Leomansley grew up around the mill built by John Hartwell in 1791, on the edge of Pipe Green. Pipe Green was a meadow which had originally been left to the poor widows of Beacon St as pasture for their geese and was being used as common land.(1) As compensation for cutting a watercourse through the green, Hartwell made an agreement to give the poor inhabitants of Beacon St 10 shillings worth of bread each year.(2) Probably a lot of dough in those days….
Anyone who has been for a walk over there will know that Pipe Green is home to around 12 bullocks. I remember there being an advert in the Lichfield Mercury a few years ago, asking for someone to graze their herd there. It’s still owned by Pipe Green Trust, which is made up of residents of Beacon St.
Back to the mill, and in 1841, the census shows several Leomansley residents working as wool combers or spinners. I’m wondering if the row of cottages on Christchurch between Leomansley Wood and the Old Vicarage (Easter Hill) were purpose built for the mill’s employees? It appears that some of these people moved on once the mill closed around 1860, as on the 1881 census, several of the properties in ‘Old Leomansley’ are listed as ‘uninhabited’.
On the subject of employment, the 1881 census also shows several men employed in railway related work. In fact men from three neighbouring households were all platelayers and there was also a signal man and a coal heaver in the area. I’ve found a great post about platelayers and what their work involved at turniprail.blogspot.com. Once again, I’m speculating, but I wonder if the Leomansley platelayers were responsible for the Sandfields stretch of track on the Lichfield to Walsall line, which opened in 1849 and would have been just across the fields (which are now the Darwin Park estate). There is a photo from 1924 of the track at Sandfields on the South Staffs Railway website as well as plenty of other fantastic photos and other interesting things!
1) History of the Cathedral & City of Lichfield by John Jackson 2) A Short Account of the City and Close of Lichfield by Thomas George Lomax, John Chappel Woodhouse and William Newling 3) ‘Lichfield: Economic history’, A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14:Lichfield (1990)