And did those feet in ancient times gig upon Pelsall’s commons green?

Roy Orbison. A legend, and a very talented man. But was he one of the common people? Image from Rolling Stone.

While I’m still fighting off the mother of all cold bugs (I really am dog rough folks) and whilst I’m still behind with 365days as well as not yet having run the 2018 Quiz results, can I just bomb straight in here with one of the most remarkable questions I’ve ever been asked here on the blog?

No, it’s not ‘Will you unhand me this minute SIR?’ but top bloke and local activist Brian Stringer wants to know if the Big O – Roy Orbison no less – ever played Pelsall.

He wrote:

Hi Bob,

One of my cousins was wondering if any of your longer toothed followers could shed any light on her childhood memory.

Her story is that as a child in the 60s she visited a pub, or more likely a club, in Pelsall and saw the great Roy Orbison.

She has done a bit of research and found that he was in fact in the UK at the time and as this was well before the advent of tribute acts, could she be correc?

Ring a bell anybody?

Cheers mate,

Every time I’ve ever said outloud here on the blog ‘Blimey that’s a bit far fetched’ you lot have proven me wrong. So I’m going to keep my gob shut.

So, did the Big O drive all night to play the Big P? Was Roy crying in the Scratter, or perhaps only a bit lonely in the Labour Club? Perhaps he was hoping to catch Claudette in the Red Cow or was he just working for the man at the Railway?

The truth is out there, I’m sure. If you know what it is, comment here or mail me: BorwnhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Thanks to Brian for one of the most remarkable enquiries I’ve ever run…

Pelsall, possibly worth an overnight drive to. Image from Adrian Rotary, posted on Geograph under a Creative Commons license.

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A team line up and a pig roast: What do you know?

Brian Clenton contacted me again just before Christmas and asked if I could round these two photos again, as he’s still looking for names and information about the people in them – and they’re wonderful images, so it’s a pleasure.

Brian is of course a member of the noted local family of butchers who for a long time had a shop on Lindon Road near Anchor Bridge that many older local readers will recall – if you can’t this post here will jog your memory.

These two images were part of a larger set Brian sent in earlier here which are well worth a look.

Always happy to help readers with this sort of thing, so if you can help, please do… comment on this post, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.


Ogley Hay Juniors Football Team 1957. Image kindly supplied by Brian Clenton.

Brian said:

Ogley Hay with Mr Horton on the left , Headmaster and IT Thomas on the right. Brian Clenton next to Mr Thomas, Keith Law bottom left, Melvin Harris bottom right, Top Left I think was Bernard Grantham with John Bevan next to him, struggling to remember the other names
clayhanger chapel bbq

Pig Roast at Clayhanger, possibly the Chapel barbecue. Dennis Clenton, the butcher from Lindon Road, Brownhills in centre. Image kindly supplied by Brian Clenton.

Brian siad:

R D Clenton at Clayhanger around 1959

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Churches, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Followups, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Walsall Wood stuff | 2 Comments

The Brownhills Blog 2018 photo competition results!

The wildflower meadow at the National Memorial Arboretum by Rebecca Owen – we all felt this was a lovely image and poignant too. Well worth a first prize of a backyard mini keg.

Julie Le Moine’s first prize winning snowfield she captured on the way to feeding her horses was remarkable. I nearly missed it until another judge mentioned it, then fell in love.

Right folks – this has been hard, so hard, in fact nearly impossible and due to the sheer volume and quality of work you all submitted, I’ve dug deep and doubled the prize fund – there will now be four beer prizes for equal top images, and seven honourable mentions will receive books.

Myself and the people who kindly volunteered their judging skills – Linda, Phil and David – all came in with different suggestions and It’s been tough, and if I could, there would be more prizes. But someone has to win.

The number of owls was excellent, have to say. You can see the complete gallery here.

The decision is final, but rest assured – there will be another competition in high summer, maybe with a theme – so stay tuned. If you haven’t won it’s not a slight but out of over 200 entries it’s hard.

The standard was excellent – much better than ever I dreamed of. You all did this place proud, thank you.

