The landscape of the Manor was much changed in the C19th and first half of the C20th by coal mining with winding gear, open cast working and piles of waste never far from view. Less than half a mile from the centre of Gospel End village were the biggest pit mounds of all - the waste heaps of Baggeridge Colliery created by tipping from an overhead cable system. These were the result of nearly seventy years of activity as the South Staffordshire Thick or Thirty foot seam was mined under the Manor and outlying parts of Woverhampton by the Black Country's deepest underground workers.
Details of sinking the shafts and other background resources can be found here in material drawn from The Blackcountryman, the magazine of The Black Country Society.
The pit closed on March 1st 1968 leaving behind an industrial waste land - rusting metalwork, mining debris of every description and man made mountains. An inspired decision was taken by Seisdon Rural District Council, (later to become South Staffordshire DC), to purchase the site and in 1970 Country Park status was granted.
The long haul of reclamation was marked with an official opening in June 1983 by HRH Princess Anne. She was able to look at the modern equivalent of a Capability Brown landscape with pools, woodland, rolling meadows and a magnificent viewpoint. However, Brown's parkland did not have to meet the needs of today's leisure seekers who require car parking, play areas, refreshment facilities and a visitor centre. This Country Park fulfils all these demands.
The major water feature is the Bag Pool - a haven of tranquillity and an environment for a wide range of wildlife. Although natural in appearance, it was an outcome from the massive reshaping of the site.
The Toposcope viewpoint, the highest 'hill', was created from the remains of the colliery waste. The steep climb is rewarded with fine views to Sedgley and in the opposite direction to the pools and grounds of Himley Hall. More distant high points include the Lickeys, Maverns, Clees, Long Mynd and Wrekin.
The Park welcomes walkers, horse riders, anglers and campers and is ideal for field studies and orienteering. There is even a miniature steam railway and a much used open-air theatre. Up to date information on events and developments at the Park can be found on the Baggeridge Country Park page on the South Staffordshire Council website.
It is an attraction for people of all ages - an amazing
transformation sitting on top of the tunnels that once used to carry
12,000 tons of coal each week to the bottom of a shaft for a ride of
over 550 yards to the surface in less than a minute.
The upper photograph shows a view across the man-made Bag Pool. Note the stack of the nearby Baggeridge Brick Company started in 1936 by the Earl of Dudley using colliery waste and adjacent Etruria marl for brick making. The lower is a view from Toposcope hill, a man-made feature, formed from an old pit 'bonk' and reclamation earth moving. The spire of All Saints Church dominates this panorama of the Sedgley ridge.
Both views were taken in July 2002.