Distant voices – Clayhanger remembered

1962 1:2500 Ordnance Survey mapping of Clayhanger - surveyed in the 1950's, a period Michael would recall well. Click on image for a large version.

Way back at the end of July I received a wonderful email from Michael Edwards, a regular reader of the blog. This was a wonderful recollection of life in Clayhanger in the fifties, and at the time, brought tears to my eyes. Michael writes in a plain, beautifully evocative style that I found touching and interesting and highly engaging.

After receiving the initial mail from Michael, I wrote back to him to ask if he’d like to write a more extensive piece for the Brownhills Blog – sadly, he felt it wasn’t really his kind of thing, and since then, I’ve been unable to contact him. I’ve decided to publish the original mail here now, in the hope that he reads it, and is encouraged to write more by your positive feedback. If you like what Michael has to say, please do comment, and if possible, add your own recollections.

There is clearly a wealth of memory out there we need to give a voice to, before it’s lost forever. Michael, I thank you for your excellent, emotive contribution – please do write again.

My name is Michael Edwards, and I grew up in Clayhanger in the Nineteen Fifties.

Oh, I know things change, that’s inevitable. But what can’t change, are memories. We lived in a coalminers terrace house with an outdoor loo at the back of the garden. It was on Church Street, where my friend Chaz now lives – In a new house of course. Every evening after dark we walked the railway track from Pelsall sidings to Brownhills, picking coal from the embankment or ‘batters’ as we called them. It was coal that fell from the trains, and helped us out a lot.

Howdles farm was an amazing playing ground, and The Swag was a little boys wonderland. The fair came to the village once a year, it was small, but had chair-o-planes and sometimes a cakewalk. Never a ‘Big Wheel’ though.

At the top of the village Wicksons who had some coaches, on occasion would show movie (pictures) in their large garage. We sat on benches and loved it all. Of course there was the ‘Regent’ in Brownhills, but that meant crossing Clanger Tip, and negotiating past the Pumping Station and the ‘white horse’ on the common.

On warm summer nights the drunks would fall out of The George and Dragon and empty the pockets for us kids sitting on the doorstep. A few coppers, maybe a threppeny bit. I can hear them now. ” Here you are ya little buggers”

On bonfire night our Aunt Lil would make loads of mushy peas, and amazing toffee apples.

We where poor, but never lacked for anything. Oh I could go on. It’s not just about ‘the good old days’, they where just my childhood days and I remember them fondly.

Thank you for your site, I visit often, more like an emotional top-up.

My brother, our Arthur still ives in Brownhills, and grows some amazing vegetables. I live just outside Lakefield, Ontario, about 120 miles north east of Toronto. It is a beautiful location. we live in a 180 year old log cabin (renovated on the inside) on a hill surrounded by farms and views for miles.

Thanks once again putting the time in on your blog. I am a daily visitor to Chaz’s birding blog as well, perhaps it’s because he lives where I once did. He’s a nice bloke too!

Cheers, Michael Edwards

An usual photo from Clayhanger’s past – from that excellent work ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

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6 Responses to Distant voices – Clayhanger remembered

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  5. Ken Briggs says:

    I live next door to Chaz Flory Brooke’s lived in the cottage she told us they keep pigs in the garden she moved lower down church st not as far as Michael alas not here any more I still see her son in pox son the butcher on brownhills high st The swag is the same in the 70 open cast mining came which left us the mere a lovely pond with a walk around access made a little hard now but worth a walk around

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