Matters arising…

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The lost cottage is still subject to some debate!

I often get lots of short questions or observations that aren’t, despite my best efforts, big enough to make one post out of; so here are a selection of recent ones which aren’t connected to each other, but I’m thinking readers may be able to help with them, or perhaps they’ll provoke debate.

If you can help with any of these, please feel free to comment or mail me: Brownhillsbob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

First up, Bruce Littley is interested in the pubs in the Watling street area following the Fred Shingler film, Mavis Woodhouse material, etc.

Good morning,

I have just seen the article on the lost cottage near to White Horse Lane. (Dr. Fell article) posted Feb 2015.

Great item, It reminded me that I had heard something, many years ago about this, and enables other items to be seen in the area as well The over-lays are a great method of showing development, progress and of course the history.

However, the reason for the mail.

On the map plan of the area, shown opposite to the wording for St. Thomas church, is the initials P.H, I presume that it is a public house. It is one that i have been trying to find the name for for a very long time, I believe my grandfather lived in the cottage at the rear.

Query, do you know the name of this establishment please.


Florence Swinton asks:

William Briggs Jr - Middle row third from right

A probable 1940s church photo – with William Briggs highlighted in the centre. Can anyone put names to these people, or identify the church, or indeed the occasion? Image kindly supplied by Tony Briggs.

I have recently come across the above photo on your web site from Tony Briggs.

For years I have been searching for some clues as to what happened to my uncle William Briggs born 1906 in Newcastle under Lyme…

Could there be a connection?


Chris Latimer has made a very interesting observation:

Hi Bob,

I was in Norton Canes churchyard, just looking round, when I saw the flattened gravestone of a man call John Mann, who died in 1810, described as ‘of Brownhills’, definitely all one word.

I think this is an early reference for the name becoming one word, not The Brown Hills, which from memory is on the pit map, the tithe map and I think the first OS.


Philip asks:


I wonder if you can help me?

There was a business in Lichfield in 1856/7 called Bond And Barnes.

I am interested in knowing what sort of business this was.

Do you know where I could get this information from?

Many thanks for any information you can give.

Best Regards

Dave McNamee writes:


The former Red, White and Blue pub is now an attractive house.


I came across your blog after googling the Red, White and Blue, Lichfield. Reason for googling was I came across reference to this pub when doing a bit of family history research. In a nutshell my great grandmother’s brother, John Blower, is shown as the landlord of this pub in the 1911 census.

Don’t know the location personally as I’m not familiar with the area: my great granmother (from Pelsall) and great grandfather (from Wall) moved to Littleborough near Rochdale, Lancs in the mid 1890s for work purposes and stayed their for their rest of their lives.

Only a snippet, but hopefully of some interest!.

David McNamee

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A message from Andy Penn…

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Andy’s doing a great thing. Click on the image to read more.

Last week, I posted a promotional ad for local lad Andy Penn’s fundraiser, which took place last Friday at the Shoulder of Mutton to raise funds to support his skydive for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Andy will undertake the jump on Saturday, 28th March 2015.

By all accounts the fundraiser was a great night – and Andy wrote to me today to thank everyone who attended, donated and helped:

Hey Bob!

I was just wondering if you would be so kind as to just post this statement of thanks to all that came and supported myself, and helped to raise so much money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital?

Hello everyone, I don’t quite know what to say right now I’m still a bit overwhelmed, Friday nights (27th February 2015) fundraiser was absolutely amazing. To see so many people turn up and support my efforts is something I still can’t get my head around. The whole night was a massive success and I just want to say massive thanks to everyone that donated, bought raffle tickets, and got involved in the auction.

Cheers for the help as well, the response has been amazing. There were a lot of people came that said they saw the fundraiser advertised on your page, so for that i am so grateful.

Together we managed to raise £600 on the night, with over £200 taken on the auction alone. I never thought for one minute we would raise that kind of money and I can’t thank everyone enough.

Firstly I would like to say thank you to my amazing wife Cat, for just doing what you do day in day out and being my rock, for being there and telling me that it can be done even when I had my doubts.

Thank you to my family and friends for being there, giving me your support and believing in me.

Thank you to my baby sister and her other half for an amazing night of entertainment, and a massive thank you to Cotty and The Shoulder of Mutton for letting me put the night on there, to Simon and Josie for all their help, hard work and continued support and last but not least to everyone that came and dug deep, you are all truly amazing.

I would also like to add that there are still 4 weeks of fundraising to be done so if people still want to donate there are a few ways to do this, you can donate online by clicking the link:

You can also go into Thomas Cook on Brownhills High street and enter the name the bear competition, or you can just put some money in the charity tins in side the Shoulder of mutton.

