Walsall residents urged to keep an eye-out for distraction duo


If you haven’t got one, get a door chain and use it. Image from Safelocaltrades.com.

I notice in the last week or so several reports of attempted and possible distraction burglary incidents in Walsall – the most recent report seems to have occurred yesterday. Please, if you have and elderly family friends or neighbours, please do advise them to take care, and never buy goods and services at the door.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Walsall Police by dialling 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

West Midlands Police issued the following press release:

Walsall residents urged to keep an eye-out for distraction duo

People in Walsall are being urged to be on the look-out for a pair of distraction thieves following a number of burglaries this week.

Officers are investigating the reports, which all took place between 12.30pm and 1.30pm on Monday, 11 August.

A man in his 80s from Ford Brook Lane, Pelsall, arrived home from the shops to find a man on his driveway saying he owed him £300 for work carried out to some tree roots. The elderly man went inside to get the cash and then went out to inspect the roots, leaving the man alone in the house. After the ‘workman’ had left, the pensioner realised £3,000 had been stolen from a tin in his bedroom.

A woman in her 50s, living on Little London, Caldmore, was at home when two men – claiming to be from the council – arrived saying they had received complaints about her garden. They asked to come inside to plug in some electrical equipment, before stealing £340 from her wardrobe.

‘We’re connecting these two distraction burglaries to another report from a resident on Bakewell Close, Little Bloxwich,’ said Detective Constable Jenny Aston from Bloxwich Police Station.

She added: ‘Thankfully, nothing was stolen from that address, but it did involve two men arriving at the property and demanding cash for carrying out work to tree roots.

‘We are linking all three incidents and believe they were carried out by the same offenders, who are described as two white men in their 40s in a small box van. One is described as being at least 6ft tall and wearing a baseball cap.

‘We’d urge people to keep an eye out for these men and not to let any unannounced callers into their homes − especially if they can’t show you any identification.

‘People should also avoid keeping large quantities of cash in their homes.’

Anyone with information about the Walsall burglaries is urged to call police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If someone unexpectedly calls at your door, the advice is:

  • Check to see who it is by using the spy hole if you have one, or look through a front window.
  • Always put the chain on before you open the door. Door chains are available from most DIY stores and high street outlets for as little as £2.
  • If you don’t know the caller, ask to see their identity card. Check it carefully, and keep the chain on while you do this. Genuine callers won’t mind if you close the door while you check. If in doubt, telephone the organisation to verify they are genuine by using a number from the telephone directory and not a number given to you by the caller.
  • Bogus callers sometimes work in pairs. Beware of one distracting you while the other steals your property. The best practice is not to let them in.
  • Always make sure any rear or side access doors are locked before opening the front door.
  • If in doubt, keep them out. Phone the police if you are worried on 101 and in an emergency dial 999

Issued by Catherine Hickman on 13/08/2014 10:13:35

Anyone with information is urged to contact Walsall Police by dialling 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, It makes me mad!, Local Blogs, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Road closure in Brownhills from tomorrow


Crews had to work around a parked car in Shelfield. You don’t really want all that heavy machinery near your car, right?

I see that tomorrow, Friezland Lane in Shire Oak will be closed from 9am-5pm by Walsall Council for ten days for much needed resurfacing works. This is good news for residents and folk who use this cut through, but may cause delays and disruption to busses that use the route.

Check with Network West Midlands before you catch your bus.

Recently, what I assume to be the same crew have resurfaced Green Lane in Shelfield, and have done a cracking job; seeing off the awful ‘micro asphalt’ job bodged there a couple of years ago. Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of that horrid technique in Walsall now.

Parking in the road will be restricted daytimes and it will help if people living and using Friezland Lane can remember to move their vehicles. The crews are trying to make stuff better, after all, and we all grumble they never sort the roads out, so a little bit of co-operation goes a long way.

Hopefully, at some point they might get time to do the High Street and other roads in Brownhills that no longer require sweeping but ploughing on a regular basis.

