All at sea – but where, and when?

Here’s a challenge for the history researchers this afternoon while I’m busy getting some air and autumn – a short but interesting postcard that was addressed to Pier Street, Brownhills.

Image of postcard addressed to Brownhills posted for sale on eBay by seller 89Chatsworth.

The card has been spotted for sale on eBay and is not dated – indeed, it was sent from a ship. If you want to buy it, it’s currently up on sale by seller 89Chatsworth for the princely sum of £1.25. You can see the sale particulars here.

What the card actually says is

‘Arrived in England this morning Sunday(?). Will write again when I know(?) where I have got to.

John

It’s addressed to Miss P. Dorricott (or Derricott), Pier Street, Brownhills.

What can we find out about this? Why would you arrive in England but not know where you were? I assume this would be military related.

Please, any views welcome. It’s been fascinating me since I spotted it for sale earlier in the week.

Please do comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my sleeve on social media.

The picture side is a fetching lady in maybe 1920s dress with the name ‘Trisa’ – was she a noted model of the day? Image posted on eBay by seller 89Chatsworth.




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Wood meet Quorn substitutes in Oak Park roast

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday, 21st October 2018), Walsall Wood F.C. faced Quorn F.C. at Oak Park, and I’m pleased to say Walsall Wood again won in a fast paced game with lots of action.

David Evans worte:

Images and captions kindly supplied by David Evans

Hi Bob

Walsall Wood FC 2 v 1 Quorn

An unexpectedly warm late October afternoon, thin sunshine and no breeze. The pitch looked glorious… freshly cut real grass, immaculate and a feast for the eyes. Newly installed boards round the pitch are now complete and the footpath around it just completed. Each week some new work and visible improvement reflects the hard work and devotion of the volunteers who toil to bring the sporting spectacle in all its glory to those who are fortunate to attend.
 
Quorn the visitors have travelled from far away to bring their sporting challenge to Oak Park. The usual warm welcome and courtesies are offered and readily accepted.

Just as the game was about to start a beautiful marauding buzzard flies high over the field of play. Fine feathers, but no club badge. Groundhopper?
 
The game itself  turned out to be a hard, physical challenge by the visitors, which brought out the controlled patient team soccer that we always enjoy. Today home and away spectators were delighted to witness skilful, though physical soccer both two teams who were determined to win. And this showed, sometimes in deft footwork, sometimes in accurate passing and running. Perhaps inevitably there were some, deliciously interesting moments which challenged the officials throughout the match. But patience was the bye-word today, both for the  match officials and especially for Walsall Wood.

Sharp breakaway moves by Quorn reflected the game they play on their home synthetic grass surface. But, as we have seen recently, the whole range of soccer tactics are limited; here at Oak Park the visitors were repeatedly frustrated when dispossessed of the ball.
 
The first goal, in the first half, brought a sense of satisfaction, joy and contentment  for the home team, and an amazing outburst of petulance from elsewhere  – away from the field of play. But, to their credit, the visiting players now set to their task of achieving an equalising goal, as the Wood increased their own tempo. Super game to watch.
Quorn ‘s hard work and effort was rewarded when they scored that precious equalising goal, not long before the break brought when both teams enjoyed that magical  cucumber sandwiches, no crusts, and Earl Grey  tea time, and spectators took a while to re-lubricate sore throats , to reflect and blink again on what they had seen… and heard.
 
The second half brought with it a harder, more physical display of soccer, with both goalkeepers performing to their limit, bringing appreciation from the spectators. Some substitutions were made to implement different tactics. A fast flowing game of soccer was apparent in the second half play, with some odd apparent clumsy tackles here and there, but no real antagonism. The Wood scored their second goal from a brilliantly worked out and executed plan. 

Despite all the hard effort, bluster and gritty determination by the visitors the  final score remained two goals to the Wood, and one goal to Quorn.

The final whistle was blown and the Wood gained the reward of a well-deserved home win against some spirited play by the visitors from their posh synthetic surface in Leicestershire. The visiting team, for their part, contributed fully to make this match a delightful one to spectate. 

David Evans

Thanks to David for the report – much appreciated – for The Good of the Wood!

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Institutional bias – what’s the deal here?

I’m indebted as I have been previously San Antonio resident and Walsall Wood ex-pat Porktorta who’s put some time into sorting out the colour on the image of what I (apparently , incorrectly) presumed wast the Walsall Wood Miners Institute last week – and he’s done a spiffing job; but not just that, it seems I may be mistaken about the building depicted.

A nice restoration by Porktorta – but I’m none the wiser. Can you help? Image from the Bill Mayo collection, shared with kind permission of Bill himself.

The photo featured last week – kindly shared by David Evans from Bill Mayo who was kind enough to allow me to post it here – shows a building on the corner of Brownhills Road and Coppice Road, Walsall Wood, where Oak Park Leisure Centre stands today (well, it’s grounds, at least).

In the background can be seen the twin pitheads of Walsall Wood Colliery, where Brownhills Business Park now is, and the old Colliery Offices which I believe survived until the 1980s when they were, if I recall correctly,  destroyed by a fire.

Now the institute was definitely on this corner, but I have reason now to believe the building here was actually a colliery staff house and the institute, apparently demolished here, may have been next doo (to the left in this picture.

In what seems to be a truly international effort, John Blanchard from Auckland, New Zealand was one of several to comment. He sent the following mail:

Hi Bob.

 In my recollection, my maternal Grandfather, William Ernest Share (deputy Manager of Walsall Wood Colliery until he retired in 1952, aged 75) , told me that the property identified as the Walsall Wood Miners Institute on the corner of the what was the “Magazine field” was a house occupied by a Mr Buick who was (possibly) an Engineer at the mine in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. I have a feeling that Mr Buick owned an Buick car from the USA.

Does this re-ignite memories from others?

Regards, 

John Blanchard
Laingholm,
Auckland,
New Zealand

Well, I’m completely foxed now, so I really need folk’\s help here. I have other material to come for the institute itself, but my real question is this: What the Dickens happened to it? Was it this house? Something different? When and why did it close?

Thanks to Porktorta for a lovely restoration, John for some good solid info and everyone else who’s commented. This is turning into a real group effort. Thank you all!

If you have any more information or memories of the institute, please do get in touch – you can comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my sleeve on social media.

Ordnance Survey 1:1,250 scale mapping overlaid onto Google Earth imagery showing Walsall Wood Colliery and the Institute (Highlighted) showing just how much has changed – including the alignment of the whole junction. Imagery from the National Library of Scotland Archive. Click for a larger version. 
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It’s getting better – Wood fortunes improve with wins away

A belated Walsall Wood football roundup here for the Wood faithful -Tuesday last (16th October 2018) Walsall Wood FC’s fortunes continued to improve when they beat Boldmere at Sutton following a three-nil win at Smethwick Rangers FC the Saturday before – here are reports from both matches by the father and son team of David and Simon Evans.

There’s also footage below of Walsall Wood v AFC Wulfrunians on 6th October, a match that the Woodmen sadly lost one nil as reported here – the footage arrived later in the week from the wonderful Russell Smith at The-Wood.TV:

Anyway, on with the reports:

Images kindly supplied by Simon Evans

Simon Evans wrote:

Smethwick Rangers 0 v 3 Walsall Wood

Saturday 13th October 2018

Wood kicked off in blustery conditions, and were the first to adapt to the weather, Jordan Fitzpatrick with the first effort which went straight to the keeper, Paul Sullivan then made half a yard his effort was also direct to the goalie.

A minute later a cross by Paul Sullivan was headed from under his own crossbar by the Smethwick defender. Smethwick then enjoyed a bit of possession, a freekick into the Wood box was claimed well by Lloyd Ransome in the Wood goal. Another freekick found Paul Sullivan, in turn he found Jordan Nadat, but the keeper was equal to it.

The first goal soon came, Javia Roberts was fouled just outside the box, the freekick was swept home by Joey Butlin.

Wood nearly scored again, the Smethwick defender hitting his own post. Wood were dominant now, Paul Sullivan  forced another corner which was defended.

Half time: Smeththwick 0 v 1 Walsall Wood 

The second half started as the first ended with Wood on top and soon they had doubled there lead. A Gavin Hurren free kick from fully 50 yards out resulted in the Smethwick keeper tipping the ball over the bar for a corner. From the corner, the ball found Paul Sullivan, he made half a yard and swept home the second goal.

It was soon 3-0, with Jordan Nadat finishing off a slick Wood move.

The match was then held up due to a nasty collision between Gavin Hurren and the Smethwick defender. Gavin was carried off and also red carded. A Peter Till corner then clipped the crossbar. Soon after the ref blew the final whistle. Wood won 0-3.

Simon Evans

Images and captions kindly supplied by David Evans

David Evans wrote:

Boldmere St Micheals 0 v 1 Walsall Wood

Tuesday 16th October 2018

On a clear still evening the moon shone brightly from afar, peeping through the clouds to catch a glimpse of the much – anticipated contest between two local rival teams. The bright green of the synthetic grass surface heralded a fine contest to grace the pitch and entertain the numerous spectators.

The Wood wore their dazzling sunshine yellow away strip as they took to the field, a distinct spring in their step. Boldmere St Michaels, the host team took their places after the customary handshake with their opponents The scene was set. A shrill blast from the referee’s little Acme Thunderer and the game commenced to a shout from the Wood’s choir of angels.

A sense of eager anticipation accompanied the players, fresh from their hard fought victory on a different surface at Smethwick. Had the team now found its rhythm, its pace, its confidence?

This evening’s match, for at least the first half, was characterised by the fast action and accurate passing that has to be played on synthetic surfaces. Long passing by both sides, well co-ordinated, rapid attacking moves, fine play especially by both goalkeepers all thrilled the spectators.

The Wood demonstrated their mature composure and team discipline early in the game and this became more and more evident throughout the course of the match, which made it a joy to spectate.

A penalty was awarded by the man in black and the Wood scored what turned out to be the only goal of the match, and at this moment, to gain the upper hand. How would Boldmere respond? Could the Wood add to their first goal?

The second half brought a more physical strategy by the home side, an approach which did not reflect the fine delicate soccer of their first half. The referee took a moment to address the unacceptable phraseology of the home bench, after even his patience had worn thin.

There were some clattering tackles by the home players, some heavy shoulder charges, and increasing frustration as they tried everything they knew to score the equalising goal. But to no avail as the strong Wood defence was impenetrable. 

Further into the second half and an event off the field of play where the referee had the most demanding of situations to deal with, marred the game for me. A red card to the home player, and the game, which was beginning to fall apart for the home side, re-started for the final moments of this match.

This match had brought to light some of the many fine sporting aspects of the Beautiful Game;  for most of the match, at least.

A fine, well- deserved win for Walsall Wood FC, whose joy rang out from the changing rooms after the match. The Wood came marching home this evening. Superb.

David Evans
 

Cheers to David and Simon for great reports and pictures, as ever.

Walsall Wood are a good team and an excellent, community-spirited club. They need our support – please do attend the coming games if you can.

For The Good of the Wood!

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Will Walsall Wood roast Quorn?

Saturday 20th October 2018

The Wood are at home!

Can the boys from The Wood beat Quorn FC?

Kick off is 3:00pm

Come along and support the local lads

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Visit Walsall Wood FC’s website here

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Macmillan coffee morning on this morning in Brownhills!

A quick note to say there’s a coffee morning for Macmillan going on at the Calvary Pentecostal Church in Brickiln Street, Brownhills this morning, Saturday 20th October 2018 from 10am to 1pm. 

There will be cake, hot drinks and great company – as you’d expect from such a friendly local institution.

You all know how much I like Macmillan as a charity and anything that benefits them is cool by me.

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Why not Stay and Play – at Brownhills Community Centre this morning

If you’ve a child or children under 4 years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 20th October 2018 from 10-11:30am.

It costs just two quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery teachers.

There are games and toys and all manner of fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

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

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

Plenty of activities for the little ones. Image kindly supplied by Stacey Poole.
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Lichfield repair cafe – get together to get things fixed this Saturday!

What a fantastic idea this is!

Never one to sit back and let life pass her by, that there Kate Cardigan from the wonderful Lichfield Lore is involved with the wonderful Lichfield Repair Cafe project – which continues it’s regular run at their new home this Saturday (Saturday, 20th 2018) at Curborough Community Centre, Lichfield from 2pm until 5pm.

Kate, who’s more usually known for her excellent work with Lichfield local history group, Lichfield Discovered and other projects, started a community project to help people repair, recycle and put back to good use things that my be broken or need some love.

This looks like a great way to have fun, meet up with other like minded folk and also learn some new skills.

If you’re unsure where to find  Curborough Community Centere, check out their contact page here, and the address for satnav wranglers is 37, Reynolds Close, Lichfield Ws13 7NY.

I’ll let Kate explain:

Hello! 

The Lichfield Repair & Share cafe launches at Curborough Community Centre on Saturday 15th September between 2pm and 5pm. As a way of reducing waste whilst learning new skills, we have a team of volunteer repairers on hand to show people how to try and mend their broken or damaged items, rather than throw them away. 

Few new things for tomorrow: a craft corner, so bring along any projects you’re working on and take some ideas home with you; info on local wildlife and a games area. 

Volunteers from the centre will be running a cafe with hot and cold drinks and cakes. Whilst there is no charge, voluntary donations are appreciated!

The cafe will be taking place at Curborough on the 3rd Saturday of every month and we are always looking for more people to get involved whether they want to offer their skills as a repairer or run a workshop. To find our more information, or to volunteer, please email lichfieldshare@gmail.com, join the group’s Facebook page Lichfield Repair Café or follow us on Twitter @lichfieldshare.

For more information, contact Kate Gomez at lichfieldshare@gmail.com or joing the Lichfield Repair & Share group on Facebook here.

Many thanks as ever!
Kate

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Coming soon: great Halloween party in Walsall Wood

Nice to see there are plenty of Halloween events this year, and there’s going to be a wonderful Halloween Party on Friday, 2nd November 2018 at Walsall Wood Football Club at Oak Park.

There will be a disco, fancy dress competition, raffle, buffet and lots of spooky fun and it’s just five quid for a family ticket – that’s up to two adults and four kids. That’s a bargain!

It’s running from 6:30pm until late. and you can book tickets by calling Claire on 07568 097817.

Thanks to all at the club for what looks set to be a great event.

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2018 Autumn Leaves Running Day at Aldridge Transport Museum this Sunday

This Sunday 21st October 2018 it’s the annual ‘Autumn Leaves’ running day at Aldridge Transport Museum, when you can ride vintage and classic busses free, and browse stalls, the museum – and visit Chasewater in style!

It’s £5 entry for adults, £2 for kids and a family ticket is just £13, I believe the open day kicks off at 10:30am.

The museum said:

Our regular Autumn Running Day, with a choice of buses and routes to have rides on, as well as seeing the exhibits within the Museum, where there will be our own shop, as well as sales stands attending.

Admission £5 adult, £2 child, £13 family.

See our website & Facebook page for updates

Aston Manor Road Transport Museum
Shenstone Drive, Off Northgate, Aldridge, Walsall W89 8TP

The timetable of bus operations is below – more details can be found on the museum Facebook page.

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2018 local Remembrance events – let’s make a list – can you help please?

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Brownhills always puts on a sombre, dignified event. Local children paid their respects in 2015, as captured by the good folk of St. James Church.

This is just a quick request for help – in past years, we have crowdsourced from readers a list of local Remembrance parades and events taking place throughout the area, that was popular and useful to many of the readership – last year I left it a little late so this year I want to be better prepared.

I’d like to match last year’s list if I can.

There are a huge range of local services taking place, although some parades may be changed a little due to well-publiscised policing issues.

If you contribute details I’ll wrap them all up into a big post later in the month before Remembrance Sunday.

If you can supply details for any local event in Walsall or South Staffordshire, please comment here or mail me. I know people tend to travel to their home Remembrance event, and we have a wide audience, so stuff in the wider area is very much welcome.

I’d also like readers to take photos of their local events if they can and I’ll feature them here; particularly after photos of Brownhills, Walsall Wood and Norton if possible.

If you’d rather, feel free to mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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Summer 2018 photo competition – the results are in!

Eryl Powell
Winner
Shelley Hankin 
Winner
Jackie Astbury 
Winner
Katie Tuck
Winner
Sean Geraghty
Winner
 Sam Turner
Winner
Tracy Dunn
Runner up
Kerry Christie
Runner up
Anthony Hoult
Runner Up
Sarah Emily Challis
Runner up
Chris Hill
Runner up
Laura Taylor
runner up

Mick Geraghty
Runner up
Sara Campbell
Runner up

Right, it’s been a hellishly difficult thing to do, but the judges (Myself Bob, Phil Griffin, David Evans, Linda Mason, Phil Griffin, the young David Evans and a late addition of a certain young lady) have pondered and head scratched in the last week to find the winners and runners up of the BrownhillsBob/Brownhills Blog 2018 Summer Photo Competition.

I’d like to thank all entrants for their patience, and for their wonderful, beautiful entries. If you haven’t won, our commiserations, but there were so many brilliant images it was a very tough task.

You can see the entire gallery of entries by clicking here.

If you were unlucky, there will be a similar competition over the coming New Year holiday as is always the case.

It was originally going to be five winners and five runners up; it’s actually come out at six winners and eight runners up as the field was so fine. 

The winners, who each win a mini keg (8.8 pints) of Backyard Brewhouse ale which is brewed in Brownhills to great acclaim – (you’ll have to collect from the Brewery in Lichfield Road) are Eryl Powell for Harvest, Shelley Hankin for Family on the move, Jackie Astbury for Chasewater in pink, Katie Tuck for Hedgehog day, Sean Geraghty for Misty sunrise (or maybe set…) and Sam Turner for Berry meringue.

If winners are teetotal or too far away we’ll sort something out.

The runners up will each receive a book prize: I have a selection of used but good condition books on local history or themes and I’ll pass the list around: Pick the one you want and I’ll post it to you. Runners up are Tracey Dunn for Bouncing Bridesmaids, Kerry Christie for Fowl play, Anthony Hoult for Sunshine field, Sarah Emily Challis for Beach Buggy Fun, Chris Hill for The thrill of The Chase, Laura Taylor for Hand in hand into the forest, Mick Geraghty for Lilo and pooch and Sara Campbell for the Pike hunters.

I will be in touch over the next week or so with prize winners – please bear with me as I’ve not paid for the beer yet and I’ll need to know what they have available at the moment and what your choice is.

Prizes are as ever, are funded out of my own pocket – there are no sponsors and no funny stuff, this is purely for the community and the fun of it. The judges decision is final.

This competition has been for enjoyment and good feeling, thank you all for being so wonderfully community spirited, and for sharing the very best of what you found. It’s been a blast.

Thank you everyone.

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BRD days – a 149 page history for you to explore

A few weeks ago I promised a treat for those who were interested in the history of the BRD company in Aldridge – many readers will have worked or had relatives that did in the huge, sprawling engineering company the closed some years ago now.

Last year I acquired a book via a good pal called ‘Early Days at BRD’ by Jim Edwards, former Company Secretary and Chief Accountant, which is a nearly 150 page work on the history of this remarkably innovative company up until the work’s publication in 1995, but concentrating mainly on the period from the 1950s to 1970s.

A young lady engaged in what is described as ‘Production Machining’ in a lovely undated image from ‘Early Days at BRD’ by Jim Edwards. Do you recognise her?

This remarkable book is packed with details about BRD products, the various factories in the group (although focused on Aldridge), the company’s links with others (including GKN, who eventually took them over) and most interestingly, the social club and life of the business as a community.

It even documents The Omtitis, the BRD Social Club magazine, a copy of which I scanned and shared here previously.

The book is packed with photos and archive material, and is a real trip down memory lane. And I’ve scanned the whole thing for you to read.

The book was printed by Baker Bond in Brownhills (Who produced the beloved ‘Brownhills Gazette’) in 1995 and is long out of print, and I’ve never seen another copy – indeed I was shocked to see this one! I think it’s a shame it’s not more widely available, so I’ve worked hard to share it here.

You can download the full book in PDF form by clicking here – it’s searchable text so you can look for names you know. It’ll take a while to download as it’s 35 megabytes in size, so be patient.

You can peruse the first 20 pages in the gallery at the foot of the post. Clcik on any one to read it full size.

The social life at BRD was important. Here is a photo from a BRD Horticultural Show in the 1950s. Image from ‘Early Days at BRD’ by Jim Edwards.

