What’s this stuff about, then?

I often get questions about why I do this – I’ll do my best to answer them here. If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Who is BrownhillsBob?

I’m a resident of Brownhills, and have been since childhood. I went to school here and have seen the best and worst of times in the town – I remember the busy High Street of the 70’s and the bad old days of the recession in the 80’s. I remember chips from the chippy in Lichfield Road, Ice Cream from Joes and wanting a bike for Christmas from Wood’s bike shop. I remember the tip in Clayhanger, the flooded Spot and the slag heap near Clayhanger Bridge, summer barbecues at the big house in Clayhanger and the Carnival when it usually rained. The smell of the pig farm and the chemicals from Effluent Disposal. Gordon Roberts, his strop, cut-throat and Trugel. Coppice Radio and Preedy’s. Freight trains rattling through a summer night, Harper’s busses and the sound of motorbikes from the raceway…

I’m a middle-aged tech geek with a love of cycling and the outdoors; I care passionately about people, the environment we all share and the social stuff that glues us together. I do a job that makes me think about how things work, and have an inquisitive, argumentative nature. I know what it’s like to be a carer, and what it’s like to struggle and only just survive.

I love Brownhills, it’s my home. I despair of what is happening to it. I worry about the future of the girl-mothers and teens drinking in the high street.

I’m concerned about the motivations of those who make descisions on our behalf, about their judgement and lack of foresight. I fear for the future of local democracy.

If you knew my identity, it would probably come as a surprise. To quite a few people.

Why the unpleasant pictures of the town on Google Earth?

Why are you so negative?

Why don’t you post pictures of fluffy kittens instead?

I’ll tackle these three together. I notice, whilst pottering about my daily life, things happening that rarely, if ever, get recorded. Some things are quite major, and never get noticed because they happen incrementally. Some things are just too dull for many people to bother about. Some require a keen eye to spot the irony that led to them. Some things are so outrageous that a team of scriptwriters couldn’t make them up.

I try to record some of these things; just a fraction of them, as well as lots of nice stuff I see. As I write this today, there are 484 photos in the BrownhillsBob Panoramio Gallery, with about 450 reviewed by Panoramio; of those, about 440 have made it through to appear as blue dots on the Panoramio layer in Google Earth. Of all those photos, around 60 relate directly to Brownhills, and only about 30 of those could be considered to be provocative. I have posted these photos because I feel they illustrate something I care about – be it fly tipping, dereliction, planning madness or pomposity. Each one has an attached comment that I feel sums up the reasons and feeling that led to it’s posting.

Panoramio, like this WordPress blog, is an open medium and anyone can sign up and comment, disagree or call me a plank. That’s fine, I’m doing this to increase awareness and provide a talking point. If you feel you can do better, I encourage you to take pictures of your own and upload them, the more the merrier. I want this to have a positive effect, to encourage debate and thought.

I’ve actually taken and posted pictures of Brownhills and the other areas I visit that I think are beautiful; Brownhills is on the edge of open countryside and it often shows in it’s wildlife and greenery. Who’d have thought you would se deer in Holland Park?

One further reason I do this is because, well, some things are just dull and often go unrecorded. Would anyone photograph the demolition of an old factory? I did and it’s had over 500 full-screen views. I don’t know why, I wish I did. I record the passing of the ugly – the flats, their demolition was momentous but little recorded. As a generation, we need to start recording stuff, because it’s actually part of our collective history, but we don’t realise until it’s too late. Try finding any history of, say, Clayhanger’s refuse tip, The Railway Tavern, Combes House or Highbridges shunting yard if you don’t believe me. I recently tried to find pictures of the derelict Walsall Wood railway station and turned up next to nothing. That’s what I’m banging on about.

What is it with the Parkview Centre, then?

It’s ugly, based on an inappropriate original building to which utterly unsuitable extensions have been added in an effort to make it work. It’s in the wrong place, tries to fulfill too many functions and has been constructed with unpleasant, clashingly cheap-looking materials. In order to address the issues with the split level of the site, the main entrance is in a dingy central alley from the rear. It’s the worst kind of utilitarian, make do and mend cobblers design. As a resident of Brownhills, I didn’t vote for this and wasn’t asked about it; it exists in this form due to the hubris of a few who were desperate to revive the past function of an ugly, white elephantine building that nobody wanted.

We needed a new surgery, and a new library. We needed better health care facilities. Why couldn’t we have had a new, custom-built building in the centre of town? Handy for all areas from the buses, that spot where there exists wasteland between Pier Street and Swan carpets – I’m sure the garage could have been persuaded to move out. The community could have had a new heart.

While we’re on the subject, running the doctors as three separate practices in the same building says much about why the NHS is so top heavy with management…

…And the Brownhills Miner?

I like the miner a lot, as do most of the residents of the town. It’s an interesting sculpture which rightly attracts a lot of acclaim.

I find two things slightly irritating – he wouldn’t have been wearing a hard hat when Davy lamps were used, it would have been a flat cap; and the pick is wrong – no pick I’ve ever seen is shaped like that. Those niggles aside, Morris is great. Morris, not Jigger; I’m sorry, but he was christened long before Walsall Council tried to weakly cash in on the popularity – after all, they played it down until they realised what a hit he was.Now they use a thumbnail of Morris as an icon for their Twatter feed…

Morris did, however, cost an awful lot of money, and I’m not convinced of the benefit – and the £30K+ cost of lighting him up – which is dismal and looks like a cheap Christmas decoration – all leave a bad aftertaste. It hasn’t led to any perceptible improvement or a single job being created, but he is nice.

Since the brilliant “Angel of the North’, any local authority seems to see commissioning a sculpture as an act of easy regeneration; it’s not and the Angel wasn’t born like that. Hopefully, the fad will pass and we’ll go back to real local investment.

Local councillors and LNP/comittee bods, why the derision toward them?

Several do an excellent job, most of the time. Some have done good things on occasion. Some are there to serve their party, their group and their own interests. Some, on occasion, have said absolutely outragous things about situations, their perception of which are clearly so far from reality that one suspects them of having just landed from planet Tharg.

Some use the term Regeneration as if it were some kind of disease that we’re hoping to catch – check out some of the comments on my gallery. They are so infected with municipal development phrases that it’s obvious who posted them. They’d be funny if they weren’t playing with real money. ‘Planning permission achieved’ my arse…

Remember, none of these people were elected by a majority of their constituents; they are mostly complete amateurs and make decisions about how to spend large amounts of your cash, with little experience of development. We need to keep an eye on what they’re up to.

So why don’t you have a go if you’re so much better?

Thing is, I’m not. I’m not a people person and committees drive me mad. I couldn’t represent other people, I’d be useless at it. I’d rather agitate for a change in the current system than be part of it, it’s rotten and has failed us. Look at the state of the town today.

Cheesy, corny and often odd photo titles. Why?

My first experiment as BrownhillsBob came from the community layer in Google Earth (the little blue ‘i’ symbols) and I worked out that if you gave placemarks odd names, users were more likely to click on them. It’ a simple as that. I try to inject a little humour, which often doesn’t work; many of the odder ones are from song titles or lyrics. They always relate to some aspect of the photo content. Some are very, very obscure. Sorry. Google can often help if you’re curious. It gets hard to be original somewhere around the 300th photo.

Which are the most popular photos in the BrownhillsBob gallery?

…but coming up on the outside, without the advantage of being some of the oldest:

How do I contact BrownhillsBob?

brownhillsbob at googlemail dot com



84 Responses to What’s this stuff about, then?

  1. Dave J says:

    I shall say no more after this,than a superb blog and information.
    It made me realise all over Walsall people are right peeved about their area and know nowt about whats going on elsewhere,which weakens all our cases in complaining. Our Councillors and overpaid brother Sheehan can easily divide and keep us comfily in the dark.

    Thanks DJ.

  2. Dave E says:

    Great Interesting Read For “local People” I Enjoy The Rambling About The Bhills Area In Pertic!

    Fantastic Images To Accompany The Information, Look Forward To The Next Updates ! :-)

    Dave (A Brownhillian, & Proud Of It!)

  3. Schwannschwein says:

    I read your blog every day, Bob. Loved the stuff about the High Street past and present…Always a great read ..and more informative than the local press. Keep it up, mate !

  4. Arkrite says:

    Lived in Lindon Rd, opposite Clay hangar, as a lad in the late 50s/ early 60s. Brownhills always did look down at heel and unloved and I was glad to leave for the green fields of Shropshire.
    However as I have gotten older I realise how much history I walked past every day. Honest stark history ,not the chocolate box stuff I am surrounded by now. Time moves on and the planning office has not been kind to Brownhills. I drove through a few years ago and I admit I prefer to live where I do than on the modern estates in Brownhills.
    Brownhills Bob do not join the Establishment. Stay outside shouting throught the letter box and being an annoyance.It may be in vain but you will know in your heart you have tried your best for Brownhills and it deserves a champion.

    regards ..arkrite.

  5. Chill says:

    Only located you recently and have found your thoughts both interesting and agreeable.
    I praise your articulation of those thoughts and wish you well. I hope to contirbute from time to time as a resident of Pelsall since 1957, and a musician from the 60’s.
    You are so right that the memories of the past need to be documented. More strength to your elbow.

  6. ShireOaker says:

    Great Rag,
    I grew up on Shire Oak Hill through 60’s, 70s and 80s, depressed to see how Brownhills has changed.
    Keep up the good work Bob

  7. Ed Dawes says:

    Hi all,

    I am producing a feature on life working for Walsall Council and need to find someone willing to talk to me.

    It’s basically about the how the person uses the services the council provides, about their job and with the cuts being announced on Monday… how they’d feel if they lost their livelihood.

    My email is ed.dawes@bbc.co.uk and 07881921889

    Please call me…


  8. john webster says:

    just read your blog. thought it was a real person seeing things as they really are.(not like our local councillors with thier rose tinted glasses) keep it up.. i look forward to more from you…

  9. Les H says:

    Hi Bob,
    Not having been home for abound 40 years reading your blog has made me think it has been far to long. Things have changed buildings have gone and the miner has been sculpted. Your word and photographs hit the mark and I thank you for taking the time to do it all.
    Keep up the great work and I will keep on dropping in to see whats new.
    Regs from a long lost local living in Tasmania.

