Yesterday’s post about the Cracker, the open ground on the Tibbington Estate in Tipton, prompted a few responses here, via Twitter and via Facebook after it was kindly posted by Distinctly Black Country. I didn’t really have a plan in mind when I started writing about it, I just came across some pics of the horses on the field while posting to BlackCountryPics; as such it’s an interesting mix of what I can dig up for myself online and by looking at maps and pics; and crowd-sourcing info which is what the internet is great for. An excellent example of this is Brownhill Bob’s Brownhills Blog, which combines Bob’s own opinions with historical research sourced from traditional sources augmented with his now very wide network of interested parties, on and offline.
Mike commented that the horse owners have been back in the news of late – his photos in the Express & Star show horse owners at the Fiery Holes in Bradley – and indeed, Sandwell council are taking steps to crack down on irresponsible horse ownership, with Princes End being one of the mentioned hotspots.
Pòl MacDhòmhnaill noted that people can remember the Cracker from way before its redevelopment, particularly its marl hole which yielded up some monster eels for local anglers. Wayne on Twitter remembers fishing there as well as rafting from the Elephant Rock in the middle of the pool, and also, slightly more controversially, remembers rooting around the bins of the KVE Scratchings factory. You couldn’t make it up.
Stephen Preston recalled the Cracker in its quarrying days – he used to visit with his grandad collecting loads of limestone, and recommended the excellent Britain From Above website, so I’ll post up that pic today.
This, from 1937, looks over the South Staffs Line and Victoria Park in the foreground – in the background though, you can see a large railway junction (pink arrow) – this is the boundary of the Cracker, and you can see the large expanse of rough, empty ground nearby. The orange arrow points to the Tipton Green blast furnace. You can also see the area in the background here: http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw048022. If you zoom in you can just about see the limestone heaps from the quarries and the lines of rails to collect it. The photo shows something of the slightly ad hoc nature of settlement in the area, interspersed with large-scale industry, communications channels and wasteland. That’s the Black Country right there.