Bell-ow the Water

Water is in abundance at the moment, so Sandford Street seems quite an appropriate topic.   The street was once split into two parts -Sandford St and Sandford St, below the water. I believe that the latter is now known as Lower Sandford St, lay outside the city gate, and was once the main road to Walsall.

This plaque is near to the traffic lights on Swan Rd (confusing!) & the corner of Lower Sandford St












Hopefully, this will make more sense in conjunction with John Snape’s 1781 map.

John Snape 1781 map, taken from wikipedia

I’ve only just found out that around the same time as this map was made, an artist called John Glover painted a view of  Lichfield Cathedral from Sandford St. It’s in the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum and can be seen here.

The water in question seems to be Trunkfield Brook (formerly Sandford Brook) which still flows, with varying success, through the Festival Gardens. It’s thought that the name Sandford (earlier Sondeforde) might relate to a crossing over the brook, near to the gate. Apparently, a bridge was built there around 1520. I wonder if the brook was bigger in the past, as I’m pretty sure even I could jump over it. Almost.

Trunkfield Brook, often more mud than water.











In view of the above, I think that the symbol on the Sandford St below the water ward banner, as shown below, is pretty self explanatory.

More of a challenge to decipher is the banner for the other part of Sandford St (i.e the bit within the city). Why did they choose to represent this with a bell?

In the absence of anything I can find that links this part of Lichfield specifically to bells, so far all that I can think of is that it might relate to the iron & brass foundry set up in Sandford St in 1879. On an 1884 town plan, it’s shown behind the Queen’s Head. Although it was set up by a Yoxall based firm called Perkins & Sons, Tuke & Bell, who already had a foundry on Beacon St bought it in 1923 and renamed it the Lichfield Foundry Ltd. The Sandford Street works lasted right up until 1983, so there must be plenty who remember it, or even worked there.

On a street somewhere in Lichfield. I’ll be honest, I forgot to note down which one!

So, does this explain the bell? If so, it’s interesting that the foundry wasn’t in existence until 1879, and so the design on the ward banner is unlikely to date to before then. If not…..???


‘Lichfield: Economic history’, A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield (1990), pp. 109-131. URL:  Date accessed: 07 July 2012.

A short account of the city and close of Lichfield by Thomas George Lomax, John Chappel Woodhouse, William Newling

13 thoughts on “Bell-ow the Water

  1. I shall now think of streams, and fords, and bells, every time I walk along Sandford Street. I always wondered where the name came from, but I suppose it’s quite obvious really – the ‘ford’ is a bit of giveaway, but the lack of water to be crossed has confused us all!


    • Thanks Christine. I love placenames and what they tell you about a place. The more I do the more I realise that Lichfield was a very watery place in the past! I think inbetween the Bowling Green and Sandford st there was a place called Pool Furlong, which suggests there was a lot more water here once upon a time.


  2. Another example of just how important your blog is recording the way our landscape
    changes ,We use route and footpaths without noticing that changes take place ,
    the Greenhill drinking fountain showed this when it was removed for repair it was
    found to be somewhat taller than it seemed to be ,With the passage of time the
    ground level had built up some ten to twelve inches.


    • Cheers! Actually I went past the fountain with a friend today on the way to St Michael’s churchyard and we said the very same thing!


  3. The heavy rain has passed over Cornwall heading for you. in the past when it has rained the field by Stowe Pool and the Festival gardens have flooded showing the true shape of the Moggs which stretched from St Chads and accross Beacon Park, and was a mixture of pools (at the side of what we know as Stowe Dr Johnsons father had his parchment factory.) and marshes into which the Christian Chiefs tried (hense the dead bodies on the City seal) and the defences of the cathedral/city. Two bridges/causeways were built and widened when minster pool was created and traffic increased.
    The sight of the flooding is worth a photo or two, especially if Capt Smiths statue is surrounded by water as it has in the past….get the wellies out!!!!


    • Thanks David! We sure got the rain! I was in Beacon Park and there were a lot of puddles. I hadn’t appreciated until recently how much of the area was previously underwater. I saw an artist’s impression of what the Bishops Fish Pool would have looked like before it was drained here on wikipedia I’ve also read that the current bridge on Minster Pool is built on the foundations of the old one, which is interesting. Also, the ward banner for Bird St has a the causeway or a bridge on it. Somewhere near to, or maybe part of the Bishops Fish Pool was a place that seems to have been variously called Merelynswele, Merliches Wells, Maudlins Well. I’d be quite interested to find out more about this place, especially from a placename point of view, as it seems to me that the name is made up of 3 different names for water i.e. mere (as in Windemere), Lyn )poss gaelic stream or pool) and of course Wele or Well. That trip to the record office is ‘well’ overdue 😉


  4. The museum gardens where Capt Smiths statue stands was once the Bishops Fish Pond I think one of four pools in the area.


  5. I remember Tuke & Bell on Beacon Street along with Chamberlin & Hill foundry opposite.
    I always thought that Sandford related to a ford with sand either side which I think there was a lot of sandstone around the area. I remember a very long time ago the Trunkfield Brook use to have sandstone blocks holding the banks up along the brook side. I have actually paddled in the Trunkfield Brook when I was younger, not sure it looks the type of brook to paddle in these days. May be a good clean out may be required. Yet again another great article, well done Kate.


    • Thanks! They did seem to be clearing it out when they started work on the Friary Outer carpark. Trunkfield ran to a mill too, so it would be interesting to find out about that too.


  6. The area around Cap’n Smith’s statue was flooded badly a forntight ago – on that day when it hammered it down biblically for an hour. Swan Road was like a lake too, for a while.


    • Oh that day was strange wasn’t it. Mind you this whole ‘summer’ is. Was supposed to be at Festival of History at Kelmarsh today, but English Heritage have cancelled as the site is flooded.

      On the Lichfield Facebook site there’s an interesting discussion about the water level in Stowe Pool. Apparently it’s gone down! Brownhills Bob says that they can reduce the water level to prevent overflowing. I never knew that!


  7. It was absolutely bizarre. Never seen anything like it, the rain fell so hard so quickly.

    Yes, I’m sure SP can be lowered, there’s a connection running from Minster Pool underground, be careful when you walk on the field there!


  8. Pingback: Refusing to Bough Down | Lichfield Lore

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