Another glimpse into the past

I thought I’d make a bit of a weekend thing of featuring old pictures. There are so many to share, particularly from the recently acquired work ‘Around Pelsall & Brownhills’ by David F. Vodden. I really suggest that anyone interested attempts to find a copy, but they’re very scarce like most local history books, which is why I share some of the material here. There are so many fascinating images that I’ve never seen before.

I you have anything to add, comment on this post or mail me: BrownhillsBob at googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Rose Villa is a bit of a mystery to me. There is of course, the club up in Brownhills West bearing the name; the Caddick family in Clayhanger apparently lived in a house called "Rose Villa', and now this one. From 'Around Pelsall & Brownhills' by David F. Vodden.

Apparently showing 'The Victor' and possibly 'Due South', I think. I need guidance here. I believe this cinema stood near the Pier/Fortune of War at the bottom of Pier Street. Please let me know if I'm wrong. From 'Around Pelsall & Brownhills' by David F. Vodden.

Anyone remember any of these teachers? I think Mr. Massey was possibly a radio ham, but I'm not certain. From 'Around Pelsall & Brownhills' by David F. Vodden.

I'm under the impression that this cinema stood around where Downes newsagent is today, and was lost to the Ravens Court development. Note the flags of the Allied Forces flying above the canopy - including, somewhat incongruously, the Soviet hammer & sickle. From 'Around Pelsall & Brownhills' by David F. Vodden.

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49 Responses to Another glimpse into the past

  1. Dave Cresswell says:

    Those pictures brought back memories Bob. I was at Brownhills school until 1970 and I remember Mr Hodge (who didnt shout at me when my Dove Tail joints didnt work) , Mr Henstock, Mr Shepherd (who was very kind in allaying my fears with Arc Welding) Mr Smith who made History interesting for me. Especially when he was describing how people thought you would fall off the end of the world if you got to the horizon by walking along desktops but had hidden a small lower table at the end. I really liked Mr Smith and Mr Massey the head. They made my stay at Brownhills Central very happy. I went in to care at age 13 and Mr Massey and Smith were kind in transferring my school work. They also didnt panic when somebody tried to make a home-made firework and severely damaged their hand.

    The picture of the cinema was even more poignant as I lived in church rd (where the car park is now) watching the cinema be demolished and the shopping centre being built from my Box room bedroom. Nice memories, Thanks Bob

    • Paul Stokes says:

      I remember all of them, I was there fro 68 to 72. I also remember the firework incident. A great photograph, brought back a lot of good memories, thanks.

  2. Dave Cresswell says:

    The Cinema was where NatWest and the now empty ShoeShop was and Saults (or Salt cant remember spelling) Chip shop/fishmongers was to the right of it where the dental practice is now. And to the right of that was green grocers, a toy shop which sold dinky toys and gonig a bit furtehr through an alley way a Barbers who had a nice jamician fella as the barber. He was funny and always put you at ease. I think he was the competition to Roberts the barbers a few doors down from where i lived in Church rd overlooking the Ravenscour area as it is now.

  3. Dave Bishop says:

    I certainly remember all the teachers at Central School. I was there from 1966 to 1970 I think and my brother, John, was there too but three years earlier.

    Mr. Massey was something of a tyrrant, walking around swishing his cane behind him. Mr. Smith was wonderful in History as he recreated famous battles in the classroom; we often had to move desks and chairs to make room for fighting. Yes, history was very good and I still love it now.

    I used to fix and service Mr Lees’s Mini van at his Pelsall home. Mr. Payton was a nice English teacher. Mr. Jenkins was I think a County cricketer and a dead shot with a piece of chalk or even the wooden board rubber – he could be writing one second, then looking on at some poor sod who had become a victim of his famous aim!

    Mr Powell left, although we never did chemistry as he was scared of chemicals! John Horton and I spent quite some time trying to get some Mercury back into a bottle after it was spilled – by hand. Would that happen nowadays? Not a chance!

