I’ve had some great contributions on the ongoing subject of local history lately. Please keep anything you’ve got coming in, and if there’s anything you’d like to ask the audience, just drop me a line. I love this stuff, you seem to too, and it makes a pleasant change from the other stuff I do here. If you’ve got anything to say, the address is brownhillsbob at googlemail dot com. Cheers.
[Godfrey Oakparkrunner] found the above, excellent picture of The Pier In, just as I requested. Scanned from the book ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington – an excellent work. If Clarice, Geoff or Bill are reading this, any chance of dropping me a mail? If you can find it, the book is an excellent collection of unusual pictures of the town, which I shall be dipping back into in the future. I found a copy in the Library… but would love to buy my own.
Next up, the isolation hospital in Barracks lane. I have utterly failed to nail this one beyond the most rudimentary facts. By chance, I found that in the book ‘Street Names of Brownhills, Clayhanger, Shelfield and Walsall Wood’ by Betty Fox, under the definition of Barracks Lane, it says the following:
‘An isolation hospital building was established here during the First World War, which was eventually sold by Brownhills Urban District Council in 1934.’
I have the greatest respect for Betty Fox, but I think she may be incorrect about the establishment date of the hospital; take a look at this map extract from the 1900-1901 series Ordnance Survey map of the area:
Now, I’m pretty convinced this former hospital is what used to be the white house (since re-skinned in red brick) near the brow of the hill; it seems host to a couple of small businesses but otherwise appears nameless. A snippet from Google Earth seems to show old huts or sheds at the read which could, conceivably have formed a rudimentary isolation facility or sanatorium.
I can see that if I want to find out more about this, I’m going to have to rifle through the records of Brownhills Urban District Council; there seems to be nothing extant online and no history of Brownhills records it. The Edditer of the Bloxidge Tallygraph suggested it was probably built to treat and contain Small pox and/or Tuberculosis; if so, there was probably some social stigma involved so I guess it wasn’t openly discussed much. I think the fact the it’s so little-mentioned is what is fascinating me so much.
On the road-naming front, I’ve found this passage buried in a hand-written history of Brownhills, available for loan from Brownhills Library, who incidentally have a pretty remarkable local history section. The history is written by one Graham Ashton, and is clearly a painstakingly researched dissertation on the town containing many gems. Here’s what Graham has to say about road and place nomenclature in Brownhills:
‘…but instead there is the well located Holland Park, named after the late Mr. Hyla John Holland as a tribute to his work on park matters. The Brownhills District Council also bought and laid out recreational facilities at Walsall Wood (Oak Park -‘remembering the Shire Oak’); at Shelfield (Shelfield Park); as well as recreational grounds at Clayhanger and High Heath. Incidentally, the Council had an interesting policy of naming roads after Council members as a tribute to their work; all of the following roads have this memorial intention: Adams Road, Birch Lane, Blakemore Road, Bradbury Close, Breeze Avenue, Collins Road, Fereday Road, Harrison Road, Hogkins Close, Jackson Close, Lawley Close, Marklew Close, Peake Crescent, Proffit Close, Robson Close, Sadler Road, Simmonds Way and Stewart Road. Bayley House was so named after Councillor J.T. Bayley the first chairman of the old Brownhills Urban District Council. Waine House was named after Mr. Norman G. Waine, last Clerk of the Council, who served in that capacity from 1929 until the merger with Aldridge U.D.C. in 1966. Bradford Road and Paterson Place were named as the Council’s mark of appreciation for the services to the community of Doctor R.G. Bradford and Doctor T.S. Paterson. Fullelove Road and Poxen Road were named in appreciation of the work done in the district by George Fullelove of Brownhills, and John Poxon of Walsall Wood. Hanbury Road, Hussey Road and Angelsey Road were name in order to perpetuate the three estates bearing those names.’
I didn’t know of the existence of Dr. Paterson – there’s history to be found here, and recorded. If Mr. Ashton, or any other author whose material I’ve quoted here is reading, I hope you don’t object to me quoting your material. It’s all good stuff and deserves wider exposure – that’s why I’m doing this.
I also had received an interesting comment from [Bev]…
‘The field the Albion (of Albion Road) played on wasn’t where the estate was built, but on the ground behind the chapel, where the police station and garage (ok, car wash) are now’. Also, the estate was started before 1939 ’cause my Nan and her neighbour moved in to their houses in 1938 and 1937 respectively.’
I’ve left them [Bev's Nan and Neighbour] with copies of these threads, so hopefully next time I get back to them, I’ll be able to come back to you with more (I remember my Nan mentioning something about Doctor Bradford having a wooden hut ensemble as a surgery, but need to go back armed with a recording device to be able to remember it all for typing up.
[Bev], if you could do that, it would be excellent. I’m really into this, and hope that we can communally provide an aid to others interested in the sometimes lost history of the place where we live. Your contribution would involve no small effort on your part but would be hugely appreciated. Thank you so much.
This post has been quite long – so I’m going to cut it short there for now. Stuff I’m planning in the future in the local history category will be as follows (no timescales, sorry, but it’s all in hand – hang in there)…
- I’ve taken some pictures of the demolition of the Edward Rose plant. I’m hoping to cover some history there to tie in with it.
- I’m looking at an article on one of Brownhills’ and Walsall’s oldest companies: Carver & Co, who used to be in Coppice Side
- I want to compile a page with a list of old Brownhills shops. [Lynn] has made some great contributions to that.
- I’m searching for newspaper coverage of the guy who barricaded himself in his house, slow progress but I’ll get there in the end
- Likewise the streaker. I’ll nail that bugger in the end. Sadly, I was half asleep at the canal festival when I bumped into an old mate who’d surely have known about the incident, and I forgot to ask. Muppet!
- I’m also collecting stuff about the trotting track/raceway. There’s a lot of stuff there, and I’m sifting through it.
Whilst mooching through papers from the 1970’s a week ago, I came across the sad story of a local rail worker who died on the line in 1975. It’s thought he had a heart attack while undertaking his weekly track inspection. It was a truly sad story, and if anyone has any interest, I’ll mail them about it, but I think it’s probably too sensitive to post here. It really made me quite sad when I read about it – and I’d quite forgotten about the incident.
If I’ve not mentioned your contribution, please forgive me. As you can see I’m working on a number of strands and I’ll cover your angle soon – please keep sending me mail [brownhillsbob at googlemail dot com] and commenting on the blog, I love to receive your contributions.