October 1990 – Wake up Brownhills – does anyone care?

Brownhills Gazette October 1990 issue 13_000001

Brownhills Gazette October 1990 issue 13 – A huge issue at 24 pages, with a very strong campaigning lead, that still resonates today. This shows the decay in Brownhills started earlier than commonly held. Please click for a larger version.

Continuing the scans of the Brownhills Gazette – I present issue 13 of the long lost freesheet, from October 1990 for you to peruse and download. I’ve had an incredible response to featuring these long, lost publications here on the blog.

David Evans, very kindly granted access to the archive held by former editor and contributor Brian Stringer, has been assiduously and conscientiously scanning them all. Every single issue. Every few days, I’m going to feature the next in the series.

This issue is a real cracker – there’s a very strong lead story with an edge that still resonates. It’s clear that by 1990 the rot on the High Street had already set in, and the neglect of public spaces like Ravens Court and Silver Court was a major issue – most issues were fixed after this campaign by locals led by the Gazette; this was a paper that could actually get things done.

Brian Stringer was a brilliant editor who still knows his stuff, and campaigns relentlessly for the place he loves. Brian was clearly working hard and getting into his stride here.

Note the point about Richard Shepherd still holds true, too.

In other articles, a couple of great letters, a group photo from the lost Streets Corner Day Centre, more about the revamp of Silver Court Gardens, a great archive article and a lovely poem by Are Reg.

The history of how the Brownhills Gazette came to exist has been detailed in this post thanks to the wonderful John Sylvester.

If other bloggers want to use this material, can you please drop me a line first? I don’t mind, there’s just sone stuff I’d like to clear about the usage, thanks.

Cheers to Brian and David for sharing a wonderful thing, that’s part of our community history.

If you have any memories, questions or observations please do comment or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Brownhills Gazette issue 13 October 1990 – PDF format

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Just William

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Marklews Pond: unlike the water, the history is opaque and a bit muddy.

The interesting history of William Roberts – the father of modern Brownhills – continues, and this time, Peter ‘pedro’ Cutler has taken issue with some other, intersecting local history, and just when exactly William Roberts came to Brownhills as a lad, and where he lived when his family moved here.

This thread started a few weeks ago, when I featured scans of the April 1990 edition of the Brownhills Gazette, which contained an article by local lady Gwen James, detailing her version of the history of the Station Hotel. As I expected, that article raised some eyebrows in the dress circle, and a further version of the history was detailed in ‘Brownhills Past and Present’, the book issued by Brownhills School in 1985.

Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler then waded in with his own research, after which I ran the excellent piece of work on Roberts by Gerald Reece, which was first published in 1995 in his book ‘Brownhills: a walk into history’.

Peter, as is his wont, paid great attention to the accumulated work, and has a question or two. I commend you to this this article, it goes to the heart of some other remarkable history recounted here, and shows that the Venn diagram of interconnected history is wonderfully complex in Brownhills.

I thank everyone for their contributions to this research, but particularly Peter, whose gimlet-eye for detail and astounding memory are invaluable, impressive and scary.

William Roberts – sometime railway plate layer, ganger, publican, entrepreneur, civic stalwart, JP and philanthropist was a very rare man in his time, and appears to have been generous, considerate, imbued with a real sense of social justice, and was undoubtedly a sharp-dealing rogue too.

I am terribly sad this fine gentleman has not even a plaque in his honour in Brownhills, and I’d really like one of the successes of this blog to be achieving some kind of memorial or civic recognition no matter how small, to the original Mr. Brownhills.

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William Roberts himself. Image from ‘Brownhills: A walk into history’ by Gerald Reece.

Peter wrote:

Having an interest in the Truck System I noticed a link between two articles on the Blog that posed a few questions, some of which are still unanswered.

The article Death of a big, big man, shows the Lichfield Mercury (1906) stating that the family of William Roberts (born 1828) removed from Shenstone to reside at a Brownhills farm house known as the ‘Tommy Shop’. (Gerald Reece in the article ‘Such was his devotion’ says the family moved to Coppice Side). The Roberts family were still at Hook End, Sutton Coldfield in 1841, and therefore William Roberts would have spent only around 6 years in the locality before he left in 1847 for his adventures up North.

In an earlier article A token of my respect the writer informs that a William Marklew was born (1858) in a very old historic house that the family had rented from Squire MacPherson for over 100 years, known as Coppice Farm, and that William some time after 1881, moved with his wife Harriet to a very old historic building known as ‘The Old Tommy Shop’. He ran the shop and was reputed to have been the last operator of a Tommy Shop in the UK! At the age of 40, being around 1898, William moved back to the family farm house.

Was the Old Tommy Shop the same place that William Robert’s parents had moved to, and just where was Coppice Farm? The more I looked at the story of William Marklew, the more I began to think that, in many ways, it did not add up. Could this be yet another example of how the history can get mixed up over time?

The Squire MacPherson referred to would be Lachlan Andrew Macpherson. Elizabeth, daughter of Phineas Fowke Hussey, had inherited the Hussey estate after her father’s death in 1867; she married the Squire.

Taking the 1861 census, when William Marklew would be 3 years old, he is recorded as living with his father Charles (Brick maker with 7 children) and mother Catherine at household schedule 24 Brownhills. I am not sure where this would be, but it is in the middle of a schedule and nothing at all seems special. Going back to the 1851 census Charles has 3 children and registered in Athestone district and living at 60 Dordon.

In the 1871 census William Marklew (13) is recorded with his father Charles (Brick maker) at schedule 49, Brick Kiln Lane. The lane schedule goes from 45 to 76, and again there is nothing special.

(44 is the last number in Wolverhampton Lane, 57 says Farm buildings, 59 Bug Row starts, 76 down as a Tommy shop and Thomas Simmonds?…there is another Tommy shop at 82 in Engine Lane.)

Moving to the 1881 census, William Marklew (23) is still recorded with his father at schedule 37 Chester Road.

(28 is the Hussey Arms, 32 is Rising Sun, 33 is nr Methodist Chapel, 34 is White House, 35 is Old Tommy Shop, Chester Road, 39 is Engine Lane Cottage… Interesting that under the Tommy Shop (35) there are numbers 1 to 4, and Charles Marklew is 37…3!]

On to the 1891 census and William, coal miner, has indeed moved from the family and is located at 102 Wolverhampton Road with 6 children.

(It is a bit puzzling here as the Schedule numbers suddenly change from 49 to 80, however 80 is the Jolly Collier, 85 Fair View, 96 Yew Tree Tavern, 105 is Big House Farm, 106 Slough, 109 Coppice House, 110 Coombe House, 111 Tommy Shop, 116 Coppice Cottages… Charles Marklew was still living at what is now shown as Tommy Shop buildings!)

The 1901 census should give the whereabouts of William Marklew (coal miner hewer) at the age of 43, and he resides at schedule 70, Coppice Side, Coppice Cottages with 11 children, and in the 1911 William was still at Coppice Side.

At this point I had not found any mention of a Coppice Farm, and the Old Tommy Shop, Chester Road had at least four families recorded as resident there.

At last I found a reference to a Coppice Side Farm, Brownhills, from the Lichfield Mercury of September 1917. It confirmed William Marklew as being at the Farm, but sadly it was news that his son had been killed in France. More sad news is received in October of 1936, William whose wife is now deceased, learns that his son Frank, who had emigrated to Australia, had been tragically killed. After the death of William Marklew the Dairy Utensils from Coppice Side Farm were sold at auction.

So where was the Brownhills Farm that the William Roberts moved to sometime after 1841? Big House Farm is mentioned in the Census, but no Coppice Farm, just where was it?

station hotel

The dying days of the Station Hotel, probably around 1986. Image supplied by Mike Leonard.

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September 1990 – Vandals & dumpers causing problems on old track bed

Brownhills Gazette September 1990 issue 12_000001

Brownhills Gazette September 1990 issue 12 – Vandals and flytippers plague the old railway line; that bridge used to be behind Taylors Cafe. Click for a larger version.

