Chasetown (the town on the ‘Cannock’ chase) [Staffordshire Place-Names Including the Black Country]

The village of Chasetown, at first known simply as Cannock Chase, developed on either side of an existing road running north across the heath; at first the road was called Rugeley Road, but by 1881 it had become High Street. Colliery Road, renamed Church Street by 1881, gave access to the mine opened at its west end in 1852. There was initially no housing for miners near the pits on either side of the boundary with Hammerwich, and many settled in and around Burntwood hamlet and in Hammerwich. Three pairs of cottages were built on the north side of Colliery Road c. 1854, and the adjoining Uxbridge Arms existed by 1856. In 1858 building plots were advertised along Rugeley Road and Lichfield Road (Queen Street by 1881), 'situations where houses are very much in demand'. An Anglican mission centre was started in the late 1850s, with a church from 1865; there was a school by 1859. The Queen's hotel in Lichfield Road was being used for meetings by Wesleyan Methodists in 1860. Two shopkeepers, three beer retailers (besides the landlord of the Uxbridge Arms), a builder, a drill owner, a shoemaker, and a market gardener were listed at the village of Cannock Chase in 1860. A new road (later Edwards Road) linked Rugeley Road and Lichfield Road by 1861. After the inclosure of that year terraces of houses were built along both sides of those two main roads. By 1867 the village was known as Chasetown. The credit for devising the name is variously given to George Poole, vicar of Burntwood, and his wife and to Elijah Wills, master of the boys' department at the school. New Street and Union Street were so named by 1881, and by 1883 building extended to Hill Street and beyond. New houses were built further north along High Street in the early 20th century. In 1902 a clock with three gas lamps was erected at the junction of High Street and Queen Street as a memorial to local people killed in the Boer War. It was knocked down by a lorry in 1967. It was replaced by a new clock in 1969, but that too was damaged in 1979 and no longer stands. ['Townships: Burntwood', A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield (1990), pp. 195-205] (British History Online)

What became known as the Chase Wakes originated in the wakes at Chasetown held to celebrate the opening of St. Anne's church in September 1865. They became an annual event held on the third Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in September. In the mid 1870s they were transferred to the first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. A flower show was introduced on the Tuesday and Wednesday in 1868. In 1877 a group of leading inhabitants started an athletics meeting on the Wednesday in a field in Church Street near the Colliery school, the aim being to keep people occupied 'at a time when, being out of harness, there is a tendency to give way to extravagant and pernicious practices'. From 1878 the meeting was held on the Tuesday also, and the sports became the central event of the wakes. In 1879 the proceedings on both days began with a procession which 'perambulated the country from Brownhills to Burntwood' and consisted of 'a cavalcade of inhabitants representing various characters in picturesque and grotesque costumes'. A fun fair had been added by 1883. The date had by then been changed to the second Tuesday and Wednesday in August, evidently in order to coincide with the school holidays. In 1919 the wakes were moved from Church Street to the Cannock Chase Colliery Co.'s sports ground on the east side of High Street, Chasetown. With the decline of coal mining in the area support for the wakes dwindled, and they ceased in 1959. In 1970 they were revived by Burntwood parish council on the same site, and they continue to be held on the first Saturday in August. ['Townships: Burntwood', A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield (1990), pp. 195-205] (British History Online)

Learn all about the coal mining industry with The Coalmining History Resource Centre

Learn all about the coal mining industry on the Cannock Chase with the Cannock Chase Mining Historical Society

Who worked in Chasetown in 1876? Look at the Burntwood Entry in the Post Office Directory 1876

The Church of England website for Saint Anne's Church

The history of Saint Anne's Church

A voluntary Look-up exchange is available by Kaye Christian is available for Saint Anne’s Church Parish Registers, Baptism Registers (1867 – 1942), Marriage Registers (1867 – 1938) and Burial registers (1866 – 1927)

The B F H G has transcribed the registers of Saint Anne's Church and this can be bought from us on CD

The B F H G has transcribed an Index to the Baptismal, Marrigae and Confirmation Registers of Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church and this can be bought from us on CD

Information on the Grade II listed building of Saint Thomas Roman Catholic Church

The B F H G has photographed and transcribed the names on the Chasetown War Memorial

The Staffordshire Record Office holds the original registers of Zion’s Hill Wesleyan Methodist Church Registers (1916 – 1967)