Book prizes: All the following have won a book which I shall post out to you. I have a list of mostly secondhand local stuff you can choose one of, and if you give your address I’ll post it out. These were great submissions, or had spirit as a whole that was impressive, and in another comp might well have won: Sue Bunch, Doug Hulett, Carla Jones, Victoria Derby, Joanna Lees, Warren Parry and James Mason.

This one from Vicky Devine wins a special prize as I feel it captures the spirit of Brownhills, in a place many of us will recognise, and a situation most of us will have been in. It’s lovely and I have just the thing for this – a mystery prize. Vicky, I’ll be in touch.

I will contact winners individually in the week. For people having beer, I will arrange for 7 pint mini kegs of your choice with Backyard to be available for collection from their shop on the Gatehouse Estate in Brownhills and will message you with selection details, and again when ready. At the moment I’m fighting off the lurgy so it could be near the weekend before I get to contacting you – sorry.

Previous winners and friends of the blog will vouch I always deliver on prizes, it might take me a week or two though.

Thanks so much for taking part – you make this community around the blog what it is – social, fun, vibrant, creative and a joy to be part of. Thank you all.

Ben Turner’s skeletal tree was mentioned by more than one of us and the depth on this is just excellent. I find the permanence of the spires contrasts with the hardiness, yet impermanence of the tree. An excellent first prize. Well done Ben.

Maz Sealey’s Robin was mentioned by almost all of us I think, and there’s so much to make it a first prize winner. Great depth, the curve of the rod and eyelets, and what superb timing. Robin looks real and like he’s been around a bit too, and is hoping maybe for a little bait. Excellent.


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Tunnelling through the folklore

The Goodall Street end of Walsall High Street in the 1960s, which I think Brian might recognise as captured by Council Preservation Officers and now depicted in the Historic England Archive.

I’ve had a really interesting email in from the Brownhills Blog Canada Correspondent Brian Edwards who relates a very interesting tale concerning Stonnall, and the discovery of a tunnel there in the late 1960s.

The story is familiar but sounds like a conflation of two to me – the Lost Hoard of Stonnal, where remarkable historical artefacts were found near Grange Farm over a century ago – the finds from which have mysteriously been lost, and the recurring tale of the tunnel from the Old Irish Harp to… Castlehill.

I’m not going to reiterate my view here on this too much, but tunnel folklore is recurrent and this one (although not here) frequently connected with bad boy Dick Turpin. I know lots of places with similar tunnel folklore – Willenhall is said to have a tunnel between the Marketplace Clock and Church; I’ve heard similar for other local villages.

I commend anyone interested in the Turpin connection locally to read this at Wikipedia. The trouble with Turpin legends for me is that for a rum cove operating in cloak and dagger style, he didn’t half seem to make his presence felt…

When considering tunnels and stories of them, consider the following points.

  • Tunnels are hard to construct – laborious, dangerous and something has to be done with the spoil.
  • The bigger diameter a tunnel, the harder it is to dig by hand.
  • Consider the ground a tunnel is alleged to be going through – soft, sandy soils don’t support tunnels and have to be lined. Rock is clearly difficult too.
  • A tunnel is hugely costly. If someone built it, why, at what cost was it worth doing?
  • Usually, tunnels are alleged to be relics of pre-Victorian times, when mining was so poor, we were still digging bell pits. Tunnelling technology was not great then. How much of an engineering feat in the time of construction would this have been?

When considering tunnels, remember there are many difficult and challenging practicalities.

None of this is intended to denigrate Brian’s tale which is fascinating, but I just want folk to consider it carefully. Many people have mentioned this tunnel over the years (some alleging it was big enough to get a man and horse though) yet proof seems scant, and all written material I’ve seen is speculative.

If anyone has records from the historians or geological societies who might have been concerned with this, I’d love to see them.

I’d really like to thank Brian for a great, thought-provoking and high quality article like so many he’s contributed to the blog over the years. Come on, out me as a doubting Thomas… Please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at googlemmil dot com.

Brian Edwards wrote:

Did a tunnel run from the old house centre right up the hill towards the White House on the left? Imagery from Apple Maps.

I was reiterating this story to a History teacher friend of mine when I thought it best to also share this with you before it is lost in time.

