tank exploded. Thankfully no one was killed.


It is clear that events not on this scale, but still notable, occurred at Trinity Street by the use of the private rail line into the works there to transport white phosphorus, and I will be detailing these events soon in other posts.  No doubt residents in the vicinity had a very lucky escape, and events would have been covered up by a company whose managers had their bonuses linked to fewer reports of environmental emissions and accidents- as the 1997 EA audit of the factory revealed.

I have managed to obtain the official US Government investigation into this 1986 accident, and at 100 pages long it is quite a read, but there are some interesting observations regards what happened and the carrying of this poison by rail. The number of people that had to be evacuated is even more than that stated in the British newspaper titles after complications of the incident revealed themselves after another 48 hours after the derailment.


Qn July 8, 1986, 15 cars of a southbound Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company freight train derailed while traveling at 45 mph near Miamisburg, Ohio. Three of the 15 derailed cars were tank cars containing yellow phosphorus, molten sulfur, and tallow. While derailing on a bridge, these tank cars were extensively damaged, lost product, and were involved in the resulting fire. Approximately 7,000 residents from a section of Miamisburg were initially evacuated as a safety precaution. On the following day as a wreckage-clearing crew was preparing to remove the smoldering phosphorus tank car, a concrete structure supporting the tank car collapsed, and several hundred gallons of molten phosphorus inside the tank car escaped and ignited, resulting in an extensive cloud of phosphorus combustion effluents.

During the following 48 hours, a 3-square-mile area of Montgomery County, Ohio, was evacuated, forcing an estimated 30,000 people to leave their homes and businesses; 569 persons were treated for various complaints during the incident. Total property damage was $3,540,000 including the cost of hazardous materials. The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the uncontrollable release of phosphorus was the failure of the unprotected bottom brake support attachment during the derailment resulting in the tearing of the tank shell. Contributing to the rupture of the tank was the Federal Railroad Administration’s failure to require retroactively that reinforcement pads be installed between tank shells and welded attachments.”

“To minimize environmental pollution, the area of Bear Creek between the bridge and the Great Miami River was isolated by a barrier dam from July 9 through July 11 and diverted to the north around an area adjacent to the derailment. Approximately 200,000 gallons of water per day were treated for several weeks with hydrogen peroxide to neutralize the phosphorus. The water was then filtered through a sandbed before being discharged to the municipal sewage treatment facility. In addition to water treatment, the contaminated soils from the creekbed and railbed were excavated to a depth of 12 to 13 feet. The contaminated soils were placed on an asphalt pad to aerate and mix with hydrogen peroxide. After the soils were treated, they were disposed of at a landfill. Approximately 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil were removed over 2 months.”

Two of the conclusions in the episode were

4. Toxic combustion effluents which threatened public safety generated by the burning phosphorus and sulfur were not recognized by all available emergency response guides.
5. While the molten liquid form of the products involved in this derailment served to facilitate their loading and unloading, its liquid form contributed to the spill size and amount of product released.”

The evidence of how this environmental disaster was dealt with in the US is quite interesting, and shows how the US policy of control and contain is way superior to the useless dilute and disperse of the UK Environment Agency- which always leads to greater environmental damage over larger areas . A further source


states of the clean up;

“Three lagoons (700 x 100 m total area) were constructed to isolate the contaminated stream. While most of the contaminated sediment was removed and treated by exposing the sediment on an open-air pad, the sediments that could not be removed were oxidized with two treatments of 15,000 L of 8-10% hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide was injected into subsurface sediments with a high-pressure spray system. The initial WP concentration was as high as 4500 μg/g. Ten days after the first treatment, the concentration was reduced to 300 μg/g. Fifteen days following the second treatment, concentrations were less than 100 μg/g, and one year later, the concentrations were less than 4.4 μg/g, or a 99.9% reduction from the original concentrations. No further monitoring was reported.”

