Mylee Billingham, rest in peace

Mylee Billingham.

Today, Tuesday 24th April 2018 the funeral of Mylee Billingham took place in Brownhills at St. James Church.

I speak for myself, my family and all the readers and friends of the blog in expressing my deepest condolences to Mylee’s family, friends and the community who have felt this most painful of losses so terribly deeply.

Our love and respect goes out to you all.

Rest in peace, little one.

Burger me

It’s a falsehood people. Come on. Image circulating on Facebook.

Right people – it’s not often I’m moved to do this sort of thing but there’s a hoax spreading rapidly via Facebook at the moment and it’s gained such legs that I’ve been inundated with email about it – McDonalds HAVE NOT announced they’re opening, or coming soon, to the site of the Rising Sun pub in Brownhills West.

Last week a photoshopped image – shown above – was posted on local facebook groups as a wind up. The banner is clearly false and the picture is not current – it was actually taken by Brownhills historian and old mate of the blog David Hodgkinson. You can see the original below.

David said:

It wasn’t me!

Thanks to everyone who pointed out that the Rising Sun McDonalds sign is a spoof – but that’s my original photo. First I wondered if I should feel violated and sue but very soon the ego took over and I just think ‘Coo! Someone has actually found a use for one of my photos’.

The Creative Commons I use includes rights to ‘Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material’. I need to find one that forbids use that is illegal, fraudulent or attempts to dupe the public!

Whilst I respect and admire the guile and cunning of the windup (and let’s face it I’m still getting angry emails about the wind farm on the common so I’m not above being a tosser in this regard myself) the volume of contact I’ve had over the weekend has led me to this post: McDonalds do not (nor do anyone else) have any current plans lodged with the council to do anything with the Rising Sun site and at this moment in time (23rd April 2018) this rumour is UTTERLY FALSE.

So please stop sending me the image and being all angry. Cheers.

I hope a use can be found for the site, and to be honest, I could see a Drive Through of some sort working there if the access can be sorted safely. But I think any such thing is a long way off.

I tried contacting Dick Turpin’s agent for comment, but he was unavailable, presumed hiding in a secret tunnel near Stonnall.

The original image, by David Hodgkinson from just after last year’s fire.

Full of love for Mr. Fullelove


Images Kindly supplied by Brian Stringer via the young David Evans.

Last week I pointed out that this weekend, there was to be an unveiling ceremony of the restored George Fullelove Memorial Shelter near  The Parade in Brownhills – well, the event took place on Saturday morning (21st April 2018) in splendid weather to an appreciative crowd that  included several of the great chorister’s descendants – including honorary grandfather of the blog, Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove.

 It’s been brilliant to see the Brownhills Local Committee and other involved parties work so hard to preserve the memory of one of the finest sons of Brownhills: Chorister and Choir Master George Fullelove.

Thanks to old friend of the blog Brian Stringer, I can share the above gallery of photos of the day, including our MP Wendy Morton. Thanks to David Evans for sorting the photos out, after he was indisposed at short notice.

I think few people realise that Brownhills has a fine musical and choral history, and that George Fullelove led a prize-winning choral society that really were the toast of musical circles, every bit the match for the great Welsh ensembles of the day.

George passed away in 1956, and the Fullelove Memorial Shelter or Arbor was unveiled in April, 1959. This curious hexagonal shelter still stands today on the corner of The Parade and Chester Road and was intended, not as many think as a bus shelter, but as a resting and meeting place for people of the town where they could sit and chat in the dry and out of the wind.

The Fullelove Memorial Shelter, or as many of us know it, ‘The 50p piece’. Image Kindly supplied by David Evans.

Many generations – including my own – called this shelter ‘The 50p piece’ and loved it, spending hours there.

In the last 12 months, several organisations including Brownhills Local Committee and Walsall Council have come together to get the Fullelove Memorial Shelter restored, and for an information board to be erected nearby, and I must say, it’s looking very smart.

Woodmen outpace Racing Club Warwick to win the league!


Images and captions Kindly supplied by the young David Evans

It’s time for a mega football roundup – the young David Evans, Simon, Russell and co have been very hard at work reporting on the bewildering  and packed schedule of matches home and away for Walsall Wood in the last week – and yesterday (Saturday 21st April 2018) the Woodmen had real cause to celebrate when their 4-3 win over Racing Club Warwick meant they have won the league this season.

My congratulations to all at Walsall Wood FC and to the faithful who have really worked hard for this: I’m sure I speak for many in saying Bill Shaw would be very pleased indeed. I’m sure he’s got plenty to say up there about it! Bill, that one was for you.

That doesn’t mean the football is over this season, far from it: On Tuesday evening next (24th April 2018) there’s a very interesting match in prospect against Ilkeston Town, so stay tuned!

David Evans wrote:

Walsall Wood 4 v 3 Racing Club Warwick
Saturday 21st April 2018

[Bob’s note: Confusingly, although played at Chasetown FC this was a home match, relocated due to the St. George’s event at Oak Park.]

An excellent sporting game of real soccer which thrilled and delighted fans of both teams. Plenty of super action with seven goals in total this afternoon.

This was a game to remember for a long time, not only because winning gave Walsall Wood the league championship with plenty of games to spare, but because the spirit and sporting nature exhibited throughout the encounter by both sides was a credit to all of the players, and especially their team managers.

The usual professional, high quality match footage from Russell Smith at The-Wood.TV – Walsall Wood Fc’s own social media video channel – check it out here.

Spectators also saw an excellent, top class referee and linesmen in action which made  the afternoon complete.

Walsall Wood won four goals to three, but Sporting Warwick  played some excellent attacking football too and the final whistle came with WWFC supporters and Warwick supporters holding their breath.

Obviously, we’re all made up about this and it’s been a spectacular season for The Wood, who despite the poor weather and a heavy subsequent schedule have done brilliantly well, particularly considering their form the season previously.

In other football news, club channel The-Wood.TV also posted this footage of the Sporting Khalsa – Walsall Wood match in the Walsall Senior Cup on Thursday evening, 19th April 2018, which The Wood won 2-1:

The usual professional, high quality match footage from Russell Smith at The-Wood.TV – Walsall Wood Fc’s own social media video channel – check it out here.

There’s also a very thorough review of the previous Tuesday’s Walsall Wood v Studley match here at the Base of the Pyramid blog, thanks to David Evans for pointing that out. Wood won that one 6-0, so it’s fair to say the lads were well on form for that one…

Finally, let’s not forget in our euphoria that Walsall Wood FC’s Oak Park is also home to Pelsall Villa, and they played at home on Tuesday: David sent in this report and pictures.

Images and captions Kindly supplied by the young David Evans

Pelsall Villa 3 v 1 Northfield
Tuesday 17th April 2018

A super sporting game to spectate where Pelsall and Northfield enjoyed playing on the lush grass surface at Oak Park.

Pelsall played with spirit and determination in the face of opponents who enjoyed a higher position in the league. To their credit Pelsall played up to the level required and at half time were one goal to nil in the lead.

The second half was played at the same fast pace as the first half and Northfield gained the equalising goal. Pelsall then scored a second goal to take the lead, and then showed great composure and possession. They broke through the Northfield defence and in the final part of the game Pelsall scored their third goal to seal the match.

A very good win for Pelsall Villa.

Thanks to David, Simon and Russell for great reporting and remember, it’s all For The Good of The Wood. My congratulations once more to a great local team.

Join the Scouts for their St. George’s Day parade this Sunday!



Walsall Arboretum is a wonderful venue for a St George’s Day parade!

With the good weather and St. George’s Day upon us, it’s great to see so many events coming up to celebrate – and I’m pleased to share this one in Walsall on Sunday, 22 April 2017, which is free and kicks off at 10:30am.

This is also a great chance to visit the Arboretum which looks spectacular in spring following the wonderful refurbishment over the last few years. It really is a local gem.

Rowena Moseley got in touch to tell me about it:

A fine thing indeed

There’s a St. George’s Day parade being held by the Scouts in Walsall Arboretum on Sunday 22nd April 2018. Parade starts at 10.30am. All are welcome!

Come along and show your support for Scouting and your Country!

If you have a St George’s event you’d like me to plug, do shout up!

My best wishes to all involved, and if you pop up and take some pictures or just want to tell us about it, please do – comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!

St. George’s Day bash at Walsall Wood today!

By George, that looks like fun!

With the local Remembrance appeals in mind, I thought I’d advertise this event today (Saturday 21st April 2018): a great St George’s day party at Walsall Wood Football Club hosted by the Bard of Brownhills himself, Ian Neville.

The party funs from 2pm until midnight, with last admissions 8pm, at Walsall Wood FC’s Oak Park clubhouse.

Live bands include Marquis Drive, Live Wire, Play Things, Not Quite Dead Yet and From the Archive, and there will be a bouncy castle and snack van.

Ian is a top bloke, passionate about St. George, Brownhills and raising money for the Remembrance  day parades as well as Veterans Life Line. So please do support him and this great event.

Tickets are now scarce but cost just a fiver, so you’ll need to contact Ian via the event Facebook page here, or his own Facebook page here to sort it out before you attend.

Walsall Wood Football Club are a great asset to the community and stage lots of events, as well as so great football across a number of teams.

My best wishes to Ian and all at the club – have a great party!

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Walsall Wood FC – not just a great football club but a wonderful, community-spirited institution. Imagery from Bing! Maps.

Woodmen play Racing Club Warwick at Chasetown this afternoon!

Chasetown FC is a lovely ground, and remember, the local deer might be doing the Linesman’s job… Image from ‘Hopping all over the world’ blog.

Saturday 21st April 2018

Walsall Wood FC v Racing Club Warwick FC

Home match rearranged to be at Chasetown FC to accommodate Walsall Wood FC’s St. Georges Fun Day!

Chasetown Football Club, Church Street, Chasetown, Staffs. WS& 3QL

 Don’t break your Wood vows, be there, be faithful to your local heroes – win this one and the Woodmen could well take the league title!

Kickoff 3pm

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Check out the Walsall Wood FC website here

Go watch the lads!

Urgent! Please look out for this minibus stolen from Aldridge!


Images supplied by Barry Carpenter.

Hey folks – please be on the lookout for this distinctive white Ford Transit nine seater minibus, stolen this afternoon (Friday, 20th April 2018) from Leighswood Avenue, Aldridge, registration no HK61GDH and bearing a private hire licence number plate 547 on vehicle.

The van belongs to old mate of the blog Barry Carpenter, and it’s his sole source of income. He hasn’t just lost his wheels, he’s lost his means of earning a living, too.

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

You can also contact Barry directly via Facebook here.

You can always mail me in confidence if you’d rather – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.ctly

A great disco in aid of a wonderful local charity on tonight!

Looks like a nice event


Just a quick note to point this event out that’s happening this evening (Friday, 20th April 2018) over in Cheslyn Hay that friend of the blog Stephen Hill has let me know about.

It’s a great disco at Cheslyn Hay Working Men’s Club, starting at 7:00pm and running through the eying, It’s just £5 a ticket with buffet included, and you can pay at the door. Kids go in free!

it’s all in aid of the appeal for the sensory room for disabled kids at the Walsall Child Development Centre, so what’s not to love?

Sorry for the delayed ad, but better late than never…

Going above and beyond

EPW015100 ENGLAND (1926). The High Street and Brownhills Common, Brownhills, from the south-east, 1926.
Click for full size version.

I’m pleased to see that the expansion of online history resources continues apace, with lots of formerly quite restrictive services opening up with more sensible usage terms and conditions – one such archive is the British Library’s Aerofilms archive of aerial photography of Britain from 1919-1953.

Aerofilms, as the leader in such imagery for years, jealously guarded their work and getting hold of it has always been difficult and expensive – they did, after all, make commercial hay with the coffee table books of Britain from the Air for the last four decades.