This is a short story I should tell before it is lost from memory.

When I was attending the Art School of Walsall on Goodall Street back in 1968 by chance I met up with an old high school master of mine and his wife. Alan Lord was the Master of Careers at Shelfield Secondary Modern School. Upon our meeting on the near top of the high street on market day just past the old courthouse we decided upon taking tea at Lil’s Café. The café was just a little farther up the hill from Goodall Street on the left side. Conversation began with a sharing of the general interests in one and other before leading onto the story I wish to share with you.

I am not exactly sure as to which house Alan was talking of but I know that it is a large house situated in the triangle of land that lies beside Main Street where it meets with the Chester road. 

Alan had decided that part of the floor in one of the rooms that was laid with flagstones required levelling somewhat so both his son and he began the task of correcting this. It was on the lifting of the third flagstone that their first discovery was made. As the earth below was dug so as to replace it with sand it gave way somewhat and as they removed more flagstones a tunnel entrance was revealed. The son entered the first few feet of the tunnel before returning for safety reasons but he did not return empty handed. He was carrying both a sword and a helmet. The correct authorities were called and both geologists and archaeologists were brought up from the London Museum of Natural History. It was discovered that the tunnel went as far as the Chester road but from that point on it had collapsed, most probably from the construction of the road. Excavation on the other side of the Chester road was not entered into but it was believed that the tunnel might have run up to an area nearing the old fort at the top of Lazy hill. More artefacts were removed and also a fresco was removed from one of the rooms. It was discovered that the subject of the fresco was a depiction of the local surrounds. The painting was framed as if looking through a window and after more investigation it was discovered that there had been a window near to where the painting was executed. The walls had previously been covered with layer upon layer of wallpaper and it was the removal of these layers and also paint layers below that when the fresco was discovered.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Chasewater, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Wood leave Studley standing

Pictures and captions generously supplied by the young David Evans

Walsall Wood FC continued their steady and assertive rise yesterday afternoon (Saturday 13th January 2018) by beating visitors Study and Oak Park a whopping 7-0.

Bill Shaw was there, and left smiling:

Hiya Bob,

A superb win by the lads, but it could have been so, so different, Studley in front of goal were abysmal, not making the goalkeeper make a save from less than 10 yards is diabolical and they did that on three or four occasions. Wood to their credit took full advantage to open up a three point gap at the top over Leicester Road with Atherstone Town a further point behind with Ilkeston Town who’ve played a game more and visit next Saturday now seven points adrift.

It should be a cracker, because if nothing else they make a hell of a lot of noise.

Keep the faith.  For the Good of the Wood.

Walsall Wood 7 v 0 Studley

Wood already 2-0 ahead from a competitive first half came out all guns blazing after the break and just blew the Bees away to consolidate top spot. Worryingly for the other clubs at the top all done without strikers Paul Sullivan and Sam Agar.

Wood dominated possession from the off putting the Bees under almost constant pressure but a break out of defence saw Josh Westwood power in from wide right, his near post rising drive well held by debutant Wood keeper Ryan Price.

On 12 minutes Peter Till wide on the right released Tony Clarke into the right of the box, he found Lei Brown who laid the ball back into the path of Jordan Fitzpatrick to hit a first time effort just over.

Two minutes later a break through the centre of the Wood defence with Karl King and Luke Dugmore cleverly releasing Chris Cowley into the box only for him to fire weakly wide.

With 22 minutes gone Cowley took advantage of indecision in the Wood defence, raced to the left byeline, crossed low into the centre, Price parried Kings first time effort and skipper Mitch Tolley completed the clearance.

Great, professional match footage as created by the superlative Russell Smith at

It proved important as two minutes later Wood took the lead, a lovely through ball from Fitzpatrick put Tony Clarke into the left of the box, he calmly chipped the ball over the advancing keeper Ryan Young. It took just five minutes for Wood to double their lead, an intricate left wing move ending with Till releasing Clarke into the box, he  went down under a desperate challenge – penalty – Lei Brown 2-0.

