Here’s a brief enquiry for the landscape historians amongst us. I’m preparing the ground for a post about the Sire Oak – not the pub, but the tree itself. Cut down and lost in the late Victorian era, this arboreal marker has become the subject of discussion between myself and top local history operative [Howmuch?]. We know the tree was lost in the 1890’s, and we know it stood at the former junction of Lichfield Road and Holly Lane, near the ridge fault that runs across the southern slope of Shire Oak Hill. We also know that a preserved chunk of the tree was polished, varnished and mounted, and donated as a memorial to Shire Oak School. Many of us will remember gazing at the unfortunate chunk of oak whilst stood outside the Headmaster’s office awaiting a bollocking from Betty.
I’m after several things. The tree is marked properly on very few maps. It just touches the online record of the ordnance survey, appearing on an 1884 map, but is gone by the following 1902 issue. I’m after a better map – I know of the one in ‘The Stonnall Mysteries’ by Julian Ward-Davies, but I’m after something with more technical precision, possibly about 1850. I’d swear I’ve seen one somewhere, but can’t find it. I’m also after a decent photo and details of the inscription on the Shire Oak exhibit in the school – can anyone get a decent picture for me? Who was it donated to, and is it genuine? What was the lump of wood doing for 60 years before it was polished and screwed to a table?
Lets see what we can get. Any anecdotes, or even pictures (I know that’s an awful long shot) – this landmark has existed in the community psyche of Brownhills for generations. It would be nice to see what we can assemble as a record of a great tree. Please either comment on this post or mail me at BrownhillsBob at googlemail dot com.