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.
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.