A mystery for the narrowboat folk


A notable narrowboat photographed in a well-known spot from an unusual angle. What do you know? Image kindly supplied by Andy Dennis.

Here’s one I’ve been sitting on for a couple of weeks now, but it’s about time I shared this wonderful enquiry from the startlingly prolific Andy Dennis, who’s running a great local/genealogy/history blog that’s quite frankly, showing me a clean pair of heels at the moment.

Andy’s writing some great stuff – nip over and check it out here.

Anyway, on with the issue at hand: an interesting canal photo taken by Andy’s father, which I think we could do with knowing more about – and I’m sure there are folk amongst the readers who can help with it.

Andy wrote:

Hello Bob

I was looking for something in my ‘treasure box’, in which the treasures are memories rather than anything of pecuniary value, and I found this small photographic print (3 x 2.5 inches or 78 x 57 mm).


Andy’s treasure box. Love the clock! Image supplied by Andy Dennis.

On the reverse, in my father’s hand, is written:

The original print is none too sharp – safe to say Dad was no Lichfield or Liebowitz!

I recall vaguely seeing a TV documentary about the campaign to rescue the canal network which, in the 1950s, was disintegrating rapidly and I think Wynford-Vaughan Thomas and fellow commentator Audrey Russell took to the canals to play their part. That is all I have been able to find out.

Hopefully, someone out there will know more.

Norman ‘Wilt’ Chamberlain was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team and one of the greatest of all time.

Best wishes

This is a very interesting image. I’m fairly sure that ‘Brownhills Smelters’ was Superalloys, the war scrap specialist beloved of local kinds for their remarkable collection of junk, and the bridge looks like Middleton Bridge under the Lichfield Road as viewed from the northern side. Here it is on Bing! Maps.


Fairly certain this is the same bridge. Opinions? Imagery from Bing! Maps.

Note the stepped parapet wall and white staining. It’s a very interesting angle as there’s no footpath that side and it would have been a hard spot to get to. I feel there’s a story there in itself.

Thanks to Andy for a wonderful enquiry – so what do you know? Any contributions welcome. Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

And don’t forget to check out Andy’s work here.

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Remember the man with the clipboard?


Some odd stuff going down in The Wood at the moment… Imagery from Apple Maps.

Interested to note that yesterday, local police finally issued an alert about the man with the clipboard panhandling for money in the Brownhills and Walsall Wood area, claiming his vehicle has been towed and he needs to get somewhere else – usually Willenhall.

We discussed this man here on January 7th 2017 after a number of concerned people contacted me, and whilst I realise the issue isn’t huge, it was causing significant concern; sadly, I have been informed that when people tried contacting police initially, their concerns were dismissed, names not taken and suggestions made that mountains were being made out of molehills.

Another PR win there for local police.

Thankful, yesterday (20th January 2017), the police finally issued an alert via WMNow, the local alert system I encourage you all to sign up for – it’s easy and free – go here to do so.

Walsall Police wrote:

Tracy Ash (Police,PCSO,Walsall Aldridge NPT)

We have been made aware of a supicious Male in the Brownhills and Walsall Wood area. There have been several reports of a white male in his fifties with ginger/blonde hair, of average build and height. He was wearing a black bomber jacket, possibly has a northern accent and carrying a clip board.

He is stopping members of the public and saying his lorry has broken down and needs money to get to Willenhall.

Do not give this male any money and if he is seen or you have any information as to the identity of this man, please call the non emergency number 101.

Whilst I appreciate there may be more pressing matters, I feel it’s important for police to listen to their communities and this is clearly worrying a fair number of people. Dismissing their concerns out of hand doesn’t help anyone.

Please, if you have any information, do speak to the cops, and do report every incident – the more people report incidents, the more likely they are to be tackled.

If you know who the culprits might be, or if you saw anything at all, please do contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, It makes me mad!, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adrian Wigley: Funeral details announced


Arian Wigley, rest in peace. Image generously supplied by Simon Reeves.

Simon Reeves, friend of sadly departed son of Brownhills Adrian Wigley has been in touch to ask if I’d share with readers the details of Adrian’s funeral, which takes place on Friday 3rd February 2017.

Simon wrote:

Hello Bob

Would you please post details of Adrian’s funeral?

It takes place Friday 3rd February, 10:45am at Adrian’s house, or 11.00am at Streetly Crematorium.

There will be a donation bucket there for the Air Ambulance Charity if anyone would like to donate.

Detail of Adrian’s wake will follow when confirmed.


Thanks to Simon for keeping us informed, so very considerate – Simon, you’ll remember wrote the extraordinary tribute to Adrian I posed here earlier in the week.