Continuing the scans of the Brownhills Gazette – I present issue 12 of the long lost freesheet, from September 1990 for you to peruse and download. I’ve had an incredible response to featuring these long, lost publications here on the blog.

David Evans, very kindly granted access to the archive held by former editor and contributor Brian Stringer, has been assiduously and conscientiously scanning them all. Every single issue. Every few days, I’m going to feature the next in the series.

The Gazette was 12 months old here, and had truly evolved; the local advertising was strong, and the  issues were now bolder. Great coverage of the state of the old rail line and Brownhills Rail Action Group, a wonderful bit about the new play park at Silver Court Gardens (with photos) and Brownhills School Activity Week.

The history of how the Brownhills Gazette came to exist has been detailed in this post thanks to the wonderful John Sylvester.

If other bloggers want to use this material, can you please drop me a line first? I don’t mind, there’s just sone stuff I’d like to clear about the usage, thanks.

Cheers to Brian and David for sharing a wonderful thing, that’s part of our community history.

If you have any memories, questions or observations please do comment or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Brownhills Gazette issue 12 September 1990 – PDF format

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Your chance to meet a local history legend next Friday!

Gerald Reece flyer

Why not print out a few of these flyers and pass them around?

This is a reminder that this coming Friday, the elder statesman of Brownhills local history Gerald Reece will be giving a talk in Brownhills on the subject. This popular and knowledgable historian last gave a talk in Brownhills in 2012, an event which is very fondly remembered and raised £520 for MacMillan Cancer Support.

Gerald will give his talk at Brownhills Methodist Church in Silver Street, Brownhills on 28th November, 2014… Gerald, of course, wrote that definitive work on our town, ‘Brownhills: A walk into history’, a book upon which this blog has leant quite heavily over the years.

This time, the presentation will be amplified, as I gather a few had trouble hearing last time, and there will also be a visual display along with the talk. The first part of this one will be concentrating on the Manor of Ogley Hay, and the second on the planned Brownhills new town in the mid nineteenth century.

Gerald is a fascinating and engaging man, expert in his field, and from what I can ascertain, has plenty of remarkable and new material to share. Seats for the 7:30pm talk are a snip at £3 a pop, and all proceeds will be going to Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity which I feel we all can get behind in their essential work.

If you’re not sure why Gerald is so highly regarded, read this fantastic section of his book ‘Brownhills:  A walk into history’ about Catshill, and it’s origins. It really is excellent.

XI
CATSHILL

From Ogley Road to the Anchor Bridge the area on both sides of the High Street was known as Catshill in Under or Lower Stonnal in the Parish of Shenstone. The Common and Waste lands here were Inclosed in 1811.

A small area of land adjoining the canal on High Street side was known as Catshill in Walsall Wood in the Township of Walsall Foreign. The common and waste lands of Walsall Wood were inclosed in 1876. Shire Oak Common had been inclosed previous to this by John Smyth, Lord of the Manor, with the consent of the freeholders.

Catshill is the oldest inhabited area of Brownhills. Much speculation has been made concerning the origin of its name. Take your pick from the following authoritative accounts:-

  • Catshill or Canutes Hill, here were two barrows (burial mounds) of Roman or British
    construction.
  • The Tumuli is Prehistoric.
  • Cutha, an Anglo-Saxon Chief, is buriedhere. He was the brother of Caewlin, King of Wessex. He was killed in battle in 594 AD.
  • The brother of Caewlin is buried here,he was killed in the battle of Cutha.
  • Cattshill or Cutteslowe or Catteslowe.
  • Catshill was a hill frequented by cats.

The remains of the ancient inclosure and any burial mounds that may have existed were
destroyed in 1797 when the Wyrley and Essington Canal cut through the area.

