The waterworks at Sandfields has preserved the integrity of men and places, it has nurtured advance minds and has sheltered the very ordinary people of the Back Country who drove our industrial revolution.
Much of its distinctive life and tradition has been lost within living memory. The enemies of this fascinating place are those whose carless existence fail to preserve, share and celebrate the contribution to the health and wellbeing clean water gave to our citizens.
If ever the day comes when this beautiful building and its magnificent Cornish beam engine is ruined, then Britain will have destroyed without redemption part of her heritage.
Fortunately there are people who care; Ian Henery, is Walsall’s own Poet Laureate, and outside of his daytime job, a fine historian. Ian has kindly written a poem for about Sandfields, the inspiration for this came from The Blackcountryman vol. 46, Spring 2013 in an article written by me expressing my concern about the future of this magnificent monument which supplied water to the Black Country.
I found these words quite relevant and moving, and know you will too;
Sandfields Pumping Station saved peoples lives
And sent fresh water to the Black Country.
Nothing clean to drink, struggle to survive,
Disease from cholera meant cemetery.
Fresh drinking water powered workers` hands,
Igniting foundries in the coal fields;
Engines pumped clean water across the land,
Legacy from the engine and Lichfield.
Deaths there had been in thousands and laments,
Source of communal water being impure.
Pumping Station, life-giving monument,
Universal for the rich and the poor.
Meagre reserves of water, it was dire,
Pump Station – and cholera could not last,
Industrial growth like a furnace fire,
New water-borne disease was in the past.
Generous Lichfield, for water in need
Sandfield`s engine washing away despair;
Thousands were saved by Lichfield`s worthy deeds,
An immortal story of human care.
This history is not in the school books,
It should be recalled for posterity;
Ordinary people and overlooked
Now forgotten – but its our history!
13th June 2013, Ian Henery
Walsall Poet Laureate 2013 – 2014
Sources; Ian Henery, Brian Waters. Paul Leslie Line of Mapseeker Historical Maps