Steven Salisbury Remembers Old Whittleford Park
We were thrilled recently when local resident Steven Salisbury popped in to tell us about his childhood living on Cedar Road in the 1950s and 60s.
Steven told us how he and his friends loved playing at Whittleford Park which housed the enormous Haunchwood Brick and Tile Works. The Works were built in 1870 to mine the Etruria clay used to make their famous bricks.
“My mates and I always found fascinating places to play in Camp Hill and a great favourite was Whittleford Park. We were fascinated with the tramway that transferred clay between the clay pit on Whittleford Road and Haunchwood Brick and Tile Works. The trams ran continuously on rollers on the ground pulled by a cable which was powered by an electric motor. They picked the clay up at the pit, went under Whittleford Road by a tunnel, travelled through the park and dropped the clay off at the brick works. We loved it because the trams were unmanned and we could jump all over them. The motor house for the tram cable was just by the tunnel and the man who worked there used to shout and wave a stick at us to make us get out. We would jump out and run off but by then it was too late and we were already covered in clay. Our mum’s didn’t half shout when we got home.
“When the trams reached either end a bell was rung and any trams along the line were halted while the loading or unloading took place. ”
The Hilton Avenue clay pit was operational for 50 years, until it was filled up with domestic waste and covered over.
Steven went on the tell us how thrilled he and his friends were one day when they were playing in the willow woods at the back of the brick works and were disturbed by a train coming rustling through the trees.
“We were playing in an overgrown place that we called The Jungle one day when we heard the greenery being disturbed and turned to see what was going on. We were stunned to see a small locomotive come through the trees. There were tracks on the ground but we hadn’t seen them because they were totally covered by vegetation. It was alarming because the train appeared out of the blue but afterwards we were excited.”
Haunchwood Brick and Tile Works had a siding which linked up with the main Birmingham line. It was used to transport coal to the Works and to transport goods up to the main line to travel all over the country. The Blackatree Housing Estate was the other side of the main line from the Works. Steven told us:
“There was no bridge over the track to Blackatree in those days, just a level crossing. It used to get really foggy because of the proximity of the brick works which impeded sound as well as vision. If a single engine came down the track you might not see or hear it coming. I nearly got hit myself once.