A forgotten hero: From the mines of Brownhills to the deserts of Egypt

As I’m getting g back on the blog bike (metaphorically and in reality) I’m picking up speed and getting down to more regular articles here which I think readers will appreciate.

Today I have an absolute gem from reader Isaac Marklew-Brown who’s researched and beautifully documented the story of a local soldier and hero of the late Victorian/pre Great War era that I had absolutely no clue about.

The Chester Road, Brownhills – where Thomas more than likely grew up to go on to great things. Imagery from Apple Maps.

This lovingly written, beautifully illustrated work lights up the life of a clearly brave and dedicated soldier in a time we don’t really think about – the many campaigns of the Victorian era are now fading into history, but in the service of The Empire many servicemen went to fight like Thomas Marklew, many giving their all.

I’m always more than happy to feature reader articles here and I’m very keen to cover the stories of local service – wherever it was. We have featured many such stories here over the years from Cecil Arthur Burton MM to the fascinating story of an Anzac from Norton Canes, to the more personal recollections of the toll of war. If you would like to add to the body of such work here pleaser do get in touch.

My huge thanks to Isaac who’s been very patient in waiting for me to get my backside into gear and post this up, and for shining a diligent torch into a corner of local history I doubt many folk knew about.

Anything to add? Please feel free: Comment here, mail me BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tap my shoulder on social media.

Isaac wrote:


Thomas Marklew – By Isaac Marklew-Brown

Thomas Marklew was born in Brownhills on the 23rd March 1878 to Joseph and Mary Marklew. For a coal miner living on Chester road his life was about to get significantly more interesting and by the time of his death we would have travelled thousands of Miles with the British Army in their Imperial conquests and fought in many hard battles. 

He would go from seeing Staffordshire to the rich deserts of Egypt and the vast Mountains of South Africa. 

At the age of 18 years and 2 months he decided that the Mines of Brownhills and surrounding areas were not the best place to earn a living. He decided to Join the Grenadier Guards on the 23rd of May 1896 in London. 

After Thomas had trained he was sent to Gibraltar before embarkation to Egypt. He was part of the 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards who took part in General Sir Horatio Herbert Kitchener’s campaign for the re-conquest of the Sudan. After landing from river steamers at Khartoum they fought at Omdurman on 2 September 1898. At Omdurman Kitchener defeated the army of Abdullah al-Taashi, the successor to the self-proclaimed Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad. Kitchener was seeking revenge for the 1885 death of General Gordon. Marklew was among the Grenadier guards who annihilated the Dervish forces. 

Image generously supplied by Isaac Marklew-Brown. Click for a larger version.

Image generously supplied by Isaac Marklew-Brown. Click for a larger version.

Here are the Records which show Thomas Marklew’s Participation in the Sudan. 

The following photos are from Egypt and the Sudan and are of Marklew’s unit the 1st Battalion the Grenadier Guards. 

Images generously supplied by Isaac Marklew-Brown. Click for a larger version.

It would be only one year later in 1899 that Thomas Marklew would yet again be in heavy fighting. Thomas was now In the 3rd Battalion which sailed from Gibraltar in the Ghoorkha on 25th October 1899, and arrived at the Cape about 15th November. Along with the 1st and 2nd Coldstreams and the 1st Scots Guards they composed the 1st or Guards Brigade, under Major General Sir H E Colvile. From the Newspaper archives it has given a useful insight into this Brownhills man’s time in the Boer war and the reception he received after. In the letter we see how he says no man has ever received such heavy fire, how different that would be for the majority of young men in 1914-1918. 

Image generously supplied by Isaac Marklew-Brown. Click for a larger version.

These are Marklew’s records or participation in the boer war. His brother Joseph Marklew fought with him through the Campaign.

Image generously supplied by Isaac Marklew-Brown. Click for a larger version.

Image generously supplied by Isaac Marklew-Brown. Click for a larger version.

The Following pictures are of the 3rd Battalion the Grenadier Guards where Thomas saw a great amount of action. The soldier in the picture is not him although identical clothing.

Images generously supplied by Isaac Marklew-Brown. Click for a larger version.

These are Thomas Marklew’s Service records which have been of enormous help.

Image generously supplied by Isaac Marklew-Brown. Click for a larger version.

Thomas Marklew’s Military career ended on the 22nd August 1908 after he had completed his 12 year service. I think it’s fair to say that this ex coal miner had seen his fair share of action for the British Empire and so far I have not seen any evidence of him in the First World War. It is clear to see why.

However, During the Second World War Thomas was an Air Raid Precautions Warden so he still was getting involved in some sort of Military involvement.

After his service he resided in Dorset with his Wife Annie Major Cluett and he worked in a Prison as a Guard/Warden Officer. He is buried in Motocombe Near Shrewsbury. He died on the 26th November 1953 after an action packed and exciting life in the British Army.

I hope this story does him Justice even though there is so much more about him. A local man who at the time in Brownhills was very respected.

Posted in News | 12 Comments

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, this afternoon!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since it’s such a lovely autumn day it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and most Sundays from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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It was hall or nothing…

Images kindly shared by Chris Booth. Click any one to see a larger version.

A second set of period images here this weekend from old friend of the blog Chris Booth he’s sharing out of the Clayhanger Methodist Church collection – this time of the 1995 demolition and reconstruction of the Church Hall, situated just off Clayhanger Lane.

Last weekend’s set of the 1985 Centenary March has proven very popular.

I believe the reconstruction may have been a community benefit, or an act of beneficence of the builders of the new estate behind, but I’m not certain. The materials used in the estate are certainly very similar to those employed in the new hall.

It’s said the original wooden hut was from either the POW or army camp on Cannock Chase, but this is unproven.

In 1926, the miners above used their strike time to decorate the Clayhanger Chapel . Taken from ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

The original hall was very recognisable in a 1926 photo in the Bill and Clarice Mayo Collection of striking miners decorating it. It certainly looks in better condition them but this was clearly a huge age for a wooden building.

Chris has asked me to point out that Clayhanger Methodist Church have a great Facebook group which you can access by clicking here and of course, everyone is welcome.

What do you recall of the reconstruction, or evenings in the hall? You can comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or hit me up on social media.

I’d like to thank Chris for yet another wonderful, evocative set of images that really help us bring history of the area back to life.

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Arthur John Craddock of Walsall Wood: Can you help, please?

This one has me in a bit of a head scratcher. Angie Barnett writes in all the way from New Zealand, referring to a gentleman I have apparently mentioned on the blog.

There’s only one snag. Neither of us can find the reference.

Brook Lane Walsall Wood: Location of a bit of a mystery, it would seem. Imagery from Apple Maps.

Angie wrote:

Good day!

I see that you have an account of Arthur John Craddock, my husband’s half-brother, mentioned on one of your pages. I can not find it though….

He was living at 69 Brook Lane, Walsall Wood. In 1939. I have not been able to find him anywhere before. His mother had died in 1936. He was born a BARNETT.
Any help would be appreciated.

We live in New Zealand and trying to find long lost family from here, with them living in England, can sometimes be a mission.

Thank you, for your time.
Angie Barnett

Can any of the regular family history folk or blog nerds help me here please? It may not be on this blog at all, but maybe on one linked from it. Andy Dennis, are you out there mate? Could this be for you?

There are certainly no shortage of Craddock locally

Thanks to Angie for a good enquiry and so sad I’m unable to offer immediate help. The blog search tools are lousy to be honest but this really isn’t ringing a bell. With over 6,200 posts now it’s quite hard to find stuff sometimes.

Any help appreciated – please do contact me if you can help – either mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, tug my sleeve on social media or comment below.

Cheers, everyone.

Posted in News | 8 Comments

May I make a correction?

An interesting mail winged its way in here a couple of weeks ago from longstanding reader Keith Jemison-Mills who was a pupil at Ogley Hay School and featured in a couple of the wonderful May Day celebration photos we’ve featured here over the years.

Keith has pointed out that the images he’s in were actually taken by his father, Bob in 1956, whereas they were originally thought to be from the early 1960s.

I feature the images and original post here again, and invite comment. I trust I’m right about which lad is Keith, too…

Thought to be Ogley Hay Infants in the early 1960s, courtesy of Janet Bullock, this now seems to have been 1956. Keith Jemison is the lad holding the flowers I think with the dark hair.

Afternoon Bob.

My name is Keith Jemison, brother of Bob Jemison, and I am the little chap holding the flowers in the shot of the May Day celebrations in 1956. I remember because I was just five at the time. I am at the bottom of the steps helping one of the ‘big girls’ down the stairs in the other image. (My father Bob Jemison took the shot).

It was originally thought this image was early 60s: It seems to be 1956 and taken by Bob Jemison, his son Keith left. Image Kindly donated by Kate Dixon and Linda Whitehouse.

I was also part of the ‘radio club’ which was held in Mr Morris’s class next to Mr Henstocks room down by the metal work shop. I wrote a play and performed it, went out in Mr Morris’s hillman Californian, to contact radio ham’s on the move which you could fairly describe as the first mobile communication in a car. It would have been around 1962. Not sure if there is anything else useful to tell you, Mr Massey wore steel shoe tips (to make sure we all knew he was coming down the corridors). He got me into the Staffordshire County Youth Theatre in 1962 ending up in Crossroads etc, starting in 1966. Mr Massey was tough if you got it wrong but fair as well, and he certainly had a very good sense of humour.

Amateur radio callbook log from the Central Boys School radio club, detailing activities in October 1964. Scan kindly supplied by Tony Hancock [Suspect that was a pseudonym].

If there is anything else that I can remember I will write again.Meanwhile, I am grateful for the effort you put into your blog which is always interesting and useful. P.S. I think my brother Bob Jemison, has probably passed away now.All the best,
Keith.

Thanks for writing in Keith and it’s always great to hear from readers, particularly those as longstanding as yourself. I invite comment once more on these images and hope the new date may jog a few memories – there also seems to have been very high regard for Mr. Massey over the years and the mention of him always draws positive comment.

If you can help with anything in this post, please get in touch – brownhillsbob at Googlemail dot com, hit me up on social media or comment here. My thanks and best wishes to Keith.

The original May Day post ‘Fit for a Queen’:

What a lovely photo. Linda Horobin as May Queen. Image Kindly donated by Kate Dixon and Linda Whitehouse.

Following Janet Bullock’s wonderful photo posted here a few days ago – which turns out indeed to be the May Queen celebrations at Ogley Hay Infants School in Brownhills – there was much discussion here and on social media about this traditional event, and reader Kate Dixon turned up local history gold.

Kate spoke to her mother, Linda Horobin, who is actually the May Queen in the photo and named many of the participants depicted, and not only that, supplied the above photo of the same group on the same day.

What a wonderful find and generous donation!

Kate Dixon wrote:

An absolutely beautiful school photo. from Ogley Hay Infants in the early 1960s, courtesy of Janet Bullock.

Hi Bob

My mum, Linda Horobin (now Whitehouse), is the May queen on the photo from Janet Bullock posted a few days ago.

My mum says: First girl carrying the crown is Helen Parker (I think). Then me. Behind me I’m not sure of the girl on the left. Girl on right is Anne Plumb(?) There were two more girls behind them, one is possibly Sheila Woodhouse. Can’t see the other one clearly enough (or remember!).

The previous years May Queen is Annette Wheale (not sure if spelling is correct). She had two attendants, the one on the left is Elizabeth Newman, not sure of other one.

Someone mentioned about how the May Queen was chosen. The other children in the class voted. I have other photos and will try to find them.

We have lots of other photos of this day. I have attached one here and will find out some more.

Thanks
Kate Dixon

I am indebted and hugely thankful to Kate and her mum for this wonderful contribution, and I’m sure readers will have more to say, so please do – either by commenting here or mailing me. BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Once again my huge thanks to Kate and Linda for opening up this window on the past.

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

Walking group sets off again in Brownhills this afternoon!

Altogether now, ‘I love to go a-wandering…’ – image from Walsall Healthy Spaces Team.

I’m glad to see that some important social activities are resuming in light of their cancellation for lockdown – and the resumption of the Wednesday afternoon walking group in Brownhills is great news.

I have checked this is going ahead with appropriate social distancing measures.

The Walsall Healthy Spaces Team volunteer led walk will be approximately 45-60 minutes every Wednesday afternoon, including today Wednesday 21st October 2020, starting from Brownhills Community Centre car park (the old Amex or Central Boys School, just off the miner island in the heart of Brownhills) at 1:15pm for a 1:30pm departure.

These great social walks will be exploring our beautiful commons and local open spaces.

This will be a great way to get some exercise and meet folk in a safe, socially distanced event that’s fun and great for a bit of much needed company in these tough times.

For more information on other volunteer led walking groups click here.

You can visit Walsall Healthy Spaces Team on Facebook here. If you attend, why not get in touch and let me know how you get on?

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Clayhanger Methodist Church Centenary Parade in 1985 – what do you remember?

Images kindly shared by Chris Booth by original photographer Ted Hassall. Click any one to see a larger version.

A remarkable collection of photos today wings its way in from old friend of the blog Chris Booth, taken by Ted Hassall of the Clayhanger Methodist Chapel Centenary Parade in 1985.

The photos were in possession of Chris’s grandmother, Lucy Dunn who was Steward of the Church from 1976 – 2012 and are a remarkable illustration of life at the time.

The march appears to have assembled on Brownhills Common, then travelled along Bradford and Albion roads before proceeding down Wallace Road, Pelsall Road to Clayhanger Lane, Past the Church and around the village before returning there.

Everything from the attending police, to the kids on then new fangled BMX bikes are an illustration of the time, and as usual, some of the backgrounds are very interesting too: Remember the substation that used to hum in Clayhanger Lane? I’d forgotten that. Shots of the village without the new housing are a memory jogger, too.

Did you take part in this event? Are you in the pictures? Can you identify any of those involved or pictured? Any memories or observations are welcome.

You can comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or hit me up on social media.

I’d like to thank Chris for yet another wonderful, evocative set of images that really help us bring history of the area back to life.

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, this afternoon!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the rain has cleared and it’s a decent day it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and most Sundays from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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Walsall Wood away to Stourport Swifts this afternoon!

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Walshes Meadow, home of Stourport Swifts. Image posted on Geograph by Stuart Shepherd.

This afternoon, Saturday 17th October 2020

The Wood are away on their travels again!

Walsall Wood FC versus Stourport Swifts FC

Walshes Meadow
Stourport on Severn
Worcestershire
DY13 0AA

Kickoff 3pm

Strict social distancing measures to be observed!

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here

 

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

Why not join the Orange Army litter pick this coming Sunday morning in Brownhills?

There is a community litter pick event taking place in Brownhills this Sunday, 18th October 2020 from 10am, meeting at Smithys Forge car park in Lichfield Road, Brownhills (Just off the Miner Island)  – all are welcome to join in

The pick is being organised by local litter group The Orange Army who put a huge effort in to several litter picks in Brownhills recently – the last one attended by over 30 people – for which I and the blog readership would like to extend our thanks for a top job well done!

In light of current Covid restrictions, the group posted this response on their Facebook page:

Good evening everyone in relation to the new guidance in the fight against coronavirus the litter pick on Sunday can still go ahead!

We ask that you meet at the original place (Smithy’s Forge at 10am) and we will help to sort us into groups of up to 6 to go off and pick in different areas as we need to maintain social distancing.

The Rhino team will be there waiting in the van with all the usual supplies for you to use.

We very much look forward to seeing you all there on Sunday, thank you all for your continued support 🧡

the Orange Army – top local community spirit in action! Image from their Facebook page.

It’s easy and fun to join in with these community picks as all kit will be provided!

I like to give as much notice of these sessions as possible as so many people afterwards express sadness that they would have taken part if they’d known sooner…

The pick is being run by committed local volunteer Natalie Dawson and others for the benefit of the the town, so it’ll be a worthwhile event to get involved with and help improve the local environment.

The organisers said:

Hi everyone

Our next litter pick will be Sunday 18th at 10am.

We will meet at Smithy’s Forge car park and pick until 12 and then go into the garden at smithy’s forge for tea, coffee or squash courtesy of rhino plumbing and heating!

Hope to see you there

You can check out the Orange Army’s Facebook page here.

Previous local litter pick events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make this one even better!

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Walking group sets off again in Brownhills this afternoon!

Altogether now, ‘I love to go a-wandering…’ – image from Walsall Healthy Spaces Team.

I’m glad to see that some important social activities are resuming in light of their cancellation for lockdown – and the resumption of the Wednesday afternoon walking group in Brownhills is great news.

I have checked this is going ahead with appropriate social distancing measures.

The Walsall Healthy Spaces Team volunteer led walk will be approximately 45-60 minutes every Wednesday afternoon, including today Wednesday 14th October 2020, starting from Brownhills Community Centre car park (the old Amex or Central Boys School, just off the miner island in the heart of Brownhills) at 1:15pm for a 1:30pm departure.

These great social walks will be exploring our beautiful commons and local open spaces.

This will be a great way to get some exercise and meet folk in a safe, socially distanced event that’s fun and great for a bit of much needed company in these tough times.

For more information on other volunteer led walking groups click here.

You can visit Walsall Healthy Spaces Team on Facebook here. If you attend, why not get in touch and let me know how you get on?

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An important statement from Walsall Wood Football Club

Walsall Wood FC are at the heart of the communty.

I have been asked to post the following statement by the Chairman of Walsall Wood Football club, Justin Hodgin. This is for information only and comment is neither invited, nor appropriate.

Walsall Wood FC said:

Statement From Walsall Wood FC

Following the incident at Walsall Wood FC yesterday during and after our game against Worcester City FC, we would like to make the following statement.


Firstly, we would like to apologise to all Worcester City fans, players, management and committee for the actions of the group of 30 or so youths at the game yesterday, it is not acceptable.


The club has had some issues with a group of youths over the past few games and we believe we took all precautions in assuring the safety and comfort of all fans with employing stewards for the game and also, we had two police officers in attendance.


The club has been trying to engage with these local youths by actively inviting them in the club, so they are not wondering the streets, as all local activities for them are currently not available.  We believe the actions of a few are now ruining it for the rest of them.


Any racist comments to anyone at our club will not be tolerated and if we find the person involved we will ban them for life from the club.


I spoke to the manager of Worcester City FC after the game and apologised for any issues he had personally encountered, which he gracefully accepted.


After speaking to the police officers after the game, we in conjunction with them will be going to the local schools where we believe they attend and will be hopefully holding assemblies with the footage the police have from their body cams to try and educate these youths in understanding what local community football should be about, and that their current actions are not acceptable.


We are working with the police and they will be attending our next few games and anyone causing any disturbance or racially abusing anyone with be arrested.


The club hope with the education, we can deal with this problem without any more incidents but we will take the strongest action possible if this is ignored.


We are a local community club with probably one of the most racial diverse player and management teams in the Midland Football League and want to ensure our own loyal fans, players and management team we do not take this matter lightly and we us all working together I am sure this short term problem can be solved.


Please keep the faith and together we will overcome this.


For the Good of the The Wood


Justin Hodgin
Chairman
Walsall Wood Football Club

Posted in News

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, this afternoon!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the rain has cleared and it’s such a lovely day it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and most Sundays from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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Walsall Wood play Worcester City this afternoon at Oak Park

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

Saturday 10th October 2020

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

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

3:00pm kickoff

STRICT SOCIAL DISTANCING TO BE OBSERVED!

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Oak Park, Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood. WS9 9NP.

Check out the club website here.

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

The mystery of the car in the bomb crater: Can you help with the local link?

I’ve become aware in the last few days of a remarkable history project relating to an incident during the Coventry Blitz and an absolutely iconic image of the destruction following the Second World War air raids that decimated the city.

An amazing, stunning image of the destruction of Coventry in World War Two. But there’s a mystery within. Image kindly supplied by Peter Garbett.

Peter Garbett, admin of the ‘Visit Historic Coventry’ group, is determined to find out as much as he can about this image and the car in the crater, in which one man sadly died.

There is a Walsall and Hednesford connection, too.

I’ll let Peter explain: This is stunning, both for the fascination of the project and for the wealth of information so far assembled. Real, solid community local history in action.

He wrote:

Hello.

I’m an Admin on ‘Visit Historic Coventry’ as you may remember Coventry was bombed to pieces on the 14th November 1940.

The above photo shows one car in a bomb crater. We have seen this historic photo over the years but knew nothing about the owner of the car and we just wanted to know more.

We set ourself a task of discovery which had led us to Walsall.

