Do you give a monkeys?


The Wheatsheaf shortly before it was demolished, in a cracking photo supplied by Mike Leonard. It stood on the corner of Ogley Road and Mill Road.

Every so often, I get an intriguing question from a reader right out of the blue – and I had just such an enquiry in today which really has me puzzling from reader Margaret King – this concerns a subject we’ve covered a little before, that of wartime evacuees – and one of the favourite historical concerns of readers: local pubs.

Margaret writes:

Hello there,

Apologies for mailing you out of the blue but I Came across your website Brownhills Bob and wondered if you might be able to help me.

My dad during the war evacuated from London to Brownhills and has been thinking of trying to trace where it was he stayed. Unfortunately my grandparents have now both passed away and my dad was only young so memories are not so good.

What he recalls very strongly is a pub on the corner of the road he stayed on and he is convinced it was called the Monkey Puzzle. I’ve had a quick google for this and if this is the correct name then it doesn’t appear to still exist. Would you happen to have heard of a pub named this or similar in Brownhills during the 1940s? Or, if you don’t know or have researched back that far, would you know of any local historians for the area that you could give us the contact details for?

Many thanks for any help you may be able to give.

Kind regards
Margaret King

I have no idea. Several pubs locally were/are on street corners; off the top of my head, The Shire Oak, The Boot, The Wheatsheaf, The Warreners Arms, The Prince of Wales, The Pear Tree, The Jolly Collier and the Railway Tavern were all more or less fitting that description.

The Monkey Puzzle has me totally baffled. I know The Avenues were alleged to have been called Packman’s Puzzle, but I think that’s a more recent affectation, and there was no pub on any nearby corner, unless we count the old Middleton House club.

I welcome views on this – please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thank you.


The Railway Tavern – another lost pub pictured here in 1993 by Mike Leonard – stood on the corner of Lichfield Road and Narrow Lane.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Mining the information

Reg Fullelove mining history booklet

Just one of 32 pages, all handwritten, all packed with information. Click the image to download a copy in PDF format. Thanks to Reg Fullelove for a remarkable donation.

People who follow the blog close will be aware of one particular contributor who’s well-loved by all, has his own distinct style, and never fails to cheer anyone reading his fascinating comments – and today, I can share with readers something remarkable donated by Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove for us to all to read and digest.

In response to my inquiry for information relating to an mining accident that befell Solomon Fox, Reg commented that he had a list of local mining accidents he’d be willing to share. Top local history ferret David Evans loaded up on cake and headed to see Reg immediately. Reg has actually donated so much more than that to which he alluded.

In fact, it’s astonishing.

I’m not sure how to describe this, but it’s a handwritten document, 32 pages long, and clearly the product of an awful lot of research. We know little about the origins, but the diversity of the information contained is remarkable.

  • There is a map of coalfield locations in the Cannock Chase Coalfied
  • A timeline of Cannock Chase history from 1141-1994
  • Lists of schools, shops, pubs and amenities through the years
  • A poem about the Hednesford Pit Disaster 14th December 1911
  • A full list of local coal mines
  • A list of local pit closure dates
  • A list of churches and chapels
  • Noted local pit ponies
  • List of construction dates of local pithead baths (a political hot topic in the day)
  • A list of fatal accidents at local collieries

It’s a wonderful thing – it was obviously completed in pre-internet days (very probably the mid-1990s) by someone who did a hell of a lot of legwork. If anyone recognises any of it, or has any further information, please do comment or mail me: Brownhillsbob at Googlemail dot com.

It would also be nice if someone fancied transcribing it – obviously in a handwritten state it’s not indexable by google. It would be nice to fix that…

I’d like to thank Reg from the bottom of my heart – Reg is such a well loved and well respected member of the community – poet, raconteur, historian – and a very kind man. Cheers old chap – you’re always welcome here.

Thanks too, to David for putting all the legwork in!

You can download the whole thing as a PDF file here (13.6 megabytes)

Amongst the material is this poem about the December 14th 1911 Hednesford Colliery Disaster in which 5 men perished in an underground fire. David Evans has kindly transcribed it and the note accompanying:

The Old Hednesford Pit Disaster. December 14th, 1911

To all who read these few lines
I’ve a sorrowful tale to unfold
Of the Hednesford Pit disaster
Which brought grief to young and old

 On that fateful Thursday morning
They entered the cage for the mine,
Not shirking from doing their duty,
Leaving their families behind.

They were toiling and working as usual
When a cry of “Fire” was heard.
It was a sign of very great danger
And all on duty were stirred.

 To rescue the miners in safety,
Was the leading thought that inspired
The bravest and truest of workmen
To use the courage we all have admired.

 Through smoke and fire they travelled
Risking all to them so dear
To try and save their comrades
Whilst knowing death was near.

 We’ve read of deeds of bravery
Of heroes of former time,
Among them should be mentioned
The heroes of the Hednesford mine.

 But who were the greatest heroes
I’m sure its hard to tell,
For all did their honest duty
And did it faithfully and well.

 With all their bravery and courage
And schemes they could devise
It has to be recorded
Death claimed its victims – five.

 Stokes, Ward, Reeves, Baugh and Bradbury
Are the name we have to relate
Who lost their lives at duty
Not knowing that death was their fate. 

Of Stokes let it be recorded
That others he went to tell
Of the danger that threatened their lives
When he was overcome and fell.


This poem was written by a lady who lived in a house at the rear of Littleworth Post Office ( Wassel’s shop ). I believe her name was either Baggott or Bagley.

W D Nicholls

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Sunday puzzle: Who’s in this lineup?


Walsall Wood FC 1967 team, can you put names to any of these faces? So far we have back row, from the left – Cyril Hart, Stuart Allman, George Martin, Bob Jones and ? Humphries; Front second left John Hyde and centre front, Stan Fellows. Image kindly supplied by John Hyde via David Evans. Please click for a larger version.

Here’s a great Walsall Wood photo supplied to the blog by David Evans, which was supplied by former Walsall Wood FC player John Hyde, who’s trying to put names to some of the faces.

I’ll let David explain:

Hi Bob

This very rare photo shows the Walsall Wood FC team in 1967, and has kindly been offered by former player John Hyde.

John remembers some of his team mates – he is seated in the front row, second from the left and by the captain Stan Fellows.

The back row, from the left – Cyril Hart, Stuart Allman, George Martin, Bob Jones and ? Humphries.

Sadly John is unable to remember all the names, and asks blog readers if they can help here, and, if possible, do any have in their private collections team photos from the years 1966 and 1968 to help John make a complete photo record of his playing years at Walsall Wood F.C.

Time is of the essence here, and all help gratefully received.

Of course, as is often the case the background of a photo has a historical importance and here we see the old Brocton Army Camp WW1 wooden hut… then the players’ changing rooms?

I would like to thank John for offering this photo and hope that a full team list will be possible in due course

Kind regards

Can anyone help here, please? It’s a great photo and I’m sure some readers out there will be able to offer names, and maybe help with the images requested.

Thanks to David for a great enquiry: please, comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Westfields wipeout

Photos and captions kindly supplied by David Evans

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday, 29th March 2015) Walsall Wood FC faced Westfields at Oak Park, resulting in a decisive and pleasing victory for the Woodmen.

Bill Shaw submitted the following match report:

Hiya Bob,

It wasn’t easy and at times it wasn’t pretty but nevertheless it was three more points that cements 5th place and with eight games still to go puts us within eight points of last seasons 71 that saw us finish 6th.

It’s AFC Wulfrunians away at Wolves old training ground Castlecroft on Tuesday night before on Saturday we visit high flyers Coleshill Town, with the banned duo of Harry Harris and leading scorer Joey Butlin, together with Joe Pickering who has returned to Heath Hayes for the rest of the season, missing. It’s a chance for Leon Taylor, Daniel Holgate and Drew Aiton to make an impact on this season. Let’s face it, they’ve all scored goals this term, so good luck guys, go for it.

We’ve also lost the irrepressible Gonzo (Andre Gonzales) who has gone back to Sutton Town to help in their promotion push for the play offs. Thanks for everything mate, good luck.

Thanks to everyone for the support as we approach the sharp end of the season, there’s still a lot to play for, so keep the faith.

Walsall Wood 2 v 0 Westfields.

Another comfortable three points for Wood who whilst never looking in danger of defeat struggled to break down 10 man Westfield after the 40th minute dismissal of striker Luke Corbett.

It took Wood just five minutes to go ahead, Jamie Hawkins making his first appearance of the season crossed from wide right, keeper Harvey Rivers slapped the ball away from Joey Butlin and Corey Currithers out for a left wing corner. Harry Harris delivered the flag kick, Butlin took control and fired goalwards, his shot blocked on the line, he pounced to fire the rebound home to open the scoring. On 15 minutes Butlin was strong on the right of the box, his ball inside found Currithers to turn his marker before drilling a low drive just wide.

Three minutes later Luke Corbett released Sam Gwynne into the right of the Wood box, Currithers getting back to stop him at the expense of a corner that was easily cleared. Next skipper Jamie Cuss fired in a right wing free kick, the ball deflecting out to Tom Boyle whose low drive brought a full length save from keeper Mario Kisiel.

You can’t keep Butlin quiet for long and on 22 minutes he won a free kick on the left edge of the box, he touched the ball to Harris whose first time rising drive skimmed the bar. On 29 minutes a right wing move, with Currithers playing a one-two with Max Black, his ball across the box was collected by Lewis Taylor Boyce, he went through three tackles but was crowded out before he could get his shot away. Four minutes later Craig Deakin crossed into the box from wide left to find Butlin, his inch perfect ball to the right of the box hit first time wide by Taylor Boyce. We had a quiet spell but on 40 minutes an off the ball incident saw Corbett dismissed.

The first chance of the second half saw substitute Luke Griffiths wide right play the ball inside for Boyle to hit a first time effort wide after 51 minutes.

You can’t keep a good man quiet and three minutes later it was Butlin causing havoc on the right edge of the box before winning a free kick, hit just wide by Hawkins.

It should have been all square on 65 minutes, Gwynne crossed from wide right to find Boyle at the near post only for him to slice his effort horribly wide.

A lovely move 10 minutes later with Harris winning the ball in the centre sweeping the ball out right to substitute Ben Evans, he went past two players fired the ball across the face of the box for Butlin to hit a first time low drive inches wide.

Back came the visitors, the hardworking Cuss playing the ball out right to Zac Sirrell whose cross cum shot right under the bar was pushed over by the alert Kisiel.

A short spell of Wood dominance should have seen them home and dry when a minute later a lovely ball over the defence by Anthony Juxon put Black clear on goal, he beat the keeper and the bar. Next it was Harris putting Butlin clear into the left of box, with the same outcome.

Just to remind Wood it wasn’t over Sirrell made space for a shot on 88 minutes; when from 30 yards he sent a rising drive just too high.

Wood finished the game in style, Shawn Boothe came out of defence with the ball on 89 minutes and fed Butlin on halfway, his first time ball released the flying Currithers who left defenders labouring in his wake as he calmly drilled the ball past the stranded Rivers to wrap the game up. A minute later a superb nonchalant chip over a static defence by Harris put Drew Aiton clear through the centre, Rivers saving bravely at his feet , the ball squirmed loose, was collected by Aiton only for Rivers to make another brave save at the striker’s feet and this time hold onto the ball.

Not an Oak Park classic , but three points nevertheless to keep the top three finish alive. It should have been a stroll for Wood but once again they struggled to break down 10 men opposition. It’s AFC Wulfrunians away next Tuesday for Wood before the game next Saturday at Coleshill which could have a big say in the destination of the inaugural Midland League title.

Bill Shaw
Walsall Wood F.C.

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.

For the good of the Wood!

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t forget your clocks


11:35. Got it? Good. Image from the local LibDem Ford Focus Team. Or perhaps they only need a Ka now.

For years, there was a local newspaper cliche that every time the clocks changed, the evening rag would feature a female model in various states of dress or undress, holding or pointing to a clock, to remind people that their timepieces required winding on.

Thankfully we now live in more enlightened times, but in order to revive this venerable and time-honoured trope, here’s Ian from Willenhall demonstrating that at 10:35 tomorrow morning, it will in fact be 11:35, due to the commencement of British Summer Time.

Ian’s hobbies include blogging frantically, supporting the underdog (as long as someone cleans up after it) and local politics.

Ian would probably like to turn the clock back to early 2010 like many of us, but we’ll just have to do with an hour forwards for now.

(I do support Ian on the dog poo, however. It’s horrid. And you buggers who bag it and leave it on hedges etc. want slapping.)

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September 1993 – A day to remember!

Brownhills Gazette September 1993 issue 48_000001

Brownhills Gazette September 1993 issue 48 – a 20 page issue, with an unusual silver wedding anniversary celebration, more concern over the upcoming M6 Toll, a new intake at Ogley Hay School, United Carriers people do a truck pull for charity, a remarkable Clayhanger photo from what looks like the 1960s and loads more. Click for a larger version.

Continuing the scans of the Brownhills Gazette – I present issue 48 of the long lost freesheet, from September 1993 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.

Sadly, issue 44 (May 1993) is missing from the archive. If anyone has a copy we could scan please, do shout up!

This is a 20 page issue, with an unusual silver wedding anniversary celebration, more concern over the upcoming M6 Toll, a new intake at Ogley Hay School, United Carriers people do a truck pull for charity, a remarkable Clayhanger photo from what looks like the 1960s and loads more.

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 48 September 1993 – PDF format

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

A local mining accident – more information available

The honest belief is generally that miners were the salt of the earth, and all the accidents were the cause of the managers, but occasionally, the pitmen were their own worst enemies. One cannot imagine the act of opening a naked flame to get better light – but of course, many miners suffered with their eyes, so the motivation can be understood. Remember that the Grove Pit Disaster was thought to be caused by a miner striking a light down below. Taken from ‘The South Staffordshire Coalfield’ by Nigel A. Chapman.

A couple of days ago I asked for information about a local mining accident, suffered by the Grandfather of reader Gill Joesbury, but the request it was a bit of a mission impossible, as we didn’t have a name to go on – since then, Gill has now been in touch with more information.

Gill wrote:

Hi Bob

My Grandfather’s  name was Solomon Fox and he was born in 1872 in Newhall, Derbyshire. In 1898 he married Elizabeth Dora Whitehouse who hailed from Pelsall.  

As far as the family knows, he worked in the Brownhills area before moving to Sutton-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire (don’t know if there was a particular reason for this move or whether it was just where the mining jobs were) and we believe he lost his leg prior to the move.

Hope this is of use and thanks for your help.


So, with that extra information, can anyone help further? I know lots of you enjoy a challenge, and any help gratefully received.

Please comment here, or email: BrownhillsBob at Googlmail dot com. Thanks.

I include Gill’s original enquiry below:

Dear Bob

Do you know of any records in existence that recorded mining accidents in the Brownhills area? My Grandfather was a coalminer (loader below ground level) although I don’t know which pit he worked at, just that it was in the Brownhills area.

I believe that he lost a leg in a pit accident, probably sometime in the early 1900’s. Not much to go on I’m afraid and if there are no records then a dead end.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Thank you
Mrs Gill Joesbury

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Features, Followups, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments