WHAT DID WE ASK FOR?
(I) Can you confirm and supply me in electronic form, if British Waterways owned or owns this piece of land located next to the Gower Branch Canal on the West Bromwich/Oldbury border, periods of ownership and a historic map of the site if you have one.
(II) Do you have any site reports for this piece of land which I believe
was used as a dredgings tip?
WHY DID WE ASK THIS?
(I) “Monks Tip” is refered to in historic correspondence between British Waterways Board and Albright and Wilson. This letter refers to an agreement between British Waterways and “the trustees of the Rounds estate” to have “the use” of the land for a dredgings tip.
If this is the case then this land today would have been likely to be contaminated with exactly the same materials as British Waterways were disposing of into Rattlechain lagoon, including Albright and Wilson’s canal waste spillages.
We also wanted a map to complete our jigsaw puzzle of the toxic trail between Trinity Street and Rattlechain lagoon.
(II) Site reports in the form of old surveys or land contamination were what we were looking for here.
WHAT DID THEY KNOW?
(I) “Please see attached two BW Deed plans, which give information of British Waterways ownership around 1790 / 1850’s. These two plans show that BW do not have any significant land holding in this area. One of the plans does refer to a tipping agreement, however there is no information to who this is with, who has the right to tip or weather (SIC) the land was ever used for that purpose.”
Two maps were obtained.
The first Sheet 18 shows the Gower branch canal including the Monks Tip area to the junction of the mainline canal
“New tipping arrangement with?” is marked in the area. Trustees of J.L.J Round is mentioned on the plan. There is also a “Mrs S. E. Round and others” lease refered to on the map to 1967.
The second map shows a much larger view of the surrounding area but is undated.
It shows the Rattlechain brickworks as “disused”. Several infilled branches such as The Dunkirk Branch and Haines Branch are also shown to the North.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
(I) Sheet 18 shows the Gower branch, an important artery between the two mainline canals. Monks tip is refered to but not clearly shown. The second map is interesting given that it shows the Rattlechain area in context with The Gower Branch “Monks Tip”. British Waterways were obviously keen on having a dredgings tip in this area which with the amount of traffic and industry still using the network, was not surprising.
(II) We find it surprising that British Waterways had no further information concerning this site, but perhaps as has been seen already, it is not a question of whether records were kept but more a question of where you can still find them.
We are aware of “remediation” and “landscaping” plans that subsequently occured at the Monks Tip area site. It remains undeveloped. No surprise there either.