This article is the third part of blog reader, commentator and top contributor David Evans’ ongoing project to chart the growth of Walsall Wood just over a century ago. The first and second pieces in the series have been published in the last month, and generated quite a bit of debate and interest.
In this instalment, David finds a community still expanding and prospering, but developing more social structure and entering the modern age of communications, literacy and mechanisation. It’s good to finally see some healthcare provision, and the village also seems to be gathering pace architecturally.
As ever, a huge thank you to David for all his hard work.
The village had grown considerably in the ten years following the previous census. Now there were 6492 people in Walsall Wood, and the census details take up four districts.
Staffordshire/Walsall Wood – districts 12, 13, 14 and 15. The enumerators were Mr. Ford, Mr. Jackson, Rev. T Reakes and Rev. R M Burtt.
Walsall Wood now had two Church of England Clergymen!
I was interested to see what jobs are listed. Sadly, most of the brickyard workers job descriptions are unaltered from previous censuses.
Firstly I took a look at district 14 where the enumerator starts his route at the Church of St. John and walks along that side of Lichfield Road, which is still not officially known as High Street. Some names will be familiar with readers, I am sure. There is a tobacconist and hairdresser still doing well (Mr Francis Davies), John Bates is the landlord of the Red Lion pub [Now the Boatman's Rest - Bob], Mr Whitehead the chemist has still not yet moved to his later premises, George Brown is a ‘pit sinker’. Interestingly his entry has been overwritten, perhaps at a later date by someone ‘using’ the information. This feature is apparent with many job descriptions. George was the village ‘well digger’. Poor Eliza Oram’s self described occupation of ‘sweetmeat shop’ had ‘baker’ overwritten. Joseph Smith ‘model maker’ has the words ‘pattern maker’ added. William Jackson the 67 year old chain-maker has a domestic nurse.
William Fullelove, a coalminer, is also the licensee of the Coach and Horses pub. The Horse and Jockey is listed as ‘licensed rooms’ with Thomas Allen, ‘publican’ and Highfields farm has Mr Turner living there.
Heading from Coppice Road junction up towards Shire Oak we find that William Cross is the publican of the Royal Exchange Inn, there are still three ‘back of’ houses on the site. At Street’s Corner William Jackson, ‘horse driver underground’ is living in the thatched cottage. Then, a wondrous register entry. The Ivy House off licence makes its first appearance, with John Bates the off-licence holder. In nearby Brownhills Road Mr David Oakley, aged 72 and a retired bricklayer lives in the first house, and in the adjoining two-roomed ‘cot’ lives a Mr Lakin, coal miner. Both this house and its cot have long since gone. There is only one ‘cot’ remaining in Walsall Wood today.
An indication of changing times is the entry of a ‘professional short hand writer’, a gentleman; the first mention of this occupation in a register for Walsall Wood. His two sons were locomotive engine cleaner and electrical engineer, at the colliery. Mechanisation and modernisation at the colliery, too.
In Coppice Road there are many hewers (colliery face workers, usually men who loaded and moved the coal) one storekeeper and one clerk, all male. There is a ’rope examiner at the colliery’ and a ‘stoker, colliery’ There is a ‘colliery lamp cleaner’, and a ‘Commission Agent’, Mr Ellis, from Salop. There is a newsagent, Sarah Densley. She is not the only newsagent in Walsall Wood. Changing times again, and another indication of increasing literacy, too, though not numeracy, perhaps
In the environs of the Black Cock Bridge, (Camden Street) workers are almost entirely coalminers or canal boat workers.
The East side of the village appears in district 13, and starts opposite the Horse and Jockey pub and routes towards Shire Oak. In the Boot buildings, apart from the entertaining young ladies from Cheshire ,there is one person whose job is listed as ‘Vickers Gun factory’. Amazing.
There is a ‘teacher of music’, a mechanical engineer, The Travellers Rest pub is under the watchful eye of its licensee, Viphie (sic) Birch. There’s a fishmonger, and Mr. Jacques the wheelwright and his blacksmith son are hard at work in their business just by the canal. Crossing the bridge, we have Mr. Adkins, one of the village butchers, Mr. Felton, a pork butcher, Mr Milne, one of the two bakers, a greengrocers, then the Hawthorn Inn, Mr. Dalton licensee. John Cooke is the other village chemist. He is also a ‘stationer and postmaster’. Also residing in the Post Office is Miss Farmer, clerk and there is a visitor, Mrs Snape ‘retired refreshment Housekeeper’. Her ‘castrator’ son ( 1891 census) had left. Perhaps his career had come to an untimely end. Mr. Harrington is a baker, a Mr. William Jackson is ‘architect and surveyor with Brownhills Urban District’. There is a ‘confectioner’ Mr Smith, whose son William is aged 3. He later became a baker in the village and appears in the blog article ‘In God we Trust’, where he is fourth from the left on the back row.
