An unusually clear view


I have never, ever seen this image before – utterly remarkable. I’d say taken from what would have been fields where Shire Oak School is now. Image courtesy of Dorothy Ruddock, via David Evans.

A couple of postcard images send to me yesterday by the young David Evans that I feel I had to share immediately – they come from the fascinating collection of Dorothy Ruddock, and I think they’re amazing.

Both have been scanned by David, and I think he’s done an excellent job.

The upper one is a truly remarkable image I’ve never seen before – Brownhills as viewed from a rural Shire Oak Hil, possibly from the brewery. Last century for sure, as the gasworks can be seen; St. James is clearly visible on the high ground of Ogley Hay, and the row of houses down the High Street. The modern incarnation of the Warreners Arms does not appear to have been built, so I’d guess this to be about 1900-1910.

The second is a familiar image, but never seen with such detail. Very probably a carnival or  Royal occasion, it shows a parade with brass band marching up the High Street past the Warreners Arms, the photo believed to be taken from an upper window of the pub. Note the advert for Dewars White Label. What was Robin? What was the store the adverts are on the side of?

This would be where the new houses in Lindon Drive are now, with the metal artworks on the wall.

If you can help date this cards, or have any observations, don’t hesitate – comment here please, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.


A parade in Brownhills – a familiar image, but never with such clarity before. It’s of a parade in the High Street, believed to be taken from an upper window of the Warreners. Image kindly shared by Dorothy Rudduck via David Evans.

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A Walsall Wood Gentleman and Victorian Serviceman


Charles Henry Ruddock: a Victorian serviceman and Walsall Wood hero of note. Image supplied by David Evans, from the Riuddock family archive.

The young David Evans has been hard at work lately gathering together and compiling articles about the Ruddock Family and The Cape, in Walsall Wood following the wonderful material that recently came to light, so kindly donated by Julie Whitehouse [Apologies for the earlier editing mistake – Bob] and Dorothy Ruddock.

There follows the first instalment of the military history of Charles Henry Ruddock, a remarkable serviceman, and apparently something of a local hero.

A good starting point on the subject is the post here last week regarding the Cape by Janet Davies Warallo followed by the post about Dulce Domum and the Ruddock family photos.

The Ruddocks have generously opened their family archive to share with us here on the blog, and there follow some remarkable items of local history, ranging from the military honour of Charles Ruddock to local postcards I’ve never seen before.

My thanks to Dorothy, Julie and David – if you have anything to add, please do: comment here or mail me, please – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.


The discharge paper of Charles Henry Ruddock. Image supplied by David Evans.

This brief military record – a discharge paper – gives little detailed information about Charles Ruddock’s amazing army career. Other military records, together with notes written by Charles’ son Robert many years later, give us a look back in to the amazing life and duty of this long-serving career soldier, and I am very grateful to the Ruddock family for allowing their notes to be used in this article.

Charles Henry Ruddock died in 1959, living his final years in Occupation Road, near the area formerly known as The Cape, in Walsall Wood.

He enlisted in to the Second Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment at Whittingon Barracks on 15 October 1890, at the age of 18 years 4 months.

The family notes read that he saw service with the Second Battalion at Malta, Gibraltar and Egypt and after his return to Whittington, the South Staffs re-embarked for the Boer War. One note reads that his wife, who at the time was at home and living in Ogley Square, Brownhills, ‘posted a Christmas pudding to him while he was fighting in the Boer War’ and the notes further read… ‘He was one of the Ragged 100 which relieved Ladysmith.’

In 1902 he returned to Whittington Barracks and was posted to York Castle and became Sergeant Warder at York prison.


Full dress parade of the South Staffs Regiment at Whittington Barracks, believed to be circa.1892. Image supplied by David Evans.

He was later posted to Fort George where ‘he had the honour of guarding Her Majesty Queen Alexandra’s room when she stayed there’. He was later posted to Guernsey. ‘It was while he was at Guernsey that a ship went down in the Channel with great loss of life. Charles volunteered to go in a boat from the Garrison fort to help rescue, even though he was a poor swimmer.’

‘Charles was awarded Long Service and Good Conduct medals for his service from 1890 to 1910 and was personally commended by Queen Victoria for a flawless exhibition of gymnastics by his battalion. He was senior gym instructor for a number of years. He was one of the first men in the Midlands to ride a ball-bearing bicycle [What the devil is that? – Bob] and would often cycle from where he was stationed to compete at Lichfield Sports where he won numerous awards

‘In 1907 together with five other sergeants started a boys’ club for soldiers’ sons. This was a predecessor to the scout movement, and when Baden Powell held his first scout camp at Brownsea Island, twelve months later, Mr Ruddock’s son Robert was one of the scouts who went’ (source, local newspaper obituary 1959).


Valetta military harbour, Malta. Image supplied by David Evans.

‘Charles was presented with a silver rose bowl and watch by his fellow Sergeants in 1911 when he left the regular army with the rank of Staff Sergeant, but in 1912 he enlisted in to the local Battalion of the South Staffs Territorial Army, and also gained a position as clerk in one of the Harrison coalmines in Brownhills.

‘Attending the annual summer training camp that year at Aberystwyth, Charles formed the Tug of War team which won prizes at Olympia, and in 1912 he trained the men at the Drill Hall in Norton Canes and took them to Olympia for the national championships. In 1913 he went to the training camp with the Territorials at Caernarvon, and the Tug of War team later took part in the contest at Olympia. In 1914 he went with the territorials to the training camp at St Asaph and it was while they were at camp that the 1914-1918 war broke out’

‘They were marched from St Asaph to Wychnor Park (near Lichfield) and entrained for Luton.’

And so the second chapter of Charles’ long military career was to unfold…


Military records, Ruddock family notes, local press articles and obituary, interviews with Charles’ granddaughter, Dorothy Ruddock.

David Evans
September 2016

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Stuck in a rut – dog walkers and ramblers beware!

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.

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  last year, 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.


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.


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.

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Walsall Wood scrape to victory over Pegasus Juniors

Photos and captions kindly supplied by David Evans

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday 24h September 2016) Walsall Wood FC entertained Hereford team Pegasus Juniors at Oak Park – and again, the lads from the Wood started badly but pulled it out of the bag in the second half to snatch victory.

Bill Shaw was  there to catch the action and sent the following report:

Hiya Bob,

Wood really struggled for 70 minutes before taking almost complete charge in the last 20 minutes. Even so it took an 85th minute goal from Drew Aiton to put them ahead and a very late own goal sealed it.

Wood lost Louis Harris after just 16 minutes to injury and it took time for them to settle afterwards, but they eventually came through to go into Monday’s first round draw. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win.

It’s another mid-week rest for Wood who travel to Rocester next Saturday.

F.A. Vase Second Qualifying Round
Walsall Wood 2 v 0 Pegasus Juniors

It’s Wood who went through to the first round proper on October 22nd.  After two really entertaining games against Westfields and Alvechurch this really left a lot to be desired as both sides struggled to break down resolute defences.

On 12 minutes Carlos Moreira ran through the centre of the Wood defence, his shot from the edge of the box partially blocked and keeper Andy Hughes had an easy save to make.

Wood’s first chance came three minutes later, Harry Harris won the ball on halfway and fed Karl Edwards, he ran on and his low drive was easily saved.  Next it was Nick Wright onto a ball on the right of the six yard box, keeper Nathan Phillips with a brave block.

A minute later a ball over the top, right of centre saw Hughes race from his line to kick clear from Tom Boyle.

On 22 minutes a superb ball over the top of the away defence by Harris was collected at pace right of the box by Drew Aiton, his low cross was pushed away by the keeper and partially cleared to Sam Williams whose 20 yard first time effort was charged down.  On 30 minutes Harris released Luke Adams wide right, his first time cross fired wide by Wright.  A minute later a well worked left wing free kick saw Lewis Taylor Boyce deliver a cross into the box, a bout of head tennis ensued, the ball finally cleared off the line. Two minutes later Harris ran at Juniors defence through the middle, played a clever one-two with Adams then hit a rising drive over the far angle. On 42 minutes an attempted Wood clearance held up in the swirling wind, Sam Oxley collecting the loose ball before firing in a first time low drive that was saved at the second attempt by Hughes.

A minute into the second half Harris fired in an effort from 30 yards that bounced away off the bar, with the keeper beaten.  Then it was Aiton racing in along the right byeline, his low cross taken by Phillips at the feet of Wright at the face of the near post.

On 61 minutes a Wood back pass put keeper Hughes in trouble, he took the ball away from Boyle, his clearance ricocheting off Oxley and the wrong side of the post for Juniors.

Wood got their act together in the last 20 minutes with Aiton on 70 minutes firing a right wing cross shot to bring a full length save from Phillips.  Three minutes late Aiton cut in from wide right, laying the ball into the path of Harris, his low drive cleared off the line by Jack Lewis.  Then on 85 minutes Adams ran at the defence right of centre, his superb crossfield ball was collected at pace by Aiton left of the box, he took one touch before burying the ball in the far corner. Three minutes later Harris combined with Aiton on a short right wing corner, his near post drive well held by Phillips.  Right on 90 minutes Harris raced onto a ball right of centre, his cross beyond the far post fired in first time by Wright.  Phillips pushed the ball onto the bar, the ball bouncing down and off Lewis before rolling over his own line.

