This is a Photo Blog with Photos from St Andrew's home of Birmingham City FC, Brummagem, Chelmsley Wood,football related pictures and a bit of other stuff for good measure. Feel free to post comments.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Chelmsley Wood

Chelmsley Wood history

Arial view of Chelmsley Wood

During the Second World War some 3,000 houses in Birmingham were destroyed and no more were built for 6 years.

In order to meet demand, new houses had to be built in large numbers and the slum clearance programme had to be resumed to enable redevelopment of Birmingham city centre. Large new estates were built within the city boundaries e.g. Druids Heath, but by the 1960s there was insufficient land left to accommodate further large-scale developments.

In November 1963, Birmingham City Council took the decision that would lead to the building of the Chelmsley Wood estate. A public enquiry was held in May 1964, with strong objections being raised by Meriden Rural District Council and Bickenhill, Castle Bromwich and Coleshill Parish Councils. Despite this, permission for the development was granted and it was named Chelmsley Wood in February 1965, taking its name from the existing 'bluebell wood' that is fondly remembered by locals.

Chelmsley Woods before development

People would come in droves to picnic at Chelmsley Woods, particularly on Bank Holidays. They would arrive from Birmingham by train at Marston Green station and, as a result, tea rooms in Marston Green would do a roaring trade. Pots of tea were also sold by people at Alcott Hall Farm.

Land was compulsorily purchased and construction of the 15,590 dwellings (including 39 multi-storey blocks of flats) was begun in 1966 and completed in 1970. Although the area became part of Solihull in 1974, Birmingham City Council retained control of their houses until they were officially transferred to Solihull MBC on 29th September 1980.

Original concept and design

The emphasis of the design brief for the town centre was the separation of cars and pedestrians in a 'Radburn layout' that resulted in a back to front layout with housing backing onto streets whilst front doors opened onto semi-private and public spaces.

Shopping in Chelmsley Wood

Shopping was to be accessible from one level and undercover so that shoppers were protected from the elements. There were 70 shop units and 6 major stores, as well as a 4-storey office block and 2 pubs. The 221 dwellings in the town centre included 14 maisonettes over shops - the intention was to prevent the area from becoming lifeless when the shopping centre was closed.

Attention was paid to the site of buildings in relation to the prevailing winds to ensure that a tunnelling effect with the wind was not created. However, the descriptions of life in Chelmsley Wood by Lynsey Hanley in her book Estates would indicate that the 'wind tunnel' effect wasn't completely avoided.

Landscaping was to "act as a transition between the roads and buildings, in some cases to relieve the hardness of the buildings, and in others to stimulate interest and add to the visual pleasure of the area".

Buildings were designed to "evoke some sense of unity and harmony by obtaining good proportions and a simple use of materials". High-rise flats were developed with pockets of open space. Housing densities were high but a uniform system of development evolved, lacking in character, identity and diversity.

With the decline in manufacturing industries in the area and difficulties in developing the skills required to access new jobs, unemployment increased. As a result, the area has suffered from physical, social and economic deprivation.

Copied from Solihull Council website.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

In memory of John Cornock, Private 25822 C Company 14th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment who died on Monday 13th November 1916.

Photo of Pier and Face 5 A and 6 C on the Thiepval Memorial

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Private 25822 John Cornock

My Great Grandfather whose body was never found, but was killed in action on 13/11/1916 aged 34.

The Battle of the Ancre (The Somme)
The night of the 12th/13th November 1916, was dark and close, and before dawn the valley of the Ancre was filled with dense mist. “Zero” had been fixed for 5.45 a.m., well before daybreak, and consequently it was in thick darkness that the preliminary bombardment opened and the attacking troops went “over the top.” But the very obscurity aided the attack.
The defending troops were surprised and overwhelmed, and on the right flank the enemy’s first system
of defences was easily overrun. In the centre, however, a German redoubt, cunningly concealed so as to appear from the air to be an open communication trench, held up the attack and
inflicted severe losses. By that time all three Brigades of the 63rd Division were engaged and were much intermingled in the intricate defences.
The three half-companies of the 14th Worcestershire had gone forward with the attacking Brigades and were soon busy in all directions, consolidating the captured defences and preparing new works amid the general confusion and turmoil of battle. The second half of” B” Company were sent forward at 9 a.m. to Beaucourt Station, where they remained throughout the day.
The two officers of the half-company (Lieutenant H. C. J. Shuttleworth-King and 2/Lieut. B. J. C.
Hamm) were both hit, but Sergeant W. D. Cherry took command and directed the work with great skill and coolness
(Sergt. Cherry was awarded the D.C.M.).
After dark came orders that the remainder of the 14th Worcestershire were to go forward and assist in the consolidation of the line gained.
“A” Company and the remaining halves of “C” and “D” Companies accordingly moved off, passed over the old front line near the river crossed the captured German trenches and worked hard for many hours on a new defensive line along the bottom of the little valley which runs from Beaumont Hamel down to the Ancre.
Towards dawn they returned to camp, but at 9.30 a.m. “A” Company, under Captain E. M. Tweddlle, were ordered off again, to the assistance of the right wing of the Division.
The Hood Battalion, led by Colonel Freyberg (who there gained the Victoria
Cross), had stormed the village of Beaucourt. “A” Company made their way up to Beaucourt and worked hard under heavy fire on a communication trench to link up the captured village with the British positions in rear.
The work was dangerous in the extreme, for the enemy were heavily bombarding their lost ground: but Captain Tweddle and his men stuck gamely to their task and were fortunate in completing their task without undue loss.
Dawn of 14th November 1916, witnessed the fall of the German redoubt which had hitherto repulsed all attacks.
Three tanks were brought up from Auchonvillers to reduce it. One of them was knocked out by shells but the other two pushed on.
Both tanks became stuck in the mud close to the redoubt: but the menace of their approach and the fire of their guns produced the required effect. The garrison of the redoubt raised the white flag and gave themselves up— 8 officers and some 400 men.
The two victorious tanks, stuck in the mud on the crest of the ridge, were now exposed to destruction by the enemy’s artillery.
To their rescue was sent a party of the 14th Worcestershire ("B"
Company of 41 men) under Lieut. S. Hartley. Under heavy fire the pioneers laboured around the two helpless monsters and after hours of work finally succeeded in setting them free; after which the pioneer party returned to the Battalion’s camp, where the various companies and platoons were gradually reassembling.
By midday on November 15th all the parties were in, and at 2.30 p.m. the Battalion marched back to Forceville.
There the Battalion rested for a day (c), and received a warm message of congratulation from the C.R.E. of the Division.Casualties 14th Worcestershire from 13th - 15th November 1916;
8 killed, two officers (Lieut. H. C. J. Shuttleworth-King and 2/Lieut. B. J. C. Hamm) and 48 men wounded,3 missing.

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