Meet your local coppers this Friday in Brownhills and Shelfield

You could well meet PC Barnet. What’s not to love?

There’s another local police pop-up event coming at Brownhills branch of Tesco next Friday, 24th August 2018 where you can meet the local policing team and discuss issues that are important to you.

Police will be at Brownhills Tesco and the Co-op in the former Spring Cottage Pub, Shelfield, from 3-5pm.

They said:

Pop up stalls will be taking place on Friday 24th August between 3pm and 5pm at Tesco in Brownhills and at the Co-op in Shelfield.

We will be signing people up to  and offering crime prevention advice. Neighbourhood watch may also be in attendance

You can follow us on Twitter: @BrownhillsWMP

Any local issues you wish to discuss?

Put it in your diaries… drop in, say hello and have a chat!

At these informal events, you can chat to the local policing team about stuff that concerns you, get crime prevention tips, WMNow signups and public safety advice.

I must say, it’s good to see the local police making such concerted efforts to reach out to the public.

Also, if you haven’t signed up for WMNow, please do – it’s free and you can select to receive alerts on all kinds of local issues. It’s a fine thing.

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Ilkeston best Woodmen in second half nail biter

Images and captions kindly supplied by the young David Evans

Bad news for the Walsall Wood faithful on Saturday last (18th August 2018) as they entertained visitors and long-time nemesis Ilkeston Town FC, and played a bold match – only to be beaten 2-0 in thew second half.

Blog football correspondent David Evans watched the match and said:

Hiya  Bob,

Walsall Wood 0 v 2 Ilkeston Town

This was a match I had been eagerly looking forward to. Firstly to welcome back  the away supporters, raucous and full of high spirit, and secondly I wanted to see this season’s  Ilkeston squad in action.

The match was a fine display of quality football with both sides initially sounding each other out, one way or another, and then employing various well practised tactics to bring a thrill a minute at times for the spectators. Ilkeston had the advantage of not having had to play two bruising cup ties in the recent days.
Those two encounters had brought regrettable injuries to the normally complete Walsall squad. Added to this the ability to draw on a far greater bank of players than Walsall Wood, and the stage was set.
Interestingly it did seem that one slight error, loose pass, slip or misjudgment might bring about the deciding goal. It was nearly so. The first half was very evenly fought by both sides, with good confident defence by Walsall Wood and Ilkeston alIke.
The second half saw numerous subsitutions by both teams, and it was here that the greater cohesion of the  Ilkeston squad  began to show. One imprecise cross pass brightly and swiftly intercepted by Ilkeston gave them the rare goal scoring chance which they took well.  The challenge now was two-fold for the Wood and despite ratcheting up a gear or two, they found it impossible to break through the Ilkeston defence, but whilst attempting to do so, a breakaway long, looping shot by Ilkeston left the Woods goalkeeper stranded way away from his area. No imprecision here by Ilkeston. The shot was accurate and  deservedly scored a fine goal.
The final score was two goals to nil in favour of Ilkeston. Walsall Wood will now  take a day’s downtime to reflect, consider, and adjust, I am sure.
David Evans

Thanks to David for the report, always appreciated – for the good of The Wood!

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Picture this: A Chasewater childhood

Drawn from memory – the old South Shore cafe at Chasewater, as it was before the innovation centre was built in the late 90s. Remember the big windows well. Drawing generously shared by Stuart Cowley.

A wonderful one reached me yesterday morning from old pal of the blog Stuart Cowley, whose memories of growing up at Chasewater in the 1960s and 70s have been some of the most popular posts in the history of the blog.

You can read the first one here and the second one here.

Out of the blue, Stuart drew the above sketch of the cafe there from memory. That’s the one on the south shore where he used to work, and I remember it well, particularly the outdoor seating area with the low wall. The building survives to this day, but not many people realise, it does so as the Ranger’s Hut near the back of the craft workshops.

Stuart wrote:

Now here’s something for the weekend. I’ve commented before on the blog about my memories of the cafe over Chasewater.

It’s where I spent most of my weekends in the summers of the 60s and early 70s on account of my mom, nan and sister working there. It’s where I got my first pay packet of a bag of thrupney bits aged about 9 for clearing tables.

Many happy memories.

So with walking over there and reminiscing the other weekend I thought I’d have a go at drawing from memory and comparing it to a photo as it is today. So all of it used to be a sit down cafe with half of it converted to an amusement arcade at some point in the 80s. Keep in mind I’ve not done anything arty in about 40 years but it will give you some idea.

That’s absolutely fantastic, Stuart, and I thank you for it, and I’m sure it will jog memories – but I’d love to see some photos. There must be loads out there in family collections and so forth.

I’ve included the second of his Chasewater memories posts below, to jog memories – and those pictures, too – they really are wonderful images. If you have anything to share, please do – either comment here on this post, tug my coat on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!

How many passing by realise this anonymous hut was once a cafe and amusement arcade? Image kindly supplied by Stuart Cowley.

Original post:

Regulars will remember that recently, I featured a post from reader Stuart Cowley, who generously recounted his memories of of summers spent in and around Chasewater, where his family worked at the cafe in the 1960s.

Stuart’s piece garnered much great feedback, and in response, last week he was good enough to venture into the loft, and recover some family snapshots. I think you’ll agree, they’re rather wonderful. I recall that bungalow – I’d forgotten all about it. The picture of the ladies in the serving hatch is splendid, and beautifully redolent of the period.

Thank you to Stuart for taking the time, and if anyone else has anything they’d like to share, please don’t hesitate: comment here, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!

Stuart wrote:

Evening Bob,

Having been up the loft over Christmas I have located some photographs that I mentioned previously in and arround the cafe.

One is of me aged about 6 (1966) stood outside the caretakers bungalow which ajoined the back of the cafe.

002

Picture generously supplied by Stuart Cowley.

Another is of some of the staff including my sister Angela  (nearest the camera) looking outside of one of the serving kiosks, again about 1966

This kiosk was at the back of the cafe overlooking the seated terraced area.

002 - Version 4

Picture generously supplied by Stuart Cowley.

The photograph at the kiddies section of the permanent fair was taken about 1964  looking from the back of the fair facing the lake.

The one of me stood at the wall would have been 1969 ish.

These photos are colour with the exception of the one at the fair but I couldn’t figure out the scanner so appologies for that.

002 - Version 2

Picture generously supplied by Stuart Cowley.

The original cafe had two large seating areas with a large L shaped serving counter .

Big windows at the back overlooked the sun terrace, ornamental pond, then large lawned area dropping down towards the lake (later pitch and put)

There was also an outside kiosk between the sun terrace and pond.

The St johns ambulance room was based in its own room at the end of the building, that’s where you see the flag flying on the cine clip that ypu put on the website.

002 - Version 3

Picture generously supplied by Stuart Cowley.

The permanent fun fair consisted of (looking from the road left to right in the area of the car park now) the kiddies rides, waltzers, dodgems, big wheel , large wooden big dipper, fun house (the fun house backed on to the go kart track). other arcades and stalls ran along the back.

In the mid to late 70’s the fair dissapeard, the cafe was turned in to a large amusement arcade with small snack serving area and a new kiosk opened at the front, other kiosks were closed down.

Hope that all helps to build the picture

Stuart

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Blooming canal volunteers impress judges

Lichfield  and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust director Peter Buck, kitted out as a Victorian engineer, and his wife Jeanne, in traditional boatwomen’s dress, with Rose Willow, a floral recreation of a 70ft narrowboat, waiting for the judges to arrive. Image supplied by the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

Tom Reid from the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust has been in touch to let us know about the efforts their volunteers have made for Lichfield’s entry in the annual Britain in Bloom competition, with a Garden of Memory and other wonderful features at Gallows Wharf where the canal under restoration passes Lichfield.

If you’re unaware of the local canal restoration that’s steadily progressing this excellent blog post by Christine Howles explains more about it. The trust run regular work parties and all are very much welcome, whether you’ve a specialist skill or not!

At the moment, the volunteers are not only beavering away on the route of the lost line between Barracks Lane, Ogley Hay and The Boat restaurant, on the Lichfield Road at Summerhill, but also at several sites, including this one between Wall and Lichfield, Borrowcop on the A51 at Lichfield, and other places along the route of the lost line.

To find out more, please pop along to the Lichfield and Hateherton Canal Restoration Trust website here.

Tom Reid wrote:

How the Heart of England in Bloom judges saw Gallows Wharf. Image supplied by the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

Gallows Wharf In Full Bloom For Judges

Lichfield’s canal restoration trust unveiled its stunning contribution to Blooming Lichfield when judging for Heart of England in Bloom took place on Thursday, July 25th 2018.

Despite suffering weeks of blistering heat and bouts of brainless vandalism, Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s historic Gallows Wharf site looked a picture on a glorious summer day.

The Trust has created a Garden of Reflection at Gallows Wharf, close to the site of the city’s gallows, originally erected in 1532, where on June 1, 1810, the last three men to be hanged in Lichfield met their fate, for uttering forged banknotes.

It was also at Gallows Wharf, near the junction of London Road and Tamworth Road, that stained glass windows rescued from a dissolved abbey in Herkenrode, Belgium, were unloaded from canal boats on their way to Lichfield Cathedral in 1803.

The Gallows Wharf doors, Herkenrode Glass crate and the A-frame boards, beautifully painted by signwriter Steve Cooper, enhanced the impressive planting.

The judges also cast their expert eyes over Rose Willow, a recreation of a 70ft narrowboat, which has been taking shape over the summer next to Tamworth Road, thanks to the efforts of pupils from Queen’s Croft High School and the Foresters Scout Group.

Queen’s Croft children were also involved in the painting of Rose Queen, which walkers along the canal can see on the wall of the London Road bridge, while National Citizen Service students learned the art of signwriting from Phil Ball to complete Rose Queen’s artwork.

The results of the Heart of England in Bloom competition will be announced in September and Lichfield will be hoping to repeat last year’s success when the city was awarded a gold medal.

LHCRT engineering director Peter Buck said: “Whatever the result of the judging, we’re winners anyway.

‘We achieved our objective of recreating Gallows Wharf and creating a Garden of Reflection, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the generous response from the community.

‘We’d like to thank our incredible volunteers, everyone who helped with this project and provided the plants.’

.. Gallows Wharf at the start of the project earlier in the year. Image supplied by the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

 

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Walsall Wood FC v Ilkeston Town at Oak Park this Saturday!

Welcome to Walsall Wood, Ilkeston Town…

Saturday 18th August 2018

Walsall Wood F.C. v Ilkeston Town FC

Don’t break your Wood vows be there and be faithful to your local heroes

3:00pm kickoff

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Oak Park, Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood. WS9 9NP.

Check out the club website here

Walsall Wood FC: Local heroes!

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Beware of courier fraud and other phone scams – criminals are targeting our elderly family and friends

Many of the current scams operating are very convincing indeed – warn your relatives about courier fraud and to to give away information, no matter how authoritative the caller sounds. Image from iStockphoto

I’ve become aware over the last few days that phone scammers are targeting the local area once more –  and are employing a number of methods, including courier fraud and impersonating tax officials – please warn your elderly and vulnerable friends, family and neighbours.

West Midlands Police wrote:

Courier Fraud

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has identified an increasing number of reports submitted to Action Fraud from the public concerning courier fraud.

Fraudsters are contacting victims by telephone and purporting to be a police officer or bank official. To substantiate this claim, the caller might be able to confirm some easily obtainable basic details about the victim such as their full name and address.

They may also offer a telephone number for the victim to call to check that they are genuine; this number is not genuine and simply redirects to the fraudster who pretends to be a different person. After some trust has been established, the fraudster will then, for example, suggest;

  • Some money has been removed from a victim’s bank account and staff at their local bank branch are responsible.
  • Suspects have already been arrested but the ‘police’ need money for evidence.
  • A business such as a jewellers or currency exchange is operating fraudulently and they require assistance to help secure evidence.

Victims are then asked to cooperate in an investigation by attending their bank and withdrawing money, withdrawing foreign currency from an exchange or purchasing an expensive item to hand over to a courier for examination who will also be a fraudster. Again, to reassure the victim, a safe word might be communicated to the victim so the courier appears genuine.

At the time of handover, unsuspecting victims are promised the money they’ve handed over or spent will be reimbursed but in reality there is no further contact and the money is never seen again.

Protect Yourself

Your bank or the police will never:

  • Phone and ask you for your PIN or full banking password.
  • Ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safekeeping, or send someone to your home to collect cash, PIN, cards or cheque books if you are a victim of fraud.

Don’t assume an email or phone call is authentic.

Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and address or even your mother’s maiden name), it doesn’t mean they are genuine. Be mindful of who you trust – criminals may try and trick you into their confidence by telling you that you’ve been a victim of fraud

Stay in control

If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it. Have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for personal or financial information.

For more information about how to protect yourself online visit

www.cyberaware.gov.uk  and www.takefive.stopfraud.org.uk

Please tell your relatives and neighbours about these scams, and impress upon them how important it is not to give away dpersonal details on the phone to cold callers. If in doubt, get details, call companies back and have someone else check them out before making any kind of payment for anything.

Explain that no official body will turn up at your door or call you demanding money – least of all the police.

Please,  if you have any further information relating to the operation of this con or if you or someone you know as been targeted, please contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 (999 in an emergency, obviously) or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, Local media, News, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community | 2 Comments

Oddfellows local

Walsall Wood Colliery, image believed to be not far from closure, possibly 1950s. From Walsall, a Click in Time/Walsall Local History Centre.

Had a great enquiry in this week from Nick Pilley, who’s looking for help with his Walsall Wood family history, particularly that of his Grandfather Alfred Merrick who was a deputy at Walsall Wood Colliery.

Nick wrote:

Hi Bob

I wonder if you or any of your blog readers are able to help with some research on my Great Grandfather, Alfred Merrick (1866-1936), born in Sutton Cheney, Leics and moved to Shenstone by 1891 and Walsall Wood by 1901.  Married Ada Mason (1987-1946) from Hednesford in 1894. Lived initially in New St., then at 9 King St, Walsall Wood which, according to Google maps, has been replaced by flats. Is there a photo around that might show it as it was?

Things I would like clarifying if possible are:

His obituary (Walsall Observer, 29 Feb 1936) gives him as a deputy at Coppice Colliery on retirement (1933 approx). The 1911 census says ‘fireman’ and I understand these were fairly interchangeable terms relating to someone who would check for firedamp (and ‘fire’ it) and/or make sure any steam engine air pump was functioning. I generalize but any correction would be appreciated.

Also I have seen reference to Coppice linked with Cannock. Was that the same colliery?

The obituary refers to his ‘missionary’ work with Holy Trinity Mission in Clayhanger and how he did this in spite of “strong opposition, which frequently went so far as personal violence”.  Can anyone explain this opposition?

The following quote for the obituary may also be of interest to other researchers:

“He was a member of the Hawthorne Lodge of the Independent Order of Oddfellows (Manchester Unity) and in addition to having passed through every chair at his Lodge was a past Provincial Grand Master of the Order.  Apart from his Mission interests he had two hobbies, bee keeping and horticulture and in addition to having won many awards he was a long-time lecturer on the subjects for the Staffordshire Education Committee. For several years he rendered valuable service to his workmates as secretary of the Colliery Institute”.

Many thanks,
Nick

Thanks to Nick for an interesting enquiry – can you help?

As a side note, as far as I know Walsall Wood Colliery was often called the ‘Coppy’ or ‘Coppice Pit’. That’s not linked to the one in Cannock ‘The Coppice Colliery’ but the term ‘Coppice’ seems to be often used in Colliery names (no idea why) – I’m thinking of Birch Coppice near Dordon, for instance.

If you can help Nick or have anything to add, please do yank me on social media, comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Posted in News | 16 Comments

Meet your local coppers this Saturday in Aldridge and Streetly!

Aldridge Libray. Image from Libraries Task Force on Flickr.

I received notice of this great event from Walsall Police via the excellent WMNow service this morning, advertising a pop-up meet the police event this Saturday, 18th August 2018 at Aldridge Library from 10:30am until 11:00am where you can meet your local policing team and get help, crime prevention and public safety advice.

This is the police team responsible for Walsall Wood so could be a good chance for the Wood Massive to chat to their local rozzers.

The team will also be at Streetly Library later the same day from 11am.

What not pop along and say Ello, ello, ello?.

I must say, it’s good to see the local police making efforts again to reach out to the public. Long overdue.

Also, if you haven’t signed up for WMNow, please do – it’s free and you can select to receive alerts on all kinds of local issues. It’s a fine thing.

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Sad news: Police searching for missing William Newman discover body

Image supplied with release by West Midlands Police.

Awful, awful news this evening from Walsall Police: A couple of days ago I published an appeal to see if anyone could help locate missing dementia sufferer William Newman, 56, who had gone missing from Walsall Manor Hospital on Wednesday Evening, 8th August 2018.

Well  this evening, Monday 13th August 2018at 10:40pm, local police issued the following statement:

Some sad news to report this evening.

Officers searching for missing William Newman have this evening discovered a body in an area of Walsall.

The body is yet to be formally identified but is believed to be that of the 56-year-old who went missing from Walsall Manor Hospital last Wednesday (8 August).

The death is not being treated as suspicious and Mr Newman’s family have been informed.

My sympathies to all involved in this awful event and particularly to family and friends of the deceased.

I’d like to express my personal thanks to the community for their help in this matter – as ever, when called upon, you cared, shared and kept an eye out. Thanks.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Lichfield Waterworks Trust August 2018 public meeting this Monday evening

P1120641

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 have saved 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 Monday evening (13th August 2018) there will be the August 2018 Public Meeting of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group – and there will be a rather wonderful guest speaker.

The meeting is at the Bowling Green pub, Lichfield from 7:30pm and is of course open to anyone interested.

Dave wrote:

Lichfield Waterworks Trust August News Letter

The next public meeting of Lichfield Waterworks Trust will take place on:

Monday 13 August 2018 at 7.30pm, in the rear meeting room of the:

The Bowling Green
Friary Road
Lichfield
Staffordshire
WS13 6QJ

Tel: 01543 257344

The Bowling Green serves some great food and real ales.

This is an incredibly exciting community heritage project, so do come along and become involved, we make everyone welcome.

Notes of the June 2018 Meeting are here

Events

We are pleased to announce that railway historian Ian Pell will be back with us to tell us all about the connection between the South Staffs Railway and coal, together with the importance of Norton Junction within this equation.

The talk contains some details and photos of most of the connected collieries which used Angelsea Sidings and Norton Junction. 

Health and Safety

We are really pleased to report that there have been no incidents relating to health and safety. A very big thank you to everyone for working safely.

Engineering Team Report

Progress notes from the engineering team are available here.

Membership

We would like this opportunity to welcome a few new members.

Thank you for joining the Lichfield Waterworks Trust. We hope you will enjoy your membership and become part of a very exciting heritage project that will benefit the people, the place and the community.

It would really help us if we develop and grow our membership. If you are not already a member and would you like to be a part of one of the region’s most exciting heritage projects then please, join us now by filling in Membership Application Form by going to our membership page here. It is free to join and be a part of this incredibly exciting project.

Donations

We have incurred some considerable expenditure covering legal costs, insurance and training. We will always invest in our people, and we are planning further training days soon too. All these costs soon mount up, so if you can donate, then please visit our donation page here, any amount is helpful and well appreciated.

Please make cheques payable to; Lichfield Waterworks Trust, and send to our address:

22 Walsall Road
Lichfield
WS13 8AB

Finally

Thank you everyone for your continued support and helping to make a difference in our community.

Our data protection policy is here

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

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A handy advance

The advanced party… These boys helped to put the tents up. But who are they? Image kindly supplied by Grahame Taylor via David Evans. Please click for a larger version.

Thanks to generosity of reader Grahame Taylor, David Evans has sent a couple of what are thought to be 1950s photographs of Walsall Wood Boys Brigade at summer camp in Abergele.

This sit well alongside similar images of the Brigade supplied by Tony Portman previously, and other historical images featured here over the years on the blog.

David Evans wrote:

Hello Bob

Walsall Wood Boys Brigade… The summer camp, post-war.

Believed to be taken in 1950/51, and at the second annual camp, held at Abergele, instead of  the planned  visit to the Isle of Wight.

Please can readers add names to the faces and confirm or correct the date and location?

I understand that Mr Ernie Bullock founded the Walsall Wood troupe, possibly in 1948, and was succeeded by Mr Jim Smith… Can readers please confirm this?

My thanks are extended to Mr Grahame Taylor for offering these images.

David

Cheers to Grahame Taylor for a wonderful pair of photos – so evocative of the time. I feel sure they will provoke much discussion! Also my thanks to David, as every, for gathering such wonderful history for us all.

Comment here, tug my sleeve on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Walsall Wood’s Boys Brigade at camp in the early 1950s – Image kindly supplied by Grahame Taylor via David Evans. Please click for a larger version.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Do you remember the Station Hotel talking clock?

station hotel

The Station Hotel in the mid 1980s – do you remember a talking clock here? A cracking image kindly supplied by Mike Leonard.

I’ve had an interesting enquiry come in from reader Bee who’s asked something that has very much intrigued me – do you remember the ‘speaking clock’ next to the Station Hotel, Brownhills?

For those too young to remember, the Station Hotel stood where Aldi is today, and closed in 1985, and was finally demolished by 1990. It was once a classy establishment and seat of the William Roberts pub and brewing empire, but in the postwar years had the reputation for being a lively, fun boozer with music and great locals.

Bee asked the following:

Hi

Does anyone remember the talking clock that stood at the side of the Station Hotel on the High Street Brownhills and are the any pictures of it…

I’m trying to help an old aunt wth dementia and I am looking for some things to help bring back some memories for her.

Bee

Now, I’ve never heard of this before so I’d be interested to see what others remember – please do get in touch it you know anything.

You can comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or give me a shout on social media.

Thanks to Bee for a fascinating question, and I’m hoping perhaps the below memories of the Station Hotel by Roy Blakey and Val Ainsworth which I featured here a year ago might serve to prompt further memories?

Original post:

I was contacted separately last week by Roy Blakey and Val Ainsworth, who sent me a lovely warm and gentle memory of discovering the Station Hotel whilst exploring by bus in the postwar period, originally posted by Roy to the wonderful Birmingham History Forum in 2015.

This is interesting in itself, as to this day, many a Brownhills youth explores Birmingham the same way – similarly restricted by the end of service at 11pm.

Val Ainsworth said:

I came across a note that my husband had put as a post on one of the local history forums.

It relates to one of his experiences as a young man.

This is a wonderful thing, and thanks to Val and Roy for sharing it – and Brownhills people haven’t changed!

If you have any memories to add, please do: comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Roy Blakey wrote:

Lovely People: Period 1948ish…

As a group of young men, living in Kingstanding, we spotted that a relatively new bus service had been introduced, taking passengers between the Kingstanding Circle and Brownhills.

Having explored many other areas in and around Brum, we decided one evening to have a ride out to Brownhills, an area that we hadn’t had a look at as yet.

Having caught the bus ( from just in front of the Snooker hall on the Kingstanding Circle ) we eventually arrived in Brownhills. We had a quick wander up and down the High Street to get our first impressions.

We then spotted the Station Hotel  pub and decided to pop in for a pint.

Brownhills at this time was predominately a coal mining community. The Station Hotel pub was fairly packed as we entered, with what I guess now were quite a few of the miners, some with their wives, some with their girlfriends.

The first thing that struck our little group was how friendly the locals were. In the pub we quickly got into conversation with all around us. Completely friendly and pleasant.

Great company.

The second thing that surprised us somewhat was the way the way the young ladies there were quite happy to go up to the bar and confidently buy pints for themselves and then drink them down like experienced troopers.

The third thing that happened was that this was the first time we had come full on with some of the lovely Black Country accent. It was a bit surprising I guess, because we had only travelled just over 8 miles from Kingstanding to get there.

We had a great couple of hours or so with these lovely people.

I think we had to leave sometime before closing time because the last return bus was around 10:00pm.

Needless to say, we made that trip a few times at later dates. Always had a soft spot for our Brownhiils neighbours following that period.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, planning, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Woodmen unfazed by Worcester’s sauce

Images and captions kindly supplied by the young David Evans

A grey Saturday afternoon yesterday (Saturday 11th August 2018) saw Walsall Wood FC hold visitors to Oak Park, Worcester City to a respectable one-all draw, in an entertaining match that pleased football reporter David Evans…

This year’s football reports will be courtesy of David Evans and Russell Smith of The-Wood.tv, in loving memory and dedication to the late, great and much-missed Bill Shaw.

David said:

Walsall Wood 1 v 1 Worcester City

A fine performance by two sporting teams graced the Oak Park stadium this afternoon. The final score – 1 goal each belied the thrilling play and determined football that the sides played.

Walsall Wood had a hard job to do this afternoon, with tackles coming in from every direction, and the new red strip seemingly irresistible to some of the visiting side.

The officials played their part in ensuring that correct play and procedure was observed by by sides, in this close encounter.Worcester were fortunate to be awarded a penalty in the first half, from which they scored their goal.

Professional video report of the match from Ruseel Smith’s The_Wood.tv.

The second half brought a re-energised and more determined Walsall Wood whose composure and finesse were to grind away at Worcester throughout the rest of the match.

Some odd injuries… Perhaps landing awkwardly, or turning, and these brought the game to a temporary halt more than once, Worcester players needing precious time to recover.

The referee used his stop watch appropriately
It was in the added minutes played at the end of the second half that Walsall Wood scored a beautiful, well- executed goal to give a final score of one to each side.

The game was a display of meaningful  positive soccer , played  by two fairly evenly matched sides, initially.

Grit and determination brought the vital goal for the Wood in the end.

David

Thanks to David there – For The Good Of The Wood!

Walsall Wood Football Club are a top local side and last season’s league champions with a big-hearted faithful who know how to have a great time supporting their lads, and welcome all comers to come enjoy great local soccer.

The boys from The Wood have been at the heart of the local community for a century or more, so please do go check out a match or two if you’re curious.

 

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Looking for the Herriott family please – can you help?

The Herriott family lived in Simmonds Way, Shire Oak in 1998, and may still be there, we’re not sure. Imagery from Google Streetview.

Hi folks – I need a favour please, so if you can help it would be really appreciated.

A blog reader is trying to get in touch with the Herriott family who lived in Simmonds Way, Shire Oak around 1998, please.

This isn’t bad news, there’s nothing wrong and there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.

However, if anyone is in contact with the Herriott family, or could ask them to get in touch with me that would be most excellent please.

If you can help, please mail me privately on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail Dot com, or message me on social media – as ever, your absolute confidence is assured. If you comment on this post, I may not approve the comment but it will be read, thank you.

I repeat this is not anything to worry about, but it would be a nice thing to resolve.

Cheers for your help
Bob

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Chasewater Railway – 2018 Annual Charities Day this Sunday!

Always a great day out!

Chasewater Railway – the little gem of a local preserved industrial railway is this Sunday (12th August 2018) staging it’s Annual Charities Day, when the railway will be operating with steam trains, and there will be charity stalls and activities at Brownhills West Station.

The Charities Day is always great fun and a good way to find out what local groups are up to – as well as to enjoy fun and games for all the family, explore the working railway and Country Park it runs in.

I hear that the Swan Lady, Irene Hodges will be there too – she’s the guardian angel for the Chasewater Swans and a lovely kind lady who’s well worth chatting to and deserves our support.

There’s a last minute update that there will be something extra for the kids too – the ‘Fancy a Jump’ inflatable crew will be there!

Chasewater Railway said:

CHARITIES DAY SUNDAY 12th AUGUST UPDATE

We welcome our friends at FANCY A JUMP to this Sunday’s charities day lineup. Come along and have a bounce!

All the kids love a bouncy castle!

Lots of charity stalls, steam train rides, museum, shops, model railways and our The Sidings Tea Room there is something for all the family at Chasewater Railway. See you there!

Chasewater Railway is a wonderful attraction with regular passenger services at weekends and during school holidays, featuring two excellent cafes and a fascinating museum that chronicles not just railway history, but that of our area and industry.

The whole thing is staffed by helpful and friendly volunteers who are always ready to chat and talk about the railway and rolling stock.

At Brownhills west station there are also a lovely model railway, plus a couple of great vintage and collectible stalls. The railway itself has a shop selling books, rail models, toys and other merchandise.

Please do pop down if you haven’t already – Chasewater Railway really isn’t pushed enough; it’s wonderful.

You can check their website here – trains run this and every weekend from 11am to 4pm with the museum, cafes and stations open earlier.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Cannock Chase, Chasewater, Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hednesford festival on today!

Looks like a great event too – another one that went under the radar, sadly.

Thanks for Stuart Cowley for the tipoff, I can also share the late news that today, Saturday 11th August 2018 it’s Hednesford Festival in Hednesford Park, and there’s loads to do with a market, stalls, fun and games, classic cars and entertainment for all the family.

It runs until 4pm so still time to get up there!

The organisers said:

Last year was an amazing success building on previous events bringing our whole community together. The film made to chronicle the day is available on YouTube below:

Please share and invite your friends and family, the more the merrier

The Hednesford Summer Festival 2018 will include a wide variety of fun and activities for the whole family.

The fun fair is returning, a wide variety of market stalls and food provision. We have lots happening throughout the day as an enjoyable experience for everyone, we will have an arena for entertainment including local singing groups and tennis participation, team tug-o-war, classic cars display, dog display and scruffs competition and lots, lots more

A specific area for our younger children with the popular Grow Up Great Zone including balloon modeller and Punch and Judy Show as well as arts and crafts

 

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Craft fair & Market on right now at Grasmere Garden Centre, Brownhills!

Looks nice.

Just become aware of this nice-looking event happening right now (Lunchtime, Saturday 11th August 2018) at Grasmere Garden Centre, Brownhills – up there over the Canal Bridge on the Lichfield Road.

Join us for our Craft Fayre & Market

Saturday 11th August 2018
10am – 4pm

We’ve got a variety of stall holders coming to showcase lots of handmade crafts, gifts and goodies !

It’ll be a day for all the family to enjoy with something for all ages 🌼

Free Car Parking and Free Entry

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Walsall Wood play Worcester City this Saturday at Oak Park

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

Saturday 11th August 2018

Walsall Wood FC at home to Worcester City in a big-name match!

Can the Woodmen continue their winning ways?

Don’t break your Wood vows be there and be faithful to your local heroes

3:00pm kickoff

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Oak Park, Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood. WS9 9NP.

Check out the club website here.

Local football: the heart of the game.

 

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Police urgently looking for Walsall dementia sufferer – please help if you can

Have you seen William Newman? He has dementia and police are very concerned for his wellbeing. Image supplied by West Midlands Police.

Please – take a look at the photo above – 56 year old dementia sufferer William Newman went missing from Walsall Manor Hospital sometime around 8:30pm, Wednesday 8th August 2018.

Have you seen this gentleman? If so, please contact the police who are very concerned for his welfare.

Please let’s get him back to safety – dementia is such a cruel thing.

West Midlands Police issued the following request:

We are concerned for the safety of 56-year-old dementia sufferer William Newman, who has gone missing from Walsall Manor Hospital.

William was last seen at around 8.30pm, 8 August, heading towards Moat Road in Walsall.

He is described as a white, 6ft and of slim build. He has a spider web tattoo on his neck, a tattoo of snake scales on his right arm & hand and a tattoo on one of his ear lobes.

He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a grey T-shirt and white socks.

If you have seen him or know where he is, please call the Western Locate Team on 01902 649150.

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Get stoned and smile this Saturday morning in Clayhanger

Smile stones are wonderful!

There’s a lovely thing going on at Clayhanger Community Centre in Church Street, Clayhanger this Saturday morning 11th August 2018 – a smile stone workshop.

There’s a lovely craze around the area at the moment for painting, hiding and finding smile stones – decorated stones that when found, the find is shared on social media. Creating them and finding new ones has become a real summer holiday treat for local families and is a lovely, creative way to keep kids occupied.

 

The workshop runs from 10am until 12 noon and costs just £2 per child – all are welcome. What’s not to love?

The Community Centre is in the former George and Dragon pub in Church Street, Clayhanger WS8 &EG.

Smile stones are popping up everywhere. Image posted on Facebook by Victoria Slevin.

 

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Coffee, cake and great social events in the heart of Pelsall – what’s not to love?

Images posted on Facebook by the Reading Rooms

It’s always great to hear from old pals of the blog, and Laura Hucker mailed me a couple of days ago to tell me about the great events they have going on at the Reading Rooms coffee and cake emporium in the Pelsall Village Centre.

This terrific cake stop opened to the public in May and has gone from strength to strength with great reviews – Laura made a fantastic job of the fairs she ran and they were a good omen for the Reading Rooms: a great social and food space that has really become a focus for the community.

Since Brownhills Community Association have become involved with the Village Centre in Pelsall, it’s really picking up with so much going on there (see here) and it’s good to see Pelsall finally benefit from the expertise and dedication of people who really make the Community Centre in Brownhills the hive of activity it is. Best wishes to all involved.

You can find out more about The Reading Rooms at their website here, or their Facebook here – and you can learn more, including opening hours and contact details below.

Coming up they have lots of events which I’ve listed facebook links to at the foot of this post – and Laura told me about the Coffe Talk with Tasters and Cake event coming up on Monday 13th August 2018:

Here at The Reading Rooms, we are passionate about our coffee! When we opened, we searched high and low for a really tasty coffee and locality was important too. We found Iron and Fire, a coffee roaster based in Shrewsbury, one meeting with Kevin and his passion was infectious and his knowledge second to none!

We didn’t want to keep this all to ourselves and so many people comment on our coffee that we wanted to share our experience with you. On Monday 13th August from 5pm to 7pm, Kevin, our coffee roaster will be coming along to The Reading Rooms to hold a coffee talk, imparting his impressive knowledge and explaining how to make the perfect cup of coffee!

The talk will last an hour and then all customers will have the opportunity to have two cups of coffee and a piece of cake of their choice whilst asking Kevin any questions. This is an event not to be missed!

£8 per ticket including the talk, two cups of coffee and a piece of cake. Booking in advance is required.

Facebook event links:

THE READING ROOMS
Pelsall Village Centre
High Street
Pelsall
WS3 4LX

Telephone: 01543 373768

Email: hello@the-reading-rooms.co.uk

THE READING ROOMS OPENING HOURS
MONDAY – FRIDAY: 8:30am – 3pm
SATURDAY: 9:30am – 11:30am
SUNDAY: Closed

THE BOOK EXCHANGE OPENING HOURS
MONDAY, TUESDAY AND THURSDAY: 10am – 3pm
SATURDAY: 9:30am – 11:30am
SUNDAY: Closed

For any further details regarding the Book Exchange, room hire or activities, please contact Janet Davies on 07977 464 908 or email janet.davies@brownhillsca.org.uk

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New Hall Mill is open again this Sunday!

P1040438

New Hall Mill is a splendid place, restored and run by wonderfully dedicated volunteers.

Theres a lovely thing to visit locally this Sunday (12th August 2018), that’s close by, free and absolutely fascinating…

New Hall Mill is open again on Sunday for one of the last few open days of 2018. I can heartily recommend the place – it’s fascinating and I had a great time there on 2015 Spring Bank Holiday Monday – not enough people know about this wonderful building.

There’s also an appeal ongoing for people who may be interested to join the friends of New Hall Mill and help in all sorts of ways – the team need all kinds of expertise from guides to engineering types who may have time to spare. See the message at the foot of the post.

The open day is free to enter too (although donations are welcomed).

The Friends of New Hall Mill said:

Hello Bob

New Hall Mill – 12th Aug 2018

There being only three remaining open days this year, “The Friends of New Hall Mill” will be opening the water mill to the public on Sunday 12th Aug. Come along and see flour being produced from wheat in the traditional way, have a go on a hand operated quern as still used in parts of the world today. Visit the gift shop, be entertained with Live music, see the many side stalls in the grounds and experience lovely walks alongside the streams and through the meadows.

There is an exhibition room and small tearoom selling cakes and beverages along with a garden shop where produce may be purchased from the millers garden. Don’t forget to visit Auntie Wainwrights to find that bargain before someone beats you to it.

We have the following events in the grounds and meadows for your enjoyment on the day.

Be entertained by the Lichfield Lighthouse Company at the following times,  12:30 – 12:50, 1:20 – 1:40 and 2:55 – 2:15.

At approx 11.15, Marian will lead a one hour or so walk – ‘A stroll in Newhall valley including the grounds of New Hall Hotel’

In the meadows and grounds; we have displays and demonstrations  by:

  • Lucy May’s Animal Days
  • Bournville Bread Basket
  • ECO Sutton
  • Vintage Bike Display
  • Trinity Photography Group
  • Helens Handmade Gifts
  • Face Painting
  • Vintage Sewing items display
  • Queen Victoria display
  • Smoking Memorabilia
  • Garden Sprayers display
  • Birmingham & The Black Country Wildlife Trust
  • Milk Bottles & Churns Display
P1040417

I totally geeked out over this wonderful place.

Entry to the site and Parking is free, donations are always welcome in order that we raise funds to maintain the buildings for all to see in the future.

Please note that we open at 10:00 and close at 16:00 with last entry onto site being at 15:45.

Only disability assistance dogs, in harness are allowed on site.

Access to the mill is off Wylde Green Road, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1QU some 200 metres from National Cycle Route 534.

Having seen what we do, could you be able to assist? In order to continue holding these events, we need additional membership to help out on Open Days and Work Days. It is not all about Flour production – We have ageing machinery to maintain, Tea room staff are always welcome, there are openings in all areas. Have a chat with a volunteer on Open day.

Hoping to see you there

Alan Dawson – A friend of New Hall Mill.

More details can be found on their website – www.newhallmill.org.uk or their Facebook page here.

This is certainly a project worth visiting and supporting – please do pop along if you can.  You can check out a gallery of my photos taken there last year below. I had a great time.

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

2018 Big Bounce family fun day coming this Wednesday to Holland Park!

Dj3X7ymX4AEY89T.jpg-large

Always good fun


Just a headsup to point out there’s a Big Bounce family fud day taking place at Holland Park, Brownhills this Wednesday, 8th August 2018, as well as others over the school holidays throughout the area.

It’s £6 per child, with under fives at £5 – there are two sessions, 11-1:30pm and 2-4:30pm.

There will be rides, inflatables, slides, go-karts and all sorts of fun, including a toddler zone.

You can check out the Facebook page of the event operator here.

The organisers said:

Big Bounce Walsall is heading to Holland Park, Brownhills this summer holiday on Wednesday 8th August.

Week 3 of the school holidays, & we’re here to keep your kids entertained as we continue our tour around over 10 parks across the Walsall Borough bringing lots of inflatable fun to all these open spaces.

With over a dozen inflatable attractions for all age of kids with just one admission fee and unlimited play, how else can you treat your kids on your doorstep for only £6 for children & £5 under 5’s, Babies in arms & supervising adults go FREE.

Attractions include
Mega Slide
Assaults courses
Go Karts
Wipeout Sweeper
Toddler Zone
Bouncy Castles
Helter Skelter Slide
and Loads More

Full Address – Holland Park, The Parade, Brownhills, WS8 7JB
Fun starts 11am-1.30pm morning session & 2pm-4.30pm afternoon session

Look out for free entry competitions!

https://www.facebook.com/BigBounceWalsall/

It would be excellent if you could share our page and show friends and family about our upcoming events.
Thank you so much 🙂

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Warning for local dog walkers: Beware of adders!

Beware – thee might be snakes in the local grassland. Archive image from my 365days journal.

Hi folks – time for a warning – I’m seeing reports that dogs are being bitten by adders at Chasewater and other heathland at the moment, so take care.

Adders are the UK’s only venomous snake, and the sun brings them out. Timid and furtive creatures, they won’t bite unless to defend themselves, and are quite hard to find; however they do like to bask in the sun and it’s easy for dogs and humans running through long grass and scrub to disturb them with unpleasant consequences.

Adder bites are rarely fatal in humans (although anaphylaxis is a real possibility) but they can be fatal in dogs – see the NHS advice on snake bites here for advice on what to do if you’re bitten. Adders have been present in this country probably longer than us humans, and there’s nothing can be done, nor should it be, about their presence: The only thing is if on the common, the heaths around Chasewater and other open land like Cannock Chase, keep your dog and kids close by and take great care.

The Forestry Commission has this to say about adders:

The adder is the only venomous snake native to Britain. Adders have the most highly developed venom injecting mechanism of all snakes, but they are not aggressive animals. Adders will only use their venom as a last means of defence, usually if caught or trodden on. No one has died from adder bite in Britain for over 20 years. With proper treatment, the worst effects are nausea and drowsiness, followed by severe swelling and bruising in the area of the bite. Most people who are bitten were handling the snake. Treat adders with respect and leave them alone.

Adders are fascinating creatures, but if you find one, don’t disturb it. Image from NHS England.

Vets 4 Pets has this to say about adder bites and dogs:

The only venomous snake native to the UK is the European adder (Vipera berus). Adults are roughly 50-60cm long and have a black/brown zigzag pattern along their back and V or X shaped marking on the back of the head. They are most commonly found in the south and south west of England, western Wales and Scotland where their preferred habitats are sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and woodland edges. Adders are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; this means that it is an offence to kill, harm, injure, sell or trade them.

Is my dog likely to get bitten?

Adder bites are fairly rare. Snakes generally only bite in self-defence, so normally bites occur when a snake is stepped on or disturbed by your dog. Puppies and young dogs can be especially curious and can unintentionally provoke an adder into biting. The majority of bites in dogs seem to occur between April and July, most commonly in the afternoon when the adders are most active.

Important points:
  • Most adder bites occur between April and July
  • Common adder habitats are sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and also woodland edges
  • If your dog is bitten, don’t panic, try to keep them still and seek veterinary attention straight away
  • The most common signs are significant pain and swelling where the bite occurred as well as depression and lethargy
  • Less than 5% of patients display more severe signs and complications
  • 96-97% of bitten dogs make a full recovery, usually within 5 days, with appropriate treatment

For a map of reported adder sightings, check the Interactive Map Tool: https://data.nbn.org.uk/

So, there you have it – the key message is take care, keep dogs under control, and don’t panic if one bites, but act swiftly.

If you do find an adder on your local travels, please do get in touch – I’d love to see pictures! Comment here, ping me on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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Walsall Wood launch new season beating Romulus in sunny scorcher

Images and captions kindly supplied by the young David Evans

A pleasant summer’s afternoon match at Oak Park that kicked off the 2018/19 football season at Walsall Wood yesterday (Saturday 4th August 2018) saw visiting Romulus beaten in a hard fought match by the boys from the Wood.

This year’s football reports will be courtesy of David Evans and Russell Smith of The-Wood.tv, in loving memory and dedication to the late, great and much-missed Bill Shaw.