  10. Andy H says:

    Hi Bob,
    I am looking for any old pictures of the old Hoveringham Quarry, on Chester Road, which has been Tarmac’s for the last 20 years, anything is of interest to me, especially any lorries leaving the now closed entrance. Thanx . andy@rallymodels.co.uk

  11. cheryl hirst says:

    hi bob,love looking at your blog every week some of the things you put on take me back to my youth in brownhills. with reference to the photo from 1967 of millfield school football team, i can give you a few names as my brother is on there!! some i recognise but cant remember names.
    back row: middle in goal..john tarplee
    middle row;paul yeomans (my brother), end of row:philip reeves?
    sitting on floor left: mick davies
    teacher with glasses was mr davenhill
    hope that helps a bit

  12. darren symes says:

    Hi BOB, Just a short note to let you know in a national competition run by the ” BEST OF ” Brownhills had 4 winners.
    Most loved ladies fashion shop in the uk GLAMOROUS
    Most loved skip hire co in the uk BROWNHILLS SKIP HIRE
    Most loved doll shop in the uk SUZANNE LEWIS
    And finally in my category
    Most loved butchers in the uk DARREN SYMES BUTCHERS

  13. mike sarsfield says:

    Hi Bob, I like the site, although I have been away from Brownhills since 1959, when I moved to Swansea – where I live now. Most of my memories are fairly good. I lived in Lichfield Road No20 which backed on to Great Charles Street. [ now a car park I believe]. After a brief time in St Josephs infants school – Chasetown, my mother moved me to Ogley Hay infants. I still have relatives living in and around Brownhills, but as I see from “Google” map so much has changed. My Grandfather, Jack lived for many years in the cottages in Wharf Lane, between the Bridge, barge pony stables and the Railway crossing. I often used to visit Mr mercut the Gate/ Crossing keeper. – sadly all gone now.
    As for High Street, my mother worked in Willetts shoe shop, I am still in touch with Ian Hancock who’s family ran it. I rember Poxons the butchers, their slaughterhouse used to back on to Great Charles Street, I used to play with the son and daughter of the manager, Parkers – an Aladins cave, much better than todays supermarkets. Salts fish & Chip shop on High Street. Saturday morning Kids picture show at the local cinema. Favorite treat – Selwyn Smiths Ice Cream.
    At the top end of High Street [ Council House end] was a small sweet shop which I knew as Auntie Daisey’s. On a Sunday Dad would take me to visit my Uncle Bert, who was a signal box man at Brownhills, I remember dad getting a row of mom for taking me there – as I was covered in black grease – wearing a white romper suit.
    I have returned for visits whenever I can, but my wifes state of health restricts this. Your site keeps me in touch with the past – Keep it up, you are doing a good job.
    Mike Sarsfield.

  14. Alison Maxam says:

    Hi Bob

    I’m hoping to produce a book/exhibition later this year to document people’s memories of Walsall Illuminations (it would have been their 60th anniversary this year). I’d like to hear from anyone who either visited or worked on them – e.g. as an electrician, fairground operator, caterer, ticket ripper, gardener, trader, St John’s Ambulance helper, entertainer, park & ride driver, designer etc. We’ve set up a Facebook Page where people can post their stories/photos. Please look for ‘I Remember Walsall Illuminations’. Keep up the good work! Thanks

  15. bryan denham says:

    i’m 65 and live in the isle of man BUT i was born at 57 Clayhanger Lane and lived there for many years until it was pulled down and obliterated. There is absolutely NO indication now that there was a community there at all, NOTHING.
    I am trying to re-call the road that WALSALL WOOD cemetry was in, my grandparents are buried there but again there is no indication of where the grave was, well there wasn’t when I visited twenty years ago.
    Could anyone help with the road name please?

    All the very best, Bryan Fletcher Denham.

    My Pop, (grandad), was a collier at walsall wood colliery.

    • stymaster says:


      It was Cemetery Road originally, now called Brookland Road.

    • maurice ivor birch says:

      The name of this road is Brookland Road, and the cemetery gates are opposite to where the old Palace Cinema once stood, (The Blood Tub) to day there is a more modern part of this cemetery but i don`t think it is used for burials any more. Kind Regards, Maurice, Ivor Birch, lover of local history, especially Aldidge and surrounding areas, internationally published poet, and sketch artist, lived in Aldridge since birth (1941)

  16. chris smith says:

    Hi Bob , remember me from Knaves Court last year. We are doing really well now. Just thought i would tell you we are doing a Cold Carvery/ Buffet for the royal wedding in April. The tickets are £5. and it starts at 12. 30pm, Hope to see you there. regards Chris xx

  17. robert houghton says:

    hi bob’ great to have found your website i went to brounhills boys school in the 60s and the head master was mr massey had a lot of respect for the man even tho he gave me and my mate allen dennis the cane the very first day the deputy head was mr smith who was the history teacher is there any one who was at the school at this time keep up the good work

    • Pete Leek says:

      I had the pleasure of Mr Massey’s cane on more than 1 occasion even worse tho was Smithies whacks. Always had good memories of our old school

      • Hi pete didnt smithy use a white slipper and the art teacher for got his name use a ruler across the nuckels good old days robert houghton

      • steve jolly says:

        SHi Bob I was at brown hills school in that year and remember those teachers well and that cane and smithy’s motorbikes great site living in france now good memories Steve jolly

      • steve jolly says:

        Yellow Pete I can remember u from the pub the hussey arms you were in a class above me i remember Dave stretton Steve Jones Leslie statham noel joslyn l remember the cane and slipper and Mr henstock pulling your sideburns ha should bring it all back I now live in the South of France but have fond memories of bronhills and area yours Steve jolly

  18. mike sarsfield says:

    Hi Bob, as you know I left Brownhills for Swansea in 1959. After I married, my wife and I moved to a small town called Loughor. The next town is Gorseinon, distance similar to going from Brownhills to Ogley Hay. In Gorseinon when we first arrived was a Garden Nursery named “Brownhills Nursery”, since then the ground has been sold, but the new housing estate is called BROWNHILLS. It is nice to know that a little piece of “home” is here in Wales near to me.