Clearly hydrogen peroxide is a very dangerous and explosive chemical to use, and must have been justified as a risk to mitigate for the even greater one that the release of this highly toxic poison along with sulphur would have caused if left unoxidized, both to people and the wider environment.

The study also considered the effects of “clean up” concerning the Albright and Wilson disaster at Placentia Bay via the Long Harbour factory.

“These case studies show that WP in aqueous media is not reduced to undetectable concentrations by simple techniques such as aeration.” 

What a pity that so many in this company and the idiots controlling the regulation of a certain site in Tividale could not recognise this. 

It is amazing that Albright and Wilson and the authorities could work so quickly in dealing with white phosphorus contamination in the environment , yet allow their waste disposal ponds in others to sit there in a festering shit “aeration” poison pile for decades, until such time as they could be bothered to “clean ” it up- but only then with the fraud of covering it up with a geotextile membrane and sand. 


And still its lies and sits there aerating under the surface

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White Phosphorus misadventures#4 Toebal warming

A story from The Wakefield and West Riding Herald from 27th July 1907 reveals how it got a little steamy beneath the sheets for a husband and wife who had retired to bed.  😛

It probably wasn’t the kind of action that either had expected however as it is revealed that the lady in question had applied some white phosphorus to a sore toe, hoping bizarrely that it would cure her corn.

Of course, when exposed to air, the phosphorus would have started to set fire and also glow in the dark, so the husband on seeing this believed that some strange insect had entered beneath the covers.

The situation comedy of him hitting his wife’s phossy toe in error is priceless.  🙂

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Albright’s toxic archives #24 Another Albright “alarming explosion”



I have set out previously many explosions associated with the Trinity Street site and its chemical firm fiends Albright and Wilson.   Take this example from 1899 which killed a man and seriously burnt others. 

Not only do these reveal a major longstanding danger to the community from the site and its activities, but also the risks to their hapless employees serving the two immoral “Quaker” scumbag families who lived outside of the blast zone in far more leafier climbs.

This is another one I have found recently from the newspaper archive from The Nuneaton Observer dated 3rd January 1902, just three years after the death of Eli Guest.

This appears to have been a gas explosion caused by a lamp being dropped. The injured men, William Whitehouse, Fred Harris, George Gunn (any relation to the future councillors I wonder?), and Timothy Williams had to be dragged out of the underground workings.

Mond gas, named after the German chemist Ludwig Mond was a cheap energy source produced from coal. A large production plant would open in Dudley Port under the South Staffordshire Mond gas company.  Bizarrely, Mond was well acquainted with Ernest Solvay, whose firm would of course replace the name of Albright and Wilson at Trinity Street many decades later.

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Mr Albright’s boys


The pompous fake legacy of this Quaker chemical manufacturer became well established and cemented in the area where his company really wrought havoc, pollution and death. Civic society and libraries have disgraced themselves in promoting the philanthropic fable for many years, though people like Carnegie were of the same exact ilk.

I have already exposed the Albright and Wilson families as ones who lived in privilege and position within the framework of the ghastly society of friends- foxhunting scum.

Albright like the Cadbury’s and others of this liberal none religion pushed their capitalist monopolies like drug pushers, combining this with fake philanthropy and interference with the poor for their “betterment”. So many of “the society of friends”, of generational privilege, were eugenicists or sympathetic to its ideals of white supremacy, though they just would not admit openly to this.

Albright appears to have travelled extensively , making racist observations under the guise of a white saviour complex, indeed the ludicrous “100 years of phosphorus making” tomb to this company sets aside a whole chapter telling us how wonderful the Oxford born phossy bore was:

“One cause which especially appealed to him was the betterment of  enslaved negroes.” 

Apparently he was involved with an organisation called “The National Freedmen’s Aid Union” raising money by tapping up other wealthy whites during The American Civil war- of course nothing to do with him at all as a British citizen, and an independent country. .

It is incredible that this organisation supplied them with the very tools of their enslavement oppression, albeit without chains. The strings attached however cannot have escaped the Quaker emancipators. The so called “freedmen” were only “free” in name, and would have continued to work for their elitist white “masters” on a pittance, perhaps feeling obligation and gratitude. For “Stockholm syndrome” read “freedmen’s syndrome”.

Was this the Quaker motivation for sourcing cheap industrial labour and a devoted loyal workforce, for their industrialist expansion? I believe it to be the motive of people like Arthur Albright.

The “friends” magazine bulletin of the time below show how “generous” Mr Albright was.

spades and hoes, FFS!

Would Arthur have corrected his “freed””friends” and told them to call him “Arthur” if they had called him “Mr Albright” or “boss”? I very much doubt it, because people like him of such privilege never really understand equal in the eyes of God.

“Negroes in Central and East Africa had cause to be grateful to him some twenty-five years later, when he employed with equal success his N.F.A.U methods to secure proper enforcement of the laws made for their protection”

The quixotic narration by Threlfall in this book, and others like him, is well past its sell by date, but unfortunately the interference of the liberal class still persists in a constant aid machine guilt trip. If people in foreign countries could only be “educated” , or “civilised”- even if they don’t want to behave like those in the West, they may become Quaker pygmalions.


…and 400 pages of bullshit

This is the problem I have with these characters from history, held up as white messiahs and industrial philanthropists. With recent events, we have seen commentary on de-platforming those involved in slavery , but do we really need plaudits for characters like Albright and co whose patronising antics were always about “betterment” and establishing “education” or re-education into a Western philosophy in a “society of friends” setting- i.e of white privilege?

Besides his white saviour complex, Albright like his Quaker peers had a “rich saviour complex”, and like all the modern day phoney philanthropists and their insidious involvement in health and vaccinating , (particularly in the third world),  foisted such schemes on those of a lower class or earning. But his life was undoubtedly one of wealth and affluence in that he employed servants living within his own household. The census listings for the last 40 years of his life, (he died in 1900) show some interesting observations.

By 1861 he was living in George Street in Birmingham with his wife Rachael and five listed children, including the sadistic animal murderer George. Listed are a cook, a nurse, a nursemaid, and a governess.


By 1881, now aged 70, and still living with the lampit five in the new hive of a pretentious place called “Mariemont”  in the posh part of Edgbaston, he had five servants, but just look at the age of William Partridge, just 13 years old!

By 1891 he still had five servants, but a replacement new boy Roger Birch- also 13 years old. 

Perhaps this was just the times, but it appears to me that this was no great libertarian, but a child slave labour merchant; it just surprises me that he hadn’t smuggled in a few child Africans into his suitcase to “save” them in working for him, where they would no doubt have had the pleasure of contracting phossy jaw by manufacturing the substance of death for which he is so well known and made so much money.

Other young boys did work at the Albright and Wilson factory in Oldbury at the same period, with the picture of Billy James -“boy gate keeper” from 1896 featured in the company history book.

Standing on a heap of coal slag with poorly fitting clothes and a workhouse ill favoured look.

Who knows what became of young Billy, who can be no older than 11 or 12 in this picture.

If he could get them young, and groom them into his factory methods, perhaps they would make fine young men, and their sons in turn would also be welcomed into the factory fold to preserve the legacy of their “master”. There’s a great deal of money to be made in exploiting the poor, and “the society of friends” knew exactly how to achieve it.


Not sure if this was supposed to be Prometheus (Greek mythology legend who stole fire from the Gods), but why depicted as a young naked boy cherub in the Albright and Wilson company logo? Perhaps only Arthur could tell us?



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More Barnett family falls and fortunes


I have previously outlined how workers at Samuel Barnett‘s dangerous Rattlechain brickworks site had died but had received little in the way of public attention. Another had seriously broken his leg leaving him unable to work. 

The main architect of the creation of Rattlechain lagoon, a 100 yards deep claypit which had flooded due to dubious practices of placing hot ashes near to the canal bank, had already lost his left arm in earlier life at the nearby Stour Valley Brickworks, but received the ultimate karma when falling from his horse and cart.