Thanks to local folk David Evans and Clive Roberts for the tipoff.

road repairs

Letter sent to residents – image sent by Clive Roberts. Click for a larger version.


Engineering and Transportation Services


Our Ref:
GC/CR Friezland Lane
Date: 5th August 2014
Please Ask For:
Gary Chalk
Direct Line:

Dear Resident,

Friezland Lane: from Lindon Road to Chester Road, Brownhills

Walsall MBC is to carry out essential carriageway resurfacing at the above location as part of its current structural maintenance programme. The works have been organised by the Highways Maintenance Group and will be carried out by Lafarge Tarmac ltd.

The aim of the work is to strengthen the road construction and provide a new running surface, along with the replacement of all traffic calming measure and existing road markings. The planned works will make use of modern surfacing materials, which will reduce road noise and spray.

To ensure the safety of our employees and the general public, the above work will be carried out under a day time only road closure. Work will commence Wednesday 20th August 2014 to Friday 29th August 2014 from 9.00am – 5.00pm.

Access for residents, businesses and emergency services will be maintained at all times where possible. Please note there will be no on street parking during the above working hours.

Every effort will be made to ensure noise pollution is kept to a minimum, we would ask for your understanding and co-operation to allow the works to be carried out safely. If you should have any queries or anticipate problems caused by the works please contact Gary Chalk on the above telephone number.

Yours faithfully

John Roseblade Group Leader Walsall Council

Harvey Cullen General Manager Tarmac Lafarge ltd

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Back where it all began

I am very pleased and honoured to present today this lengthy but detailed work by eminent local historian Gerald Reece, author of what has to be the greatest work on Brownhills, ‘A walk in Walk Into History’.

Gerald no longer lives in the area, having long ago decamped to Devon, but following his interest in this blog, and the staging of the hugely successful talk he gave in 2012, Gerald has been good to his word and written the ‘missing chapter’ of his 1996 book, detailing how coalming began in Brownhills, giving rise to the settlement we see today.

This is an extraordinarily detailed piece of work, and Gerald welcomes any comment, and regards it as a sound foundation for further research by others. That he maintains such a fascination with Brownhills after years away is remarkable – and very, very welcome.

It will help if you read the previous work Gerald wrote on coal mining in the area.

The work was sent to me as a scanned PDF, which you can download yourselves here; the text itself is presented below.


Gerald Reece is a remarkable man, who worked hard to explore our history in a time when it was neither fashionable, nor easy.

When I started this blog five and a half years ago, I had no idea where it would lead, and expected it to die a painless, unnoticed death within weeks if not days. That it has survived so far, and led to the writing of work such as this, is a matter of great surprise, joy and pride to me.

I thank Gerald for his devotion to Brownhills and the history thereof; for his years of patient and costly research in days before the internet, and for the warmth, generosity and humility he exudes.

Thank you Gerald. I’m sure that even now, the Brownhills debating society have the kettle on and are warming up. It foes look like rain, after all. I do hope there’s Battenburg.


The clues were out there. This is Gerald’s hand-drawn copy of the 1840 Tithe Map; note in the area highlighted, there are areas labelled ‘Old Coal Pit Land’. Old. In 1840. Note also the wonderfully named ‘Handkerchief Piece’. Click for a larger version.

Gerald wrote:

In my account of the early history of Brownhills entitled ‘Brownhills, a walk into history’, first published in 1996.1 mention on page 99, first paragraph,

When coal was first mined in Brownhills is unknown. No documented evidence exists giving the place and date of the initial operation.

Since making that statement I have located evidence that shows when and where coal mining, on a commercial scale, first took place in Brownhills. The following account is taken from the notes of a talk I gave on the subject in November 2012.

It concerns the history of two ancient plots of land. They were known as Palmers Hay and Great Brownhills and they formed the area that is known today as Coppice Side Industrial Estate.

The earliest reference I have found concerns the fields known as Palmers Hay and date from the 16th Century. The name Palmer is said to be a reference to Pilgrims, sited where it is this is a probable assumption.

Dated 2nd. September 1569, the twelth year in the reign of Elizabeth 1, an indenture stated that a pasture with appurtenances being situate at the boundary between Little Wyrley and Pelsall adjoining the lane leading from Wolverhampton to Lichfield (an important pilgrimage route) was offered for sale by Thomas Smith of Hammerwich.

It was offered to Fabrianus Orme, Thomas Royle and William Webbe all of Hammerwich. The sale did not go through but it does establish the ownership of Palmers Hay at that time.

Cross referencing these details in other documents of the period I noted that Fabrianus Orme was part of a consortium who in 1567 purchased the Manor of Ogley Hay from Lord Stafford and his brothers Walter and Rupert. (S.R.O. D546/3/5/1).

Fabrianus Orme is mentioned as living at Overton Grange in Hammerwich. Page 264 of the Victoria County History of Hammerwich. (S.R.O. D(W)1734/2/l).

In 1573, 16 Elizabeth 1, the Rent Roll for the Manor of Little Wyrley makes mention of Palmers Hay.

In March 1637, in a document of indenture of feoffment, Erasmus Smith of Hammerwich, son of Thomas Smith, did for £100 of lawful money of England, grant, bargain, sell, alien, enfeoffe deliver and confirm to Ralph Smith, Gentleman of Cathedral Close, Lichfield, his heirs and assigns:

All that close or pasture in two parts divided called or known by the name of Palmers Hay with appurtenances lying and being within the Lordship of Little Wyrley in the County of Stafford.

Together with all that cottage or tenement thereupon erected. An area of 24 acres, more or less.

In 1651, Shortly after the English Civil Wars had ended, the Little Wyrley Rent Roll contained the following entries of ownership of land.

The Queen  Henrietta Maria of France, the widow of Charles 1) holds land also holds the Hilkin Wilkin and the Manche.

  • The Cathedral Church of Lichfield hold land.
  • The Vicars Chorall of Lichfield hold land.
  • The Wardens of the Conduit Trust of Lichfield hold land.
  • The Wardens of the Schoole of Walsall hold land.
  • Sir Richard Leveson holds the Crossacks.
  • Sir Edward Leigh of Rushall Hall holds Brownhills.
  • John Smith holds Palmers Hay.

Only land owners were mentioned in the Rent Roll. Tenents and Sub Tenents were not mentioned.


A fantastic, wonderful and rare book; do get a copy if you can. Mine has been so well read now it’s falling to pieces.

In January 1654 the son of Ralphe Smith, John and his widowed mother Joyce decide to sell Palmers Hay. It was bought for £100 by John and Milbrow Speed of Brownhills. they included in the transaction a proviso for their grandson Arthur Milward to have one third share. After the death of John Speed the full title was granted to Arthur Milward by Milbrow Speed.

Arthur Milward of Burton in the Parish of Much Winlock in the County of Salop died in 1677.

In his Will he bequeathed his estate in Brownhills, being a dwelling house and messuage with all profits, to his sister Joan Wilkes, widow.

Around this time the Manor of Little Wyrley changed ownership. It was purchased by Roger Fowke of Brewood. He was succeeded by his son Walter whose daughter and heir Sybil married Joseph Hussey of London. This was the beginning of the Fowke/Hussey Dynasty.

Palmers Hay was inherited by Roger Wilkes and then passed on to his son Frances.

In November of 1736 Frances Wilkes of Broseley, Salop, Collier and Ann his wife sold to Ralph Smith also of Broseley, Blacksmith, for the sum of £141/1/0d, the area Palmers Hay then in five separate fields divided.

On 3rd December 1737 Ralph Smith of Broseley used Palmers Hay as collateral when he borrowed £120 from Thomas Haslewood, Ironmonger, of Bridgenorth, Salop. The monies to be paid back within one year with interest.

Ralph Smith used the money as part payment when he purchased from William and Ruth Smith of Middlestools in the Parish of Norton Canes, ‘All those closes of land called or known as Great Brownhills’. Also called by several names, Patch Croft, The Well Place, The Barretts Bank, The New Leasow, The Bigg Brownhills Close, The Birch Tree Piece, The Poole Piece, The Upper Leasow and The Meadow. An area of 55 Acres, more or less, lying next to Palmers Hay.


