Howdles Lane – what do you know?

Last weekend, I received the following inquiry from Neil Taylor, who is interested in the history of the Newtown area of Brownhills, specifically Howdles Lane and Anglesey Road. Neil had this to say:

Hi bob,

I’ve been a resident of Anglesey Road, Brownhills for the last five and a half years and I’ve been trying to find out some history of what was around the immediate area before our houses were built, i believe the two old semi’s in Howdles Lane were farm houses and the Prince of Wales was originally a house, I would be grateful if you could tell me where to look for any in depth history.

many thanks,


I thank Neil for his intriguing enquiry, and must admit that I know little about that area of Brownhills, and invite contributions from the readers. I had a reader recently take me to task for not covering much about the areas north of Watling Street, like Newtown and Brownhills West. There’s a very good reason for that: little in the way of photographic record seems to exist, and I don’t know these areas at all well, I’m sad to say. If any readers have information or pictures to share, please do contact me, either by commenting on the blog or mailing me at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

In the meantime, I dug some maps out of the archives, which show – even at the turn of the century – that the area was quite densely built upon in comparison to the rest of Brownhills.


Sadly poor quality Ordnance Survey 1887 map of the area, Howdles Lane is central. Click on the image for a slightly more legible version.

Better quality 1938 1:10,000 Ordnance Survey map of the same area. Click for a legible version.

As for other places to look, Brownhills Library at The Parkview Centre has an excellent local history section, and there are several books there that may help, but the very best place to go for these kind of things is always The Walsall Local History Centre, where top researchers and archivists like Stuart Williams and Paul Ford are ready to help interpret their fantastic collection of historical information. Use of the centre is free, and it’s located in Essex Street in Walsall.

I’m fascinated to see what turns up.

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33 Responses to Howdles Lane – what do you know?

  1. Martin says:

    Hi i was brought up in Howdles Lane, in the 50’s, Living in the Cottages , No 31, at that time the Lans was just a dirt track, there where field’s opposit our cottage, Anglesey, Road was not there then, and Chapel lane was also a dirt track, which we use to call the Back lane, which run the side of the Prince of wales pub and Park view Chapel.

    We had one cold water Tap the toilet was out side, no Bathroom, just a Zinc Bath, which had to be fill from the Kettles heated on a open black leaded grate, damp was always a problem, I left Howdles Lane in 1967, because they were condemned, some people always said they where nearly 200 hundred year’s old, not really sure about that.

    I had some happy time’s there, times were hard, but we had a great community spirit, and everybody knew one anothers family’s

  2. Jemma Howdle says:

    Hi there my name is Jemma Howdle I used to live in tamworth close opposite howdles lane, I was told as a child by my great grandad and my dad that my great grandad Frank Howdle named that road howdles lane, dont know how true this is but my great grandad supposedly sold the road when the houses was 1st being built there!! If anyone knows any information about this I would be happy to know about it as I’m intrigued in finding out about my background! I have also been told that my family originated from Saudi Arabia and Spain in our blood !! I don’t know much more as my dad doesn’t really open up about this!! Jemma 🙂

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    This blog may have gone cold by now, but here goes …

    Jemma, I will comment separately on Howdles.

    Neil, the two old semis you refer to were origanally four, with another pair immediately to the south. In 1881 they were known as H Twist Cottages and two were occupied by Henry Twist and son John, who were local builders. I believe they built these houses in the 1870s. One of these houses was occupied by my great grandfather and his son John, who, my father told me, had a smallholding adjacent. My information is that this was between 1911 and 1948. John’s main occupation was haulier. It appears they never were farm houses.

    I am gradually chipping away at this very local history, but I still have some questions to answer before I go public.

  4. Andy Dennis says:

    Jemma, your comment that the road was sold after the houses were first built solves a problem. I don’t know about a Frank Howdle, but in 1861 one resident was George Howdle a proprietor of houses. George was in the area in 1851, but was an agricultural labourer. He was born at Heminborough, Yorkshire in about 1798. George remained at Howdle’s Cottages, but in 1871 was a letter carrier (having sold the houses) and in 1881 had no occupation. He died in 1885 leaving an estate valued at £180 3s 10d. His son, Henry lived in the lane afterwards and was a well sinker.