I really can’t thank people enough and hope for your continued support


My thanks to Andy for both the selfless and brave thing he’s doing, and also for sending such a kind, considerate note of thanks!

I shall follow Andy’s progress on the blog in the coming weeks. Well done, mate, and please stay in touch!

You can check out the Andy’s Charity Skydive Facebook page here.

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The estate we’re in


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

Regular readers will know well that I have a very fond regard for entrepreneur, philanthropist and undoubted rogue William Roberts, one of the true fathers of modern Brownhills, who gave the town not only occupation through his brewery and other businesses, but entertainment through his public houses, a fire brigade through his donations of equipment, and countless other things he paid towards or facilitated in his role as councillor.

What happened to this large and valuable empire after William’s death is a bit hazy, and I’m sure there’s more yet to find on the topic; but Andy Dennis spotted the following notices in the Lichfield Mercury archives, which help shed light on the break up of one of the great early economic forces driving Brownhills.

Andy wrote inn his email:

Hello Bob

I came across a couple of news articles about sale of property in Brownhills, part of the estate of Mrs Clara Bagby, adopted daughter of brewing magnate William Roberts. The interesting bit for me is that the notice of auction is followed up by a brief report the values realised – about £191,000 in today’s money, but this was a tiny fraction of her true wealth.


The question of Clara is interesting, and not fully expanded here – I feel sure there’s more to be found on the subject of her life and inheritance.

My thanks, as ever, to Andy for a remarkably diligent bit of research. This is really what local history is about and I thank you profusely.

If anyone has anything to add, comment is welcome, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks, all.

Andy Dennis wrote:

clara bagby auction

Lichfield Mercury, 27th August 1943. Click for a larger version.

Lichfield Mercury 27 August 1943
Re Mrs. Clara Bagby, deceased.
By order of the Public Trustee and his co-Executrices.

BELCHER & SON, in conjunction with MR. GERORGE CRADDOCK, have received instructions to offer for Sale by Public Auction at THE STATION HOTEL, BROWNHILLS, on the above date, at 6 o’clock p.m. precisely, subject to conditions, the following IMPORTANT FREEHOLD INVESTMENT PROPERTIES comprising 37 Dwelling Houses all situate at Brownhills and having a gross annual rent-roll of £758 15s. 4d.

Lot 1. – Six Dwelling Houses and Premises, Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11, Church Road, Ogley Hay, Brownhills

Lot 2. – Six Dwelling Houses and Premises, Nos. 17, 19,21, 23, 25, and 27, Church Road aforesaid.

Lot 3. – The Dwelling House and Premises, No. 29, Church Road aforesaid.

Lot 4. – Six Dwelling Houses and Premises, Nos. 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, and 41, Church Road aforesaid.

Lot 5. – Eight Dwelling Houses and Premises, Nos. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 18, Great Charles Street, Ogley Hay aforesaid.

Lot 6. – Ten Dwelling Houses and Premises known as “Woodbine Terrace” and numbered 3 – 21 (odd numbers), Chester Road, Norton Canes, Brownhills.

Detailed particulars may be obtained from the Office of the Public Trustee, 7, Crosby Square, Bishopgate, London, E.C. 3, (Tel. Ave. 5282); Messrs. Ernest Browns and Co., Solicitors, Victoria Chambers, Wednesbury (Tel 0581); Messrs. Belcher and Son, Darlaston (Tel. 151); or from Mr. George Craddock, 6, Market Place, Brownhills (Tel 3211).

The Public Trustee is a government officer who assists with various situations in law surrounding the assets of the deceased. I imagine in this case that the executrices, the two daughters, required assistance in executing the will. The estate was valued at more than £59,000, so, going on the next report, this sale was of a small fraction of her assets. Her estate brought together the accumulated wealth of her adoptive father William Roberts’ brewing and pub empire and her late husband John Bagby’s Darlaston Bolt and Nut Company, Tower Works, Darlaston, which stood on Bright Street.

clara bagby auction results

Lichfield Mercury, 17th September 1943. Click for a larger version.

Lichfield Mercury 17 September 1943

A successful sale of freehold properties was held at the Station Hotel, Brownhills, on Monday by Messrs. Belcher and Son, Darlaston (in conjunction with Mr George Craddock, of Brownhills). Prices realised were:- Six houses 1 to 11, Church Road, Ogley Hay, £980; six houses 17 to 27, Church Road, £1,285; a house, 29, Church Road, £255; six houses, 31 to 41, Church Road, £935; eight houses, 2 to 18 Great Charles Street, Ogley Hay, £800; ten houses, ‘Woodbine Terrace,’, Chester Road, Norton Canes, £1,300.

The sale was by order of the Public Trustee and his co-executrices, and the solicitors concerned were Messrs. Ernest Brown and Co., of Wednesbury.

The interest here is that the sale values are reported, in contrast to many other sales. But how do these prices compare with today? The total realised was £4,665. The annual rent was £758, or a yield of 16%. I gather these days an average of about 9% would be more likely.

Lot 2 refers to the row of houses still standing next to the Shoulder of Mutton. The average price was about £215. Applying inflation, from for example, suggests this would be worth £8,825 in today’s money, but that would certanly not buy a house, even at 58 years old (the plaque says 1885). The most recent sale prices for these houses were £29,000 (2002) and £35,000 (1999) (Zoopla), but they were twice as old and there has been firther inflation since then. There is what appears to be a similar property on the market in High Street for £99,000.

So, although £4,665 was a tidy sum in 1943, it was probably worth much more than the figure derived from year-on-year inflation of £191,265 and the whole estate much more than £2.4 million.

station hotel

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

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Not only customers, but friends

1950 Deakin Jonah & Jane founders of Deakins the Grocers

Image from Gillian Gaiser.


A lovely bit of ephemera relating to Deakins’ Central Stores and Jonah Deakin has been sent in by the wonderfully generous Gillian Gaiser, who donated her wonderful writing about the Deakin family to the blog, published last weekend.

There’s clearly a lot of love for the Deakins and that area of Brownhills, which to be fair is critically overlooked historically.

Gillian has sent scans of a centenary celebration and Christmas card sent out by the Deakin family to customers at Christmas 1950: the hand produced nature of the artwork is gorgeous and the message speaks of a vastly different retail age. What a wonderful thing – I’m so grateful to Gillan for sharing it.

While I’m on the subject, what is the Howdles Lane/Deakin Avenue/Whitehorse Road/South Chasewater called? I’ve been struggling with this for ages; previously I’ve said ‘Newtown’, which I’ve been chided for, as that only really starts at the Chase Road Junction.Or does it?  So what is this locality called?

Please comment here, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Gillian wrote:

Hi Bob,

Further to the photo of Central Stores which I sent to you I am attaching jpgs of the Christmas card sent out by my parents/grandparents on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Central Stores which may be of interest.

It says the business started in 1900 however in 1901 at the time of the census Jonah and Jane with son Charles were noted as living on Hednesford Road and Jonah’s occupation is given as Insurance Agent. It could be that The Stores were in the process of being built at the time… who knows?

I doubt there is anyone left now who can give us the full story!

Good wishes from Gill Gaiser

1950 Deakins the Grocers Jubilee brochure

Image from Gillian Gaiser.

1950 Deakins the Grocers Jubilee brochure inside

Image from Gillian Gaiser.

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Woodmen draw to keep Wulf from the door…

Photos kindly supplied by David Evans

The Woodmen yesterday (Saturday 28th February 2015) faced AFC Wulfrunians at Oak Park, and held the visitors to a hard-fought draw.

Bill Shaw was there to witness the match, and submitted the following report:

Hi Bob,

A creditable draw on a glue pot of a pitch, Wulfs fighting back from a goal down and nearly stealing all three points with a spirited finish.

It was a much improved performance from Wood and raises the spirits for the next three games in eight days spell at Oak Park. With Basford and Long Eaton suffering shock home defeats Wood actually closed the gap on them, so it’s  all still to play for…

Walsall Wood 1 v 1 AFC Wulfrunians.

Not surprisingly the game between the divisions form teams ended all square. Wood started brightly, playing some neat enterprising football without finding the net in the first 45 minutes. They went ahead from the penalty spot on 51 minutes, but the introduction of young substitute Demetri Brown on the hour mark changed the whole complexion of the game and he nipped between defender and keeper on 80 minutes to plunder the equaliser.

A bright start from both sides but it was Wood who threatened first, Luke Adams and Ben Evans combining in the centre to feed Joey Butlin, he powered through one tackle but under pressure from Ryan Talbot he fired over the bar. Two minutes later a lovely ball out wide right by Max Black found Corey Currithers who cut back inside, laid the ball square to Harry Harris to hit a first time effort goalwards, keeper Jonathon Brown’s full length save pushing the ball onto the post. On 18 minutes Butlin released Luke Adams wide right, he made the box only to overhit his cross. Five minutes later it was Black collecting the ball from a left wing throw running at the defence, Jordan Perks making a brave block.