Wood struggled to see off the West Midland Premier side, but it was Drew Aiton scoring for the fifth game in a row who broke the deadlock, before the late own goal made the game safe.

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but it’s Wood who progressed to the first round proper.

Bill Shaw

The Teams:

Walsall Wood – Hughes, Adams, Haines, Boothe, Birch, L. Harris Wright, H. Harris (captain), Edwards, Aiton, Taylor Boyce, Deakin, Hayles, Huckfield, Williams, Taylor.

Pegasus Juniors – Phillips, Lewis, Richmond, Panniers, Price (captain

), Segust, Clarke, Griffiths, Boyle, Moreira, Oxley, Bendall, Gwynne, Horton, Robbins.

Walsall Wood are a good team and an excellent, community-spirited club. They need and deserve our support.

As ever, thanks to Bill and David for the report – always appreciated – for The Good of the Wood!

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What’s the storey?

1st Shenstone Scout troop on Sunday Parade, 1962, showing a Shenstone Station before some features were removed. Picture kindly supplied by Steve Hickman.

Here’s a quick one that’s piqued my intent and left me pondering, so I thought I’d share it – friend of New Hall Mill Alan Dawson has asked a really excellent question about my frequent 365daysofbiking muse, Shenstone Railway Station.

Alan asked:

Hi Bob,

Seeing the photo of Shenstone railway station in 365 days of biking, I was wondering if any of the railway fraternity would know the purpose of the upstairs rooms?

Was it all accommodation? How many people would be employed at typical village stations and did they live on site?


That’s a very, very good question. So I started looking at other stations, and Alan’s right, The upper storey is a bit unusual. Lichfield City does have one, as you’d expect, but I can’t think of another locally. So what was the upper storey for?

There are no clues in Steve Hickman’s wonderful 1963 image, above. For the story behind that, see this post.

I believe at Shenstone it’s now rented out; for a while it was the offices of a concrete restoration company. I always thought it would be a great place to have an office.

Cheers to Alan for an interesting discussion point, and also for the very kind mail he sent me regarding publicity for the events at New Hall Mill – advertising on the blog does appear to work, and I’m glad the Mill seems to be benefiting. Alan, if you’d like any help with the Friends Group’s social media, I’d be happy to advise.

If you can answer Alan’s question, or just have a view, I’d be glad to hear it. Please do comment or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.


Shenstone sadly had it’s chimney truncated and lost it’s glass canopy but is still beautiful, as I’ve noted on many occasions.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Panoramio photo discussions, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Brownhills School warns parents to be vigilant following reports of children being approached locally


There’s been a couple of incidents reported on the A5 corridor through Brownhills. Imagery from Google Maps.

I’ve been informed that parents of pupils at Brownhills School were send a message on Friday afternoon last (23rd September 2016) informing them that there had been suspicious incidents near the convenience store in Howdles Lane shopping precinct, just on the A5 opposite Holland Park, and also at the store in Brownhills West.

This follows the continuing police investigation into an indecent exposure incident a couple of weeks ago.

Reader Diane posted the following message on Facebook:

Message from Brownhills School: We have been alerted that a man in his late 60s driving a silver VW Passat has approached children outside McColls shops at Brownhills West and Howdles Lane. Please inform your child to be vigilent.

If you have any information related to this incident call West Midlands Police on 101 or 0345 113 5000, or you may also speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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Get your music fix at the Chase Inn tonight…


The Fazys make their first appearance at the Chase Inn tonight.

The live music and good times at Chase Inn at Newtown, Brownhills continues – and this week there’s excellent live music this evening, Saturday 24th September 2016 from brilliant rock band The Fazys, making their debut appearance at the pub, starting 8pm.

The Chase said:

The Fazys make their debut at the Chase this Saturday, playing songs from the likes of Stereophonics, Snow Patrol, Oasis and Nickleback plus loads more. The bar is open til 1am, hope to see lots of you there to support this local band. see you tomorrow! team chase

Why not get down there? You’re guaranteed a great night…

For the satnav folk, the address is: 6 Watling Street, Newtown, Brownhills WS8 6JS

You can contact the pub on: 01543 899568 or visit their Facebook page.


More great live entertainment at The Chase!

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