A bit of a monstink…

Oh boy, is this a good one! I’ve been saving this for a wet weekend and I think, regrettably, we’ve now got one. My apologies to John and Paul Anslow for holding this splendid work back, but this is so special it deserves thorough attention from the local history crew, and particularly the Walsall Wood diaspora.

John Anslow has been a terrific help with Walsall Wood material in the last 12 months or so; his work on the Street Family and Streets Corner remain exemplary, and his contribution to the Dairy Farm topic was wonderful.

I present today a series of three photos, and a wonderful article with some remarkable detail. I’d like readers – not just the Walsall Wood Massive – to help here, please. Names, please, and recollections if you have any. Any suggestions as to the location of the back garden photo would be most welcome. Dates would be great for any image, particularly in relation to that fabulous bicycle.

Mr. F. Bradbury could pass for a Hipster in any modern city

My huge thanks to John and Paul – I’m seeing some really high quality stuff coming through at the moment and this is stunning. Cheers so much. Material like this is what keeps the blog rolling and I’m forever grateful – and to David Evans, of course, who took time to visit John and chat.

Comment here, please, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Colliery Band

A terrific phot, and it has to be said, beautifully scanned. See text for details – It’s the Walsall Wood Colliery Band otside the Ebenezer Chapel Sunday School, Walsall Wood in the early 1900s. A wonderful image courtesy of John Anslow.

Hello again, Bob.

My brother, Paul, and I have been going through boxes of family photographs and scanning the best ones into my computer; if we find anything that might be of interest to you we’ll send it along. We shan’t be in the least offended if you don’t use it: you know best what is likely to appeal to your readers and whether or not it might trigger a discussion.

Some of the pictures date from as far back as the 1870s, and, as you know, many have strong connections with Walsall Wood (for example, Streets Corner, The Royal Exchange and Dairy Farm).

One album, containing some of the earliest photographs, belonged to out great-grandmother, Hannah Eliza Jackson (née Street, 1852-1935) who lived at the Thatched Cottage on Streets Corner. (See ‘Under The Thatch’, 23rd February 2014).

David Evans inspected some of the photographs when he visited Paul a few months ago and we don’t want to encroach on anything he might be preparing for you. That particularly applies to the set of images I’m sending today, which are to do with The Walsall Wood Colliery Band, about which David is obviously very knowledgeable.

The first is a group photograph of the Band, taken outside what was then the School attached to the Ebenezer Primitive Methodist Chapel on Lichfield Road. The date on the building is 1908, and the flat hats with their overhanging eaves, the bowlers, the straw boaters and the collars of the young men on the right suggest around 1914 to me. David might be able to offer a more precise date.

The second shows two bandsmen, Bill Tams and Jack Marigold, though we don’t know which is which; neither do we know where the photograph was taken. There appears to be a structure going diagonally up from the wooden outbuilding that could help with identification, though it might just be a trellis. You can spot Bill and Jack in the group photograph: they are on the front row, on either side of the bandmaster and the august gentleman in the centre.

Jack Marigold & Bill Tams

Two proud and smart bandsmen in a garden, but where? The image is of Bill Tams and Jack Marigold, but which is which, and where is this? Any help greatly recieved. Image kindly supplied by John Anslow.

Our grandfather, Harry Newbould (see Cattle Class, 30th April 2014) is the trombonist in the second row, fourth from the left, standing below and slightly right of the funereal gentlemen with bowler, moustache and winged collar.

Harry’s elder daughter, our Aunt Doris, was born in 1910 and told us that one of her early memories was of her father playing with the band; so that would seem to confirm a date of around 1914. The only puzzle is that for a building erected as recently as 1908, the facade of the school seems very grimy; the brickyards, however, were less than a mile to the South West and the smoke carried by the prevailing winds could have blackened the structure within a few years.

Also on the photograph is David Stickland, who Paul thinks might have been a cornet player, possibly the fellow next-but-one to the minister on the back row. Paul was at school with David Stickland’s grandson, also a David, who sadly passed away a few years back.

