Grace and worship

I seem to be getting a lot of history requests, lately. I love those, and welcome questions about any local topic you want to know about. Last week, I was contacted on Facebook by Julie Le-Moine, from The Crib in Church Road. She had this interesting question to ask:

Hello Bob,

Firstly I would like to commend you on all your hard work you put into your blog. I love reading about the history of Walsall Wood and Brownhills as that is where I was born and bred. My husband is in the Armed Forces and 5 years ago we bought a house in Church Road (opposite St James Church). It was built in 1896 and we have all the history paperwork wise dating back that far, however, whoever I talk to in Brownhills all seem to know all about my house and the people that lived in it (it belonged to the same family the Dukes).

I would love to know if you have anymore photos or information as it intrigues me and would love to learn more, and maybe you could help. Any photos of the church or Church Road, Brickiln Street would be fab! Thanks so much and keep up the good work.


I’ve had a good delve into my stuff, and I’ve lots of photos of Church Road (or Church Hill – more on that further down) – but none of Brickiln Street. I’d also recommend looking at the superlative work ‘The History of St. James, Brownhills’ available in PDF form here. Our parish church has an interesting history, and is an under appreciated, handsome building. Shame it’s not looked after more carefully.

Thanks to Julie for her contribution, and if you have any more information, please do comment here.

From 'Memories of Old Brownhills' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

1901 Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map showing Central Brownhills. Click on the image for a legible version.

Take a close look at the above map segment – notice then that Church Road was called Church Hill and Brickiln Street (pronounced ‘Brik-lin’ by real Brownhillians) is actually Brick Kiln Street. The contraction of the name to it’s pronounced form gives a clue to the distinctive, clipped form of our accent. When you’ve lived here a while, you can tell the difference audibly between Walsall Wood, Brownhills and Shelfield voices…

A clue to the genesis of these names can be seen between Church Hill and Great Charles Street – there’s a gravel pit there. Near the canal at Sandfields on the Lichfield Road – where the caravan park is today – was a sand pit. These excavations clearly were formative in the building of Victorian Brownhills. I don’t know where the brickworks was, or indeed, which houses were built with Brownhills bricks. Can any readers help me out?

From 'Memories of Old Brownhills' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

From 'Brownhills and Walsall Wood on Old Picture Postcards' by Jan Farrow.

From 'Memories of Old Brownhills' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

From 'Memories of Brownhills Past' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

From 'Memories of Old Brownhills' by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

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56 Responses to Grace and worship

  1. D.Evans says:

    possibly ..bricks made in the kiln which stood in Brick Kiln Street before the new road was made ,near the old library..or..made at the Coppy Pit Brick Works until it closed. early 1900s I think,.or made at Aldridge Brick works..and transported by canal barge to the wharf near the canoe centre in Brownhills? I think the Stafford Blue bricks would have been made at Aldridge.
    An interesting puzzle..

  2. CAZ says:

    love the photo’s. l can understand why Julie is facinated about the history of her house, if it’s the one i’m thinking of, then it’s a lovely house and l love the big garden [ my idea of Heaven]
    My Dad worked for a while at a local brickworks, sorry but l cant remember where , Aldridge l think? He told me my own house [1901] is built with the blue bricks which are apparently stronger than the bricks made today.
    l found the ordnance survey map interesting. l never knew there was a police staion in Church Street. l have just ordered one of Walsall Wood to see if my house is on it.
    l once got chatting to an old man who had lived in my house as a child and l’ve always regretted not bombarding that poor man with umpteen questions.
    good luck to Julie with your search

    • stymaster says:

      CAZ, there were several brickworks in Aldridge, but one of note was Barnett & Beddowes, visible in the distance in one of the 1975 pics here.

      Blue bricks are very hard and less porous than normal brick, which is why bridges etc were often built from them. The only house I know of round here built entirely with them is near the Four Crosses, Shelfield, but they’re frequently used for the lower few courses. They were more expensive than normal bricks: the clay used for them was in great demand.

      • CAZ says:

        many thanks stymaster.
        when we moved in, the front part of our house was rendered, but the back wasn’t. the back door had been moved and the original door opening bricked up with a completely different coloured brick. my dad based his opinion on the colour of the bricks? Oh…and the fact he broke umpteen drills and the sweat poured out of him when he tried to put our mirrors and curtain tracks
        although that could be because the walls are solid brick rather than a breeze block inner wall.Personally l’d rather have the more modern cavity walls as our outer walls are very cold to the touch.

        • stymaster says:

          Same here: parts of my (19th century) house are blue brick, but all of the bricks are hard to drill- even the normal ones, and, as you say, solid walls are cold to the touch. The answer, if you can face it, is to dry-line the walls, as my neighbours have.

      • There are many grades of brick – it’s a misconception that all engineering bricks are blue, they’re not, many types are red, and that kind were made locally.

        The abundance of the blue ‘freakley’ bricks used in the bridges and infrastructure of the Walsall Wood railway, and it’s subsequent dismantling let to large quantities of these bricks being – shall we say – repurposed, and they can be seen locally in garden walls, bricked paths and house modifications, and other uses for which no sane builder would use them due to cost.

        The one thing most engineering bricks have is common is that they’re hard, damned hard.

        Best wishes


    • john keay says:

      Julie the dukes family lived in your house they owned a bakery in pelsall where they had a shop,the daughters name was rosie she would be about 75,now.there used to be an apple tree in front garden which we used to nick (scrump)

  3. D.Evans says:

    enjoy the photo when it comes,Caz. You will see the Walsall Wood Police house in Beech Tree Road.
    Kind regards D.Evans

    • Can I just take a moment to thank you both? CAZ and Mr. Evans have been contributing sterling stuff for ages and I’ve not thanked either of you, which is a tad remiss of me.
      I always love the comments and contributions from readers, and yours are always a delight.
      Sorry, sometimes with work, life and everything, I just can’t get to reply to all the comments I probably should. For that, my apologies.

      CAZ, if you were after a particular map, just ask… I can help.

      Best wishes


      • CAZ says:

        No need for thanks Bob. l thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and learning more about the history of Walsall Wood and Brownhills, having lived in the area all my life.
        I’m interested in my family history, local history and the history of my home. My OH finds it boring, but l’m facinated.
        one thing that has puzzled me is…my Dad wrote about the gasometer in Brownhills “which could be seen for miles around when full, but would sink into the ground as the gas was used”? On the clayhanger map you printed recently, the Brownhills gasometer could apparently be seen on the map, but l’m not sure what l’m looking for.
        Any info would be appreciated,
        best wishes Caz

        • The gasometer – or gasworks – was the large round structure about where Humpries House stands today. They are a structure that rise and fall as they charge and discharge with gas. There’s still two by the M6 at James Bridge in Pleck, Walsall. The edge of it can be seen in third photo down here:

          That would be in the expanded, or full state. It can also be seen in the aerial image of Clayhanger supplied by Brian Stringer. Look at the top of the picture, just down a bit, and slightly to the left of centre a large, cylindrical structure.

          Finally, look here at this pic of the flooded ‘Spot’; it’s clearly visible toward the upper left centre:

          Hope that helps!



          • CAZ says:

            Many thanks Bob,
            do you know when it ‘disappeared’ from the landscape?, as l often walked across the ‘spot’ with my mom as a child and l can’t remember ever seeing it. Until reading my dads story l didn’t even realise that the old gas lights were powered by gas from coal,[ am l thick or what?]

  4. D.Evans says:

    It would be interesting to hear people’s recollections of the Coronation in 1953…Walsall Wood had a few processions, street parties..memories of seeing a very rainy Coronation Procession on 12inch black and white televisions. I am sure there will be many valuable memories and photos..and first-hand accounts. Worth recording before they get lost, perhaps. Thanks for your kind comments, Bob…your photos in particular show the beauty of nature on our doorsteps..almost. Best wishes D.Evans

  5. Bob, during the building of the mines on the Chase (Chase Terrace / Cannock Wood/ Wimblebury / Heath Hayes) coalfield, the clay bricks, used mainly during sinking the shafts and building the workshops/screens etc on the pit head, would have been made at one central colliery. The bricks would have also been available for the colliery owner to sell.

    When I lived in Holly Grove Lane Chase Terrace the three cottages there where built with bricks from the Cannock Wood colliery round about the turn of the 19/20 century.

    I did a lot of work on these houses and the bricks remain remarkably good for their age.

    Maybe that throws a little light and another possibility into the pot

  6. Ranjit says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the history behind Brownhills, the old pictures are great, and speak a thousand words, to see such pictures is now a rarity.
    Keep up the great work

  7. Julie says:

    Thank you all for your comments from my initial email to Bob, I have read them all with great interest about the history surrounding Brickiln Street and Church Rd. Caz you may be thinking of the right house, i used to sit on the church wall as a girl and loved looking at my house hoping it would be mine one day, who would have thought it eh? 🙂 Also, my grandad used to work and drive lorries for the Brickyard in Aldridge too and apparantly the canal bridge in Queen Street Walsall Wood was called Hollenders Bridge after my great great grandad, I think I have read somewhere that Queen Street was also called Hollenders Lane prior to being known as Queen Street as the only cottage in the lane belonged to the family? I don’t know how true all that is so if anyone could throw any light on that for me?

    Thanks for your help Bob!

    Kind Regards

    • stymaster says:

      Hi Julie,

      I believe Queen St was formerly known as Jockey Row.

    • CAZ says:

      Hi Julie,
      after reading about your grandad ‘Hollender’, I’m wondering if we have a family connection.Is your dad Pete?
      if so im his cousin.
      Reg Hollender [your grandfather maybe?] was my lovely Uncle. if I’m on the right track my mom told me my Aunty Maudie lived in Queen Street, Walsall wood in the double fronted cottage that looks down King Street, although not sure if this was possibly before she married Uncle Reg.

  8. Andy Dennis says:

    Julie, I’ve had a quick look at Censuses. In 1861 there were 5 households in Hollenders Lane, including Joseph Hollender age 60 and his family. In 1851 the address is simply “Common”. In 1841 there were only 2 households including the same Joseph. I don’t know when the bridge was built, but, as his occupation was lime burner, it’s unlikely that Joseph built it, anyway (some bridges are named after their builders). Obviously, this is not conclusive, but there seems a good chance that the lane and bridge took their name from Joseph or his family. Andy

    • Hi guys. Sorry to gatecrash (when I do the conversation usually ends… I think I’m cursed) but I may be able to add something here.


      Original post:

      If you take a look at this map, obtained by the wonderful Steve Hickman (click and zoom in, takes a while) Vigo Road is called Hollanders Lane in 1902, Beechtree Road is Occupation Road, and Brookland Road is Cemetery Road. Saveral highways change slightly Hall/Halls Lane, Brickyard Road/Lane etc.

      Talking to other folks, particularly [Howmuch?], it’s felt there’s a wider debate to be had here about recording former road names locally and why they change like they do.

      What do you guys think?

      Best wishes


  9. D.Evans says:

    I think some of the bricks from Aldridge have the word Utopia stamped in them. Certainly the small Grandstand at Walsall Wood Football Club , built in the 1950s, was made of these. Magical powers, those bricks possessed!
    Kind regards D. Evans

  10. D.Evans says:

    Regarding street names, care needs to be taken when sourcing reference materials from local books. For instance, one notable book thinks that Coronation Road Walsall Wood was named at the coronation of King Georgre V..yet aerial photos in the late 1920s early 30 show empty fields there. In fact it was named, and built, after the coronation of George VI in 1936,37 The same publication wonders why Hillside, at Shire Oak, is so called. And doubts if you can see the Wrekin from Wrekin View. A quick visit there would have clarified matters. One other source mentons the Turnpike Road through Walsall Wood (the A461).. I think this , too, is an unchecked error.
    Best wishes D. Evans

  11. Julie says:

    Thank you all, I think you have confirmed my thoughts and beliefs. How strange, Caz, my grandad was Walter Hollender and lived in Queen St, and his daughter, my mum was Marion, Reg’s niece i believe. (Reg was my grandads younger brother). Isn’t it a small world???? It’s lovely to think that my family name lives on, even though it it is on a bridge or was a street name lol ! how lovely and humbling x

    • CAZ says:

      l think my uncle Reg, did have a brother Walter although not 100% sure. He was widowed quite young leaving him with 3 small children, and he went on to remarry my Aunty Maudie who was also a widow with a small child. it is Reg’s son Pete who has a daughter Julie, who l mistakenly thought was you.
      it is indeed a small world.
      l think it’s lovely to have a street or bridge named after your family.
      good luck with the research into your lovely home
      best wihes Caz

  12. Julie says:

    Andy, thank you so much for your research. The Hollender family used to have a haulage type business, hence the bridge,lane being named after them i believe??? Not 100% sure tho. However, Joseph is a family member,my great grandad i think?? x


    • Vince Hollender says:

      Dear Julie
      It is very possible that we may be related. My grandfather, Sidney Hollender b.190? worked at the Woverhampton Corrugated Iron Company in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. I was always told that his family came from the Walsall area around the time that Manchester Ship Canal was being built.
      His son, Brian Hollender (b.1938) is my father, and he has 2 sisters. My grandmother’s maiden name was May Smith. Best Wishes- Vince Hollender

      • James H says:

        I’m several years too late to this thread but hoping someone will still see my reply.
        I’ve recently been researching my family history and stumbled upon this site. Joseph Hollender was my great great great great grandfather, I am also a Hollender. From census records and historical maps I’ve worked out that Joseph lived on Hollender’s Lane with Hollender’s bridge located at the western end. It later changed to Queens Street around 1901 ( I’m assuming in memory of queen Victoria who died early 1901). The bridge is named as Hollinder bridge on 1871 inclosure maps. The road and bridge are named on 1883 maps as HollAnder. I believe the bridge is still known as Hollander’s Bridge today. I’ve traced the family back to 1720. Joseph’s father and grandfather appear to have been born in Bloxwich, so I assume the road and bridge were named after Joseph himself.
        My line of the family moved away from Staffordshire around 1928 to Cheshire. I moved to the northeast around 1998. I have also found (and am in contact with) another line of the family in Wetherby. If there’s any Hollender’s out there who want to get in touch I’d be more than happy to hear from you.
        Many thanks

        • Patricia says:

          Hi James
          I was interested to read your comments about the Hollenders. I was born Patricia Margaret Hollender in Walsall in 1944.
          My father was Clarence Hollender, son of Alfred who was the son of Joseph (born 1833). Joseph was therefore my great grandfather. My father’s eldest brother was Alfred (Uncle Fred to me). He lived at the house in Queen Street with his wife Florence Annie (formerly Cresswell). They had a daughter, Margaret (my cousin). We used to visit them frequently and I stayed the night several times at the house in Queen Street in the 1950s. Margaret and I “hung out” around Hollender’s Bridge over the canal at the bottom of the road. I was always aware that it was known as Hollender’s Bridge. Margaret and I lost contact in the 1970s and I have tried to trace her without success. If there are any Hollenders out there who know of her or what happened to her I would love to hear it.
          I too have traced the Hollenders back to 1720, that being John Hollender who married Mary Summerfoot in 1747. I have not been able to get any further except that I believe John’s father was also John and his mother Margaret although I have no dates.
          I have a copy of Joseph’s Will dated 14th October 1904 in which he leaves his estate to his wife Rebecca. The Will is signed with his mark so he was therefore illiterate as I suppose were many people at that time.
          It was great to hear from another Hollender. If I can be of any help at all please let me know.

          • Dennis Wood says:

            I’ve not been here for several years, I’m afraid, but there are Hollenders – same family – on my family history website. Google ‘The Wood family of Alveley’. It’s not been updated for quite a while, but there may be useful info there!

            • James H says:

              Hi Dennis,
              good to hear from you and thanks for the reply.
              I’ll have a look at your family history website. Feel free to contact me directly too (email in reply to Pat) if I can help shed light on any of the Hollenders.
              Many thanks

            • Patricia says:

              Hi Dennis
              You gave me the details of your family history website two or three years ago. It’s an amazing website. I still go there now and then. Thanks.

          • James H says:

            Hi Pat,
            thanks for the reply, great to hear from you. Joseph (who’s will you have) had a brother George. I am George’s descendant, if I’m looking at it right, you’re my 3rd cousin twice removed – nice to meet you!!
            Yes I also had John and Mary Hollender at the top of the tree, I believe they had a son Thomas, who’s son was Joseph (1799-1862) (this is Joseph who appears on 1841 census on Hollender’s Lane), he then had a son Joseph (1833-1905).
            Unfortunately I don’t know anything about Margaret, yet! I am in contact with Gillian (also a descendant of George) who may possibly know more than I. I’d be more than happy to discuss this further if you want to email me directly (
            Good to hear from you and hope we can share some history.
            Many thanks

        • Dennis Wood says:

          I’ve not been here for several years, I’m afraid, but there are Hollenders – same family – on my family history website. Google ‘The Wood family of Alveley’. It’s not been updated for quite a while, but there may be useful info there!

  13. Andy Dennis says:

    Hello again. I believe there used to be a Utopia brickworks in the Vigo Road / Coppice Lane area. The 1851 Census includes several pages of entries for “Turnpike Road” with some for Boatmans Lane in between. I couldn’t see anyone with an occupation such as toll collector. From British History Online it appears the Walsall-Lichfield Road was turnpiked in 1766 between The Butts and Muckley Corner. Andy

  14. D.Evans says:

    many thanks, Andy. You are a star! The reference to the Turnpike Road seems to have disappeared from local knowledge and usage by the turn on the 20th century.
    I wonder where the tollgate was. I knew that coal wagons from Brownhills to Lichfield paid no toll and had presumed that this referred to the Chester Road, or Watling Street. Locals at Muckely Corner have not used the name within living memory, as far as I know. Again, many thanks.
    With regards
    D. Evans

  15. D.Evans says:

    I think the Utopia brickworks was where Coppice Lane and Brickyard Road meet..on the Hollander’s Bridge side of Coppice Road. The brickworks was in full swing in my youth. , Now it is an active landfill site. Regards, D. Evans

  16. D.Evans says:

    just found this link;- of the utopia brick
    has an article from 30.09.2004 which shows the Utopia brickworks in detail….the writer says that these bricks were popular in the construction of air-raid shelters !
    this photo may evoke memories from local workers there.
    With kind regards

  17. Patricia says:

    Hi Everyone and particularly Julie and Caz
    I came across this site while doing a little ancestry research and discovering that my great grandfather Joseph Hollender was a miner at Walsall Wood Colliery. I was born a Hollender in 1944 and would appear to be related to Julie and Caz. My father was Clarence Victor, called Clarence by the Hollenders and Vic by my mother and her family as he hated the name Clarence. I know little about the Hollenders as he died when I was 20 and have always wanted to find out more. My grandparents Alfred Hollender and Mary Ann Nutting died well before I was born. I well remember visiting Queen Street as a child to see my Uncle Fred (real name Alfred I think), Aunty Nance and cousin Margaret. They lived at either number 36 or 38, not sure which, but next door lived Uncle Ernie and Aunty Ada. My father also had brothers Jim, Reg and Walter whom I didn’t really know but I do remember visiting Uncle Jim and Aunty Phoebe a couple of times. I was never aware that Queen Street was formerly known as Hollenders Lane but always knew that the bridge over the canal at the end was called Hollenders Bridge.
    I now live in Lancashire but am fascinated by the history of Walsall Wood. If anyone can shed light on any members of my Hollender family and their current whereabouts I would love to hear from them.

    Regards to all

    • Dennis Wood says:

      I’ve just come across this, Patricia, Julie, Caz. I have a fair bit about the Hollender line back to about 1800, I’d be happy to share what I have. I’m distantly connected through Thomas Hollender 1863-1946 who married Eleanor Annie Corns 1864-1949 in 1889 in Walsall.

      • Patricia says:

        Hi Dennis
        Thanks for your response. I have done a little research on the Ancestry website but not in any great detail. It appears that Thomas was a sibling of my grandfather, Alfred. I would be delighted if you could pass on to me any information you have. I do know that Joseph and Rebecca were their parents and Joseph and Maria Harris were Joseph’s parents, Joseph being born around 1797. I can be contacted at I look forward to hearing from you and thanks again.


  18. CAZ says:

    Hi Patricia, sorry for the delay in replying.Bob brought your comment to my attention.I think Julie most definately is related to you as she is a blood decsendant of Walter Hollender. I was only related to Reg Hollender [my uncle] when he married my Dads Sister Maudie.Reg was widowed with 3 young children and Maudie was a widow with one young child. I believe that Maudie and Reg’s late wife were best friends and that’s how they came to be together.I spent every Sunday morning at their house, playing with their daughter Betty and Uncle Reg gave me half a crown.I can tell you that they were a wonderful couple, and devoted to each other.Uncle Reg died Easter 1995 and Aunty Maudie followed just 6 weeks later.
    If the rest of the Hollender clan are as nice as they were [ and their children are lovely too] then you are part of a lovely family.
    best wishes with your search Caz

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  20. donna says:

    I wonder if you could help, i am looking for hope cottage on church street church road, this is where my grandfather lived with his parents (1911 censors) he would have been about 6 in 1911, his name was Arthur Colley, I am told some of the colley family was miners and school teachers in this area, any help with location of Hope Cottage would be very much appreciated,
    Donna in yorkshire ( tracing family roots)

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  22. RHC says:

    Hope Cottage was on the corner of Church Rd. and Short St. (it is now a parking lot).
    Sounds like your Grandfather may be my Uncle Arthur – my father was Hyla. Sadly I never met either one.
    Hope this helps

    • donna says:

      thankyou for your reply Richard, my grandfather did have a brother called Hyla, if its the same family the line goes : Lizzie,William(killed in action Flanders 1915) thomas,Flo,Beatrice,Hyla,Clara, Arthur (my grandad) George, my Grandad also named one of his sons Hyla, I have traced the Colley family back about 200 years, I would love to know if this is the same family

      • Richard Colley says:

        HI Donna, this definitely looks like we are talking about the same family. I am now living in Canada so tracing the family history is a bit of a challenge. My internet connection has been intermittent for the past two weeks but should be fixed soon. I remember Aunts Beattie, Florrie and Clara – just snippits from childhood
        Keep in touch

        • donna says:

          Hi Richard great to get your reply, i,m glad it is the same family, you would have been my mothers first cousin, I will have to let my uncle Hyla know of you as he is the only one of my grandparents children still here, he will be so pleased to know of you, my grandparents children was Marjorie, Florrie, Hyla, Marrion, Joan (my late beloved mother) and Cyril,


        • Donna says:

          Hi Richard, I have been speaking to my uncle Hyla today and he was so pleased to hear about you,,

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