  19. Tina Hill says:

    Well what a find. I was looking for something else and found your blog. Brilliant.
    I was raised on Clayhanger till the age of 13, then moved to Hednesford. My family moved back to the rising sun area a few years later.
    I, also read your blog with interest, saying to myself .. OOOOhhhh, I remember that, and that.
    I now live in Lincolnshire, And visit my Mom regularly. I went into Clayhanger from the pelsall road, and I didn’t recognise it at all. Where my sister used to keep her horse, all the feilds, gone, and houses on it. I can remember when they built the new primary school, I used to go to the two room one attatched to the church, which was knocked down. we lived opposite Wickson’s shop. I remember when Mr. Wickson got his first taxi, and we used to put our odd change together to get him to take use to the Memo for the friday night disco, because in those days there were no transport to brownhills.Then he got the coaches.
    I also remember, before the housing estate was built near the track, it was a caravan site.
    I used to go and wave to my grandad who used to drive the train from the pit.like everything else, they shut it.
    I must add, I remember the fete at the big house, And the tip. but I spent many a hour sliding down the slag heaps on a broken bread tray from Mr & Mrs sings shop. what fun we had.
    I have been doing my family tree and found out that my grandad and his family used to live in the Beehive down Hall lane, and I used to walk passed it every day going to work and never knew. I have some great photos of them all out side it.
    Thankyou for the memories.

  20. Regy Goring says:

    On the subject of Chasewater, Cyclists and Dogs:

    Hi Bob and thank you for a brilliant take on Brownhills and our local area.
    I confess to being from Norton Canes although as child I used to visit Brownhills market (souk) with my mother and also play in the car breakers yard in Clayhanger Lane (now covered with houses), with the son of the people that ran it. His dad used to tell him off for bringing his mates to play in old scrap cars but it was great fun if a little dangerous; then off to his cousins house further up the lane for sausage and tomato sauce sandwiches, never tasted better.

    Back to the main reason for my reply.
    As a keen cyclist, you will no doubt have been accosted at some point by those arrogant, ignorant and dangerous idiots who think charging past other cyclists at close quarters without announcing there presence is fun. I frequently cycle around Chasewater (Norton Pool) with my 9 year old son and after many near misses was finally T-boned by one of these idiots. Luckily I was able to brace myself for the impact and neither me or bike suffered physical damage. The whole incident was over in 5 seconds and the idiot continued charging on his way without a care. I cant help thinking how things would have been far worse had he ran into my son who would have been seriously hurt if not even killed.

    About 10 minuets earlier another idiot had charged passed me from behind missing by inches. The guy was built like an all England rugby player riding an expensive looking ATB and wearing some serious biking kit, but the most vital component missing from his bike was a bell. After narrowly missing me he charged on and was bearing down behind my son who was approaching the metal gate on Chasewater Heath. Fortunately at that very moment my son, who had no idea the idiot was so close, decided to turn away onto a different path avoiding a potential disaster.

    As cyclists we all know it is very difficult to hear other cyclists when they approach from behind. Why are some people so careless and ignorant to the danger they put not only them selves but more importantly, other people. All they need do is announce their intention to overtake by either speaking or ringing a bell.

    Another ‘pet’ gripe is the people who allow their dogs to run into the path of cyclists. Last month my son was thrown from his bike on Chasewater ‘batter’ just past the ‘peak’, when a dog who’s owner could clearly see us approaching, allowed him to run across and straight into the front of his bike. Fortunately, my son was only slightly hurt as he had sensed the danger and slowed down in an attempt to keep well away from the dog. The owner as usual was indifferent and the dog thought it was all good fun and bounded away wagging his tail completely unscathed. As a result, when approaching dogs be they loose or on a lead, we now follow a procedure where my son, who is usually ahead of me, slows down and follows close behind. This way if the dog gets all excited and decides to run across our path, with my extra weight and bigger bike, I can run the dog down and hopefully teach it and the owner a lesson and next time hopefully they will keep their dog under control. Sounds harsh I know, but why should I care when the dog owners only care about their dog and don’t give a toss for me or my son. I used to be very fond of dogs and had them as a child. I used to consider myself a dog lover, but having seen all the mess they make and the trouble they cause, frankly I don’t think there worth it.

  21. Regy Goring says:

    Regy Goring my arse…

  22. Having married a Brownhills chap, and living there myself for a few years I shall certainly point my husband, Melvyn and his brother Brian in your direction, they are forever reminding each other about Brownhills past! Only yesterday Brian sent us a photo of the miners statue. We now live in Dorset but Mel (Nobby Williams) says hello to all who know him.

  23. Just noticed that Linley woods are for sale with a asking price of £50,000.
    not sure of what use they could be used for but the description mentions possible cave diving/ outward bound uses, subject to planning permission.

    • Monna says:

      Have you seen the you tube clips of the divers in the underground caverns in Linley Woods . I spent my chidhood in these woods and was amazed to see the caverns that go from the woods to park lime pits and Rushall Lodge all the way to the Walsall.

  24. Ad says:

    Dear Bob and Other BrownhillsBob’s forum Members,
    May I take the opportunity to say how interesting and informative this blog is. I’m looking to move into Clayhanger soon and I’m a little concerned about historical flooding issues you described in one of your articles “Clayhanger – The good old days”. In another article (“Circling the drain”) you explored the likely drainage system solution to the flooding problem undertaken by the authorities in 1950s. I would be extremely grateful if either yourself or anyone on this forum could advise and reassure me if the problem of flooding was resolved in 1950s and there haven’t been any flooding incidents ever since (I’m particularly interested in the area of Clayhanger Lane about 100yrds away from Cooperative shop).