I have found another article from The Dudley Chronicle of 11th May 1918 which gives a far more graphic account of his injuries, and also throws further light on one of his sons William. Both were local councillors in a time when money bought you a great deal, and when connections with the bench could certainly bring you dodgy legal victories against your opponents.

The 64 year old brickmaker, born in 1854, had died in a collision with a lamp post after his cart had been startled by a tram.

There is something rather farcical in the detail of what happened, the traction engine driven by “Shadrach Strickland”- what a name, who was employed by Pat Collins of the Walsall funfair fame.

Barnett’s last ride  😆 had seen him and his son Bert thrown out. Barnett senior had fractured his skull, broken his pelvis, and had obviously suffered great shock after the “Greatest showman’s” owned vehicular manoeuvre. Collins himself would become a politician in this very year, and future mayor of Walsall. Funny how people in business get on isn’t it?


All aboard the Karma carousel

On  1st June 1918 , from the same paper, and following the funeral, we get the political eulogy at the Rowley Regis Urban council meeting. Barnett Snr apparently represented The Tividale ward (or more aptly his own business interest in this area), and had been a councillor for many years.

I’m afraid these sycophantic political affairs leave me absolutely cold, and do not change my mind at all that this man was a wrong un, who could buy whatever he wanted.


From census records it is possible to trace the life of Tividale’s brick making “righty” supremo. The first record dates from the 1861 census, where he was 6, though for some reason there appears to be speculation as to whether the year of birth was a year later. Born to brickmaker John, and “Letha”, the address of Portway Road Oldbury is given, and by this time, he had already got 4 siblings. It is also interesting to note that a servant lived with the family. I’m not sure at what factory his father worked or owned, but it is clear that this was already a wealthy family for the area.

By 1871, The family had swelled to 9 children- how they loved putting them in the kilns in those days.  😆 By now, Barnett would have had his accident and obviously was looking to follow in his father’s footsteps.

In 1881, the address given is now The Three Crowns Inn, Portway Road, where John is listed as publican and brickmaker. Samuel at 26 still lives at home and is listed as an “agent.”

By 1891, the intervening ten years sees “Brickmaster” Samuel married to “Levina”, and now residing at an address in Brades Road, Oldbury. They have churned out 7 moulds, including sons William, Joseph, Arthur and Bert. A “Mary Hailey” who is supposedly his sister also lives at the address.

year of birth now 1853? Make your mind up Sam.

Into the new millennium, and two years after the infamous canal breach, in 1901 Barnett Snr, now 47, and the year of birth changed to 1854, is listed as “brick manufacturer”. The Stour valley and rattlechain works were now on the go, and his sons were obviously being drawn into the trade- William– brick yard manager, Joseph and Thomas– brick yard clerks, and interestingly- Arthur– an auctioneers clerk. The family were now living in Tividale Road. His wife, obviously the same one appears on the transcript of the census, to change her name every ten years 😮 His sister Mary also appears to have a changing surname. He also employs a live in servant- obviously money making bricks could get you quite a bit.

In 1911, the last census for Sam of course, would see him still living in Tividale Road at an address known as “The Orchards”. Both he and his wife are listed as brick manufacturers, and his two sons Joseph and Bert assistants. Several children have now flown the nest, but Sam now employs two servants. The curious Mary is now listed in a third name as his niece! There is no “Julius Barnett” in existence, as stated in the 1912 Brick and Clay Record American article, in the last post I did.

There is a known story concerning his son Arthur. Obviously turning his back on the family business and indeed country, he made a new but short lived life in Australia, where he was killed in action in 1916 in The First World War. This must have had a devastating effect on his father, who commissioned a life size model dressed in knight armour which was placed in the former St Michaels Church in Tividale. The story goes that this was eventually thrown out for scrap, though pictures exist of what it looked like.