Straight from the re-start the Bees won a free kick on the left of the D, Eddie Wynne-Wilson firing in a rising drive that was comfortably pushed over by Price. The last action of the half saw Westwood cross from wide right, King firing hopelessly wide.

Wood made it three a minute into the second half, Till crossed low from the left, keeper and defender left it for each other and Brown pounced to score from close range. On 49 minutes Ben Lund collected a ball wide right, cut inside and fired into the far corner to open his Wood account. A minute later a ball over the top of the Bees defence saw Young race out to fly kick clear from Clarke.  Wood were content to play the ball around in midfield for a few minutes until they ripped the Bees apart on 72 minutes, from a left wing throw Till played the ball inside to Clarke, he carried the ball across the face of the box and set up Fitzpatrick to roll a 20 yard low effort just inside the right hand post to make it 5-0.

To their credit the visitors kept trying to take the game to the Wood and on 74 minutes hard-working Westwood cut inside from the right of the box, swapped passes with Cowley, his low drive well held by Price at full stretch.

Two minutes later a clever right wing move ended with Lewis Hayden crossing to the far post, Brown pressuring a defender into putting the ball into his own net. With three minutes left Mitch Tolley played the ball into the left of the box keeper Young fly kicked clear from Clarke, the ball collect by Hayden just right of centre 40 yards out, he took one touch and put the ball into the top left hand corner giving the poor fast retreating keeper no chance as the score reached seven without reply.

A superb all round performance as Wood ended Bees title challenge with this demolition job.

It’s Ilkeston next at the Wood when they visit next Saturday, should be a cracker, don’t be late.

Bill Shaw.

The Teams:

Walsall Wood – Price, Hayden, Deakin, Walker, McFarlane, Tolley (captain), Till, Fitzpatrick, Clarke, Lund, Brown, Agar, Westwood, Rowley, Sullivan Ransome.

Studley – Young, English, Wicketts, Clarke, Dineen, Ludlow (captain), J. Westwood, Wynne-Wilson, King, Dugmore, Cowley, A. Westwood, McCalla, Garvey, Casey, Oldfield.

Thanks to Bill and David for the report – and good luck to the lads for the rest of the season. This really is quite gripping to watch!

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

Ladies – are you looking for a friendly, relaxed gym in Brownhills?

Pictures of the Friendly Gym Kindly supplied by Kerry Michelle Smedley

Readers will know that I like to promote stuff going on at the Community Centre on the Miner Island in Brownhills – well, there’s a great gym there now too that’s specifically for the ladies and especially good for those who maybe are a bit nervous, self conscious or concerned about the idea of using a mixed-use facility.

The project is run by Mandy Godridge (apologies for my earlier error), a really lovely lady who will welcome you and talk you through who everything works – Kerry Michelle Smedley who also works at the gym and wrote to me with the above pictures and would like to tell you all about this great fitness project.

She wrote: 


Ladies, are you feeling a little sluggish after Christmas, do you want a new you for the new year? Lose inches, and tone up at our Friendly Gym located in Brownhills Community Centre off the Tin Man Island.

We are a ladies only assisted exercise gym with no weights, no mirrors absolutely no pressure, just a friendly figure improving environment.

The beauty of an assisted exercise program is it takes the guess work out of exercising. It delivers the right work out for everyone AT THE TOUCH OF A BUTTON, regardless of age and fitness level.

Lots of folk can feel intimidated in mixed use gyms – so that there is a ladies-only facility is welcome I feel.

For the traditionalists however, we do have a treadmill, cross trainer, exercise bikes, and vibroplates so there really is something for everyone.

For more information either pop in  or call us on 01543 373222 to find out more, and book your free trial; we look forward to seeing you.

Kind regards
Kerry Michelle Smedley

Thanks to Kerry for that, I’m sure many female readers will be interested in this and it will be of benefit to them. If you give it a go and would like to comment, please do either comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

In the meantime, the blog is always open to advertise local community projects and local businesses – please don’t hesitate to get in touch! 

Brownhills Community Centre, as photographed by John M and posted on Geograph under a Creative Commons licence.

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Walsall Wood at home in action against Studley this afternoon


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

Saturday 13th January 2018

Walsall Wood FC at home to Studley

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

And why not?


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