David Evans said:

Walsall Wood 3 v 2 Romulus

A fine opening match of the new season to thrill and delight the home and visiting spectators, making their first visit to the Theatre of Dreams.

The sun shone brightly and the two teams battled it out in fine positive and commendable sporting manner in the tropical heat  here at Oak Park. In true non-league fashion the visitors tried to make an initial lightning attack, but the Wood were well prepared and as the game progressed the Wood’s composure and superior play shone through.

At half time the Wood were two goals to nil up, but you had that feeling that Romulus had more to give as the second half began. Yes, two good, well-worked goals bought Romulus level  within a short while.

Professional video report of the match from Ruseel Smith’s The_Wood.tv.

The Wood then showed a measure of mature composure and level of skill that would grace any national team as they worked their way steadily and positively to score their third and winning goal.

Romulus, perhaps understandibly saw their accuracy of passing deteriorate as frustration and the tropical heat wore away at their spirit, but, to their credit, they played a well-natured, positive, sporting game throughout

The game ended to well-deserved applause from all the spectators..and for all the players

David

Thanks to David there – For The Good Of The Wood!

Walsall Wood Football Club are a top local side and last season’s league champions with a big-hearted faithful who know how to have a great time supporting their lads, and welcome all comers to come enjoy great local soccer.

The boys from The Wood have been at the heart of the local community for a century or more, so please do go check out a match or two if you’re curious.

 

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Reading mysteries

Footherley is a small hamlet south of Shenstone, about 4 miles from Brownhills. Imagery from current Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 mapping.

One for the weekend I’ve been meaning to raise here for a while – there’s a historical mystery just down the road from here we’ve never properly explored, and I’d be interested to see what we can find out about it.

Marked on the 1:2,500 maps from the turn of the last century (in the instance shown, 1912) there is a building marked in Footherley, near Shenstone, as ‘Reading Room’.

On most large scale maps of the late Victorian and pre-WW1 period, a Reading Room – whatever that is – is marked in Footherley, near Shenstone. Click for a larger version.

Lazily, I’d always assumed the ‘reading room’ was a social club of some sort and later became Footherley Working Men’s Club, which still exists, but actually having studied the map, they’re in two different places.

This has really piqued my interest.

The reading Room is actually marked on the map as being attached, or adjacent to the barns at Home Farm, and not near the site of today’s Working Men’s Club at all.

In this National Library of Scotland Archive mapping from 1912, overlaid on Google Earth imagery, it’s evident the Reading Room was not where I though it was. Click for larger image.

I’d love to know what we can find out about this: Was it an early library? Gentleman’s club? Why in Footherley, and not the larger, nearby Shenstone? Is it related to the club, or are they different?

I’ve been idly wondering about this for years and I’d love to know what readers think – Please do comment here, grab me on social medial or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

The Reading Room was either this building, or a lost one attached to it. Imagery from Google Streetview.

Footherley Working Men’s Club is apparently still functional, but a little dilapidated and is a good way south of Home Farm. Imagery from Google Streetview.

Posted in News | 13 Comments

Harvest home

You know I love quirky films, drone footage, big machinery and the local landscape, right?

Well here’s a couple of wonderful films made by local drone pilot Don Elson that he’s posted on YouTube in recent days of local growers getting in the harvest in and around Hammerwich – this really is mesmerising and top use of drone technology.

A wonderful harvest photo of the same kit, expertly driven by Jon Sealey and pals. Image supplied by Jon Sealey.

Living in a peri-urban town as we do, it’s easy to forget we’re right on the edge of rolling countryside, and with the fine weather this year the harvest has been quite spectacular. It’s good to see local farms doing well and this is a lovely insight into what they do.

Thanks to Don for allowing me to post this here and if there’s anything you’d like to talk to him about in relationship to his drone work, please do comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or ping me on social media.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Fancy strawberries and cream this morning?

Strawberries, cream, coffee and chatter – can’t beat ’em. Image from Kitchen Dreams.

I notice there’s a coffee morning this morning (Saturday, 4th August 2018) at Brownhills Methodist Church, Silver Street, Brownhills.

This one’s a bit special: It’s a coffee morning  with strawberries and cream, which can’t be a bad thing, and runs from 9am-12noon. All re welcome.

The Silver Street Church is busy and has an active congregation and you can find out more about it at their website here and Facebook page here.

Image kindly supplied by David Evans.

 

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New season kicks off today for Walsall Wood FC!

Images and captions by the inimitable and young David Evans

Nice to see Walsall Wood FC are gearing up for the new season with a full match schedule,  revitalised spectator facilities and a whole host of great stuff to come, both in terms of local football and activity within the community.

The place smells faintly of fresh paint, everything’s being polished and dusted and dreams of the new season are the order of the day. It’s onwards and upwards for last season’s league champions, who hopefully can build on their fantastic successes of last season and surge forward into the 2017/8 season with the same vigour and success.

Blog footy correspondent the young David Evans has been down to check out the club, and liked what he saw:

Hi Bob

I took the opportunity to pay a visit to  Walsall Wood FC at Oak Park to see how the preparations for the start of the new season are  getting on.

Verdict: Wonderful!

Fresh paint, newly decorated rooms, new additional facilities, improvements by the load!

The club and the ground are a credit to all those who have worked so hard… respect to them all.

First match of the new season is today, Saturday 4th August. 2018 and it’s home fixture – Romulus FC. Kick off is 3:00pm at the Oak Park ground.

kind regards
David

You can keep your eye on the latest Walsall Wood FC news and events by visiting their website here or following their Twitter feed here.

For the good of The Wood!

I will, as ever, endeavour to bring you news and results as I can.

Best wishes to the faithful, and remember, it’s all for The Good of the Wood!

Posted in Brownhills stuff, 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inflatable fun day at Aldridge today!

Fancy a jump? Don’t mind if I do…

Just a heads to point out there’s an inflatable fun day taking place at The Green, Aldridge today (Friday 3rd August 2018) from 11am until 3:00pm, then from 4:00pm until 8:00pm.

It’s £5 per person – and there will be food, drinks and ice cream available too!

 

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A5 Live this weekend – it’s not too late to get tickets!

A great local music festival returns.

Long term readers will remember the annual music and fun festival that’s taken place on the smallholding just off the A5 at Newtown, Brownhills – formerly called Cockfest (because it took place on a chicken farm), last year becoming A5 Live.

This year the music, entertainment and fun returns, and takes place from this Friday (3rd  to Sunday 5th August 2018), and tickets are still available.

The organisers have produced a FAQ list, and the said:

In the build up to A5 Live we are often asked similar questions, so we thought we’d answer them all in one 🔍

Opening times
The gates are open from 15:00 on Friday 3rd August and reopen at 12:00 Saturday, and 10:00 Sunday closing at 16:00 on Sunday the 5th August (if you want to come any earlier just send us a message)

Bands are performing at the following times
Friday 18:00 -23:00 | Saturday 16:00- 23:00 |Sunday 12:00-16:00 🎸🥁🎸

There is lots to see and do outside of these times too 🎪

What are the prices 🎫🎟🎫
Friday – £10 | Saturday – £15 | Sunday – £5 | Weekend ticket – £25 | Camping £10 per unit
Children under 12 go FREE

Parking 🅿️
Parking is free, and we have lots of it. We also have parking and access for Blue Badge holders ♿️

How do I get there 📍
The postcode for sat navs is WS8 6JR, just follow the signs!

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Lots of great acts!

Camping 🏕
We have lots of space for camping, both tents, caravans and camper vans. We have water but no electric hook ups, its £10 per unit to camp all weekend

Are dogs allowed? 🐕🐩🐕
Well behaved dogs on leads are very welcome, we will make sure there is plenty of water bowls for them, but please be mindful of the current weather conditions when bringing them

Alcohol 🍻
Only alcohol purchased from out fully licensed bar can be consumed in the arena, only those camping are permitted to bring alcohol and this must remain in the designated campsites

Food 🌯
Again, only food purchased at the festival can be consumed in the arena, only campers can bring food to the festival and this must remain in the campsite.

BBQ’s and Fires 🔥
Due to current weather conditions we cannot permit the use of BBQ’s or fire’s. We also ask you to be mindful when smoking and discarding cigarettes, we provide sand filled cigarette bins for the safe disposal of cigarettes 🚬

For more information on the festival please visit our website www.a5live.co.uk

Preparations for the local music and fun spectacular are well underway

You can get tickets from the A5 Live website here or by emailing A5-Live@outlook.co.uk. You can check out the festival Facebook page here, too.

I wish everyone the best for this and it’s always good to see local music events.

Can’t grumble at those prices!

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Police incident at Chasewater yesterday evening

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Chasewater isn’t usually the kind of place you’d expect to be the scene of such intense police activity. Archive image from my 365days journal.

Update 5:25pm, Wednesday 1 August
Latest statement from Staffordshire Police:

Armed police deployed to Chasewater Country ParkStaffordshire Police received a call just after 8pm yesterday (31 July) reporting that a man had been assaulted with a weapon at Chasewater Country Park on Pool Road, Brownhills.

Armed officers attended, along with the force’s Dog Support Unit and colleagues from the Ambulance Service. The National Police Air Service also provided assistance.Three men received medical attention at the scene for minor injuries, and an extensive search of the area was carried out.

No armed men or weapons were found and the armed officers were stood down.Chief Inspector Mark Smith, Lichfield District Local Policing Team Commander, said: “Fortunately no one was seriously injured, but we are carrying out a thorough investigation to trace those involved.“It is believed to be an isolated incident, and officers will be on duty in the area this evening to reassure local residents. We would like to encourage the community to continue to use the park as normal.“Any witnesses are asked to contact us on 101, quoting incident number 776 of 31 July. Any information, however small and insignificant it may seem, could help with our investigation.”

Update 10:40am, Wednesday 1 August
Staffordshire Police have posted the following at 10:18am:

There will be an increased police presence today and this evening in Chasewater but we would like to encourage the community to continue to use the park as normal.

Original post:

There’s been a lot of understandable concern on social media in the last 12 hours or so due to a large police presence at Chasewater yesterday evening (Tuesday 31st July 2018), including the dog unit, force helicopter and an armed response team – apparently in response to some kind of incident involving weapons.

At the moment, official information is quite scant, but Lichfield police issued the following two statements in succession – when more information emerges, I’ll update this post as necessary:

At 9:31pm, they said:

Please be aware that we are currently dealing with an incident in and around Chasewater Country Park. There will be a large number of officers and vehicles in the area conducting enquiries.

At 9:36pm they went on to say:

In relation to the incident at Chasewater County Park. There has been a deployment to the location in relation to some minor disorder involving weapons. Enquiries are on going at the moment and nobody has been seriously injured or harmed.

Following on from this, at 9:41pm, Staffordshire Police Dogs and Armed Response tweeted:

Shift 2 ARV are currently involved in a firearms deployment at Chasewater. You may see armed officers in the area following a report of an assault with a machete. An area search has been completed and no offenders or weapons have been found so far.

Staffordshire Police ARV unit, Apparently at Chasewater Dam. Image posted on Twitter by @StaffsDogs.
Posted in News

Ladies beware: Several indecent exposures in Brownhills

Clayhanger Common is lonely, as are the canals and many other places around Brownhills: Ladies, take care when out and about. Imagery from Apple Maps.

It’s my duty to share with you all the concerning news that there seems to be a man exposing himself to women around the canal towpaths and other parts of Brownhills, particularly in the areas of Clayhanger Common and Silver Street.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that it seems one man is fairly prolific –  several ladies have mentioned him on social media – West Midlands Police are aware and the incidents have been reported.

Please be aware that if you’re subject to this kind of crime, always call 999 not 101, as per police instructions. This man may be building up to something more serious. This behaviour needs to be stopped.

A lady reported the following yesterday morning, Monday 30th July 2018:

Please be careful when walking alone ladies.a man has just shown me his little fella on the canal towpath by the Canoe Centre, Brownhills.

I have reported him to police – approx 25 years old, brown tracksuit bottoms, dark cap and a small black man bag.

He was walking down towards pelsall way.

A second lady described what she feels is the same man who also exposed himself to her:

He’s around about 25ish, dark hair with a dark moustache, wears a baseball cap, has tattoos on both of his hands and on his neck.

I think that he works somewhere local to Brownhills as when I saw him again after he exposed himself at me he had a cap which said Stihl workwear on with high vis and green work protective trousers, which might indicate he does something to do with tree work maybe.

Please be on your guard ladies.

It seems the character in question may live or work locally.

Please be careful if you’re out and about in the area by yourself; even in the middle of the day parts of our area can be very isolated, so take care where you go alone.

If you or your children are subject to anything like this, please do contact the police. These types of offences can escalate, and the culprits need to be caught before they do more serious harm.

If you have any information related to this incident call Walsall Police on 101, or you may also speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The Police urge anyone who falls victim to such an indecent exposure to call 999 immediately.

It’s worth repeating the advice about flashing incidents and suchlike issued by West Midlands Police last year:

Police Constable Richard Jackson, from Walsall Police, said: ‘Although this type of offence is rare, there are many parks and open spaces on the east side of Walsall that have historically attracted offenders.

‘They usually target women, often when they are alone in parks, canals or country tracks.

‘We take any such offences very seriously and saw five people arrested in 2012 when we set up an operation to reduce this kind of offending.’

Walsall Police have issued the following guidelines for the public if an offence occurs.

  • Please phone 999 immediately! The Walsall Police plan involves an immediate response for officers to attend and try to capture the offender. Please do not wait until you get home.
  • Try and get a good description of the offender, including detail of clothing. This is very valuable to police, and if the offender is in a vehicle, the registration number is also extremely important to help identify them. The make and model is also very useful.
  • Details of where the offender was last seen, or last seen heading to is very valuable in assisting police to locate them quickly.
  • Never put yourself at further risk to obtain these details, but if have seen them please commit them to memory, or write them down if you can. This information can then be passed straight out to officers via police radio to ensure that a meaningful search can take place straight away.

For advice on staying safe when out, visit: www.safer-streets.org

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Beware: Nasty dog attack in Holland Park leaves pet injured

Images posted on Facebook by Lisa Joanne Sherwood

This is a warning to dog walkers in Brownhills – there was a very worrying incident in Holland Park today (Sunday, 29th July 2018), when a local lady was horrified to witness her beloved pet Jack being attacked by a pair of out of control dogs belonging to another park user.

Lisa Joanne Sherwood wrote:

Upset is not the word my poor jack has been viciously attacked due to an irresponsible owner who thought it was ok to have his Staffy and his Pit Bull off the lead (well didn’t even have a lead for a start) on a children’s park.

Been at emergency vets for him to be sedated and needs medication due to lacerations and puncture wounds.

The poor dog is traumatised. As anyone who knows me I’m a massive dog lover but that was the worst experience of my life seeing that happen and those dogs having jack around the throat.

Thank you to Susan Lakin for helping us.

I am making enquiries as to the exact time of the incident (It appears to be late Sunday afternoon, 29th July 2018) and as to any description of the other dog owner. The dogs in question are thought to be a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a Pit Bull Terrier.

Obviously, if you walk your dog in Holland Park or other parks or commons in the Brownhills area, bear this awful incident in mind and and take care at all times.

Remember, t is an offence not to be in control of your dog.

I wish Lisa and Jack all the best for a speedy recovery, and I’ll update this post when I get more detail.

You can contact Lisa via Facebook here or mail me in confidence at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com and I’ll pass any info on in total confidence.

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The McClean Way: A beautiful new greenway

Yesterday evening, I took a stroll out before dusk to check out something I’ve been meaning to do for a while – the newly accessible trail between Smithy’s Forage along the old railway line under he Miner Island in Brownhills to the rear of the Swan pub on Pelsall Road, Brownhills.

Ages ago, I ran a piece here about how local activist and Clayhanger Kid himself Brian Stringer was starting a campaign to bring back into use the old rail line that runs from Pelsall through Brownhills – not to carry trains, but as a walking and cycling route for the community.

Since then, Brian and the Back the Track crew have surmounted a staggering number of obstacles and undertaken a huge amount of work to clear the old line of litter and debris – from general trash to shopping trollies, overgrowth of trees and scrub, and no small amount of stinking mud – but finally, the route from the gate by Smithy’s Forge to the exiting trail at the old foot crossing by the rear of the Swan pub is now passable on foot.

This means walkers can now go all the way from the Miner Island to the Butts in Walsall on the former Railway line and only have to cross a road at Harden.

Thanks to the drainage issue still ongoing, it’s a bit stodgy underfoot, but the line is now walkable. And it’s really very nice and a credit to Brian, Back the Track, and all who have taken part in this wonderful project.

Slipping through the gate off the Lichfield Road beside the pub, I entered an emerald green underworld – connected to the traffic and urban life above by the sharing the same sky, but screened from the chaos with verdant green leaves and foliage. Down on the trail – now christened the McClean Way after the great local engineer and mine operator – it’s peaceful, shady and rather beautiful. And I don’t say that lightly.

There is much work still to do, and the drainage will take some real magic and effort to fix, but what the people behind this project have shown is that if you want to achieve something, and you push hard enough, as a community and team you can do it. It takes effort, co-operation, hard work and no little facing down of authority, but community activism can achieve so much.

Brian is a top bloke, not generally noted for his chopper, but there you go. Happy 80th, Brian!

But of course, Brian Stringer has been doing that for years, from before his days as editor of the Brownhills Gazette, Brian has been fighting for our town. He’s my hero.

Much of the old South Staffordshire line is already an official, Sustrans supported cycleway, from Ryecroft to Pelsall, and more of it is an unofficial, but well-used trail from Ryders Hayes to the rear of the Swan Pub in Brownhills. Brian and the Back the Track campaign would like to see this extended further into Brownhills, linking to Chasewater – and eventually to Lichfield if possible.

I would again personally like to thank Brian and crew – Brian is himself 80 years of age – for putting in the sheer graft and wading into that smelly, muddy soup and physically doing what many of us would not, solely for the benefit of the community.

This was just a small selection of the mess recovered from the disused cutting last autumn. Image from Brian Stringer/Back the Track.

Brian and Back the Track will need help in future, and when I have details of future events you can lend a hand with, I’ll post them here. Similarly, if you want to find out about the Back the Track campaign and group, you can visit their website here and Facebook group here. They also have a twitter account here.

Again, my thanks and admiration to Brian and all who helped take this situation in hand, got dirty and waded in. You are the true spirit of Brownhills and we’re all proud of you.

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Prims and proper!

Right then, as things get a little bit back to normal here at Bob towers (and the welcome opportunity of a rainy day to get things sorted) I have some very early Walsall Wood football material kindly shared by the Woodward family with the young David Evans, which we believe may well show relatives of folk in the area.

I’ll let David explain under the photos themselves, as he’s done a great job of it. My great thanks to David and especially the Woodward family, who’ve lit up a previously rather opaque bit of Walsall Wood history.

Please if you can help with this enquiry, either by naming anyone present or by filling in with more material, please do: Feel free to comment here, yank me on social media or email me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!

A remarkably clear image of an early incarnation of Walsall Wood FC – Walsall Wood Prims FC, from the 1929-30 season, kindly shared with David Evans by the Woodward family. Please click image for a larger version. Do you recognise a relative?

Walsall Wood Prims FC 1929-1930. This original, card-mounted studio produced photo was shared with me by Geoff Woodward’s son. I cant begin to thank him and the family enough for their wonderful generosity.

We see, back row, right-hand side, the man who with others, founded the club… George Mycock. Brownhills Bobs blog has recently published the golden annniversary booklet, which you can read here.

We have seen that before the First World War there was the Young Men’s fellowship team that played on a pitch behind the Horse and Jockey, following which in 1928 the Walsall Wood Prims team was officially created, based at the Methodist Church by Oak Park.

The gentlemen extreme left also appears in the 1951 Ebenezer photos… again, here on the blog.

A close study of this image strongly suggests that the photo was taken behind the Ebenezer chapel, by the covered way that led from the choir vestry to the Sunday School. You can just see the edge of the toilet block, extreme left.

I would like to ask readers for their help , now. Names for all the people in this image, please, if possible!

This is a slightly later image, by which time the team were Walsall Wood Football Club. Some interesting suits and collars in there. Image kindly shared by the Woodward Family. Click for a larger version.

Another amazing photo from Geoff Woodward’s family of Walsall Wood FC.

The name by now has dropped the word ‘Prims’, which was a reference to the Primitive Methodists, with whose chapel and congregation they were originally associated with..

In 1932 or so the two parts of the Methodist Church in Walsall Wood, the Wesleyans and the Primitive Methodists united to become the Methodist Church. In Walsall Wood the Wesley Cricket Club dropped the word Wesley, and the Primitive Football club dropped the word Primitive. I note that the strip changed, too, to the famous red and white stripes.

I wonder, just wonder if readers may have ancestors in this photo? Certainly the player second row, second from the left was known to be a Mr. Wilkinson, and played with the team before WW1.

Is the big trophy the Walsall Cup? I think in the background we can just see the side of the Horse and Jockey Inn… The team played on ground behind this pub until moving to their present ground in Oak Par – helping to date the image.

Please have a good slow look..you may spot a grandfather, or great grandfather … again, huge thanks to the Woodward family.

 

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Mabel’s Vintage Fair at Chasewater Railway today!

I notice that today Sunday, 29th July 2018, there’s a rather fun looking vintage event being staged at Chasewater Railway by Mabel’s Vintage.

The fair runs from 11am until 4pm at Brownhills West Station (Use the Chasewater main entrance from the A5 and Pool Road) and there will be entertainment, over 50 stalls, the noted tea rooms and of course the wonderful atmosphere provided by a working preserved steam railway.