Beneath this busy, but unassuming warehouse on the Pelsall Road, the history of Brownhills really began.

The change of ownership of the fields of Great Brownhills was entered onto the returns of the Court Baron of the Manor of Little Wyrley for the year 1743. ( S.R.O.)

This document also mentioned that the Lordship of the Manor of Little Wyrley had changed. Phineas Hussey had sold off ⅔rd’s of the manor, retaining only ⅓rd.

The ⅔rd holder and new Lord of the Manor was Christopher Wood. He was the son of Henry Wood, Rector of Aldridge. Christopher Wood also held part ownership of the Manors of Norton Canes and of Ogley Hay.

The rights of the Lord of the Manor included control of all mineral rights through-out the Manor. Which up until that time had never been exercised. That was to change.

In March 1743 Ralph Smith, owner of Palmers Hay and Great Brownhills, was for the sum of £70 paid to Christopher Wood, granted the sole concession to excavate coal and ironstone within the bounds of the Manor of Little Wyrley for a period of six years.

In December 1743 Ralph Smith stated that he had

…Expended the sum of £1551/5/6d in getting coal and setting the same.

Included in this amount was

…An Engine, Gins and other implements used in or about the coal field.

The size and type of the engine is not mentioned, nor is the location and depth of any shaft.

In 1990 an article in the Express & Star covering the opening of the new T&S Office Block in Apex Road stated:

That construction was complicated by the discovery of three separate seams of coal and a disused mine shaft.

[Bob's note: That's now the One Stop warehouse.]

On 2nd. January 1744 Ralph Smith signed an agreement of partnership with Richard Ford and William Ferriday. They each purchased a ⅓rd share in the business. They paid £1034/3/8d which included a share of the engine and gin. Ralph Smith kept control of Palmers Hay and Great Brownhills for which he charged the partnership rental.

The two new partners in the business were very important figures of that time. Richard Ford was the grandson of Abraham Darby the Ironmaster of Coalbrookdale. Richard’s father also called Richard had married Mary Darby, Abraham Darby’s daughter. After Abraham’s death in 1717 Richard senior took control of the Ironworks at Coalbrookdale. In 1742 he had installed at Coalbrookdale a Fire Engine of the Newcomen design to recycle water back up hill. When Richard Ford the elder died in 1745 Richard the younger and his two brothers inherited interest in the iron works. They were bought out by Abraham Darby 11 in 1756.

(Article Shropshire News Sept. 1924).

The other partner in the consortium was William Ferriday of Buildwas, Wyer Hill. He too had a distinguished career being a Coalmaster and owner of several coal and ironstone mines in Shropshire, in 1740 he purchased from Coalbrookdale the engine and pumps he installed at his Lightmoor Colliery.

This must have been a frustrating time for the Hussey family. After controlling Little Wyrley for decades they could only watch as outsiders reaped the reward.

Ralph Smith built himself a sizable estate. He had purchased several collieries in Pelsail and he had set himself up as Master of Pelsail Hall.

Events took a turn in 1751 when Christopher Wood, the ⅔rd Lord of the Manor of Little Wyrley had financial difficulties. He could have quickly solved his financial problems by selling his share in Little Wyrley which included the important mineral rights. He had several potential buyers waiting, including Ralph Smith.

The Hussey Family protested and stated that Little Wyrley was their ancestral holding by right and that they and only they should be allowed to purchase it.

It took an Act of Parliament to settle Christopher Wood’s financial affairs.

The Hussey Family regained control of the Manor in full.

The partnership of the Brownhills Coalfield realised that their sole concession of the mineral rights over Little Wyrley had expired and was unlikely to be renewed. Phineas Hussey offered to buy them out, they accepted.