Well, since launching the online digital image archive a few years ago with useful but low-resolution images, the curators have now opened high resolution versions to the public for free – you just create yourself an account and which is free and easy to do and away you go.

It’s free to use the images for noncommercial purposes and the terms of use – that you include a link to the source page – are very reasonable indeed.

I’ve included here high-res versions of popular local images for you to peruse. Click on them to zoom in – you’ll be amazed what you can find. I do believe that’s a clear view of The Mets and Pike Helve. And just look at the devastation wrought by mining on what is now Chasewater North Heath. The gasworks is particularly fascinating.

Let me know what you find – comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at googlemmil dot com.

These images are used in accordance with the service license. Why not visit the Britain from the Air site and check them out yourselves – you can do so by clicking on any image.

EPW015101 ENGLAND (1926). The High Street, Brownhills, 1926.
Click for full size version.
EPW060278 ENGLAND (1938). The town Gas Works alongside the Wyrley and Essington Canal, Brownhills, 1938.
Click for full size version.
EPW060277 ENGLAND (1938). The town Gas Works and the High Street, Brownhills, 1938.
Click for full size version.
EPW015098 ENGLAND (1926). The High Street and environs, Walsall Wood, from the south-west, 1926. This image has been produced from a copy-negative.
Click for full size version.
EAW024534 ENGLAND (1949). The site of the Cannock Chase Collieries, Chasetown, from the south, 1949.
Click for full size version.

Be alert – car stolen in Shire Oak

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Vehicle theft in Shire Oak – be on your guard, folks. Image from Bing! Maps.

I see from the excellent WMNow service that there has been a worrying theft of a car from Wrekin View, Shire Oak in the early hours of Wednesday morning (18th April 2018) which has been taken without keys – the latest in a series of such events across the local area of late.

The reader said:

A Ford Fiesta has been stolen from Wrekin View, Brownhills.  The ’65’ registration vehicle, which had been left locked up by it’s owner, was stolen some time between midnight and 7am Wednesday 18th April 2018. Broken glass was discovered on the driveway and the vehicle was stolen by unknown means. The owner still has the keys.

If you have any information that may assist the investigation please contact the police by dialling 101 and quoting crime reference number 20WS/85266L/18.  Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Don’t forget you can secure your vehicle by using a good-quality steering wheel lock or similar physical security device. West Midlands Police have negotiated a 15% discount on Disklok products for WM Now users.  

Sign up to WMNow or log in for details.

Please be vigilant, and I’d ask anyone with information to contact the Police, no matter how trivial you think it may be. It could, after all, be your motor next.

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

Cheers all.

Great pub quiz at Brownhills Community Centre this Friday!

Looks like fun!

Sorry folks – WordPress, the hosts of the blog have been having some technical issues in the last 24 hours so I’ve been unable to post but I’d like to draw your attention to a great quiz night taking place this Friday evening at Brownhills Community Centre.

It’s being hosted by the wonderful Followspot Productions and Shake Entertainment, and kicks off at 7:30pm. The quiz is designed to allow the use of smartphones so there can’t be any cheating!

There will be a bottle bar and it’s only £4 a person to enter. What’s not to love there?

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.

It’s all going on at Brownhills Community Centre. Image from Walsall Council.


Van break-ins in Ogley Hay and Shire Oak: Beware, folks.

Beware is you down a van in Shire Oak and the wider Brownhills area. Imagery from Google Maps.

A quick warning to people with vans and appeal to folk in Brownhills for information – On Monday night into Tuesday Morning (15-16th April 2018), there were at least two break-in into vans in the town; one in the Ogley Road area and another in Shire Oak.

There appear to have been three offenders in both cases, and the Ogley Road report suggests they may have been in a Burgundy coloured, medium sized van.

During the break in at Shire Oak they were disturbed and sped off. This would have been at around 1:30 to 2:00am.

These scumbags have targeted someone trying to earn a living. It’s heartbreaking and my sympathies for the loss.

The people doing this are more than likely doing it to raise cash from the proceeds of selling what they steal. If you know of anyone hawking around gear that seems to be dubious, please grub them into the police – the stuff they’re flogging is probably nicked.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Police have recovered the following tools in an unrelated seizure in Darlaston and are trying to find the owners. Check out the video and Facebook post embedded below.

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

Do the walk this weekend!


Find out how far they’ve come at Summerhill in just two years in this informative film for the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust

Tom Reid from the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust has been in touch to remind us that there will be a guided walk of the Summerhill section of the canal they’re working on this Saturday 21st April 2018.

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

At the moment, the volunteers are not only beavering away on the Summerhill section, on the Walsall Road at Summerhill, but also at several sites, including Borrowcop on the A51 at Lichfield, and other places along the route of the lost line.

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

Tom Reid wrote:

Image from the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

Canal Trust: Guided walk this weekend!

The Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust is holding a guided walk on the Summerhill section of the restoration project this coming Saturday, 21st April 2018.

Join us for a guided tour of the Summerhill section of the Lichfield Canal. See the huge progress we’ve made this year, with help from corporate volunteers from all over the country, as well as our own volunteers. Find out what’s next in store for this section.

Starting at The Boat Inn, we’ll walk up to the aqueduct and then back to the pub where you’ll be able to buy a hot drink (or something stronger) to warm up.

This is an easy access walk but due to the distance (approx 2 km), it is not suitable for people with mobility issues.

There is no charge for this event, but a donation would be appreciated.

Please make sure you wear suitable footwear as it could be muddy.

Volunteers at work on the Summerhill section of the Lichfield Canal. Image from the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

To find out about individual or corporate volunteering opportunities with Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust, please visit the Trust’s website.

Mylee Billingham – funeral details, and an extra message from Jane Taundry

Mylee Billingham. Image from West Midlands Police.

Details have just been announced by Tracey Taundry rregarding the funereal of her daughter Mylee in a post on Facebook, which the Taundry family have asked be shared here on the blog.

Tracey Taundry said the following:

Firstly I would like to thank Brownhills and surrounding areas for the love support and kind donations it truly means alot to myself and family at this tragic time. The funeral of my daughter MYLEE will take place on TUESDAY 24th APRIL at St. James Church Brownhills at 10.45. All are welcome to pay their respects.

This will be followed by a strictly private committal of my immediate family only.

Floral tributes are welcome to my home address or St James Church. Donations on the day will be donated to Birmingham children’s hospital.

Mylee was my angel my true princess she will have the send off she truly deserves.

Dress code all things bright and beautiful just as she was.

With love, Mylees mommy Tracey. x

Jane Taundry has asked me to add the following:

‘Can you add a little note in, to let people know that there is a collection box in reception at William Mitchell Funerals in Aldridge for Mylee.

All of the donations will be for Birmingham children’s hospital as well.’

You can see the original post here on Facebook.

My sympathies and condolences remain with Mylee’s family and friends. My heart, best wishes and respect go out to them at this incredibly difficult time.

Looking after the legacy of a great son of Brownhills

Brownhills Choral Society – legendary and very successful, with the noted singer George Fullelove third from left. Image generously supplied by Margaret Yeomans.

There’s something that’s quite historically important been going on for months now right in the heart of Brownhills, that whilst not earth shattering, is very significant to our local history, and helps to preserve the memory of one of the finest sons of Brownhills: Chorister and Choir Master George Fullelove.

I think few people realise that Brownhills has a fine musical and choral history, and that George Fullelove led a prize-winning choral society that really were the toast of musical circles, every bit the match for the great Welsh ensembles of the day.

George passed away in 1956, and the Fullelove Memorial Shelter or Arbor was unveiled in April, 1959. This curious hexagonal shelter still stands today on the corner of The Parade and Chester Road and was intended, not as many think as a bus shelter, but as a resting and meeting place for people of the town where they could sit and chat in the dry and out of the wind.

The Fullelove Memorial Shelter, or as many of us know it, ‘The 50p piece’. Image Kindly supplied by David Evans.

Many generations – including my own – called this shelter ‘The 50p piece’ and loved it, spending hours there.

In the last 12 months, several organisations including Brownhills Local Committee and Walsall Council have come together to get the Fullelove Memorial Shelter restored, and for an information board to be erected nearby, and I must say, it’s looking very smart.

David Evans has been in touch, to tell me about a ceremony that’s taking place next week at the shelter, to commemorate the renovation.

He said:

Hi Bob

A quick note to promote a local event, please…

On Saturday 21st April 2018 at 11am there will be a re-dedication ceremony of the refurbished George Fullelove Memorial Shelter, which stands near to the Parkview Medical Centre and the Community Centre in  Brownhills.

I understand that a small group of singers from the Wednesday Choir will perform  some of the pieces which were popular in the days of Mr George Fullelove’s choirs.

Local civic dignitaries have been invited to attend the re dedication of the shelter and the unveiling of the new information panel which gives the life story of Mr Fullelove.

Following the event refreshments will be provided  in the nearby Community Centre, I understand.

Many thanks in anticipation

Yours sincerely
David Evans

In order that people may find out more about this great man, I commend they read this post here, about George Fullelove’s earlier career, then the one included below, which covers his final years and the creation of his shelter and legacy. He really was a most remarkable and talented, as well as very humble and human gentleman.

Thanks to David for letting us know, and if you attend, please do take some pictures and drop me a line: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

If you’ve got a song to sing, sing out!

The Young David Evans – working with a number of sources, including the Fullelove family and members of the Choral Society – continues his meticulous and fascinating documentation of the history of the noted, famous and popular Brownhills Co-operative Choral Society. This is a great love of David’s, and one that is of huge interest to blog readers, including Ian Pell, who’s also discussed this wonderful history.

Thanks to David for yet another great article, and if you have anything to add, either comment here or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Brownhills Co-operative choral society . The years 1949 to 1973

George Fullelove’s all-important Conductor’s baton. Image supplied by David Evans.

The Brownhills Choral Society was inaugurated on Wednesday 19th January 1949 at a meeting held in the Co-operative Hall, Brownhills. The first conductor was Mr George Fullelove. The accompanist was Ernie Jones, who was also the chairman, the secretary was Frank Seedhouse, and the treasurer, who served for very many years, was Jim Ewens. The weekly subscription was 3d. The choir entered the Oakengates Music Festival on June 25, 1949. This was to be the first of very many festivals and contests that the choir would enter, and gain amazing success. In 1950 they entered the Bromsgrove Festival, gave two concerts and performed Handel’s Messiah at two churches. Membership of the choir at this time was 28. It would grow to over 70 by 1971. Seven concerts were given in 1950; four were given in 1951. There was to be a pattern to the concerts, which becomes apparent in later years’ records.

The minutes record that Mr George Fullelove, the conductor, died on Wednesday 13th  July 1956 and that in 1957 ‘the conductor’s baton passed to their new conductor, Mr Deryck Langford.

In 1959 the minutes show that in March the choir performed Mendelssohn’s oratorio ‘Elijah’ in Brownhills Wesley Methodist Church, and that the soloists were Rhylis Cooper, Alice  Holyman, Jean Langford, Jack Pearce and Doug Birch.

Brownhills Wesley Church, March 1959.Photo kindly provided by Mr Michael Smith, – he’s the gentleman with the fine beard.

The choir also performed at the George Fullelove Memorial Service in Holland Park, Brownhills, on Saturday April 11th, 1959. where a brick arbor was dedicated and  a memorial tablet was unveiled with this inscription:

‘Affectionately remembered by Brownhills residents for his unceasing endeavours in the cause of music and charity’.

[Wonder what happened to that – I guess the ‘arbor’ is the memorial shelter, but what of the plaque? – Bob]

In 1960 the choir entered the Newport Music Festival where the soloists gained success, and in another concert  the choir ventured into musicals, performing Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Trial by Jury’. The choir performed the oratorios ‘Barabbas’, ‘Olivet to Calvary’, and in December held their third annual dinner. They entered the Newport Music Festival again in 1961. A press cutting of that event is headed ‘Brownhills Choir Sweeps the Board’. The choir entered the Bourneville Musical Festival in July, went on a Cultural Weekend at the Co-operative College, Loughborough, performed for the 75th anniversary of Walsall Co-operative Society, sang in the 53rd annual Co-op Choral Festival in Derby, performed ‘Elijah’ in Newcastle under Lyme, and several other   concerts that year. They enjoyed a well-earned and 4th annual dinner in December, at the Kenmare restaurant in Walsall.

The choir membership had grown to 59.

This image is thought to be the Society at Newport Music Festival in 1961. Photo kindly provided by Michael Smith.

In 1962 the choir gave 13  detailed concerts, entered the Bournville Music Festival and the Newport   Music Festival. They again performed the oratorios ‘Elijah’ and ‘Crucifixion’ that year.

In 1963 they performed Brahm’s ‘Requiem’ and performed their first ‘Getaway’ Concert, in Aberystwyth, where they spent the day. This would not be the choir’s last visit to the Principality.

The minutes show that at the Annual General Meeting, in February 1964, a discussion was held where the members agreed to ‘strive to improve and aim for higher standards’ This marked a turning point in the fortunes and was to bring great success for the choir.

In 1964 the choir were recorded by the BBC, and later that summer Arthur Langford, BBC radio presenter and brother of Deryck, took a choir rehearsal and shared with them his own personal experiences during his years working in the BBC Forces Network. No notes exist of the details of his talk.  The recording was aired in the BBC broadcast ‘Brownhills Co-operative Choral Society and other choirs’ on Wednesday December 23rd.  Five  other major concerts were performed in 1964.

The choir were later to make two records, feature again on BBC Radio, and appear on BBC Television.

In May 1965 the choir took part in the ‘Choral Exchange’ at the Cannock Mining and Technical College, with Cannock and District Mixed Voice Choir, Chase Orpheus Male Voice Choir, and the Hadley Orpheus Male Voice Choirs. They entered the Cheltenham Open Music Festival, and won!

They performed ‘Messiah’ twice in December 1965.

Performing at Great Wyrley Methodist Church 30th December, 1965. Image generously supplied by Michael Smith.

On March 10th, 1966 the first of 18 Annual Brass and Voices Concerts was performed in Walsall Town Hall, with the CWS Manchester Brass Band, and the guest soloist, Keith Layton. These concerts soon became one of the highlights of the choir’s annual concert programme. On 19th March the choir travelled to Leicester to give their Grand Concert in the De Montford Hall, with the CWS Manchester Brass Band and combined Midland Co-operative choirs.

In the summer of 1967 the choir took part in the Morecombe Music Festival, the Bournville Music Festival (which they won), and gave their second Brass and Music Concert in Walsall Town Hall, with the Foden Motorworks Brass band. Angela Beale was the guest soloist in this concert.

In 1968 the choir again entered the Morecombe Music Festival, the Newport Music Festival and gave an annual Concert in Walsall Town Hall with the Foden Motor works band when the soloist contralto was Margaret Duckworth. The concert was a 1200 ticket ‘sell-out’. The choir also entered the Co-op Music Festival in Lincoln that year. In total the choir gave 10 concerts that year.

In 1969 the choir entered, and won, the Tamworth Music Festival, the Newport Music Festival and came second in the Bournville Music Festival. The choir had again performed 10 concerts in the year.

1970 marked the choral society’s 21st anniversary. The choir numbered 72 members. In true style the choir held a social evening at  the Elms hotel in Aldridge, a birthday cake was enjoyed, and certificates were presented to ‘Founder Members still in Choir’, who were recorded as Nancy Stewart, John Corfield, Ada Oakley, Winnie Ewens, Winnie Weston, Hugh Seedhouse, Jack Pearce, Frank Seedhouse, and Doug Birch.

The choral society in 1970. Photo kindly provided by Michael Smith.

In 1970 the choir entered the Cheltenham Music festival, the Cardigan Musical Eisteddfod (note the return to the Principality…), they took part in the Senior Co-op Choral Festival, had another ‘sell-out’ annual Town Hall Concert where they were again joined by the Foden Motor Works Band, and Edward Darling was the featured tenor soloist The choir did their own recording in the winter, and again had performed 10 featured concerts throughout the year.

In 1971 the choral society increased its subscription to £1 10s. In June they commissioned their own record which contained 12 choral pieces. They won the Newport Music Festival again and were presented with the ‘Chief Choral Contest Cup’. In October the choir entered the Senoir Co-op Choral Festival in Coventry, the ladies choir won, the men’s choir won, and the two soloists Doug Birch and Jack Pearce came first and second. The Annual Town Hall Concert featured the Fairey Band, and John Heddle Nash was the guest baritone soloist. The choir had given 20 detailed concerts and the membership stood at 72.

In 1972, ‘Power Cut problems’ were discussed (presumably due to the three day week), the choir entered the Nelson Music Festival and won, gave a Charity Band/Choral concert for The Queen’s Royal Lancers and the Mayor, Councillor S. Wright presided at this concert. ‘Pirates of Penzance’ and ‘Dido and Aeneas’ were performed in Chadsmoor Methodist Church, Cannock. The minutes record a meeting of the Co-operative Choral Society and the  Brownhills Music Festival Committee. The annual Town Hall Concert featured the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band and John Lawrenson, baritone soloist.

Cannock Urban District Council sponsored the performance of ‘Messiah’ at the Forum Theatre in Cannock and the choir gave 22 detailed concerts in the year.

In 1973 the choir gave a concert in the Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton with the Dowty Boulton Male Voice Choir, and Mavis Jones, soprano soloist, and Keith Layton, baritone soloist. The choir entered and won the Morecombe Music Festival again. , the annual concert featured the CWS Manchester Band and Cynthia Glover, soprano soloist.

The 25th Anniversary Concert was given with the Orchesta da Camera,and featured Elgar’s ‘The Music Makers’. A total of 17 detailed concerts were performed in 1973.

Ada Oakley, a founder member was presented with a’ fine gift in her home as she was no longer able to attend rehearsals’.

My personal thanks go to Deryck Langford, Doug Birch, Micheal Smith and especially to Bob Watson whose meticulous details, so generously offered, have made this article possible.

David Evans, June 2013.

Where’s the fairness in Remembrance funding?

Brownhills Remembrance Parade in 2017 went ahead – and was very well supported – precisely because people like John Bird and Ian Neville worked tirelessly to raise funs for it. It’s wrong that they have to, although we’re all immensely grateful that they do.
Image from Shell Handley.

I’ve hd a really interesting email in from a respected elder in Brownhills, someone whose comments on the area I’ve always respected greatly and whose opinion I value and usually agree with – John Bird.

John Bird has periodically written clear, eloquent and concise letters to the local press – the ones that have always stuck in mind have been the ones relating to the development and plans for Brownhills High Street, and he’s written some brilliant stuff over the years.

I’ve very pleased that John’s made contact on another very important issue, too.

John is commenting on the fact that in Walsall and around the country, many Remembrance parades are having to fundraise to pay for road closures so they can go ahead. I’ve covered this point previously on the blog several times – the withdrawal of police support for this event has always angered me.

Thankfully, people like Ian Neville and friends in Brownhills, Dave Whitehouse an co. in Pelsall, Lee Bragginton and the Scouts in Walsall Wood and so many more work so hard to raise funds for it, so the parades have continued. But this is clearly not satisfactory – to me, John Bird or the wider community.

John Bird raised the following point:

Remembrance Sunday Parades.(Road closures.)

As we all know, the Police Authorities have withdrawn their support with respect to traffic management and road closures during the Remembrance Sunday Parades and the Cenotaph Services at the various local centres in and around Walsall.

In order that these dignified memorial events can take place it has necessitated the formation of teams of volunteers to not only organise them but also to raise the substantial funding to pay for professional traffic management and the high cost of public liability insurance.

Bearing this in mind, I would like to ask the question ”Does anyone know if the English Defence League paid for the substantial costs of the police involvement during their so called rally in Walsall town centre on the 7thApril 2018 recently?” There did not seem to be an officer shortage on this occasion.

In conclusion I would like to suggest that as the Police have had their government funding cut and are obviously feeling the affects of those cuts, they could help themselves by taking on the role of traffic management during these Remembrance Sunday Parades and making a charge for their services. I would have thought that this would probably be not only safer but cheaper than these very expensive traffic management companies.

That’s a good question John, and a good point. It’s worth pointing out that events like Pelsall Carnival, St Patricks Day, Pride and Vaishakhi parades etc. all have to raise money too (and have had to for a long time before Remembrance had to), not just Remembrance, just so we’re clear.

I think the reason the police turn out for protests (who ever is staging them) is that the right to protest is enshrined in UK law and a tenet of British civil society: If you assemble a protest and do it correctly, I don’t think the police or Council have any power to stop you except in very exceptional circumstances. I could be wrong. I welcome views on this.

However, that doesn’t make the situation right. I would never deny people the right to protest freely be they left or right wing, but I would also not charge Remembrance events for police help – that should be a civic duty to those who gave their all – that we do is a disgrace, plain and simple.

In this, I blame not the everyday frontline coppers, but the top brass who’ve clearly decided to make a political point over something dear to all of us.

What do you think? Please do comment here or mail me BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Again, thanks to John for making an excellent, thoughtful point.

Walsall Wood victory is a Pershore thing


Images and captions Kindly supplied by the young David Evans.

Yesterday (Saturday 14th April 2018) Walsall Wood FC travelled down the motorway to the King George Playing Field Ground to face Pershore Town – and continued their run of goof form, beating the visitors decisively four nil.

David Evans was there to witness a great match, and wrote:

Pershore Town 1 v 7 Walsall Wood

A superb display of smooth, controlled  soccer again by Walsall Wood rejoicing at playing on real, lush grass.

Pershore tried hard but, in all honesty, were outplayed for nearly all of the match, and in every department, too. There was very little frustration or petulance shown in the face of the mighty Wood soccer machine in full steam, but the good crowd of home and away supporters were treated to some masterly football, including an overhead scissor kick/goal by one of the Wood team.

Look out, Ronaldo, kid.

Thanks to David for the report and pictures!

Meanwhile, on Tuesday last (10th April 2018), Walsall Wood FC faced Coventry Copsewood at Oak Park: In very poor conditions, Walsall Wood beat the visitors 6-0.

Russell Smith from the wonderful The-Wood.TV posted this first half video on their YouTube channel and said:

First half goals – fog and rain made the second half very difficult to film and the image not good enough to post final result 6-0.



Works to improve the Streets Corner junction getting underway

Work is already underway on the verges at trees Corner, Walsall Wood. Image from my 365days journal.

A number of people have asked about the work currently taking place at the Streets Corner Junction in Walsall Wood, that has seen the wall in front to the shops demolished and excavations taking place on the land there.

This work is the first stage of junction improvement works that will see the entire junction remodelled and resignalled as part of the A461 improvement works in the area that has seen huge improvements to flows at the Shire Oak crossroads and will also see work to improve the Mellish Road Island in Walsall.

Streets Corner will be realigned on the Brownhills-Salters Road axis, to reduce the sharp corner on the northbound side of the junction. and extra slip road will be created between Salters Road and the Lichfield road for vehicles turning left from Aldridge. New crossings and refuges will be created, and signals renewed with intelligent control and sequencing.

The works are scheduled for completion in Summer 2018.

I wholly support this – the junction has been operating at capacity for some time now and really needs optimising for all users – drivers and pedestrians alike.

You can see a plan of the work below, or click in the link below it for a PDF version. You can find out more about the plans at Walsall Council’s webpage here.

What do you think? Please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

The plan for improvements to Streets Corner, click for a larger version, or see the PDF link in the text. Image from Walsall Council.

