Campaigning For A Greenway Between Walsall And Lichfield
(Pelsall To Brownhills Section)

Keeping the 'McClean Way' a Greenway
"A greenway is a corridor of undeveloped land, reserved for recreational use and environmental conservation"

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Map of Track

Click on the YELLOW hotspots and then on the photos to go back.

For a long time we felt the disused railway between Walsall and Lichfield should have a name like many other well known routes around the country and so we are really pleased to be told officially we can now call it "McClean Way" with this logo as a suggested way marker.
We'd like to acknowledge John Robinson McClean, a pioneer who was so instrumental
in establishing both the South Staffordshire Railway and the Water Pipeline.
( Thank you to Cannock Chase Mining Historical Society for the above link)
      McClean and Family
J R McClean, wife Anna M Newsam and their eldest daughter Mary Hall (Minnie) McClean
( Thanks to McClean's relative Nicky Hibbin for the photograph)

News Banner

There will be a charity event for 'Back The Track' at the Lamp Theatre in Brownhills on Saturday 10th March at 7:30 pm. Tickets are £5 and all proceeds go to BTT.
We hope to have the Aldridge Ukulele Band supported by the Follow Spotlight Group to play 60s and 70s music accompanied by dancers.
The Lamp Theatre is in the Brownhills Community Association building opposite the library.

The Pioneer
We've started off the New Year with an excellent article in the January edition of 'The Pioneer' magazine. Many thanks to Emma for the write up.

Intrepid members started the New Year by clearing out the existing water channel and then set about extending it well past the point where the ramp behind the library is going to be. They lopped branches off trees that have fallen across the track. which allowed the water to flow better and will make cutting the trees up much easier. They also did another mini litter pick and collected a few more bags of rubbish. The good news is that the water is flowing freely now to about 50 yards past where the ramp will be so it seems there is a continuous gradient right through the station and no level bits which was feared might be the case.

The Letter
Having spent a couple of hours clearing leaves off the track in Pelsall this morning (6th) we went, rather appropriately, to The Railway Inn for a most pleasant lunch very kindly paid for by Sim and Martyn from SUSTRANS. It was while we were there Martyn gave us our excellent early Christmas present in the form of this letter at long last making us officially 'official' It states exactly what we are aiming for plus we like the reference to working with third parties, something we've tried to do all along.

Live Life Local
We were surprised to find we featured in this months edition of 'Live Life Local' We hope they don't mind us reproducing the page here.
Crane Brook
   It's always useful when we come across people with local knowledge especially when it comes to matters of drainage. We know the track falls towards Lichfield from the highest point where the surge stack used to be next to the canal in Clayhanger. We've been told from the Miner roundabout (1) water drained by gravity into the Crane Brook (2) If we can move the years of silt then, hopefully, nature will take over.
Photo Shoot
SPOILER ALERT If you don't want a sneaky preview of Brownhills Asphalt & Tarmac's Christmas card don't look at this photo. We met up with Barry and Shaun from BAT who were having a photo shoot but then took time out to chat to us. They are very knowledgeable about the drainage by the park and sports field as they put a lot of the drains in. They've offered to do a survey for us but then had to dash off for an emergency leak (in a pipe I hope) but we'll arrange to meet up under the bridge ASAP.
What a difference there is between these two photos. The top one is from November 18th 2017, the one below taken by 'Dawntreader' from August 2009
  A souvenir of the railway, a rail anchor.
  At work on November 13th trying to uncover one source of the water flow, a vintage cast iron pipe which seems to be a bit of a mystery. Does anyone recognise it?