Our grandmother, Mary Jane Newbould (née Jackson), did point out the Colliery Manager, Mr. Bradbury, in the photograph, but neither Paul nor I can recall which he is. I have included a photograph from our great-grandmother’s album of Mr. Bradbury as a young man but, although we have studied both pictures, we still can’t identify him in the band; perhaps one of your readers might help.

I had always thought that the young Bradbury was showing off his new bicycle (quite a status symbol in those days) but Paul suggested that, as this was obviously a studio picture, the bicycle might simply have been a prop just as people pose with Harley-Davidsons today.

Mr Bradbury

Mr F. Bradbury and his rather super bicycle. I think the bike is his – he’s clearly a young, fit man; it looks like a fixed wheel sporty ‘young mans’ bike with only a front brake. I suspect the bicycle to be fixed wheel. The chain is of an early, wide pitch type, the tyres are solid rubber and the mud on the inside of the mudguards suggests it to be well used. The shine suggests it’s well loved. It’s also adjusted to the gentleman’s height, and bears what is probably a Brooks saddle and toolbag. This was an expensive, nippy steed, a bit like a sports car would be today. A great image from John Anslow.

We should like to put a date to this photograph; someone knowledgeable in the history of bicycles or costume of the late Victorian era might be able to help us. I know from reading ‘The Diary Of A Nobody‘ that cycling was popular with what were then described as ‘the lower-middle classes’ around 1889, and the illustrations in the 1892 edition show men dressed similarly to Mr. Bradbury here.

This table lists F. Bradbury as under-manager of Walsall Wood Colliery in 1896. (We assume this was the pit known locally as ‘Dry Bread’, which was somewhere behind where Barons Court stands now.)

We don’t know why Mr. Bradbury’s photograph appears in the album or if there was a connection between the Bradbury and the Jackson families, but the album also includes pictures other folk who appear to be local dignitaries. Mr. Bradbury was clearly someone of local standing, though our grandmother was not impressed and dismissed him as ‘a bit of a monstink.’

I hope this will be of interest, Bob; we’ll send you anything else we think looks suitable in a few weeks’ time.

Best wishes,

John Anslow

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28 Responses to A bit of a monstink…

  1. wozelbeak says:

    Cracking read, and “Monstink” brings back memories of something my Gran would often say. I shall use the word more often.

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a big thankyou to Paul and John Anslow for these wonderful images, and to yourself for the excellent presentation. I hope readers will be able to provide names in due course…and you never know, some of the instruments may still exist! This blog and its readers never cease to amaze me!!
    many thanks
    David.

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    Great stuff again!
    As you know I tend to focus on genealogical matters. I’ve found a number of men named Frederick Bradbury, but they were coal miners. The young man in the picture may have gone on to be an under manager after 1911?
    I suspect the pouch under the saddle contained a spanner and puncture repair kit. What purpose did the lugs on the front forks serve?

  4. Clive says:

    Great photos from John and Paul Anslow, its great to see some local history that may have been lost in time if it was`nt for there efforts. Big thank you to you both and to Bob too.

  5. Pedro says:

    Well is it FJ Bradbury?

    Several mentions in the Archives, and will report back.

    There could be a link to another article, the laying of foundation stones of the Primitive Methodist Chapel…

    “On either side of the front entrance door were the stones of Mr Reid and Mr FJ Bradbury, of Brownhills, while the other stones…”

    I don’t like that chap Reid!!

    More to follow.

  6. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    A quick reference to Brian Rollins book, “coal mining in the north east section of Walsall met. Borough”, page 66, shows the Aldridge colliery on the South side of Coppice lane and and East side of Brickyard road and this colliery was known locally as Dry Bread Pit :1874-1936.
    Walsall Wood Colliery, 1874-1964’page 70, is shown in Walsall Wood,where Lindon Road and Coppice Road meet, and this collierywas known locally as the Coppy Pit.
    One of Ruth’s recent postcard article shows the Dry Bread pit

    Regards
    David

  7. Pedro says:

    The man with the bike could well be FJ Bradbury.

    1899 Member of the Norton under Cannock Local School Board.

    Probably concerned with local politics (maybe Liberal) from around 1893. In 1896 he won the election to Central Ward with 341 votes and served on the BUDC up to at least 1915.

