There’s a great autism support group meeting in Brownhills today and every Tuesday!

Just a heads up to let folk know that there’s a popular and regular autism support group meeting in Brownhills every Tuesday lunchtime from 1:30-2:30pm at the Smithy’s Forge pub, Lichfield Road, Brownhills, just off the Miner Island.

For parents, carers, etc. of children and adults with autism.

Weekly support group every Tuesday at the Smithys Forge, Brownhills 1:30-2:30 🌈


The group has been running for a few weeks now and is growing in popularity – so why not pop along to see what it’s all about?

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The Parade route

There’s been a lot of interest and responses to my post on Saturday posing questions from Doug Birch MBE about Holland Park, the Black Path and The Parade, Brownhills.

Brownhills from the south east, looking broadly north, on April 12th, 1926. Image from the ‘Britain from Above’ archive. Click for a larger version.

We have more or less established from the fruits of the great Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler’s research that The Parade as we know it came into existence around 1928-1932 and appears to have replaced an old footpath, itself on the route of an old mine tramway which ran from Watling Street to Brownhills.

Well, thanks to eagle-eyed reader and old pal of the blog, we can actually see what the common looked like before the parade and Holland Park were constructed in 1926 – Aerofilms took a shot of that end of Brownhills in their local overhead run in 1926 – and what it shows it quite remarkable.

Now that the Aerofilms Archive allows viewing in high resolution, I’ve been able to zoom in to that area of Brownhills Common. What it actually shows is a barren, treeless heath with Watling Street School and the old St Thomas Mission Church upper left, the former Council House – now the Parkview Centre – left of bottom.

Running between the two is not a road but a track, apparently following some kind of embankment.

The area of Holland Park and The Parade zoomed in from the image above. Click for a larger version.

The black path clearly exists, and seems very close to its current route. To the west of what would become The Parade, there is some scarring which, as Geof Harrington said, could indeed by a rubbish tip or spoil dump.

There’s no sign of a building or cottage on the common. What is truly astounding about this compared to today is how open and devoid of trees Brownhills was then.

The one thing I would like to know is about the tramway: Where did is start and end, whom did it serve and where? I can’t think of a logical reason for it but it must have coat a lot to build, so it was clearly important to someone. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Thanks to Stuart for the spot. If you spot something interesting, or have any kind of input do share: Comment on this post, tug my coat on social media or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

This turn of the century 1:1,250 mapping shows no Parade as such, but several routes over the common, one, closest to the current road, appearing to be on some sort of embankment. The origins of the Black Path can be seen too. Mapping from the NLS Archive; click for a large version.
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When the stars came to The Wood

Bit of a teaser here for something coming soon – lots of people hereabouts fondly remember a charity football match at Walsall Wood FC that took place on 20th October 1963 – well, intrepid football fan and researcher the young David Evans has been on the case and we have a whole tranche of material on this match to share with readers soon.

For starters though, take a look at this:

A celebrity eleven at Walsall Wood FC with some remarkable signatures. Who can you spot? Click for a larger version – thanks to Mr. George Taylor for generously sharing this remarkable material.

David wrote:

I have been given this autographed photo and full souvenir booklet to scan and will send the scans to the blog, from the 20th October 196 celebrity football match at Walsall Wood’s Oak Park ground.

I have been told that Max Bygraves and Sean Connery arrived in a big posh car at the ground… I hope to interview the person who has donated this to see if there is more to add.

The match was fund raiser for the fire brigade, organised by Staffs Fire Service so perhaps Godfrey Hucker can contribute info about this?

A very big thank you to Andy Roper, president of Walsall Wood Football Club for facilitating this and to George Taylor, the source of this wonderfully historic material.

Cheers
David

Thanks to George, Andy and David for a really remarkable bit of communal history.

Were you at this match? Did you stare open mouthed as the great and the good arrived? Did a star sign something for you?

What do you remember of the day the stars played at Walsall Wood? Please do comment on this post, email me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or add your two penneth on social media.

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On Parade once more!

Well, that’s a few parish notices sorted out, so we can get on with a bit of history – and a great enquiry has come in from well-respected community elder Doug Birch MBE who has posed a number of really interesting questions about Holland Park, the Black Path and The Parade.

An early postcard of the bottom of the Parade, looking toward Watling Street and the back of the Hussey Arms. Note footpath on one side only and the rough nature of the road. Image from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geof Harrington.

Without further ado, here’s the mail I had from David:

Hi Bob

 A plea for help from a very respected member of the community.
 
I have had a wonderful telephone conversation with Mr Douglas Birch MBE this morning in which the following queries have been raised. Please can your readers and researchers help to answer them
    
1. When was the Parade ( the road that runs from Chester Road to Watling Street in Brownhills) built and opened?  Who built the Parade?
 
2. When were the  lines of magnificent trees planted along the Parade, near to the Chester Road?
 
3. When was the Black Path in its present form laid out? ( This path runs from near the library, crosses the common and leads to the Watling Street, near the Comprehensive School, I think….Is this an old way or a new path?

4. Half way along the Parade was the cricket field. Mr Birch recalls there being an old cottage near the entrance to the cricket field..by some sort of a track? 

5.  What was this track?
 
6.  When was the Band stand built… and demolished?
 
With my sincere thanks and kind regards
David

These are corkers and thanks to Doug for asking, and to David too for typing them up – where to start?

Well, we covered the early days of Holland Park in the Old Holland article here, and the bandstand itself has always been a fascination of mine, I’d love to know more about that.

This turn of the century 1:1,250 mapping shows no Parade as such, but several routes over the common, one, closest to the current road, appearing to be on some sort of embankment. The origins of the Black Patch can be seen too. Mapping from the NLS Archive; click for a large version.

It has been said (and I’m hoping for help here) that The Parade followed the line of an early coal tramway. Is there any proof of that? There certainly wasn’t evidence of much of a road there on early mapping.

The trees – that fine avenue – I remember being saplings as a child; I remember when we had the cold winters in the 1970s the council used to erect a length of willow fencing on that grass as a snow-break.

Firemen practice hose drill in front of the bandstand at Holland Park in this evocative 1970s picture kindly shared by Godfrey Hucker. The building behind the fire engine was Brownhills town morgue.

I think the bandstand went in the 1990s but a remnant of it still remains, visible in the back wall of the toilets in Holland Park.

If you can help with any of these questions, it would make Doug a very happy man indeed – so please contribute if you know anything. Comment on this post, mail me or hit me up on social media.

The Junction of The Parade and Chester Road in Brownhills. Early 1960s, I suspect; note the lack of the Fullelove shelter. There’s the Hussey Arms in the distance; on the left the row of houses demolished for the Police Station. Just out of shot on the left would be the Fire Station. Image from a postcard for sale on eBay by GuyArab, spotted by reader Dean Rogers.
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Appealing for family and friends of Mr. Sam Bennett please

Hi folks.

Could anyone who’s friends with or related to Brownhills resident Mr. Sam Bennett please message Paula Horton (on Facebook here) please, or call John Horton on 07970678618. It’s quite important.

Thank you

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A great sing along showing of Mama Mia Here We Go Again this very evening in Brownhills!

Very late notice of something this evening (Saturday 19th January 2019) at Brownhills Community Centre on the Miner Island in Brownhills – a singalong showing of the feel good Abba-inspired film hit ‘Mama Mia! Here we go again’ in a relaxed, fun environment that everyone will love.

It kicks off at 6:00pm and there are still some tickets available! You can book online right now, so what’s not to love? Click here to buy yours – just £4 adults, £3 for kids/Concessions…

Brownhills Community Association wrote:

As it’s too cold for me glasses to steam up, it must be foggy out there. The 10 day forecast ain’t looking too grand either…

For a reminder of what that lucky old sun looks like, get yourself along to our special sing-along showing of this family favourite at the Lamp on Saturday 19th January 2019. Popcorn will be available.

Tickets from the website or drop into the office.
You’ll be sure of a warm welcome as we’re putting the heating on.

Tickets available online at the link below (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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Here’s something for the kids to do late this afternoon in Clayhanger…

Lisa Taylor, one of the people who work hard to keep Clayhanger Community Centre a vital and well-loved resource for the village has been in touch to point out there’s children’s yoga on there late this afternoon (Saturday 19th January 2019), which looks like a great idea to me.

The session runs from 5-pm, and is for 7-14 year old boys and girls. Gear is provided and it’s just £4 a head. What’s not to love?

The volunteers at Clayhanger who work very hard indeed for nothing more than the love of their community deserve our support and respect and they’ve got some great stuff going on there – do pop down and check the place out.

The centre at Church Street – the former George and Dragon pub – provides excellent facilities and is a real asset to the community.

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Clayhanger Community Centre is the former George and Dragon pub in Church Street, Clayhanger. Imagery from Apple Maps.
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Just time to find out about the Friends of Chasewater right now!

I’m very late with this but just time if you’re quick to catch the start-up event for the rebooted Friends of Chasewater group, which has taken on a new format to promote our favourite reservoir and country park.

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I adore Chasewater, and I know many of the readers do too. It’s time it was promoted better – can you help?