The organisers said:

Just a few days until our fab fair and we’ve organised lots of things to occupy you during the day.

Some of the best vintage traders in the Midlands, some very talented hand made traders, all day entertainment, yummy ice cream.

Bring the kids, bring the dogs… There’s loads to see and do and it’s all free!

See you there
Helen & Dawn x x

Chasewater Railway is a wonderful attraction with regular passenger services at weekends and during school holidays, featuring two excellent cafes and a fascinating museum that chronicles not just railway history, but that of our area and industry.

The whole thing is staffed by helpful and friendly volunteers who are always ready to chat and talk about the railway and rolling stock.

At Brownhills west station there are also a lovely model railway, plus a couple of great vintage and collectible stalls. The railway itself has a shop selling books, rail models, toys and other merchandise.

You can check their website here – trains run this and every weekend from 11am to 4pm with the museum, cafes and stations open earlier.

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

Muttfest 2018 – a great Brownhills music festival on TODAY!

Who doesn’t love the Mutt?

I’ve just been alerted to the fact that there’s a great charity music festival on right now, Saturday 28th July 2018 at the Shoulder of Mutton pub in Church Road, Brownhills running until late tonight.

Muttfest features live music, food, fun for the kids – and loads of other great stuff. The Shoulder of Mutton is a popular community pub in the heart of Brownhills going from strength to strength in the last 12 months and this event will be well worth checking out.

Adults £5, Children £2. All Ticket Funds will be donated to the West Midlands Air Ambulance Charity.

Please remember I’m happy to advertise any local events here, charity or otherwise. Please do drop me a line with details of anything you’ve got going on to BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!

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The Shoulder of Mutton – one of the oldest inns in Brownhills and a real community pub. Imagery from Bing! Maps.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, 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

Weather dull? A great sing along showing of Beauty and the Beast starts at 6pm in Brownhills!

Everybody loves a Disney classic…

Very late notice of something starting in an hour at Brownhills Community Centre on the Miner Island in Brownhills – a sing-along version of the Bauty and the Beast film in a relaxed environment which kids and adults will love.

You can book tickets online right now, so what’s not to love? Click here to buy yours – just £4 adults, £3 for kids…

Brownhills Community Association wrote:

Well, it looks like Saturday won’t have barbecue weather, but never fear, because you can escape the rain and enjoy a film at The Lamp at Brownhills Community Centre. On Saturday evening (28th July 2018, 6pm) we’re showing the wonderful Beauty and the Beast, and because we’re a relaxed kind of venue, you can bring a drink to your table and sing along!

We’ll have the air conditioners going too, just in case.

Tickets are only £4/£3 available online (no fees) or from 01453 452119.

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-lamp-arts-centre

If you haven’t yet visited The Lamp for a show, you really are missing out; it’s a wonderfully modern and intimate community theatre with a wonderful atmosphere operated by a lovely community of dedicated folk, located in the old Annex or Brownhills Central Boys School right there on the Miner Island in Brownhills. You can find out more here.

Please ring the crew on 01543 452 119 if you have any queries or need any help or email: info@thelamparts.co.uk.

There’s loads going on at the Activity Centre on the Miner Island in Brownhills!

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Acceptable in the 70s – a new local book you’ll love!

Looks like a terrific read!

You all know that I like to champion local writers and creatives here on the Brownhills Blog – well there’s a great new book available that I’m eagerly waiting to read that’s getting rave reviews – and people of a certain age – like me – will love it.

70s Glam, Grime and Petty Crime is a new book by local lad Steve Grainger, telling the story of his youth around Brownhills, Aldridge and Walsall, and many of the places he talks about you’ll recall – probably with fondness but others with a grim nod. The Cedar Tree, The Elms, Castlefort, the Fox Covey and lots of other local places get mentions – it really does seem to be a trip down memory lane.

Steve lived in Bayley House, Brownhills for a time:

So a few weeks after sending in my application form, the council offered me a three-bedroom flat in a tower block in Brownhills, 66 Bayley House.

When I moved into my flat in Brownhills one thing that remained the same ‘Friday night was lads night’. After visiting our usual haunts and getting dropped back in Brownhills I would I would visit the ‘Old’ Anchor Pub… The Anchor was a good old-fashioned Banks’s pub and from the first time I went in the place, the old locals really made me feel welcome.

This looks like a remarkable book documenting the youth of a man who can clearly write ate tell a story. I’m really looking forward to reading it – and you can get your copy on Amazon at this link here – it’s just £11.99. People whose opinion I really value like Linda Mason and David Hodginson are raving about it, so what’s not to love?

Steve Grainger said:

If you remember Bailey House – The Old Anchor Pub – Harpers Buses – Brownhills Market being packed every Saturday, then 70’s GLAM, GRIME & PETTY CRIME is a must read and is now available from Amazon Books.

Step into a decade where many a fashion crime was committed – 18″ Oxford Bags and 6″ platform shoes where considered the height of fashion ‘for the boys’ political correctness was frowned upon, when parental guidance was almost non-existent and where Social Media only existed in the mind of an incarcerated lunatic.

Welcome to the 1970’s.

Join Steve on his fascinating journey during a time where his taste for adventure and mischief were allowed to flourish – and very often, allowed to grow totally out of control.

From working on a fairground at the age of 11, to following his beloved Man United around the country by the age of 14 – this is an eye-opening exposé of a young man who stumbled in and out of court during his teenage years.

Set amidst the backdrop of the miner’s strike and eating tea by candlelight, the fall of a government,dubious glamour, charming innocence and a touch of brutality – take a step back into a time when colour TV, with all of 3 channels, was considered new technology and a 65″ curved LED screen, was the fancy of a mad man.

With Forwords by Man United Legend Norman Whiteside & star of stage & screen actress Shobna Gulati

Don’t forget, you can get your copy on Amazon at this link here.

 

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Meet your local police drone team at Brownhills this morning!

Drones are proving to be a game changer for local ASB issues. Image from @Dromeswmp.

There’s a local police pop-up event this morning (Wednesday 25th July 2018) with a bit of a difference – near the rear of the Tesco store in Brownhills, our local policing team will be demonstrating the drone capability provided by @Droneswmp.

The West Midlands Police drone team and local officers will be in attendance launching at the rear of Tesco Brownhills at approx 9.30am for members of the public to come along and take a look at the drone in action.

This may seem frivolous, but does have and continue to be used successfully in targeting all kinds of crime – including off-road motorcycle antisocial behaviour, a real problem in our area at the moment.

@Droneswmp said:

Come along, chat to the pilots, speak to your local neighbourhood team and see how this new technology is going to and already is helping fight crime & A.S.B in your area.

Sometimes a little thing makes a BIG difference.

Apart from anything else, it’ll be an excellent chance to check out a pro-level drone and a remarkable bit of technology. If I wasn’t at work I’d be there with my boots blacked…

You can follow the Brownhills policing team on  Twitter: @BrownhillsWMP

I must say, it’s good to see the local police making such concerted efforts to reach out to the public.

Also, if you haven’t signed up for the brilliant WMNow alert service, please do – it’s free and you can select to receive alerts on all kinds of local issues. It’s a fine thing.

This technology is fantastic. Image from West Midlands Police.

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Business premises targeted by masked gang

Imagery from Apple Maps.

Yesterday, (Monday 23rd July 2018) Staffordshire Police released the following statement about an armed robbery that took place at Midland Safe Load Indicators on the A5 Watling Street, between the Rising Sun and Turf islands in the early hours of that morning.

There is a detailed report at the Express and Star here.

Staffordshire Police wrote:

23 Jul 2018 14:02:51 BST

Staffordshire Police is appealing for witnesses following an armed robbery at a business premises in Brownhills earlier today (23 July).

At around 4am this morning, a gang of masked men forced their way into Midland Safeload Indicators Ltd on Watling Street armed with weapons.

A 19-year-old man was shot three times with a gas gun and was taken to Walsall Manor Hospital. His injuries are not life-threatening or life-changing.

The offenders stole a van from the site along with multiple sets of keys to other vehicles.

Forensic officers are currently at the scene and an investigation is underway. Anyone with information is asked to call Staffordshire Police on 101 quoting incident 91 of 23 July.

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The way of the Sons of Waetla

The Watling Street has a huge history. Image from my 365days archive.

As I’m still catching up, I thought today might be a good time to feature the writings of an old pal of the blog, Gerald Reece, and his musings on the A5 Watling Street, Newtown, Knaves Castle and the pubs thereabouts.

The A5 Watling Street is, along with the Chester Road, the backbone of Brownhills, and almost the dividing line between us and Staffordshire. It’s a road of antiquity and great history, and I think much in this article will be a talking point.

The original article is 100% the work of Gerald Reece and I salute his work, and in light of the fact that Gerald has stated his work is unlikely to be reissued, coupled with the rarity of the book, I like to share his work here from time to time. Remember, this stuff was all written and researched in a time before the internet. It remains inspirational.

Please, if you see a copy of ‘Brownhills A Walk Into History’ – buy it sharpish. I paid a several multiples of the cover price but it’s well worth the money. It remains the best work on Brownhills ever written.

If you have anything to say, please do – comment here, ping me on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

The below film taken by Fred Shingler and subsequently shared by Barbara via David Evans originally featured in this article here, shows many of the pubs Gerald mentions in his article, and was taken as the dual carriageway was created.

Gerald wrote:

XVII WATLING STREET

It is now the belief of many historians that the section of the Watling Street that runs through Brownhills was in existence long before the Romans used it as their invasion route into North Wales. The Anglo-Saxons called the road ‘the way of the Sons of Waetla’. The same term that they used to describe the Milky Way constellation.

Across the canal, on the south side of the Watling Street is the site of Knaves Castle. In 1850 it was described as ‘a small tumulus, inclosed within three ditches, the entrance is on the south side, it has been hollowed on the top’. What it really was we can only speculate. Learned guesses include:

  • A Neolithic burial mound
  •  A Roman guard house
  • The tomb of a boy or servant (Knave)
  • A Castrum Aestivum (Summer Fort)
  • A Roman encampment

Situated as it was on a hill overlooking the junction of three main trading routes, i.e. Watling Street, Coventry Road and Ironstone Road, my personal theory is that it was a Roman fortified guard house. Whatever it was we will never know for sure. The site was sold in 1902 as a building plot. The mound and ditches were levelled.

The original Freeth Bridge was built in 1849. It was named after John Freeth, Clerk of the Birmingham Canal Navigation Company. His position of Clerk was far removed from the pen-pusher we often associate with that title. He was a brilliant administrator and finance controller. He joined BCN in 1789 and remained with them until 1844. During his 55 year career he became the driving force in BCN’s progress. It was he who realised the potential of having the Wyrley and Essington Canal Company as partners and not as rivals. He was responsible for the subsequent merger of the two companies in April 1840. The merger brought the BCN use of Cannock Chase Reservoir. Previous to this they were having to buy water for topping up their Canal System from the Wyrley and Essington Canal Company, an expense of £3,000 per year.