£500 each was paid to Richard Ford and William Ferriday for their share. Ralph Smith was paid £1,300 but he had £122/16/0d deducted. This was paid to Hannah Haslewood of Bridgenorth who had loaned Smith £120 in 1737 to buy Great Brownhills, but had not been reinbursed.

Ralph Smith also agreed to sell all of his other property in the area to Phineas Hussey. On 17th August 1753 an indenture recorded the transaction. This included lands in Pelsatl.Wolverhampton, Little Wyriey, Essington,Bloxwich, Rushall, Walsall, Goscott.etc. It included Pelsail Hall. It also included Palmers Hay and Great Brownhills, together with all messuages, dwelling houses, tenements, edifices and buildings there upon.

The Hussey Family kept control of the mineral rights over Little Wyrley until 1st January 1947 when the Coal Industry was nationalised.

But the story does not end there.

Back to 1759 when the most unlikely person came onto the scene. Canal Builder and Engineer, James Brindley. The fame of his genius is universal but his connection with Brownhills has virtually gone unrecorded. I came across his involvement by chance when reading the history of the Brindley Water Mill in Leek. An entry in their records, written by the late Dr. Cyril Boucher, directed me to the archives of the Institute of Civil Engineers in London. There James Brindley’s diary notebooks are preserved. In one of them he mentioned being invited by Phineas Hussey to erect a steam pumping engine at Little Wyrley in 1759.

Although originally a Millwright, James Brindley was also a pioneering Engineer and he had successfully built several steam pumping engines in the North Staffordshire Coalfields. Very little is recorded in his notebooks regarding the Brownhills Engine. On a visit to the site he did mention ‘the plate boiler is short of steam’. He ordered ‘a little boiler for assistance’, from Coalbrookdale. In a letter dated September 1759 a mention of a brick boiler is made. (Northumberland Record Office 2/DE/7.)

From early Estate and Tithe Maps of Brownhills we now have a rough idea where the Brindley Steam Pumping Engine was situated, adjacent to the perpetuated Engine Lane.

The mining of coal on Palmers Hay and Great Brownhilis became unproductive mainly because the deposits there were shallow and of a poor quality. The site was gradually phased out. Meantimes test workings had located better deeper coal deposits north of Coppice Side under Brownhilis Common.


The plan of test pits, as featured in Brownhills, A Walk Into History’ on page 98. Click for a larger version.

I now believe that the map shown on page 98 of ‘Brownhills, a walk into history’, (The original map is in Walsall, Essex Street, archives. Ref. 35/11/14), is from the 1760s and shows test pits across The Common from the area of Engine Lane leading in a north easterly direction up to the Watling Street where the School is now at the top of The Parade.

This was to lead to the opening of the New Brownhilis Colliery on The Common just south of The Rising Sun.

John Hanbury, Farmer of Norton Canes, secured the first lease from Phineas Hussey, Lord of the Manor of Little Wyrley.

The rest is history.

Some of the documents studied for this analysis were deposited in The Staffordshire County Record Office, Stafford. This should be the starting point for any further research.

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The Woodmen get back on track


Don’t miss Tuesday’s home match againstHeath Hayes!

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday, 16th August 2014) saw Walsall Wood face Heath Hayes at Oak Park, in a hotly anticipated FA Cup match. This is always a bit of a notorious pairing, and the blog football correspondent Bill Shaw was, as ever, in attendance to watch the flare-ups and cheer on the local lads.

There’s also a great report with photos on @Green_Man_Vimes new local footy blog, I See Floodlights. Impressive, and wonderfully opinionated stuff. I’m a fan!

Bill Shaw submitted the following match report:

Hiya Bob,

Walsall Wood 1 v 0 Heath Hayes

Wood progressed through to the next round and a home tie with Stafford Rangers on Saturday 30th August courtesy of a 25 yard thunderbolt from substitute Dave Carns in the 90th minute.

It was a typical blood and thunder cup tie that threatened to explode at any time, but referee Kevin Allsop somehow kept everyone on the field.

At the end Wood deserved the win but 18 year old Joe Geldart turned in a 5 star man of the match performance, covering every blade of grass on the pitch at least twice for the visitors.