David Hughes has previously written about the BRD company for the blog, Linda Mason has recorded with great love and fondness her memories of the great Aldridge factories. Many local people worked there and travelled daily on the works busses from local towns like Brownhills.

Please, if you have any memories, or spot anything you’d like to talk about or share, please do – you can comment on this post directly, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com of say hello on social media.

My thanks to Jim Edwards whose hard work in creating this book is clear to see. It’s beautifully written and fascinating.

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A lost institution

Walsall Wood Institute on the corner of Coppice Road at it’s junction with Brownhills and Lindon Roads, I’d say 1950s or 60s. Walsall Wood Colliery in the background. Image very kindly shared by Bill Mayo.

A quick one for a Sunday from respected local historian Bill Mayo – something I didn’t know existed: A photo of Walsall Wood Miner’s Institute which stood at the junction of Coppice Lane and the Brownhills/Lindon Roads, just where the leisure centre is today.

In the background can be seen the twin pitheads of Walsall Wood Colliery, where Brownhills Business Park now is, and the old Colliery Offices which I believe survived until the 1980s when they were, if I recall correctly,  destroyed by a fire.

The institute was a social club, not just for miners but the local community as a whole. I’m not sure when it was lost, but probably after the mine closed in 1964.

I’d like to thank Bill for his generosity in sharing this image via the young David Evans who spotted it on display at Brownhills Community Centre last weekend.

I believe from the concrete lamp-post the photo would be from the 1950s or 60s.

If you have any more information or memories of the institute, please do get in touch – you can comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my sleeve on social media.

Ordnance Survey 1:1,250 scale mapping overlaid onto Google Earth imagery showing Walsall Wood Colliery and the Institute (Highlighted) showing just how much has changed – including the alignment of the whole junction. Imagery from the National Library of Scotland Archive. Click for a larger version. 
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Police seek man following knifepoint betting shop robbery in Brownhills

Can you identify this lads please? If so, Police would love to hear from you. Image posted on Social Media by West Midlands Police.

This morning (Saturday, 13th October 2018) police in Walsall issued the above image of a man they’d like to speak to after the Paddy Power betting shop in Brownhills High Street was robbed at knifepoint on Monday 10th September 2018.

I’m unclear why the large delay between the incident and releasing this picture, but it’s very clear and someone must know who he is.

If you do, please do contact the police forthwith.

They said:

Walsall Police
Saturday 13th October 2018

APPEAL – Can you help?

We want to speak to this man after a betting shop worker was threatened with a knife during a robbery in Brownhills.

A worker at Paddy Power, High Street, was forced to hand over cash at around 7.50pm on 10 September. Nobody was injured.

Anyone with information can contact us via Live Chat at west-midlands.police.uk between 8am and midnight, call 101 anytime or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Quote crime reference number 20WS/206982H/18.

Please,  if you have any further information relating to this, or any other incident, or if you witnessed something  please contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 and quoting 20WS/206982H/18 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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The First Cut and a musical history…

Folk band the Light Side, who will be performing at Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s Autumn Show. Image from the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust

Just a quick note to point out that the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust have a couple of great fund-raising projects coming up – there’s a great new comic novel on sale in support of the Trust, and also a wonderful show – a musical history of the Birmingham Canal Navigation – coming up in November.

The Trust are working to restore the entire lost canal between Brownhills and Huddlesford, which I’ve documented here previously – you can find out more about that at this post here, or find out how you can volunteer to help in this post here.

The Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust wrote:

AUTUMN SHOW FEATURES MUSIC OF THE WATERWAYS

A musical history of the Birmingham Canal Navigations will be the highlight of Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s Autumn Show.

The Birmingham Lads tells the story of the beginnings of the BCN, its rise to prosperity and its effect on Birmingham and the wider area.

In a similar vein, folk-based band The Light Side’s repertoire puts the emphasis on canal and other watery songs.

The Autumn Show will be held at Whittington Village Hall on Friday, November 16, with doors opening at 6.30pm.

The bar will be open from 6.30pm with supper served at 7pm and the show starting at 8pm. A grand prize draw will be held in the interval.
Tickets cost £15.50 inclusive of show and supper.

To apply for tickets, contact Sue Williams, Norfolk House, 29 Hall Lane, Hammerwich, Burntwood, Staffordshire WS7 0JP, telephone 01543 671427 or 07968 168728, or email suzi_williams@hotmail.com
 Tickets can also be obtained securely online with PayPal at https://www.lhcrt.org.uk/nov_show.htm.

Now available on Amazon – and all proceeds to the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust!

NOVEL BOOST FOR CANAL TRUST FUNDS

Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust has found a novel way of raising money – proceeds from all sales of author Simon J Stephens’ new comic tale of cruising on Britain’s waterways are being donated to the Trust.

The First Cut tells the story of three families hoping for a relaxing holiday on a hire boat cruising the Four Counties Ring.
But little do they suspect how events will unfold in this very English farce.

Simon J Stephens spent most of his working life in retail before selling his house and moving onto a narrowboat, now moored in Penkridge, in 2012.

Cruising the waterways of the Midlands and particularly Staffordshire, he spends his time reading and writing and walking his dogs.
His previous work includes two crime thrillers, Righteous Correction?and Redeeming Choices?

All proceeds from the sale of The First Cut on Kindle Direct, priced at £1.99 (ASIN: B07HN267CL) will be donated to the Trust (Clcik here to see it on Amazon).

The paperback version, also available on Amazon, costs £7.99, and the royalties of £1 per copy will go to the Trust (Clcik here to see it on Amazon).

Simon J Stephens said: “Whilst there are numerous groups of hardworking , unpaid volunteers working to restore the lost waterways of this nation, a brief glance at any map will show you that restoring both the Lichfield and the Hatherton Canals will create a priceless link between the Staffs and Worcester and the Coventry canals, taking in the wonderful Pelsall village and making new cruising rings possible.

“The sooner the canals are restored, the sooner we can all enjoy the benefits. 

“This is no vanity project – this area needs these links for sound commercial reasons and to revitalise these places of such natural beauty.
“I dream of the day that I make it as a novelist and help LHCRT complete the work with some of the royalties received!”

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

Why not Stay and Play – at Brownhills Community Centre this Saturday morning

What wonderful thing…

If you’ve a child or children under 4 years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 6th October 2018 from 10-11:30am.

It costs just two quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery teachers.

Stacey Poole said:

Come along this Saturday morning where we will be exploring shaving foam alongside our autumn sand tray and many more activities

There are games and toys and all manner of fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

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

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

Plenty of activities for the little ones. Image kindly supplied by Stacey Poole.
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Stuck in a rut – beware, folks – the deer are getting horny….

Time to repeat this post as this morning I was riding to work and spotted a stag on Green Lane, Walsall Wood, clearly angered by the traffic interfering with his prancing activities.

Thankfully, after much encouragement by a driver, he skulked off over the fields.

Take care folks…

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Important event for carers in Walsall coming up this Thursday…

A wonderful thing for people in a very tough position.

Here’s an important event taking place in Walsall this Thursday morning (18th October 2018) at the Royal Hotel, Ablewell Street from 10am until 12 noon that will be essential for anyone who cares for children or young adults with learning disabilities or special needs in the local area.

The event is being organised by the wonderful FACE Walsall, the Walsall Parent Carer Forum. 

Old friend of the blog and carer herself Jo Yarnall got in touch to explain…

Please can I ask the lovely folk here to spread the word about a Special Educational Needs Information day I’ve organised?

Our group is working so hard to try and find the vunerable children and young people and trying to reach out to parents who are at breaking point as they don’t know what is out there to help them.

So if anyone can help spread the word, please do.

Special Educational Needs Information Day Thursday 11th October 2018 at They Royal Hotel, Ablewell Street, Walsall 10am – 12pm.

This is a FREE event.

In attendance we have Speech and Language Therapists, Walsall Health, Home to School transport services, Transition into adulthood, Special Educucational Needs Disability and Inclusion services, Early Years, Talking Sense, Touch the Spectrum and many others.

See you there?

You can get in touch with FACE Walsall in a number of ways – they have a blog here, theres an active Facebook page here, there’s a twitter presence here and you can email them on facewaalsall@gmail.com.

The group is physically located at the Carers Centre in Darwall Street, Walsall WS1 1DA – the are friendly and welcoming, and offer just the kind of support network needed when you’re a carer.

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Back the Track – see them on TV here!

Image courtesy of Jo Yarnall

Last week I promised to share with you the Central News report on Back the Track which appeared on TV last week – this has proven more difficult than expected, but thanks to the group themselves, I can share the full thing below.

Sadly, ITV no longer make available full episodes of the news show, but condensed, Buzzfeedish clips on the website, which are, I have to say, pretty bad. Thankfully by some means Back the Track go the whole thing an posted it on Facebook.

Here it is:

The ITV 'Active Autumn' Item about BTT

For those that say you can never have too much of a good thing here is the complete transmission of the Chris Halpen item for ITV Central. A very good interview with members of the Back The Track group showing the excellent work they have done over what was actually only 11 months.

Posted by Back The Track on Friday, October 5, 2018

Thanks to the people there – I must say it’s a great report and in a week when Brownhills hit the news for such tragic reasons this was a great pick-me0up.

I’ve covered the work of this great bunch of folk before – Brian Stringer and pals started in 2017 to clear out the old railway cutting under the miner island in Brownhills and convert it into a cycling and walking route for all.

Since then, the route has been cleared from the back of the Swan pub to the Smithys Forge, is absolutely beautiful and is a great asset to the community. Central News have been to see what these dedicated volunteers have been up to.

Back the Track is a wonderful project and Brownhills should be very grateful to the volunteers and all who have worked hard to make this dream a reality.I

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Great news everyone – Matthew Lawley found safe and well

Matthew Lawley now safe and well. Image posted on social media by Danielle Lawley.

Great news folks – Matthew Lawley who was missing from home in Walsall Wood over the weekend has been found safe and well.

I’d like to thank everyone who kept a look out, shared posts and helped with information. Nice to be able to share some good news on a grey Monfay.

Thank you all, you are what makes this community wonderful.

Danielle Lawley wrote:


***UPDATE***
Matthew has now been found and is safe. A massive thank you to EVERYONE who has shared this post

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Final gallery of entries for the Summer 2018 photo competition

I had a great summer this year. How about you?

