Can’t see the Wood for the trees

At the weekend, in my regular old pictures slot, I scanned the below image from that fine work ‘Coal Mining in Brownhills, Aldridge and Walsall Wood’ by Brian Rollins., of a 1926 miner’s strike soup kitchen in the village. It’s a gorgeous picture.

Soup kitchens such as this were common - I'm always shocked at how familiar the faces of the kids are. Put them in modern clothes, and they could be seen in any local street. From 'Coal Mining in Walsall Wood, Brownhills and Aldridge' by Brian Rollins & Walsall Local History Centre.

Following a pub discussion with [Howmuch?] I’ve just got a bit of a problem with it… whereabouts in Walsall Wood was the picture taken? That looks like a Church behind the group – but St. John’s in the village is made of red and blue brick, not stone blocks like those. Looking back at pictures of churches of the area, none match that style of blockwork. Shenstone Church looks similar, but the window frames are different.

Another soup kitchen in Walsall Wood - accepting charity cannot have been easy for many. That's a fine collection of pies, too. From 'Memories of Old Walsall Wood' by Clarice Mayo & John Sale.

I’ve no doubt the picture is local in origin – the other soup kitchen picture is taken from Memories of Old Walsall Wood by Bill Mayo and John Sale, and is credited as being in Beechtree Road. That clearly features two of the same ladies (the large lady in a black blouse in the second photo, and her friend with the dark, tousled hair to the left of her are stood in the same relation just in front of the doorway in the upper photo).

Walsall Wood church looks like this:

St. John's Church, High Street, Walsall Wood.

St. Johns Church - red and blue brick, by Flickr user g4pfk.

And St John’s school looks like this:

St Johns School, Walsall Wood, 2007
Again, red and blue local bricks. Photo by Flickr user littleredglass.

So have the readers got any input on this? Am I missing something here? Both I and [Howmuch?] would be glad to hear your views…

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10 Responses to Can’t see the Wood for the trees

  1. Nick says:

    My first thought was St James’s…but I guess that may not fit in with the story..?

  2. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob

    there was a chapel just past the canal bridge..opposite the car sales pitch, near the junction with Hall Lane. This was closed down many years ago and then used as an Organ Works until the firm moved to Lichfield. There was another Wesley Chapel, near Ecob’s chemists, by Trevor’s barbers, but this photo does not look like that one, either.
    Perhaps Lisa may know!
    Have you noticed that in the “Baps” photo the men are wearing their Sunday Best collars and ties ? This may suggest that it was taken at a Church do, …possibly Sunday School Anniversary afternoon tea? village fete?
    I wonder if Walsall Observer have anything to help in their archives
    kind regards

  3. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob

    Oakparkrunners blog..Walsall Wood old and new..shows a photo of the chapel I mean….Westley Chapel…I think this is the building in the soup photo….The side building in the photo seems to be a later addition;the main road would not have been so wide in the 1920s. The Organ Works was Hawkins’, who have a fine example of their instruments in Silver Street Methodist Church in Brownhills…well worth taking the opportunity of hearing Derek White or Chris Booth playing … beautiful melodious sounds . Do you know of any other Hawkins organs in other local churches?

    kind regards

    • phillip says:

      Hawkins organ builders are still in business, they now trade in Rushall. dated 25th nov. 2016
      I know this as my brother still works there and has done since the 1960’s.

  4. Nick says:

    I can confirm the quality of the organ in Silver street…I played there myself a few years ago. Fabulous instrument thats capable of almost lifting off the roof.

  5. jim says:

    I get the impression the windows are walled up from this picture and that this is a very old church is it possible it’s the ruined church in Shenstone? Just a guess as I’ve never seen it myself.

  6. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob

    the soup photo was taken in front of the first,redundant Wesley Church building, built in 1878, which had been replaced by the larger Wesley Church,just up the road , in 1902. This gave the growing congregation a much bigger Church which was needed …Walsall Wood was growing..the Coppice Pit was doing well and people were moving here to find work.
    Just up the Lichfield Road the first Primitive Methodist Church had been replaced by a bigger building in 1851( The foundation stone of the fist building is still set in the low front wall ) but here the original chapel building was demolished and replaced by the Sunday School building which is still used today as the Walsall Wood Methodist Church
    The Wesley Church building still had bricked up side windows when it was used by Hawkins Organs .

    with kind regards

  7. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob

    oops..1851 was the frst Prim Chapel..replaced, I think, in late 1880s or 1890s..the foundation stone for the second building is incorporated in the new extension.
    Oakparkrunner’s blog, , section;-Walsall Wood then and now- shows photos of all these churches

  8. Have we got a picture of this? If it was in 1926 as shown above, there must be, somewhere. It seems odd considering that all the other places of worship in the locality are built out of brick, that this appears to be built of stone.

    Really love to see proof.



  9. Pingback: Mystery solved… « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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