On 28 minutes a long ball out of defence by Wulfs was collected at pace by Andrew Thompson, he raced into the right of the box before being stopped by a combination of Jamie Sauntson and keeper Mario Kisiel, half hearted penalty appeals rightly waved away.

Wulfs should have gone ahead five minutes later, a square pass across the back saw Thompson intercept the ball, race into the box only to fire wide of the advancing Kisiel and the right hand post.

A flowing one touch left wing move on 41 minutes ended with Evans racing into the left of the box, his low drive well held by Brown.

The last action of the first half came a minute later, a Wulfs right wing free kick headed back to Thompson, his first time 20 yard rising drive clearing the back fence.

A minute into the second half a left wing cross from Evans was completely missed by Brown, Perks saving the keepers blushes by heading off the line. On 51 minutes Harris raced onto a ball into the left of the box only to go down under a mistimed challenge. Butlin making no mistake from the spot to put Wood ahead. Four minutes later Currithers put Evans into the left of the box, Brown making a brave full length save.

Substitute Demetri Brown made his first foray into the left of the Wood box on 62 minutes, he was strong to go through one challenge before he was stopped by a great tackle from Anthony Juxon. Then on 80 minutes a ball over the top of the Wood defence held up on the wind , Kisiel came to the edge of the box, hesitated, which allowed Brown in to lift the ball calmly over the keeper and even though two defenders chased back they couldn’t stop the ball crossing the line. Three minutes later a right wing free kick to the far post saw Lee Stretton save Wood with a brave, diving header to clear the danger. On 90 minutes a right to left move across the face of the Wood box ended with Nathan Rose-Laing firing in a low drive that brought a superb full length save from Kisiel, the ball flying out to Mitchell McDonald whose first time effort was pushed away by the keeper, but only straight to Liam Bood to fire the loose ball high and wide.

Wood dominated the first hour, but Manager Steve Palmer’s substitution changed the balance of the game and they could have stolen all three points with a strong finish, which would have been hard on the home side.

Boldmere St. Michaels followed by Continental Star at Oak Park on Saturday 7th March & then Basford United on Tuesday 10th.

Bill Shaw
Walsall Wood F.C.

Walsall Wood are a good team and an excellent, community-spirited club. They need our support – please do attend the coming games if you can. The lads do us all proud and deserve as much support as we can give them.

As ever, thanks to Bill for the report – always appreciated – for The Good of the Wood!


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January 1993 – Drugs Indifference

Brownhills Gazette January 1993 issue 40_000001

Another solid 16 page issue – there’s concern over drugs education, am-dram, some interesting planning applications, Harold and Mary Dukes celebrate their 60th, a great early 60s photo from Ogley Junior and lots more. Click for a larger version.

Continuing the scans of the Brownhills Gazette – I present issue 40 of the long lost freesheet, from J 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.

Another solid 16 page issue, bearing the hallmarks of a the new journalist editor; there is a noticeably more newspaperish style, and some great short articles – there’s concern over drugs education, some local am-dram, interesting planning applications, Harold and Mary Dukes celebrate their 60th, a great early 60s photo from Ogley Junior and lots 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 40 January 1992 – PDF format

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Brace yourself!


Ogley Junction – where the Anglesey Branch meets the former Wyrley & Essington mainline to Huddlesford.

Here’s a quick one I spotted locally last week: I was going to put it on my 365daysofbiking journal, but I thought it deserved a wider audience and debate – it seems the cast iron bridge at Ogley Junction, near Grasmere Gardens, was once damaged or cracked and repaired.

The damage was repaired a long, long time ago, and the repair is very evident, but I’ve never once noticed it in the hundreds of times I’ve crossed or dawdled on the bridge. From the materials used, the repair is old and must have been hard work.


The bracers fitted to the rail are highlighted: I’ve never noticed them before. They aren’t present anywhere else on the bridge. What happened? Click for a larger version.

It’s easy to spot; as one walks over the footbridge towards Chasewater from Brownhills, looking at the northwestern guard rail on the slope down, there are bracing plates bored across the webs of the casting. They look to be bolted with maybe ¾ or 1 inch bolts and big, square nuts; drilling the holes for those can’t have been fun.

What I’m asking, I guess, is what happened? Was there some accident after installation, or would Horseley Iron Works (who in all probability cast the bridge like others on the line) have sent a repaired, weak casting?

Is there any record of an accident here?

Just a bit of a curiosity, and I’m amazed I’ve never noticed it before. Please do comment here, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

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