Models at the museum 2018 – a great event happening this Sunday


Aston Manor Road Transport Museum events are always popular – and it’s only up the road in Aldridge. What’s not to love? Image from the AMRTM Facebook page.

I see from the events list that Aston Manor Road Transport Museum in Aldridge have a ‘Models at the Museum’ event this Sunday, 25th March 2018 – It runs from 10:00am until 4:00pm and should be just the thing for modellers, transport enthusiasts, petrol heads and big kids of all kinds.

There will be loads of modellers stalls and layouts, live steam outside the museum, kids activities, films and all the usual goodies for all the family to enjoy.

Entry is a pocket pleasing £5 for adults, £2 for kids and just £13 for a family ticket.

There’s a free bus service operating all day between Walsall and the museum in Shenstone Drive, and also from Aldridge Community Centre car park with a free connecting bus.

There’s more information on the event’s Facebook page here.

While you’re there, you can check out all the great stuff in the collection, and talk to the volunteers, who’re doing a fine job.

This is sure to be a great event – please do pop along. The collection needs the support of the public to survive, and it really is a wonderful thing. The 2017 events schedule for the museum is any the foot of this post.

Why not check out the museum website or their Facebook group?

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

Meet your local coppers this Friday afternoon in Brownhills

Tesco, Brownhills. Not beautiful, but it’s all ours. Image from West Midlands Police.

I received notice of this great event from Brownhills Policing Team via the excellent WMNow service a yesterday, advertising a pop-up meet the police event this coming Friday afternoon, 23rd March 2018 at Tesco, Brownhills from 3pm until 5pm where you can meet your local policing team and get help, crime prevention and public safety advice.

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

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

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

Blooming marvellous


This remarkable lady is working hard to make the place we live just that little bit nicer. Image Kindly supplied by Janet Davies.

Just a quick note here that I would like to express my huge admiration and appreciation to his lady, whose name is Yoke Van Der Meer – this wonderful woman leads the Gardening Club at the Community Centre in Brownhills and is responsible, with club members and volunteers, for the beautiful displays of flowers both at the centre and in Brownhills High Street.

Since the loss of the Town Centre Partnership, the Brownhills flower displays have been taken on by the Community Association and have been as ever, gorgeous.

Too often I hear people grumbling about our town, but people like Yoke and and her crew of volunteers are working hard to make this place just that little bit better for us all. I thank you all. You don’t get enough thanks. My hat is doffed in your honour.

There’s loads of information here about what Yoke has been doing at the Centre.

Janet Davies, from the Community Association said:

Our top horticulturalist Yoke Van Der Meer (ex-Kew Gardens!) busy on the High Street planting perennials in a partnership project with Walsall Council. Join her at gardening club on Mondays 1-3pm at Brownhills Community Centre.

You can find out more about this lovely project right in the heart of Brownhills at their web page here.

Gardening Club / Flower Arranging

Brownhills Community Association has created this gardening project at the Community Centre to involve children and adults of all ages and abilities to come and join in the project.

Raised Beds

Plants are grown from seeds in the greenhouse, potted on and then transplanted into raised beds, hanging baskets and containers. Vegetables and fruits are also grown from young tender plants to ready to eat when ripened and full of flavour. During the winter months, when it is too cold for gardening the project turns to flower arranging using some of the dried flowers and stems etc from the summer months.


We would like people to join us and help create some beautiful displays for all year round, flower beds, hanging baskets, dried flower arrangements etc. To help make the Community Centre an attractive place for people who use our facilities.

 Every Monday 1:00pm – 3:00pm

£2.00 per session (free for concessions)

Tutor: Yoke van der Meer

01543 452 119

Brownhills Community Centre
Pelsall Road


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The Staffordshire Hilton: There’s the Trub

Images very Kindly supplied by Tony Kulik

A post today that was supposed to go up yesterday, but I was having such a bad day I pretty much gave up, so apologies to Stuart Cowley and Tony Kulik for neglecting this post with more rumination on the fascinating subject of Hilton Hall.

