Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Danks Dilemma

The Danks Dilemma
Just how far did it go?
April 2010

The trouble with getting new source material is that suddenly details disagree and what once seemed certain can no longer be considered fact.

Take the Danks Branch near Balls Hill. The 1902 series OS map was quite clear that the branch terminated at Danksbranch Wharf, immediately beside the Tame Valley Canal. This seemed a bit odd as it would have been so simple to cut a route through on the level.

 Danks Branch terminus according to the 1902 OS map

I decided to test Richard Chester-Browne's "The Other 60 Miles" by reviewing a section I know well and there at there end of the Danks Branch the  hand drawn map suggest not only a junction but also a short arm beyond the Tame Valley Canal, presumably from before the Tame Valley was built.

 Danks Branch as reproduced from the 1880 OS six inch series

Which map is accurate? I have absolutey no idea. Richard's work was drawn from the OS Six Inch series published 1880, so the link may have been lost in the course of the intervening 22 years, but this seems unlikely. For my money I would opt for the primary source every time, and suggest that the rendition by Marcus Boudier may be slightly inaccurate.

In truth, no one knows, there is no evidence of the ground and no one really cares. 

If any of you guys have a third source of data to support either option please let me know and I will add an update, giving you due credit of course


Mark said...

Here's the third source: the 1891 1:10,560 map (available now at the VCH website) does show a "black indentation" on the southern bank of the Tame Valley Canal, on the eastern side of the wharf, suggesting that there was a bridge over the branch at this point.

I would suggest an error in the 1902 map, which I feel we should duly report to the Ordnance Survey. I shall draft something up immediately.

Mark said...

But wait..there's more. Your mention of the other (northern side) of the canal intrigued me. The 1891 map uses odd shading with waterways sometimes in black, sometimes in white.
Just north of Golds Hill Bridge (clearly shown on your 1902 map extract) on the 1891 there is a big black splodge. I thought it was a building at first, but then I ntoiced the shape of the bridge on Google Earth and the 1902 map. Why create such a very odd shaped bridge? In Google Earth it would appear that there is an indented area that precisely matches the black splodge in the 1891 map (see the link in my earlier comment). This suggests there was quite a large, short basin at the Goldshill Colliery. By 1902, both the colliery and the basin have disappeared.

The entrance would appear to have been either under the NW ramp of the Golds Hill Bridge or perhaps between that bridge and the railway bridge and then immediately under the approach ramp to the canal bridge.

- Mark

Yes, me again said...

And intriguing that the Goldshill Colliery was presumably owned by the BCN. When a neighbour's property was damaged by subsidence in 1907, it was bought by the BCN.
There were plans to reopen the mine in 1907 but there were concerns it would damage West Bromwich's sewers.

Earlier on the colliery was known as J. Bowens' mine.

The papers of local mining engineer Frederick Meacham are in the Staffordshire Archives...96 boxes of them! That sounds a fascinating piece4 of research waiting to be done!

Captain Ahab said...

Having looked at all the evidence I would now go for the colliery basin argument - as an arm off the Tame Valley rather then a continuation of the Danks. OS has got it wrong!
Good to hear from you again.
BCN hunting is currently in abeyance for the summer months when the is real boating to be done!

Mark said...

I'm hoping to do a bit of both this summer. Boat is now moored near Coventry, so making it easier. I'm fascinated by these Meacham archives as well. 96 boxes of stuff about the mines and canals around Wednesbury and Bilston.

martin d said...

Fascinating to learn more about the Danks and canals. Samuel Danks was a Wednesbury coal master and carrier in the 1780s. Do let me know if you discover more about this branch.
Martin Danks

martin d said...

interested in the Danks branch.
martin Danks

martin d said...

I've found a 1840s map at the Glos W archives for the construction of the Tame Valley Canal clearly showing a small basin north of the proposed TVC. I'll post a copy if I can
Martin Danks

Captain Ahab said...

That would be great. If you post a comment with your e-mail address on it I will send you mine. I promise not to publish it!