There’s still time to pop to the Innovation Centre and find out what this is all about – and how you can help shape the future of the place and how it’s looked after.

The organisers said:


Chasewater Friends are holding a Launch Event on Saturday 19th January 2019.

10.30am – 12.30pm At Chasewater Innovation Centre.

We would love to meet you and chat about the group, its purpose and hopes, and hear your ideas and comments.

If you would like to join the Friends group, you can find out how!

There will be a short talk on the Park and its inhabitants, and free soup and a bread roll to keep you going! 

We look forward to meeting you

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Why not Stay and Play – at Brownhills Community Centre this morning

If you’ve a child or children under 4 years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 19th January 2019 from 10-11:30am.

It costs just two quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery teachers.

There are games and toys and all manner of fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

BROWNHILLS STAY&PLAY 
🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈
Saturday 19th January 2019
We will exploring our gloop & powder paint messy play tray 🎨 
Along with all our other areas of play within the nursery setting 
See you all Saturday …. 
10.00-11.30 
£2 per child 
Snack included 
Feel free to invite your friends with children aged 0-4 years and share our events … 
Thank you everyone hopefully see you Saturday 👍🏼
This group is held at Little Green Dragons Day Nursery every Saturday morning …

We also have spaces available within Little Green Dragons Nursery if you wanted to pop in and have a look around.

The Community Centre is what my generation would know as ‘The Annexe’ – the old Central Boy’s School, now a bustling community resource. To find out more,  you can pop in or call them on 01543 452119.

The Community Association have lots of stuff going on, and loads of great facilities, right in the heart of Brownhills. I love what they’re about and all the great things they’re doing.

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A festival of football – coming soon to Walsall Wood!

It’s a ways off yet, but there’s a great football event for girls interested in football coming this spring to Walsall Wood – and the organisers are appealing for teams.

Walsall Wood FC has several female teams under its umbrella and have a keen following. They play great football and are very popular.

On the weekend of May 18th-19th 2019, there will be a Girls Festival of Football at Walsall Wood’s Oak Park ground featuring competitions in multiple age ranges.

The organisers said:


Girls Festival of Football – 18th/19th May 2019.

In the past 24 hours alone we’ve been inundated with requests for entry forms – don’t miss out!

Email WalsallWoodLadiesFC@hotmail.com for further information or to secure your team’s entry.

Early bird team entry is just £30 before 31st March 2019, so get your booking in early to avoid disappointment. You can find out more by emailing the organisers on WalsallWoodLadiesFC@hotmail.com or visiting their Facebook page here.

An event page is also available here. It looks like a great weekend of wonderful football. Get over there and check it out!

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Lichfield repair cafe – get together and get things fixed this Saturday!

Never one to sit back and let life pass her by, that there Kate Cardigan from the wonderful Lichfield Lore is involved with the excellent Lichfield Repair Cafe project – which continues it’s regular residency this Saturday (19th January 2019) at Curborough Community Centre, Lichfield from 2pm until 5pm.

Kate, who’s more usually known for her excellent work with Lichfield local history group, Lichfield Discovered and other projects, started a community initiative to help people repair, recycle and put back to good use things that my be broken or need some love.

This looks like a great way to have fun, meet up with other like minded folk and also learn some new skills.

If you’re unsure where to find  Curborough Community Centere, check out their contact page here, and the address for twatnav wranglers is 37, Reynolds Close, Lichfield Ws13 7NY.

I’ll let Kate explain:

Hello! 

The Lichfield Repair & Share cafe meets again at Curborough Community Centre on Saturday 19th January 2019 between 2pm and 5pm. As a way of reducing waste whilst learning new skills, we have a team of volunteer repairers on hand to show people how to try and mend their broken or damaged items, rather than throw them away. 

Volunteers from the centre will be running a cafe with hot and cold drinks and cakes. Whilst there is no charge, voluntary donations are appreciated!

The cafe will be taking place at Curborough on the 3rd Saturday of every month and we are always looking for more people to get involved whether they want to offer their skills as a repairer or run a workshop. To find our more information, or to volunteer, please email lichfieldshare@gmail.com, join the group’s Facebook page Lichfield Repair Café or follow us on Twitter @lichfieldshare.

For more information, contact Kate Gomez at lichfieldshare@gmail.com or joing the Lichfield Repair & Share group on Facebook here.

Many thanks as ever!
Kate

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Tree cheers for Back the Track and Sustrans!

During my daily bike ride on Sunday (which I’ve still yet to write up…) I rode along the cycleway that forms part of National Cycle Route 5 from Lichfield to Walsall where it goes on the old railway line between Engine Lane and the canal at The Slough (Or as I know it the Old Cement Works) Bridge in Brownhills.

It was dark, and it had been a very windy day – as it still was. While trundling through the gloom, my headlight picked out a fallen tree in the darkness.

This is one of the reasons I like a good front light! A surprise in the dark is often not fun…

The tree wasn’t massive, but it could do someone not expecting it a bit of damage. So I posted a warning on Facebook with the note that it was down, but passable with care.

Bugger me if the local Sustrans team didn’t hear about his and have the whole situation sorted the very next day!

How’s that for service?

They sent me the following via email:

Hit that bleary on a dark morning and it could be painful. Image supplied by Sustrans rangers/Back the Track.

Hello Brownhills Bob,

Thanks for the Facebook post about the fallen tree between Slough Bridge and Engine Lane last night. It’s a great Facebook page that’s invaluable to the community and it’s how we got to know about the fallen tree, so keep up the good work.

As that track is part of the Pelsall Rangers NCN 5 section (and also the Beacon Way), I figured we’d better sort it out today. I thought about reporting to WMBC but that’s never worked before, so decided to do it ourselves!

Anyway, it’s all sorted now, Paul from Back the Track and Bob from Sustrans went and cleared it from the track this morning.

Cheers for now…

Clear trail ahead! Fantastic work. Thank you. Image supplied by Sustrans rangers/Back the Track.

My huge thanks to Paul and Bob and all inviolved for sorting this out so promptly and effectively – this is real service and care for the community we live in and I can’t thank everyone involved in this enough.

This is all against the background of the Back the Track efforts to create a walking and cycling trail, intersecting with Route NCN 5 from where it currently leaves the old rail line in Pelsall to Brownhills, and eventually beyond to Lichfield.

The crew are making huge progress with that, and I salute their efforts. You can see a gallery of their progress from last autumn here, and they’re now pushing towards the A5.

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 the good folk who sorted this and are working so hard to make a better environment for us all to enjoy.

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Soultime – Northern Soul and Motown Disco with DJ Leekie and pals this Friday!

Local DJ Peter Leek has been in touch to let me know that he’s DJing his semi-regular Soultime event at Pelsall Community Centre this Friday, 18th January 2019 at Pelsall Community Centre, where he and a number of great soul pals will be fulfilling all your Northern Soul and Motown requirements.

I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like a bit of classic soul and Leekie is a great DJ for a wonderful night. A two-room event, it also features DJ Sammo, Double O Soul, Mick Oakdea and Gary Donelly.

It’s just £5 a head and kicks off at 8pm and runs until Midnight. What’s not to love?

That’s Pelsall Community Centre, Station Rd, Pelsall, Walsall WS3 4BQ. See you there?

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There’s a great autism support group meeting in Brownhills today and every Tuesday!

Just a heads up to let folk know that there’s a popular and regular autism support group meeting in Brownhills every Tuesday lunchtime from 1:30-2:30pm at the Smithy’s Forge pub, Lichfield Road, Brownhills, just off the Miner Island.

For parents, carers, etc. of children and adults with autism.

Weekly support group every Tuesday at the Smithys Forge, Brownhills 1:30-2:30 🌈


The group has been running for a few weeks now and is growing in popularity – so why not pop along to see what it’s all about?

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Final gallery of entries for the New Year 2019 photo competition

Over the 2018/9 new year week just gone, I held a photo competition on the blog and Facebook group on the theme of winter/ Christmas or the general season, and I’m pleased to say I’ve had a wonderful response with over 130 entries!

Barring any corrections this is the final gallery from which the five winners and five runners up will be selected. Myself and fellow admins of the group – Linda Mason, Phil Griffin ad Richard Burnell plus honorary blog wise owl the young David Evans will each select a winner and a runner up – winners will be announced next weekend hopefully (19th-20th January – this may be subject to slight delay, however).

Spring and light will be here again soon….

If I’ve missed anyone out, my apologies – just contact me ASAP and I’ll add any I’ve overlooked. If you’ve messaged me any pictures on FB and I’ve missed them out, please ping me again – it’s a mare to find images in messages.

Thank you all so much for your gorgeous photos, patience and wonderful eye for the beautiful – there are some very talented readers out there!

Winners won’t necessarily be based on technical excellence or top flight equipment or skills – a wonky phone photo capturing something fun can be every bit as good as the carefully shot image by a pro. It’s about feel and intention.

Entries have been limited to one photo per person to make judging easier. I’m sorting out entries with readers who submitted multiple entries over the next couple of days and they’ll be added to the gallery as I do so.

The five winners will be awarded Backyard Brewhouse ale 5 litre (8.8 pint!) minikegs, which are brewed in Brownhills to great acclaim (you’ll need to pick them up from the brewery in Brownhills), and books for the five runners up – if you’re teetotal or living a long way away we’ll come to some other arrangement.

Prizes are as ever, are funded out of my own pocket. The judges decision will be final. This is for enjoyment and good feeling.

The images below can all be viewed larger by clicking on them. If there’s an error, you spot a multiple entry or whatever, shout up. To err is human, to balls stuff up totally is my modus operandi.

If you’re looking for your image, use your browser’s search option is a good way. On a Mac that’s <option> & <F>.

Thank you everyone.

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Courtney Louise Hannon found safe and well

Courtney Louise Hannon/Mannion has been found safe and well. Her mother, Jocelyn Mannion posted:

Courtney has been found and feels very very silly I cannot begin to thank each and everyone of you for the help support and shares much love to you all 

Thanks to all who went looking for her, delved deep on social media and shared and tweeted appeals. You’re all great, thank you!

Image posted on social media by Courtney’s family.
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Walsall Wood Scouts move home – and you can still join the adventure!

David Evans has been in touch to tell me that the 1st Walsall Wood Scout Group, run by old friend of the blog Lee Bragginton has now moved into their new home – the former youth club building in the grounds of Walsall Wood School at Streets Corner, Walsall Wood, which has recently been refurbished and is also home to the wonderful Motivation Hub.

David was invited to pay the building a call – the second such visit he’s had in recent years, after being a pupil there when it was actually Walsall Wood School, way back in the 1950s. You can see a gallery of his first return to the building by clicking here.

He said:

Images kindly supplied by David Evans

I was delighted to be invited to see the new home for Walsall Wood Scouts, in the beautifully refurbished and redecorated former Junior School building by Oak Park, Walsall Wood, today, January 5th, 2019.

The building itself brought back many memories of time spent there when I was a pupil, a long time ago.

I congratulate the Brownhills Community Association on the beautiful restoration and I wish the Scouts  every success as they settle in .
 
David
January 2019


Thanks to David for the pictures and report. I’m always happy to support the Scouts locally and Lee does fantastic work with the kids.

This excellent Scout group are always ready to welcome new members and adult volunteers.

They are very active and organise lots of varied activities for youngsters from 6-18, boys and girls.

There’s a great informative website where you can check out what the group are about, and you can contact them by various methods via their contact page here.

Lee said:

1st Walsall Wood Scout Group are currently welcoming new members. Girls and boys aged 6+ are very welcome. New adult volunteers are also encouraged in order to provide places for more young people.

For more information and contact details, visit the website.

Do you have a sense of adventure, crave new experiences indoors and out?

Want to make new friends, have fun and learn new skills?

Come along with an adult and try Scouting!
Open to boys and girls ages 6 to 18

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Walsall Wood are an excellent group with a wonderful reputation. Image from their website.
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A return to the crease – fancy a reunion?

There’s been some interest online lately about local cricket clubs in Brownhills and Walsall Wood which many men of a certain age locally played for, or enjoyed spectating. Sadly, both clubs dissolved years ago now, so the halcyon days of willow upon leather locally are but a memory.

We’ve covered Walsall Wood cricket a fair bit here over the years, but nothing much about Brownhills which I find surprising.

Well, former member Dave Slatcher is proposing a Brownhills Cricket Club Reunion, which seems like a cracking idea to me.

He wrote:

About time we had a reunion for anyone who played, or was a relative of a former player from Brownhills Cricket Club, please circulate and share, and anyone interested please contact me on slatch@talk21.com.

I’ll then collate names to try and sort a date and venue…

You can also find Dave on Facebook here.

In the meantime,

Micheal Smith posted this image on Facebook of Brownhills Cricket Club team – believed to be the First XI in 1972. Click for a larger version. Who do you recognise?

Local teacher Eryl Powell is probably the person I’ve come across who knows most about the club in latter days, and recently he posted this team sheet from 1987, supplied to him by Neil Stringer, all the way from Canada:

It’s a bit fuzzy, but enough to jog memories there I think. Click for a larger version – Brownhills Cricket Club, 1987 kindly supplied by Neil Stringer via Eryl Powell. Click for the full size version.

If you have any recollections of either club, or have anything to add, please do comment here, tug my sleeve on social media or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

The local sports clubs were a vital part of our communal history and it would be great top build up more of a history of them. Let’s see if we can…

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Walsall Wood away to Worcester City this afternoon

Worceter City’s Bromsgrove ground, Victoria Park. Image from The Ground Guide.

Saturday 12th January 2019

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

The Victoria Ground, Birmingham Road, Bromsgrove
Worcestershire B61 0DR

3:00pm kickoff

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Check out the club website here.

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Why not Stay and Play – at Brownhills Community Centre this morning

If you’ve a child or children under 4 years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 12th January 2018 from 10-11:30am.

It costs just two quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery teachers.

There are games and toys and all manner of fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈
BROWNHILLS STAY & PLAY 2019

We will be exploring sandplay in our tuff tray 🚜 hope to see you there …. 
10.00am-11.30am 
£2 per child 
Brownhills Stay&Play 🌈Add our Facebook page

We also have spaces available within Little Green Dragons Nursery if you wanted to pop in and have a look around.

The Community Centre is what my generation would know as ‘The Annexe’ – the old Central Boy’s School, now a bustling community resource. To find out more,  you can pop in or call them on 01543 452119.

The Community Association have lots of stuff going on, and loads of great facilities, right in the heart of Brownhills. I love what they’re about and all the great things they’re doing.

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Irony is dead

It’s not often I get political on the blog these days – local politics is a stagnant mess and national politics is so far beyond satire it’s impossible to make anything out of it. But something popped up in my facebook timeline yesterday that really needs addressing.

‘Bloody hell the Eurythmics have let themselves go’ – I’d like to take credit for that, but it’s the inspired wit of John Leftlung. Meanwhile, I’m concerned that the Mayor seems to be experiencing an unexpectedly textured bout of flatulence.

The screenshot of a Facebook post made on Wednesday, 9th January 2018 by the staff of our member of Parliament, Wendy Morton shows the lady herself and her diminutive pal, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street posing in Brownhills High Street.

Talking effusively about investment in our high streets.

Carefully concealed from view is the derelict, rotting hulk of Ravens Court, the precinct abandoned by its owners seven years ago that is a scar on our town and a seemingly intractable problem.

Now, I’m not foolish enough to think that the council or politicians directly can change the fate of Ravens Court – the story of its dereliction can be found by clicking here. Permission was granted for a new development there last year, but construction seems unlikely to happen considering nobody representing the owners was present at the planning meeting and the subsequent absence of any action onsite.

What I’d like to ask our MP Wendy directly is this (and Andy Street could answer, if he’s available between photoshoots) – when are you going to propose or support legislation to bring absentee and neglectful landlords to account, and make them either keep their properties in use or dispose of them?

Brownhills is blighted by Ravens Court, owned as a property investment by people with no connection to the town. It’s dereliction is meaningless to the owners who do not have to live with it. When is this government going to bring forward law to tackle this blight, with empty buildings decaying in every town in the UK because Councils have no power to bring speculative, land-banking landlords to account?

Scotland is tackling this. Why isn’t the rest of the UK?

The slim power that exists at the moment can easily be avoided by developers gaming the system, and it would not be churlish to think that might be going on in Brownhills. What are your proposals Wendy, as our MP, to deal with this?

Ten years ago we had David Cameron send Mary Portas who was to be the saviour of our High Streets. What happened to that?

The floor is open Wendy. This is a public forum read by thousands of people every week, as opposed to the less than 1,000 who follow you currently on Facebook.

This is your chance. I know you don’t get the time to answer every email, so this is nice and easy: What are you really doing, Wendy?

Update – shortly after publication, Wendy’s staff replied. For some reason, they are not inclined to reply publicly. One can only speculate as to why delaying tactics would be employed on such a simple question.


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Can you help identify this mystery band with a Brownhills connection?

Reader JD Sharon has been in touch with a mystery photo, and would like to ask readers if they know anything about the band pictured, who look like a fun bunch of lads, I must say.

These lads look like they could get a room dancing. Image kindly supplied by JD Sharon.

JD said

Hi Bob

Found this, my grandad was the drummer – Alfred Haycock from Brownhills.

I’ve no idea who they were but it says Mayfair on the stands … if anyone knows or can help that would be great, thank you!

Cheers

JD Sharon

I know of course that we have a rich musical history hereabouts – from marching bands to jazz legends, from religious choristry to Black Sabbath – so I’m sure the assembled readership can help here.

If you know anything, please do get in touch: Comment here, tug my sleeve on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers, and thanks to JD for a fascinating enquiry!

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Worrying damage at local riding stables – did you see anything?

This is an important appeal for information regarding a strange incidence of criminal damage that took place yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 8th January 2019) at Stevie Ansell’s riding school premises at Coppice Lane/Engine Lane, Brownhills.

Image from Stevie Ansell’s Riding School Facebook Page.

Stevie sent me the following important appeal:

Hi Bob

People of Brownhills and surrounding please keep your eyes peeled! 
Stevie Ansell Riding Centre needs your help! 