  25. steve saich says:

    Hi Bob
    Read your blogs with great intrest and got talking to my father in law Edward Rushton who still lives in the area and got talking about shops in the High street,see if these names jog any memories if you walked down the high street from the bridge towards the Anchor the shops on the left were
    Brewes bakery,with cake shop
    National provisinal bank
    Florrie Bagnall-drapers
    Timothy Cooper-grocer
    Alf Gregory-shoe shop
    Reginal Harding -draper
    Jessops -Chemist
    Jack Jones -fruitier
    Mick Bladon-sweet shop
    L Poynton-sweets shop
    Eddie Denning-outfitter
    A .E.Poxon butchers
    Central cafe
    F W Parker-Butchers
    Willets-shoe repairs
    Willets-shoe shop
    Midland Bank

    Cross Church Road

    Howard Bradshaw -butchers
    Masons -fruits
    B.A Hardwick-grocery
    Len Sadler -gents outfitter
    Woodhouse -undertaker
    Tisdale-wet fish
    Rogers -fruit
    Gerge Bradbury -ladies fashions
    Jack Princer-builders merchant
    Wimbush -cakes and bread

    then a row of houses

    Claude Cook -dry cleaners
    bread and cake shop
    Jones -jewellers
    Birds Jewellers
    Dakes -fish and chips


    Brooks- outfitters
    Haywards -Haberdashery

    cross over Bricklin Street

    Fletchers -ladies and gents outfitters
    Latham -dentist

    then cross over theHigh street and walk ack towards the Bridge.

    Roinsons -ice cream
    co-op store -with the labour exchange above
    Brittanic Assurance
    Ernie Bevan Hair dresser
    F.W .Cater tv
    Roerts -builders
    Cyril Kingston -shoes
    Holmes Fruit
    Leister-shoe shop

    cross Pier Street

    Palace Cinema
    Barkers -Garage
    Florrie Cox-pawn Broker
    A Lookham-sweets
    Tomlinson-news agent
    Anne Seedhouse-chemist
    Cockram-seed merchant
    Mount Zion-Chapel
    Gas showroom
    Regent cinema
    Alan Bird-Butchers
    Saults-fish and chips
    Frank james -fish and fruit
    Browns-ladies hairdressers
    Bevan -toy shop
    Turf accountant
    George Philips-grocer
    station hotel
    Rupert Craddock-estate agent
    and finally
    Brownhills Market
    Hope this jogs a few memories of establishments of the past which graced the high street,only fish and chip shop take away then .

  26. Pingback: Shop ’til you drop « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  27. steve myatt says:

    hi bob ,steve myatt here ,,reading your coments ,,,,,about old brownhills,,,,,,,remember plenty ,,,,seen a coment from rob houghton ,went to school with him,ne lived bailey and humphies house need a photo of b/hils railway station and l lichfield rd about 1910,,,,,keep it up ,,,s myatt

  28. So I never realised your identity was a secret, I have been following your posts with great interest and your photographs are great and of interest to me as you have quite a few on Google earth where I am, your posts are a joy to read and the videos you have been posting are really great, also its good to read about the history of the places you talk about. Keep up the great work bob! And I will be looking out for you!

  29. Mike says:

    Is there anyone out there who remembers way back in 1955/6 a Troupe who appeared on the piece of land in front of the band stand opposite The central school. From memory they were called he Traber rens troupe. some of the children came to Central for a couple of weeks while they were doing local shows. They erected a big pole and a motor cycle climbed up the wire. They collected money in buckets. I remember hundreds of people being there, watching the shows.

  30. Pingback: Bird on a wire « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  31. wardysgirl says:

    Really enjoyed reading your article Bob. I am a relative newcomer to Brownhills, only lived here for just over 7 years, but love it! We have many friends who have lived here much longer and update us on ‘how things were’, which we enjoy. Keep up the good work, having stumbled across you whilst looking for ‘what’s on in Brownhills’.

  32. kathy bull [cooper] says:

    does anyone remember the old silver court shops when it had scarrotts field behind it ,am trying to trace anyone who remembers my great grandads ironmongery shop ,it was all changed when they built new shops and flats there.

    • kathybull says:

      I remember the avenues, I went to ogley girls school,do you know, a Janet,Jose,jenny,beryl,Dennis,Michael,ray,kenny o Wilson myat woodcroft onions Buckley hynze Rodgers heath cornfield Watson bob flow are we close.b

  33. Mike says:

    Hi Kath,
    I am trying to remember the shop which your on about. remember the one on the corner of Silver street. was this the same one or not?.I also went to school with a Will Scarrett any relation. I lived in second avenue from around 1955 prior to that we lived in Pear Tree Lane, Brownhills West I went to Watling St Juniors and Central Boys, but my brother and sister went to Ogley Hay juniors( Central and Ogley Girls)
    Mike Stackhouse

  34. kathy bull [cooper] says:

    hi mike thanks for the reply i had a cousin called billy scarrott and i think that maybe my grandads shop were abouts was silver street ,also what no second avenue did you live at i lived at no 12 next door to woodcrofts i was born 1950

    • aerreg says:


      as part of my lerning this key board world the name bull has stired some thorts was dennis bull a relative he lived down catshill he was an old school mate of mine a verry nice chap the last time i saw him was at raf padgate burrring the natiunal service days we were 18 years old i knew his mother she was in alice holymens darby and joan choir alongside my mother and mother i remember the choir well it achieved quite a high standerd in the choral world and gavegreat happinesi happy days and memouries i also went to school with billy scarret and gerald anderson inew the whol

      e familys round the aveneus god blessfrom aer reg reg fullelove bem

  35. Mike Stackhouse says:

    Hi Kathy,
    We lived at No.5, next door to Mrs Brownridge (4) and Mr Onions (6) I actually lived by the Woodcrofts when we lived over the West. COLIN, BRIAN etc..You would def know my sister as she was born in 49. I will go into my head when i’m not busy to see what i can come up with. Speak soon
    Regards Mike

  36. kathy bull [cooper] says:

    thanks again for replying so quick i lived at no 12 as i said before whats your sisters name my real dad was george kelly and sue kelly is my half sister i was bought up by my grandparents since 1981 me and my hubby have lived in cornwall just across the river from plymouth iam trying to find out what happened about g/grandads shop as the council arnt being very helpfull and they are the ones who built on it oh happy days spent growing up in the avenues what you doing with yourself know adays .