    But, for me, the most interesting thing is that you say the lane was sold after the houses were first built. If true (I’ve no reason to doubt you, but it would still be good to find some documentary evidence) this scotches the rumour that the old cottages were about 200 years old when demolished in 1967. This never did make sense, anyway (though to look at them would be to believe it), as in the late 1700s the area was mainly open heath as far as the eye could see with no farming, coal mining or other gainful employment that would lead to demand for houses in that location.

    The circumstantial evidence of Cannock Chase No.2 pit opening in 1852 and the need to house miners, Enclosure Act 1853, land for sale 1854, enclosure works from 1856, and census records, put together with your comment indicate these cottages were built between about 1855 and 1860.

    On the opposite (west) side of the lane, where my Dad’s uncle Jack (John in my previous reply) had a smallholding, the previous owners appear to have been a David Howdle and William Bailey. The only local David Howdle I could find farmed at Clayhanger; Swingbridge Farm is specified in the 1891 – 1911 censuses. I believe he was the grandson of George Howdle.

  5. A.Williamson says:

    Im sure one of the howdles family still live in the first house in wyrley close at the end of the white horse road !!!

  6. Pedro says:

    Sep 1902…Eunice Carter (13), Howdles Cottages, charged with stealing 1s 4d, the property of Enoch Carter…bound over by the Bench the Pollice Court Missionary undertaking to have her traine for domestic service.

    Oct 1914…Scalding Fatality at Brownhills…Sad death of a young child…Howdles cottages.

    July 1903…Herbert Luke, miner, Howdles cottages, Hammerwich, charged with stealing two iron hurdles…£10 fine bound over for twelve months.

    March 1908…George Poxton, Howdles Cottages Brownhills, labourer was charged George Cotterell, Farm Bailiff to CAPTAIN WB HARRISON, with having stolen three fowls…Complainant stated that on the Sunday in question he saw the defendant, and received a complaint about some fowls which, it was stated, defendant’s dog had killed. He had a lurcher dog with him…Goal for one month with hard labour.

    (One of the above says Howdles Cottages at Hammerwich, and there is also a mention of the same in Chasetown)

    • Andy Dennis says:

      Thanks, Pedro. Probably a bit late to reply here, but I wonder if I could trouble you for the full record?

      The story I have so far is:

      Eunice, as it says, lived at Howdle’s Cottages, now Howdles Lane, Brownhills. The order of census records (e.g. 1901) indicates this was furthest from the Watling Street and I believe this was one of a pair of cottages on the inside of the bend, where No. 60 is today. In my childhood there were two semi-detached cottages with dormer windows that hid mostly behind a tall hedge. I believe these were demolished in 1967.

      At the time of the crime Eunice was 13 years old. Her mother, Ellen, unmarried, had died in 1889 when Eunice was born (both death and birth registered Jan 1889) and her brother Enoch was about 11. They lived with their grandparents Joseph and Mary Ann Carter.

      Living nearby, at back of Knaves Castle was a cousin Enoch Carter, but he was just 9 years old. So it seems likely that the victim of this crime was Eunice’s brother, Enoch.

      There is no sign in 1911 of an occupation, still with Enoch and grandparents, so whether Eunice did go into service is unclear.

      (Eunice’s grandparents were my great great grandparents.)

      • Dave D says:

        There was an old terrace on the bend of Howdles Lane probably demolished in the early 1980’s. I remember cycling past, I was only very young, and an old man with a flat cap flicking dog poop at me with his walking stick and chuckling to himself.
        The terrace was by to the big house which belonged to the Darby family who ran the little shop next to the chip shop (now Couture Hair & Beauty)

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  8. Steve Green says:

    I lived in Howdles Lane between 1961 and 1974, and my mother (a Brummie) lived there all of her life from 1961 onwards.

    The part of Howdles Lane from Watling street up to the bend was “unadopted” when we first moved in, with a very poor road surface indeed, and was not properly connected to the Whitehorse road end. I can therefore confirm what Martin says (Martin, you wouldn’t happen to be a Norgrove would you?).

    Part of what Creswell’s, the builders who built all the “even number” houses on Howdles Lane, brought to the table was to properly tarmac the road, after which Brownhills Urban District Council adopted the Lane.

    Incidentally, Knaves Castle Avenue cam along much later, as as a child I used to play in the fields the houses were built on.

    A number of older houses/cottages survived, and I think still do. The only one of the old cottages that were there in 1961 on the “odd numbers” side is 43, which was owned and lived in by the Cartwright family (baker Fred and Brenda, and their children Patricia and Freddy – whatever happened to them?), and it survived as they did a huge amount of modernisation work on it. Others surviving from the old days include 36 and 38. The cottages on the inner bend (even side) had certainly gone by the late 1970s and been replaced by new houses,, and the very old cottage opposite owned by the man with the flat cap (see earlier), who was a Mr Benton, on the odd number side was gone by 1980.

    Does anyone remember the rebuilt Castle Working Men’s Club, that used to occupy the number two site on Howdles Lane, next to Watling Street?


    • Pete Dicks says:

      I remember the club, and in the 30+ YEARS of living here I don’t ever remember going inside

  9. Pete Dicks says:

    I live in 38 Howdles Lane and have the deeds if anyone wants to see them I think this and 36 next door were built around1880
    Pete Dicks

  10. barbara cassidy says:

    Yes, Its “good old” Barbara Cassidy here – see I do look even if I don’t comment regularly. My mum was brought up in Howdles Lane from the age of 3 years old and was a life-long friend of Andy Dennis’ mum. I have photos of my family in Howdles Lane when it was just a dirt track in the ’50s and, although the surroundings look poor, everyone is very glam in their Sunday best. There was a real sense of community in that area then. My grandfather, John William Farmer, was a very popular soul (1888 – 1961) and he had a close friend (Frank Howdle) as I recall who’d sit in the front garden and chat to passers-by in decent weather. My uncle David Smith lived in a semi where the bungalow (around no.23) now sits. I was born in a house on the corner of Howdles Lane and Watling Street which was demolished around 1966 to make way for the row of shops which now exist and remember tales of my mum and her friends and neighbours hanging their washing out on the lines on the common near to the pub on the other side of the A5 which was The Anglesey Arms. There was a row of shops which faced the A5 where the bungalows are now. The chippy was “Ginny’s” and a lovely lady, Mrs Kendrick and her son, Roy, ran the grocery store. The club, always known to me as “Doody’s” was also there and was run by Mrs Doody who, I am told, ran a tight ship – a bit like Mrs Walker in The Rover’s Return. The Anglesey Road/ Chapel Ave/Street/Hanbury estate was built in the late 1950s. I understand it was all pig farms and the farmer was paid “a pound a plot”. These are my recollections. I do have a great photo of The Anniversary” in 1941 at Park View Methodist Church if anyone wants to see it.

    • Hi Barbara

      You’re always welcome.

      I’m interested in any material you’d be prepared to share, that’s very kind of you. For me particularly, the whole arc of the Park View story has been particularly interesting as up until it bacame a focus, the church/chapel had been off my radar.

      If you need a hand I think Andy knows you and I’m sure he’d be happy to help – trust I’m not speaking out of turn there.

      Thanks for your contribution – the more the merrier.


    • Hi Barbara, my family lived in the bungalow at number 21 in the early 70s. Next door to
      the Smith family. I think the young Smith girl was Margaret? She would be around 54 now. The family across the road had 4 children , Vivienne, Christina and a boy and a little girl who was 4or5 years old. One day in the little 4 year old went missing. Everyone in the lane came out and was looking for her. I think most people expected the worst. It was so sad. Parents, kids, neighbors all looking. The police and detectives came, it seemed to go on all day. Then thank goodness she was found playing unharmed at her little friends house.
      Annette Melbourne Australia

      • Jean tony says:

        Hi Annette my husband and I have lived at 21 for 26years we’ve been very happy here ,I do believe a member of your family visited us when they came back to England for a holiday and wanted to look round the bungalow , also they said they would like to buy it if we sold don’t think that would happen. Jean tony grimmitt

  11. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    thank you Barbara….please, would love to see 1941 Anniversary..Park View images are like hens’ teeth….as are images of Mount Pleasant Chapel, too!
    kind regards

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  13. barbara cassidy says:

    Hi David,

    Do get in touch as I have three photos I’d like you to see. One from the E and S many years ago at Watling St school which was Mrs Hilda Craddock’s retirement as I recall when I was 11 – all great ’70s hair etc . Call me on 01543 373983 and I’ll get you copies


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  15. Sara Howdle says:

    Hi All,
    George Howdle was my 3rd great-grandfather and I’m finding this fascinating to read as I’ve spent the past few years researching my family tree. There’s more info re: Howdles Lane (although I’m sure you’ve already seen it as this is quite an old thread) –
    Best wishes
    Sara Howdle

  16. Stan Shingler says:

    Dear Bob,
    Thank you for a brilliant article on Howdles Lane and the dam.
    I lived at the bottom of the lane on the right next to the Bentons with the Walkerdines behind us between 1945 and 1950. I can’t remember any remains of the dam as situated in your maps. I think the area towards Norton Pool was a tip for the pit, since
    I remember going there coal-picking with my dad when I was a nipper.
    This is all very interesting, especially for someone born and bred there who
    now lives thousands of miles away.

    • Clive says:

      Hello Stan. you made me smile when you mentioned coal picking, myself and my brother used to go over Clayhanger coal picking in the early 1960s are little fingers would be frozen, we couldn’t go home till we filled the old pram up with coal, they were hard times, don’t want to go back to those times, no way.

  17. L. Williams says:

    Hello Jemma. My Grandfather was a Howdle, his g grandparents were George and Mary (Sherwood) Howdle who lived in Bracken House. I too have heard a story that either the Howdles or someone that married into the Howdles came from France to England and had a Moorish-Spanish background. My mother picked up this story at a young age, and my grandmother did say that her husband’s family came from France but not necessarily that they were French. Wondering if you have done your DNA on Ancestry or My Heritage and if so how closely we are related. Hoping you will see this.

  18. Leigh Williams says:

    Also I see that the Howdle Lanes are in the Midlands of England. I do not believe that everyone is speaking about my ggg grandfather George ( spouse Mary Sherwood) Howdle, but about their son George Howdle a brother to my gg grandfather Thomas (spouse Hannah Campey) Howdle. . ggg grandfather George: born in 1772 in Barmby, Married in 1797 and died in 1857 in Barlow – he was a farmer. His son George b. 1798 Hemingbrough, married Hannah Lazenby in 1824 in Drax. This George Howdle and Hannah Lazenby line are known as the Howdle’s West Midlands Branch and I believe this is the George that you may all be referring to as from Howdle’s Lanes. My direct Howdle line is from Yorkshire.

    • Annette Wilson says:

      Hi Jean and Tony, forgive me for my tardiness in replying to your post, dated 2015. Life in Australia has been busy for me and mine and of course time trots on ! Haha!
      Great to hear you have enjoyed living at number 21. It’s a lovely home. My parents Bob and Lilian Jennings purchased the house in the early 70’s.
      There was a marriage break up and my mom moved us five kids to Cannock Chase for a very short time. We came back to 21 Howdles Lane when Lilian (our mom) and our stepfather Harry Taylor (Brownhills man) took over the mortgage. We all came to Australia in ‘73.
      Lovely to hear the bungalow is in loving hands.
      The lady who knocked on your door was my mom. She is living in Perth with part of the family Lesley and Gary, My eldest brother settled in Regional NSW. I married a Sydney boy and we
      Moved to Melbourne in 1976. I just remembered the name of the family who lived across from number 21 was Matthews!
      Vivienne, Christina and a brother and baby sister Matthews. Their grandparents were long time residents of Howdles Lane at the time. Perhaps the family are still there?
      I remember polishing the beautiful parquetry floor in your Long hallway . And we kept a pony called Judy in the paddock backing on to the back of the house. Perhaps you have neighbors at the back now?!!
      All the best to you and yours
      Annette Wilson.

  19. Pauline says:

    I lived at 56 Howdles lane for a short time in the 1960s.
    My mum remembers living near a farm?
    We drive down occasionally to see the changes.

  20. Patricia Bromfield says:

    When we were returning from Lichfield a few months ago I was amazed at how different the are that was known as ‘across the common’, or ‘across Watling Street’ had changed. Howdles Lane was very much a semi-rural location, with fields a nd crops growing, and a pig farm on theA5.I grew up in Howdles Lane from 1942 until i left to get married in the early 1960s. I lived at no.4, the second cottage on the left-hand side, that was attached to two typically two storey Victorian artisans houses. We lived next door to Leo Thacker, with his large garden, orchard and poultry.
    I was pleased someone remembers the dreadful state of the Lane – unadopted- very much so. Visitors with cars would park at the pub and walk down, and I was used to wearing wellingtons and carrying a shoe bag.
    On a mid Victorian Census Howdles Lane seems to have been called Eames. Cottages. The Eames family, from whom Mrs Yardley was descended, came the are are Moira and Ashby, presumably for work. The house we lived in had been her grandfathers and she would mention family members who’d lived in various cottages on our side of the Lane.
    I have a lot of memories of Howdles Lane and had a very happy childhood – there was so much freedom with the surrounding fields and open country – much more i could add.

  21. Reg Fullelove says:

    steve coopers pig farn by foxes rrow the black pad link road to the council houses up the fort joaner deakins empire st thomasons missiiion and the little chapel happy days

    • Patricia Bromfield says:

      I remember all the above places. Steve Cooper’s mother lived inn one of the cottages and always seemed a lovely old lady. Her cottage had fruit tree/s at the front and was easy to pick out. I think the field behind our house may have belonged to Mr Cooper, although during the war the building that was in it was used by the Home Guard. we always called it the Home Guard Hut.

      The little chapel – Mount Pleasant – was best known to me as a child. Sunday School, morning and afternoon and evening service kept me busy most Sundays. There was a service and meeting on Tuesdays, and chapel bazaars and sales, treats, anniversaries and occasional trips. Always something to be doing.

      With another coronation coming up, I am reminded of the preparations that went on to celebrate our late Queen’s event. Money was raised by some of the ladies over the winter months to fund the food- beetle drives, whist drives and so forth. Arrangements had been made to hold the ‘bun fight’ in the school – a lucky thing as June 2nd 1953 was a very wet day. I think we watched the Coronation itself on the Scoffhams television with crowd of people. There were only a few TVs in the Lane then.

      Does anyone know if all the cottages and houses were leasehold. We used to pay ground rent at the Anglesy Estate Office in Lichfield, next door to the council Offices. The Yardleys were offered the land by the estate soon after the old marquess died. I learned quite young what freehold meant.

    • Patricia Bromfield says:

      I can recall all that Mr Fullelove mentions, especially the little chapel:. Sunday School morning and afternoon and then evening chapel, A service and meetings on Tuesdays. Then there were treats, bazaars and so on. At one time the Ordnance Survey used the school room as a base when they were revising the maps of the local area.
      Fox’s Row was familiar as relatives lived in two of the cottages and Hannah Fox used to come to our house for company and a chat and supper on Saturday evenings.
      Steve Cooper kept the pigs and I think the field behind our house was his – the hut in the field was used by the Home Guard during the was. His mother lived in one of the cottages and seemed a lovely old lady.
      St. Thomas’s used to be open after school and the Deaconess had something organized for children.
      Jonah Deakin’s grocery shop was not somewhere i was familiar with. It was war time rationing for much of my childhood and we were registered elsewhere.
      None of these comments refer to Howdles lane, but were all a part of residents’ lives.
      Looking back, what was interesting about the Lane was that it was completely different from any other place that I knew. No terraces of houses, although there were some semi-detached Victorian cottages, but single storey semi-detached cottages thta you might in Wales or Ireland. They made for very different environment.

  22. Reg Fullelove says:

    steve coopers pig farm foxes row dear anna the empire of jonah deakin the little chapel by the fort st thomas mission the black pad linking the west to brownhills council house and of course we must not forget mrs doodies club happy days

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