Local history – This is my truth, tell me yours

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.

Scanned from the book 'Memories of Brownhills Past' by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington - an excellent work reccomended by

[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:

1900-1901 Ordnance survey map extract

1900-1901 Ordnance Survey map extract

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.’

And…

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.

the character of twentieth century Brownhills. That its citizens had a sense of civic pride is evident; the popular landmark ‘the Clock’ which graces the old council building was bought through public subscription before the First World War, and even though the building itself has long ceased to have any administrative function, public opinion remains firmly opposed to allowing the Clock to be run down. After the war (1926) the Memorial Hall in Lichfield Road was similarly erected out of funds raised by public subscription. Few now remember that the town once had its own Rebus and Motto too. This was adopted by the Council in August 1930; the Rebus depicted the Saxon Chief Cutha, reputed to be
.
buried at Shire Oak. The dragon of Wessex appears on his shield
and the Staffordshire knot is incorporated together with the figures 11894′ denoting the year of the inauguration of the Brownhills Urban District Council.
Recreational facilities in Brownhills have improved over the last fifty years. The racecourse which formerly stood between the railway line and the Pelsall Road is now gone, as are the curious ‘Rabbit Legers’ held in the vicinity of the ‘Warreners Arms’ (whence it gets its name), 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 IC3:id out recreational facilities at Walsall Wood (Oak Park -‘remembering the Shire ~ak’); 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 iCouncillor J.T. Bayley the first chairman of The final part of this account is an attempt to convey
the character of twentieth century Brownhills. That its citizens had a sense of civic pride is evident; the popular landmark ‘the Clock’ which graces the old council building was bought through public subscription before the First World War, and even though the building itself has long ceased to have any administrative function, public opinion remains firmly opposed to allowing the Clock to be run down. After the war (1926) the Memorial Hall in Lichfield Road was similarly erected out of funds raised by public subscription. Few now remember that the town once had its own Rebus and Motto too. This was adopted by the Council in August 1930; the Rebus depicted the Saxon Chief Cutha, reputed to be
.
buried at Shire Oak. The dragon of Wessex appears on his shield
and the Staffordshire knot is incorporated together with the figures 11894′ denoting the year of the inauguration of the Brownhills Urban District Council.
Recreational facilities in Brownhills have improved over the last fifty years. The racecourse which formerly stood between the railway line and the Pelsall Road is now gone, as are the curious ‘Rabbit Legers’ held in the vicinity of the ‘Warreners Arms’ (whence it gets its name), 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 IC3:id out recreational facilities at Walsall Wood (Oak Park -‘remembering the Shire ~ak’); 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 iCouncillor J.T. Bayley the first chairman of the
This entry was posted in Brownhills stuff, Followups, Local History, Walsall Wood stuff and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Local history – This is my truth, tell me yours

  1. stymaster says:

    Coincidence or what?

    Remember I said I’d seen a photo of that pub?

    It’s that one, from that book, and I went and found it in the library today……

    • Hi Stymaster…

      That’s quite a coincidence! Funny thing was, the library had 2 copies, and I took the one I thought would fit best under the scanner – one was hardback and one paperback.

      Thanks for your efforts! Always appreciated.

      Best wishes

      Bob

  2. amme says:

    Hi bob, I have a challenge for you.
    WE live in clayhanger and my hubby was looking for a bike route when has found a map of where we live and it has a lake on it where our house is!!!!! I have tried to find an old map of the area but have failed can you help at all????? I know it used to be an old pig farm but thats all. I will gladly send you the link of the map privatley.

    Kindest regards
    Amme

  3. The Edditer says:

    Hey Bob,

    Great to see you putting so much effort into Brownhills local history, and it’s equally great to see people paying attention and interacting with you on this.

    Nice work – well done!

    Cheers,

    – The Edditer

  4. amme says:

    Thankyou Bob, 1 of them did show up what hubby saw on his map – although i am not sure that the water is actually on the estate from the map, it looked as it was from the common pond!!! It would need a bit more investigating i think i will try and find out the link again for you so you can have a look and see what you think!!!!

    Thankyou again anyway.

  5. Bev says:

    Hi Bob

    I was hoping to get back to my nan and her neighbour the day after I posted, unfortunately, I came down with some horrible bug that laid me out all week, and now I’m back at working for a living. I do still want to get back to researching this because I’m too am extremely interested in the history of the area, and promise to get back to you as soon as I can.

  6. Adrian Willett says:

    Hi Bob,
    Just found your website while researching the property we live in on Barracks Lane which we are led to believe was the Isolation Hospital if you still wish to know more feel free to email me .Regards Adrian

  7. Richard Starbuck says:

    Hi Bob

    I found this obituary for Dr Forster who worked with Dr Patterson & Dr Bradford in Brownhills. Dr Forster bought Dr Pattersons house which was also used as a doctors surgery.