  37. Mike says:

    My sisters name is Jean, and i am sure you will know her from a child. She went about with Merle (the daughter of the people who kept Breezes Club which was on the Coop corner(Middleton House) and moved into Lichfield road where the Bungalow was) You know when i started to do this to you, i knew the name of the people who lived in the bungalow, but its gone right out of my head! When she left school she went to work at the Maryvale convent, Kingstanding. She got married and went to live in Birmingham. She has 3 children and at least 1 grandchild.
    I am retired now, had 4 children (1, Martin died a few years ago and left a wife and 3 children) I am writing a journal about my childhood, as when Martin died i realised that the kids wouldn’t know anything about his life or that of his family. So at least there will be something for them including a family tree. How i wished that i had spoken to my grandma as a child, so that i could have learnt more. I may put it in a blog( well i am toying with the idea!) Be in touch

  38. kathy bull [cooper] says:

    i think i do remember your sister odly enough i am also writing a book i have had such a lot of things happen to me in my life some high some low i still visit brownhills now and then the last time was about 3 years ago,but its not the same is it ,my hubby is from hednesford i was married before but got divorced long story but am very happy now and have been for 35 years he is a gt man but we have some very good friends here and when we talk about things we have seen and done they say you should wright a book so i am trying to my real dad george he loved the gypsy ways as our greatgrandad was a part romany gypsy this is why i am interested in his shop as also the land behind it went right down to the canal and the fairs would stay there in the winter its not to find any money just to know he wasnt fiddled as often was the case they couldnt read or write ,i often look up the avenues on google maps i had such a gt childhood and so much to write about you have to admit there were some real charachters there,my old friend who was jenny whitbrook she lives at no 1 the old bentons house,i was telling my hubby about mr brownridge and all his clocks and he repaired shoes oh i am sorry for going on anyway its great to actualy speak to someone who knows what i am on about speak again soon i hope. kathy .

  39. mrs kathy bull says:

    anyone who lived in the avenues from 56/70 would be lovely to chat to you on here i was called kathy cooper then at no 12 sue kelly is my half sister .

  40. mrs kathy bull says:

    sorry another question i was born in brownhills high street just past what used to be caters electrical i think there are masonettes there it was called st James square or the nick name was metts does anyone remember it or have a photo it was in the 50s Kathy Bull [was cooper]

  41. june bowen says:

    hello kathy, i remember st james square, or metts as we called it, i remember georgie kelly living there and scarratts, and whitehouses, who i am related too, mosedales, barnards and nanny dovey lived on the front. my uncle and auntie had the corner shop, it was a general store. outdoor and florist. over the high st, opposite, was elkingtons paint shop, were mr elkington always wore a( karky cowgown) overhall. and on the other corner was toffee roberts paper shop. i used to live until 1990 the other side of new road next door to foys shop. brownhills is still part of me

  42. kathleen bull [nee cooper] says:

    thank you for replying i am so excited your the first person to say they new metts beside the man who wrote the book on brownhills you wouldnt by any chance have a photograph of metts would you and do you still live in brownhills we moved to cornwall in 1981 but i have a lot of memories of home we have just been up to brownhills for 4 days but it has changed ,my birth father george kelly passed away about 5 years ago my birth mother was called elsie cooper but she died at 22 with TB i was adopted by her parents my granparents nell and gerald cooper i lived all my life in the avenues,i am trying to put together a book so i am researching my back ground my god father was a man called chad ball did you no him, i remember all the old shops in the high street did you by any chance no my mom elsie ?oh sorry so many questions ,i look forward to your reply and thank you again .

    • craig says:

      Hello kathleen. just thought i tell you that my dads family was from b hills.our name is anderson ,i believe dad lived in the avenues ,i also know he knew your father.The four brothers had a scrap yard in clayhanger.

      • maurice ivor birch says:

        Hi Craig, i knew a Mr Bob Anderson originally from Clayhanger, and remember the scrap yard vividly, he once lived in a house at Knights Corner, Brookland Road, Walsall Wood which was also a petrol station, he used to sing at local free and easies, The Four Seasons at Shelfield, the B.R.D.club, in Aldridge, The Struggling Monkey on Northgate Aldridge was the last time i saw him and shortly after this i learned that he had passed away he could tell you a tale or two and hold you spell bound, i believe his sons or relations still have a thriving scrap business in Lichfield Road, Brownhills, nice man, shrewd and clever.
        Maurice Ivor Birch

        • ade reid says:

          Dont know if this is of any relevance but when we lived in brownhills my father worked at a scrapyard in Wharf lane Brownhills.The chap that owned it was called Bob.My father used to recount tales of his time there,remembering when Bob set himself on fire when using a welding torchand was badly burnt,and also he kept a goat which would attack anyone it didnt know.dont know if its the same fella but you never know…

        • Hi maurice my dad may no he work at the brd and went in the monkey his name is harry houghton i will ask him my name is robert houghton and use to go to brounhills central now live in the usa.

        • craig anderson says:

          thankyou Mr birch he was a nice man and he and my dad tought me everything I know .

