The Irish question

Sadly, I’ve been neglecting poor old David Evans recently. He’s working tirelessly in the background, collecting memories, working on a couple of special projects and continually generating new content for readers here on the Brownhills Blog. Of late, things have been a bit manic and I’ve not had time to squeeze in enough of David’s contributions, for which I heartily apologise. David, all your work is very popular and immensely appreciated. It takes a lot to keep this show on the road, and sometimes I have to just drop things in when I can.

Thanks for your understanding on this.

Meanwhile, David has posed a really interesting question. I don’t know the first thing about this, so I’m hoping for a bit of illumination from the old Woodians out there. Not being aWalsall Wood lad myself, the mysteries of the village continue to enthral and delight. Just a thought (and I know nothing, so don’t shoot) it wasn’t a catholic cemetery, was it?

The iconic Walsall Wood photo of David Yates watching the last coal train from the Rabbit Bridge in Vigo Road, also featured on Oakparkrunner's site and scanned originally from 'Memories of Old Walsall Wood' by Bill Mayo and John Sale.

Hi Bob

Marion Fadelle’s local quiz comment about an Irish Cemetery in Walsall Wood raises the question, why was this cemetery called ‘Irish’? This quiet backwater of Walsall Wood has seen some dramatic changes in the last century. The nearby Vigo farm has gone, its land was ‘dug out’ and for many years a huge claypit, one of several, and the adjacent brickworks and chimney stacks were the dominant feature in a spoiled landscape, and what now remains is a landfill site, now completed, and a large mound and methane capture plant which have replaced the once green fields with their crops and cows.

A small post-war emergency estate of pre-fab bungalows stood nearby, in Vigo Terrace. These, too have been demolished and replaced by modern houses.

The above photo, which appears in one of Oakparkunner’s glorious blog articles, shows the view from VIgo Road towards Brookland Road , with the main cemetery to the right. The piece of land there has another cul de sac and retirement bungalows. This was where the Irish Cemetery was. The close is named after one of the Wood’s most respected doctors who lived in nearby Beech Tree Road.

The firelighter’s yard, Powells, which was just down this road, closed down many years ago. People were using gas to heat their homes… Easier and cleaner than coal, I suppose.

But questions still remain. Why was this part of the main cemetery called the ‘Irish’ cemetery? Was it ever used as a cemetery?

kind regards

David

Google Earth 1945 aerial imagery showing Walsall Wood - the newly-built prefabs David mentions are centre. It can be seen that this is a rapidly changing area. Click for a full-size version.

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12 Responses to The Irish question

  1. Clive says:

    Hello, apart of the Cemetary was allocated for Catholics, and I would guess a lot of the local Irish would have been buried there, hence the name!
    Hope this will help.

  2. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    I wonder if there were any other Irish cemeteries, or parts of cemeteries for catholics, in the region?
    David

  3. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    an e-mail from David Oakley ;- the”Irish” cemetery was created in case of any casualties among the Irish navvies constructing the nearby railway line. (This was around 1882 I think.) David adds that there have been no burials in this cemetery, to his knowledge.
    Can any reader add to this information, I wonder?
    David

  4. Clive says:

    Hello all. There are Roman Catholics buried at walsall Wood, have a look at Sue Lotte`s site theres a list. http://www.walsall.foreign.family.history.talktalk.net/id74.htm

  5. David Evans says:

    HI Clive
    thanks for the link…its helping me in another topic. David Oakley’s mail mentioned there being three walled sections in the cemetery from Brookland Road to Vigo Road and that the section nearest to Vigo Road ( the one called the Irish Cemetery) was empty when he left the Wood, circa 1951..and that the second section was only just about to be used….so perhaps the third section remained empty until the land was used to build Roberts Close, in the 1970s or so.
    Can readers please help to clarify this?
    Again, my thanks, Clive.
    David

  6. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    from a dear old friend who lived in Queen Street for part of her childhood ( i.e early 1930s). What was known as the Irish cemetery was adjacent to the Vigo Raod and enclosed by a wall. The only entrance to the cemetery was via the main gates on Brookland Road. Does not remember seeing corteges stopping in Vigo Road.
    David

  7. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    David Oakley , in his recent mail to me, mentioned there being three blocks to the cemetery, each individually walled off and that the end piece was never used and had no trees in it. He also mentioned the “Derry” ( an interestingly Irish name!) being a piece of wooded ground on the embankment side of the Rabbit bridge, near to the railwayman’s cottage…a Mr Plant and his wife lived there.
    He added that the number of deaths among the navvies, from building railway cuttings and embankments was high, elsewhere, hence the provision of a cemetery in Vigo Road.

    Do we know the number of Irish navvy deaths that occured in the construction of the railway line which ran through Walsall Wood?

    I am very grateful to David Oakley for his information on this subject.

    Kind regards
    David

  8. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    from a reliable source at Walsall Wood St John’s church;-
    The Brookland Road cemetery had three “blocks”( sections), one being the Catholic section,( the paaret nearest Vigo Road) and this was called “the Irish cemetery”..many years ago.
    Kind regards
    David

  9. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    oops. should read…”part nearest Vigo Road”. Apologies

  10. Pedro says:

    This may not be Walsall Wood, but interesting!

    Proposal for new cemetery at Walsall…28 May 1892, Tamworth Herald

    Mr T Codrington on behalf of the Local Government Board conducted an enquiry at Walsall with reference to the application for a loan of £20,000 for the provision of a new cemetery. The application was opposed on behalf of the church committee and vicar St Michael and All Angels, and of the Roman Catholics, on the grounds that the sentiments of these denominations had not been respected in the decision not to allot or consecrate a Chapel on any part of the ground, and that if they provided cemeteries of their own 45 acres of land would not be needed for the general cemetery. The Commisioner suggested that the difficulties might be got over by the adoption of a compromise similar to that come in the Sutton case, but the Town Clerk said that case did not apply, and the Cemetery Committee had declined to act on it.

  11. Pingback: Walsall Wood 1911, before and beyond | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  12. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Brownhills Urban District Council minutes
    Meeting of the Housing and Estates Committe, 20 February 1957
    minute 824. Temporary Houses- Ministry Circular no 9.57
    ” The Clerk submitted Ministry Circular 9/57 advising local authorities that the department is now willing to sell prefarbricated bungalows erected some eleven years ago. Consideration was deferred pending a joint report from the appropriate officers”

    regards
    David

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