    Hope it’s useful
    Richard

    D. M. FORSTER, M.B., CH.B.
    Dr. D. M. Forster, formerly in general practice
    in Brownhills, Staffordshire, died at his
    home on 21 June. He was 54.
    Donald Makepeace Forster was born in
    Exeter on 9 April 1913, and was educated
    at Dudley Grammar School and at Birmingham
    University Medical School, graduating
    M.B., Ch.B. in 1940 and qualifying with the
    Conjoint diploma in the same year. After
    holding house appointments at the Queen’s
    Hospital, Birmingham, he entered the Indian
    Medical Service with the rank of captain.
    In 1942 he married Miss E. M. Murdoch,
    and four years later joined Drs. Bradford and
    Patterson in practice at Brownhills. In
    addition to his duties as a general practitioner
    he became honorary divisional surgeon to the
    St. John Ambulance Brigade and police
    surgeon to the Brownhills subdivision of the
    Staffordshire County Constabulary. He was
    a founder member of the Brownhills Rotary
    Club and later its president in 1961-2. He
    was elected chairman of the Walsall Division
    of the British Medical Association in 1966.
    Dr. Forster was a friendly and instantly
    likable man, whose qualities of kindness and
    good humour became even more evident on
    closer acquaintance. He had an active and
    inquiring mind, which he applied not only
    to his daily work but to all medical affairs
    and to his varied hobbies. In addition to
    being a keen fisherman he also interested
    himself in photography, music, and electronics,
    and in 1958 won first prize in the
    electrical section of the doctors’ hobbies
    exhibition by building an electronic organ.
    He will be greatly missed by his patients, of
    686 9 September 1967
    whom he took such thoughtful care, never
    sparing his own health in order to look after
    theirs. His colleagues all regarded him with
    affection, and admired in him the rare
    qualities which made him a family doctor
    of such high calibre.
    He is survived by his widow, a son recently
    qualified in medicine, and a daughter, to
    whom we extend our sympathy.-J. P. L.

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  9. Angela Griffin says:

    Hello
    I read with interest the comment which included the bit about John Poxon from Walsall Wood after who Poxon Road was named. We recently visited Walsall History centre and found the same reference. I found this very exciting as my grandmother was a Poxon and we are tracing the family tree. However we are unable to find out anything about this John Poxon, who his family are, birth or death details, can anyone help please?
    Just to add we visied Clayhanger whilst in the area and were very disappointed to find nothing left of the past except for a pub and a chapel, what a shame.
    We look forward to anyones comments
    Thank you

  10. Graeme Fisher says:

    Hi Bob

    A later OS map found at the excellent http://www.old-maps.co.uk site shows the isolation hospital at the end of the tree lined road to the rear of the site.

    This ties in with my memories of the Gill family living in the house on barracks lane, market gardeners who had a stall on Walsall market in the ’60s and ’70s.

    I have a distant memory of visiting someone, I seem to remember three elderly spinster sisters, living in the isolation hospital building in the mid sixties.

    • That’s fascinating. I’d love to know more about the hospital, and we seem to be gradually getting closer. I’d love to know who worked there, who it treated and what kind of place it was. These small hospitals were a vital part of British social and medical history and, like mental asylums, seem barely recorded by officialdom.

      Thanks,

      Bob

  11. Peter de Snoo says:

    Hi Bob,

    I am trying to trace my Mothers ancestors who lived in the Coppice, They were the Holland family. And Hyla Holland after whom the park was named was my Mothers Uncle. I am trying to trace Laurence Holland ( possibly Lawrence).He was a mining engineer and I think the local colliery manager but this I need to confirm. Any ideas where I can search ?

    Thanks.

    Peter de Snoo

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  15. Clive says:

    Temporary Isolation Hospital. Taken from a newspaper report, dated 1888. Brownhills UDC, were looking for some where to treat there smallpox patience, and agreed to rent a property from a Mr Cooper, for £20 per year. the name of the building was Lambs Cottage near Hammerwich Hospital.
    They said the property is fairly isolated.
    Another piece of are History puzzle in its place!
    Best wishes to all, Clive.

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  21. Vanessa Yates says:

    Hi Bob

    Please could you let me know if you have any photos or information about a Spiritual Hall in Brownhills in the 1900’s. I am delving into the history of Brownhills Excelsior Spiritualist Church. We have a photo of the interior from about 1926. I have yet to get around to asking about when the building was changed into a church.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks Vanessa Yates

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