I’ve received a curious little snippet from a reader of the blog who wishes to remain anonymous. This clipping from an unknown paper specified only as ‘from 1971’, is an interesting snapshot of the life of Brownhills businessman Ralph Ferrie. Ralph passed away a long while ago now, and I’m unclear what happened to his not inconsiderable empire. I believe he lived at Shire Oak House, on the Lichfield Road at Sandhills, which was converted to a nursing home a couple of decades ago. Little seems to exist online about the man who owned and operated a number of commercial vehicle businesses – Brownhills Commercials for one. After his passing, his empire just ceased to exist. Very puzzling.
Ralph played a large part in the social and civic life of the town, his Rolls being the one that usually led the carnival procession. There’s actually a street named after him that crosses Pier Street – Ferrie Grove – but I believe that’s the only municipal nod to this seemingly larger than life character. I’ve mentioned him before here on the blog, but his life still seems a little opaque; rumour was he made a lot of money from war scrap, possibly in a yard near the Fox Covey between Aldridge and Walsall Wood, but I’ve never seen proof of that. He was a leading light in the local Round Table and did much for charity, or so it would seem.
What happened to Ralph’s businesses? His vehicle collection? There seems to be little remnant of this once dynamic commercial force. Any reader contributions on the matter are most welcome.
It’s worth noting that McNeillie, mentioned in the article as the vehicle restorers, still exist and are one of Walsall’s world famous businesses, specialising in the armouring of ordinary vehicles.
A taste of former glory has been revived for a vintage 1928 Rolls Royce coupe.
Rescued from the scrap heap by Mr. Ralph Ferrie, of Brownhills Motor Sales, it has been renovated at considerable cost and will now be added to his considerable collection of cars and commercial vehicles.
The coupe was discovered in a petrol station at Donisthorpe, Leicestershire, and Mr. Ferrie arranged for it to be brought to Walsall.
The renovation was carried out by S. McNeillie, a Walsall firm of coach builders, and on Thursday last it was champagne all round as the Rolls was re-launched.
In 1937 the car was bought by Dr. Herbert Cubitt Lacey of London who subsequently changed the body from a coupe to a saloon and registered it with a new number.
The Rolls has now been converted back to a coupe and its original number restored.