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Pop House
The old toll house situated at Askew Bridge Gate on the Gornal/Himley border, now called Endem Cottage and much extended in recent times from the original two room cottage.
James Hale a retired coal miner aged 71 and wife Sarah lived here in 1881. [Census]
It is now a private residence.
Locally known as the 'Pop House' as fizzy pop was made and sold from there and very popular with the local kids.
Someone has shared a memory from the 1950s, who perhaps should remain anonymous, he recalls:
"Just a point of interest about the toll house/pop house on Himley Road.
When I was a lad it was known as Billingsleys (after its then owner) which was the stopping off point for Vimto and crisps before adventuring around Himley Woods. He was quite enterprising (Mr B.) having installed a series of penny slot machines in a shed in his garden. However, his security was not up to scratch because it was easy to extract a penny or two from the bottom of the machine with a penknife. Mr B though was always on the lookout and we were caught and banned - not for long- on several occasions. Little scoundrels!"
The Wellington to Dudley turnpike passed through Gornal Wood along the Himley Road, this toll gate was located at Askew Bridge, another toll gate was situated further up the Himley Road at Coopers Bank.
During the 18th Century, tolls were introduced for carriages and animals in order to maintain the roadways, this toll funding continued until the late 19th Century.
'Askew' Bridge is where Bobs (Straits) Brook passes under the Himley Road.
Early maps show large pools had formed on both the North and South side of the Himley Road where downstream Coppice Mill stopped up the watercourse.
In the 17th Century, Dud Dudley is said to have set up a furnace for a new process of smelting iron using pit coal in the fields and woods near Askew Bridge.
The furnace bellows were likely powered by water from the pools.