Saturday, 4 October 2014

Introduction to Oldbury & Bromford Lane Area

“The approach to Oldbury is marked by a heavy pall of smoke which, hanging over the whole tract of the country, shrouds Nature in a dun eclipse”
(Written in 1862)

We start our journey along the river at its main source in Oldbury, and the Tame still runs through parts of the town, mostly underground, but with meanders emerging here and there. Oldbury industrialised later than the other towns of the Black Country, mainly because the coal that lay beneath its ground was deeper here than further north. So, the Tame remained relatively clean, that is, until the chemical industries arrived in the mid nineteenth century. Chemicals such as phosphorous, sulphur and alkali’s were made at vast works like Chance and Hunt and Albright and Wilson, releasing chlorine, ammoniacal liquors, sulphocyanide, to name but a few, into the tiny brook. Huge mounds of solid waste called ‘blue billy’ filled the landscape, and when it rained, the wash that flowed into the Tame turned the water yellow and made it smell like rotten eggs.

This section has been called ‘Oldbury and Bromford Lane’ as the railway station that was once the only one to serve the town was known by this name (it is now called Sandwell and Dudley). One visitor to the great chemical works of Chance & Hunt travelled by train in 1862 and as he began to walk to Oldbury noticed “the course of a brook whose waters were, perhaps, years ago fresh and limpid”; this was the River Tame. Not far from where he alighted on Bromford Lane was the Bromford Iron Works, an ancient mill dating back to the 1500s. Here more chemicals flowed into the river as making iron involved a process of cleaning called ‘pickling’ which used acids. And Bromford Mill wasn’t the only iron works along the river!

Oldbury Chemical Works:-   General Information  -:-  Tour of Chance & Hunt in 1862  -:-
Bromford Mill/Iron & Steel:-  Bromford Mill  -:-   Bromford Iron & Steel

R I V E R   G A L L E R Y

The Tame in Broadwell Park,
by Albert Blakeway (summer 2014).

Tame under Sandwell & Dudley Station,
by Albert Blakeway (summer 2014). 

Tame between Oldbury & Bromford.

Tame from Bromford Brige, Bromford Lane,
June 2014. 

Tame between Oldbury & Bromford.

Tame between Oldbury & Bromford.

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