Under the Miner Island in Brownhills, Monday 30th. We had all the 'big guns' with us namely Martyn Brunt, Midlands Land Manager for SUSTRANS and Railway Paths Ltd and Huw Davies, National Cycle Network Director for SUSTRANS and Chief Executive of Railway Paths Ltd. Huw was previously a Consultant Railway Civil Engineer for 5 years so he is ideally placed to give us advice on the flooding. Having said that the tranches dug last week have made an amazing difference under the bridges as can be seen, just glistening mud.
It was a 'red letter day', Sunday 22nd, with the litter pick under the Miner Island in Brownhills happening at last and what a difference a day makes! We had nearly 30 volunteers starting just before 10:00 with some stalwarts still working away at 3:00 and in total we probably had around 75 work hours. The idea of digging drainage channels has really paid off with the water level under the bridge dropping substantially. Just look at the photos to see what an outstanding achievement so it's a great big 'Thank You' to all the volunteers of all ages and Holland Park Surgery for paying for the skip, we couldn't have done it without you. The press came and we made the front page of the Express and Star - again!
Clearing access to the gates needed for the skip ready for the litter pick under the island.
We went out with Sim again this time to place five baited tunnels along the track towards Brownhills. After a week, checking every day, the final results were inconclusive. We'll try again in the spring.
Out with Sim Duhra, Greener Greenways Project Officer (Midlands & East), placing mats along the route to attract reptiles to go under them. After three weeks the result was unfortunately, nothing. We'll try again in the spring.
Meeting With Staffordshire
We had a meeting with Councillors, Officers and other enthusiasts from Staffordshire who really want their section from the A5 to Lichfield to happen as soon as possible. If only we had as much support from the Walsall side of the A5, mostly two Councillors from Brownhills (thanks Ken and Steve)
First Day Cover
  With 2017 being the 170th anniversary of the opening first part of the line it would be great to add something really positive but the quotes for clearing under the bridge are coming in really high, almost as if they didn't want the job!
JULY 2017

We met up with contractors to investigate the track under the miner in Brownhills.
It's a bigger job than we thought as so many health and safety rules apply. Apparently because there is a couple of inches of water anyone working in it has to be roped to someone standing on dry land plus the danger from sharp objects etc. We are awaiting quotes!

Chris pattison SSWA
We visited the South Staffs Water Archives where Chris Pattison showed us photos and documents relating to the Lichfield to Walsall pipeline laid alongside the track. It was fascinating material and we are certainly going to take up Chris's offer of a return visit.
He has also said we can show some of the photo so watch this space.

Highbridge Bridge
Working on the cast iron pipe at Highbridge Bridge. Health and safety, what's that?

South Staffordshire Railway Certificate
Spotted this on eBay and couldn't resist. Chasewater Railway has the one after.

We've now joined up with One Walsall who support community groups and we have been talking to Russell of Aldridge Cinema about appearing on the 'silver screen' while we wait for permission to work on the track to arrive in writing as promised this week.

We were invited to set up a stall at the Chasewater Summer Fair on Sunday 2nd. We were lucky in that the weather was fine although a little breezy off the lake but then again you can't have everything. There were visitors to the stand all day and we've added many more followers on Facebook and Twitter.
Chasewater Summer Fair

JUNE 2017
As part of our linking up with others with similar aims in mind we were invited to visit the Sandfields Pumping Station in Lichfield. A fascinating tour of a wonderful piece of Victorian engineering. Thank you Kate and Gill. Gill mentioned they'd like to set up a tea room and as you can see below the track is literally on the doorstep, as in our photo looking out of the window, so it would be a welcome end to an outing.
Sandfields Pumping Station

Aerial views courtesy of Lichfield Waterworks Trust

MAY 2017
Sustrans, Back the Track and the local authority are now working together to establish a 'Greenway' route from Pelsall towards the Miner’s Roundabout in Brownhills, Chasewater and Lichfield in the future. We will endevour to raise its profile as a place that the community can take pride in, by promoting positive use of the track and caring for the nature that now inhabits it. We are all looking forward to building on this over the coming months and years

We have just participated in the Chasewater Soup event organised by Kate and Jane at the Innovation Centre. Participants put £5 into a pot and then state why their project should get all the money. Votes were counted while we enjoyed a very tasty soup and although it was close we are very pleased to say we got over 50% of the vote and therefore the money. Now to sort out the insurance.

Also a big thanks to Bob for designing and sponsoring the new look business cards.
Older Posts from around 2014 to 2016
February 2015
From SUSTRANS newsletter
'The Movement' Feb 2015

Volunteers spent several months clearing the track as part of the Sustrans 'Greener Greenways' project around Clayhanger to make it easier for walkers to get through. We were thanked and given this certificate.
An example where SUSTRANS are working with a group on a very similar project to ours.
Spring 2016
We hope to tidy up the disgusting mess under the traffic island bridges in Brownhills.

News Update 09/06/2016

Ryders Mere

Campaigners thanking Aldridge/Brownhills MP Wendy Morton for meeting them at Ryders Mere. They explained how it would be possible to include this as one of a number of fantastic wildlife attractions if the Pelsall to Brownhills track were to be opened up.
News Update 06/07/2016
Rail Paths Over the last few days a couple of gentlemen have been spotted checking the infrastructure of the bridges along the old railway track from the canal bridge at Clayhanger down to Rushall. They have been accosted by several campaigners and have been found to be very positive in their attitude to the track being made accessible for walkers and cyclists again. I caught up with them today and had a pleasant chat with Paul Thomas BSc MSc, Bridge Engineer and John Litt, Bridge Inspection Assistant of Railway Paths Ltd. On leaving Paul said he was happy for me to quote him when saying "I predict a happy outcome for all very soon"  Fingers crossed as pruning and tidying work needs to recommence on the track before nature takes it all back again.

News Update 29/09/2016

Network Rail
Local MP Wendy Morton meeting with Network Rail who say they have no objection to the track being made into a Greenway.

News Update 06/10/2016
Ryders Mere
John Grimshaw and Caroline from Greenways and Cycleroutes Ltd stopping off to look at Ryders Mere. Dennis and Bob gave them a tour
before we all met up in Brownhills to look at what needs to be done.
Brownhills  Brownhills  Brownhills

John writes on his website;
“A National Cycleway associated with HS2 Rail Working with Royal Haskoning DHV and Phil Jones Associates, the detailed route studies for this legacy route from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester are now complete. Our surveys included assessing well over 2000 kms of options on the ground, including covering routes which might be associated with HS3 from Liverpool to Leeds, and a network of routes connecting into the Peak District from both arms of the HS2 route. Our brief was to propose works to the highest European standard (Dutch CROW Guidelines) and to pass through the centre of towns and communities within a corridor approximately 3 miles wide either side of the Rail Route. The outcome would be a large series of local routes, each of real benefit to communities otherwise bypassed by the High Speed Rail proposals, all to a flagship standard with the additional benefit that by linking up these fragments, local communities would have access to their countryside and nearby settlements, whilst visitors and tourists would have the possibility of longer national routes. The study also included a certain amount of more detailed work on potential schemes for an early delivery, such as the 5km route from Aylesbury Vale Parkway Station to Waddesdon which provides the only practical opportunity for a safe and attractive route north from the Town”

Brownhills Map
We know he has surveyed the route from Lichfield to the A5 at Brownhills so it wouldn’t be too much more to ask to just join it up with the existing route at Pelsall would it or are we being too optimistic?
We Made The Express and Star 10/11/16

Express and Star
A good article using our picture and a quote from our site.
Unfortunately it has been attributed to SUSTRANS!

Brian's Video of the Accessible Parts of the Route November 2016
If you see a message 'File type not supported' try switching to 'Desktop View'

Sunday People
An article that appeared in the Sunday People 20/03/2017

Brians Letter

    A letter from Brian Stringer to the Walsall Chronicle 23/03/2017
A Mention of a 'Greenway' from 1993

Brownhills Gazette
Thanks to Brownhills Bob's Website and Brian Stringer who was editor of this journal.

From a SUSTRANS Leaflet from 1995
95 Leaflet

95 Leaflet 
Ever since the day the railway closed there has been talk of it reopening at some time in the future. If it was made into a cycle track then what would happen if the railway came back?.
The above photo shows the Bath to Bristol Cycleway.

The Proposed Cycleway from 1998

Walsall Cycle Map 1998
It seems to be following a familiar route.
Another answer to the question "But what if the railway came back?"
Here a solution is clearly shown in Ireland where again they have proved that the two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Click HERE for the guide.

We are keen that the original plan should be returned to and that a way can be found for the track be opened up as a leisure route - a facility that surely Brownhills deserves!

If you are interested please email us at