In terms of what he left behind financially, Samuel Barnett left a great deal of wealth from his brick works at the time of his death in 1918.

I’ve put this total into The National archives money convertor from 2017, and it is clear that he would have died a millionaire in todays terms. This would have been even more in the 1915 calculation and obviously declining due to the impact of the war.

But how many bricks?

His sons obviously carried on with this legacy, but the political brick building dynasty suffered a further blow with the death of Councillor William some 11 years later at the age of 51. The Dudley Chronicle of 14 March 1929 records what “greatness” he brought to Tividale, without actually mentioning a single evidential bloody thing.

It is interesting to note his connections with the sewerage board, given that his pecuniary interest  in a brickworks lay right next to the sewage works in John’s Lane.

Trotter’s independent trader

There is much more of this sanctimonious horse shit , which I have cut, but the names of some of the mourners are of note in relation to those in the employment at The Rattlechain brickworks. Frank Dawes crops up in 1899 with the canal breach fiasco, and must have been the go to consigliere for the family Barnett, and is mentioned in his will too.

Bricker Bill left a more modest sum than his father, to his Fanny, a brickworks manager Called George Harrold, and the ever appreciative Frank.

Trotter Bill could have left 70 horses with his loot

The Titford brickworks mentioned in the chronicle article were located on the Griffin Industrial Estate, next to where the M5 passes today near Causeway Green.

I’m not sure what happened with the works at Rattlechain after this date, as it starts to get very clouded at this point, though some time near the 2nd world war, it came under control of the conman Sydney Sheldon, who did much to continue the self interest of the Barnett’s in making Tividale their very own stomping ground , and in his case an absolute shit tip.

From records from 1938, it is possible to see that it was an industrial smoke nuisance on the radar of the local board of health in Rowley Regis, (as well as the Brades works), in a report- what a great legacy the Barnett family gave to the area, where of course when councillors, they could have written off such complaints.

Personally I have no time for the Barnett family and those like them. No one would begrudge them making a living, in fact the brickmaking industry provided necessary materials, but their thirst for power through monopolisation and position made them greedy and arrogant, and their civic involvement made them think that they were untouchable.

It’s a character flaw seen in all others who followed in connection to this wretched brickworks and what was left behind from it. The Barnett’s ultimately made the vessel of Rattlechain lagoon and the dross that went into it, just like all the other clay hole diggers who left great voids in the land. They were the architects of a vile fetid waste industry and should never be feted.

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An extraordinary #Rattlechain Brick and Clay record

Well, I thought I had found all there was available to find with the former Rattlechain brickworks, which forms the bowl of the hazardous waste lagoon of today, but how wrong I was!

Barnett’s appear to have used their own branded canal boats.

I have found an extraordinary article from an obscure American publication called “The Brick and Clay Record” , which dates from 1st January 1912. It appears that the author of the piece had travelled to The brickworks in Dudley Port at the invitation of the Barnett family, at this point, Samuel Barnett still being alive and in control of the site, now run also with his “sons”. Indeed, one of these referred to as  “Julius” is also pictured.

Not only does the piece describe in very exact detail the specifications and methods used to produce the fabled Staffordshire blue bricks, from which the marl in the pit was extracted, but it also shows a picture of the long forgotten Stour Valley Brickworks, also owned by Barnett, and situated on the canal further down in the direction of Tipton.

1904 map.

1904 map showing Barnett’s Stour Valley and Rattlechain brickworks and associated marl pits in close proximity off the Birmingham Mainline Canal at Dudley Port.

I didn’t believe that any pictures of this site existed, which commenced construction from around 1894, except for a very obscure view offered on one of the postcards of the infamous canal collapse of 1899 below, and another view published in The Engineer magazine.

The Stour Valley works highlighted

But just look at this!

Wow, what a picture!

The article states that this larger operation produced 70,000 bricks per day, with rattlechain at 40,000.

Of course the name “rattlechain” takes its name from the type of chain used at the site.

