Brownhills is a town in the West Midlands, England. Located on the edge of Cannock Chase near the artificial lake Chasewater, it is 6 miles north-east of Walsall. It is part of the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall and the Aldridge-Brownhills parliamentary constituency, before boundary changes in 1974, it was in the county of Staffordshire. Mining remained the principal industry until the 1950s, but the subsequent closure of the areas pits led to a severe economic decline which has continued until the present day. The local authority has instituted a programme which it is hoped will revive the towns fortunes, providing better transport. The name Brownhills, however, is not recorded before the 17th century, the most popular suggestion for the origin of the name is that it refers to the early mining spoil heaps which dotted the area. The settlement is first recorded on Robert Plots 1680 map of Staffordshire, at time it was a hamlet within the manor of Ogley Hay. Ogley Hay itself had existed since at least the 11th century and is mentioned in the Domesday Book, beyond Ogley Hay lay Catshill, another hamlet which pre-dated Brownhills and which lay within the parish of Shenstone. During the 17th century, shallow mine workings began to develop in the area, in 1799 Norton Pool, later to be renamed Chasewater, was created to serve as a reservoir for the canals. Early in the 19th century, a tram system connected the mines to the wharves on the canal. The remaining land of the manor was progressively sold off through a series of indentures of questionable legality until 1846 when Cotterill sold the last 135 acres. Eventually a new town developed, complete with library and theatre. This led to the amalgamation of Brownhills, Ogley Hay. Mining was to remain the principal industry of Brownhills until the last pit closed in the 1950s, as in other mining areas, several men lost their lives in the Brownhills pits. Seven miners, including a boy aged 11, died in an accident in 1861, in 1877 the town of Brownhills was officially recognised for the first time after a new Act authorised the amalgamation of rural districts into larger local government areas. An order was issued on 29 September stating, After the First World War, the Urban District Council, the final farmland within the boundaries of Brownhills was sold for redevelopment in 1952. Following the demise of the coalfield the town experienced an economic slump. Despite the developers grandiose claims, the project was not a success and ultimately consisted solely of shopping units, there was little further development in the 1980s and 1990s, and the feeling of the local council is that the town centre is in need of improvement
Image: Brownhills Sign
Robert Plot's 1680 map of Staffordshire shows "Brownhill".
Brownhills miners depicted on a picture postcard from 1904
The Council House was originally the seat of Brownhills District Council. Currently it houses the town's health centre and library.