Crankhall Lane Ground, Wednesbury

13/01/2014 17:52

Despite scouring O.S.maps for over a year trying to find this football & athletics ground on Wednesbury's Crankhall Lane, I could never seem to put my finger on it. No map from any period names any field as a 'ground' at all along the whole (and considerable ) length of this lane which connects Wednesbury to West Bromwich via Stone Cross. Today, the lane starts at the back of the cemetary-which is called Brunswick Park Road-and goes for a mile to the roundabout by the well -known Elizabethan Manor House, recently a pub/restaurant.

I knew where Mr Crankhall's farm was, down towards the canal bridge and centrered my searches at that bottom part of the lane. However, I recently discovered that Brunswick Park Rd used to be called Cemetary Road at the one end, but that the other end (nearest the town at the junction with Hydes Road) was in the 1880s, the original start of Crankhall Lane, which turned right under the railway bridge (where it starts today). Facing Friar Street on Crankhall Lane, there was a long footpath running alongside the stream which is now a street called Woden rd east. Between that road and Darby Road, which runs parallel to the railway line, were a series of fields, in which had been built the town's isolation hospital when there was a series of typhoid and smallpox outbreaks.

Now one of the match descriptions of a Wednesbury Strollers game was that when the players arrived at the field, they were horrified to find that the smallpox victims were laid out in rows of beds in the open air in the next field ! I cant remember whether the visiting team refused to play, or they had the patients moved indoors before they would. There was also a water pump in that field. Im coming to the conclusion then, that far from this athletics & football ground being 'at the bottom' of Crankhall Lane (as we know it today) that it was in the middle of Crankhall Lane as the Victorians knew it (but at the start as it is today). Laburnum Road and Oak Tree Roads now occupy the site of that field. In another report, Strollers found that the nearby Trapezium Ground was already being used and so they switched to a field behind the Waterworks. That location would be the same as the field I have identified as today's Laburnum Road.

Before the Wood End part of Brunswick Park Rd was known as that, it was called Cemetary Lane, for obvious reasons. However, I discovered that even before the cemetary was built, the lane was known as Blazes lane. I can now see that the early Strollers ground known as Blazes Lane, and the Trapezium Ground were one and the same place !

Hope this is clear, as its hard to explain !