We have found out quite a bit of information about the owners and the driver. The Owner was the landlady of a Coventry pub the greyhound, in the old medieval city prior to and post WW11 bombings. We understand the family originally came from Walsall area and the landlady certainly retired back here. We would be delighted if we could find out and relatives or descendants or of friends who can add to this story. The information we have so far is direct from our post:

We are looking to complete the story of this iconic picture and tell the inside story of the family that surround it. We also want to know what happened to the car? A Singer Nine leMans (which we understand was driven away after), it was built between 1933 and 1937. Note the forward handles on the rear hinged ‘coach doors’ and the lack of running boards, also note the opening quarterlight on the rear edge of the drivers door, most unusual.

The story so far we have discovered that the owner of the Singer Nine leMans car in the crater was 59 year old Mrs Mable Harriet Jones (nee Hawkswood) Landlady of the Greyhound pub, 118 Much Park Street, in 1940.

Mable was the youngest of 11 children born to Charles Hawkswood, lock keeper at Great Barr and his wife Emma nee Lewis. Mabel’s husband was Clement James Jones who was a tailor (cutter) by trade who had turned his hand to the license trade in 1933 when he took over the Greyhound pub, his wife Mable took over the license after his death in 1937 who had left £100 in his will.

It was their son 36 year old Clement Jones who was a bar assistant at the pub that his mother ran who was the driver of the vehicle who was sadly killed in the incident. Clement junior was born in Walsall in 1904.

We understand there was one surviving passenger who strolled around all night in a complete daze. Who was this? Clement (son) was buried in the mass grave in London Road Cemetery under the name of C Jones (see photos).

Mrs Mable Jones died on 7th December 1968 at 7 Jessel Road, Walsall leaving an estate of £11,206. No beneficiaries are mentioned in the probate

In 1911 they were living in Hednesford.

Are there any descendants today?

Does anyone know the story of survivor? What happened to the car? Does anyone know the registration number?

Are you related? Please help complete this story.

Does anyone have pictures of Mable Jones or Clement?

We want to bring this story right up to today. Please can you help us with information?

See the more at the Historic Coventry website here.

Any help would be appreciated

Peter Garbett

If you can help with this, please do – it really has captivated me. You can contact Peter directly via Facebook by clicking here, or via the Historic Coventry website here.

You can, of course, also comment here, tug my coat on social media or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, and I’ll pass any info on.

My best wishes to Peter for a wonderful, fascinating thing.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Walsall Wood send Selston forth

Images kindly supplied by David Evans

Last Tuesday evening (6th October 2020) Walsall Wood F.C. entertained Selston F.C. at Walsall Wood. A belter of a match and home victory ensued, that roving reporter the young David Evans clearly enjoyed very much leaving his lyricism decidedly on form, much like his beloved team:

Walsall Wood F.C. 4 v 1 Selston F.C.
Tuesday 6th October 2020

The day had brought both sunshine and heavy rain. Sunshine to gladden the heart, and heavy rain showers to dampen the spirit. In the nearby fields the wondrous red deer were rejoicing as the rutting season approached its climax.

The verdant oak trees, now burnished gold by the changing season, glistened and sparkled after the rain. With glad hearts and souls good folk made their way to The Portal of Admission at the football ground, and, their faces covered in due deference to the Constraints of the Age, offered up their gold as they entered in.

The Hall of Temptation, with its mute attendees sitting in obedience, was quickly passed through by all who had travelled from near and far to thrill at beholding the Field of Honour, magnificent and splendid .

The stage was set. The cast were ready. The two teams, in casual ‘stand easy’ mode, emerged from the Keep. The Boys in Blue – from Selston – were making a long overdue, and much- anticipated welcome appearance here at the Theatre of Dreams.

The spectators watched in appreciation as the game unfolded. The fine real grass football field here at Oak Park provides sportsmen the ideal surface on which to employ all of the skills and moves of true football [David really won’t let the 3G bugbear go, will he? – Bob].

The first part of the game presented both sides the challenge of pace and skill. Walsall Wood’s Boys in Red passed smartly and accurately… As did Selston’s Boys in Blue. Moves and counter moves were swift and well executed. This was proving to be an enjoyable game to spectate, as it patently was for the hard-working and resolute players.

At around twenty minutes the home team scored the first goal to break through the unremitting logjam of Selston’s hard-pressed and determined defence. Within a few more minutes the visitors scored a fine cracker of a goal, delivered by their number 10 ( no match day programmes were available this evening, oddly )

The half time whistle signalled a much-needed respite for the players, and a time for them to reflect and contemplate. Meanwhile the spectators, some of whom had wisely brought their own refreshments and sustenance with them engaged in polite, sober conversations.

The second half of this increasingly meaningful fixture brought a change in nature and complexion. There was a heaviness in the visitor’s challenges. One inelegant incident saw a visiting player correctly booked for a foul challenge and then within a few minutes, being sent from the pitch for an identical foul challenge. Most unfortunate.

The Boys in Blue had now given themselves a tough task if they were to achieve a positive result. But the Men in Red were now on song. Their confidence rose by the minute. They were outplaying and out-running their understandably tired opponents.

The home team, in a superbly completed move, launched a thrusting attacking move, and the resulting goal was one I will never forget. Yes, it was that good. The paying spectators who were present rejoiced and thrilled. How would the Boys in Blue respond, now that they were trailing again?

The Wood were now relentless in their surging, attacking moves, putting the brave opponents to the test. There were increasingly desperate – clumsy – moves which brought a bouquet of yellow cards. And, perhaps inevitably, a penalty was awarded to the home side, from which another goal was scored.

The home side scored a further goal from one of the numerous corners – from a loose standing scrum of players the ball seemed to trick its way in to the back of the net. Just like that. Magic. The Wood could do no wrong this evening. It was their night.

It was also a match of immense significance for both sides. The home team’s well worked choreography matured to fullness this evening. A hat trick and a goal to the Men in Red and a hard, demanding performance by the gallant visitors.

Selston, to their immense credit, accepted decisions largely with good grace, and their initial accuracy and determination in the early part of the game had made the home side sit up and take notice. The Selston team were a side who, after having worked hard all day, then travelled the fifty or so miles to play game of football. I doff my hat in due respect to them.

The match ended and the players shook hands with their opponents, and in the distance a stag was heard faintly bellowing.

David Evans

My thanks to David for a great report – and for all those he selflessly writes and sends to me after every match. They really are popular, and a credit to David and the club.

Walsall Wood have a reputation for being a great, community spirited group of people and these reports demonstrate that – it’s an honour and joy to feature them here.

For the good of the Wood!

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Walking group sets off again in Brownhills this afternoon!

Altogether now, ‘I love to go a-wandering…’ – image from Walsall Healthy Spaces Team.

I’m glad to see that some important social activities are resuming in light of their cancellation for lockdown – and the resumption of the Wednesday afternoon walking group in Brownhills is great news.

The Walsall Healthy Spaces Team volunteer led walk will be approximately 45-60 minutes every Wednesday afternoon, including today Wednesday 7th October 2020, starting from Brownhills Community Centre car park (the old Amex or Central Boys School, just off the miner island in the heart of Brownhills) at 1:15pm for a 1:30pm departure.

These great social walks will be exploring our beautiful commons and local open spaces.

This will be a great way to get some exercise and meet folk in a safe, socially distanced event that’s fun and great for a bit of much needed company in these tough times.

For more information on other volunteer led walking groups click here.

You can visit Walsall Healthy Spaces Team on Facebook here. If you attend, why not get in touch and let me know how you get on?

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Why not catch some great footy this evening? Walsall Wood play Selston at Oak Park

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Walsall Wood Football Club’s historic Oak Park ground: heart of the community. Imagery from Apple Maps.

Tuesday 6th October 2020

The Wood entertain Selston FC at Oak Park!

Come watch the lads at home this evening

Kick off is 7:45pm

STRICT SOCIAL DISTANCING WILL BE OBSERVED!

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

Oak Park Football Ground
Lichfield Road
Walsall Wood
West Midlands
WS9 9NP

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

A credit to any sports meeting

Also, while I’m busy – a quick bit of Walsall Wood School ephemera for the Wood Massive very kindly sent in by John Barlow, who said:

Hello Bob

I came across this a few days ago and thought it might rekindle a few memories.

Kind regards
John Barlow

what a fantastic find! Thank you John Barlow. Please click for a larger version.

This is a wonderful thing and mentions a lot of names I’m sure will prompt discussion. I’m particularly heartened by the tribute to the lads competing in awful weather! This weekend, that certainly chimes with me…

Thanks to John for sharing a lovely thing. It really is most generous!

I’m sure you lot will have much to say about this, so what are you waiting for? Please do comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot Com or tug my coat on social media.

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A nice local history challenge for a Sunday…. The Kerr family

Here’s an enquiry I received in the last week from Julie Roberts, resident in Lincolnshire but with local family. I think folks might find this an interesting challenge, particularly in respect of an unfound grave in Ogley Hay (presumably St James or the nearby cemetery).

Somewhere in the environs of the the church is an unfound grave to a noted serviceman – can we locate it? Image from my 365daysofbiking journal.

I’ll let Julie explain:

Hi, I love your blog.

I would like to contact a local family history enthusiast who I could talk to about my grandmother’s family. She was Jessie Kerr, born in Brownhills but her mother was from Elgin and her father Charles Campbell Kerr was from Ayrshire.

He was an army training officer and I do have further details of addresses etc. He was a soldier of some repute and was buried at Ogley Hay church yard (I have the funeral notice from the paper) but I have never succeeded in finding it.

My family now live in Cannock, I’m in Lincolnshire but I’m keen to trace Scottish family connections.

Any help would be gratefully received

Yours
Julie ROBERTS (nee Eccleshall)

Thanks to Julie for a great enquiry and challenge for the researchers: If you can help please do comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or hit me up on social media.

Posted in News | 9 Comments

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the rain seems to be clearing it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and most Sundays from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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Why not catch some great footy this afternoon? Walsall Wood play Redditch at Oak Park

Untitled 9

Walsall Wood Football Club’s historic Oak Park ground: heart of the community. Imagery from Apple Maps.

Saturday 3rd October 2020

The Wood entertain Redditch United at Oak Park!

Come watch the lads at home this afternoon

Kick off is 3:00pm

STRICT SOCIAL DISTANCING WILL BE OBSERVED!

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

Oak Park Football Ground
Lichfield Road
Walsall Wood
West Midlands
WS9 9NP

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

Woodmen take swift Lye down

Images kindly supplied by David Evans

Last Tuesday evening (29th September 2020) Walsall Wood F.C. entertained Lye Town at Walsall Wood. An more even match than the final score belied, this fine game has very much impressed the young David Evans, who sent the following report:

Walsall Wood F.C. 2 v 0 Lye Town F.C.
Tuesday 29th September 2020

A beautiful  languid autumnal day had seen the sun gently set into the milky glow of evening. Oak Park’s presidential trees stood tall and proud with their naturally tanned leaves. The real grass, finely manicured playing surface of the football field gleamed to grace and welcome the visiting team from Lye.

Paying spectators waited patiently by the Narrow Door to be admitted… They signed in the Book of Names, then sprinkled precious holy water on their hands and, faces covered in reverence, passed through the Hall of Temptation to emerge, blessed and thankful in the Cloisters of Contentment.

A blurred full moon rose slowly above the Bowling Green trees to add reverence and distant mystical glow to the wonders that would unfold.

The two teams emerged in loose formation. These are Covid Times. This evening’s Man in Black, with a short sound from his Acme Thunderer signalled the start of what turned out to be a totally enthralling and heart-warming game of football .

A superb display of bright, positive and naturally exuberant play graced the evening. Lye and Walsall Wood  clearly enjoyed the contest and their joy was self-evident throughout the game. The referee’s presence was thus allowed to be more to observe than to correct, which  gave the game the quality that was so much appreciated by spectators. But that is always how Lye play the game- with good heart and fine spirit. Perhaps other visiting teams will take note this season.

Excellent ground passes from both teams, with well-worked and executed tactical approach moves  – and an evenness in both teams skills produced a captivating and thrilling game for spectators. The minutes passed quickly – always an indication of the quality and endeavour of the players – and half time arrived with neither side yet scoring a goal.

The half-time break gave spectators in the stand the chance to get their breath back, if not to get refreshments. Covid times indeed… And to reflect on the game so far enjoyed.

It was in the second half that the Wood achieved  that much- anticipated breakthrough , at last gaining the first and vital goal. This brought some fans to their feet , of course. But the game so far had been finely balanced and there were times when both goalkeepers’ skills had been  tested.

Several substitutions were made by both teams as the pace of play had been relentless and the emphasis now was to accurate short range passing following initial penetrating long kicks.   Lye had a complement of long-legged players in their side and their prowess when faced with the smart and shorter Wood players produced some entertaining moments that brought applause from spectators.

The Wood scored the second, and ultimately final goal of this evening’s floodlit match  in the latter part of the game, making the task even more difficult for Lye to draw level. But to their eternal credit, they strived hard and correctly, with very little or no frustration in their endeavour and the game remained finely balanced until the concluding sound from the man in black’s whistle.  There was instantaneous  sustained loud applause from all the spectators, and deservedly so.

Walsall Wood and Lye put on a display of excellent football this evening to gladden the hearts of home spectators and to fly the flag of honest sporting endeavour high and proud.

The final score was Walsall Wood 2, Lye Town 0 but, let there be no mistake, Black Country football and footballers have also been the winners.

David Evans

My thanks to David for a great report – and for all those he selflessly writes and sends to me after every match. They really are popular, and a credit to David and the club.

Walsall Wood have a reputation for being a great, community spirited group of people and these reports demonstrate that – it’s an honour and joy to feature them here.

For the good of the Wood!

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90 years ago today: The Grove Pit Disaster

Ninety years ago today, the 1st October 1930, an underground blast killed 14 men working in a coal mine, The Grove Colliery, underneath Brownhills Common. Ten of those lost souls are buried in the Churchyard of St James, Brownhills, in a communal memorial.

Sadly, the memorial is in not such a great state lately.

If you do nothing else today, I’d like you to think of those lost lads, their families and the price they paid.

The miners who gave their lives were:

Alfred Boden aged 49
John Brownridge 34
Ben Corbett 52
John Hackett 33
Alfred Heath 27
Jack Holland 41
Richard Howdle 30
Alex Martin 32
James Malley 33
William Robbins 45
John Scoffam 50
Harry Smith 38
John Whittaker 44
William Whittaker 62

I wrote the following article exactly a decade ago to the hour. I can’t better it, so slightly modified, please remember the debt we owe to those men, below.

A turn of the century photo of a distressed shaft at Walsall Wood Colliery. Image taken from ‘Coal Mining in Walsall Wood, Brownhills and Aldridge’ by Brian Rollins.

Ninety years ago today, on the 1st October, 1930, fourteen men died underground, as a result of a gas explosion at the Grove, or Brownhills Colliery. It is thought that the men perished when a naked light was struck in the shaft. I have featured this incident as a recurring theme over the years, and much has been written by others about the dreadful events of that autumn dawn, pictured in newsreel footage posted on this blog previously. The excellent site ‘Brownhills Past’, has the following to say on the subject:

<The Grove Colliery was the> Site of the worst mining disaster in Brownhills history. An explosion of gas killed fourteen men on the nightshift on 1st of October 1930. The explosion occured in the shallow coal district, 1.5 miles from the shaft bottom. There was a public inquiry into the accident which returned an open verdict as there was “Not sufficient evidence to prove how the explosion occured”. However it was found that five of the dead men were carrying contraband materials e.g matches and cigarettes, and as electricity and safety lamps were ruled out it was stated that somebody may have struck a light. The Grove was not known as a paticularly “gassy” pit and in most parts open lights were allowed. It was also stated that 11 of the men died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and 3 from injuries caused by the blast, 12 of the men may have lived for a while after the explosion.

The pit was opened in 1857 by William Harrison, who also sunk the Cathedral and Wyrley common pits.The pit closed in 1952.

A full report on the accident and subsequent enquiry, sourced from the Coal Mining History Resource Centre can be read here (.PDF).

This dreadful loss of life was a terrible blow to the town, and there are several photos of the funeral procession through Brownhills, featured on Chasewaterstuff’s blog. The wonderfully comprehensive history of St. James Church speaks of the mourning:

At 9:18 pm on 1st October 1930 a terrible explosion occurred in the Grove (Brownhills) Colliery beneath the “Fleur De Lys” public house. The funerals of ten of the miners who lost their lives in the disaster took place at St. James Church on 7th October. A solemn procession starting from the Council House made its way along the High Street into Church Road, (lined both sides by the whole of the Ogley Hay and Brownhills community), to the Church where Vicar W.E. Wibby held the funeral service. The miners were laid to rest in a mass grave divided into ten sections in Great Charles Street Graveyard with full military honours as six of the men had fought in the Great War.

These were dark events, but they were by no means unique; there were huge numbers of men and boys killed or maimed in the course of coal and mineral extraction throughout the victorian era, right through to the second world war. Conditions for these hard, determined people gradually improved – but it was not until the social and political upheavals in the early decades of the 20th century that major strides were made in either welfare, healthcare or health and safety. We have the campaigners, socialists and strikers of the period to thank for the legacy they left us, that nearly a century later, not one of us has to accept injury or death at work to be an occupational hazard.

The miners who died at the Grove pit were not unique. Many will speak reverently of their bravery, of their resilience, of their stoicism. But these were not special men, they were just ordinary working blokes, earning their living in a filthy, harsh and deadly industry. An essential industry that warmed homes, powered trains and ships and melted metal, but one which was riddled with shortcuts, dangerous practices, crooked mine owners and employee abuse. That those who died were somehow more than those who did not is an oft-repeated myth; men found work where they could, and the pits represented a relatively good living, more often than not followed by a living death from industrial respiratory diseases. Time and societal advances artificially separate us from them, yet had we been born of the period dominated by Old King Coal as they were, we’d be down the pits, too. The line we draw is thinner than ever we’d think.

Reflect on the victory that those communities fought for – an honest, safe day’s work for a living wage; democratic representation; full recourse after the unthinkable should happen. Today we relax with every modern comfort imaginable precisely because millions of workers like those lost deep under Wyrley Common fought for a better world. We must never ever forget what we are the beneficiaries of, nor the privations and hardships suffered in order that we might enjoy a brighter day.

As civic leaders and nostalgic historians erect pointless and irrelevant statuary to lost generations of the workers who fuelled both the industrial and social revolutions, politicians are hastily dismantling the institutions that those generations died in the creation of. Members of the government speak of the need to streamline the NHS, to end the perceived tyranny of the Health and Safety Executive. Our own Prime Minister talks darkly of the Welfare State. It is almost as if an opportunity has been seized.

If we let them destroy this priceless legacy, then we insult those men who today, we remember. The men below, the men of the foundry, factory floor and mill, didn’t suffer what they did to see this destroyed. We must be vigilant. Once the social state is lost, it won’t ever be put back.

Today I will raise a glass to fourteen lost men. Rest in peace, chaps. You may be gone, but you’re not forgotten.

The Grove Pit as surveyed around the mid 1920’s. It stood on Lime Lane, just where the landfill is today. Click on the image for a larger version.

The Men Below

Steve Skaith / Mike Jones

Album, tour, albumen – you’re still picking at the shell
And you know you should be glad of the living
But it seems like a living hell sometimes
And on this playing stage you play so hard
But so much harder still – is the life beneath, down deep in the seams
Where your hotel nights are the stuff of the dreams
Of the men below

Imagine, having to fight
To work two miles down from the air and the light
And imagine, having to plead
That a job that can kill, is a job that you need

Darker blue this darkness, than a pale young miner’s eyes
Who has to see the convoy lights come shining
And can’t close off his surprise
With his one poor piece of paving, pressing hard against his palm
Knowing it might be the only way he’d ever get to spend another day
With the men below

And who knows what we all owe
To the boys in the dust – to the men below?

And who knows what we all owe
To the boys in the dust – to the men below?

And who knows what we all owe
To the boys in the dust – to the men below?

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Churches, Environment, Events, Followups, It makes me mad!, Local History, Local media, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why not catch some great footy this evening? Walsall Wood play Lye at Oak Park

Untitled 9

Walsall Wood Football Club’s historic Oak Park ground: heart of the community. Imagery from Apple Maps.

Tuesday 29th September 2020

The Wood entertain Lye Town at Oak Park!

Come watch the lads at home this afternoon

Kick off is 7:45pm

STRICT SOCIAL DISTANCING WILL BE OBSERVED!

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

Oak Park Football Ground
Lichfield Road
Walsall Wood
West Midlands
WS9 9NP

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

Brownhills Central School: A 1930s mix?

A real treat here today for folks interested in Brownhills Central School and the history of education and schools in Brownhills, and a great addition to the tranche of photos from the same school some decades later sent in by Margaret Hampton: Old friend of the blog Margaret Thompson, now resident in Australia, has sent this wonderful 1930s school photo from Brownhills Central School.

‘Brownhills Central Mixed Classes I and ?’ – a fantastic image thought to be from the 1930s shared very generously by Margaret Thompson. Click for a larger version.

I had no idea Brownhills Central was at any time mixed education. Can anyone shed light on that please?

Margaret kindly sent me this remarkable image and said:

Hello

I was sent this image which includes Joyce Birch top row third from the left.  Joyce was born about 1930 so this would be mid 30s I imagine.

Joyce is my first cousin once removed.  I live in Australia but have met Joyce a number of times and also stayed with her in her family at Dartford in Kent.

Regards
Margaret Thomson

Again, one thing even at this early stage that stands about this school and its photos is the relaxed nature of the photo: A little different to the usual stiff, stood to attention school images we normally see at this time.

Thanks to Margaret for a wonderful donation which I hope will generate some debate and discussion!

If you can help with any names or memories of this class or school, please do: either by commenting here, finding me on social media or you can even mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

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

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since it’s such a lovely autumn day it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and most Sundays from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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It’s time for the rut – beware, folks – the deer are getting horny….

Time to repeat this post as I’m starting to hear stories of deer with a cob on again…

The above excellent video is a fallow deer stag filmed up on Cannock Chase by reader, contributor and top friend of the blog Peter Barker. That stag really has romance on his mind…

This is just a quick note to warn people given to exploring the open spaces of the area that over the next 8-10 weeks or so the deer population will be getting amorous – it’s rutting time for our large brown friends, and that means one thing: the heaths around Brownhills, Clayhanger, Pelsall and Chasewater in particular are likely to be host to rather grumpy, aggressive stags guarding their female harems.

Deer are normally gentle souls on the whole, but a hormonal stag with love on his mind will be aggressive and prone to attack, and such animals will, and have in the past charged humans and gored dogs.

To avoid being on the unexpectedly rather sharp end of several hundredweight of cervine cassinova with an attitude issue, please keep a respectful distance and keep your dogs under control at all times. Even if they look like they’re just loafing, these normally docile creatures can turn nasty at a moments notice. This warning applies to anywhere where deer have been spotted – from the heaths of Chasewater to the commons and woods of Brownhills, Jockey Meadows, Clayhanger Marsh and even Sandhills – and now they’re as far south as Sutton and even Brookvale Park in Witton!

Deer are not the cleverest of animals, so it might also be wise to take extra care when driving, as the biological imperative is probably outweighing their small amount of road sense at the moment. That excellent local wildlife blogger Chaz Mason posted this warning  a couple of years ago that’s still very much relevant:

N.Tipton 1
Image by Neil Tipton, originally posted on Chaz Mason’s blog.

This week I have been informed that the young male Red Deer have commenced play-fighting locally – by now you should all be aware that this is the first indication that the annual Red Deer Rut is now underway and within the next couple of weeks the older stags are likely to become more territorial.

DOG WALKERS PLEASE!

If you are over the Marsh and Mere for the next couple of months please keep your dog close and if you see any deer PLEASE put your dog on a lead.

I am not in the least bit worried about the deer. For most of the year they will see your dog and run away as fast as they can – but that ain’t now!

These stags are main-lining on testosterone and WILL NOT RUN AWAY. In fact they will not only stand their ground to protect their females they will attack your dog. Over the years I have been aware of at least three instances of local dogs being stabbed by Stags, luckily, so far with injuries-only and no fatalities.

20141001EOS-7D0866-as-Smart-Object-3
Would you argue with this? Image by Derek Lees, originally posted on Chaz Mason’s blog.

If you insist on exercising your dogs right to run free and unhindered then please exercise that right somewhere else until at least late November.

As I have tried to impress upon you –
this is not to protect the deer – IT IS TO PROTECT YOUR DOG!

I may not have a dog but I do have great affection for them and many of you know that I regularly time-share many of yours so I hope that you take this warning very seriously. Rutting Deer are a magnificent sight but if you want to watch this display, then please show some respect for the animals and also, some common sense.

Lecture over – Chaz

Of course, once the aggression is over for another year, the commons and heaths will again be given over to the disgusting and lewd mating behaviour one normally sees there. The animals, however, will be behaving impeccably.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Cannock Chase, Chasewater, Clayhanger stuff, cycling, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since it’s such a lovely autumn day it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and most Sundays from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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Catch a great match at Oak Park this afternoon – the Woodmen face Gresly!

P1000426

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

Today, Saturday 19th September 202

The Wood are at home, entertaining Gresley

Walsall Wood FC versus Gresley FC

Kick off is 3:00pm

Social distancing will be fully observed!

For the Good of the Wood! 

Oak Park, Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood. WS9 9NP.

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

 

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

Why not join this Sunday’s Walsall Wood community litter pick?

The next Walsall Wood community litter pick by Walsall Wood Wombles take place this  Sunday 20th September 2020 – and all are welcome to join in.

The Wombles said:

Reminder it’s the litter pick this Sunday! You need your own equipment , unfortunately because of covid I can’t supply it.

You can get everything you need delivered to your door if you contact Beth Deeley or Richard Upton from Walsall Council’s Clean and Green department.

The pick starts at 10.30am from Beechtree Road carpark.

Also clean and green are doing a litter pick sunday 27th sept 10am round Oak Park to help with the litter issue round there too.

All welcome!

 

The Walsall Wood Wombles are a great initiative by top community person Teresa Webb.

You can check out the Facebook page for Walsall Wood Wombles here. They’re a great community spirited collective and you really are welcome to pop along.

Thanks to all who participate: Real community in action.

Previous local litter pick events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make these even better!

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Why not join the Orange Army litter pick this morning in Brownhills?

There is a community litter pick event taking place in Brownhills this morning, Sunday, 13th September 2020 from 10am, meeting at Smithys Forge car park in Lichfield Road, Brownhills (Just off the Miner Island)  – all are welcome to join in.

The pick is being organised by local litter group The Orange Army who put a huge effort in to several litter picks in Brownhills recently – the last one attended by over 30 people – for which I and the blog readership would like to extend our thanks for a top job well done!

Take a bow, folks.

the Orange Army – top local community spirit in action! Image from their Facebook page.

It’s easy and fun to join in with these community picks as all kit will be provided!

The pick is being run by committed local volunteer Natalie Dawson and others for the benefit of the the town, so it’ll be a worthwhile event to get involved with and help improve the local environment.

The organisers said:

Hi everyone just a little reminder of our litter pick on Sunday 13th we have had a small change to where we’re meeting!

I have asked Smithy’s Forge if we can use their car park and go to the gardens for refreshments afterwards 😁 they have kindly said yes which is great 👍

I have updated the event and Sunday 13th September 2020 we’ll meet at Smithy’s Forge car park for 10am at the Rhino Pluming van and we will split into groups!

We now also have 2 first aiders amongst the group 💪🏻 

Looking forward to seeing you there 🧡🦏

You can check out the Orange Army’s Facebook page here.

Previous local litter pick events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make this one even better!

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Walsall Wood away to Worcester City this afternoon

Worcester City have a great new ground at Claines Lane.

Saturday 12th September 2020

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

Worcester City FC, Claines Lane, Worcester WR3 7SS

3:00pm kickoff

This is a ticket only match restricted to 300 spectators in compliance with social distancing rules – you can purchase your electronic ticket in advance by clicking here.

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Check out the club website here.

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Walsall Wood beat Romulus in lively start to MFL season

Images very kindly supplied by the young David Evans

A boisterous home match against Castle Bromwich team Romulus at Oak Park kicked off the 2020/21 MFL football season at Walsall Wood on Saturday (5th September 2020) and saw the visitors beaten in a hard fought, somewhat lively match.

Roving and loquacious football correspondent the young David Evans was there on a fine afternoon on the cusp of Autumn, and sent the following billet-doux:

Walsall Wood FC 1 v 0 Romulus FC
Saturday 5th September 2020

After the endless months of waiting, at last the Midland League got under way – this time for real – as Walsall Wood welcomed their opponents Romulus FC who hail from from Castle Bromwich.

This turned out to be a sporting contest that is best characterised in one word. Rumbustious. It is one of the more exotic and aromatic of adjectives that is seldom appropriate in modern usage – but not today.

Today was a thoroughly rumbustious game of football played at full tilt by both teams.

The first sector of this sporting encounter saw Romulus, dressed in their Everton mint black and white stripes, play some accurate ground passes and took the game to the defending Walsall Wood, glorious in their Empire Red strip.

The game evolved and developed, Wood faced the artistic tactics and game-play that the visitors were evidently intent on employing. Both sides were resolute and determined to out-turn their opponents in close encounters. This, not surprisingly, resulted in some untoward clunks and clatters, which necessarily brought the attention of the eagle-eyed man in black. He wore a a fine new strip, pressed for the memorable occasion, and, with greater frequency, the official was required by events to bring from his pocket both yellow red cards to grace the circumstance. With sharp eye and even sharper HB pencil he noted all pertinent details in his black book .

The flow of play seemed to be an ill-measured mixture of hesitant, gentle and (mercifully) measured football at times, with some superb through passes and smart running by players of both sides.

The half time whistle was blown. The score was nil-nil and gasping players headed for the refreshing delights and delicacies that awaited them in their changing-rooms. Thick slices of Angel cake, petits fours, steaming mugs of Darjeeling, and gentle, polite, vocabulary-enriching conversation from their caring managers.

Then, with another blast from the Acme Thunderer, the players emerged in to the warm late summer fresh air to resume their fine yet gritty combat. A new pattern of football emerged as visiting players tried to employ a different timbre to their challenges, and fell foul of the rules of engagement with increasing frequency. Some adjudged contrived falls were swiftly noted; their offenders swiftly reprimanded. The erstwhile beauty of a fine game was withering before the perplexed and vociferous youthful home supporters, whose choice of expressions was mostly acceptable.

There were several quite heady incidents where the rigour of the game, perhaps flavoured by an over supply of adrenalin, brought the game to a brief stop. Sometimes following awkward challenges on the rich and tiring real grass pitch, and perhaps as a result of its own contours, of course. At other times a simple breakdown in team and individual discipline brought no favours to the visiting team, or their bench, it must be said.

But, as the match went on it seemed to be heading for an odd result, with the visitors now down to far less than the full complement of players, and a Walsall Wood losing a player, victim of an instance of inelegant game-play [Balanced reporting as ever, as it should be *cough* – Bob].

Near the end of this wearisome and fragmented encounter, Walsall Wood were awarded a free kick near the penalty box . The Romulus goalkeeper had rightly been shown a straight red card by the hard-worked and harassed referee. A superb, blistering shot took the ball straight as an arrow into the visitors goalmouth. This was the only goal of the match.

The match ended with the final blast from the jaded referee’s whistle. Home supporters all round the pitch and in the stand applauded their team’s composure and resolve. Players shook hands and the two team managers and their entourage left to partake of a well earned cup of tea. This had been a hard fought, rumbustious game of football for both sides here at the Theatre of Dreams.

Enjoyable, nonetheless. Of course.

David

Thanks to David there – For The Good Of The Wood!

Walsall Wood Football Club are a top local side with a big-hearted faithful who know how to have a great time supporting their lads, and welcome all comers to come enjoy great local soccer.

The boys from The Wood have been at the heart of the local community for a century or more, so please do go check out a match or two if you’re curious.

 

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

Why not join the Orange Army litter pick next Sunday morning in Brownhills?

There is a community litter pick event taking place in Brownhills next Sunday, 13th September 2020 from 10am, meeting at Smithys Forge car park in Lichfield Road, Brownhills (Just off the Miner Island)  – all are welcome to join in.

The pick is being organised by local litter group The Orange Army who put a huge effort in to several litter picks in Brownhills recently – the last one attended by over 30 people – for which I and the blog readership would like to extend our thanks for a top job well done!

Take a bow, folks.

the Orange Army – top local community spirit in action! Image from their Facebook page.

It’s easy and fun to join in with these community picks as all kit will be provided!

I like to give as much notice of these sessions as possible as so many people afterwards express sadness that they would have taken part if they’d known sooner…

The pick is being run by committed local volunteer Natalie Dawson and others for the benefit of the the town, so it’ll be a worthwhile event to get involved with and help improve the local environment.

The organisers said:

Hi everyone just a little reminder of our litter pick on Sunday 13th we have had a small change to where we’re meeting!

I have asked Smithy’s Forge if we can use their car park and go to the gardens for refreshments afterwards 😁 they have kindly said yes which is great 👍

I have updated the event and Sunday 13th September 2020 we’ll meet at Smithy’s Forge car park for 10am at the Rhino Pluming van and we will split into groups!

We now also have 2 first aiders amongst the group 💪🏻 

Looking forward to seeing you there 🧡🦏

You can check out the Orange Army’s Facebook page here.

Previous local litter pick events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make this one even better!

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Great local football today! Walsall Wood at home to Romulus at Oak Park

Walsall Wood’s famous stand and the hearty welcome the club is famous for.

Saturday 5th September 2020

Walsall Wood FC at home to Romulus FC

Don’t break your vows be at Oak Park tonight and be faithful to your local heroes

Social distancing to be observed!

3:00pm kickoff

Please come and get behind your local club as they continue kick off local football once more

For The Good Of The Wood!

Check out the club website here

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

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since it’s such. nice day it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and every coming  Sunday from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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Don’t forget there’s your local Navy Cadet Force Open Day today!

Just a heads up that the local Navy Cadet Force – T.S. Vigo based in Walsall Wood in the units opposite Barons Court on Lichfield Road in Walsall Wood – are having an Open Day today, Saturday 29th August 2020.

There will be loads of family fun and games going on from 10am until 4pm, with laser fun, the Community Drum Corps Band, gamers hub, the community family library project New Chapter, vintage carnival games, Cadet Force displays and demonstrations.

This is a really good chance to find out what the Cadet Force is all about, and if you have youngsters who may be interested do pop along!

TS Vigo are  a fine group of youngsters and an absolute credit to our community.

 

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Wood stand strong against Tamworth tempest

Oh to be back where they all belong. Image kindly supplied by David Evans. That green kit is very…. Distinctive.

Walsall Wood FC last Tuesday evening (25 August 2020) got in what has been a very rare thing so far this year – a match at home. With full social distancing and pandemic safe measures, encouraging audience and gate, this will be a welcome return to business for all at The Wood whose faithful feared they might never see a match again.

The Woodmen and fans braved dreadfully windy weather and a rather wet pitch to face down Tamworth FC, and held the visitors to a respectable 1-1 draw in very challenging conditions. It’s good to see them back – and standing in the centre of a circle of respectful distance (I’m told they did this with him pre-pandemic, too) was the young and loquacious David Evans, pad and pen in hand, ready to record this momentous return.

David sent the following report:

Walsall Wood Fc vs Tamworth, Tuesday 25 August 2020:  A genuinely friendly match…

Walsall Wood Fc 1 v 1 Tamworth FC

It had been such a long time since the hallowed turf of the Theatre of Dreams last saw a meaningful pre-season match of this calibre. With due respect paid to the regulations and full application of social distancing in place, Oak Park welcomed its first spectators this season to rejoice with hearts full of anticipation as they entered by the narrow door, newly installed by the track which runs along the back of the clubroom… To sign in, hand wash, and then glory at the smart club, the freshly cut green turf of the pitch, the bright new Ron Tranter shelter, and  the corner flags, flying rigid in the thunderous winds.

Gone were the months of isolation, desperation, insulation, consolation, frustration; now the fresh air and open space, and two teams of players, busily warming up, stretching, dashing, dancing, leaping, tiptoeing through  lines of cones, reaching to touch toes, flex muscles, loosening sinews and tendons.

Now, with a beautiful new refreshment bar and kitchen to grace the occasion, and that mouth-watering aroma of beef-burgers, hot-dogs and special chips sizzling away, paper cups, bottles of sauces  all in regimental order, the scene was complete.

Visiting spectators from Tamworth and beyond were greeted with warmth and sincerity. We were all eager to see a live game of genuine soccer between two fine teams. We were going to thrill, applaud, sigh, lean forward in our seats.

The visitors wore an apple green strip bearing the word ‘Turpin’ on the back of their shirts. The visiting players seemd to be large, muscular, heavy body builders. Walsall Wood players, who wore their Lionheart Red strip, looked eager, and ready to take on their opponents with their fine display of nimble and fleet of foot soccer, accurate passing, and the grit and pluck that  characterises Walsall Wood. [Grit and pluck indeed – Bob]

The  whistle was blown and the match – contest – was under way with Walsall Wood showing their speed and deft play, to some consternation from the heavyweight opponents. The away dugout had a vocal assistant whose spirited guidance was for every ball, every pass, and whose obvious enthusiasm and perception… Was delightful.

This fixture, though classed as a friendly match, was full of  meaningful play and thrust, especially from the visitors. Walsall Wood, as always, rose to this physical challenge with patient confidence and co-ordinated play. Two very different sides, two different approaches, and quite gladiatorial in its way. This kept all the spectators enthralled at the rapid to and fro, with the unpredictable and gale-force tempest also raging, and eventually Tamworth scored the first goal from a corner kick and the gift of ‘overwhelming physical presence’… In a blur of bulbous green figures bearing down heavily on the defenders. 

Half-time brought the long-awaited break, A time, as is customary, when team managers serve their players a cup of tea and cucumber sandwich, and proffer gentle conversation.  Meanwhile, spectators busily re-hydrate, and replenish empty bellies.  Beefburgers, hotdogs, those special chips… And piping hot tea… All from the hatch to the posh spanking new kitchen.  

The second half brought new players, new tactics and the playing surface continued to delight and reward determination. This real grass surface allows for a greater palette of playing skills to be presented and employed by players.

An eventual penalty… There had been quite a few instances of heavy play… Was awarded to the  home team who scored the equalising goal in the final minutes of this entertaining and positive work-out for both teams. All the players contributed fully in their individual ways to the spectacle and joyful evening.

David Evans

Thanks to David once more for taking up the reigns of star reporter and posting an honest, entertaining match report – it really is an honour to feature them.

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

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

The drought ends: Walsall Wood at home to Tamworth this evening

Can The Wood beat Tamworth on home turf in this momentous friendly?

Tuesday 25th August 2020

Walsall Wood FC at home to Tamworth FC

Don’t break your vows be at Oak Park tonight and be faithful to your local heroes

Social distancing to be observed: Maximum 150 spectators allowed so get there early!

7:45pm kickoff

Please come and get behind your local club as they kick off local football once more

For The Good Of The Wood!

Check out the club website here

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

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the rain is clearing it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and every coming  Sunday from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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Why not join the Orange Army litter pick this Saturday Brownhills?

There is a community litter pick event taking place in Brownhills this Saturday, 22nd August 2020 from 10am, meeting at the gates of Holland Park – all are welcome to join in.

The pick is being organised by new local litter group The Orange Army who put a huge effort in to litter pick the park last weekend 25-26th July 2020 – for which I and the blog readership would like to extend our thanks for a top job well done!

Take a bow, folks.

Image from the Orange Army Facebook Page.

It’s easy and fun to join in with these community picks as all kit will be provided!

I like to give as much notice of these sessions as possible as so many people afterwards express sadness that they would have taken part if they’d known sooner…

The pick is being run by to local, committed local volunteer Natalie Dawson and others for the benefit of the the town, so it’ll be a worthwhile event to get involved with and help improve the local environment.

The organisers said:

Hi to all!

We have decided the next date for our meet if anyone would like to join us it is the 22nd of august.

Meet at the gates of Holland Park at 10am we have plenty of equipment that we can provide for you.

We have plenty of equipment for extra people if they wish to help out occasionally or regularly if they wish!

Thanks all
The Orange Army 🧡

You can check out the Orange Army’s Facebook page here.

Previous local litter pick events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make this one even better!

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Don’t forget there’s a Navy Cadet Force Open Day in Clayhanger coming soon

Just a heads up that the local Navy Cadet Force – T.S. Vigo based in Walsall Wood in the units opposite Barons Court on Lichfield Road in Walsall Wood – are having an Open Day soon, on Saturday, 29th August 2020.

There will be loads of family fun and games going on from 10am until 4pm, with laser fun, the Community Drum Corps Band, gamers hub, the community family library project New Chapter, vintage carnival games, Cadet Force displays and demonstrations.

This is a really good chance to find out what the Cadet Force is all about, and if you have youngsters who may be interested do pop along!

TS Vigo are  a fine group of youngsters and an absolute credit to our community.

 

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Shattered Dreams

It’s not very often I do politics here anymore – it’s not that I’m no longer political, or that I’ve mellowed, even: It’s more that the current political situation in this country and the wider world is now so far beyond reason and parody that even my long lost and dearly missed friend The Plastic Hippo would have a hard time writing about it.

It’s like living in a Charlie Broker script every day. Image from the Daily Telegraph.

I received a note on the A level farce that’s unfolding on Saturday from a good friend of the blog who wishes to remain nameless. It’s very eloquent on the matter of the deeply iniquitous, shambolic and downright contemptuous handling of the estimated exam results currently wreaking havoc on a generation’s ambitions – and I feel it should be shared here.

This is such a political and statistical car crash that it’s breathtaking. The people responsible for the disastrous software that created the mess refused help from statistical experts in creating a working algorithm, because the two experts involved refused to sign five year gagging orders. That this was even an issue shows the calibre of politician we’re dealing with.

Meanwhile, can the kids count on the support of the local Tory MPs? Steady Eddie Hughes and Wendy ‘Will there be a photocall?’ Morton remain characteristically silent, Fabricant continues his usual peacock strutting. These people have nothing but contempt for the youngsters who have had their dreams dashed.

Our esteemed MP will be putting on her serious face if she comments at all. ‘Is this glum enough, Jeff?’

I had hoped that with a Boris led government, that although he would be a flag waving blowhard, there might at least be some leadership at last. I was wrong – his absence throughout the A Level crisis, and continual deputising of other issues shows the PM as weak, apathetic and his government rudderless.

This country and its youth deserve better.

Secret Teacher wrote:

As a Brownhillian now teaching elsewhere, I am proud of my roots and grateful for the opportunities given to me by my teachers. I was lucky in that my A-level results were decent enough for me to go to university and then pursue my chosen career. The same cannot be said for a large number of Brownhillians in the class of 2020.

Whatever your political colours, I would hope that few would disagree that the handling of this year’s A-level results has been devastating for many of our young people. The pandemic saw public exams cancelled and centre assessed grades submitted that were then to be standardised by exam boards. Thousands of students across the country have had their teachers’ estimates downgraded by a flawed algorithm simply because of their postcode or the size of exam entry. My niece is one of many Brownhills youngsters who falls into this category. She impressed five universities enough at interview for them all to offer her a conditional place. Thanks to her teachers and her relentless hard work, she was on track to achieve three top grades and attend the university of her dreams this year. But alas her hopes were dashed when the aforementioned algorithm reduced her grades in such an unfathomable manner. She is now in limbo because her first choice of university that liked her so much at interview says that the grades she was awarded in exams that she did not even sit are not good enough.

Whilst the overall national statistics might look good on the surface and whilst I understand the government’s need to paint a national picture that is broadly in line with previous years, the fact remains that the right students have not necessarily been awarded the right grades. An algorithm that has downgraded teachers’ estimates by not one, but two and sometimes three grades in numerous cases is not fit for purpose. By all accounts, this is what has happened to so many of my niece’s friends, fellow Brownhillians that chose to do A-levels as a passport to the next stage in their life, whether that be university or another equally valid path. I have been hearing of high-performing students who have gone from A* to D. How can this be?

The government’s solution of the so-called triple-lock is of no consolation. Students can accept their calculated grade, appeal to receive a valid mock result, or sit autumn exams. For many, putting forward their mock results is futile. When students sit their mocks, they haven’t finished the course, they have less time to revise and do not take them as seriously as the real thing. Moreover, they have four months of further study after their mocks in which we as teachers see their progress soar. Furthermore, the opportunity of sitting exams in November is of no use to students who have set their heart on going to university this year.

It is clear from social media that many MPs from across the political spectrum are fighting this injustice for their constituents. I would like to call on Wendy Morton MP, if she is not already doing so, to do the same on behalf of the young people of Brownhills. If you agree with me, I would urge you to drop her a line. Our MPs are after all elected to represent all constituents and I’m sure that Ms Morton has at heart the best interests of these students who through no fault of their own have been let down by the system. I think politicians of all parties would do well to remember that these students are of an age to vote. They will not forget the way in which they have been short-changed and how they were represented the next time we go to the ballot boxes. And I have a sneaky feeling that we’re about to see same unfold but on an even bigger scale when GCSE grades are released on Thursday.

SecretTeacher

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When the fighting stopped

Shenstone: The quiet, leafy village holds a little known story of wartime, and postwar endeavour. Imagery from Bing Maps.

I’m always fond of little-known local histories here on the blog, and some months ago, old pal of the blog and top lad Ian Bourne got in touch to tell me of a history he had a bit of a childhood connection to: That of Major Eric Sadler, who was stationed in Germany immediately at the end of World War Two.

I knew nothing about this at all, but the story sounded intriguing. Ian wrote to me:

Hi Bob,

I spent some years as a lad growing up in Shenstone. My mom and dad bought our house from a retired solicitor and Major, Eric Sadler.

He kept part of the very large garden and built a bungalow to retire in, at the bottom. We had a connecting gate into his garden, and we would all look after him. I used to go down and cook his meals sometimes, and he’d surruptitiously reward me with a can of Ind Coope beer, bless him.

Lovely old fella, but he had some fabulous history. During the war, just after D-Day he was sent in to help ‘run’ a small German city, and kept a diary. This was serialised by the Birmingham Post & Mail in the early 80’s, and my dad kept the cuttings. I have them, they were spread over three days by the paper, including a few pictures.

Ian

I jumped at the chance, and Ian very kindly and thoroughly transcribed the article into three parts for me to serialise here on the blog, which I’m proud and honoured to do.

I feature the first instalment here today, and would like to ask if you knew the Major, or anything about his story at all.

The immediate postwar in Germany, and the implementation of the Marshall plan is little discussed in the UK but was key to shaping our current era.

My thanks to Ian for a lovely thing, he really is a gentleman.

If you have anything to add, please do: Comment here on this post, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my jacket on social media.

Major Eric Sadler (retd) at home in Shenstone with his wartime photographs. Image from original 1984 Birmingham Post article.

The Birmingham Post, Thursday February 16, 1984

When the fighting stops, life does not automatically return to normal straight away. One of the many British officers who were charge with the duty of setting up military government in Germany immediately after the fall of Hitler was ERIC SADLER, a Birmingham solicitor before and after the Second World War. He kept a fascinating and detailed diary of his experience, from which we shall be publishing brief extracts today, tomorrow and on Saturday.

To the victor the toils…

“I got a medal from the other side at the end of my consular seven years: Officers’ Cross First Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

“It’s the BVK1. One polite chap said, ‘Excuse my asking, but is that the number of your motor car…?’”

Gentle amusement ushers in the story of the souvenir of Eric Sadler’s stint as Consul for Germany in Birmingham, which he carried out until 1975, alongside his duties as senior partner of a Birmingham firm of solicitors.

There is more to come.

Gentle

“And I got the TD for 24 years’ undetected crime on our side. War counts double, so that’s 12 towards the 24, and I did a bit before the war and a bit after.”

At his home in Shenstone, near Lichfield, the gentle amusement becomes an uninhibited chuckle. Improbability is all, and you cannot tell Eric Sadler anything about appreciating the unlikelihoods of life.

He has been tuning in to its quirks and its incalculabilities for most of his 76 years and it is not difficult to get the impression that by now he could do it with his eyes shut while taking a crash course in Swahili.

It is a tendency which even includes the circumstances of his birth at Erdington.

“In 1907, Erdington was still in Staffordshire – so when I choose, I call myself a Brummie, and when I don’t, I am a Stafford.”

Unmistakably, Eric Sadler has got his life taped – but, somehow, it is taped on his own terms. When it manages to surprise him, he enjoys its presumption to the full.

Diary

This is a quality which adds piquancy to his Detmold Diary, a day-by-day account of the six weeks he spent in 1945 as legal officer with No. 121 Military Government Detachment, responsible for the administration of an area the size of an average English county, just before and just after the end of the war in Europe.

Detmold is a German town which lies between Hanover and Munster; unlikely to draw itself to the attention of the average British taxpayer in the ordinary course of events; of no significance to Major Eric Sadler until he and the other members of the small force of which he was a part arrived there to assume the functions of the local authority and lay the foundations of a return to normality.

Detmold is a town with a long history and I suspect this old cafe has seen a lot of it, good and bad. Image from the Detmold Tourism Information site.

Where Detmold achieves distinction is in the Sadler documentation of the birth-pangs Detmold’s peace, seen through the eyes of an outsider charged with making them as smooth and swift as possible.

The diary was originally scribbled on bits of paper, then handwritten as a fair copy and sent home, two or three days at a time, with his letters to his wife, Marjorie.

Its current, typed version, includes fading photographs of places and people. One shows the handful of officers and other ranks who comprised No. 121 Military Government Detachment.

Another is of August Herbst, resplendent in breeches, multi-buttoned jacket and epaulettes. It is a picture with special memories.

“I regarded him as my German right-hand up to the time I came home. But he had not got what every other German employee of ours had to have, which was security clearance. About two years later I learned why.

Pilot

“He may have been in the uniform of the fire brigade, but he was an ace German pilot. He had fought in the Spanish Civil War and he had Germany’s highest decoration for 20 bombing raids over London.

“We met him again when we went back in the 50s and the hotel proprietor put us up in what had been the colonel’s bedroom…”

In 1928, long before any hint of the war which was to take him to Germany, Eric Sadler had been articled to Jeffrey Parr & Co, solicitors, of Temple Row, Birmingham – the firm of which he was to be senior partner from 1952 and to which he became consultant about three years ago.

His early Territorial Army service saw him take a commission with the 5th Bn, South Staffordshire Regiment, in 1938. Later, he transferred to the 7th Battalion and went on a junior staff course at Brasenose College, Oxford. By the time war came, he was a captain.

Eventually, there was what he recalls as “the gauleiters course at Wimbledon.”

REME were stationed at Detmold Barracks during the Cold War, and I’m sure Eric would be familiar with this view of the site from an early 1950s image by Tony Briscoe.

Gap

“It was for officers destined to go into Germany and fill the gap between battle won and hand-over to full civilian government. The doodlebugs were around at that time, to liven things up.

“Then some of us went on to a bit more learning about military government with the Americans in Manchester. We had a medical examination before we could be attached to them.

“When I had joined the TA, I was simply told to ring the MO. He said, “Are you all right?” I said I was, and he said, “In that case, I don’t need to see you.”

Eric Sadler crossed the Channel some weeks after D-Day in 1944. He and a handful of others were put into the first of the American landing craft which met them a few hundred yards off Arromanches.

“We came to a juddering halt. One of the crew investigated round the back and fished up a cable which was entangled in the propeller. The American officer in charge said, “Get your bloody hatchet out and cut it” – which we did.

“It could have been carrying all the communications for the whole of the invading force, for all he knew. A light-hearted lot, these Americans…”

He surrenders to the memory with an air of agreeable disbelief. As ever, the man behind the Detmold Diary is enjoying the improbabilities.

~~~~DIARY EXTRACTS~~~~

Tidying up in the smouldering ruins

Sunday, April 8, 1945

Detmold is not badly damaged, but it looks a mess. A few buildings are smashed or burned, many damaged and most front window glass shattered.

Rubble and glass in the gutters: streets and pavements pitted and cratered: tram wires trailing and twisting: bent and broken light and tramway standards: no gas, water or electricity. Some damage by bombs – some when the town was captured by a single American battalion.

The battle started on Sunday 1st April, reached its climax and ended on Wednesday 4th April; we are here three days after the German Army went. In a few places it still smoulders and has that same curious sweet burnt wood smell, so noticeable in ever damaged town.

Tuesday, April 10

Colonel’s Conference. In the woods around Lemgo, a town fairly near, are said to be hundreds of German soldiers. An emissary is going to tell them they may give themselves up at 2.30 tomorrow and that the British do not ill-treat prisoners of war. A food store big enough to feed an army is in the town, we have taken a few things for ourselves.

Displaced persons in Detmold include 200 Poles, 140 Jugo-slavs, but the unnumbered majority are probably Russians. A handful of British Military Police are said to be in Detmold; the only other British troops.

Wednesday, April 11

Herr Chef wants pieces of wood for the window mending. I sign an authority for him – I sign almost anything, most of us do. Whether we have authority to do so is another question.

Just the car for the job…Maj Eric Sadler at the wheel of the four-seater drop-head coupe 1700 cc Mercedes-Benz which he requisitioned. Image from original 1984 Birmingham Post article.

After I had done a little arranging and tidying, the Colonel sprang on me that I must next provide water and electricity for the Yanks up at the airfield. Called on my reliable messenger for Herr Brand and the Detmold electricity man. Herbst showed me the four-seater drop-head Coupe 1700 cc Mercedes Benz which he had selected for me to requisition. It was laid up and dusty but obviously a beauty. It was the private property of the Oberfinanz Prasident of Munster. However Herbst said the O.F.P. was a Nazi and didn’t need a car anyway.

Friday, April 13

One officer has issued all our drivers with pretty triangular yellow flags with black skull and crossbones to stick on their vehicles. The drivers quickly take them off when I point out they are sporting the emblem of the German S.S. Totenkopf Division!

A German complained  about looting. I said in war soldiers will loot and he replied that the German soldiers were the worst!

I suspect this is a very close model to Major Sadler’s commandeered car. Isn’t that special? Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Dinner with the usual courses and drinks and deep discussions about definitions of fraternisation and collaboration. An American interrupts us for some sort of pass – as usual I sign it. Retired to write. John Shadbolt came with a problem – German garage proprietor has been helpful, our colonel says he must empty cars out of his garage. This sort of question will keep on arising. C’est le guerre. And the Germans have lost it.

I doubt whether I have ever done so much in a single day before, but it is constructive. Since the war began, I have never (except on leave!) felt happier or better in health.

Coming in part two:

Learning that setting up military government means being a Jack of all trades…

References:

Detmold https://www.britannica.com/place/Detmold-Germany

German Order of Merit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Merit_of_the_Federal_Republic_of_Germany

TD award https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_Decoration

I think this is Mr. Sadler’s car https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_W136

Bad Salzuflen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Salzuflen

HITLER IS DEAD https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44131106

VE Day Broadcasts https://www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/anniversaries/may/ve-day-broadcasts

 

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Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the rain is clearing andlockdown is eased, it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and every coming  Sunday from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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A mystery of time and place – can you solve it please?

While I’m very busy elsewhere (sorry folks for continued low output), the local history work continues in the background, via the tireless and thorough work of folk like the young David Evans, who’s turned up a mystery photo in a collection he’s been donated.

David feels the photo is local, and possible the early part of last century.

Does anyone recognise this, either via the schoolroom or anyone in it?

It’s a very interesting one. David feels in may be as early as the 1920s, but to me the dress seems a little too modern and well to do.

I’m thinking more 30s/40s maybe even 1950s? Don’t know.

If you can help please do: Comment here or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. You can, of course, always find me on social media somewhere too.

My thanks to David, all the blog contributors and readers for their patience with my absence at this time. It is certainly true we live in unprecedented times and they’re keeping me flat out. Sorry.

A school room, we think maybe local. Why is the lass in the foreground holding up a number 2? Love the flowers on teacher’s desk, suggesting maybe this was a lady teachers class. Click for a larger version, image kindly scanned and donated by David Evans.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the weather seems decent and that lockdown is eased, it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and every coming  Sunday from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Lichfield Waterworks Trust to recommence their vital work

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

Sandfields Pumping Station champion and public historian extraordinaire Dave Moore has been in touch to share the latest news for local history enthusiasts and members of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group – Sandfields is reopening at last!

In the current pandemic, the trust has had to suspend meetings and activities like any other such organisation, but with the tentative resumption of normality, the trust have taken the decision to open the station back up and recommence their restoration activities – from this Friday, 7th August 2020.

Dave said:

Lichfield Waterworks Trust are pleased to announce that Sandfields Pumping Station will be re-opening to members only on Friday 7 August 2020
 
After careful consideration, the trustees of Lichfield Waterworks Trust are pleased to announce that Sandfields Pumping Station will be commencing a staged re-opening on Friday 7 August.
 
The first stage of this re-opening will be for members only by prior approval by our Health and Safety Manager Phil Bowers. Anyone wishing to attend will need to firstly notify Phil of their intention to attend by email by clicking the link below:

phil.bowers682@btinternet.com

The trust has put in place a number of Covid-19 safety procedures that are essential you follow. You will be briefed when you arrive on site.

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

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

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

 

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

Locked out: A miner’s pay packet from 1928.

John Anslow – local historian and along with his late brother, one of the foremost chroniclers of the history of Walsall Wood – has been emailing again with another fascinating artefact from The Wood and he makes some fine observations upon it, and in particular on the General Strike and life in the 1920s.

John also has some questions to ask, and I hope readers can help with those, please – John has been responsible for some of the most important articles on the blog over the years, and I’d love to see what readers think about this one.

A miner, lost too soon, and his wife – Abe and Eliza Anslow, taken around 1918. Image kindly supplied by John Anslow.

Without further ado, John Anslow wrote:

This might interest you and your readers, Bob.

The photographs show what I believe to be my grandfather’s last wage packet, dated 8 June 1928; he died shortly afterwards, aged 38.

Abe Anslow was a coal miner (a hewer, on the death certificate) and that particular week in June, after mining one-and-a-half tons of slack and two tons of ironstone, he took home eighteen shillings and eight pence, or about 93 pence in today’s money.

According to the CPI inflation calculator, £1 in 1928 would have had the same purchasing power as £63.24 today.

This little scrap of paper set me thinking, and I should like to enlist the help of those who know much more about local mining history than I do.

 First, the wage packet itself.

Images kindly supplied by John Anslow: Click for larger versions.

 (i) The stall number, I believe, refers to an eight-yard section of the coalface allocated to a pair of hewers.

(ii) The seam is identified with the letters “D. T.” Any ideas?

(iii) What are the “percentages” referred to here? (H2 – 3s 4d and 1 @ 8s 9d)

(iv) I hadn’t realised that ironstone was mined in the coal pits hereabouts.

Next, the historical context.

From what Dad told me (8th June 1928 was his seventh birthday) the 1920s were desperately hard times for mining villages such as Walsall Wood, though he recalled many instances of people looking after their neighbours and struggling through together. I have mentioned in a previous comment on your blog the arrangement Abe had with Mr Headley, who supplied animal feed on credit and was repaid in bacon when a pig was slaughtered.

The General Strike of 1926 must have been particularly harrowing for mining families. As you doubtless know, it was called in response to the miners being locked out by the coal owners on 1st May 1926 after refusing to accept a cut in wages and longer hours – “Not a penny off the pay, not a second on the day”.

In coal fields throughout the land, miners were out of work for over six months but gradually began drifting back, on the owners’ terms, during October and November. I assume events in Walsall Wood mirrored those in the rest of the country.

It’s doubtful there’s a local resident alive today who remembers the lockout – anyone capable of doing so would now be in their late nineties – but perhaps readers can recall tales told to them by parents and grandparents.

Finally, a few comments about local industrial history.

I am dismayed that people barely twenty years my junior know nothing of the General Strike, let alone its causes or the hardships endured by the miners and their families. Nor are they aware of the poverty that was endemic in mining villages right up to the Second World War.

It is not my intention to embarrass you, Bob, but your blog plays an invaluable role in keeping the folk memory alive: helping us to remember who we are and where we have come from.

I was fortunate in being able to talk to people of my grandparents’ generation who, in turn, related stories their grandparents had told them. In two degrees of temporal separation I was back to the years when the canal first came through the village.

This experience makes me feel rather like the elderly lady who, when interviewed by a journalist in the 1850s remarked: “My first husband’s first wife knew Mr Cromwell and said he was a very nice man!”

 All the best,
John Anslow

 An afterthought

For completeness, and so that you can picture the man who spent his working life kneeling deep underground, hewing coal for such meagre recompense, I have attached a photograph of Abe and his wife, Eliza, taken around 1918.

  • John

I welcome all view, clarification and memories on this, and I know John will too: Comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or find me lallygagging on social media.

This is a fine contribution for which I am, as ever, indebted to John Anslow. The brothers Anslow have shone a beautifully crafted light upon some of the wonderful, little-known corners of Walsall Wood history – from sneaking into garden parties to cocksure monstinks; from dignity in poverty to odd interconnected stories, the Anslow boys have been behind some of my very favourite things to share here.

I am honoured to be able to feature these contributions here. Thank you John.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments