Section 5 – Lawley Bank
Duration: 30 minutes at a steady pace
Terrain: Majority flat
Path type: Footpaths (tarmac). Public Right of Way (part gravel/remainder crossing field which can be occasionally muddy).
Disability access: Memorial can be seen from footpath Milners Lane. Access limited for wheelchairs. Advise caution due to traffic. Access beyond marker sign (43) not recommended.
Caution for pushchairs: No footpath on Station Road for 100 yards, approximately between marker signs 46 – 48.
Cyclists: Recommend using Station Road with caution for oncoming traffic.
Food/Drink Stop: None
You now reach the crossroads of Milners Lane and Station Road. Look to your left of marker sign (43) down Milners Lane; was the possible site of the King’s Head Public House (close to Lacy’s Garden and Powis Yard on the 1 840 Tithe Map) used by the Lawley Bank Female Society (1806) for meetings.
The triangular-shaped open space to the right of Station Road can be seen on maps dating as far back as 1804. A former bull-baiting ring, this site witnessed an incident in 1944.
On 20 June 1944, an American P47-C Thunderbolt, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Clifford W Jensen, took off from Atcham on a simulation attack exercise with two other Thunderbolts. During the exercise, Jensen’s plane clipped one of the other aircraft and lost control. At 2:46pm the Thunderbolt crashed, exploding as it hit the ground. The craft narrowly avoided properties due to the swift action of the pilot, who was killed along with personnel aboard the Thunderbolt.
After an investigation was carried out by the United States Air Force, Lieutenant Jensen was initially buried in the American Military Cemetery in Cambridge. However, in 1948 he was repatriated and presently lies in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Francisco, California. A commemorative plaque was unveiled in Lawley Bank in December 2012.
The footprint of the three modern dwellings on the right-hand side of the “triangle” was originally the site of a scrapyard owned by the Cheshire family. On the Milners Lane side there are cottages and an imposing three-storey Victorian house.
If you glance down Station Road – look towards the left and you’ll see a “wall” made from stones and spoil at the top of Ladygrove. Next to this was the site of Lawley Bank School.
29. Lawley Bank School
Lawley Bank School was a single-storey brick building bordered by a stone wall. It originally erected for worship for the Wesleyans, with the inaugural service held on 20 November 1803. In early 1804, the building was used as a Sunday school. Previously, children were taught in the club room at The Unicorn public house.
The Sunday school was well-attended, but maintenance of the building was inadequate. Plans to build a new school in 1851, to accommodate increasing attendance levels, were considered but abandoned due to then-available funds. By 1871, the School’s Trustees accepted financial assistance from the Wesleyan Education Committee, and later the Wellington School Board, to extend the premises and provide a much-needed day school.
In 1908, pupils moved to the new Sunday school (today Beacon House). Members of staff at the school include teachers John Pritchard and P. Bray. Notable visitors include Rev Parkes Cadman, Thomas Mason, president of the South African Conference, and Gipsy Smith. After the Sunday School closed, pupils were transferred to Lawley Board School.
Follow the footpath along Milners Lane passing Shepherds Fold until you reach the Wrekin View. Cross over the road and at marker sign (44) by the bus stop look down onto Princes End and the bungalows below.
30. Lawley Bank Farm and Avondale
Lawley Bank Farm consisted of a farmhouse and several outbuildings, and primarily produced arable crops and dairy. Previous owners included Thomas and James Jones (Bagshaws Directory 1851), and later the Ashley brothers (Kellys Directory 1929).
In 1939, William Ashley sold two-and-a-half acres of land to Wellington Urban District Council to erect 22 homes for the “working classes”. The houses in Avondale were built by Purshouse & Gregory of Wednesfield.
Follow the path down into Princes End adjacent the bungalows. Continue along the footpath until you see marker sign (45) indicating a public right of way. Just up the lane to your right was the Jam Factory. Take the right of way, passing through a play area. Go down the wooden sleeper steps and cross the open space to the far-right corner where you’ll find a kissing gate (marker sign 46) onto Station Road. Proceed carefully down Station Road until you see marker sign (47).
31. Barrack House
This is a surviving example of a Barrack House, built in the 1700s. Dwellings like this were built to provide basic accommodation for young miners while their families lived in cottages, often constructed in single or double rows.
Chartermasters, who worked for pit owners, organised men and children as young as six to work the seams, as well as supplying horses and ponies used to operate winches to haul coal and minerals from the seams to the surface.
Continue carefully down Station Road until you reach the junction with Martingale Way.
SHORT CUT: If you wish to return to Lawley Square, go right along Martingale Way back to West Centre Way. Use the pedestrian crossing to Gresham Drive to access the supermarket car park.
TO CONTINUE THE TRAIL: Before proceeding left to the embankment for Lawley Common, pause here for a moment at marker sign (48).