    1893 involved with the B’hills Early Closing Football team, and in 1903 chairman of B’hills Utd Football Club.

    1907 shown with JP after his name.

    1901 Served as foreman on an Coroner’s Inquest Jury.

    1911 noted on the Lichfield Board of Guardians committee.

  8. Pedro says:

    Mr FJ Bradbury seems to have been strongly associated with the Primitive Methodists as in 1891, at the laying of the foundation stones at the new Chapel in Walsall Wood, he had an engraved stone at one side of the front entrance. On the other side was a stone engraved for the “infamous” functionary HG Reid of Warley Hall.

    See David’s article “Build it and they’ll come”…

    http://brownhillsbob.com/2013/11/03/16387/

  9. John Anslow says:

    (i) monstink

    I’ve heard this word used with slightly differing shades of meaning throughout the county. It can describe a man who is arrogant, self-important, overbearing or imperious; for example, heard during a heated exchange between a working man prodded by someone who was clearly using his assumption of superior knowledge and authority to “pull rank”:

    “Do yo come the monstink wi’ me. Yo just mind who yo’m a-pokin’ ”.

    (ii) Thanks, David, for the information about the collieries. I’m only sorry I didn’t discover this blog until after my father had died: he knew the names and locations of all the pits and brickworks in the area.

    (iii) The evening after I sent Bob these pictures, I was watching the 1948 Fred Astaire and Judy Garland musical, Easter Parade. It is set in 1912 and at one point Fred and Peter Lawford wear boutonnières exactly like the one worn by the distinguished looking gentleman with boater and cane in the centre of the picture of the Colliery Band. It is, I think, a white gardenia, which must have been the buttonhole of choice for men of substance in those years before the First World War.

    I do wonder, after reading Pedro’s contribution above, if that man is actually F. G. Bradbury: he would be about the right age and certainly looks like a local worthy.

  10. Andy Dennis says:

    In the Newspaper Archive I found notice of the wedding in 1905 of David Arthur Bradbury eldest son of Councillor F J Bradbury. They were easily found in the censuses. Frederick John Bradbury was born in 1851 and lived close to The Wheel Inn. In 1871 and 1881 his occupation was miner, but after that he was an agent for Prudential, living at Chester House, High Street, Brownhills. There is no hint of a management role at a colliery. This is surely not the man with the bicycle.

    Cllr Bradbury had sons named Frederick (b. abt. 1878) and Frank (b. abt. 1892). The latter seems a more likely candidate, given the apparent vintage of the photograph.

  11. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    the Ebenezer time capsule, 1891 includes the Primitive Methodist Circuit Preaching Plan for the Lichfield Circuit…Walsall Wood Ebenezer was one of these churches. There are 47 Preachers listed, plus 3 auxiliary preachers,and 12 Prayer Leaders. Mr FJ Bradbury’s name does not appear in this list, though there is a Mr D Bradbury, of Brownhills noted..
    The circuit stewards were a Mr W Street( from Norton, I think) and a Mr S Lees of Burntwood.
    The two “Society Stewards” for Walsall Wood were Messrs T Tatton,and E Langford
    This seems to suggest that Mr F Bradbury’s association with the Ebenezer Church may have been merely as the visiting deputy manager for the local coalmine, who had sat with the VIPs when the bigger Ebenezer opened in 1891, and visited the Church at some time after 1908..or indeed when the 1908 Sunday School was opened in 1891 and appears in the photograph.
    The Brownhills Old Brass band had attended the 1891 Grand Opening( and paid no more than ten shillings). Perhaps Walsall Colliery Brass Band joined in the 1908 Sunday School building grand opening celebrations..with Mr F Bradbury, and his cane and swish boutonniere…. and surrounded by serious-looking bandsmen!
    There is no mention of a Mr F Bradbury in Cynthia Dunne’s blue covered “History of Methodism in Walsall Wood”

    kind regards
    David

    all of the above -mentioned materials are archived in Walsall Local History Centre

    • Pedro says:

      As Andy has found above the F Bradbury with the bike is almost certainly not the F Bradbury that appeared on the foundation stone of the Chapel. As you say, he may have been the leading local dignatary, being on the Council, School Board and board of Guardians. But why he did he have such an important place for his stone?