The BP book of Industrial archaeology by Neil Cossons 1975 describes the manner in which it was used.

The visit of the American abroad appears to have seen the site in its heyday when it was still being run for brickmaking instead of being run down by characters like the dodgy Sydney Sheldon, who sold off most of the surrounding lands, and then the site itself for tips and housing. The author writes

“This is one of the largest clay making concerns in The British Isles , and the representative of Brick and Clay Record was received most cordially by members of the firm, both Mr S. Barnett and Mr Julius  Barnett, his son, as well as their representative, Mr A. Tongue, treating me in the most hospitable manner and affording me all possible assistance in securing information regarding their plant and methods. “

Indeed, “Julius” Barnett, and A. Tongue– who I have never heard of before, are pictured in front of the  recently patented continuous kiln, which produced blue bricks. I am not sure of who “Julius” actually was, as there is no record of anyone by this given name in existence in official census listings of the time. Perhaps this was Barnett’s son William, Joseph or Thomas, or another who used this alias or middle name?

The blue bricks are described in detail, “The brick is not only blue on the surface, but is also of the same dark colour throughout the stratum.” 

These type of bricks were burnt to a higher temperature than other red bricks, and for longer at 6 full days.

The article observes that women were being employed at Rattlechain which is interesting-(were they cheaper? ), and that the site had been in operation for around 100 years, as according to his source- The Barnetts. (N.B An article from The British Clayworker of 1908 states that Barnett had took on the lease of the rattlechain works in 1882.)

Compare this with the evidence offered by the man himself at the trial where he claimed damages from The canal board for the breach in 1899.

The “continuous kilns” referred to it is claimed were patents of The Barnett family, and the other type of kiln for producing the blue bricks, also a patent of Barnett and Hadlington– and is described in quotes by the author in great detail from the piece that had already been written in The British Clayworker periodical previously.

I’m fairly sure from the shape of this basin, that this is Rattlechain

The name Hadlington, although a common name in Dudley, is also mentioned as their employer and  “contractor”in the death of workmen who lost their lives building the Barnett stack in 1906. I would imagine that the two are likely connected or the same person.

The pit

On the fourth page of the article we get a picture of the rattlechain  brickworks pit itself, though there is little to gauge from the perspective as to where it was taken.

Dubious depth

The statement is made that; “The pit from which the clay is taken, is 105 feet in depth from the surface, all the materials being taken out by hand, no steam shovels or mechanical tools of any kind being used.” 

I instantly take issue with the claimed depth in feet because of contradictory evidence supplied by another reliable source, The Engineer magazine from 1899 at the event of the canal breach.

“The marl-hole, although, 100 yards deep, and having a surface boundary of about  three acres, was quickly filled to the brim, whilst nearly two  acres of surrounding meadows were also submerged.”

This article was not written by someone who had been informed by the Barnetts , and I also think that this may have also been deliberate misinformation given to the American author by them. The article implies that the brickmaking family had been after a monopolisation of local brickmaking, and had been “wrecking” other sites in order to make themselves the sole supplier, and limit over production through their own works. In this way of course they could control the price and make it very profitable as a result by lowering production. They would eventually take up expansion of sites in Titford and also in Walsall of course.

The article below also shows that in 1914, he purchased The Gower brick works, at this time in greater capacity than those at Rattlechain. This site would become the site of the infamous Albright and Wilson Gower tip. Was he buying these sites up just to “wreck” them and then flog off the empty voids for tipping purposes?

24th December Birmingham Daily Post.

By claiming that the Rattlechain  pit was well below capacity, and that only 100ft had been dug gave a psychological edge in that they would have had decades worth of marl to dig, perhaps forcing competitors to sell up who knew that their own capacity was probably nearing its end.

That the works had supposedly been in operation for 100 years, and that over 7 miles of canal at a depth of 6 feet had been emptied, also tells me that this pit would have been much deeper at the time of the breach than 100 feet, and more like the 100 yards claimed in The Engineer.

