Shop local…

I thought it was about time we revisited some of the lost shops and stores in Brownhills. I’ve heard lots of people – particularly commentators here – reminisce about Selwyn Smith’s shop, and Cooper’s seems somewhat legendary, too. Was this the same Cooper family that owned the shop now converted to flats at the junction of Chester Road and Freizland lane?

As ever, if you see any of the books mentioned here, do buy a copy. They’re as rare as hen’s teeth, and the work the authors put into them cannot be understated. I thank them all.

Edit: 16th April  – I’m having trouble with this post and formatting. If it looks odd, my apologies. Something, somewhere, is broken and I’m not sure why. I’m working on it.

It’s incredible really, how little this scene has changed in subsequent years. Anyone remember the coal merchant that would be just out of shot on the right? From ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

Ice cream seems another recurring theme – recently we mentioned the unfortunate wartime demise of the Pelari carthorse, Selwyn Smiths is also mentioned a great deal. For my generation, it was Joes, which had a fantastic selection of seemingly exotic flavours, including a face-curling lemon sorbet. Fro ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

I don’t remember ice cream vans looking like this – in my childhood there were two distinct sorts – the Walls vans who sold wrapped ices, not cones – the vans were yellow and white, with a distinctive three-note chime, and the Mr. Whippy type that sold soft, aerated delights. Taken from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

I can’t really recognise this shop, it has changed so much. I love the old bubblegum machine and the shy-looking girl at the extreme right of the image. Did she sneak into shot or was her inclusion deliberate? From ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

Coopers is a mytery to me. Loads of folk mention it, and the family seem to have been notable locally, but I know little of them. I would love to hear your recollections. From ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

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25 Responses to Shop local…

  1. Dave Cresswell says:

    I think the name of the Coal Mercahnts was “Tuckleys” or something similiar.

    I fetchedf coal from that yard in the old pram that me mom had (seen in the Holand Park picture elsewhere) used for some of the children..

    I pushed it along the road from Catshill Rd to the coal merchants, he laoded it with a hundred weight (1CWT) and I pushed it back home then shovelled it in to the coal shed.

    • Christine jones says:

      Yes the coal merchant was Tuckleys. And the corner shop was run by Earnie and Annie Breeze who moved to Blackpool and ran a B+B. We went for many years on holiday there. This was after Foys. Selwyn ice cream shop was opposite our house and the Galleon fish and chip shop……the owners name was Harold I think…. My favourite shop was Toffee Roberts on the opposite side of the road by Elkins we used to get our sweets from there.

      • Derek Breeze says:

        Hi Christine, Just read your comment re Foys old shop on Brownhills High St, I am the son of Annie & Ernie Breeze, we moved to Blackpool in 1953. I lost contact with all my old school friends, but would love to know how they are all doing.

  2. CAZ says:

    I remember the coal merchants in Brownhills , but not the name. l remember Jack Webster coal merchant, but didn’t know he went on to own the the Crossways and dad had coal off him and a little lady, possibly the mother came around for the money on a friday tea-time [I think]
    they used to live in Freizland Lane, just up from the shop on the fact I was in a car crash outside Freizland Lane club,[now demolished] and I think it was Mrs Webster who took us in her house to wait for the ambulance, which was lovely of her as we were dripping blood everywhere.
    I remember Selwyns ice cream,but not the shop or those little vans,and I also remember Mr Whippy, a favourite and Tonibelle?.There was a song the kids used to sing but can’t remember it all “we love you Tonibelle, oh yes we do,….la la la la we’ll follow you la la …. oh Tonibelle we love you”……. someone may remember it?
    notice top/right in your first pic the flats in Wessex Close, now demolished, which I thought was a shame. my sister lived in one, overlooking the High street and it was a lovely was great watching the carnival go by from the balcony.
    Thanks and keep the old pics coming Bob, they’re great.

    • John says:

      I remember the coal merchant in Brownhills High street his name was Harold Humphries he retired about 1967 and his wife used to sell the coal, filling the scoop scales in the yard. I sent the scoop scales to the Black Country Museum. He had been there from the 1920’s. My father A J Wright took over the coal yard and delivered coal around Brownhills until 1988 when he retired.

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  6. michael turner says:

    fascinated to see the picture of Selwyns shop, as i was born only a few doors away from the shop, at 281 High Street, and used to take a bowl to the shop to have it filled with icecream regularly. i think that i have a picture of me, with one of selwyns ice creams, taken about 1959.

