Home thoughts from abroad

Long time gone: These buildings have been derelict for nearly as long as I can remember.

I received a fantastic email at the weekend from Fawlty, following his comment on my Panoramio picture of the sadly derelict St. John’s School and adjacent bungalow in Walsall Wood. Now living in Spain, Fawlty has some fascinating memories of Walsall Wood from his time living and working in the area. I’ve been preparing a post about these derelict buildings for well, ages, but Fawlty’s email was so wonderful, I sought his permission to share it with you immediately.

Hi Bob

I lived in the bungalow next to St John’s School between 1965 and 1967. I was born in Manchester but we moved to Shelfield in 1963 when my dad got the job of Building Works Manager at Brownhills Urban District Council.

We originally lived in one of the new council houses in Summer Lane, Shelfield, and I went to Mob Lane Secondary School.  As I said, after two years we moved to the bungalow at  Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood, but I remained at Mob lane School.  The bungalow was owned by Brownhills UDC and was available for housing council officers.  I remember my Dad converting the loft into a bedroom for me and my brother, as there were only two bedrooms originally and there were four of us kids.  The bungalow had a massive back garden, which backed onto the playing fields next to Oak Park.  I think it was built around 1930.

When we lived there the school house was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Martin (he was the caretaker).  I was quite friendly with their son John.  The bungalow was a great home for us but not really big enough and we moved up the road to another house in Lichfield Road, Shire Oak in 1967, also owned by Brownhills UDC as an officer’s house.  I can remember there was an old Jehovas Witness house in Holly Lane, with large plaques built into the frontage with religious quotations.

I lived there until I got married in 1976.  My parents lived there until my Dad died in 1995.

I can remember the old workings of Walsall Wood Colliery and the station buildings.  I also used to go train spotting a lot, traveling from Pelsall station to Lichfield, Burton and Derby.

I remember the shops at Streets Corner, Chaplins newsagent, Les Jacksons grocers and Bates’s on the corner.  Les and Meg Jackson used to live in Streets Corner Bungalow.  When Bates’s closed they knocked the shop down and built a bungalow in its place, which the Bates’s used to live in.

My Dad was in the Rotary Club at Brownhiils and my mum was in Inner Wheel.  They used to go to garden parties at a big house in Clayhanger, but I can’t remember whose house it was.  Other members of the Rotary Club were Sid Law, Les Jackson, Carl Millard (who used to own Collins’s, later United Carriers).

I also remember Tomlinson’s Off Licence on the left hand side of Lichfield Road, going towards Lichfield, just past Streets Corner.  Cyril was the owner (also in Rotary). I can’t remember his wife’s name, but they had a daughter called Pat.  He used to have an old Daimler parked up the entry to the off license.

I joined the old West Midlands Police and worked at Walsall. I knew a lot of the old publicans around then, including Alf and Pauline Stephenson from the Warreners Arms, Graham (can’t remember his last name) from the Middle Oak, Keith and Pauline from the Swan, Pelsall Road, Ken from the Chase, Derek Morris from the White Horse, Elijah Gibson from the Top Oak, Claire from the Anchor, Alan James from the Spring Cottage at Shelfield, to name a few!

I retired from the Police and have lived in Spain for the last ten years, but I have got a lot of happy memories of Shelfield, Walsall Wood and Brownhills.

Anyway Bob, I hope these few memories are of use to you in your research.

Kind regards


I thank Fawlty for his wonderful, memory–jogging contribution, and if readers have anything to add, please do feel free to comment.

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9 Responses to Home thoughts from abroad

  1. stymaster says:

    I can remember the bungalow being lived in during the 90s- when I moved to Walsall Wood- but the school has been derelict for longer, and is in a bad (and deteriorating) state now- the roof looks about to collapse near the bell tower, and is pulling away from the occupied school house that is attached- I feel sorry for the owners. It’s a tragedy, and I’ll look forward to the post about the building.

    I’ve just found a picture in a book of old postcards that shows some of the school, with the bungalow under construction, and another photo of the school in better days. I’ll try to get it scanned at work tomorrow.

    I’ll add my thanks for this post too.

  2. Hi Stymaster

    I honestly can’t remember the place being lived in. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong, it just means that I probably wasn’t paying enough attention.

    The planning situation on the old school is interesting. It’s one of those stories, where you think you know what’s happened before you start, then research proves you utterly wrong. I see it in a bit of a different light, now.

    I hope to get onto it shortly. It’s one of those posts that gets half written and falls down the queue a bit – but thanks to the wonderful input of Fawlty and yourself, I’ll try and get it sorted next week.



  3. stymaster says:

    As promised, here’s some scans friom “Brownhills and Walsall Wood on old picture postcards”.

    First, part of the school, with the bungalow under construction next to it.

    Then the school looking somewhat better than today.

    These images are quite big and get a funny moire pattern scaled in my browser, but full size they should be quite clear.

    Keep up the good work Bob.

  4. Nick says:

    I started at Mob lane in about ’69….so in theory I should remember Fawlty..?
    I remember the ‘offy’ too and the cars always parked on the roadside there just up from the lights….
    Is the school still standing today..derelict..? Is it so bad thats its unsavable….It was a beautifull building. I recently bought a transformer station built in 1914 here for conversion..Nice if these old buildings are taken care of.

  5. stymaster says:

    The school is still standing but as I said above, in a bad way. The house adjoining it now seems to be empty. The school was a lovely building, but it has to be beyond saving now.

    I well remember the offy too.

  6. stymaster says:

    I walked past the old school this weekend, and the boarding has either fallen off or been pulled off the main central window: there are still curtains up!

    I just hope nobody gains access for nefarious acts…

  7. Nick says:

    When did the school close down…?

  8. Mary Jackson says:

    Having discovered Brownhills Bob recently I find I have become obsessed with all the fantastic contributions by your loyal readers and as I work my way through the archives I come across April 2010 ‘Home thoughts from abroad’.

    I attended St. Johns infants and junior school Walsall Wood from 1958. I remember the school house at which Mr and Mrs Martin were caretakers and their son Martin and daughter Ann. I remember the lolly pop crossing lady Mrs Roe also Claytons newsagent across the road from the school. When I left St John’s to go to Walsall Wood Secondary School on Streets corner I remember being told by a teacher that you are top of the school now but when you re-start your new school in September you will be starting all over again. Something that has stayed with me throughout my life – in other words don’t get too big for your boots!

    I lived on Shire Oak and well remember Chaplin’s newsagent on Streets corner (I was a paper girl there -ten shillings a week). Jacksons grocery shop and Bates on the corner and I seem to recall at Easter time they had a great big Easter proudly displayed in the centre of the window.

    I also remember the lovely garden parties in Clayhanger run by the Jones family I think and they certainly put great deal of effort into them.

    Tomlinson’s off licence is another great memory for me. I played with their daughter Pat. I recall going to the off licence with my mother for a pint of draught beer for my dad and you had to take your own bottle with you. I think we purchased draught sherry at Christmas as well. Don’t forget the 3p on the empties.

    I have now reached the ripe old age of 67 and when I look back I wouldn’t have missed any of it they were good days – all part of life’s rich tapestry.


    Mary Adshead (Now Jackson)

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