There are perhaps reasons to do with the structural failure of the canal bank and pit which Barnett would not have publicly wanted to admit to- such as digging too deep into the marl and potentially facing liability for another incident when he was dumping ashes from the brickworks operation liberally. We do not know how the breach was repaired, as there appear to be no records of how this was achieved.  

It is also worth stating that this article was written 12 years after the breach, and so would have been deeper than at the time of the incident, and going further forward to the 1940’s when it is claimed that work on this pit stopped, (and the conman Sheldon sort permission to dig from another hole), it would have been deeper still. 40,000 bricks per day seems an awful lot of marl required to me, and I genuinely believe The Engineer article over this one as an accurate historical source.

It is also stated that the eventual hand made bricks were shipped via canal barge, their own, as has been seen from the picture of the boats in The Rattlechain basin.

Appears to say “S. Barnett and sons Dudley Port”


“…an average barge containing 8,000 brick or a weight of about 35 tonnes.”

It is also stated that some of the rattlechain bricks were also shipped via rail, but with a lower capacity than American train cars.

It is claimed that the Barnett operation was a military supplier, and that they shipped bricks around the UK as well as abroad. This is where the article again relies on information from a biased source itself, and also starts to read as more of prospectus for the family firm.

Barnett’s position as councillor would have been able to have facilitated many favourable outcomes, and it appears that the newly built Birmingham council house was being made from the inside of Barnett bricks. Perhaps in the years that followed, from those employed and serving there, it has been as rotten from the inside ever since.  😯

As a primary source, this Brick and Clay Record account is interesting but also a little questionable, as it is very favourable towards The Barnett enterprise, and perhaps almost serves as an advertisement to an American market.

There are massive elephants in the room that are omitted from the piece, and which Sam and “Jules” left out of their fairy tale castle construction – especially the 1899 canal breach and the effect that this had on production and the area itself- not least as a direct result of Samuel Barnett’s dodgy activities. There is also the convenient omission of the deaths of men who built the stack from which the bricks were created- just 5 years earlier, as though it had never happened. No mention is also made of Samuel Barnett’s disability of loosing an arm in earlier life at the age of 16 at The Stour Valley works. No mention of health and safety is even made in the article, just the boast of brickwork manufacture rate. Of course the American observer was reliant in the information being given to him, and would not have been able to scrutinise whether the information being fed through the rollers was accurate, but the brickmakers themselves would of course be a little reticent in telling him anything harmful to their reputation whilst romancing the tale.

The blue bricks referred to in the article were used extensively in canal and railway architecture, especially in the local area. An example below shows a railway viaduct in Park Lane East, Tipton, but were they Barnett bricks made at Rattlechain or Stour Valley?

The Stour Valley Brickworks, stated to be not in use in this article would not remain for long. Although still present on the 1919 ordnance survey map now renamed “The Stour valley NEW brickworks” , they are gone by the next in 1938, with the merging of the Pit and also the Groveland Colliery pit forming the Vono Lagoon that would be used for indiscriminate dumping, before that too was infilled to form an extension to the London Works rolling Mill, and more latterly, the Autobase Industrial Estate.

Overlay of Stour Valley works site from 1904 map with current bing map imagery.

The position of The Stour Valley works, in relation to The Rattlechain lagoon of today.

Nothing of either these brickworks now remain, except the canal basins which once served them. The Stour Valley basin still contains water, though the rattechain basin, only during periods of heavy rainfall.

The Stour Valley works would have sat on top of this hill


Remnants of The Stour Valley basin, which is lined with blue bricks

A view of the remaining empty rattlechain basin.

A view of the basin looking towards where the brickworks was situated.

Samuel Barnett died in 1918 after a fall from a horse and cart, not far from his home. I will be looking in greater detail into this and also the fate of the Barnett family in the next post, but until then, enjoy this piece of fascinating local history.

Rattlechain Brick and Clay Record 1912



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