Wood ‘n’ heart – a new book out now!


A new history book for Walsall Wood, by a local man. Some wonderfully off-beat stuff in here – and only £8. What’s not to love?

The young David Evans has kindly alerted me last week to a new history book on Walsall Wood, written by local author Clive Roberts who’s a lifelong Walsall Wood mon™, local historian and occasional contributor to the blog.

It’s a great follow up to Clive’s previous work ‘Snippets of local history in and around Shire Oak‘, which went down well with locals and soon sold out.

I asked Clive to send me a few words on his latest book, and he had this to say:

Hello Bob.

I’d just like to let you and the readers of the blog know that I have a new book on sale, its called Snippets of history in and around Walsall Wood.

Some of the subjects I have covered in the book include how Freizland Lane got its name, the lost Walsall Wood Institute, some local football teams, a few post cards of Walsall Wood, Walsall Wood folk up before the bench, the history of the Wheel Inn pub, plus lots more.

The book can be purchased from: Egans shop, High Street, Brownhills, also Walsall Wood Library and the Corner Shop, Friezland Lane, Shire Oak.

There are some books at Walsall Local History Centre as well.

In total there are 79 pages of history.

The book costs £8.

Best wishes to you Bob and the readers of the Blog.

Clive L Roberts

I haven’t got my copy yet, but when I can procure one I shall review it more extensively – but from what David was telling me, it really is rather good. I loved – as did so many of you – Clive’s detailed and thorough work on Shire Oak, and expect the same high quality research and personable style will be evident.

I will repeat this until I’m blue in the face: grab these local history books while you have the chance. There are so often printed in short runs, and soon become rare. I get continual enquiries for past books, and people end up paying fortunes for them on eBay and the like once they’ve sold out.

Thanks to David and Clive for letting me know, and look out for my review later in the week.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hunting Lodge

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1905 postcard, sent to Aldridge Lodge. But what of the place? Image kindly donated by Ruth Penrhyn-Lowe.

It’s often the case when compiling the blog that unconnected threads spring at tangents from original articles – and so it was last week when I featured Ruth Penrhyn-Lowe’s excellent scanned postcards in the awfully titled ‘Overcome with emulsion’ post.

One of the cards was addressed to a Mrs. J. Harrison at Aldridge Lodge, Walsall, and a quite involved and interesting comment thread sprang from it.

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Back in it’s day, Aldridge Lodge was quite some place, as this extract from the 1884 1:10,000 Ordnance Survey mapping shows. Click for a larger version.

As sometimes happens, a passing local historian chanced upon the thread – and Lynne Ingram, Secretary of the rather excellent Lynn and Stonnall Conservation & Historical Society is somewhat coincidentally giving a talk this Wednesday about her own research into Aldridge Lodge.

How serendipitous is that? Just lately, everyone is talking about synchronicity…

Lynne wrote:

Hello Bob.

For the past 2 years I have been researching Aldridge Lodge and have just noticed a postcard on your website – whenever I find something new I get quite exited – how sad is that!

However, I just thought you might be interested to know that I will be presenting this ‘hot off the press’ research for the first time at the Lynn & Stonnall Conservation and Historical Society on Wednesday next.

The talk takes place at 7:30pm Wednesday 22nd October 2014, at the Youth and Community Centre in Stonnall to which you, or indeed anyone who may be interested would be very welcome.

Information about Aldridge Lodge over the centuries has been incredibly difficult to find but after 2 years I feel that I am getting to the bottom of it.

However, it is still relatively sketchy and I am hoping that people who attend the meeting may hold some keys to unlock some of the mystery.

Would it be possible for you to ask the lady who supplied the scanned image of the postcard of Aldridge Lodge if she would agree for me to keep a copy on record – not for use in my presentation next week.

With regards

Lynne Ingram
Lynn and Stonnall Conservation & Historical Society

I’d point out at this point that the Conservation & Historical Society are a wonderful group of dedicated historians who do this stuff thoroughly and well, and I have great respect for them. This talk will be well worth popping along to.

Thanks to Lynne for the heads – it just goes to show, you never know where a post will lead…

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Often, really interesting comment threads evolve from only tenuously connected subjects. It’s why I love doing this and it’s all good. Postcard scan generously supplied by Ruth Penrhyn-Lowe.

Posted in Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Walsall Wood own Sphinx


Some great football happening at Oak Park these days…

Walsall Wood FC were at home to Coventry Sphinx yesterday afternoon (Saturday, 18th October 2014), and were back on stonking form with 90 minutes of wonderfully entertaining football, in which they beat the Cov boys 2-1.

Bill Shaw has submitted an excellent match report, as he always does – thanks, Bill!


Bill sent this report:

Hiya Bob,

Back to winning ways with local lad Scott Cooper (the quiet man of the squad) hitting an absolute peach of a goal to give us all 3 points.

Walsall Wood 2 V 1 Coventry Sphinx

A nightmare start for Walsall Wood, keeper Dutton saving bravely at the feet of Max Black. The ball  was then despatched into the Wood half, Giovanni Dainty running from right to left across the face of the Wood box before laying the ball back to Luke Downes, 25 yards out to hit a rising drive into the top corner.

Jack Rooney put a back header inches wide of his own goal on eight minutes and then five minutes later Harry Harris lobbed the visiting keeper, the ball again the wrong side of the post. Drew Aiton then found Harris in the box on 17 minutes, his low drive bringing a full length save from Dutton.

Rooney [not Mr. Potatohead himself, surely? - Bob] turned provider on 21 minutes, powering forward from halfway and putting Rikkie Cutting in on goal, his low drive bringing a superb full length save from Mario Kisiel.

Wood equalised on 57 minutes, Ben Evans fading across the face of the Sphinx box from right to left before finding Aiton, who cut inside and hit a vicious low drive that Dutton at full stretch pushed away. The defence couldn’t get the ball clear, Black pouncing to fire into the roof of the net.

Then 11 minutes later, a goal that would have graced any football ground in the world, from a right wing corner the ball was half cleared to Scott Cooper 30 yards out, he flicked the ball up into the air, turned and then hit an absolute screamer into the top right hand corner.

Walsall Wood could have added to their total but were almost made to pay at the very end, Sphinx raced out of defence, the ball was crossed into the right of the box, substitute Adam Bilic timed his run to perfection only to fire a first time effort into orbit.

Three well deserved points, an entertaining 90 minutes and it was good to see the Clayhanger Kid, Brian Stringer and former Chairman Geoff Powell in attendance.

So it’s Hednesford on Tuesday in the Staffs Senior Cup, kickoff 7.45 pm., don’t be late.

Bill Shaw.

Thanks to Bill, for an honest, entertaining and very fan-focussed match report, as ever. Really an honour to feature them here.

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Brownhills Gazette November 1994_000001

Note the campaigns, and the ad for Swan Carpets, still extant. Click for a larger version.

I’ve always been an avid consumer of local news and information, and one of the reasons I started the Brownhills Blog (apart from my obvious propensity to nosiness and mischief) was the fact that there was not a decent existing online or real-world source of news and information for our area.

It was not always thus, however; in the Late 80s and 90s there was an excellent local freesheet paper or magazine (the A4 format fell between the two) called the Brownhills Gazette, itself taking the name from a long-gone Victorian publication for the town.

The Gazette was prepared and printed in Brownhills by a company called Baker Bond, who had a print shop in Providence House, just opposite Silver Court on the corner of New Road. The Gazzette was written and edited by top local bloke, activist and friend of the blog Brian Stringer, who made a thoroughly excellent job of it.

The Gazette ceased publication in the 1990s, after Baker Bond were bought out (at least, that’s my belief; I may have the details wrong – hopefully Brian himself might help here). I believe there were sister titles for other local areas.

This was a campaigning publication; although formal and gentle – perhaps even genteel, and quite traditional – Brian energised readers and got things done. Silver Court was resurfaced due to a campaign in the Gazette. People liked it, and read it. The people in power listened to it, and certainly couldn’t ignore it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; without Brian’s work at The Brownhills Gazette, BrownhillsBob would not exist. This small-circulation, hyperlocal (how I hate that term) publication was my inspiration and guiding light. Nothing I have ever done can compare to that professional, high-quality paper; but I aspire to it.

Copies of the Gazette in the wild are hard to come by, and I’m grateful to local history stalwart David Evans, who last week, found a copy from November 1994; hard to imagine it’s actually 20 years old. I feel bloody ancient.

I have no idea where the Boy Evans found this precious thing, but I’m eternally grateful for him taking the effort, as I always am.

David has lovingly scanned and emailed me the whole thing, and I include it below. You can either download the whole thing as a PDF, or browse the page by page gallery.

Note the adverts for long-gone businesses, the inclusion of local history, letters and campaigns. If any of it looks vaguely familiar, I’m glad.

Brian Stringer and his work at The Brownhills Gazette were my template. Thanks, Brian.

If you have any other copies, or memories, please do comment or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Brownhills Gazette November 1994 – PDF format

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Walsall Wood face Coventry Sphinx at Oak Park this afternoon

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ain’t nothing but a found dog – now resolved


A fine looking white Stffy found in Brownhills yesterday afternoon – is he yours? Image from Kellymay Worral’s Facebook page.

Update 10:55am Saturday 18th October 2014: Great news! Charlie the Staffy has been reunited with his owner, Dawn Miller who messaged me:

‘Hi just to let u know the white staffy was mine iv been n collected Charlie from hillmans vets he is now home safe n sound thank u for the post! :)

We seem to be doing a lot of lost and found pets here lately – which is great; it’s nice to do a service for the community. With that in mind, do you recognise the above Staffordshire Bull Terrier? It was found yesterday (Friday 17th October 2014) by Kellymay Worrall in Brownhills.

It’s not been stated where the dog was found, but that looks like it’s up by St. James Church, but I could be very wrong.

Unchipped, the dog has been taken to Hillman’s Veterinary Surgery in Brickiln Street for the time being. You can contact them here:

4 Brickiln St, Brownhills
Open today (Saturday) 9:00am – 12:00pm
Phone 01543 375154
Website http://www.hillmanvets.co.uk
Or check their Facebook page here.

Thanks to reader John Parker who tipped me off. Kellymay’s post on Facebook discussing the hound can be seen here.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Interesting photos, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chasewater: here’s why the water is low


Over the autumn, water l;evils at Chasewater have become much lower than we’re used to.

Lately, lots of people have been contacting me asking why the water level is so low at Chasewater, and many – including the champion of the waterfowl, Swan Lady Irene Hodges – have been very concerned about the impact of low water levels on the wildlife there.

My first reaction to this is that I share the concern, but I would note that since it refilled, Chasewater has been unusually high, and we’ve got used to that situation. It should be remembered that the reservoir exists and still functions as a feeder for the West Midlands canal network, and the Canal and River Trust have every right to use it to top up the canal network as necessary.

I have been in conversation with Lichfield District and Staffordshire County Councillor Sue Woodward, who has kindly been helping to obtain a true picture of what’s going on so I can reassure readers and those worried about the park they love.


Repairing the drain was a quick job, but water levels had to be lowered to enable the work.

Following a statement from Noreen Davidson, Rural Access Manager at Staffordshire County Council, I can share the following information…

The level was initially lowered to allow a damaged drain in the dam to be repaired. This was carried out quickly and is now complete. The work took less than a week, but even so, the water had to be lowered to enable the work to take place.

The level is now lower because the Canal and Rivers Trust have recently drawn off some water in addition to that released to allow the work to take place. The water level has been higher than average this year because of the very high rainfall last winter. The 1.3 metres that had to be drawn down to carry out the works reduced the level to the average for this time of year.

However, since the Canal and Rivers Trust have also recently used the Chasewater to top up the level for the canal network (as is their right), the water level has dropped to it’s current level. The valves are now closed, and the Trust have indicated that they are not expecting to draw down any more and that Chasewater’s level should return to its normal level over the winter provided that we have sufficient rain.

Chasewater is very dear to me as it is to many, many readers, and I’ve been trying to get information for a while now, and I’d like to thank Councillor Woodward and Noreen Davidson for their help in this matter. Hopefully, this statement will put minds to rest and our favourite reservoir should fill up in the coming months (although not too quickly, eh? I don’t want to spend a third consecutive winter tipping water out of my hat.)

As Irene pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago, the young swans hatched this year are now on Chasewater with the main flock, and it’s important the ecology continues to recover so that they may have necessary food over the winter.


This year’s new arrivals are already discovering the joys of Chasewater…


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