    I was asked to do the 13-Plus exam as I had been borderline in my 11-Plus (I had been ill). But I went to thze Grammar School to take the test. And failed intentionally as I enjoyed central so much. Boy, was my mother mad at that one!!!

    • Maureen Payton says:

      I remember Rex Smith……He smoked a pipe and had the habit of keeping it in his jacket pocket. One day unfortunately he put it away while still faintly lit. He arrived at school to discover his pocket on fire and smoke billowing from an ever increasing hole !
      As luck would have it the material was a heavy tweed so I was able to unravel threads from inside the seams and rewove the section of pocket for him
      Regards….. Maureen Payton, married to your “nice English teacher” and former teacher ay Ogley Hay Girls

    • Tim Smith says:

      and i went at the same time as Cresswell.and i remember mr shepherd.and his

  4. arkrite says:

    I remember going to the cinema to watch The Count Of Monte Christ. The following was found on the Pubs of Brownhills site,

    The Royal George Inn – built in the 1860s it was replaced in the 1928 by the Regent Cinema and that was, itself, replaced by the Ravenscourt shopping precinct in the 1966. The pub was the “Fourpenny Shop” to the locals.

    I hope it is of some help

  5. Tony Martin says:

    As the USSR had been our allies against Nazi Germany from 1941 onwards, and suffered appalling casualties, it is quite logical for their flag to be amongst those of the victorious allies in 1945.

    • Hence my use of the term ‘Allied Forces’ – after the Yalta conference in February ’45 relations began to cool. Soon, an iron curtain would descend upon Europe, so that’s the last time I reckon that a tributary soviet flag flew in Brownhills.

      The Soviets paid a huge price for effectively breaking the Nazis in the last war (circa 20 million dead); and the Russian people would suffer again terribly under Stalin.

      I probably put it badly; I knew why the flag was flown, but as a child of the cold war it looked terribly incongruous.

      Best wishes


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  7. Anonymous says:

    Without a moments hesitation I put names to all those Central School teachers.

    Mr Smith has been a lifelong inspiration…. we affectionately nicknamed Mr Peyton ‘King Tut’….Mr Henson was in the habit of telling us to,”Get your hands out of your sky rockets and may the Lord have mercy on your souls.”

    And Dave Bishop…do you remember over sleeping the day of Ogley Hay’s 3A trip to London and the coach going to your home to pick you up?

  8. Dave Bishop says:

    OK anonymous – name yourself! Why do people always remember the stranger things? Yes, I remember the fateful London trip day. My mum had been working nights (she was a ward sister at Walsall General – Henry Boys Ward) and got home late that morning. Father had already left for work and so we slept on peacefully. I recall the panic when a coachload of school kids was parked outside and Mr Rowley came and knocked the door!

    I agree that Mr. Rex Smith was inspirational – I still miss his history lessons. The TD teacher was actually Mr Henstock (Dougie) and another of his habits was to grab kids by the sideboards – then lift! He used to say “Do that again and I’ll hit you so hard your eyes will pop out!”.

    So many memories….so long ago.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hello Dave.

      Those Ogley Hay Junior days were really special. Three precious years sandwiched between the start of Beatlemania during autumn term 1963 and England winning the world cup during summer 1966. That trip to London was my first to the capital. My first experience of air travel the annual ‘school holiday’ to Guernsey – flying BEA Vickers Viscount (or was it Vanguard?) from Elmdon, ten days for less than £15 all in.

      Started in Mr Boot’s 2X, in the wooden ‘Portakabin’ classrooms shared with Mr Thomas’s 2Z. There was another Mr Thomas of 3A who drove a Rover P4 who left the following year for Leighswood school, Aldridge, and was replaced by Mr Rowley. Do you remember Colin Proctor (correct me if I have the name wrong) being allowed one afternoon to give us a demonstration on his drum kit?

      Humane headmaster in Mr Horton. Great staff including Mr Riley and Miss Merry. Can’t quite remember the name of the bearded art teacher who ran the chess club….Mr Wheatcroft or Mr Wheatley?

      As you say, so many memories. And feels so good to share them with you.

  9. Dave Bishop says:

    Ah, still Anonymous! The bearded teacher (who looked like Rasputin!) was Mr. Williscroft. He often wore open sandals with manky grey socks!
    I was devastated when Miss Merry left – she went to teach in Beaconsfield. Such young love!

    We must have known each other well at the time as we were clearly in the same class – Mr. Boot’s 2X, followed by Mr. Rowley’s class. I think I started Ogley Hay Juniors in Mrs Phillips’ class. In Mr. Rowley’s Felicity Read and I were milk monitors. One would use a bottle ‘cap’ with a small spike in it to hole the tops, the other would put in a straw then we carried the crate between us to deliver the milk. A third of a pint per day. Nice.

    I remember Colin Proctor and recall something about drums but not much.

    At Central Boys I played piano for assembly a few times and constantly annoyed Mr. Smith by varying the tempo mid-hymn as well as choosing a different tune to a well-known hymn. Mr Smith would just glare at me on the stage.
    More reminiscences tomorrow, Anonymous.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Yes….Mr Williscroft! Thank you. He did cut something of a bohemian figure!

    Miss Merry was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside.

    Felicity Read and I sat next to each other in class for a while and I remember her fondly. I bumped into Felicity in the old youth employment office in the high street in the early seventies.

    Once Mr Massey got into his stride those assemblies could go on some. With morning prayers and latest reports of the school football teams endeavours out of the way, he would address us on a variety of topics. I remember him being aback one Monday morning, when just as he was about to take his customary position centre stage, he was approached by Mr Fisher brandishing a page from the previous days Sunday Times that he wanted to read out to the boys. This was definitely not the done thing, but Mr Massey gave way graciously although his face couldn’t quite hide his true feelings.

    Mr Fisher had only recently started work at the school. He was an American teaching English Language and had become weary, not to say impatient, with pupils asking him about his country’s Hells Angels. That day he read out a lengthy Sunday Times article about the notorious Altamont Speedway Free Festival featuring the Rolling Stones and ‘policed’ by local Hells Angels with tragic results. This was an earnest attempt by Mr Fisher to place the object of the boy’s fascination into a proper perspective and hopefully allow him to concentrate on teaching without further distractions.

    I can still see Mr Fisher reading from the stage in his black framed Woody Allen type spectacles, but most of all I remember Mr Smith, as deputy head, sitting to the right of the stage, obviously suppressing a smile at seeing his headmaster usurped so unexpectedly. Priceless!


  11. Anonymous says:

    Correction…boys’ not boy’s…don’t want to let Mr Fisher down!

  12. Dave Bishop says:

    Mr Walt Fisher and I became good friends at Central and when I went to Walsall Tech he arrived there too! I remember writing a short article detailing a motor race in which I was a competing driver. In short, stacatto-style I was very proud of the piece. So was Mr F who marked it with 99%, adding a stinging (written in red) after-comment of “Just 1% short but no-one is perfect – not even you!” Lesson learned.

    Mr. Fisher’s wife worked on the Lichfield Mercury and he offered me a job – without an interview! Sadly I turned it down but have continued to write and have had an interesting three separate careers. We remained in contact for a while but as usually happens I moved away and we lost touch.

    So, Anonymous, we both sat with Felicity Read did we? Interesting. Getting closer!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Late spring/early summer 1977 I sat an examination at Walsalll Tech and who should I see there but Mr Fisher. Turned out to be a lucky omen.

  14. Hey, you two… hope I’m not cursing this here, but I’d just like to say how much I, and the readership, are enjoying your conversation. Please do go on, we’ve all pulled up armchairs and are lighting pipes in reflection. I chatted to a couple of people yesterday and have had mail from people who are really enthralled by your chat.

    This is the kind of thing I always love to see on this blog – warm, funny and engaging conversation between two people about unrecorded history of our town.

    Little by little, we’re creating a record of our history, and I love to see it.

    All the best, and sorry to interrupt,


  15. Anonymous says:

    Hello Bob and many thanks for your kind words.

    I don’t know where all this will lead to or for how long, but sharing these memories with Dave has been one of life’s unexpected pleasures.

    Take care.

  16. Dave Bishop says:

    Thanks for the comments and encouragement and especially Anonymous for sharing – who knows where this will end? I must say that dredging memories up from the dark depths of my memory is very cathartic, not to mention good fun.

    Anonymous – do you remember when I was Head Boy at Central (John Horton was Deputy Head Boy)? During the winter of that year, which must have been 1971, we had a huge fall of snow overnight and getting anywhere was not the easiest. I struggled to school where the playground must have been 6″ deep in snow, only to find just a few other kids. By 9.30am there were about 200 kids, no teachers, so it was me with a couple of prefects. Calling all the boys into the hall I made the decision – and sent everyone home! I could reach no-one by phone; even the Education Offices in Cannock was empty.

    Half an hour later Ron Massey the Head turned up – and went ballistic!! But what else could I have done? Such power at such a young age. Wow!

  17. Dave Bishop says:

    Do you remember an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) John Dodd? Mr. Powell the Science teacher had inexplicably left the school and Mr Dodd appeared. He walked onto the raised section with the long teaching desk but said nothing. Alan (Angus) Grieve, never one to waste an opportunity, gave Mr. Dodd a bit of cheek, probably to ‘test the water’.

    Mr. Dodd suggested that we may want to meet a friend of his. From his barn briefcase, he brought a piece of tightly rolled polythene, introducing it as “Charlie, who speaks with a very loud voice.” He whacked this roll on the desk and what a crack it made. Angus wasn’t impressed, so Mr. Dodd said Charlie would talk to him. Just once. Bending over, Angus was brave. Mr. Dodd took a short swing and Angus’ bottom met loud Charlie! The next few seconds scene has often been seen in cartoons; Angus walked out – carefully, went down the corridor and let out such a pained scream that Mr. Dodd was never allowed to let anyone meet Charlie again. Mr. Dodd didn’t stay at Central very long. I often wondered why….

    During New Year five years ago, my wife and I, along with two friends who were staying with us, were chatting in the kitchen in our house in France, when it suddenly occured to me that John, sitting opposite me drinking coffee was John Dodd – the same man! What a small world it really is. Luckliy Charlie was nowhere to be seen!!

  18. Dave Bishop says:

    A note to Brownhills Bob. Many thanks for your encouragements – and for the opportunity. I became an avid reader of your blog a while back when I found it during a Google search. I was looking for something or other for my dad, who still lives in Brownhills.

    Your dedication to the town and its people is admirable and your blog is not a little bit of work to put together either. It must take hours to research and put together such a comprehensive, historical and well-archived record.

    Again, many thanks. My contribution is just one small part of a much greater hole. And thanks to Anonymous too for being so knowledgeable and entertaining. I’m getting closer to knowing you!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Dave, you were under a lot of pressure that winter’s day (from about 200 boys) and that was a lot of responsibility to fall on your young shoulders. In my opinion your decision was absolutely the right one…lol….please accept a belated but sincere thank you!

    A heavy fall of snow in our early years at the school resulted in a similar situation. With nobody in authority to make a decision, many of us (but not everybody) convinced ourselves the right thing was to return home. I can’t say I had a clear conscience as myself and a friend retraced our footsteps along the long line of stationary cars that had built up due to the snow, and we were alarmed to see our music teacher, Mr Hawker (correct me if I have his name wrong) standing beside his Vauxhall looking up the road ahead. I’m ashamed to say we stealthily made our way past him just in case he spotted us. The rest of the day had an illicit feel but we made the most of it!

    That is an incredible story about Mr Dodd! How in the name of synchronicity did it happen? What really sticks in my mind is dissecting a fish in one of his classes. The Angus incident was typical of the boy. He certainly had plenty of Scottish spirit and as history tells that can take you almost anywhere.

    One day Mr Powell had some of us pulling scientific equipment out of the narrow storage room behind the chalkboard wall for display on parents evening. It looked as if the stuff had never seen the light of day for years – we certainly had never used any of it- and I made the mistake of expressing my indignation saying it would give the parents a misleading impression of what we actually did in our science lessons. I must have touched a nerve because Mr Powell hit the roof and pointing in the general direction of the headmasters study told me to go and tell Mr Massey the same thing (I didn’t).

    Mr Powell eventually left at the end of a school year. His departure was officially announced during the customary end of term assembly and the boys gave him the biggest cheer of the afternoon. I can still see the look of surprise on his face. For the record he was one of two Welsh teachers at Central, the other one was Mr Parry.

    And thank you Dave for time travelling with me. You can take the boys out of Brownhills but you can’t take Brownhills out of the boys.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Regarding my indentity….I’m not trying to be provocative or mysterious…I’m just one of those people who don’t like the idea of their name appearing on the net…Dave, I have no problem with you knowing who I am….just don’t know how to tell you confidentially…..please hold on to your best guess until we figure that out…

  21. Anonymous says:

    Going back to the picture, Mr Shepherd’s predecessor in metalwork was Mr Hoyle. He it was who instructed us in the use of the gas/air blow torch, at that time the noisiest thing I had ever experienced at close quarters (the noisiest thing I have ever heard was not The Who, even though it was in Moony’s days, but a Tornado jet fighter going vertical).

    A rule was introduced that only allowed those who had passed the cycling proficiency test to take their bicycles into school. However, a kind of provisional licence was issued by Mr Doyle in the form of a red plastic tally for those yet to take the test. The tally could be forfeited for committing misdemeanours like riding your cycle into and across the playground to the bike shed rather than dismounting at the school entrance. Like so so many things, beyond it’s initial introduction I can’t remember this scheme being strictly enforced.

    On passing the test you were awarded a certificate, a pin badge,triangular in shape if I remember correctly, and a corresponding much larger badge, but contained within a circle, that fitted on to your handlebars. Ours were presented to us on ‘Speech Night’ at the Memorial Hall.

  22. Anonymous says:

    My previous post got me thinking about Mr Smith’s usual form of transport, his Vellocette motorcycle. These days it would be a classic. He wore a traditional helmet with a chin strap and a long coat belted at the waist, all in a sort of khaki colour. He rode his machine bolt upright and looked very stately. In inclement weather he drove to school in a first generation Vauxhall Viva (or so I remember).

    • Dave Bishop says:

      I do remember Mr. Smith on his Velocette, followed by his green Viva HA. Mr. Henstock had a new Renault 12, Mr. Jenkins had an Anglia Super and a Riley Pathfinder (he complained about not being able to master the gearchange, which was to the right of the driver’s seat). He was also reprimanded by Mr. Massey for sliding his car across the playground in the snow.

      I met Mr. Hoyle many years later when I was dropping my daughter off at school in Walton, Stafford. He was dropping his grand daughter at school. We chatted for a while and saw each other quite often after that at the school gates. Such a nice man.

      Do you remember Miss or Mrs. Ivy at Ogley Hay Junior? She was getting on a bit but was my brother’s teacher (he is three years older).

      Brownhills Bob stirred a few memories about the Warreners Arms too. I used to go to the ‘Outdoor’ for a treat, maybe a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar. There was a bell to ring and a sliding window where a scary landlord or his wife would appear. The paintwork was yellowing gloss paint that may have once been white and brown lower down. When the pub was busy you could stand waiting for ages to be served and then they wouldn’t be nice either! Such a nice, well-proportioned building.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The thing that has always stuck in my mind about silver haired Miss/Mrs Ivy is seeing her give new shoes to one of the pupils. I don’t know how that worked but I remember thinking at the time how kind she was.

    I don’t feel on solid ground when trying to recall Central’s appearance on BBC television.

    My memory is hazy, but broadly,as I remember it, Mr Massey was in a running battle with the education authority over bringing the school’s facilities up to date. I’m not saying the school actively courted publicity in the media as a means of shaming the education authority into some sort of practical response; I don’t possess that sort of knowledge in the matter. Nonetheless stories appeared in local newspapers and Michael Barratt introduced a Nationwide programme (the ‘One Show’ of it’s day) with a report on the school’s perceived plight. Or was the report confined to the Midlands Today slot?

  24. Dave Bishop says:

    Actually, Anonymous, the TV (it was Nationwide on BBC) came to Central because I wanted the opportunity to sit GCE ‘O’ levels. I had asked Mr. Massey if it was possible but he said that as we had not – and would not – cover any of the GCE curriculum. His arguement was that secondary school kids did CSE’s, not GCE’s as we were not smart enough!

    I started a campaign, even having a meeting in the Education Offices in Cannock, to persuade the chiefs to allow us to sit GCE exams and just see how we did. What could they lose? I pitched it to Mr. Massey that we should get some credibility for his attempts to have new toilets etc at school. It worked! I am not sure if all the oldest kids in the school sat the exams but I certainly did. And I got an English Language and English Literature ‘O’ level out of it!

    I appeared on Nationwide twice at school but was not prepared for the public attention. Such embarrassment! The school got either new or refurbished toilets out of it all – after our school year had left. A win-win situation. Tom Coine interviewed me once and Bob Barrett the second time. I should think the school was very happy when I had left!

    Did you sit the GCE’S?
    You can email me on my ‘spare’ email account (below) and I will reply via my usual account.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Everyone in my circle sat CSE’s and GCE’s….to think you had to campaign to enable us to do so….thank you! My best grade was in History…need I say more?

    I’d forgotten so much about the circumstances surrounding the BBC’s filming at the school but as soon as I read the name Tom Coine bits of it started to come back to me.Thanks for putting me right.

  26. Dave Bishop says:

    As an aside to our ‘usual’ conversation, other memories have dribbled almost un-noticed into my squdgy mush of a brain.

    I was in the St. John Ambulance Brigade when I was a young teen and we met in what I suppose was the changing room in the back bit of the Holland Park bandstand. Mr. Bagley (Tom?) was in charge but I can’t recall his ‘rank’. We spent hours bandaging up less-than-willing volunteers with Spika bandages, rendering immobile a large number of limbs and using slings to raise arms to an even more unnatural angle than if they had actually been broken!

    Our big break came when it was announced that a disaster-plan had been created which must have been cold-war time. Our extensive medical knowledge would soon be called upon as the four-minute warning seemed to loom ever closer. It was decided that a mock disaster would happen, as realistically as possible to test the emergency services and anyone else involved with the disaster plan. But sadly, after such a build-up I don’t remember it happening. Does anyone else?

    I was involved with a mock aircraft crash on Cannock Chase, however, and I was to be one of the victims. Convincing looking makeup was given to us poor victims and I had a ‘broken leg’, severe ‘burns’ and was in shock. The powder on my face put me almost into real shock – I looked cadaverous! At least on the Chase when I was found (after several hours), I was stretchered to an aid-station. Such a ham actor!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Mr Bagley….that’s a name that was lying dormant in my memory banks until you mentioned it. I went a few times to the St John’s Ambulance but decided the public was far safer without my participation.

    However, I did go to cub scouts. I think our Akela’s name was Mrs Mayo and she lived in what was then the ‘new’ houses down the Pelsall Road. The scout ‘hut’ as I remember ( and I can’t help but question myself after forgetting the details of the BBC filming) stood between Central and the fire station and seemed very old and musty. Every year we went to Beaudersert for what I suppose was the annual jamboree. They had all sorts of things going on, one of which was a ‘beat the goalie’ with an adult between much reduced in size sticks. I stepped up and (more by luck than skill) put the ball in the top right hand corner and into the net. I was ecstatic, and believe I got a long strip of Bluebird toffee as a reward for my efforts – what would Wayne Rooney think of that?

    I have a memory of our pack being shown around the fire station and my cold war connection is a speaker they had there that picked up nothing but a steady beat but which, we were told, would change in tempo in the event of a nuclear attack….some kind of geiger counter reading? Very sinister.

    • Peter says:

      anonymous. I’ve only just read this and enjoyed it hugely, where have you 2 guys gone?
      You mention the Scout Group in Brownhills and a Mrs. Mayo. You might be interested to hear that Mrs. Mayo (Mary) is still going strong and is acting as the district Secretary, she has had a bit of bad luck recently with her health and has been in and out of hospital with Hip problems. Mary and her husband do still live in Pelsall Road as you describe, they left for a while and lived up at Beaudesert working for the Beaudesert Trust I think. Mary has served the Scouting Movement since the days of Black and White and is as enthusiastic today as she was then.

  28. Dave Bishop says:

    I remember the old green wooden Scout hut between Central and the Fire Station. When it was demolished the two mobile classrooms were built and I was in one of the first classes to occupy them. We had Mr. Payton (King Tut) as our teacher. What a nice man.

    As my dad was a retained fireman at Brownhills, I well recall the building and it was a real shame when the service was ended and the station too was demolished.

    A strange thing occured to me today after I had read about old mortuary buildings on Brownhills Bob. The mortuary in Brownhills was opposite the old bandstand and partly inside the Council House car park. At Central Boys we had a lollipop man, an old chap named Harold Woodhouse and his other job was to clean the mortuary and move bodies that were coming in as well as those that had had a post mortem. One day (he knew my mum was a nurse), he asked me if I would help him, assuring me that all would be well.

    I joined Harold and we cleaned the place from top to bottom and he was correct – nothing scary happened. However, little did I know what was to happen just a couple of weeks later. One cold, dark evening Harold phoned to say he was feeling ill, but that he had been contacted by authorities that a body needed to be brought to the mortuary. I agreed to collect the keys from Harold to open up the mortuary. Nervously I ran to the mortuary and opened the outside door then waited for the ‘delivery’; I was not about to go in any further on my own in the dark!

    A policeman walked down the path – and advised me that a body had already been dropped off and that I was to put it in the fridge. Ooer! The copper wouldn’t stay (brave chap obviously) and so I had a job to do. Bear in mind that the building was in darkness and I didn’t know where the light switches were but I persevered. On openeing the door to the ‘theatre’, I saw a vague shadow on the slab and knew the body was there. No light switches on my end of the wall and I then recalled that the switch panel was on the opposite wall – past a dead body in an unlit room late at night. No problem then. Except as soon as the door closed behind me and I was in the room, the body moaned! Waaaaaa!!! I was petrified! Thoughts of the body actually being a live person flashed through my mind so I had to sprint to get the lights on, mainly from abject fear, partly from a need to check the ‘client’. As soon as I had the lights on I checked the pulse of the body. Nothing and the skin was very cold, so I was sure all was as it should be. I had to check breathing and pulse before I put the body in the fridge.

    Once done I locked up and don’t think I had ever run so fast down the High Street to get home before. One experience that I didn’t want to repeat but soon after Harold sadly passed away, so I was asked to stand in until a new person could be employed. Next time I had no fear. Nor the time after that. Such happy days.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I’ve read your post out loud to wide eyed members of my family who listened in silence except for one horrified exclamation of “No Way!” Really spooky and I can see you in my minds eye high tailing it back down the High Street.

    Holland Park was where Central’s football teams played their home games. However, our weekly ‘games’ afternoons took place on the playing fields at Burntwood. First years went on Monday afternoons, second years on Tuesdays and so on, transported there by Harper Bros.coaches and buses. Thursdays in fourth year were brilliant – football all afternoon with Friday just around the corner and the weekend to look forward to.

    During this period Burntwood swimming bath was built and it was there that DJ Ed Stewpot Stewart and the Radio One Roadshow came to visit one lunchtime. I can’t remember how, but some of us managed to get hold of tickets and rushed out of school to get the bus to Chase Terrace. The road show started at 12pm so inevitably place was packed when we got there and despite our tickets it took us ages to persuade the people manning the doors to let us in. We were only inside minutes before we had to catch the bus back to school.

    Talking of Harper Bros., they ran special buses to Villa, Albion and Wolves games. The Wolves pick up point was outside the Station Hotel and Villa and Albion on the opposite side of the road outside Hardings clothing shop that also served as booking agents for Harpers, so you could buy your tickets there rather than on the bus. Don’t ask me why, but I really miss having those green buses around.

    And while we are in this area of the town, there was mention on the site about the shop down from the Station Hotel that sold ‘Dinky model cars’. This was Mrs Bevan’s shop and it wasn’t Dinky’s and Corgis’s that were displayed in the right hand window but Lesney Matchbox models. The rest of the shop contained all sorts of things.

    Happy days indeed.

  30. Sally says:

    I went to Ogley juniors in 1963 for just one year, before Millfield was built and everyone south of Ogley Road transferred. I remember Mrs Phillips, Mrs Ivy, Mrs Colley, Mr A.R. Thomas, Mr I.T. Thomas, Mr Riley (handy with the cane…), Mr Williscroft and Mr Horton. I was in the same year as Janette Elkington, Jane Mamza, Linda Horobin, Nigel Hallsworth, Tommy Dean, Rita Matthews, Jennifer Grantham, Paul (?) Whiteley and Gary Fitzpatrick – plus others I can’t bring to mind at present.

    I spent 3 years at Millfield under the watchful eye of Mr Marshall (head) and his opera singer wife. It was ages before the school could afford a piano so our assemblies saw Mr M on his violin and his warbling wife leading the hymn singing.

    In 1966, I passed my 11 plus and plodded up the hill to Slade Prison (sorry……Shire Oak Grammar) to begin the worst 5 years of my life. The teachers swept along the corridors in ankle length black cloaks like extras in a Batman film, whilst we looked like the cast of St Trinian’s in our straw boaters and ankle socks. On the last day, my boater went sailing off into the sunset via the canal at Anchor Bridge – and good riddance, I say.

    I still live in Brownhills and although I was pleased to see the arrival of Wilkinsons, I’m still mourning the loss of Scoops…

  31. Pete Ford says:

    This really stirs the memories! I was the young PE teacher in the picture and have many interesting and happy recollections of life in the old boys’ school.

    • Dave Cresswell formerly of Church Rd where the car park now is says:

      Seeing all the names of Teachers in these articles brings back many memories for me of my short time at Ogley Hay Junior and Infants schools as well as my short time at Central Central School before going into care at a home in Stafford.

      I also remember a rather stupid boy severely injuring his hand making a makeshift firework with sugar and fertilizer and then running across the playground having caused an explosion. he was so lucky the fire station was next door as I believe they assisted with a speedy tip to the hospital.

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  33. Scap says:

    Hi I was one of the prefects in the 5th year when that home made firework was made. I can remember the lads name but won,t say who it was.
    I still see Pete Ford in Aldridge

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  35. Petra says:

    Hi I was at brownhills comp. We were the first ones to be there from central boys and ogley hay girls schools. I have some fond memories of Karen Linda Jackie Beverley and all my other school buddies we got into mischief a lot but it was all fun. Mr Massey was a brilliant headmaster I have fond memories of him.

  36. SKS says:

    I started in 1973 at the ‘Annexe’ . Mr Massey, Mr Hodge and Mr Smith were still there. My form teacher I recall was Mrs Emberton and Mrs Morton who lived at Brownhills West taught us French. Later I was taught by Mr Jarrett (Science), Mrs Bell (English), Mr Powell (Sports) and Mr Rapsey (Business Studies I think) among others. Mr Massey was still around when we moved to the ‘Comp’ but he wasn’t headmaster, that was Mr Gray if memory serves?

    • Petra says:

      These were all the teachers that taught me were you in the same year as me then? Ithoght it was 1972 we moved from ogley hay girls school

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