After the canal and lakes were built, there was still some common land left in Earlswood, and Shirley Heath not inclosed.
At this time roads were often 60 to 100 ft wide and you drove your cart on the least muddy, least rutted part and in the winter only packhorses could travel.
In the mid-part of the 18 century most “main” road had a strip surfaced with the then new tarmcadam. This strip was usually not much wider then a cart, this left a lot of unused land down the side of roads.
Now we come to the next main event in the history of Earlswood. The Inclosure of the remaining common land in the parish in 1857. This was quite late, many areas were inclosed up to a hundred years earlier. The inclosure award document is very interesting it is 32 large pages of hand written descriptions together with 3 large maps.
In the 1850s Mr John Holbeche, land surveyor, was appointed to Inclose the “Earls Wood and Shirley Heath Commons and other land in the parish of Tanworth.
In 1857 John Holbeche’s Report was accepted by the Inclosure Commissioners for England & Wales.
The Report starts off:
To all to whom these Presents Shall Come.
I John Holbeche of 18 Bennetts Hill in the Parish of Birmingham in the County of Warwickshire, Land Surveyor
“WHERE AS THE INCLOSURE OF EARLS WOOD AND SHIRLEY HEATH COMMONS AND OTHER LANDS SITUATED IN THE PARISH OF TANWORTH IN THE COUNTY OF WARWICKSHIRE HAS BEEN DULY AUTHORISED UNDER THE PREVISIONS OF THE ACT FOR THE INCLOSURE, EXCHANGE AND IMPROVEMENT OF LAND”
“AND WHEREAS I THE SAID JOHN HOLBECHE HAVE BEEN APPOINTED THE VALUER IN THE MATTER OF THE SAID INCLOSURE AND HAVING MADE THE DECLARATIONS REQUIRED BY THE SAID ACT HAVE DULY HELD ALL NECESSARY MEETINGS AND DRAWN UP AND SENT TO THE INCLOSURE COMMISSIONERS FOR ENGLAND & WALES, MY REPORT IN WRITING IN THE MATTER OF THE SAID INCLOSURE WITH A MAP IN THREE PARTS HEATHER TO ANNEXED AND IN ALL OTHER RESPECTS COMPLIED WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE SAID ACT.”
So now imagine the scene, this man John Holbeach with several assistants wandering around the parish measuring and surveying the common land and the roads. If you owned land or had common grazing rights you might welcome him, but if you were a poor farm worker you might resent him and what he was doing as you did not stand to gain anything.
This work must have taken several years measuring with Chains
The Earlswood Inclosure award created many of the roads we now use and also many foot paths or foot ways. Such as
“One public carriage Road or Highway of width thirty feet for about five hundred and seventy yards and twenty four feet wide for the remainder across Shirley Heath commencing at a point marked A on the said map (part number 1) and extending hence to and terminating at the point marked B on the said map and containing a total length of six hundred and eighty yards or thereabouts.” (Blackford Road)
One other public carriage Road or Highway of width thirty feet over that part of the Earls Wood Common which is called Windmill common, Commencing at a point marked C on the said map (part Number 2) and extending hence to and terminating at the point marked D on the said map and containing in length One thousand two hundred and eighty yards or thereabouts. (The Common)
There are 19 such roads created and over 30 foot paths also described.
Some of you know “Gypsy Drive” which goes off Malthouse Lane next to No 94.
Gypsy drive was created by the 1857 Inclosures award as an access road. The Inclosures award is quite specific about who has the right to use the road and also who is to maintain it.
The following is an exact quotation from the Inclosures award.
“One other private carriage and occupation road of width eighteen feet and numbered XIV (14) on the said map (part Number 2). Commencing at the south west corner of allotment numbered 178 and extending hence over the allotments numbered 178. 192 and 193 to and terminating at the canal feeder bridge at the south corner of allotment number 193 which said road is set out for the persons interested for the time being in the allotments numbered 192. 193, 194, and 197.
When walking around the lakes there is a lot of industrial archaeology to be seen especially in the winter then the greenery has died down. I had noted several sets of old brickwork which I could not work out there purpose. I later found the answer in the Inclosure Award which says. –
And I declare that I have set out and appoint the following public watercourses that is to say
One other public watercourse on the Middle or Warren House Common Earls Wood numbered 3 on the said Map (Part Number 2) of the depth of three feet and width of four feet at top and one foot six inches at bottom commencing at the South side of allotment numbered 161 and extending thence across the said allotment in a Northward direction into and across the Public Carriage Road or Highway thence into and across Allotments or Sale Plots numbered 159, 158 and 157 thence into and across the Private Carriage and Occupation Road number XI thence into and along the East side of Allotment or Sale Plot numbered 153 to and terminating at a Carrier or Aqueduct over watercourse belonging to the proprietors of the Stratford upon Avon Canal Navigation.
And I direct and appoint that the said watercourse shall for ever hereafter be cleansed repaired and maintained by the Owners and Proprietors for the time being of the allotments or Sale Plots numbered 161, 159, 158, 157 and 153 in proportion to the length passed through or over each by the said watercourse.
After reading the above I could imagine a drainage ditch coming to an aqueduct made out of wood planks possibly painted with tar to water proof them from the size of the brick work the aqueduct would have been 15 to 18 inch wide and about 9 inch deep. I have found two other sets of similar brickwork around Terry’s Pool. By using the aqueduct it would be possible in the winter to raise Terry’s pool by 1 to 2 foot above the canal level, this extra height would mean the canal could be toped up with out using the steam engine saving on expensive coal.
Written by Roy Willmott, Chair of the Parish Council