  43. Catherine says:

    Loved your blog William, don’t know Brownhill at all but it sounds similar to my hometown , Warrington , I love the North West , not so much for the scenery but the warm hearted people who live there !

  44. ade reid says:

    we moved to brownhills in the early 60s.lived in chapel avenue(back of the whitehorse pub).went to watling street JMI.who could ever forget Mr Preece, Mr Rowley,Mrs Jones,Mrs Whitworth etc.used to play in the ” fuzzogs” (the wooded plantations bordering the A5.)I well remember the old Chasewater trotting track,and the time I think they had a few speedway meets there??Went to Brownhills Central for 12 months,Mr Smith was the Headmaster.then went to the Comp.Who could forget Mr Massey,Shepherd,Ayre,Asbury,Jarrett.Good times…Used to drink in the “Mutton” (springfield bitter 38p a pint,when John and Di had it).Remember The Station Hotel,The Warreners,The original Anchor?Happy times spent with some good mates,Shawy,Dezo,Reg,Sid.Bill, “Brownhills Skins”Still remember the high street and its shops,used to do a paper round at Downes Newsagents.Moved away in the early 90s after getting divorced.still get back to have a look round occasionally but its all changed now.The memories are still there and always will be but not the Brownhills I knew and loved They call it progress I suppose…..shame!!

    • morris james says:

      i worked at lew ways for a while though i’m from cannock we used to go to the friday night discos at the railway,people i knew like chris jackson,martin punchin used to be there

  45. kesa says:

    GDay Bob I stumbled across you rather cool blog while searching my family history. Turns our most of them were coal miners from Brownhills and Essington Woods. I am hunting for any old photos of Hope Cottage Road Ogley and the Primitive Methodist Church in Brownhills any ideas where i might be able to find them I am in Australia so cant visit.
    Thanks Aussie Cynic aka Kesa

  46. Pingback: Where there’s Hope | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  47. kathy bull [nee cooper] says:

    a message for craig from kathy bull [kelly] thank you for answering its allways nice to chat to someone who new my birth father george kelly he was a great chap and one of the best dog breeders around i think but not really sure he had somsthing to do with a scrap yard many years ago i wish i could find photos of where i was born [st james square brownhills ] but doesnt seem to be any i grew up in second avenue reared by my grandparents my father died a few years ago and when we visit the midlands as we live in cornwall its not the same i used to love to visit him he was well known for his charachter but he would never put anyone one down any way thanks again for answering if you had any more information i would be glad to no it .

  48. kathy bull [nee cooper] says:

    does any one remember a gentleman named CHAD BALL from brownhills i would like to find out all i can as he was my godfather in the 50s and only met him a couple of times also do many people remember my dad george kelly my name was kathy cooper [nee bull]

    • pauline bradley says:

      kath,my name is pauline smith i lived in the avenues in the 70,s i knew your dad and sue your sister because i lived in 3rd avenue. sues daughter lives in my road in the high heath area pelsall.i remember most of the people that lived up the avenues at that time.( mrs winters,mrs heath,mrs simpson etc).hope to hear from you soon pauline bradley.

      • kathy bull [nee cooper] says:

        hi pauline thanks for answering i havent had time to speak to our sue we usually tex each other every weekend we wer up there last october ,its our cheryl who lives by you ,i gre up in the avenues i was born 1950 went to all three brownhills schools left 1965 i lived at no 12 second avenue i also remember the heaths ,the gills the woodcrofts oh theres lots i allways call bhills my birth home its changed such a lot i google it quits often and look at my old house on google maps ,me an my hubby moved to cornwall in 1981 as the work went down hill at that time ,i used to go to the memo dance on a monday night i was a big mate of patrick heinz also benny heath and a lad called lukey who i think is still alive i miss our sue but we allways chat on the phone it was a sad day when my dad george kelly died every body loved him he was a real charachter my maiden name was kathy cooper ,i will allways miss brownhills and the avenues we all new each other and growing up was great my hubby is from hednes ford ,i hope you keep in touch it would be great to hear from you thank you for answering by for know .

  49. Paul Evans says:

    I’ve been working on a blog / site using old photos of Warwick. It’s a labour of love collecting the photos and little stories to go with them. I hope you and your would like to give it a look and possibly add it your blogs that you follow. http://www.warwickexposed.co.uk

    Thank you.

  50. Ade Reid says:

    Hi Ya”ll.just been driving through Brownhills en route to parents in Norton Canes.Got to be one of my saddest times ever.stopped off at what used to be Brownhills Cricket club and spoke to some dog walkers.wheres the cricket club gone,how long has it not been there? Nobody seems to know,just seems to have dissapeared..The Whitehorse pub seems to be in a state of disrepair.The Whitehorse Road,Chapel street/avenue all looks overrun.Something seems to be happening with the apartment blocks opposite Howdles lane.Every spare inch(centimeter) seems to have been built on.It still seems to be the forgotten corner of Brownhills,but now every house has at least 4 cars on the drive/road and speed humps as well.I moved out of Brownhills in the early 90s to a quiet corner of Stafford.But have seen the winds of change develop and now am being encroached on by developers and the dreaded HS2.What is it with consecutive governments that seem hell bent on destroying what we had and what worked .You cant keep building on green belt land and call it progress,progress for who,not for me thats for sure.I suppose at my tender age of 50 that im not gonna see too much of what happens in the future,but im damned sure that my kids would have liked to have seen some of the times/memories that I had when growing up !!! Oh well Im sure when I get that lottery win I can fulfill my dreams and move my wife,10 springer spaniels to a deserted island in the outer hebrides and the government in power at that time can KISS MY ARSE……..