Stuart now works at a company in the grounds of Hilton Hall, and has previously explored this often-overlooked but fascinating place in this article dealing with the restoration and history of the family who owned it. In this followup, Stuart finds that the Portobello Tower at the hall was the work of a rather important architect…

Stuart is of course, he lovely chap who wrote beautifully about his childhood at Chasewater, local marching band culture and history, his involvement in the golden days of local radio and he also shared a wonderful local history book for Chasetown.

Following Stuart’s article, long term reader and friend of the blog Tony Kulik got in touch with a lovely gallery of photos from Hilton Hall which I feature at the top of this post.

It turns out Tony remembers the Orangery derelict:

The glass domed building was the ‘orangery’ – it was derelict when we were kids in the 60’s and camped there with the scouts – it had an raised slab in the centre that the druids used as a sacrificial altar (or so we told to frighten us to death as we camped just 20 yards away from it in woods that have now been cleared).

The Portobello tower erected to commerate the admirals exploits lies several hundred yards up the south west hillside – it is viewable from near Junctiont 1 of the M54

Thanks to both lads for lighting up a lovely bit of local history I for one was never more than peripherally aware of the existence of.

The last article proved surprisingly popular, and if you have anything to add, please feel free: comment here or mail in – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Hilton Hall as depicted on Apple Maps. Note the folly on the left. Click for a larger version.

Stuart Cowley wrote:

You may remember the other week me mentioning a tower in the grounds of Hilton Hall Essington, picture below:

The Portobello Tower – image Kindly supplied by Stuart Cowley.

This description from the Staffspastrack site has got me digging for more information and as usual created more questions than answers: 

Portobello tower built 1739-1765

Description:The Portobello Tower is a hexagonal, embattled tower built to commemorate Admiral Vernon’s capture of Portobello in 1739. It was perhaps designed by Rochard Trubshaw of Little Haywood and built between 1739 and 1765.

Hilton Park passed to the Vernon family in 1547. The present hall was built for Henry Vernon in the early 18th century. The Vernons sold the hall around 1951 and for a while it was owned by a Catholic Order of Nuns. The Hall was the head office of Tarmac between 1985 and 1999.

I was curious to find out more about Richard Trubshaw (above has him as Rochard, I think that may be an error) with him being a relatively local chap from Little Haywood so started a search on the net.

Turns out that the Trubshaw family over the generations have helped to provide this area and beyond with some of our well known landmarks. I don’t know how this has passed me by until now.

This from the Oxford index:

Oxford index

English family of architects, master builders and engineers. At least 18 members of this family are recorded as architects or civil engineers, from Thomas Trubshaw, who built the tower of Armitage Church, Staffs, in 1632, to Wolstan Vyvyan Trubshaw, ARIBA (1893–1981). The family was associated with Staffordshire, of which James Trubshaw (1746–1808) and his grandson Charles (1811–62) were both County Surveyors. The first to be of any importance as an architect was Richard 

There is so much information on the net that I can’t do the family justice in this piece alone so it is well worth delving for anyone interested but Richard also had a hand with the following:

St Chads Church Stafford

Parish Church of St Deiniol’s Wrexham

St Bartholomew Norton In The Moors Stoke On Trent

Just as interesting is the information on James Trubshaw linking him with Colwich and Rugeley, again, I can’t improve on the information to be found on Wikipedia so here it is:

James Trubshawb (13 February 1777 – 28 October 1853) was an English builder, architect and civil engineer.[1][2]His civil engineering works include the construction of the Grosvenor Bridge in Chester, Cheshire, then the longest stone span. He also pioneered the technique of underexcavation with the straightening the leaning tower of St Chad’s in Wybunbury, Cheshire.

Early life and career

He was born to stonemason, builder and engineering contractor, James Trubshaw and his second wife Elizabeth (née Webb), at the Mount near Colwichin Staffordshire, the second son in a family of seven sons and two daughters.[1][2][3]He was educated in Rugeley, but left school aged only eleven to start work in his father’s business.[2]His earliest experience included working on buildings such as Sandon Hall, Fonthill Abbey, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. In 1795, he worked on Wolseley Bridge near Colwich, and many of his early projects were bridges.[1][2]

On the death of his father in 1808, Trubshaw started a building business in Stone; an early commission was to build Ashcombe Hall.[2][4]He worked for a time in partnership with the Lichfield architect Thomas Johnson (1794–1865), who was to become his son-in-law.[5][6]In 1827, Trubshaw became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and presented several papers there.[3][7]He later became the chief engineer of the Trent and Mersey Canal Company, and superintended the construction of reservoirs, feeders and railways for the company.[1]

Although he received only a limited education, he was a gifted practical engineer.[3]His obituary in The Gentleman’s Magazine described him as a man “of original genius, of great natural talent, and persevering energy … gifted with an instinctive perception of all great mechanical principles, uniformly guided by excellent common sense.”[1]



His best-known work is the construction of the Grosvenor Bridge over the River Deeat Chester, Cheshire (1827–33). Designed by Thomas Harrison, the project had been dismissed as impractical by prominent engineers of the time including Thomas Telford.[1][3]Its single stone span of 200 feet was considered the longest in the world when it was completed in 1833.[3][8][9]The Institution of Civil Engineers, to whom Trubshaw presented models of the bridge showing its method of construction, described his methods as having “excited the admiration of the Profession.”[1][3][7]Trubshaw himself said that he was “convinced the arch will be the largest and finest stone arch in Europe and will consequently be a lasting monument to the glory and superiority of Great Britain.”[10]

He also constructed many other bridges, including Exeter Bridge over the Derwentin Derby, Derbyshire (1850; now demolished).[1]

Leaning tower of St Chad’s

Trubshaw is also known for stabilising the leaning tower of the church of St Chad’s Church, Wybunbury, Cheshire, in 1832.[1][3][11]At that date, the 29.3 m tower inclined to the north east by 1.6 m, due to its location on sloping sandy soil with underlying saliferous beds, and it had tilted an average of 12 mm per year since 1790.[3]Trubshaw pioneered a method which involved no “wonderful machining or secret inventions” and was described in the Architectural Magazineof 1836:

“Mr Trubshaw, after examining well the outside of the foundations, commenced

digging down the inside. After having got below the level of the footings (lowest stones of the foundation), he proceeded to bore a row of auger-holes clear through under the foundations of the high side, the holes nearly touching each other. These holes he filled with water; and, corking them up with a piece of marl, let them rest for the night. In the morning, the water had softened the marl to a puddle; and the building gradually began to sink, another row of holes were bored, but, not exactly so far as the first row. They were filled with water as before; and the high side not only kept sinking, but the fracture in the centre kept gradually closing up. This process was

continued till the steeple became perfectly straight, and the fracture imperceptible.”[3]

This is the earliest documented application of the technique of underexcavation,[3]which has since been successfully used to stabilise the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City(1993–98)[3][12]and the Leaning Tower of Pisa(1999–2001).[13]Trubshaw’s work accords with modern conservation principles as it was invisible, used the minimum intervention required and could be reversed or repeated if necessary. Despite the extreme instability of the ground, the straightened tower of St Chad’s stood without further intervention for over 150 years; it was restabilised using reinforced concrete foundations in 1989.[3]

Other works

Trubshaw’s other works include a column commemorating the landing of George IVat Ramsgate, Kent (1821),[1]Ilam Hall, Staffordshire, near Ashbourne(1821–26),[14]Weston House, Warwickshire(now demolished)[1]and the orangery and lodges of Heath House, Checkley, Staffordshire (1830–1).[15]

He designed several Commissioners’ Churches, including St James’ Church, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire (1833–34), St James’ Church, Congleton, Cheshire (1847–48)[16]and Holy Trinity, Hanley, Staffordshire(1848–49).[17][18]He also rebuilt St Michael’s Church, Great Wolford, Warwickshire[19]and St Lawrence’s Church, Chorlton, Staffordshire.[20]

Personal life

Trubshaw was described as tall and athletic.[1]In 1801, he married Mary Bott of Stone; they had three sons and three daughters. Their eldest son, Thomas Trubshaw (1802–42), also became an architect; their eldest daughter married the architect Thomas Johnson, and their daughter Susanna was a poet and essayist.[1][2]The family settled in Little Haywoodnear Colwich in Staffordshire in 1809, and Trubshaw remained there until his death in 1853.[1]He is buried at Colwich, where the parish church contains a memorial to him

As mentioned, he worked for a while and then was related to a Thomas Johnson, a Lichfield architect. More on this gentleman can be found on the Lichfield Lore site here:

So that just covers some of the work of just two members of the Trubshaw family, what do we know about the rest of the family?


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The wanderer returns with postcards from near and far

This is a new one on me, and one of the better shots of Mount Zion, situated as it was, there were no really decent photos of the front of what was a very dark, austere building. Image found on eBay by [Howmuch?] – click for a larger version.

After a long period in exile away from the ‘Hills, long time blog helper and history ferret [Howmuch?] returns from foreign shores with some images he’s spotted in various auctions on services eBay and eBid.

These are some good ones for a snowy Sunday afternoon, and I’m particularly interested in the one above, which I can’t recall ever having seen before. It’s a view looking up High Street towards Shire Oak, and shows the long-gone Mount Zion chapel on the right, which would have been about where the access to Tesco from the High Street is today, in the region of Swan Flooring.

Edit later that day: As the comments below show, I have that completely wrong, sorry. This is the Wesleyan Chapel, which was indeed on the corner of Pier Street. Thanks to David Evans and Reg Fullelove for putting me straight. Apologies.

This is actually the same card as featured in the ‘Boys on the Corner’ post as linked below, but it’s darker so I didn’t recognise it. What a pillock I am. 

In the distance, the Wesleyan Church, which would be on the corner of Pier Street. From the ladies dresses I’d say this was turn of the last century. Interesting how many properties on the left appear to be normal houses, not shops – or is that an illusion?

Is this related to other iconic shots of Brewes Corner? What do you think? Image found on eBay by [Howmuch?] – click for a larger version.

The above image of Brewe’s Corner – looking up High Street from what would now be the Miner Island, with Lichfield Road to the left – seems to bear some relation to the iconic shots from the same position that include the Roberts Brewery behind the Station Hotel which would be out of shot on the right – you can see those images here.

I’m puzzled by the tent arrangement in the fence on the right behind the man standing, looking at the photo. Any ideas? I’d say again, turn of the last century or thereabouts.

An unusual view of Walsall Wood High Street, but something looks wrong. Is it distorted? Image found on eBay by [Howmuch?] – click for a larger version.

Rear of the above card. Image found on eBay by [Howmuch?] – click for a larger version.

The above postcard postally used in 1909 shows an unusual view of Walsall Wood High Street – but something looks a bit wrong about the tram. Its it just bad reproduction, or has it been doctored as many period postcards were? Can the Wood contingent help here please? Also, help deciphering the writing would be lovely please.

Finally, this one, postally used I think in 1910 which has no picture, but is addressed to a place of interest: The Croft, which was a large house near the Hussey Arms on Chester Road. That ties in with this interesting post here about the history of the Swan Works clay pit at Birch Coppice which I was hoping would generate more interest but seems to have died a death.

A blank-front card sent to The Croft, Brownhills. Image found on eBay by [Howmuch?] – click for a larger version.

If you can help with any of these, or fill in the gaps or have other comments, please don’t hesitate to contribute: Coomment on this post or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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Howdley Doody?

Howdles Lane today, via the magic of Apple Maps. But where was Doody’s? Click for a larger version.

A really quick question that a reader raised in the week I’m having trouble finding anything out about, so if readers can help that’s be really wonderful.

The question is this: Do you know anything about a club that used to be on Howdles Lane (said to be ‘in the dip’) called The Castle Club, or Doody’s?

I’ve heard the name Doody’s before. What period was the club operating in, what was it (was it a Working Mens Club, a non-political or what?) – and what would be really good is memories of pictures.

I’m hoping Andy ‘Cap’n Ahab’ Dennis may have some input here.

Come on folks, what do you know please? Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Would Doody’s have been present in this 1976 image of the Howdles Lane area from 1976? Image Kindly supplied by Lichfield District Council. Click for a larger version.

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In the Regency period


In 1953 whilst attending Watling Street Junior mixed School, the whole school attended a special showing of a film of The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. I remember how at times we sat there solemnly watching such a regal affair and how at other times the whole theatre erupted as the new crowned Queen paraded in her Golden Coach to Buckingham Palace. Image from ‘Around Pelsall and Brownhills in old photographs’ by David F Vodden.

There has been some discussion of late on Facebook and other places about local cinemas, and with Russia topical at the moment too, this is a good time to share this one from reader Sam that came in a few weeks ago.

I once commented on the above photo of the Regent Cinema – It stood on the site of Ravens Court, itself on the site of a lost pub called the Royal George – and I said it was odd seeing the Soviet flag displayed in Brownhills High Street. Of course, I knew this was because they were one of our allies in the war at the time, but it still seems incongruous.

Well, reader Sam has pointed out that the people of Brownhills (and by extension, clearly the UK as a whole) were supportive of the Soviets during the war as one would, I think, expect.

Sam sent me the following clipping:

There are several points of interest here – we have mentioned Mrs. Parsley here on the blog before, and she seems to have been a formidable lady, but I was ignorant of the fact that her husband was an Army Major. Secondly, I had no idea the Regent had been a concert venue at all. Thirdly, who were the Pioneer Corps and what were their function? Article from the Walsall Observer and South Staffordshire Chronicle of 21 February 1942.

Sam said:

Dear Bob

There was some correspondence in the past about the Regent Cinema, referring to a photograph with the Soviet hammer and sickle flag displayed, on 25th May 1945.

Not only was Russia an ally of Britain during the war, but the residents of Brownhills enthusiastically supported them, as is shown by the attached report of a fund raising concert held in 1942  (Walsall Observer and South Staffordshire Chronicle, 21st February 1942).

Also possibly of interest is the advert for a concert at the same venue featuring Sam Rowbotham and his ‘Futurists’ 5th April 1942…

Quality or re-production not great- downloaded by me from British Newspapers on-line.


Over forty two pounds? That’s a lot of money, particularly in wartime. Wow.

I’m interested in several aspects: We have covered the redoubtable Mrs. Parsley a few times on the blog, and she seems to have been quite a strong character in wartime Brownhills, but I had no idea her husband was a Major – it would be nice to know more about him.

Just who were the Pioneer Corps, and what was their function in being stationed here? Were they local?

Finally, the Regent as a concert venue is new to me. Were other local cinemas so used? What concerts and acts played the Regent? Anyone famous?

Sam also supplied this clipping, similarly from 1942:

Now I’m assuming this would be jazz or dance band, can anyone light this up please? Walsall Observer, 28th March 1942.

Just who were the Futurists, were they big at the time and what did they play? It sounds wonderful. Also, I’ve asked before – what was Brownhills Nursing Association, please?

Thanks to Sam for raising some remarkable questions and opening a window on another aspect of local history.

Come on cinema-goers, what do you know? Comment here, or mail me: Brownhillsbob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Followups, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, Shared media, Shared memories, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall Wood stuff | 8 Comments