Is John Daft in the house?

I received a wonderful note from yesterday from Paul Ford, top local historian and researcher at Walsall Local History Centre. Paul has found a bit of ephemera from the turn of the last century which he thinks may be of interest to a regular reader here.

Paul had this to say:

Hi Bob,

I saw this and I thought of you!

It is a drawing/painting within an autograph book dating from 1900 – 1925. The girl in the centre I think is ‘Emily’ whose album it was. I saw the name on the front,and remembered there is a chap, John Daft, that has posted on your site. I thought you may want to use the image as a bit of local/family history for Brownhills – if not, no worries. I traced the Emily in question from the first names of herself and her sister (Charlotte) and brother (Garrett) – really interesting, but I am doing a talk in September for Gt Wyrley and Chezzy Hay LHS, so don’t want to spoil it – it covers Pelsall, Cannock, Chadsmoor areas really, so not so much of an interest to you?

Anyhow, great blog – always keep a track of it, even if I can’t get a chance to contribute as much as I would like.

Paul Ford,


Walsall Local History Centre

Essex Street


I thank Paul for his remarkable contribution to the blog, and I’d like to draw readers attention to some of his other great contributions, on the subject of the Yates Map of Staffordshire and The great Walsall Wood subsidence mystery. Paul is just one of the team at Walsall Local History Centre who provide a largely free service to everyone from serious family historians to chimps like me involved in the bizarrest bits of local history. This service is the jewel in Walsall’s cultural crown and we need to cherish and protect it.

'Brownhills July 1905 yours sincerely Billy Daft' - There's a story here, I can feel it.

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11 Responses to Is John Daft in the house?

  1. Nick says:

    If you are a chimp Bob…then I think im handing myself in the the nearest zoo..!! I just thank everyone that contributes to, not only this fantastic blog, but to generally digging up and bringing to surface many treasures of local history that would have otherwise fallen by the wayside and been forgotten foreven. A great big THANK YOU from me..! Im an avid follower..!

  2. The Edditer says:

    Interestingly but sadly enough there are a few Dafts in the Walsall Pioneer having died in the Great War, I recall seeing them there when doing a display a few years ago. Probably in the Walsall Observer too,

  3. They seek him here, they seek him there… and eventually he turns up!
    Hi Bob, thats a very interesting piece that you and Paul have come up with – that’s one thing about having a name like mine, it’s not easy to forget!!
    I’ve emailed a cousin in Wales (our grandfathers were brothers) whose father was named William and would be about the right age for Billy. I’ll let you know if there’s any connection.
    Regards, John.

    • Hi John

      So sorry, I didn’t actually realise you and Chasewater stuff were one and the same. I feel a bit of a muppet now.

      It’s a wonderful thing, I hope it does turn out to be connected. Isn’t Paul Ford just wonderful?



  4. paul ford says:

    Hi Bob

    Thank you for your kind comments. A few things; firstly i can’t agree more with Nick – you run an excellent blog and don’t do yourself justice if you call yourself a chimp, or describe the blog as ‘ragged-arsed’, so i hope you feel told off! Secondly, your blog allows chimps like me 🙂 to raise the profile of the History Centre and reach a wider audience (i believe they call it marketing – i just like the research of course) and if you want, I will start to pass you more snippets, stories and photos for the northern wastes, as and when i find them – you can use, trim or discard as you see fit. Lastly, i need to thank Stuart Williams, who actually scans the images and will make anything i write far more interesting!

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  8. Frank says:

    After suffering a serious illness i had a tad of spare time on my hands so i decided to look back on myself as to where and who. I got to my school days and got a bit lost so i got in touch with our Walsall Local history Center.I was sorted out with books about Reedswood Open Air School (brilliant book may i add), also they had records of me, Dates and what school and when i was at the schools . Quiet amazing place the WLHC and it is on my list of things to do is to visit the place and spend some time there. Thank you Paul and the staff at WLHC for the wonderfull job you do keeping places like the Wood alive. Also thanks to B/ Bob and his friends for this site. As a Walsall Wood’ian i just love the stories and the old pics. I met a few of these characters and the bird flyers and had some great times in the local watering holes listening to their past lives, some i will keep to myself, lol, i miss the banter. Keep going Trev cos our hair still grows. .

  9. D.Evans says:

    HI Frank
    all the best.

  10. Shirley says:

    My Grandad was William Daft – lived in Little Wyrley and, amongst other things, used to draw/paint local pugilists – I wonder if there is any connection.??

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