Another local history challenge: Any ideas?

I have just discovered that Google Mail includes an anti-spam feature I wasn’t aware of. Lurking within said spam folder – siting uncomfortably with spam for pharmaceuticals of dubious provenance and fake watches, was this enquiry, sent to me on the 1st January. To Graham, I can only apologise. Now I know it’s there’ I’ll try and rake out the spam folder on a regular basis, to prevent such things falling through the cracks.

Dear Bob,

My grandfather Henry Harrison was a miner living in Walsall Wood (the old school house on Beech Tree Road, see picture attached). His father was William Harrison, who is described in the 1911 Census as a “night rail foreman” with the U.D.C., living at Salters Road. He was born in Dodderhill, Droitwich–if I’m reading the original entry correctly. I haven’t been able to trace his move from Droitwich to Walsall Wood so far. I imagine that perhaps the majority of residents of Walsall Wood were newcomers to the area, for the coal mines. Most of my relations on both sides of the family were miners.

Is there any way in which I can get in touch with the U.D.C. About possible employment records for this William Harrison (born about 1850)?

All the best,
Graham Harrison
County Donegal,

The old schoolhouse on Beechtree Road, residence of Henry Harrison as sent by grandson Graham.

I would respectfully suggest that Graham gets in touch with Stuart Williams at Walsall Local History Centre – they can be contacted on +44 1922 721305, and are an invaluable source of such information.

If any blog readers have anything to contribute, please don’t hesitate. I know I have a few readers from The Wood, and your input could well be invaluable.

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8 Responses to Another local history challenge: Any ideas?

  1. Roger Jones says:

    Re. William Harrison.
    He first appears in Walsall Wood on the 1881 census living on Lichfield Rd. with his wife Ann and daughter Alice (11) and son William age 1. He is a miner born Droitwich. His wife and children born Wednesbury, so he must have been in Wednesbury on the 1871 census but I can’t find him.
    By 1891 he had moved to Salters Road, was still a miner and had added Thomas 9, James 7, John 5, Joseph 3 and Ann 7months to his family. Alice had left home.
    On the 1901 census they are in Salters Road, and have added Henry age 7 to the family. William is now a foreman for the UDC, most of the sons are brickyard labourers. This census says his wife was born in Ripley, Derbyshire.
    Regarding Droitwich I have a 1905 street directory and I’m surprised at how many Harrison families lived there, mainly employed at the salt works.
    Henry’s birth registration is Mar qtr 1893 Walsall 6b 814
    I can send you copies of the census pages if you need them. Email me at ziksby at

    • Can I just take this opportunity to thank you for your fine effort on behalf of the Brownhills Blog. I’ve said it before, and I’ll do so again: it’s the efforts and enlightenment that readers like you provide that make this blog what it is.

      Thanks again


  2. Stuart Williams says:

    Have asked advice about the archives for Brownhills UDC. There are no personnel records, this is the sort of thing which is rarely kept.

    Higher level staff might show up in UDC minute books for whatever the relevant committee is, but ordinary workmen are unlikely to appear unless there was some significant incident, ie an accident or disciplinary matter, particularly later on.

    However, anyone wishing to trawl through the minute books would either have to visit Walsall Local History Centre in person or hire a private record searcher, as the Centre does not presently offer a research service as such.

    I see Roger Jones has been doing a Sherlock on Ancestry, and he has pretty much covered the ground on family history matters.

    I will say however that Ancestry is far from 100% on its census coverage and the name index isn’t always accurate so it’s possible this chap is on the Wednesbury 1871 Census but not showing up on the online indexes.

    In this case I suggest checking with Sandwell Archives to see if their copy of the Wednewsbury 1871 Census can be checked, see:

    Hope this helps!

    • Graham Harrison says:

      Dear Stuart Williams,
      thanks for your most helpful response to my query re William Harrison. As I wrote to Roger Jones, I have the marriage certificate of Wm Harrison and Ann Farnsworth (of Ripley), in Wednesbury 1870, so that gives us a fixed point even without the census.
      Thanks again,
      Graham Harrison

  3. Thanks, Stuart, knew you’d have the lowdown on the kind of information that would be around.

    You folk up at Walsall Local History Centre area wonderful, knowledgeable, friendly and above all, fascinating resource.

    All the best


  4. Roger Jones says:

    When I read Graham’s reply to Stuart saying that he had replied to me I thought ‘better check my spam folder’ as there was nothing in my inbox. Sure enough there was Graham’s message. Must be something about that Gmail doesn’t like.

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