At Catshill Bridge the Wyrley and Essington Canal forks. The right branch is the Hay Head
Extension that passes through the Brickyards of Walsall Wood and the Limestone Workings at Daw End before joining the Tame Valley Canal at Rushall Junction. This forms a 21 mile circuitous route via Wolverhampton. Near to Catshill Bridge was the Canal Toll Post. The following charges were suggested when the Canal opened in 1797:

For all Coals, (except Slack or small and inferior Coal for the Purpose of burning Limestone or Bricks), Coak, Iron, Ironstone, Rockstone, Bricks, Tiles, and other Minerals, (except such as shall have been brought from the said Wyrley and Essington Canal, and for which the Sum of Nine-pence per Ton shall have been paid as aforesaid), which shall be carried or conveyed upon the said intended Canal or Cut, and not pass through a Lock to be erected at or near Catshill aforefaid, the Sum of Nine-pence per Ton, and so in Proportion for any greater or less Quantity than a Ton :

For all Coals, Coak, Iron, Ironstone, Rockstone, Bricks, Tiles, and other Minerals, for which the Sum of Nine-pence per Ton shall have been paid upon the Wyrley and Essington Canal, or upon the said intended Canal, and shall afterwards pass through any Lock to be erected at or near Catshill the further Sum of One Shilling and Three-pence per Ton, and so in
Proportion for any greater or less Quantity than a Ton :

For all Coals, Coak, Iron, Ironstone, Rockstone, Bricks, Tiles, and other Minerals, which shall be produced or gotten from or
out of any Lands or Grounds situate below the Lock at or near Catshill and shall be carried or conveyed upon any Part of the said Canal between Catshill and Huddlesford, the Sum of Two Shillings per Ton, and so in Proportion for any greater or less Quantity than a Ton :

For all Slack or small and inferior Coal for the Purpose of burning Limestone or Bricks, Limestone and Lime, which shall be carried or conveyed upon the said Canal or Cut, and not pass through a Lock to be erected at or near Catshill aforesaid, the Sum of Sixpence per Ton, and so in Proportion for any greater or less Quantity than a Ton :

For all Lime for which the Sum of Sixpence per Ton shall have been paid upon the Wyrley and Essington Canal, or upon the said intended Canal or Cut, and shall afterwards pass any Lock to be erected at or near Catshill aforesaid, the further Sum of Nine-pence per Ton, and so in Proportion for any greater or less Quantity than a Ton.

Although it is outside the bounds of Catshill, The Brownhills Brick Works merit a mention. It stood near to the present Clayhanger Bridge and had loading wharves at the canal side. Amongst its products was a building brick with a distinctive impression.

Francis Harry Gordon was the entrepreneur who established the Brick Works here in the 1870’s. He also had other business interests in North Staffordshire. The Brick Works covered an area of 7 acres. The large crater made during the excavation of the clay can still be seen. The clay measure here was 30 ft. thick. The buildings of the works included three drying sheds, the largest one measured 150 ft. x 30 ft. and had a cast iron plated floor.

There were three 7 holed burning kilns, two dwelling houses and an Engine and Mill House. The machinery and plant included a Cornish Steam Boiler measuring 20 ft. X 6 ft. 3 ins. A Horizontal High Pressure Steam Engine with a 16 ins. Cylinder. This had a stroke of 2 ft. 10 ins. And a 9 ft. Ry-wheel. There were also two Capital Cameron Steam Pumps and a Brick Cutting-Off machine. The Brick Works were closed down in 1896, its trade had been undercut by the neighbouring Walsall Wood Colliery Brick Works. After several abortive attempts to reopen the Works as a going concern it was finally sold for its plant and machinery by William F. Gordon, J.P. of Lichfield, he was the son of Francis Harry. Many buildings in the area can be dated from their usage of F. H. Gordon bricks.

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The impression on a F.H. Gordon brick, as drawn by Gerald Reece.

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A lesson in local history

Brownhills Past and Present - 1985 optimised

Teastained and a bit musty, I discovered this 30 year old book in a bookshop some way from Brownhills. It’s a remarkable thing. Click to download a copy in PDF form.

A couple of weeks ago, I featured here scans of a local history book I’d unexpectedly found in a bookshop – it was a real cracker, and at the same time, a valuable and overlooked bit of Brownhills social history.

