Friday, 4 July 2008

Don't mention the war
If you follow the original A5(Watling Street) from London to Holyhead and don't get diverted by the numerous new bypasses you will pass through Fazeley just south of Tamworth. If your eye is caught by either the United Methodist Free Church on your left or the Victoria Memorial Hall on your right you will probably miss the canal junction below you. Here the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal joins the Coventry Canal. Ignore the canals for the time being. At the crossroad by the Memorial hall built in 1897 there is a monument commemorating the local men who died in the two World Wars. Take a closer look at the inscriptions and you may notice two interesting things. On one side is a list of names in alphabetical order but at the bottom is Robert Peel Bt Obviously not the one who was responsible for repealing the Corn Laws but a descendant of that Lancashire cotton spinner who built Drayton Manor.

On an adjacent side is the inscription illustrated here. What puzzles me is that I thought the Great War finished on 11th November 1918. Whey does the inscription read 1919?

You may wonder why we are in Fazeley at all when we planned to explore the Ashby Canal. This week we have guests on board - Dave the rave and Margaret. Their wish is to do some locks and the Ashby canal is signally devoid of locks. So we have made a little detour to Stone and back. This gives me the opportunity to seek out the Old Mill which the Peel family built here in 1791 when they brought their Spinning Jennies down from Lancashire to avoid the industrial unrest. They established mills in Burton-on-Trent and Tamworth before building the mill in Fazeley but last time I was here I did not manage to locate it. The much larger mill which they later sold to William Tolson for his bleaching and dyeing is difficult to miss, however. I know that the spinning mill had 19 bays so when I walk into this building full of small company offices I start counting, and here it is. Strangely this commercial park is call Tolson Park but his mill was on the other side of the canal.

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