I have found little information about the Walsh Harp Inn – the coaching inn that stood near to Knaves Castle at the junction of the Watling Street Road, the Old Coventry Road and the Ironstone Road. It was situated near to where the shops now stand opposite Deakin Avenue. The Inn would have been an important transit point for travellers up until the mid 18th century. It is fully mentioned in the Perambulation of the Bounds of Little Wyrley in 1743.

Original drawing by Gerald Reece.

A reference to its demise was made by W.H. Duignan, the Walsall historian, in an article in 1896. He wrote: ‘The Walsh (Welsh) Harp was closed, on account of waning traffic, about 1790, and the business transferred.

Prince of Wales, 98 Watling Street.

1908: S. Page
1914: W.A. Norris
1940: Mrs. Mary Prior
1986: Bob and Sue Greaves

White Horse, White Horse Road.

1861: Samuel Bickley
1914: G.H. Perks
1936: Arthur Preston
1940: Frank Atkinson

At the corner of Deakin Avenue and Watling Street stood Fox’s Row and the Anglesey Arms public house. Joseph Fox came to Brownhills from Rushall in 1841 he worked as a miner and lodged with Isaiah Craddock and his family in Ogley Hay. In 1851 he had a wife named Eliza and he was working as a provision dealer. In 1855 he had moved to the Watling Street where he is described as a shopkeeper and publican at the Anglesey Arms, 83, Watling Street. He was one of the landlords taken to court in 1858 and he was fined 7/6d for having short measures and defective scales. He died in the 1860’s and his wife remarried, a man twenty years her junior called Thomas Crisp. They lived at the Anglesey Arms for two years, they then sold up and moved next door into Fox’s Row. The Public House was taken over by William Turner from West Bromwich.

1878: Joseph Scott
1892: William Teece
1914: Thomas Yates
1926: Wallace J. Shingler
1940: Anker Brookes

The Lamb Inn stood at 119 Watling Street.

1861: Thomas Bates
1878: Joseph Whittingham
1880: Charles Harrington
1888: Jeremiah Craddock
1908: Thomas Forth
1914: J.R. Williams
1926: E. Prior

The Queens Head Public House stood on the comer of The Fault and Watling Street.

1888: John Mallard
1892: Thomas Wood
1900: Miss Maud Norris. She kept the pub for over 30 years.

The Queens Head was finally closed in 1966. The last landlord, Edwin Collis, was asked to quit and dehver up possession of the property by 10.00 am on Monday, the Twelfth day of December 1966.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Panoramio photo discussions, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gaining traction

As I posted yesterday, there’s a great steam fair on today at Barton Gate between Yoxall and Burton until 4pm today (Sunday 22md July 2018) and you can still make it if you’re quick.

Here’s a selection of photos I took yesterday and it really is a cracker of an event – some great engines, vintage wagons and cars, stalls, food and fun. Well worth the entry fee.

Yes, that really is a skunk eating a boiled egg. I’m not sure how they do that in the wild. That ferret in the hammock looks well comfy, too.

If you pop up, feel free to drop me a line with photos or impressions.

Original post:

There’s a great steam, vintage vehicle and generally fun event on this weekend near Barton Under Needwood, Staffordshire, which I think many blog readers would enjoy – Barton Under Needwood Steam Rally takes place this Saturday and Sunday 21st-22nd July 2018 at Barton Gate, not far from Burton Upon Trent.

I’ve visited this one several times and it’s excellent – it’s a large event in a rural location and is wonderful for all the family. There are always loads of engines and vehicles, large and small, models, vintage ephemera and all manner of food, fun and entertainment – and usually a very good beer tent too.

The fair is open both days, 10am – 5pm Saturday, 10-4pm Sunday, with adult entry at £7 – but kids under 16 accompanied by an adult go free, which can’t be bad.

Parking is free, and the address for Satnav wranglers is Needwood Rise Farm, Barton Gate, Barton under Needwood, Staffs, DE13 8AP.

You can find the event on Facebook here as Barton Steam, and their website is here.

The organisers said…

Barton Under Needwood Steam Rally and Family Festival – 21st & 22nd July 2018


Come along, we have something for everyone……

  • Full size and Miniature steam engines

  • Magician

  • Steam powered rack saw wood cutting demonstrations
  • Commercial and military vehicles

  • Vintage and classic cars, Vintage motor cycles and cycles

  • Old time fair organ
  • Stationary engines, Tractors
  • Air Ambulance helicopter pod (Sunday)
  • Auto jumble, Trade stalls, Craft marquee

  • Family fun
  • Ferret racing!
  • All sorts of animal critters for you to see and handle (Saturday)
  • Children’s fairground rides: Bouncy castle, trampolines etc.
  • Falconry Display – Get up close and personal with magnificent birds of prey and learn how owls, falcons and hawks are truly Kings of the forest skies.

  • Face painting
  • Childrens fairground – Swing boats, hook a duck, fun house, Inflatable slide and bouncy castle
  • Arena events both days from 11:30
  • Come and steer a steam engine!
  • Live music in the beer tent both Saturday and Sunday.
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The secret portal

Isn’t this fab? A sketch map of a magical place… Image courtesy of Eryl Powell.

Here’s a lovely thing from local teacher and top chap Eryl Powell, that he sent me last week: A hand drawn map of Brownhills Common in the Parade/Watling Street/Chester Road triangle – designed specifically to make the Common magical for kids.

I think it’s ace. It occurred to me seeing this that the Common has lots of woods, creeks and features and none seem to have names. I like any attempt to give them some identity.

This came about after Brownhills Local Committee paid for a gate to be fitted between Watling Street School and the adjacent Common so that the kids could get down to nature there without being near the road. That’s lovely and giving the kids access to, and more understanding of nature can only be a good thing!

Eryl said:

I made it last week, planning something for our Watling Street School kids.

The lovely people (Brownhills Common Committee at the Library) paid for a gate (the Magic Portal on the map) so that we can take our kids directly onto the Common without having to go on a road.

I went out and walked it on an OS app, and then drew it – great fun!

I adore this, and thanks so much to Eryl for sharing it. If you have any undocumented names for bits of the Common, or indeed, the whole town – I’d love to hear them. Comment here, ping me on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

 

Posted in News | 2 Comments

A5 Live just two weeks away – band lineup released!

Some great local talent there…

Long term readers will remember the annual music and fun festival that’s taken place on the smallholding just off the A5 at Newtown, Brownhills – formerly called Cockfest (because it took place on a chicken farm), last year becoming A5 Live.

I promised a few weeks ago that when the full lineup was announced I’d let you know – and not only have the details of the musical acts been released – see the flyer above – but further down this post are a list of the other attractions at the 3-day event.

This year the music, entertainment and fun returns, and takes place from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th August 2018, and tickets are now on sale.

The chosen charity this time around the A5 Live will be supporting is CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably, a great charity that works to prevent male suicide – you can find out more about them here.

something for everyone there, I think.

You can get tickets from the A5 Live website here or by emailing A5-Live@outlook.co.uk. You can check out the festival Facebook page here, too.

I wish everyone the best for this and it’s always good to see local music events.

Can’t grumble at those prices!

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Keep your hair on – Brownhills Wilkinson are getting wiggy with it!

Hair raising stuff at Brownhills Wilko – all for a good cause!

Toria Amy has been in touch – she’s just one of the great community minded folk who work at the Wilkinson store in Brownhills, and they’ve informed me that they have organised an event as part of the ‘Get Wiggy With It’ fundraising campaign in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust, set to take place in Brownhills today, Saturday 21st July 2018 from 10am – 4pm.

You can find out more about the Teenage Cancer Trust here. They are one of my favourite charities, and do some excellent work.

I’ll let Toria explain what’s in store:

Brownhills Wilko are doing a fun raising event for the Teenage Cancer Trust where we are getting wiggy with it this Saturday 21st July 2018.

There will be cakes and tombola from 10am till 4pm hope to see you there…

Such a great cause – please pop down if you can.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Just plain daft, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fancy getting into something steamy this weekend?

There’s something for all ages at Barton Steam Rally. Image from the 2017 event.

There’s a great steam, vintage vehicle and generally fun event on this weekend near Barton Under Needwood, Staffordshire, which I think many blog readers would enjoy – Barton Under Needwood Steam Rally takes place this Saturday and Sunday 21st-22nd July 2018 at Barton Gate, not far from Burton Upon Trent.

I’ve visited this one several times and it’s excellent – it’s a large event in a rural location and is wonderful for all the family. There are always loads of engines and vehicles, large and small, models, vintage ephemera and all manner of food, fun and entertainment – and usually a very good beer tent too.

The fair is open both days, 10am – 5pm Saturday, 10-4pm Sunday, with adult entry at £7 – but kids under 16 accompanied by an adult go free, which can’t be bad.

Parking is free, and the address for Satnav wranglers is Needwood Rise Farm, Barton Gate, Barton under Needwood, Staffs, DE13 8AP.

You can find the event on Facebook here as Barton Steam, and their website is here.

The organisers said…

Barton Under Needwood Steam Rally and Family Festival – 21st & 22nd July 2018


Come along, we have something for everyone……

  • Full size and Miniature steam engines

  • Magician

  • Steam powered rack saw wood cutting demonstrations
  • Commercial and military vehicles

  • Vintage and classic cars, Vintage motor cycles and cycles

  • Old time fair organ
  • Stationary engines, Tractors
  • Air Ambulance helicopter pod (Sunday)
  • Auto jumble, Trade stalls, Craft marquee

  • Family fun
  • Ferret racing!
  • All sorts of animal critters for you to see and handle (Saturday)
  • Children’s fairground rides: Bouncy castle, trampolines etc.
  • Falconry Display – Get up close and personal with magnificent birds of prey and learn how owls, falcons and hawks are truly Kings of the forest skies.

  • Face painting
  • Childrens fairground – Swing boats, hook a duck, fun house, Inflatable slide and bouncy castle
  • Arena events both days from 11:30
  • Come and steer a steam engine!
  • Live music in the beer tent both Saturday and Sunday.
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Anyone lost a bike?

A pretty decent bike, really. Image supplied by Eryl Powell.

Local top bloke Eryl Well has spotted this bike lying around in Brownhills and is wondering if anyone’s had it stolen?

It looks well used and in reasonable condition.

If you recognise it, or know whose it is, please do get in touch. Comment here, ping me on social media or email me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers – and thanks to Eryl for the community spirit.

Posted in News | 2 Comments

An unbearable loss: The Plastic Hippo has left us

It’s my sad duty to report to readers and the wider Walsall online community that one of it’s finest, most respected writers has passed away – The Plastic Hippo was taken from us on Friday 13th July 2018 at his home in Chuckery, Walsall, following a protracted battle with cancer.

Continue reading

Posted in News | 17 Comments