4 years ago according to streetview this was a lovely little cottage. How times change.
The hexagonal shaped underground reservoir is split into two sections which could be controlled independently by way of complex piping and Penstocks, both sides are a mirror image of each other and share the central air vent. The underground reservoir could be discharged out into the small river behind the waterworks by way of buried cast iron pipes leading to an ornate octagonal Excess Fountain built from blue brick and two small, stepped, overflow channels reached via a dressed stone bridge with carved Renaissance obelisks running over a granite lined stream. Also amongst the woods is a large pond with sluice gates.
The company, which was founded in 1920, employed just over 100 staff and traded from premises in Smethwick. It operated aluminium and iron foundries, supplying castings and project development solutions to a number of global manufacturing and engineering customers for use in a variety of industry sectors. Until recently, the company had focused solely on the iron foundry business. However, following the acquisition of the company in early 2012, significant investment was made including the expansion into the aluminium castings market. Turnover at the company fell during the latter part of 2013, following the loss of a number of customers and this led to serious cash flow issues. As a result, the company ceased to trade at the end of 2013, and around 90 of the employees were laid off.
The red-brick Regency house was built in 1820 by Thomas Anson the 1st Earl of Lichfield as a second seat for his family based at Shugborough Hall. The 300 acre estate is also the site of Ranton Abbey, one of many Augustinian abbeys founded across England from the 1140s to the 1160s. Today, only the imposing 15th-century church tower survives. The Ranton Estate was purchased c 1819 by Viscount Anson, who was created the First Earl of Lichfield in the coronation honours of King William IV in 1831. He spent large sums of money improving the estate and the house, which was used as a centre for sporting hospitality hosting great shooting parties, for distinguished guests including, Sir Francis Grant (who was to become President of the Royal Academy), Lord Melbourne, then Prime Minister, Lord Sefton and the Earl of Uxbridge. The house has been a mere shell since being gutted by fire in 1942 when the bodyguard of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands were stationed there. The estate was sold to the Wedgwood porcelain company in the 1950s but bought back by Patrick Lichfield, the 5th Earl, in 1987 with a view to restoring the house or building a replacement. Realisation of these plans was delayed for many years due to objections from English Heritage. Permission was finally granted in December 2005, only a month after Lichfield died. The estate was sold in 2008, and again in July 2011 for around £3.5 million.[
A derelict farm, out in a small village in Leicestershire
This battery dates to 1778, when it was built by the French Navy to protect Dunkirk from attacks by the British fleet. Recognizing its strategic position, the French modernized the fort in 1939. One year later, in the spring of 1940, the fort was captured by the Germans after a series of attacks by JU-87 Stuka dive bombers. The Germans further updated the fort, and incorporated it into the Atlantic wall. It boasted a battery of four gun casements along with one fire control bunker. Several crew bunkers and ammunition bunkers were also located at the site. The battery’s guns dated from 1902 and had a caliber of 194 mm. Following the D-Day landings, the heavily fortified Dunkirk area was bypassed and isolated. The Canadians laid siege to the city, and the fortress itself area did not surrender until May 9th, 1945 – the day after the German surrender was signed. Canadian forces promptly occupied the fort and engineers destroyed the guns.
When the Germans had conquered France, they started building cross-Channel guns on the French coast. These were long range coastal artillery pieces which were intended to bombard enemy ships in the Channel and also English coastal towns and military installations. Four 38cm Siegfried guns were placed near the little village of Haringzelle. These enormous guns weighted 111 tonnes (109 ST), were 18m (724 in) long and could fire every 30 seconds a 800kg (1800 lb) shell. The same type of gun was also used on the Bismarck-class battleships. Normally these guns were placed in open concrete gun positions, relying on their armor for defense. But Hitler thought that was not enough protection for these massive guns since they were so close to the enemy. He ordered reinforced concrete casemates 3.5m (11 ft) thick and 10m (33ft) high built over and around the mounts. These casemates were built in a little forest patch and also camouflaged. Today, all four giant casemates are still standing with their guns removed. One of them (casemate n°1) is turned into a museum, to show how people lived within these bunkers. Here you can see Trum 3 with original Nazi propaganda paintings featuring Winston Churchill, Trum 4 which is mostly destroyed and an observation post.
Le Blockhaus is one of the biggest bunkers the Germans constructed in France. It would serve as a V2 rocket launching facility, but was never completed because the Germans started using mobile launching facilities to avoid bombing. Located in the forest of Eperlecques, construction started in March 1943. The south section of the building was constructed by initially constructing a 5 meter (16ft) thick concrete plane weighing about 37.000 tons, which was incrementally raised 22m (72ft) high by hydraulic jacks and then supported by walls to become the roof. This principle was used to protect the workers during the allied bombing raids. Despite the bombings, the south part of the gigantic bunker still stands today. The north part was partially destroyed. You can still see the holes that the bombs made in the bunker. A German V1-lauch rail can also be seen at the site. A permission visit as this bunker is now a museum.
Battery Waldam was part of the Marine Artillery Section 244 like Oldenburg. It was also named “Coastal battery M1” for it was the first battery of Marine Artillery Section 244 and is situated about 300 meter form the beach. Its armament in 1941 consisted of three 17cm SL L/40 ship guns in open emplacements. After the Kriegsmarine took over the battery they placed three 15 cm SK C/28 guns. At first in open emplacements later on two were placed in M270 regelbau type casemates and one in a unique experimental concrete cupola, a SK Drehturm which could pivot 360°. Besides the 15cm guns they places one 7,62cm gun, one 7,5cm gun, one 2,5cm anti tank gun, 7 FLAK guns of different calibre, a searchlight and 10 machineguns for protection.
Just east of the French town Calais lies a huge German Coastal battery with the name “Oldenburg” This battery was part of the defence of the Strait of Dover like Battery Todt, Battery Lindemann and other heavy batteries in Nord-Pas-de-Calais. From these heavy batteries is battery Oldenburg the easternmost heavy battery. The guns from battery Oldenburg didn’t reach the English mainland as the guns of battery Todt did, but they could defend the eastern shipping route in the Strait of Dover. Both Casemates are 35 meters long and 15 meters high above ground level. The western of the two Casemates, Turm West, is two storeys deep, while the eastern casemate, Turm East, is three storeys deep. On the top floors there are multiple ammunition storage compartments. In the basement there are toilets and machinery facility rooms. Another staircase in the Turm East brings you to a second basement filled with rooms. This third floor is missing in the Turm West. The two casemates are situated 200 meters apart and are placed in a slight offset from each other to achieve a bigger spread with both guns. Along with the 2 Casemates is an unfinished fire controlpost of the battery. It also served as a hospital.
Woolton Hall, Woolton, England is a former country house built in 1704 and extensively renovated in 1772 by the influential architect Robert Adam. It is praised as the finest example of Robert Adam’s work in the north of England. The house fell into disrepair and was scheduled for demolition, until it was saved in 1980 by John Hibbert, a local resident, who bought Woolton Hall and spent £100,000 renovating it. In 2005, there were plans to convert the estate and house into retirement care flats.