Dish of the day

Top reader, local history ferret, plotter and friend of the Brownhills Blog [Howmuch?] raised a good question the other day that readers may be able to assist with – particularly those of a Walsall Wood/Shelfield persuasion. He posed the following conundrum:

Hello Bob,

Can you ask the readers if anyone knows how an area located between Walsall Wood and Shelfield got the name of Irondish?I have seen it on a map dating 1760s and I have spoken to a man from Shelfield who still knows it as the Iron Dish. Can anyone out there help with an answer?



Irondish is marked on the 1834 1:2500 scale Ordnance Survey plot of the area, which I include below, the location in question ringed in red. It stands to the west of where the commercial vehicle sales pitch is today, just on the Shelfield border with Jockey Meadows. The track marked alongside it to the east, heading toward Green Lane can still be discerned, and indeed, still exists, now truncated and leading to green fields Road. It’s interesting to note that at least the partial outline of Irondish can be seen in the modern landscape and shape of the land enclosing it.

Come on folks, what do you know? Comment here, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

1884 1:2500 map of Jockey Meadows. Irondish is bottom left, just off the Lichfield road.

The above map overlaid onto Google Earth imagery. If anyone wants a copy of the overlay, please shout up.

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13 Responses to Dish of the day

  1. Paul Gosling says:

    There is some intresting information on the nationarchives regarding the area and a Mr Joseph Moses Salt Smalley who seems to be the builder for a number of dwellings in the area arranged by the Earl of Bradford in 1854, seems by 1873 Smalley was out of business, The documents are also on (numbers 35/30/15 35/38/2 35/40/28). Doesnt help with the reason for the name of the area I’m afraid but might give someone more ideas to research. (disclaimer: I am totally new to local history reseach and this was my first attempt so I hope its right)

    • Sue says:

      Hi, Interesting and Just letting you know all the houses were built by Joseph Moses Salt Smalley’s grandfather Moses Salt (1801 -1880) who was a builder, and seems to have bought up big. He built his family home Ferndale in Birmingham Rd, near Queens Road. His grandson inherit everything. Not directly related to Salt of Walsall Wood. Really love to find the place where his house actually was. but interesting about the Earl of Bradford.

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    one of my “dear old friends” lived in one the houses at the Iron Dish a long time ago ( 1920s )but does not know why the houses were called this. I don’t think she realised just how old the houses were. I had asked another equally “old” friend, a Shelfield business man, the same question a few years ago and was told..”perhaps they found an iron dish there.”.but could not be more specific…suggesting that local knowledge had been lost by the turn of the 20th century, perhaps. Interestingly a Mr and Mrs Salt lived in Walsall Wood in the 1940s,50s….and thanks to Paul Gosling for the link.
    not much help, but all I can offer, I am afraid
    David Evans

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    I looked at the old censuses to see if residents’ occupations would give any clues, but no luck. The first mention of Iron Dish that I found was in 1861. The residents were elsewhere in 1851 and there is no mention of Iron Dish, which would be consistent with the houses being built in 1854 (or just that this level of detail was not recorded). This name also appears in the 1871 and 1901 censuses.

    Could the iron dish have been something like a crucible, i.e. something to contain iron as opposed to being made of iron? Perhaps it was in some way unusual. Maybe there was some early smelting – all the necessary materials were available locally and there is a history in the general area. There must have been a blacksmith in the ancient settlement of Shelfield and why not beside the main road to catch passing trade? There was also a water supply. Perhaps the blacksmith hung an iron dish outside? Just a thought …

  4. Unfortunately I couldn’t find much about this Iron Dish specifically except for this reference to documents held at Walsall LHC (Deeds, re cottage and Birch Croft alias Cow Leasow, Shelfield, also land called Irondish Meadow (4a.) 48/4/55-76 1685 – 1798)
    However, there are a few other places called Iron Dish around the country. In these places it seems the name might relate to a communal drinking place (sometimes a well) with an iron ladle attached by a chain. So perhaps that is a possibility?

  5. Andy Dennis says:

    Upon closer examination I note there is a well marked “w” on the above map between the row of cottages and the main road (at about 2 o’clock in the red circle). I estimate this to be at E403749 N302455, which puts it in the front garden of the first house on the north side of Lichfield Road.

    I found this about another iron dish:
    “The Worm Well lies betwixt the Hill and the Wear. It was long in repute as a Wishing-well, and had formerly a cover and an iron dish or ladle.” IN An historical, topographical, and descriptive view of the county of Durham …, Volume 1 By Eneas Mackenzie, Marvin Ross.

    Looks like Kate is right.

  6. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    It would be interesting to plot where the local pre- industrial revolution wells were to see what is still known about them. . and if any still exist. Also, the introduction of piped water ..and flush sanitation..during the last century ( “the Night Soil Men” may already be a phrase whose meaning has been lost.).. The problematic former reservoir at Shire Oak has now gone and there may be little left of the supply line from Lichfield. an important area of local social history in danger of fading into history, perhaps.
    It is captivating to see how this blog site’s many readers are willing to go and find.. and then offer.. pieces of information and so help to form a better picture of the area. Most appreciated !

    kind regards,

    David Evans

  7. vivienne fereday says:

    Hi Bob

    As a child I remember my father always referred ( and still does) to the Iron Dish , even when giving directions I will ask him when i see him next if he has any history on its origins .

    I also remember, albeit it vaguely, Mr and Mrs Salt living in Walsall Wood, presumably Salters Rd was named after the family

  8. Andy Dennis says:

    Salters Road may have been named after these Salts, but there are Salters Roads, Saltways and so on all over the country and they usually refer to routes used to transport salt. In 1861 near the Iron Dish was Salt’s Row and this is more likely to have been named after a resident, owner or builder, though the census does not record any Salts at the time. Unfortunately, the earlier censuses don’t record these more detailed place names.

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  11. pedro says:

    Looking in the Newspaper Archives there is very little on Iron Dish or Irondish (note it is spelt both ways) except for a few mentions persons at the courts.

    No mention in White’s Directory of 1834 or Wilmore’s History of Walsall.

    In other National Archives for 1908/9 there is…

    1. Joseph Moses Salt Smalley, as above.
    2. William Walford.
    Conway Loveridge Hodgkinson both of Walsall, solicitors
    For £100 (1) to (2) in mortgage 8 messuages, nos. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 Eldon Street with land in Walsall and 1r. 18p. land at Irondish, Walsall Wood. 19 Sept. 1908

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