Thursday, 9 October 2014

Oldbury and Bromford Lane

Oldbury and Bromford Lane is the old name of the Sandwell and Dudley railway station. The main historic source of the River Tame is in Oldbury. The exact historic source is difficult to trace though, as canals, railways and roads have confused the original line of the streams that formed the beginnings of the Tame (Dil.177). The chemical industries of the Tame polluted the water, and on Bromford Lane stood an ancient water-powered mill, and another stood a little further upstream. These industries developed over hundreds of years, the former became Bromford Iron and Steel, which still exists today, and the latter became Izon’s, which is now closed.

The main industrial link to the River Tame here are the chemical industries (yellow on map) that lined the brook, and often their chemical waste found its way into the water. In the early 1920s the newly formed Tame Basin Joint Committee noted that Chance and Hunt Ltd had released chlorine, liquid waste "with large amounts of suspended matter", as well as some of the 70,000 gallons daily production of ammoniacal liquors, containing sulphocyanide and phenols and sulphur as thiosuphate.* These chemical industries also produced mounds of waste known locally as 'Blue Billy', formed from calcium sulphate, used making salt-cake, that turned from white to blue-grey. Run-off from these mounds would often get into the Tame, turning the water yellow and making it smell like rotten eggs.** All this was sent downstream.

The mounds of 'Blue Billy' were removed in the 1960s to make way for the M5 motroway.

We will be adding posts about:
Chance & Hunt Chemical Works
Oldbury Pollution of the Tame
Oldbury Carriage & Wagon Co. Ltd.
Bromford Mill and Bromford Iron & Steel Works
Izon's

Rural Oldbury in the 1920s with a glimpse of nearby industry
through the trees.

Useful Websites

History of Oldbury, Langley and Warley

Sources

 * Tame Basin Joint Committee records (June 1923-June 1927) at Wolverhampton Archive & Local History Centre (CMB-BIL/14/1/Box 42/unmarked)

** Janet Sullivan: Janet has recently completed a PhD about industry in Oldbury.

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