It’s a week off for Wood whose next game is at home against Causeway United on Saturday 23rd August, followed by a Bank Holiday Monday trip to Stourport Swifts, kickoff 3.00 pm.

Bill Shaw.

Thanks to Bill for the report – always appreciated. For the good of The Wood!

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A late one just in – Aldridge Transport Museum Open Day today!


A great event on now! Click for a larger version.

I’m very, very late with this but today (17th August 2014) Aston Manor Road Transport Museum just off Northgate, Aldridge will be a hive of activity again as they hold a running day celebrating 100 years of Guy busses.

It’s open until late this afternoon, so plenty of time to get down there.

There are free bus services operating all day between the museum and Walsall bus station. There will also be a display of all types of road transport, with the whole site opened up so that visitors can also see what the volunteers get up to.

While we’re on the subject, fellow local blogger Mick Stackhouse has done a great job contining the story of the Harpers Two, a story I missed. Pop over to his blog and check it out.

Check out the museum website or their Facebook group.

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Believed to have been a good man…

To my shame, I have been sitting on this article for a while now – Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler fist sent it to me at the end of July, and getting it into an article just hasn’t been possible, for which I wholeheartedly apologise.

However, this is a fine article about St. Anne’s in Chasetown, a church of which I am very fond, with a fine working class history, and a cemetery that is extraordinarily beautiful in spring.

I thank Peter for this – yet another of his very high quality articles where he questions formally accepted history. It is a pleasure and an honour to be able to publish work of this quality.

As ever, comments and mail welcome, either at the foot of the post or to BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Peter wrote:


Pedro passed St. Anne’s, Chasetown, in the winter of 2005. Image from his Panoramio gallery.

The Forgotten Reverend of Chasetown: Rev. G Poole (1806-1889)

I passed the Church of St Anne in November 2005, in the week that Chasetown were to play Oldham in the FA Cup. My late mucker and I had a cup of tea and a sandwich in the churchyard opposite, as the snow started to fall. On the night, after a curry and a couple of pints, I looked up bit of the history of the Church. Interesting, some claim it to be the first church in England to have electric lighting!

Our own David Evans recently sent me a pamphlet from 1992 at which time the Rural Dean of Lichfield had been galvanised into action, and a ‘short guide to the history of the Church St. Anne Chasetown’ was commissioned. This in itself is an excellent pamphlet giving great detail concerning church and its benefactor John Robinson McClean, but there is no mention of the Reverend George Poole the Vicar of Burntwood.

IMG_0877 - Version 3

The Reverend George Poole, who seems to be (and looked) a thoroughly nice man. Image supplied by Peter Cutler, unsure of original source.

I first came across the Rev. George Poole in the Blog article ‘Union and Chapel’ where the Rev. addressed an estimated 10,000 people at the annual gathering of miners at Five Ways in August 1872, and his remarks generated a few comments. I later found that many credit George with the naming of Chasetown, and in 1890 his niece wrote a biography ‘Found Ready’. [1]

The Rev. George became Vicar of Burntwood in around 1851, coming from Saltley parish in Birmingham; Burntwood parish numbered around 800 and his juristiction extended into the next parish of Hammerwich, and also the area which is now known as Chasetown…

The village of Burntwood is situated 3 miles from Lichfield, on the edge of Cannock Chase, a fresh breeze blowing across. In those days fern and heather strayed to the very parsonage gates, and the way over the common was wild and beautiful. An adder might be seen retreating through the brushwood, while the lark soared in the sunshine above. Blue sky and fleecy clouds reflected in the clearest mirrors of the little pools fringed with moss and sundew. The undulating ground in the distance was purple with heath blossom, and in spring yellow gorse spread its glory around…

The growing needs of a parish where the population had so quickly increased was keenly felt. Nearly two miles from the vicarage, in the midst of the colliery district, was a Carpenter’s workshop belonging to the Cannock Chase Colliery. This was readily granted for Sunday evening services. After the morning and afternoon services at Burntwood, Mr Poole, with willing feet, would set off for his long walk over the common…

Houses now covered that part of the Chase instead of heather, and Mr and Mrs Poole said Chasetown would be a more appropriate name. the word was passed from one to another until it became current (1890). By the liberality of JR McClean, Esq., a large and handsome church was added to the school-room, with the hope that Mr. Poole would long minister there…[1]

Well, this is where, back in 1865, things get a bit political. But first the question be as to just who built the Church of St. Anne? To my mind there is no doubt that it was McClean, who was managing director of the Cannock Chase Colliery Company. He also had the lease for the South Staffs Railway and of course was the main man in the South Staffs Water Company.

So why do many sources state that it was the Colliery Company that built the Church?


The old church at Hammerwich: again supplied by Peter Cutler. Original source unknown.

In the pamphlet we see that the Church was named after the wife of JR McClean, the first vicar was Rev. Donald Stuart McClean, nephew of the founder, and the first baptism was that of the grand daughter of JR. The Church architect was Edward Adams who designed many of the Cannock Chase Colliery Company properties, and also worked for McClean as a station designer on the South Staffs Railway.

So what happened with George? Well just before the Church was about to open, in April of 1865 he wrote…

The new Church will most likely open in May. I wish, as soon as the matter can be wisely arranged, to resign that part of the parish, and confine my efforts to Burntwood. Time is quickly passing away, and I must soon leave the vineyard to others, and I would like my successors to find traces of my having once laboured in it.

And further in September just before the opening on the 14th…

…and the Bishop in early Spring told me, if I pleased, without any formal licence, to hold services in it; but some objected, and I did not care to press the matter, as we all feared, if once opened, the consecration and formation of the district might be delayed… [1]

George, although very anti-Catholic, seems to have had sympathy for non-conformists. While walking towards the Chase a friend asked about a wretched little building. He told him that it was the Primitive Methodist Chapel and that he wished they had better. He had given them something towards one. He also was a leading advocate of the Church Missionary Society.

Earlier in 1863 a church had been opened by the Bishop in Biddulph Moor. In his address he said that the spread of non-conformism was due to the Church’s lack of attention to the poor, and it could be said that at least someone was looking after their needs. But now was the time to bring these people back into the fold.

George, I believe a good man who sincerely believed in what he preached, went on to look after his flock in Burntwood until a couple of years before his death in Hammmerwich in 1889. I believe that his bust resides in the church at Burntwood.

And of John Robinson McClean much has been written such as this by the CCMHS

The people of Brownhills can only be thankful he chose to spend his life developing the Industries and so the prosperity of the area.

He was truly a great man.

When the London and North Western took over the South Staffs Railway, John Robinson McClean recieved 100 grand for the years left on the lease.

[1]. Found Ready: Memorials of the Rev George Poole by Sarah Mason 1890

IMG_0878 - Version 4

The new, current church at Hammerwich: again supplied by Peter Cutler. Source unknown.

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Our Albion


Brownhills Albion Football Club. What do we know about the team, this event, and why there are only 11 men? Photo via Wyrleyblog, kind permission of Walsall Local History Centre.

Here you go, a quick one this afternoon before some meatier local history over the weekend – Paul Ford, top local history operative, whizz behind the ever-brilliant Wyrleyblog and researcher at Walsall Local History Centre posted the above image on Twitter.

Paul siad:

Brownhills Albion FC late c19. They folded and reformed in the Hussey Arms (where they played) as Britain joined WWI.

I noticed there were only 11 players – is that the team bus on the photo? I assume you had seen it before, but worth tweeting.

The team played on a pitch where the Hussey Estate is today, hence the name Albion Road. I’d be interested in any history at all of Brownhills Albion FC, or indeed, Brownhills Town FC.

We’ve had lots of Walsall Wood FC stuff, but not much from Brownhills. Let’s see if we can correct that.

Don’t forget Walsall Wood’s boys play Heath Hayes this afternoon, so the footy tradition is still strong.

Please do comment here, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Posted in News | 14 Comments