Ticket to ride

Brownhills Sankey Ticket

What a wonderful piece of ephemera! Beautiful, high-quality scan by Lawrence Hodgkinson.

A lovely enquiry for the Bank Holiday weekend came in a couple of days ago courtesy of reader Lawrence Hodgkinson, who has submitted a beautiful scan of a rather unusual ticket stub from a railway special excursion in 1952.

I’ll let Lawrence explain:


The attached scan is of a Sankeys W.M.C. Half Day Excursion railway ticket from Brownhills to Colwyn Bay in August 1952.

This is number 285 and for a Juvenile under 16. As the tickets were specialy printed for this excursion, presumably there were at least 285 people on the trip.

Can you perhaps find out more about this trip? Do any of the children who went on this trip still remember it? There is a Sankeys Working Mens Club at 166 Lichfield Road, Brownhills.

There used to be a Working Mens Club in Lichfield Road near the station, but I don’t know if it was called Sankeys.

Perhaps there was more than one Sankeys Working Mens Club. Was Sankeys Corner at Chase Terrace named after a WMC?

Lawrence Hodgkinson

Now there’s a corker of a challenge for the holiday weekend!

I’ve said before that clubs were at the very heart of Brownhills life for years, and Laurence is correct – the Sportsman (now demolisted) was built as a W.M.C. and known as the ‘Top Club’ for years, as well as the Middleton House which was, I believe, the Bottom Club and in-between, Sankeys. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

I have no idea of the derivation of the name Snakeys Corner, and if it’s related. Anyone?

Thanks to Lawrence for a real boster of a question, and for sharing a beautiful artefact. If you can help, please do – either by commenting here, or mailing me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.


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Lichfield Waterworks Trust – August public meeting this evening


Sandfields Pumping Station – a great historic building with immense history and social significance – not just to Lichfield, but to the Black Country. Lichfield Discovered and local historian Dave Moore are fighting to save this valuable asset for the community.

Sandfields Pumping Station champion and public historian extraordinaire Dave Moore has been in touch to let me know that this evening (Thursday 27th August 2015) there is a public progress meeting for the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group.

It takes place at the Duke of York pub, Greenhill, Lichfield from 7:30-9pm.

Dave wrote:

Monthly Progress Meeting of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust, formerly known as the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station.

Thursday 27 August at 7:30pm – please note the new venue

The meeting place is;
Duke of York
23/25 Greenhill
WS13 6DY

T: 01543 300 386

The Lichfield Waterworks Trust is a Community Incorporated Organisation, registered with the charities commission who are fighting to save the Grade II* listed building know as Sandfields Pumping Station for the benefit of the community.

The unique 190 Hp Cornish Beam Engine and building area magnificent monument to the lives of the people who died in the black Country during the mid ninetieth century due to the cholera epidemics. It also celebrates the achievements of the Victorian water engineers who gave clean water to the nation.

English Heritage has designated Sandfields Pumping Station as a building that has ‘more than special interest’, hence the reason it has been listed at Grade II*

Unfortunately, what some see as Lichfield’s most significant pieces of Industrial Heritage, a true hidden gem form the past is now a building at risk.

All are welcome to become involved in this challenging but rewarding project.

Excellent food and drinks are available in the bar.

Minutes of the July meeting of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust

Forging Ahead how museums are interpreting industrial heritage

Do pop over to Dave Moore’s blog and check out the history of Sandfields Pumping Station, an almost forgotten gem – the group also has a Facebook page.

Dave is, of course, one of the leading lights of Lichfield Discovered, along with Kate ‘Cardigan’ Gomez from Lichfield Lore.

It’s great to see people like Dave encourage a better attitude to our historic buildings, rather than that which we seem to have here in Walsall, where we regard heritage architecture as merely ‘fuel’.

Please do attend if you’re able, it’s sure to be enlightening and educational.

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Heritage Gathering coming soon!


A wonderful day out in store for all! Image from Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust have been in contact to let me know about their Heritage Gathering which is coming up over the weekend of 18-19th September 2015, and takes place at their Huddlesford base, near Lichfield.

There will be boats, vintage and classic vehicles, stalls, food, displays and all the usual fun and games. This is a great show and previous years have been excellent, and well worth the visit.

All funds raised will help support the canal restoration project, whose volunteers are currently beavering away on the route of the lost line between Barracks Lane, Ogley Hay and The Boat restaurant, on the Lichfield Road at Summerhill, opening the route for walkers.

If you’re into history, canals and craft, keep that weekend free!

Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust wrote:

Heritage Gathering Highlights Vintage Boats And Classic Cars


Image from Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

Huddlesford Heritage Gathering promises a boatload of fun for all the family.

Organised jointly by Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust and Lichfield Cruising Club, the Gathering, to be held over the weekend of September 19-20, brings together historic boats, floating traders, private boats and classic vehicles, with exhibitors and displays on the field, near Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal.

The biennial event attracted almost 5,000 visitors in 2013 and organisers are hoping for similar numbers this year.

Floating traders will be offering everything from chocolates to cheese, antiques to home brew kits, while traders on the field include facepainting, clothing products and home-made food.

Among the exhibitors are a bird of prey centre, beekeepers, and demonstrations of crafts such as spinning and photography.

Emma’s Crafty Kids will be catering for the needs of the younger visitors, while other attractions include boat trips and rides on a traction engine.

A variety of musical entertainment will be on offer, including folk groups, shanty singers and a ukulele orchestra.

And there’s an all-day bar!

Huddlesford Heritage Gathering will be open to the public on September 19 and 20, from 10am to 5pm. Admission is £4 with children under 13 free if accompanied by an adult.

Car parking is free and there is free admission to the classic cars display.

For more information visit the Trust website at http://www.lhcrt.org.uk/hhgnews.htm.

If you can help get in touch with the Trust on Twitter @LHCRT1, on Facebook or on their website.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, cycling, Environment, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, planning, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catch San Brett live on the radio tonight – live from Brownhills!

Just a quick post to highlight that friend of the blog and queen of the Brownhills Full English San Brett will be live on 2ndcityradio.net tonight (Wednesday 26th August 2015) from 7-9pm – tune in on line at the link below.

2ndCityRadio.net – listen along live here

San’s show is on tonight and every Wednesday!

San, of course, owns San’s Kitchen in Silver Court, a popular local cafe where she engineers a fine butty, but San is also a great laugh and is sure to be hugely entertaining on air, whilst also playing a whole variety of music.

Tune in if you can, San’s a star!


Sounds like a great show!

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Just plain daft, Local media, Local music, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



Imagine finding that on the bog seat. Image from the Wolverhampton City Council twitter feed.

A bit of a departure, but this is an article of been longing to run since I received it a couple of weeks ago, but sadly ongoing current affairs prevented it. However, I’m proud today to feature Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler’s latest piece of historical investigation.

Peter, as regulars know only too well, has a remarkable nose for sniffing out the actualité behind some of the often wayward or downright incorrect assertions of more… establishment historians.

This time, Peter stays with mining, but wanders over to Dudlaaay to investigate a rather remarkable fossil that’s recently been in the news. I’m hoping this might open a wider discussion on the matter.

For those inspired to visit this excellent exhibition ‘The Riches Beneath Us: The Black Country’s Amazing Rocks‘ it’s on at Wolverhampton’s Bantock House from now until Sunday 15th November 2015. It’s absolutely free, and Peter tells me he enjoyed it very much.

I thank Peter for yet another wonderful piece of historical investigation. Being able to feature his articles is an honour, and makes running this blog a joy and pleasure. After the last grim week it’s good to get back to what we do best.

Right, pick the bones out of this… Peter wrote:


Bannock house: a jewel that’s well worth a visit. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Coseley Spider; not a spider, and not from Coseley!

Hi Bob,

Many things that I respect about the Blog, from a local history point of view, can be summed up in your article from March of 2012, Echoes… Lets think a minute.

Probably one of the touchiest subjects to discuss can be local folk lore. So as not to offend your locals, I would like to question the so-called Coseley Spider, which many already know was not really a spider, but I maintain that it didn’t really come from Coseley.

I had never heard of the Coseley Spider (eophrynus prestvicii… lets call it EP!) but had an interest in Parkfield Colliery, and the forgotten fossil forest that used to be present there. I went along to the exhibition at Bantock House where some specimens from the former fossil forest were being shown. I was surprised to learn from the Wolverhampton City Council:

Experts say the first (EP) was described in 1837 and the second – nicknamed the Coseley Spider – was discovered in 1871 at the former Parkfields Colliery.

The Parkfield Forest was first described by a chap called Beckett in a paper of 1845, but I could not recall any mention of EP. The Dudley Geological Society made a field trip to Parkfield in 1877, but again no mention of EP.

Well, the Coseley Spider turns out to be quite amazing, being among the first terrestrial predators. A recent tomographic reconstruction by Dunlop and Harwood can be seen here…

And for detailed description see their paper here.

The above paper backs up all that I had found about the history of the fossil except for the location of the find. The fossil was discovered by a fellow called Hollier from Dudley and handed to Henry Woodward, who was the Curator of the British Museum. Woodward classified it as EP, and wrote about it in the Geological Magazine.

Now the above paper says that Woodward reported that the fossil was found from the Coal Measures of Coseley, Staffordshire. But at a meeting in Wolverhampton of the South Staffs and East Worcestershire Institute of Mining Engineers, October 1871, the Woodward report was discussed and it was referred to as coming from the Dudley Coal Measures.

Luckily at the very next meeting in November the man himself was present.

The members expressed their surprise and pleasure at the sight of the very perfect fossil, and high praise was awarded to a pair of casts taken from it by Mr H Woodward, who is also the curator of the British Museum, and laid upon the table with the originals…

…Mr Hollier said the fossil was unique so far as that district was concerned. The authorities of the British Museum were very anxious to have the fossil, and if they did, he hoped he would have a number of casts to give to local museums and his friends…

…Hollier said that the fossil was formed in the clay ironstone nodules of the district, and more attention should be given to the inspection of these nodules, in order that they might discover other specimens which were, up to this time, supposed to be found in the Shropshire coalfield alone. In stating that the fossil came from the south west of Dudley, he added that it came from the ten feet binds ironstone, immediately overhanging the thick coal.

If my geography is correct Coseley is due north of Dudley! So how did it come to be known as the ‘Coseley Spider’?

I believe that the term is quite recent and as Parkfield was at one time in Coseley, before boundary changes, it was erroneously thought to have come from Parkfield.

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Knaves Court open day and fete this Thursday!

Knaves Court: a great facility at the heart of the community.

Knaves Court, the elderly person’s housing complex in Brownhills near Anchor Bridge, are holding an open day and fete this Thursday, 27th August 2015, and everyone is welcome to attend.

It funs from 11am until 4pm, and could be just the thing to keep the kids busy for a couple of hours as the summer holiday draws to a close.

There will be stalls, face painting, food, bouncy castle for the kids, tours of the complex, music, raffle, tom bola and all the usual favourites.

It’s now five years since this wonderful community facility opened, and it’s well worth a look – the staff and residents are a lovely, welcoming community.

I look forward to a great event.

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Aldridge, The Great War – A post from Linda Mason


Aldridge Manor – a building with a remarkable history

I’ve been very interested in the following project, which fellow local blogger and top online pal Linda Mason has posted on her blog – I’ve taken the unusual step of reposting the entire article here to give it the maximum exposure possible.

If you want to support this remarkable project, please do – either contact those involved directly or mail me and I’ll pass your enquiry on.

Linda Mason wrote:

Aldridge, The Great War and The Aldridge Auxiliary Convalescent Hospital at The Manor House

I have mentioned the Aldridge Great War Project before. Today, I learned of a fantastic new aspect to the project that I want to share with everyone and I do hope that you share and can participate too. It’s not too onerous to do so!

If like me you are interested in the history of Aldridge Manor House, then this is for you. You may or may not know that during The Great War, the Manor House became Aldridge Auxiliary Convalescent Hospital for injured military personnel.

This is the text from a leaflet produced, which due to technical difficulties I cannot replicate as a separate form however, if you do want a copy of the form please email me at taxwizzardATgmailDOTcom and I will happily send you a copy.

270, Walsall Wood Road, Aldridge, Walsall WS9 8HB

In 1915 local people came together to provide a military hospital at the Manor House, Aldridge. 100 years later the Aldridge Great War Project is asking for your help to record the remarkable story of the Aldridge Auxiliary Convalescent Hospital. It is a story of sacrifice, dogged determination and triumph in the face of adversity; a story of ordinary people and their response to an extraordinary situation; a story of which we can be very proud and one which deserves to reach a wider audience.

In 2013 we received copies of documents relating to the Manor House from the family of Dr. T. Boyd Stirling. It is these documents which will form the basis of the book. The Aldridge Great War Project would like to give local people the opportunity to subscribe to the publication in order to fund the cost of printing. It is also possible to subscribe as a business, group, society etc. The book will:

⦁ Be A4 in size.
⦁ Contain seventy original documents, letters, postcards and photographs
⦁ Be given to all local schools and libraries as well as local archive repositories.

We would appreciate a minimum donation of £20 for each subscriber who will:

⦁ Receive a copy of the book delivered to any U.K. address.
⦁ Have the opportunity to have the copy signed if they wish.
⦁ Have their name and address included in a list of subscribers at the back of the book under the following heading: ‘In 1915 local people came together to provide a military hospital in Aldridge. 100 years later we are grateful to the following people who have subscribed to this book and thereby enabled this fascinating story from Aldridge history to be told.’

Should the money raised from subscriptions exceed the cost of printing any surplus will be used to further the aims of the Aldridge Great War Project. Details of money raised and spent will be published on our website or can be obtained by writing to the address above.

If you feel able to support this unique publication by subscribing to it please complete the attached slip and return, along with a cheque made payable to the Aldridge Great War Project, to the address above.

Alternatively return the attached form via email to aldridgegwp@outlook.com and make your donation to the AGWP bank account Acc. No. 27717760. Sort Code 77 31 09. Subscriptions close 25th September.

Thanks for your support. Sue Satterthwaite and Len Boulton Mob. 07982027256
Tear here

Name (Individual/business/society etc.)


Contact number/email address

Donation (minimum £20)

Would you like your name and address to appear in the list of subscribers? YES/NO/NAME ONLY

Would you like a signed copy? YES/NO “

I’m told by someone who is proof reading this book for Sue that it is a great read and very interesting. If it’s anything like the other books that Sue has written about the history of Aldridge it will be fantastic! Sue has made a wonderful contribution in recording aspects of the history of Aldridge. Subscriptions close 25th September so hurry!

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