Hot to trot

Chasewater trotting track – the stadium many will remember derelict – never achieved the elusive success hoped for. Image from ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

I’m not going to beat around the bush, a remarkable piece of local history right out of the blue courtesy of Twitter pal Ben Graham who drew my attention to it an hour ago – those interested in the local history of trotting, Chasewater Stadium and Oscar Johnson will find this fascinating.

The BBC archive have published today a short Nationwide TV clip from 1971 about the opening of the Chasewater Trotting Track.

I do question the stadium holding 20,000 people though! This answers so many questions.

So get the sound on, sit back with a brew and enjoy. And if you have any comments, leave them here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail do com. Cheers.

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Mining for family history in the Wood: Can you help please?

Walsall Wood Colliery, image believed to be not far from closure, possibly 1950s. From Walsall, a Click in Time/Walsall Local History Centre.

Had a great enquiry in this week from Chris Smith, who you’ll remember was researching the Claridge family and shop for the store’s 60th anniversary this year – well Chris is looking for some local history help with his family, including his Grandfather who was blast man at Walsall Wood Colliery.

Chris wrote:

Hi Bob,

I wonder if you or any of your readers can help me with things which relate to my Great Grandfather Joseph Smith Born 1867 in Warwickshire, possibly Birmingham, lived in the Shire Oak area and worked at Walsall Wood Colliery where I believe he had the job of looking after the explosive stock. His son, my Grandad, Isaiah Smith also worked at the pit. One of his daughters was Mrs Claridge.

I would like any information about the family and about the explosives store which I believe was the shed in the middle of the field opposite the colliery and behind the school on Linden Rd.

Even better, any of my relatives out there?

Best regards,

Thanks to Chris for an interesting enquiry – can you help?

As has been mentioned a few times here over the years, that’s exactly where the explosives magazine was, in the field, and is shown on mapping of the time:

The magazine and Walsall Wood Colliery would now be in the car park of the Oak Park Centre. Image from 1915 1:2,500 mapping. Click for a larger version.

It seems odd that so many pit magazines were so exposed and insecure.

If you can help Chris, please do: either comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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Car broken into in Shire Oak last night

Untitled 9

A vehicle crime in Shire Oak – please be on your guard, folks. Imagery from Apple maps.

There’s been a car break in in Shire Ride, Shire Oak, which took place on Wednesday 16th August 2017 between 3:30pm and 8am the following morning – a satnav iPod and loss change were stolen.

Kevin Pitt posted on WMNow:

Dear Sir or madam

A vehicle crime has been reported in Shire Oak.

If you saw or heard anything or have any information about the below incident please call our non emergency number 101, quoting the reference number provided.

Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at

Reference: 20WS/174921J/17
Location: Shire Ridge, Shire Oak
Date and time: between 3.30pm on Wednesday 16 August and 8am on Thursday 17 August
Details: two offenders went up to the vehicle and opened a door by unknown means.  A sat nav, Ipod Touch and some loose change has been stolen.

Please remind your neighbours not to leave items on show within the vehicle, even when parking for just a short time.  Your car insurance may not cover items left within the vehicle so avoid leaving anything of value, even if hidden in the boot or glove box.

Visit our website for crime prevention advice

Message sent by

Kevin Pitt (Police, Engagement and Consultation Officer, Walsall)

Thanks to Kevin for keeping us all informed.

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

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

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

Walsall Wood Under 18s playing great football, could you join them?

Great football on a lovely evening. Image Kindly supplied by Dylan Somel.

David Evans has sent the following wonderful match report from last Tuesday evening’s match (15th August 2017) between Walsall Wood Under 18s and Wrens Nest Under 18s – and he liked what he saw.

The best bit is they team are looking for players, and applications are open!

If you’ve an under 18 kicking about the house making things untidy, and if they’re into football, why not get them out of the house on Thursday evenings to try out for Walsall Wood Under 18s who train at the Oak Park Active Living Centre from 6:30-8pm?

David Evans wrote:

An excellent  performance by Walsall Wood Football Club Under 18s against Wrens Nest on Tuesday evening at Oak Park, where the  final score  was a two-all draw.

A crowd of a hundred or so were in fine voice to support the two teams and applaud good play – and they players responded by playing this match at full speed throughout.

A very early penalty put Walsall Wood in the lead and this spurred the visitors and home team alike. Excellent touchline marshalling and encouragement by both team managers was evident as was the eager, receptive responsive by the eager young players.

The Referee took time to explain decisions to players concerned and this aspect of the game was appreciated by all. A very creditable teaching facet of this under- 18 contest.

Very little impatience or any extravagant loose play was evident. Indeed, instead there was determination and good sporting challenge, accurate passing, long range shots on goal, high leaping from corner kicks, where confidence, endeavour and good team understanding characterised this match.

Final score WWFC Under 18s, two, Wrens Nest under 18s, two.

A fair result. A good performance.


Team manager, Dylan Somel wrote:

This year Walsall Wood Football Club are implementing youth side, who will play in the Midland Floodlit League. This has been made possible with the support from the youth section at the club and also George and Justin, who have made a great platform for the lads to succeed under the Wood banner.

Walsall Wood Under 18s Football Team need you!

We train Thursdays 6:30-8pm at Oak Park Active Living Centre 

Our league games coming up are 

Wrens Nest: Home 7:45pm Kick-off on the 15th August
Dudley Town: Home 7:45pm  Kick-off  on the 28th August

Please could you include special thanks to our Home Kit Sponsor Guy’s Dental based in Lichfield and our trainingwear sponsor Stonnall Fish Bar.. Thanks so much.

Manager is myself Dylan Somel and 07446348126 is my number for any players interested. 

The team have some great sponsorship. Can particularly vouch for the chip shop at Stonnal, which does great chips and most excellent kebabage! Image supplied by Dylan Somel.

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Lichfield and Hatherton’s huge canal Heritage Gathering coming soon!


A wonderful day out in store for all! Image from Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust are busy preparing for their Heritage Gathering call and vintage festival which is coming up over the weekend of 23-24th September 2017, and takes place at their Huddlesford base, near Lichfield.

There will be boats, vintage and classic vehicles, stalls, food, displays and all the usual fun and games. This is a great show and previous years have been excellent, and well worth the visit.

I had a great time at the last of these previous events in 2015, and I’m looking forward to this one immensely. You can see a gallery of images from 2015s event at the foot of this post.

All funds raised will help support the canal restoration project, whose volunteers are currently beavering away on the route of the lost line between Barracks Lane, Ogley Hay and The Boat restaurant, on the Lichfield Road at Summerhill, opening the route for walkers, as well as the more general restoration work to restore the old canal, particularly at Borrowcop on the A51 at Lichfield.

If you’re into history, canals and craft, keep that weekend free!

Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust originally wrote on the excellent Lichfield Live!:

Heritage Gathering Highlights Vintage Boats And Classic Cars

Lichfield canal enthusiasts are hoping to emulate the success of 2015’s Huddlesford Heritage Gathering when this year’s event is held in September.

The gathering, held biennially and organised jointly by Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust and Lichfield Cruising Club, brings together historic boats, floating traders, private boats and classic vehicles, with exhibitors and displays on the field, near Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal.

Fun for all the family includes Emma’s Crafty Kids, funded through the Staffordshire Community Foundation, boat trips and rides on a steam train and a traction engine, face-painting, and the chance to operate one of the Trust’s diggers.

A host of entertainers will be providing music on stage throughout the weekend, with tickets sold separately for an evening event featuring Wildfire Folk and Chase Mist and including a pig roast.

Budding musicians can book themselves in for one or two 15-minute sessions at Busker’s Corner on either or both the days.

Floating traders will be offering everything from home brew to cheese and antiques to sweets, while exhibitors on the field and in the marquee will be showing off jewellery, leather goods, farm and garden produce and a variety of arts and craft.

There will also be a chance to see a display of birds of prey and to meet some weird and wonderful wildlife.

Music, entertainment, food and a bar will be available all day, and a Sunday service will be held at 9.30am by the Boaters Christian Fellowship led by David Litchfield.

Huddlesford Heritage Gathering will be open to the public on September 23 and 24,  from 10am. Admission is £4 with children under 12 free if accompanied by an adult. Tickets for the evening entertainment will be sold separately for £15. Car parking is free.

For more information visit

For more information visit the Trust website at

You can keep in touch with the Trust on Twitter as @LHCRT1, on Facebook or on their website.


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

Bogus workmen detained by Aldridge police after tipoff from vigilant bank staff

Beware of bogus callers locally. Image from Southern Water.

Partnerships officer Kevin Pitt has sent details of a bogus workmen scam operating in Aldridge that has led to the detention of two men last Friday (11th August 2017) in connection with a scam in which a local OAP was intimidated into withdrawing money from their bank by workmen who claimed to have carried out unsolicited work.

Thankfully his bank was on the ball and staff called the police.

Kevin said:

From Kevin Pitt (Police, Engagement and Consultation Officer, Walsall)

Two bogus workmen were arrested by police in Aldridge on Friday (11 August) after being alerted by bank staff.

The pair had called at the home of their victim in Oakely Avenue offering to do work cleaning and repairing window frames and guttering, The offer was refused, however a short time later the pair again knocked the door stating they had completed the work and in a threatening manner demanded £260 in payment.

The resident told the pair that he didn’t keep that sort of money in the house so they told him to go to the bank and return within the hour. Unsure of what else to do, the victim attended his bank where he told staff what had happened. The police were called and found the offenders still sitting in their van outside their victim’s home from where they were arrested.

During the course of investigations another resident came forward stating that he had paid the two men to paint his fence, which had been completed, but had stolen a shovel from his shed. The stolen item was found in the back of their van, a blue Ford Transit. It was also found that they had visited several other residents offering to do work. Most had refused.

Though these two men have been detained by police it is likely that they or others will return to prey on the elderly and vulnerable in and around Aldridge.

Please be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour. Be particularly aware of anyone offering to carry out unsolicited work. If you need work caried out on your home always employ a trusted and reputable trader and obtain quotes before proceeding.

Lots of excellent advice covering all manner of doorstep crime can be found on the Age UK website (follow the link).

Please tell your relatives and neighbours about these ratbags, and impress upon them how important it is not to buy from, or accept services at the door, no matter how plausible the people offering them. Genuine companies will always contact you by other means.

Explain that no official body will turn up unannounced demanding money for services like gardening, drain cleaning, tree pruning etc., and that if they are at all unsure of any caller, to close the door and contact the police.

Scumbags engaged in the robbing of OAPs are lower than a snake’s knees.

Please,  if you have information regarding these kinds of incidents locally or if you  have witnessed something suspicious, please contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 (999 in an emergency, obviously) or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, Local media, News, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community

It’s all going on at Brownhills Activity Centre July-September 2017!


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

Brownhills Community Association have been in touch, asking me if I’d share their latest newsletter for July-September 2017 here on the blog – and as ever, I’m happy to do so.

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

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

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

My best wishes to Janet and the gang, please do pop along and check them out. Their latest newsletter is below, detailing events, clubs and classes that are available. Click on each page for a larger version.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Chasewater, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, 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