A461 Lichfield Road – Junction Improvements Scheme

Main Scheme Information

The A461 Lichfield Road is an arterial route, which runs in a north-easterly direction from Walsall town centre to the Borough boundary. It carries large volumes of traffic throughout the day which results in heavy congestion at peak times. The A461 junction improvement scheme seeks to address the issue of growing congestion and the lack of traffic capacity along this strategic route.

The scheme will target two locations – A461 Lichfield Road / B4152 Salter’s Road junction and A461 Lichfield Road / A452 Chester Road (Shire Oak) junction. Both will be widened to increase capacity, benefit from improved pedestrian facilities, and new traffic signals and communications technology installed to improve operation.

The junctions will be linked by an intelligent traffic signal system and controlled and monitored by the Urban Traffic Controller facility at the Black Country Urban Traffic Control Centre. The new traffic signal junction installed as part of the Oak Park leisure centre development will also be linked via the same intelligent system.

Both Streets Corner and Shire Oak are busy junctions with congestion issues, as this archive picture shows.

Scheme Progress and Planned Work: Update 13 April 2018

Shire Oak junction is now largely completed. The timings of these new signals will be monitored and optimized by the control centre of the coming weeks.

The land required to widen the junction of A461 Lichfield Road / B4152 Salter’s Road is now acquired. The first stage of the works will be to construct a new retaining wall on the grassed area to the front of the ‘Family Shopper’ and ‘The Original Factory Shop’. Contractors will then go on to divert the existing underground utility services. Some preliminary works will start in February 2018. This junction will be complete at the end of summer 2018.

Works will begin outside the Co-op on Monday 16 April 2018. A footway closure is required for this work. Details of this and designated pedestrian routes can be found in the plan below (section of closed footway shown in blue hatching).

View plan of closed footway outside the Co-op (pdf)

Any planned disruption to utility services will be communicated in advance by the utility companies directly to their customers.

View plan of improvements at A461 Lichfield Road/Salter’s Road junction (pdf)
View plan of improvements at A461 Lichfield Road/A452 Chester Road (pdf)

For any further information please contact:

Donna Cattell
Senior Transport Planner
Phone: 01922 654659

Police issue statement on incident at Vicarage Road, Brownhills on Friday evening

Vicarage Road, Brownhills. Imagery from Apple Maps.

On Friday evening (13th April 2018), there was an incident in the Vicarage Road area of Brownhills that generated a large amount of speculation on social media.

I made enquiries with the press Office at West Midlands Police, and this morning they issued the following statement:

A 51-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault after police were called to a disorder in Vicarage Road in the Brownhills area of Walsall just before 7pm on Friday 13 April 2018. He remains in police custody this morning (Saturday 14 April 2018).

Sharn Braich
Corporate Communications
West Midlands Police

Please,  if you have information regarding this incident or if you have witnessed something suspicious, please contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Walsall Wood FC visit Pershore Town this afternoon!

Pershore town’s King George Playing Fields Ground is a lovely setting. Come cheer the lads on! Image from the Pershore Town FC website.

Saturday 14th October 2018

Walsall Wood FC are away at Pershore’s King George ground!

Walsall Wood v Pershore  Town

3:00pm kickoff

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

King George Playing FieldsKing George’s WayPershore, WR10 1QU

Check out the club website here

Aldridge Spring Market – on today!

Looks decent. Pop in and tell them all how nice the new development looks, why not?

Just a quick note to point out that today (Saturday, 14th April 2018) is Aldridge Spring Market with loads of stalls and fun for all the family, so what’s not to love?

It takes place in the town centre from 10am-4pm. At the same time there’s a craft fair in the Crown or whatever the Elms is called now.

AldridgeSpring Market 2018 – Saturday 14th April

Starts at 10:00am and runs until 4:00pm

All around the town centre

It’s at what used to be the Elms, right?

Who’s on this team, and who are they?

This is a real mystery. 60s perhaps, but BDE? Bill is goalie, from left I think. Can you help? Image from David Evans via Lynn Shaw.

Since the sad passing of Bill Shaw, old friend of the blog, champion of local football and Clayhanger lad, the tributes have been fullsome, and so richly deserved – but it’s also wonderful to hear the memories and see photos emerge of this wonderful man.

Bill sadly passed away following serious illness on 4th March as reported here previously, and the accolades to this wonderful man have been copious and wide ranging. All our hearts go out to Bill’s wife Lynn, his family and all at the local football clubs he so diligently supported.

Lynn, Bill’s wife has written to me to ask about the image above, sent to her by David Evans. It shows Bill as goalie for this team – photo from the 1960s judging by the hair and kit.

She asked:

Hi Bob,

David Evans has kindly sent me the photo below, I’ve never seen it and I don’t know if Bill knew of its existence.  I recognise Bill he was goalkeeper.  David told me there are 2 more on photo that I know, John Clayton 3rd from right in back row and David Greenwood 2nd from right in front row.

I have no idea what BDE stands for though, can any of your readers help with players names or the team name please it’s sometime in the 60’s, long before I met Bill.

Lynn (Shaw)

So, the burning question is who were the BDE team (obviously local, or near local) and who else is pictured? Please help if you can – comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Meanwhile, for the Wood faithful, it’s game on tonight for the Under 18s who I know Bill loved (Friday, 13th April 2018):

Bill and a somewhat skinny friend, as captured by David Evans.

Meet your local coppers this Saturday in Aldridge and Streetly!

Aldridge Libray. Image from Libraries Task Force on Flickr.

I received notice of this great event from Walsall Police via the excellent WMNow service this morning, advertising a pop-up meet the police event this Saturday, 14th April 2018 at Aldridge Library from 10:00am until 11:00am where you can meet your local policing team and get help, crime prevention and public safety advice.

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

The team will also be at Streetly Library later the same day from 11am until 12 noon.

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

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

Building bridges


I had a very interesting reply to my post of last weekend that featured the picture of the old Pier Street pedestrian bridge that crossed the canal for many years and was eventually replaced in 2007 by a much more user friendly structure – the original photo was by respected friend of the blog and Brownhills Historian David Hodgkinson, and a whole tranche of images of the bridge replacement being constriucted and the older one removed have been supplied by old Panoramio hand Facade66.

Facade66 noted that the bridge work attracted a large audience in comment to the original post. He wrote:

The new bridge went up on 3 June 2007, the old bridge came down on 8 July 2007. The installation of the “new” one was a spectacle, I’m surprised they didn’t sell tickets. Certainly the old bridge was fully load tested that day as we were all jammed on it. I’ve sent Bob a dropbox link to the pictures I took at both occasions.

Facade was good to his word and sent me the remarkable gallery of images above – my thanks to him for a wonderful piece of otherwise lost history.

I am, of course indebted to Facade66 and hugely grateful for such a wonderful donation – I do of course still welcome your memories and contributions on the subject. Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

This is the old Iron Bridge at the foot of Pier Street, Brownhills. Note the steepness of the steps. I’d say late 1980s, maybe early 1990s. Note that Silver Court Gardens and Bayley House are visible, and the rough nature of the towpath. It’s a market day and the thing is clearly in full swing; the original ‘Marina’ construction along Silver Street – with the bizarre, pointless walls – had yet to be removed. Image courtesy of David Hodgkinson.



Mylee Billingham’s funeral details released

Mylee Billingham. Image from West Midlands Police.

Details have just been announced by Tracey Taundry rregarding the funereal of her daughter Mylee in a post on Facebook, which the Taundry family have asked be shared here on the blog.

Tracey Taundry said the following:

Firstly I would like to thank Brownhills and surrounding areas for the love support and kind donations it truly means alot to myself and family at this tragic time. The funeral of my daughter MYLEE will take place on TUESDAY 24th APRIL at St. James Church Brownhills at 10.45. All are welcome to pay their respects.

This will be followed by a strictly private committal of my immediate family only.

Floral tributes are welcome to my home address or St James Church. Donations on the day will be donated to Birmingham children’s hospital.

Mylee was my angel my true princess she will have the send off she truly deserves.

Dress code all things bright and beautiful just as she was.

With love, Mylees mommy Tracey. x

Jane Taundry has asked me to add the following:

‘Can you add a little note in, to let people know that there is a collection box in reception at William Mitchell Funerals in Aldridge for Mylee.

All of the donations will be for Birmingham children’s hospital as well.’

You can see the original post here on Facebook.

My sympathies and condolences remain with Mylee’s family and friends. My heart, best wishes and respect go out to them at this incredibly difficult time.

From summers long since passed…

A very beautiful and evocative image posted on twitter by @CRTINspectionTom. Click for full size version.

I’m also indebted recently to old friend of the blog The Stymaster (whose Piglog and Publog are much older than my blog and both still going strong) for drawing my attention to a thoroughly engrossing Twatter account which a couple of weeks ago featured the wonderful image above.

The picture is from the mid 1970s, as the poster states, and I think the implication is that it was probably 1976. The image shows the Anglesey Wharf and basin area – the end of the canal – near Chasewater, with a narrowboat moored by the overflow. Note Hammerwich Church on the skyline, and the remarkable lack of mature trees in the landscape.

The poster is ‘@CRTInspectionTom‘ an Asset Inspector for the Canal and River Trust, and his account is a constant stream of wonderful current and historic canal photographs. Check it out here – well worth a follow.

One thing that never ceases to astound me in pre-1990s pictures of our area is how much greener it is today.

Nearly the same angle from 2016 posted on my 365daysofbiking journal.

Another image I want to share as a talking point is this one below, of the old ‘Iron Bridge’ as we knew it, by respected friend of the blog and Brownhills Historian David Hodgkinson. David has, of course, the oldest history website for Brownhills, without which there would have been no Brownhills Blog. David has a wealth of images I’m going to share some of soon, as I think they deserve a much wider audience, but more on that another time.

The Iron Bridge was removed in I think, 2007: It was a curious construction, pre-dating welding and was mainly hot riveted together from angle iron. The steps were incredibly steep, and the entire construction seemed to come from a hand that although a competent engineer, had never built a bridge before.

Many Browhillians and Clayhanger folk will remember dragging and hauling bikes, bags of shopping and pushchairs over this remarkable but frankly awful bridge, and this is a great photo.

Thanks to David for sharing it and I’m interested to hear your memories – of local canals in the decades past, inspired by these images. Please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at googlemmil do com.

This is the old Iron Bridge at the foot of Pier Street, Brownhills. Note the steepness of the steps. I’d say late 1980s, maybe early 1990s. Note that Silver Court Gardens and Bayley House are visible, and the rough nature of the towpath. It’s a market day and the thing is clearly in full swing; the original ‘Marina’ construction along Silver Street – with the bizarre, pointless walls – had yet to be removed. Image courtesy of David Hodgkinson.



Touch Wood!


A quick headsup here for a growing group on Facebook run by old friend of the blog Janey Hatfield that’s centred around (but by no means limited to) memories of Walsall Wood.

It’s a busy, well moderated group with lots of members and lots of interesting images posted including the set above, from Joy Spears, with a few others thrown in from Chris Dawson and Janey herself.

You can check out ‘We are The Wood…’ by clicking here you’ll need to join up but once in, it’s great..

Please do pop along and check the group out – it’s a fine place and if you’re a resident of The Wood, or just remember it fondly, it’s a great place to check out and shoot the breeze.

Above the line

This disused signal post at Ryders Hayes between Pelsall and Brownhills isn’t the only sad remnant of the lost rail line that came through here. Archive image from 365days.

I’ll be perfectly honest here – I’m still behind with upgrading the blog under the hood stuff (which in the way of these things has turned out to be quite a bit more complicated than I expected) so posts are a bit patchy at the moment for which I apologise here and now – so I’m taking the opportunity to catch up on some simple but very interesting stuff that I’ve been meaning to post a while, like this wonderful drone video posted on Facebook by reader James Lloyd.

James has filmed the old South Staffordshire Railway Line (the one that ran from Walsall to Lichfield and was mostly removed in the 1980s) between Newtown, Brownhills and calling at some oil the disused route’s best features towards Lichfield. The footage of the aqueduct in particular is stunning – remember folks, that’s a remarkable structure and is one of only three listed constructions in Brownhills. It’s a gorgeous piece of Victorian civil engineering and needs to be preserved.

This line is of course the one whose trackbed between Holland Park and Pelsall Brian Stringer and the Back the Track crew are fighting hard to clear of rubbish, overgrowth and debris and volunteers are doing sterling work. Not as I wound folk up with last week to turn it into a water feature (April fool folks – can’t believe the angry messages I got about that) but as a cycle and walking route.

I would love to see this route stretch as a traffic free trail to Lichfield. It would be such an asset for the area.

Thanks to James for posting the film and the wonderful work he did to make it – it’s always nice to see folk creating such stuff and I know just how much hard work goes into these things. Your efforts are appreciated.

If you have anything to add, please do – comment here, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at googlemmil dot com. Cheers.

If you want to know what the South Staffordshire Rail Line looked like to a train driver, this wonderful cinefilm footage below was recorded just before the line shut through Brownhills in 1984 – enjoy, and see what you can spot.

Beware of debt collection scam operating locally

What’s my line? Phone scammers are operating in our area at the moment – be on your guard.
‘Hello? Maurice’s visiting massage service? Look love I’ve told you not to call me at work…’
Image from Gizmodo

I’ve just had warning from the excellent WMNow system (you can sign up here – it’s free and very useful) that there’s a very convincing scam in operation I think readers should be aware of – and will be wanting to warn their elderly and vulnerable friends, family and neighbours about.

It seems scumbags are cold calling people with basic details (the kind of stuff you can easily get publicly) and using the information to personate debt collectors who are chasing a payment for a non-existent debt.

West Midlands Police wrote:

Victims receive a telephone call from someone purporting to be a bailiff enforcing a court judgement, attempting to recover funds for a non-existent debt. The fraudsters state the debt originates from the victim not paying a magazine advertisement subscription.

A variety of magazine names and publishers are being used by the fraudsters, who also commonly use the names of certified Bailiff Enforcement Agents such “Scott Davis”, “Stephen King” and “Mark Taylor”. These are names of certified Bailiff Enforcement Agents employed by debt enforcement companies.
The fraudsters request that the debt be repaid by bank transfer. If the victim refuses, they threaten to visit the victim’s home or place of work to recover the debt that is owed.

Once the money has been transferred, victims are not provided with receipt details of the payment or contact details. Later when victims make enquiries, they’ll discover that the debt did not exist, and often that no advertisement was placed.

This type of fraud is nationwide. Since 2017, there have been 52 Action Fraud Reports relating to this fraud. From the reports received, there are a range of different businesses and individuals being targeted.

Protection Advice:

  • Listen to your instinct: just because someone knows your basic details, such as your name and address, it doesn’t mean they are genuine.
  • 2. Stay in control: always question cold callers: always contact the companies directly using a known email or phone number.
  • 3. Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision: a legitimate company will be prepared to wait whilst you verify information.

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Visit Take Five ( and Cyber Aware ( for more information about how to protect yourself online.

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

Explain that no official body will turn up at your door or call you demanding money – even with bailiffs and debt collectors there is an extensive procedure beforehand.

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

Woodmen pull it out of the bag to beat Uttoxeter


Pictures and captions Kindly supplied by the young David Evans.

Saturday week ago (31st March 2018) the blog father and son groundhog double act David and Simon Evans went to watch the away match between the Woodmen and Uttoxeter at a rather damp Oldfields, and whilst there saw another good win – pleasing for the faithful as the match looked a difficult prospect, particularly considering the Woodmen were 2-0 down at half time…

It’s also worth noting that yesterday – 6th April 2018 – Walsall Wood beat Stafford Town away 5 – 0 continuing their remarkable run:

back with the Utoxetter game, Simon Evans submitted the following report:

Hi Bob

Uttoxetr 2 v 3 Walsall Wood

Uttoxeter kicked off, and from the off went on the attack, Mitch Tolley clearing the danger. The next Uttoxeter attack saw Lloyd Ransome claim well. Woods first attack saw Lewis Hayden find Jordan fitzpatrck, his cross eluded the oncoming Wood players. Both teams were intent on attacking, both defences holding out well.
After 25 mins Uttoxeter scored the games first goal, James Curleys fine effort finding the bottom corner of the net 1 -0.
From the kick off Wood went on the counter attack, Tony Clarkes header just wide of the post. Then following a cross by Peter Till, the ball finding it’s way into the back of the net, but the goal was ruled out by the officials Just before half time, Uttoxeter scored again, the winger getting into the box, his pull back was cleared off the line, but James Curley followed up and stroked the ball in the net 2-0.
HT 2-0
The second half started with Ben Lund and Dan Okojie on. Within minutes Tony Clarke had a half chance but his effort was well defended, next following a through ball, the keeper thwarting Tony Clarke. Wood were enjoying some good pressure, but Uttoxeter looked dangerous on the break. Wood made there final sub, Paul Sullivan replacing Lei Brown. The Uttoxeter midfielder then cut inside, his curling effort was just over the bar.
Paul Sullivan’s cross looped into the back of the net 2-1. Within a few minutes, Paul Sullivan then made himself half a yard, his rasping effort was parried by the keeper, the defender getting to the ball before Ben Lund and conceded a corner. From the corner Tony Clarke bundled in the equalising goal 2-2.
Ben Lund and Paul Sullivan were causing panic for the Uttoxeter defenders.With time ticking away, Wood were awarded a penalty following a clumsy tackle in the box.
Paul Sullivan stepped up and coolly slotted it in. 2 -3.
There was still time for Uttoxeter to press for an equalling goal.A curling effort sailing just over the bar.
There wasn’t time for LLoyd Ransome to take the goal kick as the ref blew for full time. Wood winning 2-3.
Simon Evans
David had this to say about the same match:Wwfc vs uttoxeter away 31 march 2018  wood won 3 goals to 2

Uttoxeter made Walsall Wood work hard  today, and seemed to be running through the Walsall Wood players… Speed, and more accurate passing showing that the younger team in Yellow were determined to have a go and at half time Uttoxeter were leading two goals to nil. Oh dear

The second half brought out the best in the Wood, especially in the last part of the game, when the Wood scored two goals to draw level, and then , in the final minutes of the match got the winning goal from a penalty kick.

Huge relief and elation. But the Wood were made to work hard.

Cheers to David and Simon, the faithful and of course the players. For the Good of The Wood!

A Chemical Romance

The Chemical, or in the time pictured, Superalloys works. Picture taken from The Aviation Forum, as posted by user Wildcat on the 21st February 2006.

I’ve been asked the question by reader Norman Taylor as to what I know about Brownhills Chemical Works – otherwise known as The Chemical or The Chemy, later the site of a notorious war scrapyard local kids were all attracted to.

The Chemical, for those who don’t know, was situated high on the Lichfield Road, Brownhills, next to the canal, just where the new Castings warehouse is today.

The Chemical, or latterly Superalloys, was located where the lrge Castings warehouse is now. Imagery from Apple Maps.

The simple answer is that I don’t know much, but local historian Gerald Reece came to my rescue with his book ‘Brownhills A Walk Into History’, in which he features the following passage.

Brownhills Chemical Works opened in 1870. In its early days it was a chemical plant producing acids and other coal based derivatives. It took some of its raw material from the Gasworks in High Street. The Chemical Plant took on many guises during its lifetime. One of its functions during and after the 1939-45 war was to recycle the scrap alloys from crashed aircraft. Brownhills Smelters was formed on 2nd December 1947. They were superseded by Super Alloys. When this Company went out of business the buildings were allowed to fall into an unsightly and unsafe condition. The Chimney, ‘The Chemi Stack’, a landmark for 120 years was felled in 1987. The demolition was carried out by Colin Jones of Porthmadog.

The Superalloys chimney was demolished in 1987, but do you know who pushed the plunger? These images are from Gerald Reece’s book ‘Brownhills a Walk into History’ but another set are on display in Brownhills Community Centre.

Now somewhere else (and I can’t for the life of me think where) it’s been stated that the famous chimney at the factory, pictured above beeing blown up, had the charge detonated by someone local who entered a competition to do it. Who was it? Possibly a local child?

Gerald has also asserted that a number of souvenir hand bells – which are surprisingly common – were cast out of metal recovered by Superalloys and sold as mementoes. You can read about that here.

Gerald Reece believes this bell was cast from metal recovered possibly by Superalloys in Brownhills.

Local historian Clive Roberts stated in his book ‘Snippets of History in and around Brownhills’ that for a while, before the war, the factory produced tar and the like, which would tie in with the gas works; but I’m also under the impression that Brawns of Home Farm Sandhills had something to do with the factory in the early days.

Obviously, I’m interested in anything you have to add here. You can comment on this post or email me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks to Norman for a great inquiry.

Years ago, I wrote a post equiring about the war scrap days, postwar and in to the 1980s, after finding some photos on an aviation forum – you can read the original post here. Forum contributor Wildcat back in 2006 said:

I spent many hours ‘browsing’ around the Super Alloys yard in the mid/late 60’s. What a treasure trove, if only I had realised exactly what I was playing with.

Entry as Matt said was from the rear ( I went in round the back of the ‘egg factory’). A couple of menacing dogs kept most away, but for reasons unknown they were always friendly to me and little brother. I remember seeing a few cockpits/fuselages as well as Anson Mainplanes and a large white fuselage under a canopy.

Nuff of the memory lane waffling, hears a couple of pics from the front of the yard. The condition of the Javelins is remarkably tidy ( doubt they had been there long) What price those fuselages today!!

I also found the images below on Flickr. in user Bobdcuk’s stream, from 1979:

Listed as ‘Brownhills Scrapyard 1977-York wings’ Photo taken from the Flickr photostream of user Bobdcuk.

Browse Bobdcuk’s Flickr stream, where I found the 1977 images.

Listed as ‘Brownhills scrapyard 1977 – Typhoon’ – the remembered military vehicle scrap is piled in the background, and also note the familiar view to the rear. Beneath the soil in the middle distance lies the Staffordshire Hoard, as yet undiscovered. Photo taken from the Flickr photostream of user Bobdcuk.
Listed as ‘Brownhills Scrapyard 1977 Typhoon’ – notice the welly being used as a glove, times were hard then… Photo taken from the Flickr photostream of user Bobdcuk.


Walsall Wood FC away to Stafford Town this afternoon!

Evans Park, Stafford. Image from Stafford Town FC website.

Saturday 7th April 2018

Walsall Wood visit Stafford Town

Walsall Wood v Stafford Town

Kickoff 3pm

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

Evans Park, Off Fairway, Stafford, Staffordshire ST16 3TL

View with Google Maps

Please get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Match report to follow!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here

Walsall Wood’s Motivation Hub Spring Fete this Saturday!


It’s good to see the recently opened Moivation Hub in Walsall Wood going from strength to strength – this wonderful facility for those with learning disabilities or other special needs fills a real local gap in provision and provides a warm, safe and welcoming atmosphere for folk to socialise, learn and hang out.

This Saturday (7th April 2018) at 1pm, there will be the Motivation Hub’s Spring Fete for all the stalls, food, fun and games we all love at such an event.

All this takes place at the Hub’s premises in the former Youth Club behind Walsall Wood Primary School at Streets Corner Walsall Wood – Call Suzanne Sant for more information on 07388 553615‬ or email her on – you can also check out the Motivation Hub’s Facebook page here.

I love a good fete…


All the latest news from Brownhills Community Association for Spring 2018


Brownhills Community Association have been in touch, asking me if I’d share their latest newsletter for March/April 2018 here on the blog – and as ever, I’m happy to do so.