Urgent Appeal:

At some point in broad daylight this afternoon two padlocked gates securing our fields on Engine Lane, Brownhills have been rammed off with a vehicle..  

One green gate easily accessed directly off top of Engine Lane the other would have taken a fair few manoeuvres off the beaten path to achieve target! 

We are currently awaiting CCTV coverage of whole area – so nothing proven yet – but a silver Shogun was spotted and alerted several workers regarding suspicious activity this afternoon. Reg and descriptions to follow if formally linked. 

Nothing has been disturbed, stolen or damaged so we can only assume that they were either disturbed – or plan to come back maybe to – 2Flytip – Steal or for any other illegal activity.

Please contact me, Stevie on 07950 314091 with any information or sightings – All information helps. 

Confidentiality assured. 

Share the hell out of this post in the case that they may be ‘casing’ other yards too!

Stevie Ansell

One thought I have had is maybe it was illicit, illegal off-roaders. But I have no idea – what has occurred to me though is that how bad this could have been had horses escaped due to the damage? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Stevie’s stables do a huge amount of great work, and it’s terrible that anyone would target them and cause hardship and further work to the hard working folk that keep the place running.

Please come forward with any information you have. If you don’t want to speak to the  Stevie or the Police directly, drop me a line on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com and I’ll pass the message on in total confidence.

You can also contact Walsall Police by dialling 101 (999 in an emergency, obviously) or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, cycling, Environment, Events, Followups, Interesting photos, News, Panoramio photo discussions, Panoramio updates, Reader enquiries, Shared media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Brownhills Canalside Festival is reborn in 2019 – would you like a stall?

I have some excellent news for Brownhills folk and those who like canal boats and waterway life – the successful and sadly missed Brownhills Canalside Festival is being revived in 2019 by the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society who are planning to make it a weekend event.

It will take place over the weekend of 18-19th May 2019 and planning is in the early stages, but Brenda Ward from the BCN Society has been in touch to ask me to share the good news and appeal for stalls and traders who may be interested in having a pitch.

Brenda is looking for fresh stalls and attractions for the popular festival to compliment the boat rides and other attractions. You could be a crafter,  selling bric-a-brac, or exhibiting your artwork or other collection. Maybe you’re a charity, or local business who’d like to reach out to a lot of people quickly and easily?

You can find out more by visiting the event Facebook page here, and posting an enquiry there or mail Brenda directly at boundarypost@gmail.comI will keep you updated as we get more news and things take shape. Please do support this, it’s great to see it return and I for one love a good canal event.

My thanks to the BCN and Brenda for taking this on. Wonderful stuff.

Brenda Ward wrote:

Hi Bob

Just to keep you informed The BCN (Birmingham Canal Navigations) Society will be holding a Canal Festival in Brownhills over the weekend of 18th & 19th May 2019.

As soon as we have finalised details I will let you know but in the meantime people may like to be aware of it and note the date & anyone who would like a stall can contact me on boundarypost@gmail.com.

It will take on a similar format to the Brownhills Community Festival the organisers of this past event have been informed and are in favour.

I’ll be in touch all the best

Brenda Ward

You can contact Brenda on the means above, or you can comment here, ping me on social media, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

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

There’s a great new autism support group meeting in Brownhills today and every Tuesday!

Just a heads up to let folk know that there’s a popular and regular autism support group meeting in Brownhills every Tuesday lunchtime from 1:30-2:30pm at the Smithy’s Forge pub, Lichfield Road, Brownhills, just off the Miner Island.

For parents, carers, etc. of children and adults with autism.

Weekly support group every Tuesday at the Smithys Forge, Brownhills 1:30-2:30 🌈


The group has been running for a few weeks now and is growing in popularity – so why not pop along to see what it’s all about?

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Lichfield Waterworks Trust January 2019 public meeting next Monday

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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 next Monday evening, 14th January 2019 there will be the monthly Public Meeting of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group.

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

Dave wrote:

The next public meeting of Lichfield Waterworks Trust will take place on:
Monday 14 January 2019 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, everyone is welcome.
 
November Meeting Notes

Tonights Talk:

The Lichfield Maltings
 
This months talk is by our very own Colin Walton who is going to talk about the Lichfield Maltings

Lichfield Maltings was originally built in 1890 for Lichfield Brewery and became part of Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries after the fire at the brewery and friendly take over the next morning in 1924, leading to the numerous local Banks’s pubs.  The maltings ran until 2005 as one of the last traditional floor maltings, with the addition of refrigeration in the Summer months, allowing malting throughout the year. Malting is a special art, with steeps to soak the barley, power shovels on the cold floors, anthracite burners to heat the kiln, all requiring a lot of the hardest manual labour, to make the finest malt.

The colour photograph shows the maltings in 1992 and the whole process will be explained to satisfy the most discerning beer drinkers.

As always, this talk will show you parts of Lichfield never seen before.

Health and Safety

We are really pleased to report that December has been working for another month where there have been no incidents relating to health and safety. A very big thank you again to everyone for working safely and looking after your fellow volunteers.
 
Engineering Team Report

The Engineering Teams work is continuing at an astonishing rate, with he 1874 engine house now taking on a look of originality and careful conservation.
 
The Engineering Teams report can be downloaded here

Building Maintenance Team Report

The Building and Maintenance Team continue with their endeavours to clean and repair the building. Balustrades fitted recently have been painted in a colour that’s more sympathetic to the 1874 building.

The land around the Pumping Station is looking clean and tidy, with lawns mowed and litter removed.  

Archive and Document Preservation Team Report

Archive and Document Preservation Team continue with their cataloguing, sorting and filing.

The team recently obtained some new (used) shelving from Staffs County Council that was surplus to their requirements.

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
 
With over 2,500 volunteer working hours, (equates to more than two full time equivalents) and over £6,000 spent in cleaning equipment, materials and scaffold. This month has seen quite a drain on our bank balance with invoices for the viability study and scaffolding landing on the desk. Looking at the engine now, as opposed to how it looked in 2016, the volunteers have made some remarkable progress.
 
We will also always invest in our people and we are planning further training days soon. All these costs soon mount up, so if you can donate, then please visit our donation page here.
 
Any amount is helpful, is well appreciated and will be carefully spent preserving our industrial past for our future generations, developing skills for our people and making our community a better place
 
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.

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.

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

Toy and train collectors fair at Oak Park RIGHT NOW

Here’s one I’ve been meaning to catch for a while, but always seem to miss somehow – the periodic Toy and Train Collectors Fair at Oak Park Leisure Centre, Walsall Wood.

This one runs today Sunday, 6th January 2018 from 10:30am until 3pm, and is just £1:80 entry for adults, £1:50 for OAPs and just a quid for the kids.

There will be over 80 stalls, with all manner of models, toy trains, toy cars and other collectibles, and there’s also a cafe on site.

You can find out more at the website of the organisers, Transtar Promotions here or by calling them on 01922 643385.

The organisers would like visitors to note that although parking on the centre car park is likely to be quite busy, there is parking on the old Oak Park car park accesses from the side of the KFC restaurant.

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Images from up the cut

Last week I spent a fascinating (and rather frustrating) evening delving through the Canal and River Trust photo archive, which is always a curate’s egg: Whilst there are many stunning images (and many more waiting to be found) the cataloguing and indexing of them is awful and frequently bizarre or inaccurate. Which I guess is part of the charm.

Images from the Canal and River Trust Archive. Click for larger versions.

I managed to locate a whole bunch of images I’ve not seen before, or not seen in this quality – you can browse yourself at the Canal and River Trust photo archive by clicking here. Most are around the 40s-60s.

There are two in particular that will be of interest to the Walsall Wood Contingent: Place these folks. I have, and they’re very telling:

Image from the Canal and River Trust Archive.

You may remember that a few years ago, I also featured similar archive images of the lost Lichfield Canal and others of the lost Grove Colliery on Lime Lane here – all from this archive.

All of these images can be obtained (for a fee of course) printed in much better quality by contacting the Canal & River Trust here.

Please have a good look, and see what you can spot – I think there are some good weekend talking points here. Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com – or hit me up on social media.

Image from the Canal and River Trust Archive.
Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Shared media, Shared memories, Spotted whilst browsing the web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Woodmen away at AFC Wulfrunians this afternoon!

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CKW Stadium, home of AFC Wulfrunians, from their website.

Today, Saturday 5th January 2018

Walsall Wood FC face AFC Wulfrunians away at Castlecroft.

CKW Stadium, Castlecroft Road, Castlecroft
Wolverhampton WV3 8NA

Kick off is 3:00pm

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the good of The Wood!

Visit the Walsall Wood FC club website here.

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

Why not Stay and Play – at Brownhills Community Centre this morning

If you’ve a child or children under 4 years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 5th January 2018 from 10-11:30am.

It costs just two quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery teachers.

There are games and toys and all manner of fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈
BROWNHILLS STAY & PLAY 2019

We hope you have had a lovely Christmas break – our Stay & Play group will continue as normal 🙂

•Saturday 5th January 2019

•10.00am-11.30am 

•£2 per child

•4 years and under 

We also have spaces available within Little Green Dragons Nursery if you wanted to pop in and have a look around.

The Community Centre is what my generation would know as ‘The Annexe’ – the old Central Boy’s School, now a bustling community resource. To find out more,  you can pop in or call them on 01543 452119.

The Community Association have lots of stuff going on, and loads of great facilities, right in the heart of Brownhills. I love what they’re about and all the great things they’re doing.

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Remember Yoghourt? Looking to contact Gerald Reece and Bernard Howdle please

Hello folks – have a special appeal here to get in touch with Gerald Reece and Bernard Howdle – their old bandmate Jack McCreath is looking to get in touch again and recall the old days.

Gerald Reece is of course the talented and superlative local historian, indeed now resident in Devon, who wrote the seminal work ‘Brownhills – A walk into history’ upon which this blog stands.

Gerald Reece from his book ‘Brownhills a Walk into History’

I know David Evans is in touch with Gerald. I’d also be interested in contacting Gerald as he’s been discussing for a few years the idea of ‘beating the bounds’ of Brownhills and I’d be interested in the route and seeing if we can make this a real thing.

Jack wrote:

Hi Bob, 

Many years ago I was in a Folk Group (The Yoghourt) with two Brownhills Lads, Bernard Howdle(s) and Gerry Reece – I’ve now unfortunately lost touch and haven’t found anyone so far who can help.

 I know Gerry moved to Devon years ago and last time I saw him was in the Library when he was setting up his talk.

Was also trying to contact Barry Yates to see if he could help but didnt manage to find him either.

Be really great if you could help through any of your contacts

Cheers
Jack (Jock) McCreath

If you can help, please do get in touch: You can comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my sleeve on social media.

Thanks to Jack for an interesting enquiry.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, planning, Reader enquiries, Shared media | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

An old friend of the blog needs some local history help please!

It’s another request for help please – this time from old friend and top cake and coffee purveyor Laura Hucker, who runs the fantastic Reading Rooms coffee emporium in Pelsall and has put on the lovely craft and gift fairs at the Community Centre.

Laurea is an old pal of the blog and is engaged in a rather excellent local history investigation…

Laura is doing a Masters Degree in Local History and is focussing on the activities of women who were enterprising, but not conventionally employed.

She asked:

Hi all,

I have an unusual request. I am presently doing my masters in local history and I am in the process of putting together what will become ‘the bones’ of my final essay / dissertation. I am looking to investigate women in the workplace with a focus on women who may have considered themselves unemployed but actually had a thriving home industry, this could be a bit dodgy (selling booze or cigarettes from the kitchen), legitimate leather work, making nails, cleaning, baking… whatever. I am focusing on the period 1850 to 1940 which I will later narrow down. 

I wondered if anybody recalls any tails from parents or grand parents who would have been alive during that time that you would be willing to share with a view of me interviewing / delving a bit deeper into at some point?

Anything would be a great help, no matter how small. If you can help, feel free to message me.

Similarly, if anybody has any historical material on industry or working in the area, I would love to see it!

Thanks a lot, Laura 😄

If you can help Laura, please do: I’m really interested in this myself as it’s a concealed aspect of local history I’d never really considered in detail. If you think about it we all knew ladies who did this stuff when we were kids – from selling sweets from the kitchen to undertaking clothing alterations.

If you can help you can contact Laura via Facebook here, via the Reading Rooms on 01543 373768, via email at hello@the-reading-rooms.co.uk – or of course, you could pop in to the Reading Rooms in person and discuss the matter over coffee and rather excellent cake…

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Can you help a local girls football team grow?

Over the new year break I had this opportunity for volunteer football coaches at Walsall Wood SSE Wildcats sent in – can you help this wonderful local girls team develop further?

Image from the Walsall Wood SSE Wildcats Facebook page.

They asked:

Walsall Wood SSE Wildcats are expanding the delivery of their sessions and are looking to add to their current coaching squad (predominantly female).

Are you enthusiastic about girls football?
Are you over 18 and interested in coaching football?
Are you able to volunteer for at least 1 hour per week?
If you have answered ‘Yes’ to all of the questions above then please contact Walsall Wood SSE Wildcats for further information.

It’s also worth noting they’re also appealing g for players, too – you can pop along next Thursday (10th January 2019):

Do you have any girls in your family aged 5-11 who want to start football? Bring them along to our Wildcats academy on Thursday 10th Jan from 6-7pm at Shire Oak School in the sports hall.

• Girls only academy
• Fa qualified coaches 
• CRB checked
• Safeguarding and first aid qualified

First session free and Then £3 A session after.

For more information contact Claire 07568 097817
Walsall Wood SSE Wildcats ⚽️

The team have a great reputation and this is a great opportunity to help move the team forward!

If you think you can help, you can contact the team via Facebook here or by calling Claire on 07568 097817 – cheers.

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Man turns himself in following police appeal earlier today

Police in Walsall have released the following statement in relation to a man they wished to identify earlier in connection with a robbery at Ward’s Store, Shire Oak.

They said:

Good news! A man has turned himself in to police just hours after we launched an appeal to identify him. 

The 20-year-old was wanted for questioning on suspicion of a knife point robbery at a shop in Brownhills on 20 December.

He handed himself in this afternoon (2 January) and is currently on route to custody where he will be questioned in due course. 

Thanks to everyone who shared appeal and contacted us with information.

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Big Bounce family fun at Walsall College this afternoon

Just a heads to point out there’s a Big Bounce family fun event taking place at Walsall College Hub (right on the ring road in Walsall, opposite Tesco) this very afternoon, Wednesday 2nd January 2018.

It’s £6 per child with adults in at £1. It runs from 2-3:30pm.

There will be rides, inflatables, slides, diddi cars and all kinds of supervised fun.

The organisers said:

Happy New 2019! 
1 DAY ONLY – WEDNESDAY 2nd JANUARY 2019
Get the Kids off their consoles & active again for a couple of hours at Walsall’s #BigBounce
Dedicated equipment for under 5’s to get confident before they explore the bigger attractions. Last chance to ride on our reindeer & bounce in the North Pole + loads more. 
Pay CASH on entry or book cheaper family tickets online www.ticketsource.co.uk/BigBounce
***1st session starts at 10.30am, 12.15pm & 2pm (there was a printing error on some flyers)

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It’s 2019 New Year photo competition time!

Hey folks – regulars here will know that over Christmas and new year on the Brownhills Blog we normally have a quiz where real prizes can be won – mini kegs of Backyard Ale or books – well, I think the quiz has run it’s course, but I’ve had a lot of success with 2018s photo competitions – so here’s another to get stuck in to.

Everywhere looks glorious at some point in winter… picture from my 365days archive.

Please send in – either by posting on facebook, twitter or emailing me – one photo you’re proud of that represents winter, Christmas or this season.

It doesn’t have to be Brownhills, as many of you live away from the hallowed town now, and anyone can enter. Pictures don’t have to be current but should be broadly positive and above all, yours.

I’m not looking for the next David Bailey (ask your ma) so if you’re not technical, or only have an old phone, that’s cool. It’s content and capture that matters.

I’ll keep the competition open until noon on Sunday, 6th January 2019 at 11pm when a panel of me, co-admins Phil, Richard and Linda on Facebook and the young Mr Evans will decide which we like and award prizes.

Each judge will pick one winner and one runner up.

Remember, just one picture per person is allowed, otherwise we get swamped with whole galleries!

Our decision will be final and this is all intended as fun, so don’t get heavy. Ask previous winners though, the beer is real and brewed in Brownhills!

Send them to BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, @BrownhillsBob on twitter or post to the Facebook group.

Best of luck!

Sonw of the rooftops of Tyseley in 2013… from my 365days archive.
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The many, changing faces of the Birmingham Canal Network

Those faces. She looks like a fine, no nonsense lady.
‘One of the last canal families, Vi Atkins with her daughter Violet, on the last horse-drawn run from Ellesmere Port to Clayton’s Refinery, Oldbury in 1952.

As I promised yesterday, some selected images here that caught my eye from the book I was bought for Christmas ‘The BCN in Pictures’ – a remarkable 1982 picture booklet of achieve images of the local canal network, the boats that navigated it and the people who worked it – both for a living, and to restore it in the dark years when hardly anyone cared.

This is Catshill Junction, Brownhills, from the bridge looking towards Tesco. Note the gas works where Humphries House stands today.
‘Ernest Thomas was a much loved canal carrier who later operated a substantial lorry fleet. His wooden tug DOT is show at Catshill Junction in the 50s’

The book is long out of print, but there’s loads more pictures than I feature here, so please do grab a copy if you can find one.

That face wasn’t posed. Oh gosh. I’d love to know the who and where of this.
‘What some people call pleasure! Part of canal restoration is getting covered in mud!’

It’s hard to appreciate now just what a bad state the canal was in when I was a child, and the huge strides made – much of it by volunteers – to gift us the clean, peaceful waterways of today.

I’m hoping someone can tell me where this is, and what, if anything, remains?
‘Once one of the largest operators on the BCN, Thomas Clayton of Oldbury survived until 1969, in latter years still carrying a considerable amount of oil. This scene shows their dock in Oldburyicirca 1965’

The book features a great map of the BCN network as it stood on publication and I posted that yesterday; you can see that post by clicking here.

A familiar image, in better quality than usually seen – this is a work crew featuring well-love local character Alf Mole at Catshill Junction. They would be stood in the gardens of Chandlers Keep today. Note the child obscured by the gent in the foreground.
‘Catshill in 1956, where the Daw End Branch (sic) joins the Wyrley and Essington Canal. British Waterways staff are seen engaged in bank maintenance.’

The Birmingham Canal Navigations Society still exist of course, and in 2019 are to take on the organisation of Brownhills Canal Festival – more on that to come soon.

This is one of my favourite images, and a spot I know really well – the canal as it goes under Spaghetti Junction. An old boss of mine used to be fascinated by the crane coming from the factory building, top centre. For years it was a landmark when we returned home up the motorway from London.
‘A birds eye view of the Tame Valley Canal as it heads West towards Witton from Salford Junctionunderneath the Gravelly Hill Motorway Interchange.’

You can visit the BCN website here. They have some great history.

Some fine appropriate clothing in this one… bless the 1970s.
‘Towpath clearance at the Tipton end of the Dudley Tunnel adjacent to the Black Country Museum during the Dudley Dig of 1972.’

If you have any comments to make, please do – either here on the post or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. You can of course, find me on social media too.

Note Sterling Tubes in the background of this one. I’m intrigued by the steel structure spanning the canal in the background – what is that?
‘A traditional canal boat launching at Ken Keay’s former dock at Carl Street, Walsall on the Wyrley.& Essington Canal. MEROPE formerly a GUCCC wooden motor built in 1938, now owned by Peter Dodds takes to the water after being docked in February 1973.’
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Cutha and the crest

Well, it seems we’re no nearer finding any documentary evidence for Saxon King Cutha being buried at Catshill or indeed anything for a ‘Battle of Shire Oak’ as posited by those adopting the Brownhills Urban District Council seal, as described in a recent article.

Whilst there has been much debate on social media and in the comments here, nothing really has been forthcoming, which to be honest, is much what I expected: Like Piltdown Man or Blake’s Jerusalem, we Britons do like our history to be far more interesting than it usually is.

However, there’s an interesting sideline to this: The crest appears to have been adopted by the Shire Oak School for its badge at least up until the 1980s. Reader Ian Neil sent this image in:

Ian Neil said ‘This was the old Shire Oak Grammar School badge – I never knew it was based on the old Saxon king!’

Ian also kindly pointed out a bit of local history in relation to the crest that I completely forgot: There is, in Shire Oak School, a piece of the Shire Oak tree preserved and mounted, The plaque on the mount carries the same crest. I include the post about that, with photos below for completeness.

Since this was presented in 1966, and Brownhills Urban District Council formally ceased to exist in April of that year (it merged with Aldridge) I do wonder if the adoption of the crest by the Grammar School was some kind of act of defiance.

Of course, the school existed before that, but they must have know the writing was on the wall…

Thanks to Ian Neil for the help with this post. If you’ve a view on this, do share: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, comment here or bother me on social media.

The Council seal, as depicted in a press cutting supplied by Audrey Proffitt.

I wrote some years ago…

Following on from my ongoing interest in the Shire Oak (the tree, not the pub) and my request for photos of the preserved piece of the old tree in Shire Oak School,  I was contacted by several people with great information – The Edditer of The Bloxidge Tallygraph made a great contribution, as did the ever-resourceful Roger Jones and Julian Ward-Davies. In the next week or so I hope to revisit the subject in a bit more depth.

In the meantime, Rome-based ex-Brownhillian Mick P sent these great images to me by email, which were taken on a visit to the school a couple of years ago. It certainly seems to need the love of a good duster. I’m pleased the artifact survives after all this time, but I still wonder what the provenance of it was. The chunk of (presumably rotting) wood seems to have been stored for at least 50 years before being preserved – or did it sit somewhere else before the UDC donated it? If you have any information, please do comment or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Together, we are assembling a record of our history, bit by bit. I’m so grateful to you all.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Woodmen give Long Eaton short shrift

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday, 29th December 2018), Walsall Wood F.C. entertained Long Eaton United at home – and the visitors left defeated by some margin.

David Evans was there to enjoy the match, and wrote:

Images and captions kindly supplied by David Evans

Hi Bob

Walsall Wood FC vs Long Eaton, 29 December 2018

Walsall Wood 3 v 0 Long Eaton

This was a game that I looked forward to with eager interest. I like the positive, fair-minded manner in which the visiting team play football, and the courteous, respectful manner in which their managers carry out their touchline duties. For this reason and for the joy of seeing the resurgent home team take on their opponents I was keen to arrive at the Oak Park ground early.

I had been told there was a special, historically important photo for me to view. A  welcome pot of tea awaited me and I took a few moments to savour the 1922 team photo, with the magnificent Walsall Senior Cup there in the centre of the photo.

The first half of today’s match was captivating. Accurate passing, fast running, all the skills that make up the game were on display. The time flashed by for me – a true indication of the enthralling nature of the contest. But, no breakthrough by either side despite varied approaches and attacking moves.

One moment of consternation, when frustration at being out-played brought a yellow card…And sadly, later a red card for one hapless player, leaving the visitors ten men left. 

The first half ended and there was a very welcome break for all the players, who, up to that point, had played a very fast flowing game.

The second half brought new tactics, and a few substitutions by both sides in their endeavour to take the lead. This came for Walsall Wood from a superbly accurate long-range free kick. Bang. Straight over the goalkeeper and in to the back of the sproutbag. Elation for home supporters. Mutterings from friendly but worried visiting supporters.

Now the visitors took on their challenge with added zeal, but, in pressing forward, their defences were left, erm… Thin, and Captain Marvellous, Mitch Tolley fired a Pele-quality long range shot from near half way to lob over the goal keeper. Bang. Two nil. How would Long Eaton respond?
With fluid play and clever moves the visitors put the home side under pressure. The game had plenty of life left in it, then!

However, the Wood’s fleet-of-foot lads dazzled and shone… And a third goal was scored to bring the final score to three goals to nil for Walsall Wood

Long Eaton again earned the respect and admiration of the home supporters, who applauded  players being substituted, joining with the visiting supporters. But, that is Nottingham and Derbyshire spirit, so welcome to see here at Walsall Wood, evidenced by respect for the officials, accepting decisions without question , complaint or inappropriate language.

True sportsmen.

 David Evans

Thanks to David for the report and pictures – much appreciated. For The Good of the Wood!

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Right down the line: Mapping the BCN

Here’s a treat for canal enthusiasts and other people interested in local waterway history. For Christmas a good pal acquired and gave to me a book of photos, published in 1982 by the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society and called ‘The BCN in Pictures’.

The caption from the book records:
‘Not all trains travelled on rails! Grand Union narrowboat PRINCESS ANNE, and shortened by 10′ for tugging, is shown pulling four empty wharf boats through broken ice near Anglesey Basin [Near Chasewater – Bob]. The canal was originally a feeder channel from the Chasewater reservoir to the Wyrley & Essington Canal, which was made navigable in the mid 19th century’ – Click for a larger version.

The work is a remarkable black and white booklet covering many then current and historical pictures of the Birmingham and Black Country canal system, characters found upon it, boats that traversed it and people who were working hard to restore it. I’ll feature a gallery of images from the book tomorrow, but the book as a whole contains a huge amount of material so it’s worth bagging a copy if you can find one.

The BCN – From the BCN in Pictures. Click for a larger version, or click on the link in the text for a clearer version.

The book features a great map of the BCN network as it stood on publication and I feature it above in low resolution and here in 600dpi high quality by clicking here – that’s a 32 meg file so will take a while to download but it’s clear and includes the minutest detail close up. It’s a great map.

The Birmingham Canal Navigations Society still exist of course, and in 2019 are to take on the organisation of Brownhills Canal Festival – more on that to come soon.

You can visit the BCN website here. They have some great history.

I include a couple of local images as tasters of the book. If you have any comments to make, please do – either here on the post or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. You can of course, find me on social media too.

The caption from the book records:
‘Leonard Leigh’s butties [unpowered vessels designed to be like ‘trailers’ – Bob] are shown at Pelsall Common during the winter of 1940. An icebreaker and crew (shown behind the forward butty) are shown attempting to keep a vital transport link, the canal, open.’ – Click for a larger version.
Posted in News | 9 Comments

Two very distinctive bikes stolen from Rugeley: Keep your eyes out bike folks

Here’s a sad one that came to my attention late last night – but I feel asleep writing the post, sorry. Can everyone please keep a lookout for two missing bikes and bike parts, stolen locally on Thursday night-Friday morning 27-28th December 2018?

They were taken from the shed of Dirty Customs graphics and bike customisation wizard Rob Howells who lives near Rugeley. The bikes (I’m assuming it’s two bikes, the On-One frame is pictured I think it’s a built bike now) will be absolutely unique and very, very distinctive.

The thieves in this case were clearly not opportunists – they broke the locks off the back gate and then his shed and took the locks with them to cover any DNA traces, clearly experienced in what they are doing.

Please bike pals – keep a lookout.

Rob Howells posted on Facebook:

Anyone know scumbags that have broken into my bike shed and nicked my bikes?

My pink meta has been nicked and I want it back and not only that they’ve also taken a carbon On One 456 which was intended to be raffled off for a child’s cancer charity so not only have they taken my pride and joy but they’ve also stolen from a child and his cancer treatment.

Any and all info please let me know. They’ve been reported to the police but I want them back..

Please share as much as possible…

Further additions to the theft, 2 bikes as pictured, 1 carbon Giant front wheel, 2 sets of Hope brakes and a set of Guide R’s. Just to top it off so suggests the people knew what they were looking for…

There are more details of the On-One frame here. You can’t miss it.

You can message Rob Howells directly on Facebook here.

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

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

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

Walsall Wood face Long Eaton at Oak Park this afternoon

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Saturday 29th December 2018

Walsall Wood versus Long Eaton United

Come shake off the post-Christmas blues and watch the lads at Oak Park for a great afternoon of football

Kick off is 3:00pm

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

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

Anyone lost an adult bike?

Just a quick one here – if anyone has lost an adult’s flat bar hybrid/road bike in the Brownhills area then it’s very possibly been found.

Lindon Road is a busy thoroughfare. Imagery from Apple Maps.

A resident on Lindon Road has taken the bike in and it’s being collected by police as lost property.

It’s in good condition and is obviously a well-loved steed.

If you’ve had a bike taken recently and the description sounds right, please give me a shout – comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my coat on social media.

Cheers all: Happy new year. Let’s see if we can get this bike back to it’s rider.

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Of King and Council

Some years ago, I featured an article here from a local paper believed to be from the early 1960s, when Brownhills Urban District Council were making moves to turn Chasewater into a pleasure park, the end result of which was significantly different to the lofty ambitions outlined here.

The Council Crest – I believe a variant of this may have been used by Brownhills Comprehensive or another local school in the 70s. Click for a larger version.

One of the points mentioned in the article – scanned from a clipping held by the wonderful Audrey Proffitt and kindly shared with blog researcher and local historian David Evans – was about the Brownhills Urban District Council seal – it was an interesting design as seen here.

Now, the seal is based heavily on the legend that Saxon King Cutha was buried on the Stonnall side of Shire Oak Hill and this, while this is clearly enough to dampen the underpants and stimulate the creative juices of some local historians, the myth seems to have little basis in fact.

The myth has been skirted around previously here with the coverage of the Lost Stonnall Hoard and my slightly misplaced derision over some of the wilder guff spoken about the Staffordshire Hoard.

I just can’t help feeling that had there been a ‘Battle of Shire Oak’ (and not just the crush at closing time in the pub) leading to the burial of a king we’d all be a teeny bit more aware of it.

The original report carried the following explanation:

I found the council’s intricate seal particularly intriguing. It depicts the Saxon chieftain Cutha, who was buried after being killed in battle at Shire Oak. The Staf­fordshire Knot is incorporated, and the figure 1894 denotes the year of inauguration of the urban district council, which adopted the seal in 1930. Aptly the motto reads, ‘No turning aside.’

David has been delving into the minutes of Brownhills Urban District Council, and has found the following passage which sheds more light on the myth as it was believed at the time:

From Brownhills Urban District Council Official Minutes, Volume 21:

At a meeting of the Council in Committee, held 2ndJuly 1930
Present Messrs T Cox(chairman), J Baker, E Birch, J Blakemore, S Breeze, H Cliff, H Emery. HJ Holland, R Humphries, F Peake, H Simmonds Dr J Stewart
 
page 36, minute 166
Council Crest. The Chairman, Mr Holland and the Clerk were authorised to prepare a design for a Council Crest
 
page 54,  minute 247
At an ordinary meeting of the Council held on 13thAugust 1930

Council Crest and Motto. The Clerk submitted a design for the Council Crest and a suggested Motto, as prepared and approved by the Chairman, Mr H J Holland and himself.
 
It was resolved that the words ‘Nemo Nos Aversos Videbat’ (no stepping backwards) be adopted as the Motto, and that the Crest be a representation of Cutha the Saxon Chieftain whom history records as having been buried in the year 584 A.D. near Catshill on the slope of the Shire Oak hill on the Chester Road. Further that this device be adopted as the Common Seal of the Council
 
volume 23
At a meeting of the council held on 8thFebruary 1933
Present; Messrs HV Emery (Chairman) J Baker, ST Breeze, H Cliff, F Peake, HJ Simmonds

minute 540
Common Seal. Mr H Peacock (Additional Sanitary Inspector) presented the Council with a representation in colours of the Council’s Common Seal. The Chairman expressed the Council’s appreciation and it was decided that the framed design should hang in the Council Chamber. 


So it seems that ‘history recorded’ Cutha was buried at Catshill, on the slope of Shire Oak Hill near to the Chester Road. Remarkable.

You know what I’m going to ask, don’t you?

It’s the mid-Christmas lull. I’ve caught up with things just about. The food is lying heavy on the tum like a royal corgi. Researchers, roustabouts and the commentariat: Where was this recorded, if anywhere, and is there any justification for it whatsoever? Contributions from the village on the far side of the hill welcome. Double barrelled contributions will need to get permission from their mum and make a significant monetary contribution to the running of the blog before posting – everyone else welcome.

If you have a view, please share it. Comment here, hit me up on social media or drop me mail: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

I include the original post below for completeness:

The young David Evans has been doing sterling work of late, talking to the Proffitt family about Councillor William Henry Proffitt, who was a highly respected member of Brownhills Urban District Council for many years. William was part of the Hyla John Holland era of the authority, believing in good social housing, health, sanitation, slum clearance and open spaces for all.

The Proffitt family have offered some stunning material, like the news clipping below, detailing the plans for Chasewater, newly renamed from Norton Pool. They are clearly ambitious, and didn’t quite come to fruition. In these cynical days it’s easy to knock – but these were optimistic people in an enlightened time when public spending was perceived to be for the public good.

I’d like to thank David and the Proffitt family for their generosity and hard work that has enabled some remarkable history to be uncovered. Please stay tuned for more.

I have no information as to the date or source paper for this, but I suspect early 1960s Wasall Observer or Express & Star. Clipping from the Proffitt family collection. Click for a larger version.

The council in session

By William V. Jolly,
our municipal correspondent 

NOT content with the valuable. contributions which its rich coal seams have made to the county’s wealth in the past, Brownhills urban district has far-reaching plans for welfare and recreational facilities for the people of South Staffordshire.

Breaking ambitiously into the field of public enterprise, members of the council have obtained control of one of the largest stretches of water in the Midlands area and aim to turn it into a pleasure centre for the young and old.

The scheme, estimated to cost £54,000 in its initial stages, would transform Chasewater (formerly known as Nor­ton Pool) into a Mecca for sailing, rowing and motor boating, swimming and paddling – not to mention the tennis courts and putting greens, against a background of embank­ment and ornamental gardens.

Within a very few years the council considers there would be days on which something in the region of 50,000 people would seek pleasure and recreation there.

Council ownership would pre­vent trashy and undesirable fea­tures, such as merry-go-rounds, sideshows and skittle alleys.

The scheme has already captured the imagination of many sporting organisations, who are bound to back the council’s request to Staf­fordshire County Council for financial support.

OPEN SPACES

Parks and recreation grounds, however, have always had a prominent place in the plans of this urban district council and the area, happily, is now well served by open spaces.

This has proved to be an important asset in the council’s development plans – plans which include dwellings to house overspill families from Walsall and Birmingham.

In 1931 the council embarked on direct labour scheme policy and to date more than 1,145 homes ihave been erected by the department.

The council now owns 2,280 houses, 877 of which have been built… [Last line of clip missing] …Walsall overspill scheme 112 houses have been completed already, and and building will continue at the rate of 55 houses a year. Starting next year, there will also be 50 houses a year for the people from the congested areas of Birmingham.

New industries are being attracted to the area, the council having developed 26 acres for this purpose since the war. Another site of 26 acres is being prepared.

Brownhills U.D.C. seal, as described in the article.

Meanwhile, the council is pressing ahead with slum clearance schemes which, in the next five years, will add 600 houses to the total of 189 already demolished. More than 1,000 people living in slum dwellings have already been rehoused.

CIVIC CENTRE

When the credit squeeze is relaxed the council hopes to put in hand redevelopment plans for the High-street area which will include a new civic centre.

Improvements have been carried out to the district’s sewage disposal works and new plans ‘on the drawing board’ include one for the Clayhanger area, estimated to cost up to £40,000.

The council is responsible for 50 miles of roads and the majority of these have been improved by the installation of new lighting systems.

I found the council’s intricate seal particularly intriguing. It depicts the Saxon chieftain Cutha, who was buried after being killed in battle at Shire Oak. The Staf­fordshire knot is incorporated, and the figure 1894 denotes the year of inauguration of the urban district council, which adopted the seal in 1930. Aptly the motto reads, ‘No turning aside.’

There are 14 members on the council, the longest serving coun­cillor being Mr. S. T. Breeze, who was first elected in 1928. The chairman  Councillor William Henry Proffitt, is also a county councillor.

Mr. Norman Waine, clerk to the council since 1929, was formerly at Sandown, Isle of Wight.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Walsall Wood away to Lye this afternoon for Boxing Day soccer action!

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

So here it is, merry Christmas…

I’d just like to take a few minutes here to wish all readers, contributors and friends of the Brownhills Blog and followers of the associated social media a very happy Christmas, and a peaceful and prosperous new year – it’s been a tough year this year, and I couldn’t have got through without you.

This year, as ever I have been impressed and touched by the compassion of the community of Brownhills and the wider area: We had some awful news, but light and good-heartedness shone through, and despite tragedy, anger and irritations, we’ve come through and continue to be a lovely place to live, write about and serve with the blog.

This year with the loss of the Plastic Hippo and Janey Hatfield, coming on the heels of losing Mark Blackstock too this has made continuing to write here difficult. All were good friends and left this place and me personally much emptier for their passing. It is in their memory and on their shoulders I continue.

We had some excellent historical finds this year, and contributors to the blog have provided some astounding material and been generous with their time and patience. I do this every year but cannot overstate my gratitude to them all.You are what makes this blog what it is.

David Evans and Simon, Peter Cutler and others have, as ever, been sterling in their support. I may not always show it but the work they put in is huge and I owe to them the continued success of this thing. Thanks lads.

On the matter of the blog, I apologise for the thin posting rate at the moment. I have been unwell, and had a lot going on in my work life that has often left me too tired to write. This thing is ten years old this coming April, and I’m not getting any younger. Doing this takes a lot of time and energy, and both have been scarce this autumn. Come the decade anniversary, I plan to slow things down a little, but the blog is going nowhere and will continue to grow. This Christmas I have made a conscious decision to ease off and concentrate on family, and I shall do the same next summer. The last one I missed too many good rides by fretting about the blog and I regret that, so I need to find a better balance for next year.

I’m tired. I need to refocus a bit. But the blog will not stop, I promise.

However, don’t worry, I’m going nowhere and there’s still plenty of good stuff in the bag to come.

Traffic was down a little this year for the blog but up for 365days. We shall finish the year at about 900,000. The reason for the drop was an absolutely disastrous change of theme (the appearance and design) of the blog in spring, which cost me a lot of mobile readers, and some change in the way Facebook promotes external links: Along with many other sites, the blog is affected by the fact that Facebook doesn’t want readers leaving it’s site. It’ll be interesting to see how that progresses.

Changing back the theme restored readers. But the damage that bad decision did was very real. On the matter of WordPress, the blog’s host, they continue to be brilliant on the whole but Jetpack is such a bag of crap. Fellow bloggers will understand that.

The 365daysofbiking journal has now been moved to a new home on WordPress following my concerns about the future of Tumblr, its original host. Both sites will continue in parallel for a while before transferring 100% to wordpress. This gives me more control over what is now a huge archive and hopefully can bring it to a wider audience. That alone was a massive amount of work.

A quick note of thanks here to the people from the Local Committee and Councillor Ken Ferguson who apparently managed to get Amey to fix the lights on Tin Man Island in time for Christmas – they had been out but as can be seen above, on Saturday they were looking great. Thank you to Barrie and Ken in particular.

Finally, thank you all for all you have done: My amazingly tolerant family and many close on and offline pals this year have supported me through choppy waters, kept me sane and focussed when the pressure has been on and helped in all kinds of ways. I’d particularly thank Linda, Phil and Richard who help Marshall the herd of cats that is the Facebook group. How they cope I have no idea. They are wonderful folk.

I raise my glass here and now to good friends, both here and absent, and to a lovely, wonderful community I’m so, so proud to try and help. Have a great festive season, there will be a competition (details to come) and please do keep digging for the history.

I never thought I’d still be here today. Thank you.

Posted in News | 8 Comments

Discovering Clayhanger’s lost big house – what do you know?

Here’s an interesting one from old friend of the blog Steve Sambrooke, who now lives in New Zealand but was originally from Clayhanger – a photo from the grounds of Caddick House, and it’s genuinely something I thought I’d never see.

This 1902 1:1,250 mapping overland on a modern Google Earth satellite photo shows Caddick House adjacent to the old mineral line at the south of Clayhanger itself. By all reports, it was a handsome house. Click for a larger version. Image from the NLS archive.

Caddick House was in an odd position – it’s long since lost to housing but stood roughly where Bramble Close is today, at the end of Church Street. For any years it was surrounded by a caravan park to the north and east.

I know very little about the caravan park, when it was created and when it disappeared, and indeed, if it was anything to do with Caddick House. I do know that several local folk spent their childhoods there.

Lichfield District Council’s 1963 aerial imagery record what must have been the final years of Caddick House (highlighted). Note the caravan park is clearly visible. Click for a larger version – Imagery courtesy Gareth Thomas/Lichfield District Council.

Steve wrote:

Caddick House in the late 1950s, possibly. Image kindly supplied by Steve Sambrooke. Click for a larger version.

Hi Bob,

I noticed in your blog that you referred to Caddick House some years ago.

I don’t know if it’s any interest to you but the attached photo was taken in the driveway of it.

I was born there in 1954, at the time it was owned by the National Coal Board and my parents rented it for a few years.

It was a lovely place, it had it’s own stables and an Orchard. 

Regards
Steve Sambrooke 
(Born in Clayhanger, now living in Wellington New Zealand)

Thanks to Steve for what is a real gem – have a very merry Christmas and happy new year old chap!

I am of course interested in anything readers can add, please: Do you remember Caddick House or the caravan park? Can you help with what happened to them?

If you can add anything, please do: Comment on this post, mail me or tug my sleeve on social media. Clayhnger history is still very much shrouded in mystery and it would be great to expand upon it if we can.

Posted in News | 10 Comments

Walsall Wood FC v Highgate United at home this afternoon

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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 this Saturday and see some cracking football.

Saturday 22nd December 2018

Time for some great football at Oak Park!

Walsall Wood v Highgate United

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

Kickoff 3pm

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Check out the Walsall Wood FC website here

 

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Beware – look after your keys: Key fishing leads to BMW being stolen in Shelfield

Here’s an important warning from local police which reached me in the last couple of days – cars are being stolen by criminals fishing for keys through letterboxes again.

There is currently somewhat of a vehicle crime wave ongoing: Homes are being targeted for keys so it’s wise to be careful.

West Midlands Police said:

This is a general warning against leaving bunches of keys in front door locks – particularly if your car key is among them.  This morning the occupiers of a house in the Shelfield area awoke to find their BMW car gone after the keys, which were on a bunch including house keys that had been left in the front door lock, were fished through the letterbox.  

Never, ever leave keys hanging in door locks.  Place them away from doors and preferably out of sight.  

Check your home insurance as you may not be covered if you do leave keys in exterior door locks.

Take care folks, lock your cars, obviously, but ensure no tools or valuables are left in your vehicles overnight if at all passible and on these cold mornings, never, ever leave your car running unattended to warm it up.

If you’re offered gear like satnavs, computers or suchlike, think hard about where it might have come from, and by all means grub the people flogging them into the rozzers – the stuff is probably nicked. Next time, it could be your stuff they take.

One way you can keep up with local crime reports and advice is to sign 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.

Anyone with information is urged to contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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

It’s not too late to ramble with a popular local historian in his latest book – just the thing for Christmas!

I had an email from local historian and author Clive Roberts yesterday, pointing out that his latest book ‘Ramblings of a Local Historian’ is now available, but will sell out fast – so be quick if you want a copy for a present or just a Christmas treat for yourself!

Clive has previously written excellent and sought after books on Shire Oak, Walsall Wood and Brownhills. He comments and contributes frequently here on the blog and is a stalwart of the local history community.

I know that in this work, Clive covers a diverse range of subjects – including a lost canal wharf in Brownhills I knew nothing about, some great info on Manchester House in Brownhills High Street and the book will be packed with photos and archive material.

Clive wrote and published parts one and two of the pubs of Brownhills over the last two years, which have proven a great success, and this book continues Clive’s painstaking and fascinating work.

Clive wrote:

Hello Bob and readers of the blog.

It’s that time of year again!

I have now received my new local history work for our area from the printers ‘Rambling of a Local Historian’.

The book will be on sale at Brownhills Library from Wednesday 12th December. The book covers mainly Brownhills; there’s a bit on Clayhanger; Pelsall; and Walsall Wood also.

Price: £8 each and there’s 59 pages.

I will also put it for sale on eBay next week.

When they’re gone they’re gone, so please get in quick!

Best wishes
Clive L. Roberts

I haven’t yet got my copy, but when I do I’ll post a full review here – Clive’s previous works have garnered him a great reputation for well researched, engaging local history writing that uncovers detail that others may well miss. They are written in a friendly, conversational style and are an absolute treat.

If you have any questions or observations for Clive, please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at  Googlemail dot com, and I’ll draw them to his attention.

I wish Clive all the best and look forward to reading his new book!

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