  12. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    oops..battle fatigue. The Sunday School was opened in 1908, not 1891.
    Apoligies
    Age and all that!
    Time for a herbal tablet and cold damp cloth
    David

  13. John Anslow says:

    Here’s an interesting site, Bob:

    http://www.oldbike.eu/museum/

    If you select BIKES 1800s then 1886-1889 and 1890, you will find bikes resembling the one in the photograph.

    Almost all have projections from the front forks, and in some of the photographs it is clear that they are for resting your feet on, presumably so you could freewheel with that fixed-wheel drive.

    The Raleigh catalogue is well worth a read: many of the models are equipped with “foot rests and step” though what the step is, I’ve no idea. It also prints “points for cyclists” and testimonials. The one from Major Knox Holmes is a delight to read:

    “….. when at the age of 74 he found himself getting too infirm for walking exercise, he took to the Tricycle, upon which he still makes runs of between 20 and 30 miles a day, although he has passed his 82nd year. With fairly good roads and a low gear, there is no exercise equal to tricycling for elderly gentlemen or so certain to keep them in health and prolong life. This probably accounts for the surprising number of tricyclists above 70 years of age who have been riding about Brighton this month.”

  14. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    The issue of Mr F Bradbury’s prominent stone!…..British History online. Walsall Wood Colliery ( only a couple of hundred yards away from Ebenezer,) also made bricks..”opened in the 1870s and closed some time between 1916 and 1937″,
    The Ebenezer church minutes show that a Mr F Bradbury was on the committee who steered the building. July 10th 1888 he promised £2 0s 0d……the donations promised list is extensive and comprehensive..
    In 1908 the committee organising the Sunday School building shows a committee member Mrs J F Bradbury, promised £5 5s 0d
    So it seems that it was useful to have the nearest coalmine/brickworks manager on the committee…..another of Walsall Wood’s noble traditions, I expect

    regards
    David
    I do hope that some of the band’s beautiful instruments are still being played!

  15. Andy Dennis says:

    Have you ever tried catching your pedals at speed? This would be dangerous in the extreme! Bob, I’m sure that at some point (only once) you lost your pedals and feared for your life as you tried to regain control. Having said that, I never rode a fixed gear bike, so I can understand the rush from hurtling downhill at speed when you can’t pedal fast enough. Thank goodness for the freewheel and the rat-trap!

  16. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    There is still in existence the commemorative trowel “presented to Mr and Mrs J Hudson on the occasion of the stonelaying of Walsall Wood Primitive Methodist Schools..dated 23rd July 1908″
    .Mr Hudson was the village draper whose shop was on the HIgh Street. A well-dressed gentleman?I know that my grandfather was a flortist in this band in 1911/1912, …but he is not in this photo. Aldridge Colliery had donated £10 to the fund. Walsall Wood Colliery had donated none. There is no stone bearing the name of Mr F Bradbury, but there is a stone bearing the name of Mr and Mrs Hudson, who had donated £10.

    kind regards
    David

  17. Pedro says:

    Are we sure that it is the Colliery Band?

    Several mentions around that time of the Walsall Wood Brass Band under the leadership of Levi Hood.

  18. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    a flea in my ear! My grandfather played his flute in the Clayhanger Fife and Drum Band. Brass bands dont have flutes! The two named members of this brass band were coalminers and lived in Walsall Wood at the time of the 1911 census. The Sunday School opened in December 1908…
    kind regards
    David

  19. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Pedro poses a super question…is this the colliery band? I have recently been able to see another Brass Band photo , in the private collection of a well-known history chap.. which shows a fuller figure Mr Bradbury seated in the front row of the brass band, and sitting, this time, by the conductor. The legend on the big bass drum shows the words.. first line;-xxxxx not clear, but a letter A first or second letter…and the word possibly too long to read Aldridge..hence likely Walsall Wood ), second line reads Colliery Brass Band.
    What is striking about the second photo is the absence of moustaches ! (legacy of wartime service requirements?) and there are more bandsmen in this second photo!
    kind regards
    David

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