Walsall Wood Remembrance Parade: Appeal still running!

Walsall Wood Remembrance Parade and Service are always well attended. Image from the Parade Appeal Facebook page.

Here’s a very important appeal from Lee Bragginton of the 1st Walsall Wood Scout Group, who like all other folks involved with local Remembrance Parades, is appealing for help and donations so the Walsall Wood Parade can take place this year.

Options are available for individual donations online or by post, and Lee is also interested in any businesses locally who may be able to assist with sponsorship or other means.

Walsall Wood is unique in the area in being the only afternoon parade and one of the few that has no associated British Legion help.

The rights and wrongs of the current situation have been gone over many times, but we are where we are and donations are required. For my take on this situation, see this post and those linked from it.

Lee said:


Like other parades in the Walsall Borough, Walsall Wood parade needs to raise funds in order to continue in it’s traditional format.

Unlike other parades however, we have no Royal British Legion involvement in our parade and it is organised and funded by the youth organisations themselves.

We welcome any contact from any local businesses, organisations and individuals who may be willing to support our cause in any way.

See details of how to help below.

We will be holding a joint youth organisation fundraising car wash later in the year towards the parade.  Details will follow.

Lee Bragginton

Group Scout Leader
1St Walsall Wood Scout Group

It’s not a huge event, but small, intimate and very community focused. . Image from the Parade Appeal Facebook page.

Walsall Wood Remembrance Parade needs your support to continue!

Our parade only receives a small contribution from Walsall Council in order for our parade to take place; we rely on donations in order to pay for this event to take place for the benefit of the youth and other members of our local community.

You can donate on our MyDonate page here.

You can also keep updated on our Facebook page here.

If you prefer, postal donations can be made using the form available here (also at the foot of this post).

Contact Lee Braggibnton: gsl@walsallwoodscouts.org.uk or call on 0844 414 2438

38th Walsall (1st Walsall Wood) Scout Group; Registered charity 1133604. C/0 50 Longacres, Hednesford, Cannock, WS121LD

You can print this form out and use for postal donations – please send to 38th Walsall (1st Walsall Wood) Scout Group, C/0 50 Longacres, Hednesford, Cannock, WS121LD

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Laptop and Xbox stolen in Brownhills burglary – please keep a lookout

I had been hoping the recent rise in burglaries would recede by now. Sadly it would seem not to be the case. Imagery from Bing! Maps.

Just a quick headsup to anyone offered a cheap Lenovo Laptop or Xbox locally: There’s every chance they’re stolen property, as these items were taken in a burglary from a flat in Brownhills High Street yesterday (Tuesday 18th July 2017).

Pauline Williams wrote:

If anyone is offered a laptop or Xbox for sale please message me as a young friend has had his flat broken into today in Brownhills High Street.

I believe the burglary was early evening, perpetrated by a youth, possibly on a bike.

The stolen laptop was a Levono, and the console was an Xbox plus controllers.

The burglary was sometime between 8.00am 6.30pm can’t be more specific on time as young lad was out at work.

He works hard for a living and comes home to find his possessions stolen znd neighbours broken into as well.

Thanks for letting me know, and my sympathies for the loss. This really is despicable.

If you’re offered a cheap laptop or other goods, always think hard about where they might have come from, and by all means grub the people flogging them into the rozzers – the stuff is probably nicked. Next time, it could be your stuff they take.

Anyone with information on this particular incident or any of the others in the recent spate of thefts is urged to contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 or you can speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

You can also contact Pauline directly via her Facebook page here.

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Walsall Wood FC v Stafford Rangers at Oak Park this evening!


Why not pop down to Oak Park and catch some cracking footy?

Tuesday 18th July 2017

Walsall Wood entertain the Stafford lads in a pre-season friendly at Oak Park

Walsall Wood v Stafford Rangers

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

Note the slightly early 7:30pm kickoff

Please get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Match report to follow!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here

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The Swan, Brownhills: Come say farewell, and welcome a new era

A great community pub revived, rejuvenated and loved by drinkers local and distant. Archive picture from 365days.

It’s been six short years since Jane and Geoff Taylor took over The Swan pub on Pelsall Road, Brownhills, transforming it from a pub long closed and thought of as lost to an absolutely banging community real ale pub.

Well, I’m sad to say that this Sunday, Jane and Geoff finally retire and will hand over to new lessees Gary and Shannon. To mark the occasion there will be riotous Ukulele band Not Quite Dead Yet playing on Sunday afternoon – so why not pop in and give them your best wishes?

Laura Taylor wrote:

Hi Bob,

Hope you’re well. My parents are leaving the Swan Pub in Brownhills on Monday 24th July and they’re having a Ukulele band on the afternoon of Sunday 23rd.

