Essington Laid Bare: Springhill and The Birches Sun Club (Part 1)

Posted: January 3, 2018 in Landscapes

The 1834 OS Map, showing the canals and mineral railway from the coal pits near the Mitre Inn. The Enclosure took place after these were constructed. (Walsall Local History Centre)

This is the first of three articles that is on the landscape of Springhill in Essington Wood, the special focus on Springhill House and the Birches Sun Club, a former naturist (nudist, in parlance of old) site located in Springhill Covert, a piece of woodland to the rear of Springhill House (now Springhill Farm), off Broad Lane, in Essington…

  1. Ruth Mattison says:

    Hello, Ruth Mattison here, formerly of Long Lane Newtown, now living in Australia. I don’t know if I can add anything to your story, but I remember the nudist site, and apparently had a hand in a ressurection of it in early ’70s. My parents had long been aware of this site, being just a hop over our back fence, but old friends of theirs happened to be nudists and either used it in it’s heyday or tried to clean up the site after it had been long neglected. I know my parents had/ have a few pictures of myself and a son of the family friends inside the inground pool when it had no water in it. My dad would have taken the photo as he was a photographer at the time. These friends, Brian and Audrey Peach migrated to Australia in the mid ’70s and the site fell into tolat neglect, yet I understand it to still be there. My parents, Ron and Thelma Mattison used to live in the little cottage that was left on the land but was demolished when the coal board decided to opencast the whole area in the early 80s. They still live in Long Lane, dad in his 90s, mum in her 80s, but both will have better clearer knowlege of this site than myself. I’m going to go back to your email again, read it through so I understand a bit more. Thanks for your time researching everything as thoroughly as you do.
    Regards, Ruth Mattison.
    Lenovo TAB 2 A10-30

    • wyrleyblog says:

      The club story will come in part 3, but the great thing is people like you can add so much and do! Thank you for reading and taking the trouble to write back, it makes my day!

  2. tonykulik says:

    Thanks for taking the time and trouble to investigate this subject Wyrleyblog. An interesting read so far that I need to revisit (no doubt more than once) to enable me to digest your research more thoroughly. Certain aspects of that areas map always fascinated me as a nipper – and still do tbh. Looking forward to parts 2 and 3.

  3. Andy Daniel says:

    I can also attest to the existence of the naturist camp (or at least it’s ruins). I also lived in Long Lake, opposite Ruth (Hi Ruth) and once set out with friends to find the legendary, mystical place. After being chased by a farmer and a long detour, we did eventually find our Eldorado, in the middle of what was known to us as ‘Piggy’s Wood.
    The swimming pool was pretty much still intact along with some buildings. The legend lost most of its appeal once it became real and i think we may have visited it once more before it was forgotten.


    Andy Daniel

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