Caught in time

I’ve been overwhelmed with the response to the teaser I put out for the Brownhills Cinefilm yesterday. The post had a huge number of views and caused quite a stir on Facebook. Interestingly enough, the most popular image was of the Holand Park Bandstand.

Untitled 9

All of us above a certain age hung out here.

Well, at the foot of this post I feature the full 30 minute work. What can I say? It’s shaky. The editing is curiously advanced for the time period. There are issues with field of view (David Evans explains this is to do with the viewfinders on the mechanical cameras used being woefully inaccurate, hence chopped off heads and lots of low shots).

I don’t know the genesis of this film. I know the Local History Centre have a poor quality version on VHS, and a copy of this on DVD will be winging it’s way to them. Reader Gabriel found the record of it in the National Library Archive list a few months ago, and it mentions Brownhills Cine Club, and states the film was purchased from E.R. Jones. Is that the E.E. Jones family, the long-lived local camera shop?

I find the added soundtrack a teeny bit irritating.

Fascinating and occasionally alarming ghosts populate this film; people, buildings and places long gone come back to you with a jolt.

Coombe House is the first building featured, then in use as the Brownhills Urban Ditrict Council Surveyor’s office, but previously the home of John Coombe Maddaver and latterly, Doctor Bradford. In it’s final years it was the Pennycliff club before it’s demolition. This is the only imagery of this house I am aware is still extant.

We have kids at School – possibly Shire Oak, but the archive record Says Mob Lane, Shelfield; both are of a similar construction. We think that’s Millfield School being built. Perfichrome, as described by Bill Shaw last week. Brownhills Bridge where Morris Miner stands today. A gentleman buying a shirt and tie, a lady inspects fruit and veg.

A familiar librarian spins the ticket carousel, and pulls out the Surveyor’s tickets. How many of us forgot that process? I certainly did, and I lived in the place.

We journey on a canal boat, see the dodgems and theme-park era of Chasewater, when it was all new. Go-karts race by. We see what I think are Salvation Army members walking over the bridge, the death throes of Middleton House, also mentioned here recently. The tragedy of the demolished club is short lived, however, as we see a young band playing, and drinkers enjoying a night out in what I assume is the club’s replacement. The fire brigade are on a shout, and the local copper is like something from a 30s era film.

Aldridge Brick Works, Brownhills Gas Works. A colliery I don’t recognise, the archive record says the Grove. Is it? A steam train grinds through Brownhills Station, as does a freight load. The traffic looks hectic. Smoking was clearly popular.

We want as much information readers can supply about this film. Anything you have to say is welcome.

Particular questions are:

  • Who’s the surveyor?
  • What are the plans of on his wall?
  • Is the colliery with the concrete funnel hopper really the Grove?
  • Is the school Shire Oak, or Mob Lane?
  • Names for any of the people filmed
  • Who made the film – not just the Cine Club, but who were they?
  • We can clearly see when and who made such an excellent job of converting it. Who had it converted? What’s the story?
  • There’s a roving bridge that looks like Catshill Junction but I can’t work it out. Is it? The water doesn’t look right.

I’d like to thank Brian Stringer, who passed the film to David Evans, and to David for ripping it and putting it on dropbox for me. I’d also like to thank everyone involved in the initial preservation and conversion, of which I know nothing. The largesse of all involved in preserving such a wonderful thing is clear to see.

Right. I share this, on one condition. The film is unlisted on YouTube. Please, please, please share this post, not the video URL. If we are to solve the mystery, the information needs to be kept with the film. Please respect this – people have worked hard to share this with the wider world; respect their work too.

So, grab a mug of tea, or maybe a beer, some popcorn, and marvel at a lost world. Show this your dad, your neighbour or your granny. It’s hard to watch in one go, but dip in and out.

Let’s find out what we can about these ghosts on tape.

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53 Responses to Caught in time

  1. John Anslow says:

    Yes, it’s the washing plant at the Grove, in use long after coal was mined there. The school is Mob Lane, I’m sure: Shire Oak opened in 1961 as a Grammar School and didn’t go bilateral till the late 60s; the youngsters all wore black blazers with a distinctive red and green badge resembling the UDC seal, discussed on January 17.

    A real nostalgic trip: almost everyone in a tie, almost everyone with a cigarette! A brief shot of an up-to-date character doing the twist among the rock ‘n’ rollers. (so 1961?) The shots of the demolition and inside the chromium plating works are enough to give the Health & Safety Executive apoplexy.

  2. Pedro says:

    Looks to be a film packed with talking points, thanks to all involved!

    Love the office at the start, no clear desk policy then!