Brownhills: Past and Present was the product of a school project undertaken in 1985 by five pupils – Mark Staples, Kelth Jackaman, Alison Preece, Elizabeth Pike and Kate Wilkinson – and my featuring it here reawakened memories of this wonderful work, and the kids and environment that produced it.

Through Facebook, I was lucky to make contact with Mark Staples who was good enough to write a little about the project, and he’s also kindly supplied press cuttings and articles about it.

It’s a huge pleasure to be able to feature this material here, and to preserve a remarkable piece of work, which spoke so well both of the kids involved and of the quality of their school. I said it in the original article, and will say so again – if only such care and passion went into some of local history books that appear.

Thank you again Mark, and if any of the others would like to join the conversation, you’d be most welcome.

You can comment here, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Mark wrote:

Dear Bob,

Below, a few words on my memories of ‘Brownhills: Past and Present’ which we wrote at the age of 13-14.

Best wishes
Mark

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Remarkable press coverage of ‘Brownhills: Past & Present’ from the mid 1980s: some great period hair in their. A wonderful collection supplied by Mark Staples/

Brownhills: Past and Present

Mark Staples, Keith Jackaman, Kate Wilkinson, Alison Preece and Elizabeth Pike

‘Brownhills: Past and Present’ grew out of our desire for us to take some information about our hometown on exchange visit to Wittelsheim, near Mulhouse in France. We initially called our project ‘Brownhills: Past, Present and Future’. We divided up areas of research between us and set about gathering information. Of course, we did not have access to the Internet back then and relied on local history books and exhibitions, and interviews with parents, grandparents and other residents of the town. I recall endless trips to the Walsall Archives and remember there being an excellent pictorial exhibition in the ‘Annexe’. As a keen artist, I produced some of the illustrations in the book, and Keith and I stayed a number of nights after school to type up the group’s research.

When we returned from France, we were keen to sell our work to raise money for the school and local charities. We had the full support of our headteacher, Mr Chris Hunt. Mrs Audrey Jackson, the head’s secretary, retyped the book, Mr Dave Senior, our art teacher, gave us advice about the layout and Mrs Joan Archer of the reprographics department printed the book. We had such fun with the project; we were interviewed by the local press and even appeared on Radio WM! One Saturday, we put together a display and sold our book in Hillards, later to become Tesco. If my memory serves me well, the book cost £1 a copy!

Today I live in Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk, where I teach French and German. I still take a keen interest in the area in which I live; not so long back, I produced a photographic book entitled ‘Portrait of Suffolk’. As for the rest of the group, I am no longer in touch with them, but would love to know what they are all up to.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Chasewater, Clayhanger stuff, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Woodmen thrash beleagured Causeway

the grove 1

Causeway United play at the wonderful Halesowen Town club – The Grove in Old Hawne Lane. Image from Halesowen Town FC’s website.

Walsall Wood FC consolidated their domination of Causeway United with another stonking victory over them at Halesowen yesterday (22nd November 2014) beating the home side 5-1 at The Grove.

Bill Shaw submitted the following match report:

Hiya Bob,

A much changed side, a much changed attitude and it was job done against an injury affected and suspension riddled Causeway United. Wood strolled comfortably into Round 3 with this 5 goal demolition,  Shawn Boothe scoring his second goal of the season (in consecutive games), this one however a contender for goal of the season (ironically just 20 yards from the position of Harry Harris’s contender in the league game of 2 weeks ago).

Causeway United 1 v 5 Walsall Wood
FA Vase Round 2  

With less than one minute on the clock Corey Currithers cut in from wide left, went through 2 tackles as he raced across the face of the home box, before being hacked down from behind in the centre of the D, he received lengthy treatment before Harry Harris fired in a free kick that took 2 slight deflections before flying past keeper Tom Turner.

The ‘Cause’ were back on terms after just 10 minutes with Currithers the unwilling provider when he inexplicably headed a ball back into the centre of the Wood box for Nicholas Fellows to power a header home.