    • John Allison says:

      My name is John Allison I lived with my nan Mrs Downes uncle Eric.We lived at 265 High st.Untill I went in Air Force 1965,I went to Central school.In our yard lived the Bulls ,Seedhouses,The Kellys.Holyman,Claire Banks.I used to go to Mrs Pointam think might have lived by you,

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  8. websters coal merchants used to be in commonside? so my mom says.
    see also speaks of the butchers shop between commonside/lindon rd & anchor bridge. i remeber this also as a small child.


  9. michael turner says:

    the butchers shop in lindon road was Clentons, and coopers shop was the one on the corner of friezland lane and chester road. Mr and Mrs Cooper lived on chester road,shire oak, about number 40, i think.

  10. Clive says:

    Websters owned the corner shop at the top of commonside on the Friezland lane, there coalyard if my memory is right, was in Clayhanger lane roughly by the corner of maybrook road.

  11. Caz says:

    i remember Clentons shop well. Mrs Clenton was a teacher at walsall wood school if my memory serves me right.
    i think Clive is right about Websters owning the shop on the corner of Friezland Lane but don’t know if it was same family that owned the coal merchants. it was also run for many years by a family who lived in Friezland Lane,in one of the older houses about 2 doors away from the bungalow where ‘Paddy Walker’ lived.[The man mentioned in recent posts about the pit accident] i think their name was ‘Fillarty’ or something similar.

  12. Desmond Burton says:

    If it’s of any interest, I have recently put up a 1958 8mm cine film clip onto the Stonnall History Facebook page, showing Selwyn Smith’s ice cream van outside Wordsley House.!/groups/StonnallHistoryGroup/

    • Hi Desmond

      Would you mind awfully if I posted the clip here, too? I’d like to use it here because Selwyn was a Brownhills institution, and many will be interested who don’t have Facebook.

      You must be a mindreader, as I was about to email you about it.

      No need to do anything, I can grab the video direct.



  13. David Evans says:

    HI Bob

    YES PLEASE! Thanks, Desmond

  14. J Somerfield says:

    Does anybody have any photos or stories of the undertakers in Brownhills High street (woodhouse family) that was situated near to where the cancer research shop is ?

  15. John Dodd says:

    I remember Pelari’s Ice cream vans – your pictures are accurate.
    They used to call in our road about every fortnight, but irregularly, you never knew if and when they were coming. The same driver came for years.
    Plus they occasionally had CIDER-flavoured ice lollies – I wonder what happened to them?

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  17. Dennis Poole says:

    as any one got phots of bug row engine lane brownhills looking for a photo of the late ray humrhries av search for yrs for a rhoto of my dadthey lived in a bungalow when my mom married had two children then thanks joyce humphries

    • There’s only one I know to – this one:

      That’s thought to be Bug Row in the background, the men in the foreground miners coalpicking during the General Strike I believe. They would be standing on the site of the former claypit.

      Will see if I can find anything else.


  18. Anthony G Cooper says:

    Hi, I have only just seen your blog about Tim Cooper’s grocers shop in Brownhills. Tim and his wife Violet were my paternal grandparents. Tim died in 1944, I believe partly from injuries received in the First World War. A few weeks later his eldest son, Geoffrey, died in Italy and is buried in the war cemetery at Assisi, a grave I have visited. Tim and Violte’s youngest son Jack, was my father and was a pilot in the RAF; he died in 1999 and his wife Pearl, my mother, died in 2006. I was born in Walsall in 1946 so never knew Tim or Geoff. And shortly after my birth my parents and grandmother Violet moved to Brixham in Devon. Shortly after that my parents moved to Nigeria and worked there until 1969; I was therefore raised mainly by my grandmother who occasionally took me back to Brownhills to see her relatives there and in Cannock Chase. I was therefore raised with stories about Tim and his shop, especially during the Depression and War years. I lived most of my adult life in Hong Kong until I retired in 2001 and moved to Melbourne in Australia- my wife is Australian; we have 4 children, two sons who live in Australia and two daughters who live in England. This, I realise, doesn’t add much to your knowledge of old Brownhills but may be useful to some of your readers. Best Wishes from Down Under, Anthony Geoffrey Cooper.

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