The Portman Collection – part three: Final forms, and on with the sport


Image 7: Another class with some great clothes, and some remarkable collars. Photo generously supplied by Tony Portman via David Evans. Click for a larger version.


Tony’s notes for image 7. Click for a larger version.

In the third serialised article of what will turn out to be quite a few, here’s the next three photos from Walsall Wood Secondary School in the 1950s with accompanying notes, as introduced in this blog post here – This time, I am including the handwritten notes by Tony himself below each image.

I shall post the photos in batches of three so we aren’t swamped with too much information at once – and these ones feature he last two form groups for now, and the first team photo.

I shan’t comment on the notes directly, or attempt to transcribe: these are clearly a matter for readers as they obviously raise questions as well as answer them – and the last thing I want to do is lead the witnesses!

Thanks to Tony Portman who generously granted access to a remarkable collection, and to David Evans for scanning them so diligently. People like you gentlemen are keeping local history alive. Thank you.

Please, any comments, contributions or observations welcome. Either comment here, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.


Image 8: This seems to be the last form photo for a while. Love the Walsall Wood Colliery chimney belching smoke in the background. This form teacher looks a bit uncomfortable! Photo generously supplied by Tony Portman via David Evans. Click for a larger version.


Tony’s notes for image 8. Click for a larger version.


Image 9: Walsall Wood Secondary Modern First 11 – the first team photo of the collection. What a cracking bunch of lads these look. Photo generously supplied by Tony Portman via David Evans. Click for a larger version.


Tony’s notes for image 9. Click for a larger version.

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A message of thanks from the Shed


There’s crafts for ladies and gentlemen of all tastes at Aldridge Shed – image from their Facebook page.

Just a quick note to than friends of the blog Steve Hames from SJH Computing and Ray Johnson from Shire Oak who helped Aldridge Shed project with donated computer hardware following their recent request for help, which I publicised here on the blog.

Cheers to both gents and to the ever-helpful Russell Smith who was an excellent go-between – such community spirit and generosity are great to see and I’m chuffed the blog readers always seem to rally around a good cause.

In the mean time, Aldridge Shed is going from strength to strength, and meets every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:30am – 12:30 and 13:00 – 16:00 at Alrewych Court on Northgate – Between Walsall Wood and Aldridge.

They recently featured on BBC Midlands Today – watch the video below.

The Shed folk also want to point out that this is a project open to men and women, and there are open days coming in March 2017 (although you can just drop in any time they’re open, of course)A message of thanks from the Shed:

Hi Shedders

Please note we are not all about men and woodwork. We are a Shed not a men’s Shed. We have a clean/craft room for sewing painting and other clean crafts such as book folding and help with computer use and Photoshop processes.

We are having open days on 7th 8th and 9th March with free refreshments. Come along and see us and see how we have progressed and see if we can help you make anything you would like to do.

We are located at Alrewych Court, 220 Northgate, Aldridge, WS9 8AF

You can find out more at their website here and their Facebook page here.


It’s not all woodwork down at the Aldridge Shed – but there’s still plenty, if that’s what you fancy. Image from the Shed Facebook page.

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Update on recent Chasewater Dam works from Andy Dennis

Images kindly supplied by Andy Dennis.

There’s ongoing interest in the drainage works taking place at Chasewater Dam, and I’m indebted to reader and top blog contributor Andy Dennis who’s kindly sent me another bunch of pictures and a short video of what’s going on.

I haven’t been able to get up there myself yet, so this is a great help – thanks Andy!

Andy also continues to do great work on his own local history blog and I commend all readers to go take a look at what he’s up to – it’s fantastic stuff.

The dam works at the moment seem to be tweaks to the terrace drainage. The dam, being constructed over two centuries ago of what was in essence loose material constantly passes water – around 200 litres a minute when the reservoir first refilled to full after the dam works, and much of the work then was making sure this didn’t cause erosion.

This flow is what irrigates the wetland at the foot of the dam and has made it such a rare habitat worthy of such careful protection, and led to it being declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

I would imagine management of such a flow is neither easy, nor a precise art and this is the second time since the original dam works finished that the drainage has been modified. I’m frankly surprised there hasn’t been more work necessary.

Staffordshire County Council issued this statement on their Chasewater Facebook page in the week, and it’s a little more detailed than the Lichfield Live report featured hear a week or so ago.

Yet again, I’m struck by the misfortune of local authorities having to maintain and monitor a structure that’s a major part of the local canal infrastructure: the Canal and River Trust must breathe a sigh of relief every time they think of the management bills they escape paying…

Staffordshire County Council said:

Chasewater reservoir maintenance

Maintenance work is being carried out at Chasewater Reservoir to improve drainage in the dam wall.

The wall, made of clay, earth and stone, is semi-permeable and designed by its original engineers to allow some water to filter through.

Now council workers are adding more stone, installing new drains and clearing silt from existing ones.

Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council cabinet member, said: “Chasewater is one of Staffordshire’s most popular attractions and that is why we have made considerable investments there in recent years.

‘The design and nature of the dam wall means that it needs ongoing monitoring and care. We’ll be working on it for the next few weeks and passers-by will notice we’ve lowered the water to summer levels and closed the wall-top to traffic to help.’

The reservoir is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest because certain aquatic plants thrive there. The work is being done in such a way that it does not affect them and their well-being is being monitored as a matter of course by an ecologist.

The county council has been responsible for the 200-year-old dam since it took over a £5.5 million repair project in May 2011 from Lichfield District Council.

Rather than being a source of drinking water, it supplies part of the Midlands canal network.

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Woodmen fight Coventry United for a well-earned draw

Images and captions kindly supplied by David Evans

Walsall Wood FC were at home to Coventry United yesterday afternoon (Saturday, 18th February 2017), and much to the relief of the hard-pressed faithful, they Woodmen pulled off a hard-fought draw.

Bill Shaw was there, and was pleased with what he saw:

Hiya Bob,

A far  better all-round  performance by Wood as they battled hard for this point. They had to work really hard in the second half but thoroughly deserved their first point of 2017.

The balance of the team improved over previous  games this year and that can only bode well for the last 11 games of the season as they build for 2017-2018.

Walsall Wood 1 v 1 Coventry United

Wood won their first point in 2017 with this battling draw against Coventry United (Seventh before start of play). Well worth their one-nil interval lead they withstood a second half battering by the visitors, keeper Adam Jenkins turning in a five star performance to win a point.

The visitors had just the better of the opening exchanges but it was Wood who threatened first when on 13 minutes a right wing free kick to beyond the far post was headed back across goal by Adam Wood, keeper Richard Morris claiming the ball from a posse of attackers. Three minutes later an intricate right wing move ended with Michael Williams finding Charlie Shaw to fire a first time effort over the back fence.

On 25 minutes a long right wing clearance found Joshua O’Grady, he cut inside, his rising drive bouncing down off the underside of the bar before being hacked away by Luke Adams.   Two minutes later a right wing corner was played short to Pierre Moudime who floated a cross to the far post that was missed by everyone.

On 30 minutes a right wing free kick was headed down by Joey Butlin to Drew Aiton who fired a first time effort inches wide.

Four minutes later a free kick on the left edge of the box was fired over the wall by O’Grady, Jenkins at full stretch saving at the foot of his right hand post.

Wood went ahead on 37 minutes; Rikki Bains played the ball up to Aiton right of centre he ran for goal before playing the ball left to Butlin who raced into the left of the box and calmly slotted the ball past the advancing keeper. Two minutes later Butlin stole the ball from Morris who then made a brave block; Aiton’s shot was charged down, Williams onto the loose ball only to be crowded out.

On 43 minutes Moudime ran from halfway into the 6 yard box only to be stopped by a superbly timed tackle from Adams.

A minute into the second half a volley by Aiton on the right edge of the box was fingertipped onto the bar by Morris, the ball only cleared to Butlin on the edge of the box, he raced for goal and was brought down but loud penalty appeals turned down.

On 52 minutes a right wing press ended with Kevin Thornton’s near post cross headed home by Lewis Ison. Eight minutes later O’Grady raced onto a ball into the left of the box, his low drive bringing a great full length save from Jenkins.

On 63 minutes Butlin’s left wing run and cross found Aiton who twisted and turned, Jamie Coleman blocking his low drive.

Three minutes later Courtney Cameron raced clear wide left, his ball inside hit first time by Kai Williams, Jenkins with an amazing stop.  Another three minutes later a ball inside from Thornton found Williams in the centre of the box, his low drive cannoning away off the foot of the post.  Another session of right wing pressure on 73 minutes ended with Thornton racing into the box, his powerful low cross shot well held by Jenkins at the near post. Eight minutes later O’Grady cut inside from wide left, his low cross headed downwards by Ison to bring another full length save from Jenkins.

A point at last for Wood, they really had to dig deep in the second half as the Coventry league newcomers really gave them a working over, but this was a far better balanced performance and they deserved their first point of 2017.

It’s Quorn away next Saturday for Wood as they look to build on this battling performance and start to build a settled line up.

Bill Shaw.

The Teams:

Walsall Wood – Jenkins, Williams, Adams, Brooks, Bains, Wood, Shaw, Juxon, Butlin (captain), Aiton, Mansell, Lake-Gaskin, Molesworth, Taylor Boyce, Deakin, H. Harris.

Coventry Utd.  – Morris, Moudime, Vallance, Dakouri, Ison, Coleman, Thornton (captain), Halton, Williams, O’Grady, Cameron, Prinzel, Glasscoe, Saye, Nduna, Connor.

Thanks to Bill for an honest, entertaining match report as ever and great photos from David. It really is an honour to feature them.

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

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Gorgeous locks!


Looks like a fascinating event.

Just a quick note to point out that this weekend (18-19th February 2017) there’s a rather unique vent at Fradley Junction between Lichfield and Alrewas, where you can tour lock 17 which is currently drained, undergoing maintenance.

This is a great chance to inspect past and present canal engineering at its finest, right on our doorsteps. There are also entertaining displays and activities, two great cafes and a wonderful pub to visit.

It’s a great weekend for the weather, so why not pop down?

The Canal and River Trust said:

18th February 2017 to 19th February 2017
10:00am – 3:00pm
Junction Lock 17
Trent & Mersey Canal

Lock 17 on the Trent & Mersey Canal

Fradley Junction
Staffordshire DE13 7DN

Works at Lock 17 involve replacing the beam on the off-side bottom gate and relining and refitting both the top and bottom gates to stop leaks. The timber quoins on both sets of gates will be replaced and the team will also be fixing any damaged bricks and stones in and around the lock. The works, which are running for four weeks from 6 February to 5 March, will cost £80,000.


Lock 17 is very busy! Image from the Canal and River Trust.

Visitors will be able to come along and walk in the drained lock chamber on the original brickwork and learn about the essential works here from the Trust’s experts. Volunteers from Explorers will be on site running activities for children, the yard workshop will be open where people will be able to make bat and bird boxes and nature walks will be running during the day.

Read more about the history of Fradley Junction


It’s not often you get change to walk into a lock. Look at the quality of that brickwork! Image posted on Twitter by the Canal and River Trust.

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Great live music at The Chase Inn this evening, bargain drinks from 7-9pm!


Richard Beckett is an acclaimed solo vocal artist. Image from the Chase Inn’s Facebook page.

The staff from the Chase Inn at Newtown, Brownhills have been in touch to let me know that there’s live music on again this evening at the popular Brownhills pub.

Tonight (Saturday 18th February 2017) at 8:00pm, enjoy some great vocal music with acclaimed solo singer Richard Beckett.

The Chase Inn said:

Saturday 18th February 2017

Live music with a variety of genres from the 50s to today, then to finish, some motown and soul

Happy hour from 7-9pm where all drinks across the board are £2.50 a pint, just to get the night started!

Come along to support great live music!

See you all later ..

Why not get down there? You’re guaranteed an excellent time…

For the satnav folk, the address is: 6 Watling Street, Newtown, Brownhills WS8 6JS

You can contact the pub on: 01543 899568 or visit their Facebook page.


The Chase Inn is a great local pub for music, entertainment and real ale! Image from the pub’s Facebook page.

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

Walsall Wood at home to Coventry United 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment