The road no less travelled

Today, join me as I take a historical stroll up the Pelsall Road from the old council house. I have memories of many features of this busy thoroughfare from when I was younger – the Kingdom Hall, Taylors Cafe, The Potters Clay works. It seems as if, at one point, this was the prosperous end of town, around which the early growth of Brownhills spawned, rather than the older Ogley Hay. I well remember the old railway bridge, before the island was built, and the traffic lights that controlled the junction, seemingly taking forever to change.

All the photos in this feature are scanned from books written by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington. I strongly advise readers to grab a copy if they ever get chance. They’re like gold dust, and with good reason. As ever, I thank Clarice and Geoff for their sterling work.

I never realised that the old Central Boy's School - or the annex as my generation knew it - was built in separate chunks. When I was a kid in the 1970's, I seem to remember the railway yard - complete with small brick hut - was a woodyard or something like that.Taken from 'Memories of Old Brownhills' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

I can just about remember some of the terraces here being demolisedhed in the seventies, but some of the old houses remain. Taken from 'Memories of Old Brownhills' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

This scene has changed totally - except for the Swan, which, as a number of readers have pointed out, is boarded up again. Taken from 'Memories of Old Brownhills' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

I had to think about this one. Today, there is postwar housing on the left, and a thicket hedge on the right, round a small paddock also bordered by the canal, just visible heading in from centre right. Taken from 'Memories of Brownhills Past' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

I'm aware that Pelari's ice cream was an institution for a long period in Brownhills. The name did not die, however, as today a hairdressers opposite Silver Court is called Pelari Hair. I wonder if there's a family connection? Taken from 'Memories of Old Brownhills' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

I don't know anything about the Yew Tree Inn and can't seem to find a picture anywhere. It seems to have been demolised to build the Edward Rose factory - which in turn has been cleared for the new council depot. Everything must pass. Taken from 'Memories of Old Brownhills' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

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17 Responses to The road no less travelled

  1. jane taylor says:

    Hi Bob. Remember me? My husband and I owned The Prince of Wales pub on the A5 until Aug 2007. WELL….we are now buying The Swan on Pelsall Rd. Yes its finally happening! Are we mad do you think? I’m still not sure.
    We should be in there by the end of June and open by mid July. The money situation wont allow us to remain closed for long enough to do all the work that needs doing BUT we will be making changes once we’re in there.
    I just hope that we do well. If you think about it there are no pubs in Clayhanger now, the new estate by Tesco is within walking distance as is the Hussey estate.
    I wonder if you have much historical information on The Swan? I would be very interested to know its background.

  2. stymaster says:

    Hi Jane

    Wow. You’ve genuinely pleased me. I love The Swan, so I wish you well with it. Drop me an email when you open and I’ll take a walk up.

    As to history: It was once owned by William Roberts, along with The Station Hotel (now demolished), the Shoulder of Mutton, and the Spring Cottage in Bloxwich. Both The Swan and the Shoulder of Mutton still have original etched windows from that time. Have a look here. A quick google for William Roberts may reveal stuff.

  3. That’s wonderful news, Jane. Please contact me when you’re ready to open, and I can do a profile and give you a plug. Who knows, I might even pop in for a pint…

    Best of luck. Good to see a closed local pub reopen.

    Best wishes


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  5. Paul Cox says:

    Hiya Bob, Im looking for a link you had on here regarding a lorry crash into the anchor bridge….stoke based lorry if i remember right…there was a great photo of the high street as well taken from the other side of the bridge on this link, think it was a 1960s high street photo, if you can help and im sure you can then thank you very much indeed for your help in this matter, its that i have my parents alvin and edna cox coming for sunday roast (howdles is a great shop for beef) and like to get these to see these photos. e-mail me at as well cheers have a good sunday.

  6. Jane says:

    Hi. Just wanted to bring you upto date on the fiasco of us ‘trying’ to buy The Swan in Brownhills. Technically we should have moved in and be open now BUT Enterprise Inns have decided to throw an almighty spanner in the works. They are now considering not sellin to us and reopening it themselves. They have failed to do any good there over the past 10 years so why they think they can do better now is beyond me? Its a nightmare for us as, to date, we have accrued costs of over £13,000 and our daughter left her job to work for us so she is now unemployed with little hope of finding work. Nothing we can do except wait, with everything crossed, for the board meeting next week. Like living on a knife edge.

  7. stymaster says:

    Keep us posted Jane. Good luck.

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  9. Jane says:

    THE SWAN UPDATE…right, finally we have exchanged contracts on the pub. Enterprise have imposed extra stipulations on us which are…
    They wont complete the sale until 22nd September and
    We cannot open until 1st November!
    Please dont ask me why because there is no reasonable excuse for such other than them not wanting us to succeed there. We aim to hold our heads high and rise above their immaturity and, hopefully, show them what a good pub The Swan will be.

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  12. David James says:

    Re; your trip down Pelsall Rd
    I was born at 162 Pelsall Road on 28/5/41 which was next door but one to The Yew Tree pub a named bus stop for the Number 11 bus from Walsall to Brownhills via Pelsall
    We lived next door to Mrs Arblaster (nee Wilcox) whose husband was killed in the pit explosion down by Highbridges
    We were compulsory purchased in the mid sixties and moved to 16 Albion Road on the Hussey Estate
    Regarding The Swan; it is now open for business and is our regular meeting point for the old Brownhills Scouts reunion; 8 of whom are alive and kicking survivors of the 1953 never-to- be forgotten camping trip to the Isles of Scilly in 1953 and that is another story if anyone is interested
    If it is of any interest my Great Grandfather was William Marklew the tenant farmer who had the farm at the top of Bug Row (sorry I should have said Coppice Side) and my Auntie Vi ran Smiths shop in Salters Road

    • ROBERT DEVINE says:

      hi david, my name is robert devine, im 48yrs old now. i moved to 163 pelsall rd in 1978 from 9 vicarage rd aged 12 with my parents.. dennis & queenie devine” when i was 24-25 i moved with my then wife & 2 children into 16 albion rd.. hussey estate. i moved out 4 yrs ago now and live in new invention willenhall. i moved into 16 albion rd following the death of a mr james who maybe your father? it was a lovely home, many good memorys. thankyou for putting this up. Robert Devine.

  13. David Evans says:

    Hi David James
    I remember your aunt Vi and her grocers shop in Salters Road Walsall Wood very well..I think your father may be in one of the Clayhanger 1926 group photos outside the Methodist Chapel.I am sure it is in the blog somewhere. I wonder what memories of the events surrounding the photo were passed on to you…
    kind regards
    David Evans

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  15. Roy says:

    Hi, you mention the Kingdom Hall in your write up on this Blog. Bit of History please, is the current Kingdom Hall built on the site of a previous Kingdom Hall. Do you know the date of the Kingdom Hall build and when was the previous Kingdom Hall occupied by the JW’s. ( for my wifes Uni Course). Thank you. Roy. email:

  16. David James says:

    Its now 2022 and I have just unearthed this blog having severd my ties with Brownhills many years ago and now live in Cornwall close to Redruth aged 81
    I have wife, two daughters, three grandsons and to two great-grandsons and one great grand-daughter
    I remember the Yew Tree, the Collier and the Swan pubs having spent many hours enjoying the Butlers bitter beer in the latter
    I haven’t been back to Brownhills for ages but one of the lasting memories were the Wurlitzer Jukebox in the ‘Top Oak’ and the one in Taylors Cafe (next to the old Fire Station and Scout Hut) that cost a threpenny bit to play a record
    If anyone remembers me please make contact so I can relive memories

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