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    Great work everyone!

    The librarian wearing glasses at 10:07-10:21 should be familiar.

    As for the office, I recall a certain Mr Vincent Goodall (Kate’s Dad) who kept papers on his quite sunstantial desk more or less at angle of repose. To everyone else it was a confusing mess, but Vin knew exactly where every bit of paper was. Filing? Schmiling!

  4. Dave (Eddy) Edwards says:

    Super piece of local history.
    My wife Linda Edwards nee Donaldson was among the first admissions to Mob Lane school and she is sure its that on the film. She attended between 1960 and 1965 but is sad she cant recognise anyone in the film.
    Keep up the good work.
    Dave (EDDY) Edwards

  5. Clive says:

    Great film. I have watched it 3 times and going to dip in again later. Big thank you to all involved.

  6. Fawlty says:

    Brilliant. I can confirm that the school is Mob Lane. I attended between 1963 and 1969. The school uniform was the royal blue pullover and the school blazer badge was a flaming torch with the letters SSS.

    With regard to the opening shot at Coombe House. I am 90% certain that the first man you see wearing glasses was Charlie Hunt, who was the BUDC Surveyor. My father became the Buildings Works Manager in 1963 and I remember Charlie Hunt coming to visit us. I can’t help with the roving surveyor with the Morris Oxford.

  7. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    firstly a huge thanks to Brian Stringer..and to you. This is a priceless flim. Lets start the ball rolling…I think the shool is Mob Lane. The first sequence shows the Smiths steel frame dormer houses in Green Lane, near Mob Lane..and may even show the snowy lane down to the Coppy Woods. The Domestic Teacher..in pink..I think this was Miss Barbara Ash.. and was a good friend of mine.( now, then butter the corners of that toast) Are the chaps playing whist? I love the policemans motor cycle..one just like that still around Walsall Wood at times.
    The panorama view from Mob Lane may show the double white gables of the Black Cock Pub at Bullings heath. I think the bridge is at Catshill and there seems to be a glimpse of the Gauge house by the canal there.
    The gents outfitter selling a boxed non -iron shirt .(the sort .that you still had to).The shop.may be by Poxons butchers..But its not Winston Oakley.
    I would love a close look at those housing plans!
    Coombe House. The second drive led to the large garage where the triple gang mower and tractor was kept. The main entrance to the building was on the left hand side, not at the front. There was a terrace and a few steps down to the lawn at the right hand side of the house
    Can readers identify the guitars…?.

    Can anyone identify the car bumpers….were these for Minis..minus the overriders at that stage of production?

    What a thoroughly super film. and Brian…You are the star, kid. Many thanks

    kind regards
    David

    now..the washing up!

    • Tony Jakeman says:

      The guitars. Not Fender Stratocasters. The head shape is similar but wrong. Lots of Strat look-a-likes around then and now. The Strat was designed in 1954 and is still produced now. Probably the most recognisable guitar in the world. The first one in the UK was pink not red and was imported by Cliff Richard and given to Hank Marvin

  8. stymaster says:

    Great film, think it will need a couple of views. I wasn’t dure about Mob Lane, but it was 20 years later I was there. The Morris Oxford’s number plate would be worth a fortune now….

  9. kate Goodall says:

    Hi Andy. Thanks for remembering my dear old Dad. I too had a desk filled with papers in much the same way until this clear desk policy came in. Consequently, I’ve lost the plot and have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing next! Dad only ever worked for Walsall Council though – are the office shots here of Walsall rather than Brownhills?

  10. Tony Winn says:

    Hi Bob, very interesting film; as the camera travels along the canal I think I saw, tied up, the narrow boat ‘Charles Ferrie’ (as previously mentioned in your blog). This was apparently launched in 1962 sometime, hope this helps to date the film.

  11. mickysix says:

    Great film, Thankx. Right! one of the players (cards or dominoes) was Harold Smith who lived towards the Co-op in Ogley Road, He was a big friend of my dad. i remember he made home made wines, Turnip, Elderberry, Elderflower, Damson etc. They were always together, but christmas time was the best as we used to go down to Uncle Harolds and the two of them would try this years brew, inevitably dad would be drunk when we went home.
    The name of the people who owned the Bungalow (which stood where the club was built) was something Like Trussell (The son was called Peter). I don’t remember where they moved to.
    Back to the film- i,m trying to work out if or how to get some stills to see if i can enhance them.
    Thankx again, Great post (as usual)

  12. paul perry says:

    Great film Im sure the 2 guys crossing the bridge at 22:00 are postmen

  13. Julia Price says:

    Great job! Well done to all concerned!

