Information required – can you help?

I’m interested in pursuing a few stories for the blog. I’m attempting to research them, but I’m hitting brick walls, and wonder if you, the readers, can help at all? If you can, comment on this post or mail BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. You will, of course, be credited for any information you provide, as well as developing the warm and rosy glow that only comes from the preservation of obscure local history!

If the Edditer from The Bloxidge Tallygraph is reading this, please throw me a bone if you know anything. I suspect you know a fair bit about these things…

  • On maps of Brownhills of the late Victorian era (say, c1880 to c1925) there is a building on Barracks Lane marked as ‘Isolation Hospital Brownhills U.D.C.’. I suspect the building is actually now (or was on the site of) the white house just past the brow of the hill. Do you know more about it? Search engines have drawn a blank. Anyone have a name or partial history with which to go archive dredging?
  • On Coppice Lane (perhaps Engine Lane) there were two houses; one named ‘Coombe House’ the other ‘The Coppice’ which were enclosed by Birch Coppice. By the time I was old enough to understand much about them they were long gone. Someone told me that the ruins we wandered through as kids were the remains of the garden of Coombe House – we used to call it ‘Doctor Bradford’s Garden’ and were under the impression that the Hussey Estate had roads named after the local doctors who practised from Coombe House <mumble> years before (Wallace? Albion?). Is this true, partially true or total cobblers? Google has given me nothing except a Paranormal Investigation team and their uniformative mention of the site.
  • Does anyone have a picture of the gardens – complete with railings – that used to exist in the centre of the Hussey Estate?
  • Staying on Coppice Lane, the old Chapel on the corner, now dwellings. I seem to remember a preacher there – Mr. Smith I think – in the mid 70’s. Who was he, what’s the story of the Chapel (what was its name?) and what denomination was it?
  • There are tales told of a streaker running down Brownhills High Street at the height of the 1970’s streaking craze. I have heard he was a driver for Taylor’s Transport and did it for a bet. Did the incident occur, if so, when? Just who was our nekkid freind and can he be contacted? I can’t delve the newspaper archives without a date to go on…
  • Was there really once a gents hairdresser operating from a shed/cabin behind Marie James’ fish shop?
  • Also in the 70’s, a freight train carrying some kind of munitions or explosives is said to have derailed between Pelsall Road and High Bridges. The incident was apparently quite serious. Did it happen? When? What’s the full story?
  • Daisies Field used to be the wasteland beyond the cemetery at the end of Barnets Lane. Who was Diasy?

If you can help, you’d be assured a place in heaven. Thanks.

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17 Responses to Information required – can you help?

  1. Pedro says:


    Probably not the right place to mention this, but I am uploading some pictures from a walk around Chasewater on Panoramio.

    As you describe life in the northern wastes of Walsall, you may be interested in this mention…

    Charles G. Harper writes in his book The Holyhead Road ( published in 1902) a vivid description of the area immediately south of Norton Pool:

    We have reached that abomination of desolation called Brownhills. Words are ineffectually employed to describe the hateful, blighted scene, but imagine a wide and dreary stretch of common land surrounded by the scattered, dirty and decrepit cottages of the semi-savage population of nail makers and pitmen, with here and there a school, a woe-begone chapel, a tin tabernacle, and a plentiful sprinkling of public houses. Further imagine the grass of this wide spreading common to be as brown, and innutritious as it is possible for grass to be, and with an extra-ordinary wealth of scrap iron, tin clippings, broken glass, and brick-bats deposited over every square yard, and all around it the ghastly refuse heaps of long abandoned mines. Finally clap a railway embankment and station midway across the common and there you have a dim adumbration of what Brownhills is like.

    Regards Pedro

    • Hi Pedro
      No, that’s a fine quote which I’d forgotten about… I saw it first in the Chasewater Wildlife Group’s history of Chasewater, and have loved it ever since; the use of language is so grindingly repulsive that the writer comes across as a total snob. Of course, he was very probably right, but then, that description would probably equally pertain to any industrial area in the Black Country and probably countrywide during that period. I like the idea of woe-begone chapels and the snivelling reference to tin tabernacles – a vital part of British community history.
      Nice find, thanks for you comments

  2. Hi Bob, I don’t know a great deal of info for you, but hopefully a couple of (even!) older friends will be able to help, so I’ll be in touch again in a few days.
    There was indeed a Barber’s shop in a cabin, but Marie James’ was a Fruit & Veg. shop. The fish shop was Salt’s.
    The barber was well-known as ‘Tom Brown the Black’ you couldn’t call him that these days!!
    The house next door to Coombe House was Holland House, not Coppice, I’m told. Coombe House opened as a night club for a short time around 1970 known as the Pennycliff Club – I can’t recall the owners’ names………?
    I’ll be in touch,
    Chasewater stuff.

    • Hi Chasewater stuff…
      Thanks for your contribution – this is exactly the kind of information I’m after. I’m not old enough to remember most of this stuff and so I was told second hand… and you know how unreliable oral history can be.
      I realise I’m wrong about the fish shop but did not Marie James have some connection with it toward the end? I seem to recall a shop in the same row run by a woman called Doreen who sold groceries.
      Tom Brown! You’ve put a name to the chap! My dad used to get his hair cut there, before ending up a Gordon Roberts. Is it true that Tom was married to the lady who owned the ladies hairdressers on the High Street?
      On a 1901 map – I’m going to blog this when I can – the house was labelled ‘The Coppice’, but on such maps that doesn’t mean much. The information about the house being a club for a while struck a note with a relative. I didn’t realise that it survived so late.
      Thank you for your help, we need to preserve this stuff and I hope that the Brownhills Blog can become, in some small way, can be part of that.
      Best Wishes

  3. The Edditer says:

    Hi Bob, It’s not really my area (although my later father was born on Vigo Road in Walsall Wood!) but I’ll see if there’s anything I can find on the older items.

    As to streakers and other local happenings, you’d have to ask Brownhills folk about that I’d guess!

    – The Edditer

  4. The Edditer says:


    This is what I was able to find:

    Isolation Hospital – if it’s on the first edition Ordnance Survey (about 1886) it was probably a smallpox and consumption (tuberculosis) hospital.

    Coombe House, Coppice Lane was the practice of Dr. Robert George Bradford (after whom Bradford Rd on the Hussey Estate was named in the early 50s). He was the Medical Officer of Health for Brownhills Urban District Council and a local GP for 38 years.

    Hussey Estate/Road: named after the Hussey family of Wyrley Hall, local 17th century and later landowners and most notably Phineas Fowke Hussey. Bradford Rd see above. Wallace Rd after the Wallace family who owned Wyrley Hall after the Husseys died out. Birch Ave (late 1930s)probably after Cllr E. Birch who was on the housing committee in the 1920s-30s. Albion Rd after the Brownhills Albion football club, who used to play on the Hussey Field before the estate was built in 1939.

    The chapel in Coppice Lane was Coppice Side Independent Congregational Chapel, the earliest records are baptisms of 1853 onwards. Don’t have anything on Mr. Smith.

    Hope this helps.

    – The Edditer

    • Hi Edditer
      Thanks for your help, I knew you’d pick up the challenge for me. The information you’ve found is excellent, and I owe you a beer. Now I’v got something to bother the History Centre with…
      Best Wishes

  5. Hi Bob,
    Glad I was able to help a little, I think you may have had a couple of messages from friends of mine with more info, one who was a relation of Tom’s wife!
    The theory now goes that Marie James used to sell wet fish and Salt’s was a fish & chip shop – much in the same way as my grandparents did – Tisdale’s for wet fish (frying only Friday night and Saturday lunchtime) and Daft’s for fish & chips. Both shops were located on the High Street on the opposite side to Marie James, in between Church Hill and Brickiln Street (posh spelling, if you see what I mean!).
    Keep up the good work – we’ve had a lot of fun trying to remember Brownhills of other times.
    John. Chasewater stuff.

  6. Adrian Willett says:

    Hi Bob
    Sent a comment yesterday not sure if it worked ,so trying again.We live in Barracks Lane in the property that we believe was the former Isolation Hospital ,we have deeds dating back to when the Local Brownhills Board owned the site ,this later became Brownhills UDC,they then sold it in 1935.Like you we have found very little info on its working life. Regards Adrian.

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  8. g.birch. says:

    Hi just seen your notice about info on Brownhills Albion. My grandfather played for them in 1899-1900 as did his brothers. He and one of his brothers went on to play for West Brom and Man City. My great grandmother used to make the sandwiches for them when they played on Hussey Fields. They are of course the Dorsett’s. George being my grandfather. They lived in a shop on the high street which is now the H.S. B. C bank. Also the undertakers were inthe family they were the Woodhouses. If you have any early information on Brownhills Albion please let me know.
    Regards G Birch.

    • pedro says:

      From memory I seem to recall mentions of the team in the archives, i will have another look.

      Regards Pedro

    • pedro says:

      There are numerous mentions of brownhills Albion from 1899 to past 1914. Many just give the score, but here is a few…

      1899 BA v Hendsford Swifts…2-1
      1900 BA v Darlaston…1-3…Orme scored for BA
      1900 BA v Bloxwich Strollers…0-4
      1900 BA v Willenhall Pickwick…3-2…Dorsett scored from a fine centre by Heeley, Heeley scored the second.

      All the best Pedro

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  10. gabriel says:

    The house is well-connected with medical men, and may have taken its name from one of them. Until January 1911 Coombe House was the home of Dr. John Coombe Maddever. A brief note in The Times (Tuesday, Jan 10, 1911) says:

    “Dr. John Coombe Maddever of Coombe House, Brownhills, Walsall, Staffordshire, who had driven into Lichfield yesterday on his jaunting-car on professional business, was returning home when he suddenly fell from the car. His groom conveyed him to a nursing home, where it was found that life was extinct. Dr. Maddever, who was in his 62nd year, was educated at Glasgow University, where he passed his M.B. and C.M. examinations in 1872, taking his M.D. degree two years later. He was medical officer for the Brownhills district, and senior surgeon at Hammerwich Hospital and to the Old and New Brownhills and other collieries.”

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  12. ann hawkins says:

    my name is ann hawkins and my father worked with doctor bradford …chauffeur, gardener, friend…i was after pictures of coombe house but came across this page….i have no pictures and would love to see some……the chapel on the corner was just called the methodist church as far as i know and i went to this chapel for quite a while and yes mr smith was the leader, i was young and dont know anymore..the hairdressers you are on about was tommy browns but his wife used to do my mothers hair…hope you get this……regards…..

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