Walsall Wood were back in front within five minutes, a superb 50 yard left to right crossfield ball from Leon Taylor picked out Ben Evans on the right of the box, he took the ball in his stride and scored with a powerful low drive across the keeper. Three minutes later Currithers made amends for his earlier error, gleefully tucking away the rebound after Max Black’s low drive came back off the foot of the left hand post. The striker wrapped the game up as a contest when on 39 minutes keeper Turner made a full length save to deny Taylor, but could only push the ball away and the ever alert Currithers was first to react to calmly tuck the chance away.

The home side rallied briefly at the end of the half with Lee Stretton making a timely tackle to halt the run of Wisdom Machangani and then right on time Mario Kisiel comfortably saving Anthony Robinson’s header.

The goal of the game came on 53 minutes, Harry Harris delivered a right wing free kick into the box, Joey Butlin flicked a header to the left edge  and Shawn Boothe hit a howitzer volley into the top right hand corner. A strike that I don’t think three keepers would have kept out, never mind the shell shocked Turner.

There was a down side to the victory however, with both Currithers and Lewis Taylor Boyce limping off, Taylor Boyce leaving Wood down to 10 men with 21 minutes left after having used all 3 substitutes. With just seconds remaining Craig Deakin picked up his 5th booking of the season thus missing the 3rd Round game on Saturday December 6th.

Strangely enough this wasn’t Wood at their best, but to be frank they didn’t need to be much more than mediocre to see off the decimated struggling opposition.

It’s Heath Hayes away on Tuesday night in the League Cup  (weather permitting) before Wood face another really big challenge on Saturday when leaders Long Eaton United with ex Blues striker Clinton Morrisin come a calling to complete an enthralling November.

Incidentally the Stoke City Staffs Senior Cup tie, pencilled in for Monday December 8th is OFF, it would appear they forgot they have another game on that night. No comment.

Bill Shaw

My thanks to Bill for a great report – and for all those he selflessly writes and send to me after every match. They really are popular, and a credit to Bill and the club. Walsall Wood have a reputation for being a great, community spirited group of people and these reports demonstrate that – it’s an honour and joy to feature them here.

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The Pride of Brownhills, restored

plaqueunveilingbrownhills

A picture that was puzzling Bill Mayo showed the unveiling of a plaque – readers helped in not only identifying the event, but the plaque turned up too! Image from the Bill Mayo collection.

A couple of days ago I belatedly flagged up the wonderful installation and unveiling ceremony for the once misplaced, but now found British Legion memorial plague to the dead of two wars, located after local historian and top chap Bill Mayo asked for help with a photo here on the Brownhills Blog.

David Evans the blog roving reporter, was out with his camera at the ceremony, and took some lovely pictures and wrote a nice report for readers, which I thank him for and present here.

This whole story is an example of local community in action and it’s great to see lost history being restored to community prominence in this way. My thanks and congratulations to all the people who mad this possible and worked so hard.

You are the pride of our community. Thank you, not just for this, but everything.

David wrote:

We will remember them

Some while ago Bill Mayo, a well-known and respected local historian whose photo books have provided so many images of the local area from years ago, contacted me.

He had among the vast collection of his photos, one which showed the unveiling of the British Legion plaque in Lichfield Road, Brownhills after the Second World War and wanted to see if the people in the photo could be identified. With the generous help of Brownhills Blog readers this was accomplished.

Bill then phoned me some while later to take me on ‘a discrete mission’. This very plaque, which had been lost for quite a few years after the British Legion had vacated their club in Lichfield Road, and had subsequently held their meetings in the Goat pub, Hednesford Road, Brownhills West had been discovered lying among among other things, in a back storage room of the Goat Public House.

I was taken to see this battered and worn plaque, and to meet two of the British legion men who had resolved to restore the plaque and to reinstall it in a public place in Brownhills.

I was delighted to attend the unveiling ceremony on Saturday 22nd, 2014, and to meet those whose quiet resolve and endeavour was being honoured. Our local Member of Parliament, Sir Richard Shepherd gave a personal and moving short speech, in which he paid tribute to the achievement of these gentlemen of the British Legion and the community spirit of Brownhills that it and this plaque reflected, and then unveiled the beautifully restored plaque.

David, 22 November 2014

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments