Local history stuff: this much we know

Here we go, then. Following my previous questions about matters of recent history, I had some great contributions. Thanks for your patience while I sorted bits and pieces out for this. From contributors to the blog (both in comments and email – keep ’em coming) we have established the following.

  • There was indeed a gents hairdresser operating from a shed or cabin in the yard at the back of Marie James’ shop. His name was Tommy Brown, he was of Afro-Caribbean origin and was affectionately known as ‘Tommy the black’ [Chasewaterstuff, Godfrey Oakparkrunner, Lynn B]. He was married to May Brown, who kept a ladies hairdressing salon on the High Street in front of the shed her husband operated from. They lived opposite the old library in Brickiln Street [Godfrey Oakparkrunner].
  • The former chapel on the corner of Coppice Side was the Coppice Side Independent Congregational Chapel, with baptisms recorded from 1853 onwards [The Edditer, Godfrey Oakparkrunner, Lynne B]. The schoolroom (which I remember in about 1976 still with a pot-bellied stove) was built first, and was the first day school in the area [Lynn B]. The preacher I remember was Jack Smith, former mine gaffer and lay preacher, who lived in a bungalow on the Pelsall Road by Taylor’s Cafe [Lynn, Godfrey Oakparkrunner]. Sometimes, Jack would preach at the Methodist Chapel in Clayhanger [Godfrey Oakparkrunner].
  • Godfrey Oakparkrunner was not the streaker. But we only have his word for that, and I’m not so sure.
  • Thanks to Lynn B we now know that a freight train carrying explosive cargo of some kind did indeed derail on the line along the Pelsall Road near to Taylor’s Cafe. It was in the early 1970’s, and local residents were called to a meeting in readiness for an evacuation that thankfully, didn’t occur. I’m currently making enquiries with the Railway Archive and assorted rail bods to see what I can find – if I can get a date, I’ll trawl for a newspaper article, and hopefully post it here.
  • Coombe House – got some really interesting stuff here. Coombe House was the home and practice of Doctor Robert George Bradford, a notable medical practitioner with links to Brownhills Urban District Council, for whom he was the Medical Officer for Health. He was a local GP for some 38 years, and the Bradford Road is named after him [The Edditer, Chasewaterstuff, Godfrey Oakparkrunner]. Albion Road, in contrast, was named after the football team that used to play on the fields the Hussey Estate was built on in 1939, and not a fellow doctor [The Edditer, Lynn B]. Birch Avenue was most likely named after a prominent local councillor E. Birch who was on the housing committee in the period before the estate’s construction [The Edditer]. Hussey Road (and one supposes, the pub) were named after a prominent local family, The Husseys of Wyrley Hall, who were landowners in the area from the 17th century; likewise Wallace Road after their successors the Wallace family whose possession the hall came into after their passing [The Edditer, Lynn B]. There’s a character called McPherson in the mix somewhere, too, but I need to do some research on that one [Lynn B]. Coombe house was used by Brownhills UDC as extra office space, most notably by the Engineers and Surveyors Department [Godfrey Oakparkrunner]. The house was at some point (circa 1970?) prior to demolition, converted into a night club called the Pennycliff Club. [Godfrey Oakparkrunner]

I’ve been pointed at a book located by [Howmuch] -‘Brownhills –  A Walk Into History With Gerald Reece’ by Gerald Reece,  ISBN 0 946652 42 2, which details the following about Coombe House…

Woodside was the original name for the house built at the behest of William Harrison for his Mine Agent, who in the 1860’s was a Matthew Webb. In the 1880’s, Woodside was purchased by the then Medical Officer to the Brownhills Health Board, Dr. John Coombe Maddever. Modestly, he renamed the house Coombe House; upon his passing it became the residence for a line of doctors connected with Brownhills UDC, one of whom was Doctor Bradford.

Fragment of 1901 OS map showing Coombe House and The Coppice, also the chapel and Central School, pre Hussey Estate.
Fragment of 1901 OS map showing Coombe House and The Coppice, also the chapel and Central School, pre Hussey Estate.

Coombe House was purchased in 1951 by Brownhills UDC for £2000 whereupon it was used by the Engineers and Surveyors. After the merger with Aldridge UDC in 1966, it was vacated, later to be tenanted in a special deal for four years rent free by a Mr. C. A. Archbold from Leeds(!), who converted it into a memebers only night club, apparently with little success. A folk band called Ceilidh used to play there regularly. As remembered by [Godfrey Oakparkrunner], the club was called the Pennycliff club.

After the night club died, the building was empty and vandalised, and was demolished, leaving the remains I remember so well. I  must go and see if they’re still there.

Of interest to [Chasewaterstuff] and [Godfrey Oakparkrunner], there was a house built next door to Coombe House for the Mine Agent of William Hanbury, called The Coppice. The fate of this dwelling is not recorded – it may well have become Holland House.

So, all that having been recorded, lets ask some more questions for your debate and puzzlement, and please contact me if you have any you’d like me to ask here for other readers.

  • I’m still looking for that bloody streaker. I’ve found one in 1974 – a pupil at St. Mary’s school streaked through an assembly for a £5 sponsorship unbeknown to his teachers, who subsequently removed his – erm – privileges. He is recorded by the paper at the time as ‘…Walsall’s first streaker.’. Getting closer…
  • [Howmuch] wonders if anyone remembers any Brownhills dramas? Unexploded bombs? Fires? Anything unusual?
  • Can anyone recall a man barricading himself into his house opposite the Salvation Army? What was that all about? Was he the man who used to sit outside Boots in Walsall during the 1980’s with the placard about police harassment? If not, who was he and what was his story?
  • Any memories of old Brownhills companies? Carver and Co? Crabtree? Super Alloys? Edward Rose? Flip? Geometry International? Wernicks?
  • Let’s try and get together a list of shops in Brownhills that you can remember; obviously, I’m interested in the 70’s, but any period is good. Ducketts, Priors, The Chip Shop – all on Lichfield Road? The Sport Shop, Hindleys, Taylors, Brenda Perry, Kinder Mart, The Swinging Fish, Jaygors, Hartley Carpets, Chasmik, Gaytime Greetings, Elkins, Joes, George Mason, Provost Chemists, Westons Chemist, The Galleon, Caters, Golden Grill, Motorcycle Generation? Any memories, good or bad?
  • Anyone remember, or have any pictures of The Pier pub – I think it might also have been called ‘The Fortune of War’?
  • I’d still like to know who Daisy was and why she had a field…
  • Anyone recall tales of either trotting track? I understand there was the one by Chasewater, and one on what is now Brownhills School’s field…
  • I’m also getting closer to the Rose Gardens in the centre of the Hussey Estate. A relative remembers them with railings, and apparently you could go in through a gate, although I always thought they were locked.

Thanks again for all your contributions, contact me by either leaving a comment or mailing me direct: brownhillsbob at googlemail dot com. Feel free to point out any errors, too; It’s only by working together that we can form an accurate record.

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92 Responses to Local history stuff: this much we know

  1. stymaster says:

    Shops: I remember a ‘Shopper’s World’ which was a kind of second-rate competitor to Argos, in the High St, somewhere between Church St & Brickiln St. This was late 70s – early 80s. The whole chain disappeared in fairly short order.

    I think I’ve seen a picture of the Fortune of War in a book in the library, so I’ll have a look for it next time I’m there, and yes, that and the Pier are the same pub.

    I remember Motorcycle Generation well- my late father purchased a Jawa (cheap east European commuter bike) from there in 1985-6, as well as the old Post Office (well, the *older* one) on the corner of Church St, as he worked there for a time.

    • Shoppers World – my, that takes me back. It was where Woolies was – and I think where that ex-catalogue shop is now; it was an indoor market for a while, too. One of my earliest memories is my mum buying me a packet of ‘Olde English’ flavour Spangles there (I remember them being old alright, sticky and soft – yuk!). I believe Shoppers World was a part of Woolies; it was like a prototype Argos, before they caught on. They never had anything in stock – you’d spend weeks poring over the catalogue at home thinking what you were going to spend your Christmas money on, and when you queued forever to get it, whatever you wanted was out of stock and you ended up with something crap instead… It’s mentioned at http://doctorvee.co.uk/2009/01/07/woolworths-as-it-was-known-and-loved-and-neglected/ – which is a fairly clinical discussion of why Woolies went titsup.

      I’ll keep a look out for the Pub picture, thanks for the headsup.

      Motorcycle Generation always made me mum walk quickly past it – I think she used to think hairy bikers were going to mug her or something. I used to like looking at the seemingly massive machines – and I loved the smell of Patchouli that seemed to emanate from the place.

      The old Post Office? Do you remember the posters about rabies and colorado beetle on the far wall? They used to scare the crap out of me as a nipper…

      • stymaster says:

        I remember the posters, yes. Has anyone *ever* seen a Colorado Beetle?

        • mick collingswood says:

          Yep mate,in 1969 I was working at Clews corner
          garage,Coronation road Pelsall and one day myself
          and Michael Clews found a beetle we could not identify, we caught it and showed it to a local copper
          whose car we used to repair, and before we knew it
          we had the ministry of agriculture people down who
          confirmed it was a Colorado beetle. It did make the
          local papers.

      • George says:

        Dear Bob,
        I have a photo of the Man of War Pub, I also have a photo of The Motorcycle Generation. The owner Jim Pearson was a very good friend of mine until we lost touch,
        By the way Chasewater was called Chasewater in 1960 I have the photo’s to prove it.


        Brownhills George

      • Ivor2302 says:

        I was the “telegram boy’ in 1954/5 when the Lloyds were Postmaster/Postmistress and remember delivering telegrams all over Brownhills, including some with the news of persons killed whilst serving in the military. I remember Jellymans cycle shop, where I bought my first bike and a toy shop opposite the Post Office run by Mrs Beavan. I had one of the early biros from there, it was useless and leaked ink all over the place.

  2. oakparkpacersrc says:

    Regarding the man barricading in his house. there was a row of houses between Brawns shop and the Forward garage (Dunn & Hales that was) He lived in the end house next to Brawns shop opposite the old Galleon chip shop.
    The house No was 218 as I had previously lived in No 220.
    He was protesting about being evicted for land clearance and development. Apparently he was an electronics buff and a bit of an eccentric and had the house alarmed.

    • Thanks… any idea of a date on that? I’m quite happy to go trawling the archives, but it’s hard without an approximate year… the story is what I’d been told but I certainly don’t remember it. I’ve been told also that the long haired guy with the placard in Walsall (and I occasionally saw him in the precinct in Aldridge) used to be a teacher in Brownhills, but somehow fell to that. There must be a story there.

      Cheers for your contribution!

    • mick collingswood says:

      If my memory serves me correctly, the guy who barricaded himself in was an inventor and I seem to remember something about him claiming to be able to make a car run
      on water, one thing is for sure, he had wired all of his doorhandles to the mains and I also believe there was
      explosives involved.

  3. oakparkpacersrc says:

    Regarding the trotting tracks in Brownhills. there was two altogether. The first was built at the back of Holland park where the school playing fields are now. It was just an open shale circular track built by Oscar Johnson who was a Walsall Business man. Subsequently he went on to build the trotting stadium in pool road which is the approach road into chasewater. Sadly it fell into disrepair and was finally demolished. I have also replied to the high st barricade but forgot to put my name on the bottom.

    Regards oakparkrunner

    • That’s great, thanks; I didn’t realise the two were connected but I suppose it would have been bizarrre were they not. I’m off to do some digging on that one…


      • mick collingswood says:

        At that time my local boozer was the Whitehorse pub and
        the then landlord, Dereck Morris profited very well from the trotting track on racing nights, if memory serves me
        well I seem to remember some allegations of inadequate
        stableing facilities etc which may have helped in its
        demise, then they tried speedway racing there but that
        did not take off very well either.

        • Paul Bailey says:

          The Whitehorse pub, my best mate lived there so i spent my childhood in that pub and with the morris’s. Lee Morris ran the local disco called Tramps Disco. Spent lots of years with lee behind the decks.

  4. oakparkpacersrc says:

    Regarding the factory Super Alloys which was at the bottom of Lichfield Road next to Castings. Their main function was reclaiming scrap aluminium and they used to cut up old military equipment such as aircraft and searchlights, redundent after the war. During the 60’s I was a volunteer fireman at Brownhills Fire station which was situated between the Police station and the Central Schools. On numerous occasions we attended fires at Super Alloys caused by workers cutting up the scrap equipment. Some of the equipment had the odd one or two live bullets in them which made it hazardous as the fire could have made them go off. Health and Safety was not as strict as it is today.

    Regards oakparkrunner

    • I remember walking along the canal with my Dad at the back of the Super Alloy yard, and he pointed out the old scrap searchlights and an old wartime ambulance – probably about 1978. I can also remember quite a big fire there around 1977, but I could be mistaken.

      Cheers for that

    • Dave Bishop says:

      My dad, Arthur Bishop was also retained at Brownhills Fire Station. I remember Geoff (Jeff?) Hucker who I assume is you or a relative. There were a number of fires at Super Alloys – it was quite a regular occurance.

      Also grass fires on Cannock Chase were common too and I remember father being away from home for at least a day and a half tackling a huge blaze on Cannock Chase that could be seen for miles. Father is 80 now but still has a decent memory.

      Oh – the chap who protested against being moved and barricading himself in… I reckon it was some time between 1966 and 1970 just as they were starting to build the houses at the top (High Street end) of Lindon Drive. The Galleon fish shop was owned by Mr. & Mrs Higgins – I was a friend of their son, Lawrence who went on to run a newsagents on Shire Oak.

      • oakparkrunner says:

        Hello Dave, yes I remember your dad Arthur, I still see him in Walsall Wood going in the Spar shop occasionaly as I live opposite. When I was retained I lived at 220 High Street,opposite the Galleon. Harold and Myrtle Higgins went to keep the Turks Head Pub in Lichfield, but did not like it and moved back in Brownhills High St and opened the Galleon 2 Fish and Chip shop. Regards Godfrey Hucker (oakparkrunner)

        • Harold was still about a couple of years ago. He used to be quite often behind the counter in the newsagents on the Chester Road at Shire Oak when Lawrence had it in the late 80’s.

          Best wishes


      • I have an article about Philip Cheetham – the barricade man – up from last year.

        It’s a sad story.

        I certainly remember the huge grassfire in ’76 on Brownhills Common. The whole town smelled of smoke for days.

        All the best


  5. oakparkpacersrc says:

    Regarding the house barricade in Brownhills High St. I left No 220 in 1970 before the demise of the row of houses. I think this item of news would have been about the mid 70’s. With reference to Super Alloys I think you are right about the large fire in the late 70’s. Brownhills Fire station closed its doors around 1968 with the opening of the new building in Northgate Aldridge and the volunteer firemen were disbanded. There was an Ambulance station immediately behind the Fire station, housing 2 blue Daimler Ambulances, which moved to Aldridge about the same time.

    Regards oakparkrunner

    • IAN AVERY says:

      Surfing the web, came across your comments re Brownhills Fire Station.
      My father was stationed at Brownhills in the AFS, Dave Avery.
      Any memories? he,s always looking for old photo’s of his AFS days or of the old station. Regards Ian Avery.

      • Dave Bishop says:

        Hi Ian
        My dad is Arthur Bishop and he was a retained officer at Brownhills too. At one time he was sub-officer. I spoke to him about your dad and he remembers him very well – he even remembers teaching your dad to drive a Green Goddess fire engine at Fradley near Lichfield.

        He also remembers the fires at Super Alloys (so do I) and that the company had brand new Lancaster wings etc as scrap. What would they be worth now?!

        Father is 80 but retains a decent memory, so maybe he and your dad could be in touch and reminisce about their adventures. Particularly the grass fires where they could be gone for two days!!

  6. Bev says:

    The field the Albion (of Albion Road) played on wasn’t where the estate was built, but on the ground behind the chapel, where the police station and garage (ok, car wash) are now.

    Also, the estate was started before 1939 ’cause my Nan and her neighbour moved in to their houses in 1938 and 1937 respectively.

    All the above truthfully sworn by my Nan and the daughter of the original neighbour.

    I’ve left them with copies of these threads, so hopefully next time I get back to them, I’ll be able to come back to you with more (I remember my Nan mentioning something about Doctor Bradford having a wooden hut ensemble as a surgery, but need to go back armed with a recording device to be able to remember it all for typing up.

  7. Dawn Rutherford says:

    Re Brownhills shops,
    My father (Ivor Marklew) owned the Butchers in Silver Court -second from the end until he died in 1989. From memory it went boutique, dads shop, doube fronted green grocers, wool shop, opticians, possibly one other shop??, motorbike/car shop, dentist upstairs (they moved from further down the road). newsagent, petshop? ending in a cobblers shop.

    The story about a wooden doctors surgery rings a bell – via my mum ‘s memories. I’ll try to remember to ask her.

    My great uncle was Jack Smith from a previous answer – I remember going to one of his services and also singing once in one of the Sunday School ‘Anniversaries’ although don’t know why as I only lived in Brownhills for the first 2 years. He was married to Edie Marklew and they owned the shop next to their bungalow down Pelsall Lane. I gather she owned other houses along their and was a very ‘shrewd’ business woman.

    • Paul Bailey says:

      I worked for Ivor three nights a week and all day saturday. Great memories from 1979 to 1980. I started work full toime then an had to leave the butchers shop. Scrubbing the block had to be done right at the end of the days trade 🙂

      • Dawn Rutherford (nee Marklew) says:

        Hi Paul, over the years I worked on Saturdays for Dad too. I too had the job of cleaning down the machinery and the cutting blocks. I found it quite therapeutic using the sawdust and metal brush to help get them clean. I also was allowed (expected!) to serve, having to mentally work out the prices while Dad was also serving – he would not only be working out his customers sale but mine too, to make sure I got it right!

  8. sheila westwood(Blundell) says:

    My aunt Belle(minhinick) lived next door but one to the man you were on about who baracaded himself in. He was a teacher at my school Ogley girls school I think his name was Mr Cheetum. I have lived in Brownhills since 1960 I attended Watling Street School then moved down to Ogley Hay Girls School. Do you remember the odl veg shop that went through next dooor to the fish shop.It was where Specsavers is now. My very first memory was the cinema roughly by the shoe shop in ravens court

  9. kathy bull [nee cooper] says:

    hi i grew up in the avenues off the lichfield road i live in cornwall since 1981 with my husband, boy what memories reading those names ,duckets mom/nan had an account with them ,she also worked at roses/pelsall road and at factorys down the chemi as it was known localy fridays were fish an chips from alices in the lichfield road ,i went to all ogley schools finishing up at the girls school ,i was born in a place called mets in the high street just what was caters electrical proper name st james square they built flats there wish i could get pics from some one of it ,i loved the avenues had some gt times growin up there ,my birth father was george kelly he bread dogs all his life he was a real charachter,my grandparents nell an gerald cooper bought me up,they were the best and worked hard from factorys to farms an g/dad drove a lorry i remember all the old high st shops and i am happy to hear the market is back when we visit b/hills we allways like to go to it ,my first job at leaving school in 1965 was woolworths in the high street self serv we all felt very posh i do miss b/hills and will never forget it lov the site an readin all about b/hills keep up the good work if any one has a pic of mets were i was born would u please let me no by email .
    thanks kathy

  10. Keith Wheeler says:

    Edward Rose (later Wagon) used to make gas cookers for the marine and caravan industry. Does anyone out there know who took over the tools when Rose stopped manufacture of these products?

    • Eddie says:

      If anyone replies to this, I’d be interested in knowing if spares for the Countess 3000 Built in oven in my caravan can be sourced. Sorry if I am highjacking on here but it’s amazing what a “Google” search comes up with!


    My missus went to school at Brownhills,and one of her teachers was Mr Cheetham,the guy that had the Mexican stand off in B’hills !! Does anyone her remember the old “Barnet’s youth club” We spent most of our growing up years there !!Then they were going to demolish it,what the hell were “they” thinking of?
    We spent many happy hours there,I was captain of the table tennis team for a while,and I think it was because I was the only guy with amotor at the time !!
    So could get the team to whereever we had to go,happy days !!
    Best wishes,IAN&NICKY GITTINGS

  12. MSW says:

    Regarding trotting at Chasewater,
    My dad raced trotting horses there during the 1980’s, was watching some old videos recently from around 1984-5 of races there, I can remember as a kid how big the glass fronted grandstand looked, think the last horses raced there in 1989 by which time the whole site was getting very run-down. Visited the site recently and could’nt believe there was nothing left of what was once there, very sad.

    • leah says:

      u would remember Oscar Johnson frpom Walsall he built the track,,actually he lived in Walsall at wisemore house the new Walsall collage is built on his fields,,theres one remaining relative of Oscar Johnson,thats his only daughter joan Johnson,,shes in her 90s,,i do some odd jobs for her,like shopping an cooking her tea,,i no all the history an a lot of it never got writtendown in history

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  15. Dave Bishop says:

    As one who was largely brought (brung!) up in Brownhills, it is strange how memories are stirred by the stories and experiences in this blog.

    I remember Joe’s, the sweet shop on the High Street and Princips the hardware and toy shop. I worked at High Street Service Station when I was 16 and it was owned and run by Les Bowker and Vic Millward (and later Colin Prince).

    The old cinema someone mentioned that was opposite the post office….ah, happy memories of that too…except the time my dad took my older brother and I to see the latest blockbuster, The Guns of Navaronne. We sat in the upper circle, leaning over. We had ice creams that came in those little cardboard wrappers and were then dropped into the cornet. My brother lost the ice cream out of his cornet, down the back of the neck of a chap sitting below. It must have been a shock! He reported the incident to the manager and we were thrown out!! What happy days.

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  17. Diane Brownridge says:

    When I was child i’ll never forget the chip shop by the Salvation army If my memory serves me right it was run by Mr & Mrs Higgins.I used to spend a ………… lot of time there visiting and chatting to the old lady who was always in the back i think it was Mr or Mrs Higgins mom……………… My parents both worked and i was looked after by my aunty and uncle who lived in the houses that was inbetween the Salvation army and the chip shop……….i’ll never forget running down the Ogley Road and into the house straight upstairs and used to get into bed between my lovey Aunty and Uncle………these memories will never fade

  18. oakparkrunner says:

    Hello Diane with regard to the Galleon fish shop, your memory is correct, Harold and Myrtle Higgings did run it. The older lady you mention was Mrs Seedhouse (Myrtles mother) The Seedhouses used to have a taxi business. I lived oposite in No 220. Was your auntie and Uncle’s name Jupp. Are you a relative of Wayne Brownridge, son of Rupert?. Regards Godfrey Hucker (oakparkrunner)

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  20. Ken Turner says:

    I live in Brownhills having moved around a bit but my childhood took place in Mill Rd.I went to the infants by St James church and one of my earliest memories was a truck crashing into terraced shops roughly were Wilkinsons is now in the High St,I believe a lady was killed ,I remember watching the traffic through the gates of the infants while it was being diverted..it would be around 1954.Also re Brownhills railway station..Mrs Daisy Rowlands,my Aunt was a porter there for a while.

    • Ivor2302 says:

      I worked on the railway station as Junior Bookung Clerk when you aunt was a porter there. I was no good at the job and left after about 6 months but I remember Daisy very well.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Ken,
      I remember this accident as if it was last year. Coming out of school with one of the boys whose mother was killed (although at the time we didn’t know this) I have been researching this for some time, but have not progressed from the basic facts as i remember them. I have searched the web and only come up with one place (MACE) where there is suposed to be a film of the item which was shown on TV that evening in the news. However they must not have found it as they have not been back in touch to say that it had been found and costs etc. I think that the company who owned the Lorry were called Allports and based at Sutton Coldfield. I think that apart from my mates mom there was also another lady killed, The only thing i would say to you was that it was probably have been 1955/56 as it was my first year at Central and the other thing was that we moved from Peartree Lane to second avenue in time for the start of my life at the central,I also remember your aunt being at the station as she got on well with us train spotters!
      I’m trying to place Ivor2302 from his descirptions but just cannot, to far back

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  22. Sheila K says:

    I have only just stumbled across BrownhillsBob’s fantastic blog, so sorry to be a latecomer to this convesation. I grew up in the Avenues in the late 50’s to mid 60’s and went to Ogley Hay Infants and Juniors. These were very happy days for me. I am sad to say that I can’t find much on the web relating to these schools, but there must be stuff somewhere. Mr Horton was the head at the juniors during my time, and Mr Riley teacher of 3rd/4th years (not at the same time!)
    On the subject of shops in the High Street I remember Hardings near the bridge (and going with my grannie to buy vests and large bloomers), a chemists called Seeds or Seedhouses, Birch’s wool shop, a fishmongers – James?, a general grocers called Hardwicks, Jaygors, Prinsops etc.
    In Lichfield Road from co-op corner there was a cluster of shops there including Mallards butchers, Parkers grocers, Bostons (?), Coopers, Woods newsagents and Suttons coal merchants. Suttons kept alsations loose in the yard to deter thieving I suppose and I can still remember being scared of them.
    Keep the memories coming and best wishes to all your contributors.

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  24. Ivan says:

    Can somebody help me out. Back in the mid 1990’s I travelled around the midlands on business being based in East Anglia. Pre M6 toll road when the M6 snarled up as it traversed Birmingham there used to be alternative routes we used to use. Either take to the A5 north of Birmingham across to Rugby & pick up the M6 again. Or if we’d been Willenhall/Black Country direction we’d go over the M6 at junction 10 up towards Brownhills, pick up the A5 & across to the M6/A14.
    Now my quandry, which has bugged me for months, is that somewhere on one of those routes the road passed a large derelict grandstand or stadium near to the road. I can’t for the life of me think where? I’m sure it was somewhere near Brownhills? Can someone help me before I go bonkers? Ta Ivan

  25. CAZ says:

    Just looking through some of the ‘old’ blogs, l noticed you were asking for memories of Geometrix in Chase road. Originally it was called W J Harris,then Geometry International and Geometrix, they made all sorts of school instruments and their biggest competitor was Helix.
    l started work there in 1971, and had many happy years there.My sister, mom, aunties and cousins all worked there.Oh and l met my hubby there.
    It was owned by the ‘Cook’ family,and to the workers they were known as Mr Fred,Mr Ken and their sons Mr Micheal and Mr Robert. Overall, they were a lovely family to work for.They could be strict, but very fair. In hot weather Mr Roberet went out and bought us ice creams or orange juice and on very special occasions we had cakes.
    It was a friendly atmosphere to work in, [most of the time] and there were some lovely characters working there,who sang and danced and generally brightened everyones day. Nancy and later Stella ran a sweet shop from a metal cupboard,and every day at 10am you could have a hot drink delivered for tea break.
    Fond memories

  26. nosferatu says:

    as regards to coombe house,i was born in bradford road in 1964 and spent my childhood in the woods.the house referred to as next door is some way away.as a child i played in the celer of this house and can locate it today.i still remember the sad demolition of coombe house.and the end of coppice lane…

  27. nosferatu says:

    as regards to super alloys as a child i played in a japanese 0 and a lancaster after sneaking under the fence,the time of my life…

  28. John Bishop says:

    I remember Castings going up in flames,the intensity aided by all the scrap magnesium. On a different theme,i would be interested in any photos of the old gasworks that stood on what is now Lindon Drive.and any of the building work .We moved from the maisonettes across the road into one of the new houses built on the old site. Talk about lack of Health and Safety,the earth was blue and stank of gas,digging the garden was a smelly buisiness.

  29. SouthernGirl says:

    I lived in Catshill Road Brownhills in the late 1970’s / 1980’s. I went to Millfield School and loved it there. Mr Stackhouse being my favourite teacher . I’ve got very clear memories of Hindleys cafe, eating custard slices & the place being full of cigarette smoke.
    Does anyone else remember Malcolm the Mobile? A guy with a mobile shop who would come round in the afternoons & all the the kids would get their 10p mix from him. We also had the Pop man delivering to Catshill Road & the Fish & Chip van too.
    Great website, a real trip down memory lane.

    • Hi there!

      I remember Malcolm’s Mobile. Big and green. In fact, massive; I think the van was probably built from the same vehicle as the chip vans. It was a very dark, dark, army green; I recall buying a pomegranate from the shop parked in Wallace Road for 10p sometime in 1977, I think. Inside it was a masterpiece of fitting a quart into a pint pot; stuff was everywhere…

      Welcome to the site


  30. goodcuppa says:

    Oh my, I feel like a child again reading all the posts. The provist chemist used to be a shoe shop, I remember getting my school shoes from there. Also Mr Higson the optician was on the other end of the row, he always made me laugh, as he seemed to sing when he said , “is it the reeeeeeeeeeeeddd, or the greeeeeeeeeeeen. He later moved his shop to the top of brownhills, near the camera shop.
    I can remember when a Bull escaped from the butcher just down from it.
    Oh my Mr Horton he was brill. also I remember Mr. Riley had a roaring fire in his classroom before they all moved over to the girls school. So sad to hear it was knocked down. You never wanted to be sent to Mr. Riley for the slipper though.
    The trotting track, My sister used to work there for the Lee’s family. I believe it was brought by someone from bradford, who didn’t do much with it. The reason they wanted the speedway there was because they could have held world speedway at it because the track way longer than the others.
    My sister used to go to Barnetts youth club, I remember doing a float from there for the carnival. I know they dressed me up as a dutch person.
    Spent many a Friday night at the Memo, Disco night.

    Shoppers World. I Got a facial steamer from there. Still got it and it still works.
    There was a bomb found somewhere near the vigo, Also I seem to remember talk about one on the fields behind the houses up shire oak. on the lichfield road.
    The Fish and chip van, if it was the one that went to Clayhanger, was owned by Johnny Bedford, think that was his name. Came around on a Friday. I was gutted when the chips went up from sixpence to 5p. mom said they were to dear.
    I know this is about Brownhills, but would like to add. That opposite the entrance to Chasewater, were some Cottages, Sadly no longer there. My mom and dad lived in one of them when they first got married.
    I am not got to write anymore about all the the thing I remember from the above posts. I will be here all day.

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  32. John Williams says:

    Hope Godfrey Hucker still checks the blog out, I remember him well, having gone through all the schools with him, even Wednesbury Junior Teck
    h. Name is John Williams, born in Brownhills, Pelsall Road, almost next door to the Swan Pub. Our cottage faced the pub carpark.. I remember Mr Barnett the Head at the Tech and for some reson I still remember hi car, it was a Standard Eight Reg No. NAB 174, how’s that for memory?

  33. Mike Stackhouse says:

    Anyone know where i can find information regarding the lorry which Killed mrs Roberts. I was a schoolfriend of her son Barry. I think that the lorry belonged to Alports Transport in Sutton Coldfield. I cannot find any newspaper items regarding this, but then i know when my gran died that there was an article about her with a photograph but cannot trace thet either. I was born in Coronation Road, High Heath(because of the war) but we lived in Pear Tree Lane until 1955 when we moved in to 5 Second Avenue. I also remember a derailment outside Central school but that would have been earlier than the one mentioned. I have been writing about my life (for my grandkids) as i realised when our son died a few years ago, that i knew nothing about the family. So i started a Tree and to do my memories. I may do a blog someday!

    • Hi Mike

      What a fine pursuit!

      You don’t have a date for the accident, do you?



      • Mike Stackhouse says:

        Hi Bob. The accident happened in 1957 . just found this out. as during my searches tonight, i found a site(meida archive for central england) which holds film of the accident. but not digital. Put in a request for info (The film is from good old ATV news Black and white) i will let you know how things go.

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  40. Graeme Fisher says:

    Jaygor was a DIY store set up by Edge and Haines Builders, who had premises somewhere near Lindon road, I think. Gordon Haines and Jack Edge built half of Stonnall in the fifties and sixties. Jack moved to Hampshire to persue an interest in sailing, Gordon stayed in the area of Stonnall and the Vigo.

    • Lesley Jones.ian jones says:

      Jack edge and gordon hanies are noth my uncles. Sadly jack has passed away but my uncle gordon lives in aldridge. They also built the geoff woodward stand at Walsall wood fc..whom i lived next door to for 20 years.

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  42. Jacqueline Jones says:

    In the High Street next to the old Midland Bank was Willetts shoe shop and card shop owned by Mrs Hancox. I worked there in the late sixties, it was opposite James’ fruit and fish shop.

  43. Tim Chilton says:

    A few questions. Has anyone read the book The Face by john Petty as a description of the area in the very early 1950’s? I can confirm that Coombe House was used by the Engineers in the early 1950’s. My father worked there, and at the weekends gleaned coal from the gardens, Mother claims the seams surfaced there.

    But my question, in around 1950 – 2 as a stunt did someone live at the top of a pole? Odd and maybe distorted childhood memory?

    • “John Petty
      1919 – 1973
      author, famous for
      “Five Fags a Day”
      lived here.”
      I have posted a photo of the “Blue Plaque” here http://openplaques.org/plaques/39213

      Born in the Potteries? – in 1919 or 1917? I have done a bit of digging and found this …

      Birth Certificate
      Date of Registration: Apr-May-Jun 1918
      Registration district: Walsall
      Volume Number: 6b
      Page Number: 1216
      Entry Number – 227
      When and where born – Fifth May 1918 – 45 Warwick Street, Walsall
      Name, if any – John Alfred
      Sex – boy
      Name and surname of father – John Henry Petty
      Name surname and maiden surname of mother – Lily Gertrude Petty formerly Millward
      Occupation of father – Iron Moulder
      Signature, description and residence of informant – J.H.Petty, father, 45 Warwick Street, Walsall
      When Registered – Eleventh May 1918

      Marriage Certificate
      Date of Registration: Apr-May-Jun 1965
      Registration district: Walsall
      Volume Number: 9b
      Page Number: 1406
      Entry Number – 137
      When married – Tenth June 1965
      Name and surname – John Alfred Petty
      Age – 47
      Condition – bachelor
      Rank or profession – Author
      Residence at the time of marriage – 16 Barley Fields House, Bath Street, Walsall
      Father’s name and surname – John Henry Petty (deceased)
      Rank or profession of father – Iron Moulder
      Name and surname – Ethel Lilian Styles
      Age – 50
      Condition – widow
      Rank or profession – ——
      Residence at the time of marriage – 16 Barley Fields House, Bath Street, Walsall
      Father’s name and surname – John Barber (deceased)
      Rank or profession of father – Builders bricklayer
      Married in the Register Office, Walsall — in the presence of A.C.Petty – J.M.Hitch

      Death Certificate
      Date of Registration: Dec 1973
      Age at Death: 56 (should be 55)
      Registration district: Wellington (sub-district Dawley)
      Inferred County: Shropshire
      Volume: 9a
      Page: 714
      Entry Number – 7
      Date and place of death – Eighteenth December 1973 – 10 Meadow Road, Dawley
      Name and surname – John Alfred Petty
      Sex – male
      Date and place of birth – Fifth May 1917 – Walsall (should be Fifth May 1918)
      Occupation and usual address – Author – 10 Meadow Road, Dawley
      Name and surname of informant – Ethel Lilian Petty
      Qualification – Widow of deceased
      Usual address –10 Meadow Road, Dawley
      Cause of death – (a) Cerebral thrombosis (b) malignant hypertension
      Date of registration – twenty first December 1973

      Ryecroft Cemetery register
      Register – 9
      Page – 300
      Entry – 66957
      Age – John Alfred Petty
      Age 56 (should be 55)
      Address – 10 Meadow Road, Dawley, Salop
      Burial date – Monday 24th. December 1973
      Ceremony performed by – John Davis
      Place of burial – Division 52 / Section 2 / Number of grave 328 – unmarked grave?
      (note – use pedestrian entrance to the right of main entrance/cemetery lodge.)

      Just the bare bones – I still wonder what made him tick.

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  45. D says:

    You mentioned the old man who barricaded himself in his house in Brownhills?
    I remember it was on ATV and in all the local papers, If I recall they had served an eviction order on him as that row of houses was ear marked for demolition, they had already tor down most of the row but they could not get the old man out and it delayed work for several months, in the end I don’t know how but they did get him out, however when we inspected the demolished ruins we found a lot of the old mans personal positions in the rubble, as kids we just gave him the nick name of the nutty professor!


  46. Alastair Craddock says:

    Does anybody remeber a shop called Mac Market, it was an amalgamation of mac fisheries and a grocers, but I can’t remember which. I think it was on the corner of Church hill

  47. Susan Jones ( was Yates ) says:

    Anybody know anybody from 3B ogley Hall school for girls 1963/64

  48. Ivor Sperring says:

    Doctor Bradford was our family doctor when I lived with my grandmother at 79 Coppice Side. He was a tall man and on one of his visits he sat on the fireguard which was very hot causing him to straighten up quickly and bump his head on the ceiling.
    The butcher that my grandmother was registered with doesn’t seem to have been mentioned, it was Dennis Haynes, near to Taylors Bread and Cake shop. One day a street sweeper went into the shop highly excited convinced he had found a precious gem, it turned out to be a rabbit’s or sheep’s eye!
    I remember an accident from when I was in the Infants’ or Junior school when a child was run over by a half track that was part of a military convoy posing through. I think he had a silver plate inserted into his head.

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  50. Jo says:

    Any one remember or have any info about george jones and Samuel remses jones (brothers) of potters clay and coal

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