My condolences, and those of the readers and the wider community to Simon and all who loved and knew Adrian.

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Walsall Wood FC against The Mikes this afternoon!


Walsall Wood FC have a great reputation for entertaining football, and a keen, loyal and friendly bunch of supporters! Come join in the fun this Saturday and see some cracking football.

Today, Saturday 19th September 2015

The Wood are at home, entertaining The Mikes!

Walsall Wood FC versus Boldmere St Michaels FC

Kick off is 3:00pm

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood! 

Oak Park, Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood. WS9 9NP.
Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

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Clayhanger New Year litter pick this morning!


Image from Madwblog.

I see from the excellent Madwblog that there’s a New Year litter pick event going on in Clayhanger this Saturday morning (Saturday 21st January 2017) from 8:30 to 10:30am and all are welcome – kit and gloves provided!

This is being run by local community volunteers with the support of Walsall Council for the benefit of the community, so it’ll be a worthwhile event to get involved with and help improve the local environment!

Resolve this New Year to give some love back to Clayhanger Village by joining a litter pick.

It’s free, (you don’t have to sign up with an email address, remember a password or even give your name) it makes you feel good and it has an impact on the Village and the nature we share it with. Just turn up and get picking. The aim of this litter pick is to concentrate on the hedgerow along Bridge Street from The Spot to Clayhanger Bridge and then underneath Clayhanger Bridge.

The weather forecast is bright and clear for the morning. Make the most of it by joining the first Clayhanger community litter pick of 2017.

Guaranteed to make you feel good. 8.30-10.30 The Spot, Bridge Street, Clayhanger.

Bags and pickers provided by Walsall Council.

You can check out the event’s Facebook page here.

The previous events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make this one even better!

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Sweet thing

Teddy Gray's Sweet Factory, Dudley, 2010

Teddy Gray’s Sweet Factory, Dudley, 2010. Image courtesy Martin Parr.

I was sad to note at the weekend that Ted Gray, of Black Country confectionary company Teddy Gray’s, had passed away in his sleep at the age of 81.

Teddy Grays is is household name to those in the area – from the famous Herbal Tablets and rock, through a whole tranche of traditional sweets, Grays still make them all in their most traditional British factory.

It was with this in mind that when I saw the following documentary shared on Twitter by noted local historian @Sacredwench from Black Delph, I knew I had to share it with readers.

Back when the waistline allowed, I loved Gray’s herbals and other boiled sweets, and this wonderful documentary is a wonderful snapshot of a company at which little has needed to change in decades.

My condolences to the Gray family, and I’ll wave my little stick of Black Country rock in Ted’s honour.

From the Dudley News:

Former sweet company boss Ted Gray dies aged 81

TRIBUTES have been paid to the man who spent more than 50 years at the helm of a traditional Dudley sweet company.

Ted Gray, who ran the Edward Gray of Dudley company – fondly known as Teddy Grays – with his older sister Betty, died in his sleep on Friday, aged 81.

The siblings took over the day-to-day running of the family firm’s North Street factory in the sixties.

Betty, who still works for the company at the age of 88, was persuaded by their father to join the business when a vacancy arose in the office and she was soon joined by her brother when he returned from serving in the RAF.

Together, they kept the confectionary business – renowned for its speciality herbal tablets as well as boiled sweets, fudge, toffee, nougat and toffee teacakes, that are sold at its shops in Dudley, Wednesbury and Bewdley and market stalls in Bilston and Blackheath – at the top of its game.

However in 2013, Mr Gray, a father-of-four, who also leaves behind two grandchildren and a great-grandson, was forced to take a step back from the business due to ill health.

His daughter, Julie Healy, said her father’s biggest achievement were “keeping the business running all these years” and closely guarding the secret of his father’s herbal tablet recipe.

She continued: “He was a lovely, generous, caring man. Everybody loved him and had not got a bad word to say about him, he was very well known throughout the town. He was the ‘King of Rock’, we’ve been told.”

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Urgent! Bike stolen from Shelfield


The bike is a Trek 3700 like this one, but white.

This morning (Thursday, January 19th 2017) at 7:10am a Trek 3700 bike like the one above but in white was taken from outside the Co-op at the former Spring Cottage in Shelfield.

Nicki Shutts wrote:


My sons bike has been stolen from outside Co-op Shelfield this morning at 7.10am. Please share and make it too hot to handle!

Serial # wtu169c1597j

You can contact Nicki on Facebook here.

If you know someone that’s suddenly pitched up with a bike matching that description that you feel could be the one in question, please do contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

You can also mail me in confidence: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, cycling, Environment, Events, Interesting photos, It makes me mad!, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment