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