The Community Association are based at Brownhills Community Centre, just by the Miner Island in central Brownhills, and always have lots going on for people from the town – and the wider community – to enjoy.

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 about the events and activities listed, 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.

My best wishes to Janet and the gang, please do pop along and check them out.

Hello, and welcome to our latest newsletter.

We’re as busy as ever at the Centre, work continues at our other sites and we’ve all our usual  fixtures and plenty of new shows and events in the pipeline.

For a fuller list of our activities, follow the link below:



Back the Track Concert

Aldridge Ukulele Group and Followspot’s recent sold-out charity concert at the Lamp raised £400.00 for the Back the Track Campaign – the traditional giant cheque handed over here by Brownhill’s Community’s Jan Davies to Back the Track’s Brian Stringer.

Back the Track are working to make a greenway between Walsall and Lichfield – their recent efforts recognised in the naming of the route – follow the link here to pick up on the continuing story…


Fake News Alert!

The Centre’s 125th Anniversary display features a piece about the iconic Brownhills Miner giving the statue’s name as quoted on a national news site.

The monument was actually installed to serve as a memorial to all those who worked in the mines and as such is not dedicated to a named individual.

The news piece also mentions building costs ten times the actual amount.





Friendship Group

The next Friendship Group afternoon tea and film show runs at the Lamp on 17th April.

The Group welcomes everyone: married, single, separated, divorced or widowed and runs as a social and friendship group, not a dating agency!

Though current meetings feature a film show and afternoon tea, suggestions for other activities such as talks, visits and presentations are always welcome.

As a contribution towards costs for afternoon tea, the group charges £3.50 per person.

We’d love to see you there!


Walsall Wood Youth Club
The development of the old Walsall Wood Youth Club site continues – the latest chapter in the story of the former County Primary School originally opened in 1903.

Currently home to the Motivation Hub and the local Navy Cadet Force, the building is drawing interest from other local groups and societies for lettings.

You can read more about the history of the school here:


Creative Arts Fayre
BCA’s Crafty Ladies Group is running a Creative Arts Fayre at the Centre on Saturday 28th April from 11pm to 4pm.

The event will feature a number of creative activities from traditional handicraft such as crochet and needlework to photography and wood working.

There will be exhibitions of work on display as well as demonstrations and items for sale on the day.

If you’d like to book a stall, drop in or call us on 01543 452119.

Lichfield Waterworks Trust April 2018 public meeting this Monday

Sandfields Pumping Station – a great historic building with immense history and social significance – not just to Lichfield, but to the Black Country. Lichfield Discovered and local historian Dave Moore have saved this valuable asset for the community.

Sandfields Pumping Station champion and public historian extraordinaire Dave Moore has been in touch to let me know that this Monday evening (9th April 2018) there will be the April 2018 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:

Lichfield Waterworks Trust April News Letter 

Dear Brownhills Bob,

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

Monday 9th April 2018 at 7.30pm, in the rear meeting room of the

The Bowling Green
Friary Road
WS13 6QJ

Tel: 01543 257344

The Bowling Green serves some great food and real ales.

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

Notes of the March 2018 Meeting are here

This Month’s Guest Speaker

This month’s meeting will include a talk by our very own Chris Patterson.

Chris is going to us about a very unusual and possible unique waterworks at Crumpwood in Staffordshire. The Crumpwood waterworks supplied water to the nearby town of Uttoxeter and utilised the power of the river to pump fresh water from Crumpwood springs. 


  • Trustees Meeting        
    9 April 2018 5pm Bowling Green
  • Monthly Meeting    
    9 April 2018 7.30pm, Bowling Green, including a talk by Chris Patterson
  • AIA Practical Weekend
    7 – 8 April, Derbyshire Mining, Matlock Bath, 10am
  • The Story of Clean  
    12 April @2:00 pm Girlguiding Staffordshire HQ, Dorothy Dean Centre,
    St Peters School site, Church Lane, Hixon. Staffordshire. ST18 0PS
  • Water TICCIH Conference  
    13-14 April, International Heritage of the Water Industry, Barcelona
  • Bower Procession
    26 May 2018, 1000 to 1400

Health and Safety

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


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.

Do we have your correct details? We do our best to get things right, but occasionally something slips of the tray. Please let us know if we have your correct contact details, or you would like any additions or amendments.

If you would like to unsubscribe form this mailing list, then just replay to this email with unsubscribe in the subject line.


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

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

22 Walsall Road
WS13 8AB


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

We never share your data with anyone else, but we do like to have your details correct. If there are any errors or omissions, please let us know.

Our data protection policy is here

Do pop over to Dave Moore’s blog and check out the history of Sandfields Pumping Station, an almost forgotten gem – the group also has a Facebook page.

Dave is, of course, one of the leading lights of Lichfield Discovered, along with Kate ‘Cardigan’ Gomez from Lichfield Lore.

It’s great to see people like Dave encourage a better attitude to our historic buildings -please do attend if you’re able, it’s sure to be enlightening and educational.

Local lady recovering after traffic collision near the Miner Island in Brownhills – a message of thanks from her family

The Miner Island is a busy junctional the heart of Brownhills. Imagery from Bing! Maps.

Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 3rd April 2018) as many of you will know there was a road traffic incident near to the Miner Island in Brownhills, where a local lady was in struck by a vehicle.

Although this was a shocking and worrying incident, It’s good to hear from the lady’s daughters – Gina Young, who sent me a message this morning and Karen who posted on Facebook – thankfully their mother was not badly hurt in the collision and is recovering well from concussion and bruising, but thankfully no broken bones.

Gina and Karen would particularly to think those who came to the rescue. Gina wrote:

Dear Bob,

I am not sure if you are aware, but there was an accident yesterday afternoon on Brownhills Island. My Mom was knocked over and was injured. Many people stopped to help her and as my mind was elsewhere yesterday I am aware that I did not thank anyone.

I can not tell you what a shock it was to see my Mom lying in the road in the middle of the island as I ran over Brownhills Bridge to her. Please can I express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped her yesterday. The man driving the skip wagon who pulled it across the road to stop the traffic, all the people who got out of cars and went to her, the people walking past and the two nurses who stopped to help and stayed with her until I got there and the ambulance. Many thanks to the man who contacted my stepfather and had him fetched and thank you to anyone else who I may have missed.

My Mom is 71 and has lived in Brownhills all her life, so thank you once again to the people of Brownhills for their kindness and care.

Best wishes
Gina Young

Thanks to both ladies for letting us know, and for being so kind to thank those who helped – that really is a touching gesture.

My best wishes to the injured lady and do get well soon. Thanks to all who helped an enquired.

Oliver in the 1980s: Can we have some more, please?

The Devils and the Angels was well received, but what of the 1980s production of Oliver?  Image kindly supplied by Brian Asbury.

Way back last year I featured here the details of a musical production and subsequent record called ‘The Devils and the Angels’ (based on Leon Garfield’s book ‘Smith’) created by staff and pupils from Brownhills Compreshensive School in the late 1970s, and in the course of that discussion it became clear that the school had a track record for good drama and musical productions.

Well, I’ve been contacted by reader Joanne Millett, who has a question related to this:

Hi Bob

I am a former pupil of Brownhills Community School in the 1980’s.

I am trying to recall cast members of a school production of Oliver. If any of your followers could help it would stop my mind from exploding.

Many thanks

The record generated a lot of interest and triggered many memories, and I’m hoping this enquiry will do the same – and hopefully turn up cnot just cast members, but material related to the show.

Thanks to Joanne for a great enquiry – please, what do you know? Were you Oliver Twist, or did you know Mr. Bumble? Perhaps you picked a pocket or two… Let us know. Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

A real piece of Brownhills Comprehensive School history, The Devils and the Angels, designed and produced at the school in 1978.

There’s no catching these Colts!

The team at ready to play Walsall FC.

You all know how keen I am to promote local sport here, and although I hear most from Walsall Wood FC, the blog is open to any club or team in the area who want me to carry promos, appeals or match reports – and I’m glad today to be able to feature the news of a remarkable bunch of young footballers who are doing Brownhills proud.

Brownhills Community Colts Under 9s have been together for just over 2 years now and the team started in 2015 as Under 7s, and in that time they have achieved remarkable success, currently enjoying a 33 match unbeaten run – bagging another 2 games since this article was sent to me just over a week ago!

I know readers will join with me in congratulating these youngsters and their manager, Shaun Derry on this remarkable achievement, and they need our support – so Louise Kendrick got in touch to tell me all about the team, their history and their wonderful performance.

She wrote:

Hi Bob,

I emailed you a few months ago asking to write a piece on our local football team. They are under 9s at the moment and last week played against Walsall F.C. to go 31 games unbeaten, we have since played again this weekend just gone and the boys have now gone 33 games unbeaten.

I’ve put together a piece for you including some photos.

Louise @ Derry Group

I have contact details and anyone who is interested in the team and wants more information, I can pass those on – but you can find out more at the team’s Facebook page here. It’s really good to see a local kid’s team finding such success, and it’s a testament not just to the dedication of the boys involved, but of their manager and support as well. I wish the the very best for the rest of the season, and thanks to Louise Kendrick for getting in touch.

Louise wrote:

Brownhills Community Colts Under 9s

All images and captions Kindly supplied by Louise Kendrick.

The team began in the summer of 2015 when the boys were all 6 years old. They were formed by their manager Shaun Derry. They have had 3 seasons together so far and even though they are in different schools around Brownhills, they have really bonded as a team and are all really good friends.

This current season they are under 9s and this seems to be the best season for the boys so far but their achievements have been on-going since they started.

As under 7s they won two trophy events and were runner’s up in the 3rd trophy event of that season.

As under 8s, their winning streak continued, again winning trophy events and always topping the table in their groups. After the Christmas break in the 2016/2017 season as under 8s, the boys did something that not many teams have been able to achieve. They played 2 games every Sunday and went on a run to become unbeaten in 24 games.

As under 9s, they have become stronger as a team, both physically and technically. They started the 2017/2018 season of on a high. Week in, week out, the winning continued. The boys wanted to beat their current record of unbeaten in 24 games. The 25th game came and the boys won. They had officially beaten their own record. But their winning did not stop there, they have continued to date and within the season so far, they have now gone 30 games unbeaten!

The boys are on fire at the moment, even if we go a goal down or we’re drawing with our opposition, they just find the winners in themselves and apply that to the game and they end up winning, continuing their winning streak.

On Monday 19th March, the boys were invited to play against Walsall F.C Academy under 9s. They had heard about the teams winning streak and wanted to play the boys and see how good they were. This was a big thing for the team as they had been personally invited by Walsall to play against the under 9s academy.

The team attended the evening along with their fans, (moms, dads, sisters and brothers). The time came for kick off and the game as a whole was a really good game to watch. The boys were determined, focused and just enjoying playing as a team. They played four 15 minute halves which they all really enjoyed. If you search for Brownhills Colts F.C on Facebook, you can see all the photos from the evening and also a short match report including team news.

The team were 6-4 up in the last 15 minutes of the game which then made Walsall fight back to end the match at 6-6. So the team has now gone officially 31 games unbeaten.

At the age of 9, to go 31 games unbeaten is an incredible achievement and something they should be really proud of. They are putting Brownhills Community Colts back on the map. We are overhearing people say things like ‘this is a strong team’ and ‘that’s Brownhills, the team that always wins’. People are now starting to recognise who the boys are and I think that their achievements should be recognised with the people of Brownhills.

The boys are proud to be from Brownhills and all wear their kits with pride, so let’s get Brownhills behind these boys!

11 games left….. Can they go the end of the season and continue their winning streak? Attached are a few photos from our under 9’s season.

Sorry, we’ve got the builders in…

Me, for most of the day.

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m fiddling today with some of the technical stuff behind the blog – there are a number of things I’ve needed to do and one of them is install a new theme, which dictates the blog appearance.

I’m also fixing stuff like dead pages, long expired sidebar links and the way the blog appears in subscriber feeds. This means that today, email subscribers may well have had some unexpected and pointless emails. Sorry.

I’m getting things sorted – and we’ve a lovely new header image by Steve Martin – so please bear with me.

Your feedback on the new look is welcome – please comment on this post or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Cheers. Normal service to be resumed soonish.

MATCH OFF! Walsall Wood FC at home to Bolehall Swifts cancelled

The River Tame in Hopwas yesterday was probably in a more playable condition than the oak Park pitch this morning…

The scheduled Easter Monday match between Walsall Wood FC and Bolehall Swifts FC, scheduled to take place today has (Monday 2nd April 2018) has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

As usual on wet days, the clubhouse is still open for beer and moaning about the weather!

For The Good Of The Wood!

Check out the Walsall Wood FC website here

Walsall Wood continue their winning ways – match report round up

A touching tribute to the late, great Bill Shaw at his funeral last week. Image posted on Facebook by Walsall Wood Football Club. Rest in peace, old lad.

Due to the lack of accompanying media I’ve held a couple of reports back and Simon sent me a couple together so this is a great opportunity to roll them up into one post – and here it is.

It’s safe to say Walsall Wood are still on very good form and yesterday beat Uttoxeter Town away 3-2 – coming from 2-0 down at half time in what was said to be a remarkable match. A review of that one will be up soon, hopefully.

I think at the moment Walsall Wood are ten points clear at the top of the league and seem to be fairly unassailable, but looking around Ilkeston seem to have other ideas.

Image from Pitchero. Click for a larger version.

Here’s the roundup, and thanks to the lads for the reports. Hopefully I’ll get it more together as were get into our stride in coming weeks and adjust.

Simon Evans wrote:

Matches have happened sporadically over the last few weeks, resulting in a very hectic end of season schedule.

Walsall Wood v Lichfield City
Home match Tuesday 6th March 2018

Before kick off there was a minutes silence for Bill Shaw. Lichfield kicked off and after 7 minutes a great through ball found Drew Aiton who coolly slotted in at the Shaw end. 0 1 to Lichfield. This seemed to spark the Wood, Paul Sullivan forcing a corner. From the corner, Gavin Hurrens header was cleared off the line. After 17 minutes, Paul Sullivan rifled an unstoppable shot into the back of the net 1-1. Wood were now in control, a great through ball put Tony Clarke through, his shot going agonisingly wide. Next some trickery from Peter Till on the wing, his cross was met perfectly by Ben Lunds header, but the post coming to Lichfields rescue, then Paul Sullivan had an effort which was wide.Lichfield then had a spell of pressure, a freekick was partially cleared by the wall, the rebound was just over the bar. Tony Clarke and Mitch Tolley then had efforts just wide. The last action of the first half saw Paul Sullivans effort going straight at the Lichfield keeper. 

Half time: 1-1

The second half started as the first one ended with Wood on the front foot. Tony Clarke forcing a corner. Lichfield attacker then had a great chance, through on goal but shot straight at LLoyd Ransome in the Wood goal. Some trickery from the Lichfield winger who’s cross was met perfectly by the oncoming Lichfield attacker but there effort hit the post.On the hour mark, Wood went on a counter attack, Jordan Fitzpatrick winning a corner. From the resulting corner, Gavin Hurren’s effort finding the back of the net. 2-1 to the Wood.  Six minutes later Paul Sullivan was through on goal, his finish finding the back of the net 3-1 to the Wood. A couple of minutes later Gavin Hurrens shot found the back of the net 4-1 to the Wood. By now Wood were playing some lovely football, this resulted in Paul Sullivan grabbing his hat trick 5-1 . Tony Clarke then had an effort ruled out  for offside, Paul Sullivan was through on goal, but Lichfield keeper made a fine save.
Lichfield than had a spell of pressure, this resulted in a corner. From the corner, a flick header found the back of the Wood net 5-2.

Jordan Fitzpatrick then had an effort just over the bar. Lee Butler then went on a surging run, he was upended just outside the box. From the resulting free kick, Jordan Fitzpatrick curled one goalwards, the Lichfield keeper made a fine save, but Tony Clarke was on hand to tap in no 6.

Full time: Walsall Wood 6 v 2 Lichfield City 

The week before on a bitterly cold night, Walsall Wood played in a top of the table clash with Leicester Road. Peter Till via a goalkeeping error score the 100th league goal this campaign for the Wood. Both teams had chances With a minute to go Leicester Road scored a wonderful equalising goal.

Full time: Wood 1 v 1 Leicester Road

Pictures and captions from the Brocton match Kindly supplied by the young David Evans.

Walsall Wood v Brocton
Home match 24th March 2018

Wood kicked off and straight away went on the offensive. But the first real chance went to Brocton, a freekick was partially dealt with, the ball finding the Brocton winger who’s cross was well claimed by Lloyd Ransome in the Wood goal. His distribution set up a Wood counter attack, Lewis Haydens pass into Lei Brown in the box, his shot was just wide of the post. Brocton then had a great chance, a freekick was half cleared back to the Brocton midfielder, his long range effort deflected off a Wood player to the Brocton striker who’s first time effort was just wide. Soon after a great ball found Tony Clarke, his run and cross into the 6 yard box was inadvertently diverted into his own net by the oncoming Brocton defender just as Lei Brown was ready to pounce. 1-0 to the Wood.

Lewis Hayden then tested the Brocton keeper with a teasing cross, but the keeper held well. Ben Lund’s pinpoint cross, was met by Lei Brown but the shot was just over the bar. Tony Clarke then made half a yard but his shot rolled agonisingly wide. Brocton then had a spell of pressure, but the Wood defence held firm. Craig Deakin then had a chance following a surging run, his effort going wide. The last chance of the half fell to the Wood, a Lei Brown header going just wide, following a free kick.

Half Time:  1-0 to the Wood

The second half started with Brocton attacking. A surging run and shot  straight at Lloyd Ransome in the Wood goal. A quick Wood freekick found Keenen-Richards in the box, his effort just over the bar. Brocton midfielder then had a half chance, but his effort was high.
A quick throw in found Ben Lund, his speed got him into the box, his cross was met perfectly by lee Butler, the Brocton keeper making a fine save.

Within minutes a long range ball found ben lund on the right, his run into the box and  effort was parried by the Brocton keeper, Tony Clarke on hand to knock the ball in to the net 2-0.

Peter Till then found Lee Butler, he made half a yard but his effort rolled wide.

Brocton then started to press, a resulting freekick was dealt with by the Wood defence. Soon after the ref blew for the end of the match.

Full time:. Walsall Wood 2 v 0 Brocton

Match footage from the wonderful Russell Smith at

Walsall Wood v Heath Hayes
Home match Tuesday 27th March 2018

Wood started strongly and soon found themselves a goal up. Kyle Rowley forcing home from a freekick. Mitch Tolley headed over from a Jordan Fitzpatrick corner. Lei Brown then had a header which clipped the crossbar. Heath Hayes then had a spell of pressure, LLoyd Ransome saving well.

On the stroke of half time, a Wood freekick ,Jordan Fitzpatrick fizzed it in, but Andrew Westwood couldn’t get enough on it and the ball went wide. HT 1-0 to the Wood.

In the second Half, Wood went in search of more goals, a great run by Ben Lund nearly created a half chance. Heath Hayes attacked, Humphries tested LLoyd Ransome in the Wood goal.

Into the last 10 minutes, great play by Ben Lund who’s effort is tapped in by Tony Clarke. 2-0 to the Wood.

Wood sub  Dan Okojie, then went on a surging run, a clumsy tackle on him in the box resulting in a penalty. Lei Brown calmly slotted home no 3. 3-0 to the Wood. The last attack of the game saw Nathan Walkers header hit the crossbar.

Full time:  Walsall Wood 3 v 0 Heath Hayes

Here comes the flood

Water, water everywhere – continually flowing into the former railway cutting under the Miner Island in Brownhills. It’s a battle no longer worth fighting, say Back the Track who provided this photo.

Most readers will be aware of how passionately I’ve supported Brian Stringer and his crusade with the Back the Track crew to reopen the former South Staffordshire Railway cutting through Brownhills as a traffic free cycling and walking route for the whole community – well, the project has taken a very odd turn and I’m not happy with it at all.

It seems that over the past few weeks, Brian and the bike activists have been investigating just why the former railway cutting and site of the old Brownhills Railway Station behind the Smithy’s Forge pub is so wet, and it turns out that the constant flow of water is due to a number of open, historic land drains into the former trackbed, mainly from the Hussey Estate and Holland Park.

After having challenged Walsall Council on the matter, Brian has had to concede that the drains will cost many thousands of pounds to sort out, money which nether the cash-strapped Council nor the cycle campaigning group have at their disposal.

Brian contacted me a couple of weeks ago and said:

Monday saw us in the pouring rain pushing on towards Pelsall but the heavy downpour did us a favour in a way because it showed the the extent of the water rushing in and at last confirmed where most of it is coming from. We suspected a broken drain from Pelsall Road as it was bubbling away like crazy. I went to Clean and Green at the Council to get somebody to have a look but got the old buck pass and fob off, so gave Councillor Ken Ferguson a ring. He promised to look into it and came back yesterday with the news that he looked at plans with the Highways guys and apparently it is an ‘allowed’ drainage for the Hussey estate.

Drains like this are making clearing the cutting impossible. Image from Back the Track.

I suppose permission would be granted when adequate drainage was in place but since they have been ripped up we are left with the mess we have.

Since then, matters have come to a head, and Brian has informed me that Back the Track, Brownhills Community Association and Brownhills Local Committee have had a rare joint meeting and decided there’s only one way forward – and thats to allow the cutting to flood, and make a feature of it.

I am horrified by this suggestion, as I’m sure many of you will be, particularly those living on the Watermead Estate and Pelsall Road, as well as people down the former line near Seeds Lane, Deakin Avenue and further afield.

The plan the town elders have come up with is startling – they are planning to build a dam under the Watling Street Rail tunnel, and allow the cutting to backfill with water as far as Bullrush Close, just to the east of the Swan pub on the Pelsall Road.

Brian said in a subsequent email:

We’ve had no choice but to admit we can’t swim against the stream and have decided to go with the flow instead. It’s obvious we can’t sort the drains, but the water is running clear and fairly pure so we thought the best thing to do was make a huge new feature of it.

The water is currently draining downhill towards Hammerwich and going to waste, so I’ve spoken to Doug Birch who knows a thing or two about civil engineering and he thinks it’s practical to build a dam into the Newtown Rail Tunnel which goes under the Watling Street/Chase Road Junction. We could incorporate a small hydroelectric generator into it, and let the water flow into the canal.

It’s suggested that a dam could somehow be built into the abandoned rail tunnel under the Watling Street/Chase Road Junction, and the excess water be allowed to fill the canal instead of Chasewater. Imagery from Apple Maps.

Consultants working for a very reasonable hourly rate have suggested this could generate several hundred kilowatts every week and would help resolve the current disagreement between the Canal and River Trust and Staffordshire County Council over Chasewater.

This electricity would effectively be free and for the community, so Gerald Bickley from the Committee has got together with Janet Davies at the Community Association, and they think we can use the power to solve several pressing issues troubling Brownhills.

Bob, I read your Facebook group and it’s obvious that people want Jigger’s lamp lit, and at long last we would have free electricity to do that. We’re also seeking designs for an electric turntable to place Jigger on, rotating him slowly, once every twenty four hours, thus resolving the arguments over whether he’s facing the right way or not. Barrie Poxon thinks that would turn him also into a sort of mechanical sundial that would be the envy of Aldridge, but every time I think about that I get a headache. Mainly because Barrie shouts so much.

Finally, we could at last get a tall, living Christmas tree with as many lights as possible, ending the moaning about that for good. If we had a cold Christmas the new waterway would freeze and people could ice-skate upon it by the light of the tree. It’d be like we used to do in the parlour at home in Clayhanger during the Christmas floods of 1952.

I am shocked and disappointed, to be perfectly honest that a project that started as a worthwhile and practical walking and cycle route has suddenly been turned into some kind of green energy power generation scheme, and after the failure of the wind turbine plan on the common, these things seem to create mistrust in the community.

Brian Stringer fondly remembers the Clayhanger floods of his youth. Image from ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo and Geof Harrington.


The water, being very deep, will present a huge drowning hazard to people disposing of used shopping trollies. Anglers fishing off the Miner Island bridges will hold up traffic constantly, and block the footpaths. Beer at the Smithy’s Forge and several other local hostelries will be even closer to water than it is now. Properties along the embankments may well be at risk of rising damp.

But the thing that’s annoying me most, as a cyclist, is the loss of a potential traffic free route that would have allowed people travelling from Lichfield to important, worthy and much nicer places like Pelsall to pass through town without having to interface with the locals hardly at all. It would have been like the proposed Brownhills Bypass was, but just for cyclists.

Brownhills people have been used to dealing with wet patches for a very long time.

When asked about the cycling issue, all Brian would say was ‘I rode through deeper water in Clayhanger as a kid, and anyway, after spending several months in a cutting with cyclists like Mick I’ve gone off them a bit. Grown men in lycra. Ugh.’

Brian Stringer, right, is keen to play down his links with cyclists.

Most angry of course, are the rail buffs who still hold a candle for the restoration of a rail service to Brownhills. Annie Rack, of the Brownhills Rail Action Group said in an email:

I know that rail is a difficult prospect in Brownhills – we’ve only just found out that British Rail didn’t remove the line in the 80s, it was the Jones crew from Harden who weighed it in for scrap.

We think a 700v third rail system could deal with that in future, or at least make it more of a challenge.


Attempts to flood Hammerwich in 1961 were thwarted by the fact that the village turned out to be on a considerable hill.

We’ve raised petitions signed by loads of train spotters, we’ve done feasibility studies – all my friends think rail is an excellent idea and this proposal to flood the cutting is a backward step.

Negative people keep talking of high costs but no price is too great to see a passenger DMU rattling down the line again from Lichfield. Besides which, they already tried flooding the track in Hammerwich by breaking the old watermain and look at the mess THAT made.

Do you like marmite sandwiches?

I can see some advantages to this – after all, canals and water have been a feature of Brownhills life for centuries and as weekend floods have shown, Brownhills rises to the challenge and has now started water-polo sessions on Holland Park tennis courts and Walsall Wood’s bowling green sees regular synchronised swimming sessions staged by game and well lubricated lads from the Football Club.

Brownhills is well into watersports. Anyone for tennis?

I welcome the potential resolution to the Jigger’s lamp and directional issues. But I can’t help feeling this will all end badly.

After all, lots of local people recently paid good money in aid of Back the Track and were forced to endure Brian playing the ukulele at them, which is enough to test any relationship. Several are still traumatised.

What do you think about this proposal? Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Beware of localised flooding, folks!

Hit this at speed and it’s goodnight Vienna. Thanks to Stephen Hill for the pic.

You can tell it’s spring – the rain is getting warmer, and it seems we’re having quite a bit of it at the moment.

After heavy rain overnight, beware of localised flooding – here in the dip by the restaurant and garage at Chester Road, Stonnall it’s very bad and quite deep as shown in this photo by old friend of the blog Stephen Hill, but also reports of standing, deep water at Green Lane Walsall Wood and Slackey Lane Goscote.

Beware particularly in rural areas like Mill Lane, Stonnall and near the Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas.

Beware driving through floodwater – it can conceal all manner of unseen horrors, and if part of a river flow can easily sweep cars away. If your car has a low air intake, getting water into the engine will kill it.

Take care folks, thanks to Stephen for the tipoff and if you’re out and find a flood do let us know.

I’ll have webbed feet if this carries on…


Walsall Wood in away action against Uttoxeter this afternoon

A great team from a historic town! Image from the Groundhopper.

Saturday 31st March 2018

Walsall Wood FC away to Uttoxeter Town FC

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

Yes, it’s game on!

3:30pm kickoff

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Oldfields Sports Club, Springfield Road, Uttoxeter
ST14 7JX

Check out the club website here

Be a good match if it’s not washed out!

Local miniature railway open this Easter Bank Holiday Monday!



Right, since it’s the first springtime bank holiday of 2018 on Monday, that means there will be (weather permitting) one of the occasional openings of something remarkable I visited way back last spring, and it’s well worth a visit.

Balleny Green is a narrow gauge, passenger-carrying miniature model railway located at Little Hay, east of Shenstone and north of Sutton Coldfield, just down the lane from the Holly Bush pub.

The railway runs it it’s own grounds which are beautiful, and is skilfully and safely operated by dedicated and clever engineers. It’s genuinely breathtaking, and what’s more, absolutely free (although you’d a total tightarse not to make a donation for such a wonderful thing – collecting box right by the clubhouse!)

Image from Sutton Coldfield Model Engineering Society.

Balleny Green’s dress is: SCMES Site, Little Hay, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS14 0QA – see the map above.

Balleny Green is something I heartily recommend – it won’t take all day, but it’ll easily burn a couple of hours and leave you feeling thoroughly charmed. It’s open from 11am until around 4pm.

You can find out more at the Sutton Coldfield Model Engineering Society’s site here. I posted the following on my 365daysofbiking journal after my last visit. It’s a terrific thing.

May 1st – Today, I did something I’d been meaning to do for years – I paid a visit to Balleny Green, a little-known narrow gauge railway layout run by Sutton Coldfield Model Engineering Society at Little Hay, between Lichfield and Sutton Coldfield.

I’ve known this place was here for years, but never caught it open. This time, I made a concerted effort to find out when it was a ‘steam up day’ and popped in.

This was just so English. No entry fee. No charges to ride. Just a bunch of people sharing their love of a fascinating, beautifully engineered hobby in the middle of rolling countryside in gorgeous grounds.

There is a long layout consisting of several tracks – including a miniature one – but on the larger one, which interestingly is dual gauge – passengers sit in or on carriages and are conveyed by small locomotives – today one steam, one electric – through tunnels, over junctions, level crossings, past ponds, signals, signal boxes. It’s gorgeous.

The whole thing is clearly a labour of love.

There were no other attractions, and none were needed: tea and biscuits, and a tin for donations to cover running costs.

All right here on the doorstep, and few know about it. A wonderful thing.

Find out more about Balleny Green at their website here. I’d like to thank the members for a beautiful, life-affirming thing.

Go to work on an egg cup!

Looks like good cheap fun…

Also happening this weekend – in this case on Saturday 31st March 2018 at Grasmere Garden Centre on Lichfield Road, Brownhills from 10am until 5pm – there’s a ‘Paint your own egg cup’ activity event.

It costs just £2 per child which includes the egg cup and a Creme Egg, so it looks like a bargain to me. So why not get your budding artists over there?

Fancy an egg hunt this Easter Sunday?

Fancy a bit of local eEaster fun? This could be just the thing….

For a bit of Easter fun on a grey weekend, I notice Oak Tree Farm down in Stonnall have an Easter egg hunt this Easter Sunday afternoon  1st April 2018 from 2pm to 4pm.

It’s £5 per child – no need to book, just turn up!

There are all the usual animals and fun stuff to see down there, so what’s not to love?

You can find out more at Oak Tree Farm’s Facebook page here.Oak Tree Farm is located through the second gate on the right, Gravelley Lane, Stonnall

WS9 9LB (That’s just down the Chester Road, left after the turning for Stonnall Village).

It’s all happening at Walsall Wood’s Motivation Hub with an Easter Club and Spring Fete

Looks like an excellent idea to me.

It’s good to see the recently opened Moivation Hub in Walsall Wood going from strength to strength – this wonderful facility for those with learning disabilities or other special needs fills a real local gap in provision and provides a warm, safe and welcoming atmosphere for folk to socialise, learn and hang out.

This Easter holiday, the centre is running a club for children with SEN aged 10-18 on selected days for socialising and activity opportunities, which seems like a great idea to me.

Finally, next weekend, on Saturday 7th April 2018 at 1pm, there will be the Motivation Hub’s Spring Fete for all the stalls, food, fun and games we all love at such an event.

All this takes place at the Hub’s premises in the former Youth Club behind Walsall Wood Primary School at Streets Corner Walsall Wood – Call Suzanne Sant for more information on 07388 553615‬ or email her on – you can also check out the Motivation Hub’s Facebook page here.

I love a good fete…

As many readers will be aware, with recent austerity and continued strain on local authority provision, daycare throughout the country is becoming severely limited and oversubscribed, with many local authorities ending provision completely.

This places a huge load upon already stressed carers who then often get little rest from what is a very demanding responsibility.

The Motivation Hub in Walsall Wood provides daycare opportunities for LD people in the area that is cost effective and high quality.

This is a really good opportunity for people with special needs to socialise, be supported and undertake meaningful activity in a protected, caring environment.

You can find out more at the Motiavation Hub’s Facebook page here.

Suzanne Sant got in touch to tell me all about it. She said:

Do you know someone with a learning disability ?

The Motivation Hub Ltd,offering day opportunities to adults who learn differently. Opened in Walsall Wood 22nd Jan 2018.

The Motivation Hub Ltd. is proud to be able to offer varied in-house and community linked activities –

Sensory sessions (feel,touch,taste,sight & sound)
Cookery, support with lunches.
Art & Craft.
Growing our own produce.
Basic living skills – money awareness. Road safety. Soft ball games and exercise.
Boards games.
Key worker sessions.
Self image.
Pamper sessions.
Sensory room ( up and running ASAP)
Explore the environment walks.
Coffee mornings carers/ parents.
Community Links –
Oak Park leisure centre – swimming, walking football, walking netball ( small charge)
Castlefort JMI – sing alongs ( special occasions) Music therapy.
BCA – bowls, shows, gardening.
Healthy lifestyle sessions.

We pride ourselves on a quality service from staff who have a wealth of experience and knowledge and value every client as an individual.

If you feel this may be positive opportunity to someone you may know please feel free to contact us.

Call Suzanne: 07388 553615‬
Email :

Thank you for your time
Suzanne Sant

Suzanne and her team welcome expressions of interest in the Motivation Hub – so if you have a requirement for daycare for a LD adult, please do get in touch with her by emailing here or by calling her on 07388 553615.

You can peruse details of the Motivation hub, it’s staffing and aims in the specification in the gallery below. Click any image to read a larger version – or you can download the document in PDF form here.

Do you have an adult relative with disabilites?

The Motivation Hub
Walsall Wood
Open to adults with a disability / autism from 22nd January 2018

Monday to Friday
Offering meaningful activities, to help clients improve their social skills, confidence independence.

For further Info contact Suzanne
07388 553615


We’re on a troll this Easter!

Looks fun. Might have a go myself…

Coming up I have some information posts detailing great events and activities over Easter to keep your little treasures occupied during the school holidays.

First of all, running over the whole holiday from Saturday 31st March 2018 to Sunday 15th April 2018, Walsall Arboretum have a great Easter egg Troll Trail – and entry is just a quid a pop with small prizes for completed entries!

Can you find all 7 Arboretum Trolls!?

Get your Troll Trail sheet from the Visitor Centre hatch bewtween 10am – 4pm everyday of the Easter holidays. Trail sheets contain a map of the park and questions for your troll hunt.

Each completed trail sheet can be exchanged for a small prize back at the Visitor Centre hatch!

Trail sheets