Farming yesterday

An interesting mail reaches me from David Evans. I’ve been thinking about this one quite a bit since I received it last week. It really does contain some interesting talking points, so I thought I’d share it rather than sitting on it like a bit of a lemon… Cheers to David. Can any readers add to this?

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

HI Bob

David Oakley has kindly given some fascinating information about Walsall Wood’s lost farms in his comments on some I have been looking through some of the maps you have very kindly posted..and I hope that readers may be able to locate these exactly, and that they may be able to add to this list.

The first that David mentioned is Poppleton’s farm in Sunnyside. The 1902 map may show this named as Vigo farm,by field 415, now, sadly, part of a huge landfill site. I remember Sunnyside as being a little collection of houses and a row of houses off an L shaped track, near fields 391, 419 & 418. The double fronted house was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Creswell who lived there. I wonder when the Vigo farm disappeared under the bulldozer and digger?

Craddock’s farm in Castle Road? I wonder if this was the building by field 387, which , I think, had a double underground air-raid shelter by it? I wonder when this ceased to be a farm?

Fewtrells farm, on Salters Road, near Streets Corner. There was a double fronted house quite close to the present bus layby, roughly where the Streets Corner Garden flats are now. Your map, 1955 may show this. I am not sure which one this was. Wolverson Road postwar houses may be built on the farm’s fields. Wolverson Road was the first Road to be started of the Castlefort estate, most were finished in the 1950s. The 1945 RAF map, also on Google Earth, show the first work being started here, in winter 1945.

Your recent 1902 map (in the Fold article) may show another contender, along Lindon Road, near the bend, near field 96… once a farm?

My dear old friend in Walsall Wood..yes, another cup of tea… has mentioned the farm in Walsall Road, near the Coach and Horses pub, late 1920s, early 1930s. Down a long drive. Bought milk. She took a jug and it was filled. The farm is shown by field marked 362 on 1902 Walsall Wood map… I wonder who owned this farm and when it was demolished?

Highfield farm, near the Horse and Jockey pub , was recently demolished. I hope there are photos of this farm , too.

Walsall Wood High Street had plenty of stores selling local provisions produced, no doubt, by many of the nearby farms David talks about. Picture from ‘Memories of Old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo & John Sale.

I was surprised to learn from her that there used to be six butchers in the High Street, Walsall Wood and this excludes Bates at Streets Corner! The names of the butchers Cherry (beef) and Felton (pork) were the shops in the row opposite the Medical Centre… (Trevor’s barbershop was a bakers!) The beasts were slaughtered in the slaughterhouse up the yard through the archway.

I hope that your readers will be able to add to these details. Thanks to David Oakley’s kind offering, a very good start has been made to compiling an enduring record of this part of Walsall Wood’s history.

With kind regards and best wishes



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22 Responses to Farming yesterday

  1. David Oakley says:

    Hi David.
    Great to read your ongoing article about the Walsall Wood farms.I am able to enlarge a little on my previous observations inasmuch as Vigo Farm (Poppleton’s ) did not seem to be doing much as far back as the late ’30’s. Mr. Poppleton being quite elderly and I cannot remember anyone working on the farm for him, even though the farmland was still as it was on your earlier maps and the few old houses that comprised Sunnyside. Note your mention of Mr, Creswell’s house. Lovely family with son Amos, who were leading lights at the Wesleyan chapel, near the canal bridge and I believe Amos Creswell went on to become a Wesleyan minister.
    Craddock’s farm sold later to Austin Snape, was on the left-hand side of Castle Road, going from Vigo corner and is, I believe the building in 377 on the O.S. map of 1902, farming fields 374-378, giving up some of this land when Council houses were built in Salters Road and Castle Road in 1932. The Council house gardens then backed on to what was left of the fields, which I remember as being both under the plough and used for grazing cattle at various times. You will note on the same map the large, undeveloped areas of common land surrounding these enclosed fields.
    Fewtrell’s farm entrance was about 60 yards from Street’s Corner. The first pair of houses in Salters Road were tenanted by Mrs. Danks and my grandparents, Sam and Kate Oakley, then came the double-fronted house referred to. These properties had small gardens to the front which extended to the pavement. The farm entrance came next and stood back several yards from the pavement. I seem to remember that the house and buildings stood at a right-angle to the houses on either side. Mr Fewtrell farmed the fields behind the houses at that end of Salters Road, up to the start of the common land bounded by Holly Lane. Incidentally, the next houses in Salters Road, about four pairs of semi’s were built by a dear friend of mine, Greg Challis, of Brownhills, long departed this life who took a delight in telling me that he had built them for a price of £103 per house!!
    There was a farm on the corner of Friezland Lane and Lindon Road which must have been quite extensive as I remember haystacks in the field, whereas most of the other farms were small dairy farms, Highfield farm, by the Horse and Jockey was the last farm in the area to sell milk to Woolner’s Dairies and by the 1950’s this production had declined to less than half a churn a day.
    Finally, David, there may be another link between a Walsall Wood farm and one of your quiz questions. After selling the farm in Castle Road, the Craddock’s moved across the road to a large property which Mrs. Craddock converted to a Maternity/ Nursing home in the 1940’s. Is this the one referred to in your quiz?
    Best wishes,

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi David
    gulp! a million thanks..yes, tis the Nursing Home, I think. Do you know anything about the farm on top of Shire Oak Hill,..was abandoned ? Interesting to note Fewtrells farm building the Fold?. Do you remember Stinchcombe and Coopers foundry by the stream near the Vigo? David, you are a star!
    Young Amos became President of the Methodist Conference…one step up from Rev James Holland’s achievement long ago..Bampton family provided two ministers,then there was Canon Jim… lately a Craddock has quailified as a minister, too…the Wood’s done quite well , don’t you think?
    Kind regards and best wishes,

    • David Oakley says:

      Hi David,
      I’m so very pleased to read your contributions to the blog as it really takes me back to the Walsall Wood that we both knew, so many years ago.
      Fancy young Amos Creswell attaining such heights!! and I remember him going off to school in his Queen Mary’s cap, as if it were yesterday. As you say, the Christian community have done extremely well in providing so many leaders. Your mention of the Rev. James Holland takes me right back to my earliest memories. a fine preacher and a pipe smoker as I remember. One of his memorable sermons he entitled “A pinch of salt makes all the difference”.
      Now back to the queries, I think the farm on Shire Oak could have been Meanley’s Farm. Don’t know much about this farm other than the fields behind the houses on the right-hand side of Shire Oak hill extending across towards the “tank tracks” and gravel pit on the far side of Holly Lane belonged to a farmer of that name, that would be in the ’30’s and ’40’s.
      Stinchcombe and Cooper took over Wilkin’s Farm or King’s Hayes Farm to give it it’s proper title which straddled the Walsall Wood/Aldridge boundary. I still remember their sign, made all in metal as befitted a foundry, I suppose, but there never seemed to be any noise or signs of activity comming from there. The stream you mention had its origin in a natural spring a little higher
      up, opposite Coppy Lane and marked “Spout” on the map. This spring water was ice cold, summer and winter and many brickyard workers filled their water bottles there to wash down the mealbreak “snap” As kids, we would never pass the spot without taking a drink ourselves. A kind of ritual.
      Perhaps the most prestigious farm in Walsall Wood at the time (It may still be going strong for all I know) was Grange Farm, just off Green Lane. This farm was the home of Mrs. Sarah Ward, Member of Parliament for the Cannock constituency, which included Walsall Wood. She sat as member from 1931/5. Yes, Walsall Wood has had its little share of the “great and the good” over the years
      Six butchers in Walsall Wood High Street ?:- Cherry, Felton, Grant, Winkle, (later Greensills) Co-op, Batkin (Just above in Lichfield Road). Find out whether this tallies with your old friend’s memory over your next cup of tea !! If she starts talking about Dickie Poole’s shop, quite valid, but he retired and shut up shop in the early thirties..
      All the very best,


  3. David Evans says:

    HI David
    many thanks for this info ! You know your butchers! Do you remember Chas Hale’s unusual shop-front attraction? Do you remember Buckley’s shop on Salter’s Road.(.was this opposite the fairground?).later owned my Mr and Mrs Smith, Clayhanger Prims.
    kind regards……….loads more to look out for!

  4. David Evans says:

    Hi David
    I have vague memories of steam lorries going down the HIgh Street but can’t place the name on the lorries. Any ideas, please? Just occasionally we get a steam engine on its way to the steam festival at Draycott in the Clay…do you remember which local farms used these wonderful machines..or was it just horse and muscle of the horseman hereabouts? Does the name Paulo conjure up memories?
    kind regards

  5. David Oakley says:

    Hi David,
    Yes, I well remember Buckley’s keeping that shop and Smith’s who followed them. Madge Buckley, the daughter was similar age to me. I believed they moved to the detached bungalow in Lichfield Road, on the corner of Brook Lane, afterwards. Did I see on Google Earth that the shop was now a branch of Costcutters ? The shop was directly opposite the common. The fair was held on “The field” as we called it, which was immediately to the right-hand side of the
    Brickmakers Arms, bounded by the first of the old 1932 built council houses at the Vigo end of Salters Road,
    Regarding the steam lorries, ah, yes, the steam lorries ! Tarmac Ltd were using Foden steam-powered lorries in the ’30’s and no doubt even earlier and a fair amount passed through Walsall Wood. As kids we used to like to bend down as they passed to see the glow from the fire, although our first love was the steamroller driven by a very oily looking Mr. Yeomans.
    I worked on many farms as a boy during the war, but never encountered steam driven machinery, either static or mobile, everything being done by either horse or tractor, perhaps I picked the wrong farms as steam held a fascination for most young lads and not-so-young lads, and still does.
    I have puzzled for some little time over two things you mention. Paulo and Chas Hales shopfront attraction and have drawn blank. Care to put me out of my misery ??
    kind regards,

  6. David Evans says:

    HI David
    they are two questions yet to appear in further parts of the local quiz..looks as though they may be difficult questions , or refer to post-1951, perhaps.
    A clue ; for either, it would be like clowning around with history .
    Mr Yeomans – wasn’t the accumulator man, was he?

  7. David Evans says:

    HI David question is already in the quiz…opposite Smith’s chemists, approx..
    I bet you could find a few banana skins there…..why?
    Mr Smith the chemist was i/c the local Home Guard during WW2..Know anything about their escapades at all? Who the platoon members were.etc

  8. David Oakley says:

    Hi David,
    Mr Yeomans was indeed the accumulator man and had a little shop on Lichfield Road, near Street’s corner. Nearly every domestic “wireless” worked on that principle, so Mr Yeomans was always kept busy. The floor space behind the counter was a tangle of wires and accumulators in the process of charging but Mr Yeomans could always pounce unerringly on the one you had called to collect, which he would hand over on receipt of 6d. A quiet, dignified elderly man. I have no idea if he was related to the steamroller man, whose name we learnt from constantly following the machine and its operator from site to site, a kind of 1930’s “Fan Club” I suppose.
    Mr. Yeoman’s instinct in locating an accumulator was only equalled by Charlie Glover, the cobbler in Beechtree Road, who, from an enormous pile of repaired footwear in the corner of his workshop, could dive in with the accuracy of an Exocet missile and emerge triumphantly with the required shoes, sold and heeled for 2/3d. Or you may hear the dreaded words “Ready Thursday” intimating that your journey had been in vain.
    With reference to the two quiz questions, I left Walsall Wood in 1951 and although only moving to Walsall, my visits to Walsall Wood were infreqent so I became gradually unaware of the intimate life the village. I still try to follow the fortunes of Walsall Wood F.C. however even though living in Yorkshire and am rather saddened at the lack of progress through the leagues as other local clubs have managed. I have been on Oak Park in a crowd of 2,000 when the team have reached the first round proper of the F.A. Amateur Cup. Never missed a match as a youngster, Oh well, happy days !!
    Kind regards,


  9. David Evans says:

    HI David
    many thanks..Chas Hales ;on the High Street..sort of pet shop..had a chimp in a cage outside.. Google Paulo and you will get an idea of the Wood’s post war
    Italian connection. Mr Yeomans had a shop display..a big wizard in H.Potteresque cone hat..we had very little colour in our lives and this image
    stood out when you were collecting the accumulator.Mr Yeomans was a kind his cowgown! And the assortment of bike ,odds and ends, lamps and batteries!
    …………the football cry in my day was Bump it Bomper! Do you remember who the team trainer was? And the refreshement bar ladies?

    • David Oakley says:

      Hi David,
      I wonder if Chas Hales inherited the chimp from Benny Yates, a local character and club owner, who after leaving the club in Brookland Road, moved a little lower down to a large detached house on the corner of Coronation Road where he kept a chimp in a large cage to the delight of local kids.
      Nice to know that you remember Yeoman’s. and the most interesting jumble of goods. The wizard sounds good, I would have liked to have seen him !
      Regarding the trainer at the football club, no name springs to mind although Sid Salt seemed to do nearly everything needed, even to being “on the gate” and I think he even took the strips home for laundering. Another active official was George Mycock. In my day the centre forward for some seasons was “Bub” Haynes a real goal-poaching live wire and brother to Viv Haynes who played cricket for Walsall in the Birmingham League. Incidentally, I think the football team that played as Walsall Wood Prims was part of the amalgamation that gave rise to Walsall Wood F.C. hence the cross on the club badge. Refreshment Bar ??? at that time ?? no chance ! Not even a cup of tea !
      In answer to the earlier post. Mr. and Mrs. Till kept a greengrocers and fruiterers almost opposite to Smith’s the chemist where you could possibly see the odd banana skin. pre-war, of course. Bananas then disappeared for four or five years. The shop next door belonged to Mr. Hitchen who could re-stitch a caseball or put a new panel in as good as any man. Were you ever initiated into the mystique of inflating a caseball and preparing it for play ? David, if not, I’ll explain it sometime.
      Home Guard ? For most of us kids the war was a grown-ups thing that other than being woken up for air raids didn’t bother us much. Sweet coupons and either fighting or befriending evacuees from London’s East End, Margate and Liverpool was more or less our sole involvement with it so the Home Guard was some peripheral thing of which we knew very little unless a member of the family was actively involved, I do remember, however that my next- door neighbour, Norman Benfold was a member, as was Les Peace, a friend of my sister. No more names come readily to mind at the moment.

      • Rita Thorne says:

        I realise the above posts are over a year old, but I have just found this site, and was interested to read about Benny Yates and his chimp. My mother used to visit Mrs Yates and Ben, and can remember the chimp. My mother says the Mrs Yates donated the chimp to Dudley Zoo, and Mrs Yates took my mother, her sister and brother to the zoo to see the chimp. Does anyone know what happened to the Yates family,

        • David Oakley says:

          Hi Rita,
          So glad that you located that little snippet about Benny Yates and the chimp.
          Pleased to hear that it ended up in Dudley Zoo, where it would no doubt, have plenty of company, and that your mom had the chance to see it in its new environment.
          Benny Yates was a large man in all respects, big in stature, always smiling, and was
          one of the Wood’s “Characters” at the time. Sadly he died, while in Brookland Road.
          I remember one daughter, Gwenda, but cannot remember if there were any more family.
          I would probably know your mom, if she was a local girl.. Walsall Wood wasn’t all that big,then, All the post-war housing had yet to be built
          Kind regards.

      • beckie says:

        my great grandparents had the last name till, they lived on the walsall wood high street where the library is now

  10. David Evans says:

    Hi David
    I once headed a leather caseball..still got the scar. The leather studs in football boots of the time were pretty lethal, too. Kick the ball too hard and you lost your boot in the air. I think this might be the origin of rugby!
    Les Jackson sold me my first chocolate bar..I felt very guilty..rationing and all that! Rationing books have long since disappeared…and so has my waist!

    • David Oakley says:

      Hi David,
      Yes, a glancing header when your forehead meets the lace-up could be most painful, particularly with a wet ball – and borrowed boots which had been nicely broken in to the owners feet could never be recommended, yes and those studs ! We lived in dangerous times, old son, and with sweets at twopence a quarter, who could afford more than two ounces ? Tell you what, though, the Beechnut ha’penny chewing gum machines delivered two packets every fourth ha’penny and by studying the knob which operated the machine one could discover when the next double issue was due. Smart, eh ? And like me, you haven’t lost your waistline, just got more of it !

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  12. David Evans says:

    Hi David
    in one of the Walsall history articles..Walsall Wood History..I forget which one..a reference and very detailed diary is featured of a Charles(?) Derry who was born in early 1800s in the cottages by Coppy Woods in Green Lane, Walsall Wood..and, amazingly, this good chap emigrated to USA and was on the wagon train with Mormons to their eventual new Salt Lake City..and became a preacher ! It is worth finding this internet page just to see the document. I think that the Horse and Jockey pub had a side “room” which was used for religious gatherings a long long time ago. I tried to dig deeper on this but got nowhere..but , what an amazing piece of the Wood’s pre-coal mine history!
    kind regards

  13. David Evans says:

    HI David
    the site;-
    scroll down and down..

  14. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    thanks for giving the correct link.Who makes them so long? The long document also mentions an old thatched cottage at Goblins Pit. There was another one, at Streets Corner , which features in one of the super local history books, recently re-published..
    I wonder if readers know of any more?…The history link above , Sue Lote’s super article ,is the one which gives an artistic sketch/guess of the original Ebenezer Church in Lichfield have a photo of the actual buildiing and its position which corrects another author’s inaccurate placing of that building.
    There is reference to Grange Farm, I think .
    So, a thatched cottage by Jockey Meadows with its bullrushes in the lowlands opposite!
    Goblins Pit (Devil?) and ,in Aldridge a Hob’s Hole Lane ! Who or what were the Salters? ……
    With best wishes for your speedy recovery, Bob, and many thanks

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