A Fold on the map

This one has largely, I’m sad to say, passed me by. In the run up to Christmas, subsequent busying about and illness, I’ve not had time to dedicate myself to this particular subject, for which I apologise wholeheartedly. David Evans and David Oakley, with the help of a host of other Walsall Wood folks, have been digging out a bit of very specific local history.

David recalled a close, or small terrace of houses perpendicular to Friezeland Lane, close to where Friezland Way is today. I’d never heard of this, and was intrigued, as was co-conspirator [Howmuch?]. In our own discussions, we’ve mentioned this area of Shire Oak  quite a few times and noted that the oldest remnant seems to be the old cottage just between Linden View and Commonside, which we suspect to have been a farmhouse.

Best thing I can do is throw it over to David Evans directly.

On 28th December, David Evans sent me the following email:

Hi Bob

Good old David Oakley has come up trumps again, bless him. On Christmas morning one of the carol singers at my home, a first-time visitor who I had not seen for many years in fact, mentioned the Fold in Friezland Lane… a bolt out the blue! Another friend who had lived in Friezland Lane many moons ago agreed and tried to describe the settlement. Perhaps not the time to try to go further, but hopefully in a few weeks I may be able to put something together about this Fold.

If you or some of your wonderful contacts are able to trace a map it would be super.

I think the Fold was between Pauls Coppice and Friezland Way or even Hillside Close, on the Shire Oak School side of the lane.

There seems to be so little published about pre-coal mining walsall Wood’s settlements, and this might be a very very useful exercise. It sounds to be pre-war or immediately post war but possibly dating back a long time.

I will keep you posted.



Now, I’d be aware of the discussion, but like much of the stuff that comes in, I took a mental note and carried on for a bit, planning to cover it over the New Year break, when lots of folk would be bored and surfing for local history. On the 30th December, David emailed me again, a remarkable document. I think this is a first for The Brownhills Blog, the only thing to touch it for hand-draw user content being Andy Dennis’s wonderful profile plan of the Hall Lane area.

I’m stunned. Really, really stunned. This is a sketch map of The Fold drawn by Daryl Preston, for which I thank him, showing residents names from his childhood, and the location of the local air-raid shelter. Click for a larger version.

Hi Bob

Please find attached a plan of the Fold, which was a row of houses off Friezland Lane. Please, my personal thanks to David Oakley, Jenny Langford, Bill Bacon and especially to Darryl Preston who was born in the house marked with a star (in 1935), and who has kindly drawn this plan to show the workshop, the three lime-washed houses of the Fold, up the path by the side of his parents’ house. It is interesting to note that location of the air-raid shelter also.

Darryl, who still lives very close to this location, has put the names of those who lived in the houses when he was a child, and I hope that readers will recognise these names and may be able to add further information on this little piece of local history. The questions which stand out are why was this called The Fold? What was made in the workshop there?

The RAF 1945 photo is not sufficiently clear to show the details that Darryl has added, and in all of this his contribution is quite unique.

The occupants’ names are:

Mosedale, Roc(k), Hodgkins, Snape, Ball, Hodgkins, Davies, Nicholls; The workshop is shown as ‘A’ on the plan

with kind regards


Obviously, I’m fascinated by this, and am immensely grateful to all involved. If this information jogs any memories, please do contribute. The is an area I know little of the history of, so rarely cover.

For my own contribution, such as it is, I decided to do the thing I’m noted for – digging out old maps. Sadly, the mapping record kind of fragments at 1938, as there’s a sudden step in surveying and the information in the 1:2500 and 1:10,000 maps becomes so divergent – even between subsequent issues of the same scale – that it appears meaningless. It doesn’t settle again until the late 60’s, by which time it was clearly long gone. I would imagine the fold to have disappeared at about the time the houses in Wrekin View were constructed; the post war development there and along the Friezeland Lane seem about contemporary.

The maps below not only show The Fold, but an area gradually being populated by a growing industrial community. There are some interesting nuggets appearing, like the Laundry that pops up out of nowhere in Commonside.

If you’ve anything at all to add, comment here or contact me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

1:2500 scale Ordnance Survey map of northern Shire Oak in 1884. The Fold is circled in red. Click for a larger version.

1:2500 scale Ordnance Survey map of northern Shire Oak in 1902. The Fold is circled in red. Click for a larger version.

1:2500 scale Ordnance Survey map of northern Shire Oak in 1919. The Fold is circled in red. Click for a larger version.

1:2500 scale Ordnance Survey map of northern Shire Oak in 1938. The Fold is circled in red. Click for a larger version.

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20 Responses to A Fold on the map

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    many thanks for your excellent presentation of this article and especially for the fascinating maps of the locality. So many details to peruse! Your hard work in collating and presenting all of this is most appreciated. I have been told today that the laundry was a wooden building and that the girls who worked there rode cycles to and from work in the 1930s. This might prompt a memory or two among readers, perhaps.
    kind regards

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    Another fascinating post beautifully presented!

    I had hoped the censuses would reveal something about the people who lived there, but sadly, although there were people named Ball and Snape, The Fold is not mentioned.

  3. Graeme Fisher says:

    The 1838 Tithe map of Stonnall shows this area, and the Fold seems to be on the site of a house and garden, marked A17, owned and occupied by William Seedhouse. He also owned the field behind, marked on Bob’s maps as 421, 56 and/or 57.

  4. David Evans says:

    Hi Graeme
    many thanks for your info. 1851 census shows a(nother?..same) William Seedhouse, aged 62, living with wife Ann and family at 65 Catshill.I wonder if they had just recently moved from Friezland Lane?It looks as though his occupation was a coal miner
    Their neighbour ,John Seedhouse, in number 64 Catshill was a labourer and shepherder. !!!!!

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  6. Trevor Brown says:

    Hi to you all, On the map from 1919 on Litchfield Rd Shire Oak you can see a sand-hole where the School entrance is now, That was owned and operated by my Grandad Mr Langford,and my uncle Arthur Langford,
    On the 1938 map houses have been constructed opposite the sand hole Built by Mr Seedhouse four of which my grandad purchased for his four Children at the costly price of 240 pound each and a extra 10 pound for a rear veranda,
    Regards Trevor, Brisbane.

  7. David Evans says:

    HI Trevor
    thanks for your comments..the Cutting is still there even though it isn’t marked on the latest map. Mr Seedhouse built quite a few of the local houses..story is that his two-man team or bricklayers used their own accurate clock to begin and end the day’s work. A super story of how honest they were.

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  9. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    the laundry in Commonside;-
    called.. Lindon Laundry, a big wooden building with a tin roof..still there in late 1940s..had cream/beige coloured vans. Laundry machines made a racket when they started up in the morning, according to a lady who lived in the house next door at the time!

  10. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    just been shown an old legal document – shows a reference to ” Friezland Lane, Catshill, in the Parish of Shire Oak, in the County of Stafford” 1957.
    So perhaps JohnSeedhouse, shepherder , 1851 census was living at the Fold, at the time..in what later became known as Friezland Lane !

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  13. John M says:

    In the early 1930s my mother lived with her grandparents, Henry Wood in the property at the south west corner of the junction of Friezland Lane and Commonside. Further up Friezland Lane just beyond the Fold on the west side lived her other grandparents, Ball. The Ball families had two properties on a single plot and opposite this probably in the Fold was another Ball relative. The Ball and Wood families were miners and came into the area in the 1850s from Measham, Leics and Cannock Chase.

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