The new owners are taking over and re-opening on Tuesday 25th (Shannon Roberts and Gary Wiggin). Just wondering if you could share on your blog?

Laura Taylor

Jane posted on The Swan’s Facebook page:

On SUNDAY JULY 23rd we shall be CLOSING at 10pm. This will be Geoff and myself’s last shift so please come along and say Goodbye before we leave.

The pub will RE-OPEN on TUESDAY 25th at 4pm under the new Leaseholders (Gary & Shannon) ownership.

PLEASE give them your full support while they settle in.

I wish Jane and Geoff all the best – I’ve had many a good night in that pub under their stewardship and never regretted any of them (well, only the after effects…) – they really did achieve something I thought impossible, that of turning an empty building into a living, breathing hub of the community.

I’d also like to wish Shannon and Gary all the best for the future, too. Please do give them your support.

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Why not try your luck on Claridges 60th Anniversary raffle?

The Claridge store in Walsall Wood – image very kindly donated by Chris Smith.

Thos nice people from Claridge Electricals in Walsall Wood and Brownhills have been in touch to ask if I’d give their 60th Anniversary raffle a plug.

Claridges are a longstanding, well-respected local domestic white goods and entertainment sales and repair company with stores in Brownhills and Walsall Wood, this year celebrating sixty years of serving the local area for all their electrical needs.

It’s rare indeed to see an independent electrical sales shop that survives and thrives.

Tickets are just £2,50 each and can be purchased from either store, with the draw to take place on Friday, 29th September 2017.



First Prize: Mini Range Cooker,
Second Prize: 32″ TV
Third Prize: 7″ Tablet
Fourth Prize: Dyson Vacuum
Fifth Prize: Microwave
Sixth Prize: Kettle & Toaster

Draw to take place on Friday 29th September 2017

43 High Street,
Walsall Wood,
West Midlands,
WS9 9LR.
Tel: 01543 373207


Thanks and best wishes to all at Claridges and good luck! I could do with a new TV…

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A game of Catshill and Mouse Hill

Modern day Catshill seems focused on the area of Sadler and Ogley Roads, but in earlier times seems to have extended some way up Shire Oak Hill. Image of the area on a snowy day in 2016 supplied by drone pilot Pete Hummings.

We’ve not been doing enough local history here lately, and I’m rectifying that forthwith a remarkable article from David Evans, whose research into what could well have been the first place of worship in Brownhills is stunning.

I thank David for this, and also a whole bunch of local and not so local collaborators, Sir Gerald of Reece, Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, Andy ‘Captain Wyrley’ Dennis and Keith Arblaster, amongst many others. Once more it’s a pleasure and an honour to be able to feature material of such a high quality on the blog.

Please, if you have anything to add – you’re welcome: either by commenting here, or mailing me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

David Evans wrote:

The very first Primitive Methodist church, built 1811 in Tunstall, as a row of houses Image courtesy of myprimitivemethodists.org.uk

A Game of Cat and Mouse

Some while ago, when researching the Walsall Wood Ebenezer Primitive Methodist Church opening I was made very welcome in the Local history Centre in Walsall, and there I set about trawling through the index of the vast archives. One simple reference caught my eye, and this has led to a long, protracted game of cat and mouse.

The index showed that the minute book for the Lichfield Primitive Methodist Circuit for the mid 1800s was to be found in Lichfield Record Office. Walsall Wood Primitive Methodist Church, the first chapel, dated back to 1865 or thereabouts, so it would be useful to see this valuable record.

The Circuit Minute book is a small, thick tome and, unlike the Minute Book for Ebenezer, and is full of beautiful, clear pen and ink handwritten minutes. Reading through these minutes I noticed a reference to a chapel in ‘Catshill’… in later years, a reference to ‘Mr Green, dealing with the affairs for Brownhills’ and later still, a reference to ‘Brownhills’ chapel – and no more reference to ‘Catshill’.

So, had the chapel changed its name, or had the Catshill chapel closed?

Catshill is an area in modern day Brownhills, more or less around the junction of High Street and Ogley Road. But Catshill seems to have been its own discrete community, and seems to pre-date Brownhills as the settled town it has been for the last 150 years.

I turned to Gerald Reece’s wonderful history book, ‘Brownhills. A walk into History’ for help. Sure enough, his book does include his own pencil copies of old maps and plans of this area, Catshill, from as far back as 1797, where Catshill is shown, and much further away a ‘Brownhill’. Here I pay tribute to dear Gerald, for his book is the fruit of many years’ work where he sat in libraries and made hand-drawn pencil copies of documents, way before the time of the internet.

Sadly, no chapel is apparent – at least, not at first sight. More of this later. But a ‘Gospel Bank’ is named, opposite the Warreners Arms former pub in High Street, and set away from the road a little.

I contacted another researcher par excellence, Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, and asked if there were any other ‘Gospel Banks’ or was the name used here only. He could find no other Gospel Bank mentioned in newspaper archives but suggested it may be a phrase from antiquity.


I consulted another local historian of note, Bill Mayo. Did he know of a ‘Gospel Bank’ near the Warreners? I described where I thought it may have been. Bill remembered that there had been a blacksmith’s forge there (1900s) Was there any significance in this? I do not know.

A phone call and discussion with Gerald followed after a while. I love conversing with Gerald. He is full of measured enthusiasm and often makes a simple point which clarifies, bless him. There had been a chapel, somewhere along the Ogley Road. It had been sold.

I turned to another friend for help. Andy Dennis has a fine academic perception, thoroughness and skill. Within a few hours he sent me his measured response. Perhaps the arrival of the railway through Brownhills, mid 1850s, brought commercial growth at the other end of the village, as well as an increase in population: two reasons for the need to move and build a larger chapel elsewhere, in the growing and developing Brownhills.

He also sent me some intriguing newspaper cuttings. In 1864 the former Catshill chapel was put up for sale, and the advertisement suggested the possibility of converting the former chapel into houses.

Staffordshire Advertiser, Saturday July 10th 1852. Click for a larger version.

So, what did this first chapel look like?

Gerald had suggested that at the time it was common for the Minister to live by the chapel. The press cutting certainly hints that may have been the case at Catshill. So I turned to a website, My Primitive Methodists, to learn that the Reverand Bourne (one of the two founders of Primitive Methodism) had built his first chapel near Stoke on Trent, I believe, as a row of houses so that if the movement failed, it could be easily re-used. As far as I am aware, no image remains of that little chapel at Catshill, but…

Not Brownhills, but Filkins chapel and house, built in 1850. Did Catshill chapel look like this? Image courtesy of myprimitivemethodists.org.uk

Is it possible to accurately locate the first Catshill chapel?

Gerald Reece’s map does show something, so small I could not make it out..in a triangular piece of land, along Ogley Road.

That triangle of land is indeed very interesting. Image from ‘Brownhills: A walk into History’ by Gerald Reece.

Andy Dennis, with his expert eye, located this piece of land at the junction of Ogley Road and Valley View. I took a close-up photo of that part of Gerald’s map. ‘Chapel’!

Andy Dennis of the wonderful Andrew’s Kindred blog helped with the above map segments identifying the probably location of the chapel off Ogley Road. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland. Click for larger versions.

He said the following:

I think I might be able to put an, albeit speculative, slant on this from an Andrew’s Kindred perspective. 2x great grandfather Henry Dennis lived at Catshill from about 1852. His son, at least was a leading light in Park View​. I wonder if the apparently reported conditions at Catshill had something to do with setting up Park View? Maybe it was just that the Deakins and Shinglers were on the Watling Street and found a place there? Or was it that Buckley and Dennis both came from NW Leicestershire? Or was it just that they were all miners who converged in Brownhills? Maybe there was a falling out? What about the role of women in the Wesleyan movement? This is something for to be developed when we get a chance.

There is some speculation about the origins of Catshill, which seems pretty ancient, but there seems to be no precise evidence.

Anyway, on the 1882 OS map the same triangular plot is shown as, probably residential development, which you refer to in your article. See attached.

You can see the same boundary on the 1901-1903 map. Where there are two years the first is when surveyed, the second in when published.

Boundaries tend to persist and you can still see that kink in the southern boundary on Google Earth!

Was the chapel sold off and converted?

Well, there number of dwellings does increase. In the 1841 census, 9 dwellings, (Staffs-Shenstone-Lichfield-district 19 using William Littley as focus name): 1851, now 15 dwellings, 1861 also 19 dwellings. Does the 1871 census show an increase in people and no increase in the number of dwellings? Interestingly in 1841 the principal occupation was ‘Miner’. Where were the coalmines in 1841?

Turning again to My Primitive Methodists I found this amazing article…

The Primitive Methodist magazine for February 1857 contains an account by John Lawley of the opening of Brownhills Mount Zion Primitive Methodist chapel.  Brownhills possessed “some of the richest coal and iron mines in the kingdom”.

A small society was formed by Richard Ward around 1837 and a small chapel built. Over time a bigger chapel was needed and a plot of land 300 yards square was bought at 62s per yard from Mr Arblaster, an independent church member sympathetic to the cause. The building was undertaken by Mr Croft of Walsall and the foundation stone was laid on August 26th 1856 by JW Round with a sermon preached by J Lawley.

By October “the walls were raised and the roof on without the least accident having occurred”. Building did not take long in those days! A tea meeting was held in the chapel on October 6th; the Trustees anticipated 600 attending.  In fact there were 750 “and some went unsupplied”.

The opening took place on November 16th and 23rd. Sermons were preached by WE Saunders of Tunstall and H Wheeler of Ludlow.

The completed building was 36′ x 30′ and 26′ from floor to ceiling.  It had “a good orchestra behind the pulpit” and was intended to have a gallery in the future.  The cost was £420 and of that £212 had been raised. Donors included “the ex-mayor of Walsall” and Mr Harrison.

The Brownhills Bob blog tells us that the chapel was replaced in 1895 by a further building in the High street. It was closed in 1964.  In 2013, Kwik-fit accupied the site.  Thee are pictures on the Brownhills Bob blog.

[I’m twitchy about the above article referencing me, but that’s irrational – it’s just making me think about citogenesis and this article, where I navel gaze about references – Bob]

This helps to confirm that there had been a small Primitive Methodist Community, which we can now locate in Catshill from 1837, that it’s chapel was smaller than 36 x 30 x 26, and that land for the larger replacement, along the High Street Brownhills had been bought from a Mr. Arblaster.

So I asked a friend, a Mr. Keith Arblaster, who lives in Walsall Wood, if he knew how big the local (i.e. from Pelsall Road area and towards Bullings Heath) farm was that his ancestors had owned in the early 1800s .

It stretched right up to the High Street in Brownhills. Two ancestors, Tom and Charles, were the farmers.

(Keith had previously fully researched his family tree some years ago, with access to the Church of the Latter Day Saints vast records and other sources ).

So now we have a replacement for the Catshill Church. It was called Mount Zion, right from its opening in 1856, and was situated on the High Street.

What did the first Mount Zion, in High Street Brownhills, look like?

Quite recently Silver Street Methodist Church in Brownhills celebrated the 50th anniversary of their present-day building, which replaced the High Street Mount Zion chapel. In a commemorative chapel opening booklet from 1967 there is an article, written by Mr. AH Craddock who was a Mount Zion chapel elder, which recalled the original Mount Zion chapel in High Street Brownhills, and it

being identical to the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Paradise Lane, Pelsall before being enlarged in the 1890s.

Now, there is a photograph of the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Paradise Lane, Pelsall.

Image courtesy of myprimitivemethodists.org.uk.

It, too, was demolished many years ago. Like many Primitive chapels, it was built to be functional. The downstairs was a Sunday Schoolroom, social meeting place and function room. A wooden staircase led to the upstairs chapel, and I remember that the small pulpit was obviously made for the (somewhat smaller) preachers of the day.

Oh yes, the chapel in Paradise Lane Pelsall, was near to Mouse Hill!

I would like to thank those kind gentlemen named in this article, and an anonymous friend, for their wonderful help.

David Evans
July 2017

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Brownhills war hero Edward Tunstall: can you help locate the lost photos please?


We’ve previously featured the past days of the Legion in Brownhills when we helped locate the location (Lichfield Road) of this photo, which eventually turned up the plaque itself – now in the Parkview Centre!  Image from the Bill Mayo collection.

I’m glad things seem to have… settled down a little in the last few days and we can get back to what we do best: Local history.

I’ve had a fascinating and very detailed enquiry come in from reader Emma Smith that I’m hoping some of the old blog hands and researchers can help with – I know that Brownhills still has a British Legion Branch (whose current appeal for the Remembrance Parade is very important) and I hope someone can hook up with them to perhaps light this enquiry up.

We featured the history of the local branch of the Legion some time ago with the story of the above photo and plaque, now with pride of place in the Parkview Centre after being found in a garage!

Thanks to Emma for a fascinating enquiry. If you can help, please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Hi Bob

I’m not sure if anyone can help but its worth a shot. 

My Grandmother is 93 and whilst doing my family tree I have been looking into my Great Grandfather Edward Tunstall previously of 165, Watling Street, Brownhills. He was  a soldier in South Staffordshire Regiment surviving the Boar war and the Somme.  

After leaving the Army he worked back at the colliery and also joining the Old Contemptibles and British Legion. My Grandmother remembers his time in the British Legion well as he was a Standard Bearer and was very proud of this position.  She remembers every Sunday there would be a meeting which was held at the Headquarters which were at the time at The Wilkin Road Club (The Waterside) she said there used to be a huge photo of him in the club and several others dotted around. 

I am basically wondering if there is still anyone around that remembers these pictures and if there is still a Brownhills British Legion that may have any records in relation to him.  

When he died in 1949 he had a beautiful funeral thanks to the British Legion and my grandmother remembers them carrying his coffin through Brownhills draped in a flag.  It would be great if I could find some information in relation to him as we have been unsuccessful in relation to Army records.

Years later my Grandmother’s in-laws Doris and Sidney Hewitt ran The Wilkin Road Club and remembers that the photos and the meetings were no longer held at the club. 

Thank you in anticipation.
Emma Smith

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