JOAN ORAM

BRADLEY: THE ROCKET POOLS

As part of her fight against pollution and for better health care, Joan has collected these old photos from local residents, showing the Rocket Pools area before housing development took place.  

It is believed that the pools are named after the plant "Rocket", which is a leaf vegetable used like lettuce in salads.  There used to be a brook running alongside the pools.  When I was young we used to paddle in it.  And watercress grew there too, which was gathered daily.

Rocket Pool Area

This photo shows the pool area. The buildings across the centre left are part of Thompson Brothers' works.  Behind them are the factory chimneys of local industries in Bradley and Wednesbury, and in the far distance, on the hill top, you can just make out the spire of Wednesbury Church.

There were two pools

This photo is just to right of the top photo. As you can see, there are two pools.  You could walk across a path between them, as someone is doing in this photo.  Now there is only one pool but you can see the remains of the dividing path.

Before the Housing Estate

This is another scene before the Rocket Pool Estate was built.  Thompsons would be off to the right.  The houses across the centre are in Bradley Lane, in what is now called Upper Bradley of the Royal Estate (where all the roads are named after members of the royal family).  I think the little spire-like outline you can jst see sticking up above the horizon is in fact a crane at Jackie Norton's works.

part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations

In the front of this photo is the the canal, which is part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. The Bradley locks would be several hundred yards to the right.   Behind the canal is Tipper Brothers tube mills.   They continued to produce steel tubing up until the early 90s. On the horizon is St. Martin's church, Bradley.

The bridge is Tup Street Bridge, which is famous for its ghost, which many local people have seen.  I saw it once myself, when I was staying with a friend whose house overlooked the bridge.  I looked out of the window one night and saw this form, glowing green, in a flowing gown with a train behind.  It floated alongside the side wall of the bridge and then disappeared into the brickwork of the bridge.  It was a frightening sight but I had to watch it, even though my friend was telling me not to look.  And machinery in Tipper's factory would start up of its own accord in the middle of the night.  My father was once working the night shift there at one end of the works when the machinery at the other end, which was not in use that night, suddenly whirred into life.  It was too much for him and he got out, quick.

Former Locks

This photograph shows the locks which were situated at the rear of what is now the Rocket Pool Estate.  It is all filled in now. When I was young we used wait by the locks until the coal barges came by.  Some of the boats were steel but many of them were still wooden boats and some of them were still horsedrawn.  Sometimes the boatmen would give us a lift on their boats, through the locks and up to Tooley's coal yard at Locksdale Sidings.  There they would unload and then bring us back.  We never told my mother what we had been up to!

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