Working To Make A Greenway
Between Walsall And Lichfield
  
(Ryecroft To Brownhills/A5 Section)
  
Supported by SUSTRANS, RAILWAY PATHS LTD &
GREENWAYS AND CYCLEROUTES LIMITED


Please show your support by emailing us at info@backthetrack.org.uk

or like, comment and share us on 'Facebook' and 'Twitter'
 
  Facebook
Twitter
      

Map of Track

Click on the RED hotspots and then on the photos to go back.
The photos show the track before we started late 2017 and will be updated in Spring  2019.

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


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.
 
Logo 
     
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)
 
Just to say a very big "Thank You" to all our sponsors.
   
  Wilko's Tesco B&M
       
  Abcell Brownhills CC Smithy's Forge
  Sign Comm Veolia Hickman
  Holland Park Co-op Rhini
       
  Spar BSH Quattro
       
 
       
   

 
News Banner
        
AUGUST 2019
   
 Cutting
15/08/2019 The results of all the hard work with the scythe from Heath End to Rushall
  
Cutting
15/08/2019 Denis and Molly supervising Bob with the scythe.
 
M6Toll
Showing Ian and Nisha the track as the M6Toll very generously gave us £1,500 towards a storage facility.

By Quattro
What a difference a few hours make clearing back by Quattro the path has reappeared.
  
JULY 2019
  
Ian Video
When Ian Henderson of 'Hendrone' asked if we would like video of the track we jumped at the chance to see it from a different angle. Click on the picture to go for a virtual flight along the McClean Way.
  
Tidy Up
On Sunday 14th July we are hoping to have a community workday to trim back encroaching vegetation so if anyone would like to take part we are meeting up at Smithys Forge at 10.30. If you are interested please bring tools like loppers, litter pickers, secateurs, hedge clippers, gloves, rakes and sturdy boots.
 
JUNE 2019
  
Veolia
  
Bullows Road Bridge
FANTASTIC NEWS. We've just been told we have the funds from Veolia to repair Bullows Road Bridge plus build steps/cycle ramp up the side and it's all down to you and your expressions of support from the local community which swung it. We were told it was by far the most publicly supported application they had received and so a very big 'Thank You' to you, Veolia and Railway Paths Ltd for backing us.

Scythe
We now have our powered scythe donated by the Co-op Community Fund.   
       

New Gates
Working on the 'new' gates by Smithy's Forge 
  

MAY 2019
    
Track
After the ballast was levelled, now to see where the water goes!
 
Dumper Dumper
   
Dumper Dumper
07/05/19 We starting work on the muddy section by the Swan entrance. As we are not allowed to bring anything on to the track we are having to move existing piles of ballast around. Please bear with us while this takes place.
     
SCythe
We would like to say a big 'Thank You' to the Midcounties Co-operative Community Fund who have awarded us £750 which will fully fund the cost of a self propelled powered scythe to help tackle the grass borders.
  
APRIL 2019
 
April
10/04/19 Tidy up the Vicarage Road Bridge before covering up the garffiti.

April
01/04/19 Looking towards the A5 with the track drying out, waiting for the leaves to appear. 
   

Signal at Sunset
Thank you to Martyn Arrowsmith for this stunning photo of the signal at sunset.

MARCH 2019

Enhancing the track
Not just extending but maintaining and enhancing with nearly 200 bulbs planted.

Signage
The 'McClean Way' signage going up along the track.

Rubbish!
Rubbish to be collected between the canal aqueduct and the A5 Bridge.

Chronicle

Express and Star
We made the local papers again.
 
FEBRUARY 2019
   
The Rails
Paul, Mick and Denis and a fantastic example of their hard work

Rails   Rials
 
Rails   Rails
Some before and after photos taken by the canal bridge.
 
A5 Bridge
 
Smithys

Now we have had it confirmed that the stretch we look after ends just north of the A5 bridge (and not the canal as we originally thought) the team were out clearing under it plus filling the skip by Smithy's.

Sign

Sign
Thanks to a generous donation from Mike Rhodes we now have replica signs on the Vicarage Road bridge.
 
Rubbish
The team have been hard a work collecting rubbish and tyres towards the A5.

 Rubbish
 Carl saved us hours of back breaking work up to Smithy's ready for the skip.
 

Rubbish!
Now to start clearing the years of rubbish thrown onto the track to the north of Brownhills.

Rubbish!
The canal bridge is in sight and easily accessible from Brownhills.

Brownhills Station
  Brownhills Station as it appeared in .....?
 
JANUARY 2019
 
Tyres
Due to the unauthorised removal of the posts at 'The Swan' end we have replaced them temporarily with something we hope will stop unwanted access but still allow walkers and cyclists to get through.

The Dam
Carl removing stumps to get to the dam.
    

The Dam
Working through the dam and to think we considered removing it by hand!
  
The Dam
Looking towards the A5 from the Brownhills direction at where the lake used to be.

DECEMBER 2018
Happy Christmas
Most of the BTT team are putting their feet up this week for a well deserved break but rest assured they will be back in action in 2019. If you are looking for somewhere to walk of the excesses of the festive season the McClean Way beckons.

Tyres

Tyres

"If you go down on the track today you're sure of a big surprise" Brian and Barry were on the Brownhills section of the McClean Way on Friday calculating how long it would take to put all the tyres in a pile to be collected when along came Nicola who asked if she could help? Well we thought we were going to get a team but what we got was Nev who with Nicola's help has got them all in one place in just two mornings! How far he must have walked and how much weight he must have carried we wouldn't like to calculate but it was a phenomenal task. So on behalf of BTT can we say a huge "Thank you" to you both but just wondering what's Brian going to do now?
   

NOVEMBER 2018

McClean
We have contact with an artist who 'colourises' black and white photos and whose work has appeared in many national railway related magazines. Here is the result of one he did for us, a stunning image of "McClean"

 
Barry

   
Brian
  
The Signal
Barry hold the signal arm, Brian holding the crowning glory and the arm in place for all to admire.
 
Carl at work.

12/11/2018 Carl at work extending the drainage channel towards the A5

Steps
As part of a collaboration between BTT and Railway Paths Ltd (the land owners) we now have some excellent steps over the concrete barrier between Station Road and Ryders Hayes Lane, Pelsall.
 
Map of the Track
We are often asked about access points so here is a map to help.

OCTOBER 2018
  
 
On Tuesday 2nd we had a visit from Central TV who wanted to include us as an item in their 'Active Autumn' series. Click above to see the result. We think it does an excellent job of showing how far we've come since that first skip just under a year ago.
 
Brian in Hat

Action shot from Chris Halpen about to interview Brian who was looking very smart in his new hat.

SEPTEMBER 2018
  
 
Station Building
   Barry has been emulating 'Time Team' and has uncovered remains of the station building.
 
Drainage
22/09/2018 Bending the channel round just passed the platform to join up with the existing drainage.
  
btt

btt
20/09/2018 Up bright and early to let Carl back onto the track under the miner to carry on the drainage channel. Unfortunately a rear tyre got a puncture but with everyone helping the tube was repaired and work recommenced in the pouring rain!

btt

btt
10/09/2019 We admit it, some of us may be gifted amateurs but we can't compete with the professionals. Yesterday Carl had dug as much trench in an hour and a half as we did in a whole day. Went down today and it shows it's working as we now have a flood where the trench ends at the moment. As soon as he's available we'll get Carl to carry on towards the A5 and the Cranebrook.

BTT

Btt
05/09/2018 Isn't it always the way, you start work on tackling the drainage problem and it pours down over night but it didn't stop the team cracking on and achieving 75 metres of trench at the end of the day. It started to fill from the word go and with a few more sessions we should reach the station.
  
 AUGUST 2018  
     

Brilliant news and a huge 'Thank You' to everyone who voted for us in the TESCO 'Bags of Help' blue token scheme. We've now been told we came first but don't know how much yet. Rest assured, no matter how big or small the amount, every penny will be spent on making and maintaining the old railway track, the "McClean Way", as the fantastic community resource it is.

  
 Any Old Iron?
  Thanks to Donna and Paul donating a skip we started work on filling it with all the rubbish in the undergrowth. The junk was pulled out to the side of the track, a team of two with barrows collected it to take to the trailer which was then was emptied into the skip. What organisation.
 
JULY 2018
 
Tim man Island
Very interesting morning on Wednesday (25th) looking at the police drones on Tesco's car park in Brownhills. PC Chafe kindly sent us a shot of the miner. Looking at the 'McClean Way' you can certainly see why it is a Greenway.

Highbridge repair
  Denis met up with Andy from South Staffs Water yesterday. Andy had an electronic map where the 24" water main built by John Robinson McClean is shown even though it fell out of use about 1972. The position of the pipe through the station area is on the side of the doctors and then comes across towards B&M with a small section missing. Andy thought the water coming up between the bridges was more or less where the pipe was. We need to investigate further but interesting to speculate that a 165 year old pipe may still be carrying water albeit not to where it's wanted.

It was a red letter day today with our first informal 'walk through'
Grand Opening
  
Grand Opening
We were not sure how many people had seen Brian's comment about the path now being walkable but quite a few did and joined us on the track this morning when it was looking at it's best. We were very pleased that Wendy Morton managed to juggle her diary and fit us in before dashing off back to London.
    

Clean it up
 
Clean it up
The track, the 'McClean Way', is a safe and valuable environmental resource for schools to use and we were really pleased when Sim, the SUSTRANS ecologist, organised a session with a local school. They all had a great time apart from one thing, the amount of dog pooh in the grass. To try and remind owners of their responsibility to 'Clean it up' we were given a stencil by SUSTRANS which we used seven times yesterday. If you follow them up from Rushall you'll see it was a learning curve with Bob's at Pelsall nearly perfect.
  
Barriers
Putting in the barriers at the 'Swan' pub end
    

Barriers
Mowing the grass towards 'Smithy's'
  
Sign
The sign we are putting up at points along the track which goes someway to explaining why we can only do so much at this time.
 
JUNE 2018
  Trimmed back
After a few mentions from active users of how long the nettles and brambles were getting on the section between the canal bridge and Bullows Road a group went out and trimmed back just enough without disturbing the wildlife.
   

MAY 2018
  
 After Ian visited from Canada a few weeks ago when gave us an excellent talk with photos from his soon to be published book he has very kindly sent us a few 'preview' images.
Ian Molesely
 
Ian Molesley
 
Ian Molesley
   
Ian Molesley
  
Ian Molesley
  
Ian Molesley
We'll keep you posted as to when the book will be available which should be fascinating with so many never seen before views of the track.

Fairy Glade
  Last week opened up a whole new vista, a fairy glade which wasn't wet! The sunny aspect was much appreciated by group members. This week we are starting to clear the ramp up to Smithy's Forge gate which will provide the missing link.
  
Bags
We are very pleased to find we are included as a choice in the TESCO's blue token charity scheme in the Brownhills store. So if you feel you would like to support our local community project, as they say, "Every little helps. The winner will be announced at the end of June.
  
Channeling
Before he left to go back to Canada we met up with Ian on the track so he could point out all the bits and pieces he remembered from 30 years ago. We managed to locate the edges of the concrete channelling which may have acted as drainage but unfortunately most of it has been destroyed or has been lifted and is lying around in piles. Ian also pointed out the plate layers hut. We'll make sure he gets an invite to the official opening.
   

Ian
We had a great meeting with Ian (on left) yesterday, May 2nd. He currently resides in Montreal but is in Brownhills visiting his Mother. He had heard of our drainage problems even in the colonies and emailed to say he had some photos of the track and drainage channels, were we interested? Ian is writing a book about the line from the mid 80's and showed us some fantastic pictures he has in the book and has promised us ones we can use when he gets back to Canada. They must be unique as he took them when was he was a schoolboy and show a detailed account of the track being lifted and the bridges being built.
 
APRIL 2018
 
Bird Boxes

Bird Boxes

Bird Boxes
Sim and Martyn from SUSTRANS came along and we made bird boxes to go on the Greenway

wilkos
As part of their 'Helping Hands' Scheme Wilko's kindly gave us some seed for the track

Dam

Down by the access ramp built to help with the track removal which blocks the drainage through to Cranebrook. We're deciding if we can break through and stop the lake forming.

Burntwood

Meeting up with Vic and Simon from the Burntwood Action Group on a cold damp morning yesterday. They are as enthusiastic as we are in getting the track accessible especially in their area north of the A5. We also got the skip, kindly donated by Donna and Paul at Abcell Ltd , collected.

MARCH 2018
 
 Rubbish
After abandoning the litter pick in Silver Street, Brownhills on the 19th because of snow we couldn't have asked for better weather on the 26th. We collected 27 bags which were kindly collected by 'Clean and Green'
    
Cutting Back
   
Cutting Back
  
Cutting Back Cutting Back
While we've been working on the Brownhills end SUSTRANS have got in contractors to tidy up and prune down the Pelsall to Rushall section which is all part of the 'McClean way'
   
The Lamp Arts
The charity event for 'Back The Track' at The Lamp Theatre in Brownhills on Saturday 10th March at 7:30 pm was a sell out and enjoyed by everyone there. Thanks to the Aldridge Ukulele Band, Follow Spot Productions and The Lamp Theatre for the generous donation of their time and the venue. We raised over £400 towards materials to enhance the area under the bridges.

Snow
Under the island where we see we are not the first to  go down today 03/03/2018

Snow
One source of the water, drainage holes in the bridge!

FEBRUARY 2018
 
 
  



After the digger had been at work, just a pity there is still quite a lot of water to deal with.
 

We have managed to get a digger down on the track and as can be seen in the video what a fantastic difference this has made.
 
JANUARY 2018
  
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.
  
Tyres
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.
 
DECEMBER 2017
    
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.
  
NOVEMBER 2017
  
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.
  
Bridge
 
Bridge
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
     
Bridge
 
A souvenir of the railway, a rail anchor.
 
Pipe
  
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?
   

OCTOBER 2017
      
Huw
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.
 
Rubbish
 
Rubbish
  
Rubbish
   
EandS
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!
   
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