There is a ‘cycle agent’, Mr. Herbert Parker, near to Headley’s shop. There are two railway employees, Mr. Parr the railway porter, and Mr Albert Sage, the signalman. Another butchers shop, a tobacconist and china dealer, a coffee house and a hairdressers, then Emerys gents outfitters, at the corner with Brookland Road, which appears on the front cover of Margaret Brice’s ‘Short History of Walsall Wood’ booklet. Mr John Hands is a ‘railway labourer’ and Charles Higgs is a nearby coalminer, mentioned in one of Pedros’ wonderful newspaper cuttings. Batkins grocer’s shop is opposite the old school.
There is a wonderful entry, called an ‘Accommodation Road’. This one is opposite the Royal Exchange Inn. We have seen this term used in 1891 census, in Castle Road (Holly Bank). Five 2–roomed houses are listed. They can be seen in the 1919 map in the ‘Wood Work’ article in this blog.
Mr. Yeomans is the draper and shoemaker on the way up to Street’s Corner, past Brook Lane; Mr. Poxon’s grocer shop is opposite the Ivy House off licence. Nearby there is another railway worker, a ‘railway porter’, there’s a ‘cattle yard man’ and also a ‘bicycle repairer’.
In Salters Road there is a ‘foreman on Urban District Council’ (he was a night-soil man), a ‘railway shunter’, Joseph Collins was an insurance agent ,and there was a gentleman who was an ‘oil dealer’, overwritten to ‘hawker’. Near Vigo corner Joseph Bailey was the farrier.
Salters Road and nearby Vigo, Hollanders Lane area show the most interesting and perplexing job descriptions; none of which were subsequently overwritten. This is where we find most of the village’s twelve teenage girl workers whose jobs are described as ‘ammunition factory hand’, ‘powder factory hand’ , ‘ammunition hand ‘or ‘ammunition worker’. Their ages ranged from 13 to 18 years old.
The Vigo area also has a ‘colliery belt engineer worker’ and another newsagent (Ada Collis), while Anne Wolley, now 51 years old, was even busier in her role of ‘letter carrier’.
Cemetery Road (Brookland Road) has 18 houses now. One house, ‘Highbury House’ is where the Reverend Richard Burtt, clergyman of the Church of England, is to be found. Rev. Reakes was still living in the Vicarage by the church at this time. Sarah Lees was another schoolteacher and John Shingler was ‘colliery engine winder’.
Occupation Road has a doctor living there. The village ha, at last, its own resident doctor. A certain Dr. Fred Wolverson, aged 27, son of a Willenhall butcher, lived a few houses away from Beech Tree House, and near to a local bobby, PC Caleb Alcock. Edward Walkley the Station Master lived in the same road. There was an assistant schoolmistress, a schoolmaster, and the first listing of a midwife (Leander Rogers, aged 72); a ‘horse tender’ was her lodger. Another Police Constable lived in the same road. He was PC Herbert Lockley, aged 28.
Two good ‘paupers of the parish’ completed the road’s 54 dwellings and residents.
Three more railwaymen lived in Vigo Road. The village’s first listed ‘Coal Merchant’, John Anslow, lived in Hollanders Lane.
District 15 shows the Pauls Coppice/Lindon Road part of the village, and we find some glorious names for the buildings, a feature not seen elsewhere in Walsall Wood.
Friezland Lane has ‘the Hawthornes’, Commonside has Mr Craddock living in ‘Balls’ Cottage’. In New Street (latterly Pauls Coppice) there is a ‘Pretoria Cottage’ (built by sweat, perhaps?)
Catshill Road (Lindon Road has a ‘Live and let Live’ villa, home of George Seedhouse (perhaps from the Fold in Friezland Lane), a ‘Good Intent Villa’, home of Enoch Pagett (featured in previous articles) a ‘Cottage Unlooked For’ a ‘The Old Stop’, where Arthur Leavesley, ‘milkman and farmer ‘ lived.
Clayhanger Road has an ‘Ivy Cottage’, a ‘May Cottage’ and a ‘Newland Terrace’. There were several ‘buildings’; Gordans, Starkeys, Stevens, Lloyds, Daltons, Hollands, and Snapes. These were four roomed houses.
We see that the only school in the village had been enlarged, but at that time, in 1901 the new school at Streets Corner had yet to be built. Schools were to remain under the auspices of Cannock and later Staffordshire County Councils.
In the years from 1891 to 1901 the number of children aged up to 9 years of age, had increased, by a sum total of 1062. These would become the ‘First World War’ generation. In this war so many of Walsall Wood’s young men would lose their lives in the conflict. This aspect of this ‘trawl through a census’ was the most upsetting for me to note.