About four eons ago, I started the blog and Facebook photo competition for summer 2018 – and I’ve had a terrific response with over 130 entries all summing up something that encapsulated summer for the person who entered it – you can see the gallery of entries below.

Barring any corrections this is the final gallery from which the five winners and five runners up will be selected. Myself and fellow admins of the group – Linda Mason, Phil Griffin ad Richard Burnell plus honorary blog wise owl the young David Evans will each select a winner and a runner up – winners will be announced next Sunday (hopefully) 14th October 2018.

So sorry for the delays. This has been a lot more work than I expected to be honest – but great fun. Thank you all so much for your patience and submissions.

We won’t be looking for technical excellence or top flight equipment or skills – a wonky phone photo capturing something fun can be every bit as good as the carefully shot image by a pro. It’s about feel and intention.

Entries have been limited to one photo per person to make judging easier.

The five winners will be awarded Backyard Brewhouse ale 5 litre (8.8 pint!) minikegs, which are brewed in Brownhills to great acclaim (you’ll need to pick them up from the brewery in Brownhills), and books for the five runners up – if you’re teetotal or living a long way away we’ll come to some other arrangement.

Prizes are as ever, are funded out of my own pocket. The judges decision will be final. This is for enjoyment and good feeling.

If I’ve missed anyone out, sorry -just contact me ASAP and I’ll add any I’ve overlooked. If you’ve messaged me any pictures on FB, please ping me again – it’s a mare to find images in messages.

The images below can all be viewed larger by clicking on them. If there’s an error, you spot a multiple entry or whatever, shout up. To err is human, to balls stuff up totally is my modus operandi.

If you’re looking for your image, use your browser’s search option is a good way. On a Mac that’s <option> & <F>.

Thank you everyone.

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Sunnyside days

 
The settlement of Sunnyside was the area bounded by Vigo Road, Vigo and Vigo Farm in this map – the five way road junction shows Walsall Wood Road, Vigo Road, Castle Road and Salters Road. Imagery from Ordnance Survey 1:10,000 mapping courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.

It looks like there are some treats in store for the Walsall Wood contingent as the wonderfully generous Tony Portman has allowed the young David Evans access to his private photo album which contains some remarkable, previously unseen material.

Tony, you’ll remember has previously donated wonderful images of Walsall Wood Secondary School and the Boy’s Brigade, and is a wonderful old freeing of the blog and true Walsall Wood stalwart.

I believe this shows men making the road, near the track that led from Vigo Road across the open land to Sunnyside cottages and to Mr Creswell’s double fronted cottage. Image from the Tony Portman collection, very kindly donated by Tony himself via David Evans.

These images show what we consider was probably a hamlet of its own – Sunnyside. This community, centred around the Five Ways Junction on Salters Road has been an area of quarrying for years, but used to look very different to how it does today.

David Evans said:

Hi Bob

Thanks to Tony Portman I cant share these remarkable images of life in Sunnyside, we think possibly from the 20s or 30s.

A track led from Vigo Road to the cluster of cottages that were Sunnyside. Another track led from opposite where the fire station is today to Sunnyside, too.

The reference to Cresswell  double fronted cottage is  an important one as this cottage  was probably the last of the settlement cottages to be demolished.

That cottage was behind the car body workshops corner of what is now Taylors yard.

I think the bungalow now stands on the site of the original cottage.

a huge thanks to Tony Portman..again!

David

There is more to come from Tony and David, and as ever I’m hugely grateful to both gentlemen for their sterling efforts to share an preserve our local history.

These images are obviously discussion points and if you have anything to add, please feel free to do so – either do so by commenting on this post, tugging my coat on social media or mailing me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!

This image  is taken near the front wall to Mr Creswell’s cottage and shows the open land, the houses in Vigo Road, with some cottages and a shed in Brookland Road, in the far distance. Image from the Tony Portman collection, very kindly donated by Tony himself via David Evans.
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Coffee and cake morning at the Motivation Hub in Walsall Wood this Monday

I love a good coffee morning… and cake! What’s not to love?

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

This Monday (8th October 2018) at 1pm, there will be a coffee and cake morning with a prize tombola too!

It runs from 10:30am until 12 noon.

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

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Woodmen bested by Wulfs in late penalty shocker

Tuesday last (17th January 2016), the Woodmen faced AFC Wulfrunians at Oak Park, and sadly, were met with another resounding defeat.It’s all change down at Walsall Wood FC’s Oak Park ground, where there’s a new team manager in Darren Byfield, and the faithful yesterday (Saturday, 6th October 2018) were hoping for a win – but it was not to be.

The young David Evans braved the cold in stoic optimism, and came home afterwards not entirely amused:

Walsall Wood FC 0 v 1 AFC Wulfrunians
 
A bitingly cold afternoon and a fresh start for Walsall Wood as Darren Byfield  was welcomed into the furnace room of management here at Oak Park.

AFC Wulfrunians and the Wood played some determined accurate football despite the fresh wind that blew the whole length of the pitch. An early vicious tackle on a Wood player risked turning this fine contest sour, which would have been highly regretable for the visitors and for the home side in equal measure. However, this and some unwelcome petulance was dealt with and then spectators were able to enjoy a positive game of soccer.

There was a definite spring in the step of the home side, still weakened by ongoing injury, and with a side chosen by the manager to showcase and introduce new players. This gave today’s contest a new and captivating facet for all the spectators. How would these players fare? 
 
The first half brought speedy through passing, running, some superb headers, and very little slack play by both sides. The game sparkled from start to finish of this half.

Half time break, piping hot soup or tea for the flash chilled spectators; steaming hot broth with wholemeal croutons for the players, served with accompanying gentle small-talk by their respective managers.
 
Thus revived, refreshed and reinvigorated the players emerged from the comfort of the changing rooms to play out the second half. Spectators shuffled back to their stations, throats lubricated, mufflers tightly re-knotted and dentures defrosted. Now this hotly contested game took on a newness and a gritted determination all of its own. Now another side took its enforced turn to play into the polar wind.
 
There was some interesting  audible vocality  in the visitors’  play at times  and  apparent increasing frustration as again and again they  found themselves confronted by  the stalwart resolute defensive thin Red Line. The Wood now took on a more openly proactive,  sweepingly  broad approach to their attacks, but were met by a pack of Wulfrunians in close order defence.

The  Wood today lacked the attacking formation and rapid counter-attack’s finishing moves that the Wulfrunians performed to good effect. 
A penalty was awarded by the referee, following vocal encouragement by the visitors, for, well, to be honest, I cannot say. A  Wood player was sent off and following the inevitable goal to the visitors, the depleted home side had to play their hearts out to contain and hold the line. 
AFC Wulfrunians will be pleased with today’s fortuitous victory. A draw would have been a more fitting result, all things considered.

David Evans
 

Cheers to David for a great report and pictures, as ever.

Walsall Wood are a good team and an excellent, community-spirited club. They need our support – please do attend the coming games if you can.

For The Good of the Wood!

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chasewater Railway Coal Train event all this weekend

Who doesn’t fondly remember the coal trains rumbling through Brownhills? Your chance to stir a few memories…

Sorry again for the late notice but I note Chasewater Railway have their Coal Train event this weekend (Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th October 2018) with a mixture of diesel and steam runnings, demo trains and working plant.

This event will be well worth a look – the Railway is one of our hidden gems, situated at Chasewater Country Park, and is well worth a visit. There will be stuff there for all the family, with an intensive passenger service so please do wander down if you can.

Chasewater Railway is a wonderful attraction with regular passenger services at weekends and during school holidays, featuring two excellent cafes and a fascinating museum that chronicles not just railway history, but that of our area and industry.

The whole thing is staffed by helpful and friendly volunteers who are always ready to chat and talk about the railway and rolling stock.

At Brownhills west station there are also a lovely model railway, plus a couple of great vintage and collectible stalls. The railway itself has a shop selling books, rail models, toys and other merchandise.

Please do pop down if you haven’t already – Chasewater Railway really isn’t pushed enough; it’s wonderful.

You can check their website here – trains run this and every weekend from 11am to 4pm with the museum, cafes and stations open earlier.

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

Don’t miss Walsall Wood at home to AFC Wulfrunians this afternoon!

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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 6th October 2018

Walsall Wood FC at home to AFC Wulfrunians

Don’t break your Wood vows be there and be faithful to your local heroes – for Darren Byfield’s first match as the Wood’s new manager!

3:00pm kickoff

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

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

Hopefully, a match report will follow

Check out the club website here.

 

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Why not Stay and Play – at Brownhills Community Centre this Saturday morning

This is proving really popular!

If you’ve a child or children under 4 years of age, there is a great Stay and Play session running at Brownhills Community Centre in the heart of Brownhills this Saturday morning 6th October 2018 from 10-11:30am.

It costs just two quid per kid and includes fruit and a drink, so it’s great value and it’s run by those wonderful people at the Little Green Dragons Nursery, who are resident at the centre and are fully qualified nursery teachers.

There are games and toys and all manner of fun for the weans – and you get a break to boot.

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

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

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So much going on in the heart of Brownhills this autumn!

A wonderful facility in the heart of Brownhills!

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

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

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

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

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

Autumn at Brownhills Community Centre

Our Singalong Cinema Season continues with a special Halloween presentation plus there’s a couple of events for the artists and connoisseurs and a charity showcase in aid of the Royal Park Charity for those living with brain injury.

Our classes and groups are starting up again, we have belly dancing, Tae Kwon-Do, Yoga and singing classes, along with many others.

If you’ve any suggestions for events or classes you’d like to see, then please get in touch with us at: info@brownhillsca.org.uk

Our current list of activities can be found at: http://www.brownhillsca.org.uk/

Charity Concert at the Lamp

In aid of the Royal Park Charity for those living with brain injury, Backstreet Theatre Company, vocal harmony quartet 3QA and Followspot Productions have joined forces for a one night only concert on Saturday 6th October at 7.30 pm.

The show features songs from the shows and the hit parade of the last 50 years and maybe a few favourites from the download charts for the youngsters!

Tickets are £7.00, available only on this number 0777 543 6839.

Art Classes

Wildlife artist Shane Wiseman runs his popular pastels workshop at the Centre on Saturday 13th October & 10th November from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

(Cheetah Cub October, Cheetah Head November)

Places are limited, so book now at the Centre or call us on 01543 452119 – £35.00 for the day, a £10.00 deposit is required to secure your place.

 

Halloween Special

The Lamp have a special singalong screening of cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show (certificate 15) on Saturday 27th October.

The show starts at 6.00 pm and tickets are £4.00 (£3.00 for concessions).

http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-lamp-arts-centre.

 

 

Art Show 27th October

For one day only the Community Centre is taken over by a group of talented artists from a local group under the tutelage of Pat Ryan from nearby Pelsall.

There is a wide range of media on display including pencil, oil, acrylic, watercolour and pastel.

Come along to this great exhibition and sale of original works.

 

Room Hire

If you’ve an event or family occasion coming up, don’t forget that Brownhills Community Centre have rooms for hire.

Two of our larger activity spaces have recently been re-fitted and now have kitchen facilities.

To discuss dates and rates, call us on 01543 452119 or drop in at the Centre for a look around.

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Details of Walsall Council’s park bonfire events for 2018

Always a good display….

Readers have been asking for details of this year’s Walsall Council Bonfire Night events in the borough, and particularly Brownhills, so here is the latest information.

The Brownhills Holland Park event will take place on Saturday, 27th October 2018. Other events take place in Willenhall on the Thursday 1st November, Walsall Arboretum on Saturday 3rd November and Bloxwich on Monday 5th November 2018.

Entry for the local events is still a pocket-pleasing £4 for adults and £1 for kids – plus little ones under 5 get in free.

For safety reasons – no fireworks or sparklers. No alcohol allowed. Under 14s must be accompanied by an adult.

Walsall Council wrote:

Bonfire and Firework Displays

Walsall’s four regular Bonfire and Firework displays will be taking place in 2018 at :-

Holland Park on Saturday 27th October
Willenhall Memorial Park on Thursday 1st November
Walsall Arboretum on Saturday 3rd November
King George Vth Playing Fields on Monday 5th November

All four of these events will include funfairs, catering stalls, and our bonfires and fireworks.

Please note that as a condition of entry being granted into these events, you may be subject to a security search. This may  result in queues, so please arrive early if there is a particular event or activity you plan to see.

Tickets for Holland Park, Willenhall Memorial Park, and King George V Memorial Playing Fields will be available on the gate, and priced at £4 for adults, £1 for children, and under 5s will be free. Limited car parking is available at all the sites – King George Vth Playing Fields via the Stafford Road entrance, Holland Park via the Parade vehicle entrance, and at Willenhall Memorial there are parking spots within the park via the Pinson Road entrance.

These are at £1 per vehicle, and we would encourage walking or taking the bus to the parks if possible.

For these three parks;
Gates will open at 5:30pm, as will our fairground and concession stalls
Bonfire will be lit at 7:00pm
Fireworks display starting after 8:00pm
*****Times subject to change *****

Tickets for these three sites will be available on the entrance gates of the events, at £4 for adults, £1 for children, and free for under 5s.

Holland Park bonfire is always a good one. Image by the wonderful Steve Martin.

For the Arboretum, this year as last year, you will need to purchase advance tickets online from www.ticketsource.co.uk/walsallarboretum. These are priced at £9 for adults, £4 for children, and under 3’s go free. Family tickets are available for groups of two adults and two children at £24, and all these online tickets are subject to a booking fee.

There are cash only sales of tickets available at the Arboretum Visitor Centre between 10am – 3pm Monday til Sunday, but this will only be available before the day of the event (3rd November.) 

No tickets will be sold on the entrance gates.

For the Arboretum, car parking is available at the Sutton Road / The Crescent entrance, WS1 2DD, and will be priced at £2 per vehicle.

At the Arboretum;
Gates will open at 5:00pm, as will Pat Collins Fairground
The Free Radio Stage live music will start from 5:30pm
The Fire Act show starts at 6:00pm, from the second stage
The Alice in Wonderland Stage Show starts at 6:45pm, from the second stage
The bonfire will be lit at 7:00pm
Doreen Tipton will start at 7:10pm
The Fire Act Show has a reprise at 7:30pm, from the second stage
Lemar starts on the Free Radio Stage from 7:30pm
And the fireworks will be lit after 8:00pm
***** Times subject to change *****
 

For safety reasons, no fireworks or sparklers may be brought onto any of these venues. No alcohol is permitted.

Under 14s must be accompanied by an adult. Please note that as a condition of entry being granted into this event, you may be subject to a search.

Walsall Council reserves the right to change any of the attractions, which are all subject to weather conditions.

For up to date information about the bonfire and firework events, please check our dedicated Facebook event pages for our bonfires, the official Facebook of Walsall Arboretum, or follow us on Twitter @WMBCGreenspaces or @WalsalArboretum

For any more information about this years fireworks events, please contact us on cleanandgreen@walsall.gov.uk , or call us on 01922653344

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

Teenagers mugged at knifepoint yesterday in Brownhills

Beware on the Black Path.

A reader has contacted me with worrying news: It seems a couple of lads were mugged at knifepoint yesterday (Tuesday 2nd October 2018) at 5:30pm on the Black Path through Holland Park, near to Brownhills School. 

The lads escaped with minor injuries thankfully, but a rather distinctive mobile phone was taken.

The reader would like to warn others that these muggers are at large, and to appeal for anyone with information to come forward.

The reader said:

Hi

My 15 yr old son and his friend were attacked, robbed and held at knifepoint in Holland Park this evening, Tuesday 2nd October 2018.

It was on the path that runs along the side of the Brownhills school, not far from the school site.

This took place about 5:50pm.

It was a group of three lads approximately 15-16 years old that did the punching and another guy on a bike and a girl that were trying to diffuse the situation.

One of the guys that punched my son pulled a red Swiss Army knife on him and took his phone. My son and his friend ran to get away.

Luckily the lads escaped with bloody faces, no other injuries.

The phone is unusual, it’s a Razer phone which is from America, worth a lot. So if anyone is offered one to buy then please contact the police, who are dealing with this.

Thanks in advance.

If your lad, or one of your friends has a new phone phone he hasn’t the money to buy, please contact the police: It might be you he’s threatening with a knife next. This needs stopping now.

This is the type of phone that was stolen: It’s quite distinctive. Image from Gameworld.

If you have any information, or saw anything, please do contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can, as always, email me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or give me a shout on social media in total confidence and I’ll pass any information on.

Thank you. 

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, It makes me mad!, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Back the Track on Central News this evening

Image courtesy of Jo Yarnall

Just a quick headsup to point out that this evening (Tuesday 2nd October 2018) Brownhills very own Back the Track project will feature on Central News, which starts on ITV at 6pm.

I’ve covered the work of this great bunch of folk before – Brian Stringer and pals started in 2017 to clear out the old railway cutting under the miner island in Brownhills and convert it into a cycling and walking route for all.

Since then, the route has been cleared from the back of the Swan pub to the Smithys Forge, is absolutely beautiful and is a great asset to the community. Central News have been to see what these dedicated volunteers have been up to.

Back the Track is a wonderful project and Brownhills should be very grateful to the volunteers and all who have worked hard to make this dream a reality.

I’ll see if I can record the section and post it here later.

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Lichfield Waterworks Trust October 2018 public meeting this evening

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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 let me know that this coming Monday evening (8th October 2018) there will be the monthly Public Meeting of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group.

The meeting is at the Bowling Green pub, Lichfield from 7:30pm and is of course open to anyone interested.

Dave wrote:

Lichfield Waterworks Trust October News Letter

The next public meeting of Lichfield Waterworks Trust will take place on Monday 8th October 2018 at 7.30pm, in the rear meeting room of:

The Bowling Green
Friary Road
Lichfield
Staffordshire
WS13 6QJ
Tel: 01543 257344

The Bowling Green serves some great food and real ales.

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

Meeting Notes

August meeting Notes are available here 
September meeting Notes are available here
 
Events

Tonight’s talk is by our very own Alan Hill. Alan has been a member of our team for quite some time now and has done some sterling work renovating the Cornish Beam Engine.
 
Alan is a well-known speaker who can talk about a wide range of engineering and industrial heritage subjects. Born in a shipbuilding town, brought up where “coal was king”, and working in a manufacturing city – Alan developed an interest in industrial archaeology and the development of engineering technology particularly coal mining technology – subjects on which he has had four books published to date.
 
Tonight, Alan is going to tell us all about a recent visit to Springhead Pumping Station, a Grade II Listed Building in Kingston upon Hull. Like Sandfields, Spring Head is a water pumping station still containing an unusual Cornish Beam engine, installed at almost the same time as the one at Sandfields. Being somewhat larger than the Sandfields engine, the Springhead engine has many similarities as well as a number of interesting differences, as the following illustrated talk will show.
 
This promises to be a fascinating evening, so please join us, and bring a friend to find out more. 

Health and Safety
 
We are really pleased to report that we have been working for another month where there have been no incidents relating to health and safety. A very big thank you again to everyone for working safely and looking after your fellow volunteers.

Engineering Team Report

The engineering team are continuing to make steady but continual progress. Read more on the link below.
 
Progress notes from the engineering team are available here.
 
Donations

With over 1,300 volunteer working hours, (equates to more than one full time equivalent) and over £6,000 spent in cleaning equipment, materials and scaffold. This month has seen quite a drain on our bank balance with invoices for the viability study and scaffolding landing on the desk. Looking at the engine now, as opposed to how it looked in 2016, the volunteers have made some remarkable progress.
 
We will also always invest in our people and we are planning further training days soon. All these costs soon mount up, so if you can donate, then please visit our donation page here.
 
Any amount is helpful, is well appreciated and will be carefully spent preserving our industrial past for our future generations, developing skills for our people and making our community a better place
 
Please make cheques payable to; Lichfield Waterworks Trust, and send to our address:
 
22 Walsall Road
Lichfield
WS13 8AB
Membership
 
Do we have your correct details? We do our best to get things right, but occasionally something slips of the tray. Please let us know if we have your correct contact details, or you would like any additions or amendments.
 
If you would like to unsubscribe form this mailing list, then just replay to this email with unsubscribe in the subject line.

We would like this opportunity to welcome a few new members.
Thank you for joining the Lichfield Waterworks Trust. We hope you will enjoy your membership and become part of a very exciting heritage project that will benefit the people, the place and the community.
It would really help us if we develop and grow our membership. If you are not already a member and would you like to be a part of one of the region’s most exciting heritage projects then please, join us now by filling in Membership Application Form by going to our membership page here. It is free to join and be a part of this incredibly exciting project.
 
Do we have your correct details? We do our best to get things right, but occasionally something slips of the tray. Please let us know if we have your correct contact details, or you would like any additions or amendments.
 
If you would like to unsubscribe form this mailing list, then just replay to this email with unsubscribe in the subject line.
 
Finally

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

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.

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Phoebe James found safe and well – thank you all

Images posted on social media by the James family

Great news just in – missing teenager Phoebe James from Burntwood has been found safe and well.

Liz James, Phoebe’s mum, posted in the last few minutes:

****update****

By the power of Facebook and Thankyou to you all , the police have got my baby and bringing her home. 

I can’t Thankyou enough.

Thanks to all who helped by sharing and keeping an eye out. This is community at work.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Worcester source of Woodmen’s woes – plus an important announcement

Images and captions kindly supplied by the young David Evans.

A fine autumn Saturday afternoon yesterday (29th September 2018) saw Walsall Wood FC lose to Oak Park visitors Worcester City in an entertaining match that frustrated blog football reporter David Evans…

But first, after the match yesterday, Walsall Wood FC made a very important announcement which I have been asked to post here.

The club said:

Following a number of meetings over the past week, we can now confirm that Manger Gary Birch will be stepping down as First Team Manager with immediate effect and has been appointed Director of Football at Walsall Wood FC.

The following decision has not been taken easily and has been made due to a change in Gary’s personal work commitments. Gary’s new position will be to assist with first team duties and help us develop an improved structure at Youth level for Boys and Girls.

Gary will assist myself, as Chairman, the board members and committee  in continuing the development all aspects of Walsall Wood FC.

This is a very exciting time to be part of Walsall Wood FC and the club are delighted Gary has accepted this role.

FURTHER ANNOUNCEMENT

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Darren Byfield as First Team Manager with immediate effect. Darren brings with him a wealth of experience and connections in the non-league pyramid.

Darren will be assisted by Richard Teesdale (Assistant Manager), Gavin Hurren (First Team Coach) and Jehmiah Richards (Physiotherapist).

We look forward to this new structure off the field and hope you all continue to show your magnificent support as you have always done.

Justin Hodgin
Chairman
Walsall Wood Football Club.

David said:

Walsall Wood 1 v 2 Worcester City

Walsall Wood welcomed Worcester players and their large throng of friendly supporters to Oak Park on a beautifully sunny late autumn afternoon. There was a slight chill in the air but the lack of breeze and the finely manicured real grass playing surface were sure to give both teams the opportunity to delight the supporters today.

And yet, and yet, Walsall Wood were sadly only able to field a team  that was depleted by ongoing unresolved injury and professional commitments elsewhere. How would the team in red fare in these circumstances?

The first half highlighted the differences between a regular side, in this case, that of Worcester, and Walsall Wood’s eleven players, who,  though ably dealing with Worcester’s numerous attacking moves, seemed to lack the final co-ordinated moves in their infrequent attacks on Worcester’s goal.

Fine , solid play in midfield was evident in  both sides throughout this fluid game today. Worcester’s attackers were fleet of foot and worldly-wise. Wood’s defence was resolute and powerful where and when it was required. But there seemed to be a regularity, and predictability about this game, from both sides.

The game needed a firecracker, to set the game alight. For Walsall Wood, especially.

This in itself reflected the tightness and skilful soccer  that was being played out in front of the spectators. In this contest where the visitors had the slight edge in accuracy of passing, Wood gave them space and time to achieve this. Wood, on the other hand, performed better in the leaping for high balls, and delighted the home crowd with some very sweet accurate tackles, seen before in several other matches recently. 
Spectators  were enjoying  the mature nature of this display of fine soccer, but the game needed a goal.

At half time there was still none . Would the tea  and wholemeal cucumber sandwiches with the trainers work their usual magic?

The second half came alight and the two teams seemed to have been supercharged by the brew and crusts. Now we saw much more determination by the visitors who kicked accurately, turned, passed, tackled, ran with gusto. And so did the Wood, who played their hearts out.

The visitors achieved that  important first goal, and then within a few minutes another to give the Wood a mountain to climb. To their credit, the Wood pulled out all the stops, firing on all four cylinders, gained a penalty goal, and so very nearly scored a second goal to earn a score draw. But, not today, and the events of the day did not end with the final whistle, either.

David Evans

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

Walsall Wood Football Club are a top local side and last season’s league champions 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Bells of Brownhills

I get asked some unusual questions here on the blog and I was asked in the last week on Facebook what I knew of the poem The Bells of Brownhills, and what they in fact were; this was actually quite easy for me, as being an avid fan of local historian Sir Gerald of Reece, I recognised immediately his handiwork as featured in his 1996 book, ‘Brownhills: A walk into history’.

Engine Lane was once a pollution-scarred route past mineshaft and spoil heaps: Now it’s a almost a rural idyll. Image from my 365daysofbiking journal.

Since the person that asked didn’t have a copy of the book, I vowed to scan the relevant chapter and post it this weekend, which I’m doing here and now as I have with much of the book. Since the work is now rarer than rocking horse dung, it seems sad not to share what is the finest work on Brownhills with a wider audience where possible.

The Bells of Brownhills is a poetic lament to lads killed in an early Brownhills mining accident, written by Gerald in the absence of any real folk music of our town – but there is so much more in this chapter than that. I’d forgotten what a cracker this is.

As ever, I pay tribute to Gerald for this remarkable work, researched and written in a time before the internet and as ever, packed choc full of facts. If you ever get chance to buy a copy of his book, do so – it’s rare though, and will cost usually several times the original cover price.

Any observations? Comment here, feel free to mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tap my shoulder on social media.

Gerald wrote:

XXIV THE WESTERN BOUNDARY

The bridge over the lost Slough Arm. Image from my 365daysofbiking journal.

The Wilkin Inn dates back into history but not as far as some would have us believe. It is not an old Toll House, from the simple fact that the roads that passed here were never turnpiked. I have to admit that my story of Queen Victoria having a secret meeting there with Adolf Hider was also an exaggeration. She would never have indulged in such ‘Monkey’ business. The Wilkin Inn is mentioned in the census returns for 1871 when the landlady was Lucy Follows, Widow, aged 31 years.

1914 J. Hughes
1926 F. Cook

The Pear Tree cottage existed in 1851 when William Hartshaw was the Beer Retailer there. Allbut’s Road is named after the Allbut family who farmed in the area from the 1760’s.

The Crown Inn, 196 Wading Street.

1880 Edmund & Eliza Broome
1901 Joseph Read
1908 William Thacker
1914 Joseph Harrison
1940 Joseph Pearce

The signpost that stands at the junction of the Old Chester Turnpike Road and the Watling Street Road was erected in 1982. It was made by R. Bridgegroom of Lichfield. It replaced the earlier sign that was removed in 1978 and is now in the Staffordshire County Museum at Shugborough. That Signpost had been restored in 1931 by a Company in Oxford. A series of such signs had stood at or near the present site since 1777 when the first Signpost was erected by the Turnpike Trust.

A turn off the 1900s view of the Watling Street, looking east from Shants Bridge. The chapel on the right in the mist was the Rehoboth, and was demolished to make the modern Rising Sun island. Image from ‘Brownhills: A walk into history’ by Gerald Reece.

The Rising Sun is reputed to be the oldest surviving public house in Brownhills and I have come across nothing to contradict this. It was an old established hostelry in 1800 and a recognised stop on the London-Chester coaching route. It has been rebuilt at least four times during its existence. The customary list of known licensees follows:

1834 John Thacker 1850 Thomas Latham
1854 John Owen 1861 Thomas Yates
1880 Elizabeth Steadman 1888 Richard Chatfield
1892 John Broadhurst 1893 Thomas Marshall
1908 Joseph Tideswell 1919 Samuel Smith
1924 William Lawton 1936 Clifford Perrins
1940 Thomas Perks

1990 Paul Humphries ‘a fair and generous landlord’

It became part of the William Roberts empire in 1880’s. A photograph of the building at the turn of the century can be seen just inside the bar area. In 1985 The Rising Sun was sold to Burton wood Breweries for a reputed £½m. History has a habit of repeating itself, in 1858 licensees were taken to court for serving short measure.

The rising sun in 1892. Image from ‘Brownhills: A walk into history’ by Gerald Reece.

At the Bridge [Known as Shants Bridge – Bob] marking the boundary of Brownhills at the present division between Staffordshire and the West Midlands is a rural staircase leading down to the old Midland Railway Line, now used as a Nature Trail. It was built in the 1980’s, courtesy of the Manpower Services Commission. They utilised the otherwise unemployed, whose ancestors 100 years earlier had been employed repairing County Roads, whose ancestors 100 years earlier had been employed repairing Turnpike Roads, whose ancestors had been employed repairing roads long before the Romans arrived.

The lands on the Staffordshire side of the boundary are the Conduit Lands. They had been bequeathed by generous benefactors to the Feoffees and Sidesmen of Lichfield Conduit Trust. The revenue raised from leasing out the lands paid for the installation and maintenance of the early piped water system in Lichfield. The Conduit Colliery Pits 1, 2 and 3 stood on the ground now occupied by Lew-Ways Limited. The first mining shaft was sunk there in 1865. I worked at Lew-Ways from 1955 until 1958. A decent wage, considering.

The land upon which the Old Norton Branch Bridge stands is the edge of Little Wyrley Common. In 1855 John Robinson McClean had negotiated terms to build the Norton Branch Railway that would join his South Staffordshire Railway at High Bridges to the East Cannock Junction between Cannock and Hednesford. Compensation for the use of the Common Land was set at £61.5s.0d. The payment of this money seems to have been overlooked and it was to be another 25 years before it was finally paid, with interest. Half of the money allocated was spent trying to find out just who was still entitled after all those years. John Craddock of Wolverhampton Lane, Brownhills received 3d.

The major holders of Rights upon Little Wyrley Common in 1884 were:

Elizabeth Hussey 800 Acres
Vicars Choral, Lichfield 155 Acres
Feoffees of Lichfield Conduit 94 Acres
Thomas Knight 42 Acres
Dean & Chapter, Lichfield 42 Acres
Queen Mary’s School, Walsall 58 Acres

The Cathedral Pit stood where the Plant Hire rusts. Crabtree Switchgear occupied the buildings here for many years. The lands once belonged to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Lichfield.

The land at the rear of the Rising Sun Inn was known as House Meadow, later to be called Engine Meadow. It was owned in 1840 by Henry Thomas Lister and was occupied by James Thacker. The area of Brownhills Common was crossed with deep water channels and drained by Steam Driven Pumping Engines. Remains of the water channels can still be identified. Near to Engine Meadow was the Old Coppice Colliery No. 3 Pit. It was reopened briefly in 1956 as a private concern under license from the National Coal Board’s monopoly. It was allowed to operate as long as it did not employ more than thirty underground workers. Several small pits were reopened and operated by George Jones, a local businessman. He was also a member of Brownhills Urban District Council.

The remains of the Branch Railway that served the Little Wyrley Common Pits and the Wyrley Grove Pit can still be traced. The Grove Pit was the site of a terrible disaster on 1st October 1930 when an explosion ripped through the underground workings and fourteen miners were killed. Ten of them were Brownhills men. They were buried with honour in a collective grave in St. James’ New Cemetery.

The worst mining accident in the history of Brownhills was barely mentioned in the National Press. The disaster was eclipsed by the destruction of the Airship R101 in which 46 people were killed.

The site of Coppice Colliery No. 5 and Colliery Brick Works is now a Fishing Pond [Marklews Pond – Bob].

The footings of a building can still be identified on the Common at the junction of Engine Lane and Coppice Lane. This was once the Farmhouse that was rented from the Hussey Estate by George Roberts. It was here that William (Brewer) Roberts spent his youth.

The bridge near the level-crossing in Engine Lane spans a shallow stream. This was the Branch of the Wyrley and Essington Canal that ran from the Slough Basin to near the Rising Sun. A clause included in the Act of Parliament that allowed the building of the main canal in 1794 made provisions for ‘Cuts’ to be built for the use of the Lord of the Manor. Remains of the Canal Lock Gates still hang hidden beneath the undergrowth in this grey place. Coppice Lane was settled in the mid 1800’s. Houses were built here for the Agents from the neighbouring mines. William Hanbury had built ‘The Coppice’ for his Agent and William Harrison agreed to the building of ‘Woodside’ for his. In the 1860’s the ‘Woodside’ Agent was Matthew Webb.

Cross referencing data I came across details that tied in the facts of several events. Extract from the Staffordshire Advertiser dated 3rd January 1863:-

Brownhills Rifle Volunteers. Captain Harrison of Norton Hall, has erected a very handsome monument in Ogley Hay churchyard over the remains of the late Hyla John Webb, second son of Mr. M. Webb, of Brownhills, as a tribute of respect to the memory of a member of his Company who was universally esteemed. The design by Mr. Robinson of Derby is purely Gothic, and has been executed with the greatest taste in blue York stone by Mr. Longmore of Walsall.

The monument still stands in Ogley Hay churchyard and can be seen right rear of the church as you enter from Vicarage Road.

‘Woodside’ grew over the years and became a large imposing residence. Fit indeed for a country squire. It was purchased in the 1880’s by Dr. John Coombe Maddever, Medical Officer to Brownhills Health Board. He renamed the building ‘Coombe House’. After his death the building became the residence of a line of eminent Doctors connected with Brownhills Urban District Council. A notable being Dr. Robert George Bradford M.D., after whom was named Bradford Road.

In 1951 Coombe House was purchased by BUDC for £2,000 and converted into additional office space.

I remember delivering early morning newspapers there in the 1950’s. I would hide my delivery bag in Birch Coppice and time myself on my internal verbal clock whilst sprinting there and back. I then worked, morning and evenings, delivering for Mr. Cyril Tomlinson, Newsagent, 52 High Street. Often, on a Wednesday evening, I would also work next door at No. 50 for Mr. Spinks the butcher. My task was to boil up the meats to make the brawn and to concoct from a secret recipe of herbs, rusk and meats the speciality of the house, sausages. ‘You can’t eat our sausages without bread’ was our motto.

After the amalgamation of Brownhills and Aldridge Councils in 1966 Coombe House fell empty. Anxious to find a use for the building the ‘new council’ leased it to Mr. C. A. Archbold of Leeds. He got a very good deal. Rent free for four years, paying rates only, with an option to purchase if he so wished. He turned ‘Coombe House’ into a Night Club. Members only. I had become a ‘Folk Singer’ by that time and I visited the ‘Night Club’ on many occasions to see the local group ‘Ceilidh’ perform. The ‘Night Club’ never really caught on.

Finding no further use for the building and faced with the burden of squatters and vandals BUDC had ‘Coombe House’ demolished. Sections of the garden wall still stand as a reminder of this once stately home.

As a Folk Singer I did research for ethnic songs of Brownhills but I found nothing of local interest. As most of the original community came from outside the area it was no surprise that renditions concerning the exploits of two German Officers crossing the Rhine and Four and Twenty Lassies from Inverness were high on the repertoire of local balladeers.

Not to be oudone I have composed a traditional Brownhills Folk Song, based upon fact and complete with nasal undertones. I carried it around in my head for twelve years before putting it to paper. In the key of G, I hope you like it.

THE BELLS OF BROWNHILLS

John and James lie neath the clay
their brave young lives they threw away.
They left their homes in Ogley Hay
to work the Bells of Brownhills

How rich the harvest seemed that day
they went to reap their double pay.
They left two widows in their sway
to mourn the bells of Brownhills.

Why did you leave your land so fine
to work in an infernal mine,
why sell your souls for one and nine
to toll the Bells of Brownhills.

A warning then from me take care
brave Ogley lads I pray beware.
Stave venture into journey there
and shun the Bells of Brownhills.

John Cooper and his brother James were killed along with five other miners when the roof of Mr. Harrison’s Brownhills Colliery collapsed in January 1861. The youngest victim was Levi Craddock, aged 11 years.

Birch Coppice escaped most of the devestation that pillaged and mined much of the surrounding lands. In the earlier days of mining Bell Pits had dotted the scenery but these were only superficial scars and left no lasting damage. The Midland Railway’s incursion that disected the area in 1882 also caused little interuption to the tranquil woodlands. The Birch Coppice had existed for centuries on the cloyed heavy soil. In 1935 The Potters Clay Company took a lease on the land. Their initial objective was to remove the surface coal deposits and the underlying clays. The Clays were transported to The Potteries in North Staffordshire where they were made into ceramic tiles and sanitary ware. A district in the Potteries is also known as Brownhills. A promise was made in those early years that the land would be returned to its natural state when the diggings were exhausted. In 1954 the Potters Clay Company sought permission to excavate the Heath and Common as far north as the Wading street. It was refused on the grounds that they had not reclaimed any of the land that they had earlier taken. Local Governments used to do that then. Really the rest is history, Potters Clay were unable to conform to standards. They sought the help of Leigh Environmental Ltd., who were only too willing to help out. They had succeeded in filling the underground workings of Walsall Wood Colliery to make it safe. Leigh have pulled out all stops over the last twenty years in their effort to help fill the gap. They have even called on overseas assistance in their bid. Perhaps it was only fitting that after all the years that Brownhills coals were sent to the comers of the world we received their residue contributions. Leigh Environmental Ltd., have promised that they will comply with regulations and return the land to nature when their task is completed.

The plan below shows the route taken by the Norton Branch of the South Staffordshire Railway when it was opened in 1858. No. 38 is Engine Lane. History has a habit of repeating itself and once again this area has become a hive of industry.

 The plan of the Norton Branch line and who owned the nearby land. Image from ‘Brownhills: A walk into history’ by Gerald Reece.
Key to landowners.  Image from ‘Brownhills: A walk into history’ by Gerald Reece.
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Walsall Wood play Worcester City this afternoon at Oak Park

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 and see some cracking football.

Saturday 29th September 2018

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

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

Janet Foy found safe and well

Great news – Janet Foy has been found safe and well.

Thanks to all who shared and went out looking.

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Emily’s Coffee House and Grill is one year old this weekend – celebrate with free cake!

I’m please to share the news that Emily’s Cafe (formerly the Coffee House and Grill) in High Street, Brownhills is doing really well and celebrating it’s first year in business, during which it has gained a growing number of loyal customers who love Emily’s great food and the lovely atmosphere.

A couple of days ago proprietor Emily Chard contacted me to say that tocelebrate this excellent milestone, and also to thank loyal customers old and new the cafe will be giving free cake with any breakfast or meal purchased on Friday 28th, Saturday 29th or Sunday 30th September 2018.

Emily said:

Hi bob

Just a special thank you to all of our customers for our first year trading, it has been an amazing first year getting to know all of you, so we’re giving away free cake to mark the event this Friday Saturday and Sunday.

We will have traditional birthday cake, old school sponge cake and cupcakes for takeaway orders!

We have a busy Facebook page at Emily’s Cafe here.

Many thanks
Emily, Helen & Gus x

The food and hospitality are wonderful, so do pop in for a brew and chat. Let’s really get behind and support this growing local business.

People frequently moan about Brownhills High Street, but it has some excellent traders running some great, independent businesses, well worthy of your support.

See you there?

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The permissive society

An unusual view of Brownhills Station. Image from Walsall Local History Centre/A Click in Time.

Just as I hoped when I first saw the report, local railway historian and expert Ian Pell has been in touch to add his comments to the matter of the 1873 railway accident I featured the findings of last weekend.

You can see the 1873 report from the Railways Archive here.

I was surprised at the time that signalling systems and control procedures were already so complex, even though the railway was still effectively in it’s infancy; now Ian lights the whole thing up. It’s truly fascinating.

My thanks, as ever to Ian whose knowledge of the subject is huge and yet always takes time out to answer questions and offer a wise owl view on such matters here on the blog.

If you’d like to meet Ian, he has a talk coming up soon in Brownhills – he’ll be giving a talk entitled ‘From Water to Oil’ on Tuesday, 23rd October 2018 at the Scout Hut,  Barnetts Lane,  Brownhills for  the ‘Back the Track’ Group.  18.45 for 19.00 start.

If you have anything to add, please do – comment here is welcome, as is buttonholing me on social media or a good old fashioned email to Brownhillsbob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Ian wrote:

Brownhills Station in 1967 after closure. Image kindly supplied by Chasewater Railway Museum.

Hi Bob

A Question if Visibility

Such incidents were not uncommon on the railways of the 1870s.  At that time the wagons or carriage were unfitted, ie:-  there was no continuous braking system throughout the train, and as such the trains relied on the locomotives brake, the guard’s van’s brake and the skill of the crew in understanding the gradients of the line.  The event was not really due to the system being overloaded but more the signalling system’s limitations.   A similar rear end collision occurred on 4th March 1873 on the Cannock line from Birchills to Bloxwich, where a proceeding goods train slipping on the up hill gradient was rear ended by a passenger train injuring 12 passengers.  Train travel in those days was a lot more exciting!

Tfc23718 15.10.1873 Walsall & Wichnor – various signal alterations to be carried out in connection with the Block Telegraph viz:- Wichnor Junction, Alrewas Station, Lichfield Trent Valley Junction, Lichfield City Station, Lichfield Water Works Siding, Hammerwich Station, Anglesea Sidings, Brownhills, Pelsall and Rushall stations
Off 10559 18.11.1873 Mr.Sutton reported that the Train Telegraph on the permissive system will be put into operation between Walsall and Wichnor Junction on Monday 24th inst
PW15784 19.11.1873 Minutes of Other Committees:-Walsall & Wichnor Block System – Wichnor Junction (not revised), Alrewas Station, Lichfield TV Junction, Lichfield City Station, Lichfield Water Works Siding, Hammerwich Station, Anglesea Sidings, Brownhills, Pelsall, Rushall Station various signalling arrangements to be carried out in connection with the Block Telegraph.
The Block system was adopted throughout the South Staffs line not long after the accident as is seen in the above table of events.  However, some parts of the line were signalled under “Permissive” Block while others “Absolute” Block.  Even in those days it came down to cost and as coal traffic was predominant, simplicity.  Eventually, the whole line was signalled by “Absolute” Block.

Put simply –

Permissive block signalling.  Under the permissive block system, trains were permitted to pass signals indicating the line ahead was occupied, but only at such a speed that they could stop safely driving by sight.  Permissive block working could also be used in an emergency.

Absolute block signalling is designed to ensure safe operation by allowing only one train to occupy a defined section of track (block) at any time.  A train approaching a section is offered by a signalman to his counterpart at the next signal box. If the section is clear, the latter accepts the train, and the first signalman may clear his signals to give permission for the train to enter the section. This communication traditionally takes place by bell codes and status indications transmitted over a simple wire circuit between signalmen using a device called a block instrument, although some contemporary block working is operated wirelessly. This process is repeated for every block section a train passes through.

Below is a copy of the 1899 signalling diagram for Brownhills, when the original signal box was replaced with the new box that was to remain until its closure in January 1967.   Far left is the distant signal in question.  It also shows the down goods loop, adjacent to the goods shed which existed in this form for a number of years.  It was approved for construction on 17thOctober 1873.

A remarkable document: The 1899 signalling plan for Brownhills Station. Image kindly supplied by Ian Pell. Click for a larger version.

I think the signal andkindred is referring to is the Norton Junction distant adjacent to the pony centre off the Pelsall Road – although I could well be wrong.   The distant signal in the report was closer to Brownhills between bridge Nos. 68 Bullows Road and 69 Clayhanger Lane.

This must be the most photographed disused signal ever… Image from my 365days journal.

Hope these ramblings are of some assistance.

Kind regards
Ian

PS.  For anyone who’s interested I’m due to give a presentation entitled “From Water to Oil” on Tuesday, 23rd October at the 2nd Brownhills Scout HQ,  Barnetts Lane,  Brownhills for  the “Back the Track” Group.  18.45 for 19.00 start.

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Lady violently assaulted outside Brownhills Tesco store – did you witness anything?

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Tesco Brownhills where a lady was attacked last Friday

A worrying incident is being reported locally on social media that’s causing me great concern: It appears that on Friday evening, 21st September 2018 outside the Tesco store in Brownhills a local lady was violently assaulted, resulting in the loss of two teeth, and considerable damage to her mouth and jaw.

From the details I have, I can say that at about 8:30pm there was a brief exchange and the lady was punched in the face by a youth, believed to have been using a knuckleduster.

The youth in question was apparently part of a larger group and was mixed race in appearance. 

I have contacted local police about this incident, but disappointingly, I have yet to receive a response, which is quite troubling.

If you have any information about this incident or the gang of lads involved, please contact West Midlands Police on 101 – or online here. You can also contact me in total confidence by emailing me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or through the usual social media channels.

Should I hear from the police further on this matter, I’ll share anything I’m able to here. In the mean time, please be vigilant and report anything you may recall, no matter how minor you think it may be.

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Two sugars please: join the Macmillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning this Saturday in Brownhills!

MacMillan are a hugely important charity to me.

John Fogarty from Brownhills Community Association has been in touch to point out they have an event planned this Saturday 29th September 2018 as part of the Macmillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning campaign.

Their Coffee Morning will take place at Brownhills Community Centre just off the miner island, Brownhills from 10:00am until 1:00pm Saturday 29th September 2018. The function will feature tea, coffee, refreshments, games, entertainments and great company, as you’d expect from a Community Association event.

MacMillan are a charity I personally care a lot about: They are hugely important to those suffering with cancer and they do astoundingly wonderful work.

Best of luck to all involved, and please do drop me a line to let me know how you all got on.

A great charity with fantastic people.
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Some mothers did have them – parties, that is…

Brownhills Mothers Union members at their Christmas party in the 1950s. Image kindly supplied by Elizabeth Staples. Click for a larger version.

A little bit of really interesting history passed me by some years ago and popped up again this week from Facebook Memories – this image posted on a local group by the lovely Elisabeth Staples, who I believe is the mother of Mark, who worked on the wonderful Brownhills Memories book featured here previously.

The image is of the Brownhills Mothers Union Christmas party in the 1950s.

Elizabeth said:

Here is a photo of St James Mothers Union Christmas party. I think in the 1950s.

A second photo was contributed by Jane Dyke of the same organisation, which seems to be about the same time. I’m fairly sure the upper photo is in St James Church Hall, due to the curved ceiling, but where is the second? Possibly the Memorial Hall?

I must confess, I don’t think I had any idea that this club/union existed. This is quite a find. What do we know? I’m thinking that Mrs. Parsley must have been involved at some point, surely?

I have some names for ladies in these images, but I thought I’d leave them open for readers to see what they have to offer. Please do comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or prod me on social media.

Thanks to Elizabeth and Jane for lovely pictures and I’m sorry I missed them in 2014!

 Same Mothers Union, similar time I think, different event – and I’d like to know where. Image kindly supplied by Jane Dyke. Click for a larger version.
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Woodmen fight Coventry United for a well-earned win

Images and captions kindly supplied by David Evans

Walsall Wood FC were at home to Coventry United yesterday afternoon (Saturday, 22nd September 2018, and much to the delight of the faithful, they Woodmen pulled off a hard-fought win.

Footage of the match highlights by Russell Smith for the wonderful, highly professional The-Wood.tv – similar footage of Tuesday’s Uttoxeter replay can be seen at this link here.

David Evans was there, and was pleased with what he saw:

Hiya Bob,

Walsall Wood 1 v 0 Coventry United

This afternoon’s soccer match brought a visually delightful display of soccer to thrill all those spectators who had braved the rain to watch this game. Some has travelled from Coventry and were  made welcome by the home supporters, as is the tradition here and at other grounds.

The heavy drizzle which lasted all through the match did not dampen the spirits of either the earnest players, their unruffled managers, or  even  the keen  spectators. 

This was going to be a display of fine, quality soccer. I could sense this before the kick off. It was indeed a contest which showed  mature, graceful play – through passes, ball control, measured off the ball running, determined leaping for balls; all reflecting two proficient sides whose team understanding and cohesion was self-evident.

Walsall Wood fielded some different players today following the wear and tear and injuries sustained in the last week or so, thus giving a fresh look to the team, and the opportunity to employ fresh tactics from the repertoire.

The score remained at no goals to either side as half time brought a welcome break for players and spectators. Tea and cucumber sandwiches for the players and their managers, in private.

Both sides displayed different patterns of play in the second half; made various substitutions to bring a new balance to their sides’ composition. The centre field players dominance and key roles remained as they had been in the first half. Solid, strong, powerful. Delightful to spectate. Both goalkeepers  played majestically and brilliantly. 

The hard work paid off when an eventual breakthrough goal came for Walsall Wood, and immediately Coventry responded in force, which brought greater endeavour too by the home side who launched attack after attack; with excellent defensive play by the visitors and home side.

As is always the case, the last minutes of a match can either zoom by or take an eternity to complete.  But this entire game today passed quickly for the spectators: a sure reflection of the captivating nature of the finely-balanced  contest.

The game ended with Walsall Wood winning by one goal to nil. But, there were no losers. Not today. This afternoon it was football, the sport and the players in both teams,  who were also the winners, as the applause that rang out at the end of the game bore witness.

Full respect for the players today.

David Evans

Thanks to David Evans once more for an honest, entertaining match report as ever complete with great photos. It really is an honour to feature them.

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

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Top Tipton

William Perry, legendary pugilist and son of Tipton rages at the rain clouds – but the hardy were undaunted

Despite the bad weather yesterday (Saturday, 22nd September 2018) I took the afternoon out to support a great event in the industrial heart of the Black Country – and it’s also on this afternoon (Sunday 23rd) – so if you fancy a trip out get to the Tipton Canal and Community Festival, it’s only a short journey away.

A wonderful thing. Click for a larger version

This remarkable canal festival held along the canal and in the park near the Owen Road island in Tipton is packed with boats, stalls, food, entertainment and all manner of historic memories and fun for all the family. You can have a pint in the Fountain, enjoy a kangaroo burger as I did, dine on the finest Black Country scratchings, see and buy all manner of canal and local history ephemera. There’s live music, comedy, chat and crafts – you can even take a boat tide.

It really is a boster. I got absolutely soaked and the rain was atrocious – but it was all the better for that British ‘Dunkirk spirit’ – I commend this fine event to you all. 

You can find out more at this link here or see the poster in the text. It’s really a wonderful thing, and confirms my belief that Tipton really is a wonderful place.

I’d like to add a belated note of thanks to The Stymaster who pointed this festival out to me earlier in the week as I’d totally forgotten about it. Cheers mate.