  51. hi kathy my dad did know george and i also remeberd him stocky with blonde curly hair great guy. robert houghton.

    • kathy bull [nee cooper] says:

      hi rob thanks for answering me i think everyone in brownhills new george he was a special charachter he bread dogs all his life and was very good at it my sister sue lives on the chase road we get our love for dogs from him allthough i was bought up by my grandparents long story i loved george to bits we live in cornwall and its not the same now wen he isnt there wen we go to the midlands hope you dont mind but wat age are you i lived and grew up in the avenues but brownhills has really changed hasnt it,my hubby is from hednesford ,anyway dont want to bore you be nice to speak again .

  52. Brenda Ward says:

    Hi Bob
    Do you have any details about the Brownhills Festival for 2013 please. I can’t find anything anywhere. You commented last year that they were operating in a “bubble” as there were fewer boats than the year before. Well ….. I am associated with Longwood Boat Club, Birmingham Canal Navigations and the local Inland Waterways Association and none of them knows anything about it either. Maybe it’s not happening this year!!

  53. kathy bull [nee cooper] says:

    does anyone remember the old silver court from the 50s/ early 60s my great grandad had an ironmongers shop on the end in the winter the fairground would stay on his land behind the shop be interested to speak to any one who new g/ grandad my name is kathy bull []cooper ] i grew up in the avenues

  54. craig anderson says:

    hi kathy bull just to let you know the Anderson family had relations called Norgroves who ibelieve lived in the avenues derrick Norgrove and first wife was floss

  55. kathy bull [nee cooper] says:

    hi craig i remember the norgrove family at school was marion also i think an older sister called nancy but i thought they lived down ogley road.
    unless they had relatives in the avenues.

  56. kathy bull [nee cooper] says:

    does anyone remember the juniors school that was in brownhills you started in the infants then across the road to the juniors then across the road to the girls school ,remember mrs ivy mr head mr horton the head master ,oh happy days be good to speak to any one who went i was born in 1950 so between 55/65 ,my name is kathleen bull [cooper].grew up in the avenues .

  57. kathy bull nee [cooper] says:

    i recently visited brownhills and my family what a shame half the shops shut and the precinct ,no market who killed brownhills never saw any one i knew but it will allways be my home and i am very proud to be a brownhills girl just a little sad .

  58. kathy bull says:

    hi iam trying to send a message to laura the lady enquiering about the barnets lane cemetary well i lived at no 12 second avenue from 1950 to 1970 when i got married growing up with a cemetary was a bit scarry as a youngster but i can say it was the best years of my life when you drive down barnets lane and the houses on the right have been there for years but when i was little there was an old house by where the gates to the cemetary are and i visited the old lady all the time she was called miss barnett when a funeral was on she would open and close the gates,she new my mom and dad she was a lovely old lady she made me laugh if her tea was hot she would pour it in the saucer and blow on it ,her kitchen was an old scullery with just a cold water tap but i loved to go and visit ,i would go through the bottom of our garden ,well if you do move into no 12 i hope you are as happy as i was all those years ago all the best [kathy bull ] was cooper then .

    • aerreg says:

      barnets lane was my play ground the barnets family were very popular there was also a row of cottages there the meacham family come to mind Iwent to school with ron the end cottage was occupied by the fennels the son bob wanted to become a jockey . the fieids around the memo belongd to oliver twist a farmer he would walk a cow from lichfield auction with ernie breeze I still have their drover stick .the memo was a medical unit during the war Iris arnold and george c
      ews come to mind scabies was around due to the fear of air raids folk sle pt in shelters not ver y hygeneik .there were two full size snooker tables up stairs kept 5 star by frank biggins well used sixpence a game roland thompson was the junior headmaster miss hall the girls .anotha memory .fishers coblers shop and smith the smithy finaly stop me and buy one walls ice cream and the renown selwyn smith and yo yo plumb ca still taste it in my mind.

  59. aerreg says:

    I HAVE just spent a while browsing coments on the buildings of lichfield road and at 84 years what memories havebeen stired iwas born and reared in lichfield road and met and married my late wife brenda who was also born and reared there reg fullelove and brenda hayward the avenues built by cornish tin miners was my playground oposite suttons shop the memo was part of my life dad was tthe secretary until the end of his life infact it became our life thenames Ihave read are still young in my mind the andersons my school pals metts was a reality billy scarrat a school pal edwin ruston another school pal the gospel hall geogh ducket sammy heath down catshill MR DEANS SWEET shop florrie cox pawn shop the salvation army jack turner at the regent bck seat one nd nine kelly bevan hair dressers massie cockrom idas cook shop I could go on and on thank you for a lovely afternoon god bless from reg fullelove BEM AER REG

  60. mickysix says:

    Message for Kathy Bull, I hope that your botook is coming along fine. I gave up on mine and put it on a blog which BB has been plugging for me. if you would like to take alook then look at BB blog and he has a link to stickymack which according to mebro takes you to my blog. You will have to pick out what you want to look at as i do various things, Cars, Buses, My Life and others things. I hope that you find something there to interest you.

  61. Shirley Abbotts says:

    I have just been reading your blog with interest. I lived in Brownhills as a child and rember the time well. One of my favourite memories was when Aunty Jean and Tingah and Tucker the tv koalas visited Millfield Road infants. Has anyone else memories of this?

  62. Heide says:

    Nice blog! I wonder if anyone here can help me to fill in the bare-looking spaces on the Birmingham Readers Map. It’s really to cover the midlands area as much as possible, showing people the local places that feature in stories and poems. It’s a bit sparse over your way, but I’m sure there are things there, I just need to find them!

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