  14. mickysix says:

    Reblogged this on Stickymackhouse my life and other things and commented:
    Great film, great memories

  15. rob says:

    recognise all the canal bridges lots of places,brookes shop mr brookes and lynne (vale) a couple of people in perfachrome. great film

  16. Lynn Vale says:

    Great Film
    Down High St Brownhills at approx. 22 minutes
    Sid Law outside his electrical shop, then Harold Brookes selling the Shirt and Tie, also in the shop in the red jumper Lynn Vale (nee Chambers) also Sandra Webster

  17. Caz says:

    This was wonderful to watch. Thanks to all who involved. i agree with David about Coppice woods. It looks like the opening to the woods, with the track running through to the stile at the top. The young boy running down Bricklin Street past the library, looks very much like Roy Stafford ?,who lived 2 doors away from me in Peake Cresent,and yet I can’t imagine his mom allowing him to be out on his own like that . i went to Shire Oak school when it first opened in 1967? and i did think at first that the school was the original Grammar school. the playground layout was exactly the same with the comprehensive caged playground next to the grammar open playground, but the uniforms are definately not Shire Oak. The Grammar side wore dark green and Shire Oak was red and white striped or plain white shirts, with red or grey jumpers/cardigans. i remember my sister, back combing her hair and rock and rolling with her hubby like those in the film.
    Thanks again Caz

  18. Pedro says:

    I say what a great car, the Morris Oxford!

  19. peter says:

    A Fantastic film and hearty thanks to all those who have worked so hard in bringing it to the blog.
    A fair bit of the film is showing snow lying on the ground, indeed the demolishing of The Middleton Club and Institute features snow on the ground and we know from previous discussions that the building itself was still standing in June of 1963, So I can only assume that the clip of the demolition, was at the earliest, taken in the winter of late 1963 / early 1964. I wonder over what time period the whole film covers? In other words are the non snowy clips ie Chasewater fairground, the summer of 1963 or the summer of 1964? Is it that simple though? Maybe the whole film was actually shot over a number of years, the opening credits state the film is of Brownhills around 1960, but some of it could be as late as 1964! Don’t know if this helps with anything.
    Keep up the good work………………..
    Peter

  20. rob says:

    anyone know where the big white house is at 15:50

  21. mickysix says:

    Might be The Turf Inn. That was White with a green roof When i lived over there as a youngster, used to walk down Albutts Road and come out by the canal bridge which ran to Yates.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Austin A40 parked on Pelsall Road looking towards Binks Bullows under construction. Jolly Collier public house directly opposite run by Mr and Mrs Hopley. The shot through the Jolly Collier bridge shows the The Swan pub (large painted white sign on side wall), Les Hanman (unsure about surname spelling) was the licensee.
    Have very happy memories of going to the library from an early age with my mom and to see the librarian with the glasses again is wonderful.Many thanks to all responsible,

  23. Pedro says:

    The latter part of the film interested me, it could have been anywhere in Birmingham or the Black Country.

    Social Clubs packed out, people going early to get a seat. Tables with ashtrays and empties, hardly room to get one more half on.

    Older Chaps with hats on, pens in the top pocket, all smoking fags and pipes, Mackeson stout, hand pumps, soda syphon, lots of mild drinkers.

    Fives and Threes, snooker on a worn table, cards (Playing Nap?)

    Happy Days!

  24. stuart cowley says:

    Brilliant! This is why I love this blog. I can only identify with the Chasewater shots though, what an asset that was for the community at the time, shame it was let go over the years.

  25. William Roberts says:

    The Chasewater shots really show how much of a shadow of its former self the place is now it looked vibrant and inviting back then but these days it seems to be a windswept dog fowling location.

  26. ian carr says:

    the big white building im sure is the turf as it follows on from the grove,some of those buildings are still there.The mound at the grove was a well known feature visable from my house over a mile away.as kids growing up in the 60s we thought it was a volcano!as this section is all in the same area i wonder if the abadoned boats where on the cannock extension canal leading to the grove..there where cerainly boats like that there well into the late 70s

  27. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    the first few minutes..steel frame houses being built. This was the RW Smith site, and has been dated from 1961 to 1963. The cream-white van may have belonged to the site foreman, Mr Wakeman I understand the houses cost around £2000. Different times!
    kind regards
    David

  28. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Gents outfitters! In Brownhills..Brooks, Oakley, Duckett…in Walsall Wood,Whitehouse in the High Street, and in Shelfield, Lawley…near the Police Station…Who and where the ladies outfitters???can readers please help?
    Kind regards
    David

  29. mickysix says:

    Hi David, Was the ladies shop Gwillans or something like that by Birds the butchers?
    Before the demolition of the cinema and the superstore forrunner………..

  30. David Oakley. says:

    I imagine that Bradbury’s would be the first choice for Brownhills ladies, while at Walsall Wood it would be Lancaster’s who succeeded Emery’s as the first shop in High Street. The property is no longer there, being right on the corner of High Street/Beechtree Road, having a side window and a front window. Shelfield, I’m not so sure about, but I seem to remember a little shop, on the same side as Jimmy Lawley’s, the last shop before the railway bridge. I have some recollection that it belonged to Jimmy’s wife.

  31. mrdoops says:

    Brilliant film, thanks for posting up Bob. This is tremendous.
    The car is a 1959-1961 Morris Oxford.
    This is why I love this Blog, thanks so much Bob.

  32. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob

    where was the “New” Middleton Club? Please can readers help.
    cheers
    David

    • Sheila Kelly says:

      Hi David,
      The new version of Middleton House was about one quarter of the way down Lichfield Road, going from the Co-op Corner (junc with Chase Road/Ogley Road) towards Brownhills Bridge. If you walk along now you can see where the houses change from older terraced type to new houses which were built on the site when the club was demolished.
      My dad was a keen member and sometime committee man :) so we had many happy evenings there.
      I remember the club as a thriving and popular place.
      Regards, Sheila K.

  33. peter says:

    Clavedon Close off the Lichfield Road was once the location for a bungalow and orchard, it was covered in the original post “Stuck in the Middleton with you” and was the site for the new Middleton Club and Institute which of course has now gone as well!!!

    All the best David

    Peter

  34. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    there’s brief shot of a three wheeler car by St James church. Is this a Bond or a Reliant..whose car was it?
    cheers
    David

  35. John Hopkins says:

    I taught at Mob Lane between 1965 and 1975, recognised the school straight away. The domestic science teacher is Barbara Ash, and I am sure the woodwork teacher is Albert Ogle (not sure of spelling) who was my predecessor. I only met him once when I attended for my interview. He left in 1965 and moved to teach at the special school which was on the same site. Wonderful looking at my old classroom again!

  36. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    I wonder who the dinner ladies are
    David

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  38. Rob says:

    Hi Bob, thanks to one of our members on our website, the train that is seen steaming through Brownhills Station is Jubilee no.45641 Sandwich which was a Burton engine from 18/11/61 until it’s withdrawal on 19/9/64.

  39. gabriel says:

    “I find the added soundtrack a teeny bit irritating”

    Yes, I’ll agree with you whole-heartedly on that! I muted the sound and instead played a collection of music composed by Neil Richardson over it. Sublime! Richardson’s music would be recognised by most readers here, although they might not know who the composer was or just how much his “library” music underscored a certain period in time. Two cracking examples, “Another Happening” and “The Riviera Affair”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYpv4PQ84IE

  40. David Evans says:

    Hi Gabriel
    The music reminds me of cinema usherettes and ice cream intermissions..and the adverts ..can’t remember the name of the advertising company..pearl and something.. help…the potters wheel music composer..Williams…There’s Georges Auris, worth checking their google info…and perhaps the best known were Mancini and Michel Legrand.
    Thanks, Gabriel for your super comment
    David.

    • Dave (Eddy) Edwards says:

      Was it Pearl & Dean or similar
      Eddy

    • gabriel says:

      Potter’s Wheel… “The Young Ballerina” by Charles Williams! Yes, library/stock/production music evokes wonderful memories. Almost none of it has ever been released commercially, but thanks to the ease of sharing through the internet a huge amount of it is now being made accessible. Richardson’s work, and that of another personal favourite of mine, Syd Dale, was often done for the BBC, with the BBC Radio Orchestra, and for stock music outfits like KPM (now owned by EMI), so it appeared everywhere – often uncredited. Cinemas, radio, TV, even the test card – and we all loved Test Card F with the girl and the clown doll! – it was there in the background. It was music that we soaked up without even noticing, and music – like Proust’s madeleines – is a powerful memory cue.

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  42. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    I think the film was shot around the time the first colour televisions were making their first appearance in the living rooms in Brownhills. The fish and chip shop by the Warreners certainly had a colour set in their back room….I wonder what readers remember of their first “colour” televisions in Brownhills…, and also their first adventures in to the world of colour photographs etc..
    regards
    David

  43. Barry Kenn says:

    Hi Bob
    I can confirm that the colliery shown about 15 minutes in is the Grove. I have a boat moored there and although it has changed almost beyond recognition, some of the buildings still exist and are recognisable.
    Barry

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