Shop ’til you drop

Even I - a mere callow youth - can remember when Brownhills High Street had everything we needed. From the wonderful ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

A wonderful comment arrived at the weekend from reader Steve Saich, which I think is worth posting in it’s own right as it’s absolutely fascinating and will, I’m sure, jog many local memories. I’ve been wanting to compile a list of shops in Brownhills and Walsall Wood for ages, although the time required to do so has eluded me.

Thanks to Steve and Edward. If you have anything to add, please fell free…

Hi Bob

Read your blogs with great intrest and got talking to my father in law Edward Rushton who still lives in the area and got talking about shops in the High street,see if these names jog any memories if you walked down the high street from the bridge towards the Anchor the shops on the left were:

Brewes bakery,with cake shop
National provincial bank
Florrie Bagnall – drapers
Timothy Cooper – grocer
Alf Gregory – shoe shop
Reginal Harding – draper
Jessops – Chemist
Jack Jones – fruitier
Mick Bladon – sweet shop
L Poynton-sweets shop
Eddie Denning-outfitter
A .E.Poxon butchers
Central cafe
Argentine – butchers
F W Parker – Butchers
Willets – shoe repairs
Willets – shoe shop
Midland Bank

Cross Church Road:

Howard Bradshaw – butchers
Masons – fruits
B.A Hardwick – grocery
Len Sadler – gents outfitter
Woodhouse  – undertaker
Tisdale – wet fish
Rogers – fruit
Gerge Bradbury – ladies fashions
Jack Princer – builders merchant
Wimbush – cakes and bread

Then a row of houses

Claude Cook – dry cleaners
A bread and cake shop
Jones – jewellers
Birds –  Jewellers
Dakes -fish and chips


Brooks- outfitters
Haywards -Haberdashery

Cross over Bricklin Street:

Fletchers -ladies and gents outfitters
Latham -dentist\

Jessop’s Chemist shop seemed more deserving of the title ‘Emporium’. Check out those adverts. From ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

Then cross over the High street and walk ack towards the Bridge.

Roinsons – ice cream
Co-op store – with the labour exchange above
Brittanic Assurance
Ernie Bevan – Hair dresser
F.W .Cater – TV and radio
Roerts -builders
Starbuck – butchers
Cyril Kingston – shoes
Holmes Fruit
Leister – shoe shop

Cross Pier Street:

Palace Cinema
Barkers – Garage
Florrie Cox – pawn Broker
A Lookham – sweets
Tomlinson – newsagent
Cockram – butcher
Anne Seedhouse – chemist
Cockram – seed merchant
Mount Zion – Chapel
Hayes – butchers
Taylors – bread
Whiplegg – dentist
Gas showroom
Regent cinema
E.J.Gwilliam – clothes
Alan Bird – Butchers
Saults – fish and chips
Eames – newsagents
Frank james – fish and fruit
Browns – ladies hairdressers
Ricketts – fruit
Bevan – toy shop
Turf accountant
George Philips – grocer
The tation hotel
Rupert Craddock – estate agent
and finally
Brownhills Market

Hope this jogs a few memories of establishments of the past which graced the High Street, only fish and chip shop take away then.

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18 Responses to Shop ’til you drop

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    what a super list. Well done and thanks toSteve and Edward. Who was the dentist by Farmfoods, in the Brittanic Assurance, next to Percy Claridge shop? Did Diickenson take over from Starbuck butchers?

    • cj says:

      hi yes it was bert dickinson i used to work with him at the coop butchers before he moved great old days

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    A fascinating list!

    I’m too young to remember some of these, but in my pre-school days Mom dragged me round several – on the way holding my hand very tight across the bridge to keep me from getting covered in soot from passing steam trains! Three I recall especially were Harding, where Mom used to get her sewing and knitting materials, Gregory (I think he was a distant relative) and Kingston, where we went to buy shoes. They were wood-panelled, dingy, mysterious places with most things kept in drawers. Kingston’s must prevously have been a house with different types of shoes in different rooms. Harding was run by two elderly ladies. The shopkeepers were always smartly dressed and very polite and interested in their customers. Even then, they seemed to be from a bygone (or at least doomed) age.

    Of course, my favourites were Joe’s (sweets) and Princep’s (toys) and I imagine I’m not alone …

    There must be anecdotes or tall tales to go with all of these shops. It would be interesting to bring them all together.

  3. Clive says:

    Nice one Steve and Edward.

  4. David Oakley says:

    What great memories of Brownhills High Street. As a Walsall Wood youngster, I didn’t get into Brownhills too often, but many of the shops named still strike a chord in my memory. My earliest memories go back to 1936 and attending Brownhills Wakes which were an old tradition even then. I think the Wakes ground was in Pier Street at that time. There were some very old shops on that side of the High Street then, one of which belonged to a Mrs Moffat, who would sit outside the shop, wearing a man’s cap, peeling shrimps. For some reason I developed a fear of this old lady and would hold Mom’s hand tightly as we passed the shop. A more pleasant memory is of Selwyn Smith’s
    shop near Anchor Bridge, with the large ice cream cornet above the door. “Joe” used to sell ice-cream from a little cart around Walsall Wood in the ’30’s. My cousin Muriel was the receptionist at Latham’s the dentist for some years in the 1940’s.
    Going back 70 years in my own memory I offer a list of the shops in Walsall Wood High Street in the 1930’s in the order as I remember them:-
    Lancaster. Ladies Outfitters
    Winkle. Butcher.
    Woollaston. Ladies Hairdresser.
    Nellie Clawley’s Coffee House.
    Booth’s Newsagent and fancy goods.
    Harry Cook. Cycles and accessories.
    Fruit and vegetable shop.
    Woollaston. Gents Hairdresser.
    Ladies dress shop.
    Harry Headley. Seedsman.
    Archer’s Florist. (1940’s)
    “The Cheap Shop”
    Carters. Fruit and vegetables.
    Whitehouse. Gents Outfitter.
    Smith’s Shop and Bakery.
    Grant. Butcher.
    Row of houses.
    Smith. Post Office and Chemist.
    Three houses.
    Hawthorn Tree Inn.
    Sweet shop.
    Cherry. Butcher.
    Felton. Butcher
    Wye Knot. Fish and chips (1940’s)
    Wesleyan Chapel.
    Ecob. Chemist.
    Albert McGuires orchard,
    The other side of High Street was mainly houses interspered with a few shops, the order I remember as:-
    Woodhouse. Undertaker.
    Till. Fruiterer and greengrocer.
    Hitchen. Leather goods and repairs.
    Midland Bank.
    Red Lion P.H.
    Hardware shop.
    Davies. Hairdresser.
    Co-op Butchers 1940’s or 50’s
    Co-op grocery store.
    Memory can be deceptive after all that time and there may be errors or omissions, so I would welcome any comments, particularly from my own generation.
    Looking at the 1901 O.D. map it is interesting to note that at least 10 business’s listed in Walsall Wood were still trading in the 1930’s and beyond, despite World War One, Influenza epidemics, General strike , political unrest and the “hungry thirties” to say nothing of the easier access to Walsall and the larger towns. This says much for the community spirit prevailing within the village at the time and the friendly relationship and mutual trust endengered over such a long period.


  5. David Evans says:

    Hi David
    There was a cobbler in the High Street Walsall Wood ,after ww2..Mr Martin(?) story was that he was called up, left his shop, went to war, his rent was paid for the duration, he came back and returned to his job and shop! Oakparkrunners blog shows a Mr Shilvock as cobbler. Same? Headleys became the Midland Bank in 50s or60s. Was a bakers between Cherry and Felton possibly?
    Many thanks for your list David..calls for another cup of tea with a friend !
    There is a lot of new materials on its way…..!
    Do you remember what street celebrations were held King George VI?
    David ( “Old gentleman” no 2 !)

  6. David Oakley says:

    Hi David,
    Mr Martin does ring a memory bell. There was a deserted shop next door to Harry Cook if I remember correctly with a rusty iron gate across the porch area, this could have been Mr. Martin’s and the story could well be true,
    Yes, there may have been a bakers between Cherry and Felton, but not Smith’s which was quite a large premises some distance away. The butchers shops and adjacent properties stood farther back from the pavement leaving a sort of open forecourt to the frontages.
    The first shops listed, down as far as the ladies dress shop, which was owned by my Aunt Mary in the ’30’s had living accommodation behind the shop which was accessed from a little driveway leading off Beechtree Road, although some of the shops had already been converted to “lock-ups”. I visited
    many times as a child and the accommodation was quite roomy. Harry Headley had a large yard and outbuildings in which among other things he kept battens of straw which one could buy for 6d, to use in rabbit hutches, etc.
    I don’t think there were any street celebrations, as such, in Walsall Wood, to celebrate the Coronation, certainly not in the Vigo area. Most patriotic families owned a flag which they would fly from an upper window to mark the occasion and every child of school age received a coronation mug, but that was about it so far as my own memory goes. For the Silver Jubilee about a year earlier, every house received a small tin of biscuits. Don’t know who footed the bill for these, whether the biscuit manufacturer or the State. The street party really came into its own with the V.E. and V.J. parties to celebrate the end of WW2.
    David. (t’other old gentleman).

  7. David Evans says:

    Hi David
    with the Queen’s celebrations this year I hope that readers will dig out their photos of the local celebrations and street parties, parades etc which , certainly in Walsall Wood, were a big event in June 1953. Do you remember which streets had parties for VE or VJ day? Who was the roundsman for Smith’s bakery? Can see the van, can’t recall the man.

    • David Oakley says:

      Hi David,
      Yes, I think most street’s held parties on those special days. Salters Road, being quite long, split itself into two or three sections. Our boundaries were Stewarts Avenue and Vigo corner.. At 14 years of age I didn’t partake myself (much too grown up!) but the kids had a good time. Probably every mother contributed something although somewhat restricted by food rationing.
      What I remember particularly was the way social barriers came down, Even a street could have its own unique social structure in those days, professional men, craftsmen, pitmen, church and chapel goers, hardened drinkers, with a sprinkling of ne’er-do-wells, men who had never spoken to near-neighbours in their lives, suddenly found a common bond in celebrating the end of the war.
      The roundsman for Smith’s bakers for many years was “Jack, the baker” as
      he was known throughout the village. A small man in a flat cap with a rather unusual voice. His name was Jack Griffiths and he lived in Brook Lane, near to Frank Higgs. Nice to know you remember his little van after all those years.

  8. michael sarsfield says:

    Well Done! Your list of shops brought back lots of memories, I lived in Brownhills in the 1950’s [1952 – 1959], my mother worked in Willetts shoe shop, and I can remember having a 6d bag of chips from Saults. [or was it 3d? anyway mom used to pay for them]

    • John Cullwick says:

      Mike. I note you mention Willetts and Ian H. He was my best friend at Walsall Tech (“A” levels) and lost touch with him many many years ago. I noted you were in contact with him in last 10 years.

  9. David Evans says:

    HI David
    The local milkman, well one of them, was H, or Cockrobin to give him his official title. Good bloke and very versatile in the pre betting shop days!
    Dr Roberts was another well-respected man..his surgery building was THE place to go to get put on the box! Try explaining that lot to a Geordie!
    Did you ever go to the Hotspot? Jack Griffiths;always seemed to have a fag in his mouth!


  10. tone says:

    Does anyone remember the old Police house/station in Brookland Road Walsall Wood? In the 1930/40/50’s, the local village policeman (P.C. Albert Warrington?) and his family would have been very much part of the community. I remember being told about an incident during the 2nd WW when he had to guard a bomb all night which fell into the canal behind where Baron’s Court was built. (Don’t know if it’s still there). He would travel around the area patrolling on his push bike.

  11. tone says:

    oops, sorry I meant did anyone remember the Police house in Beechtree Road, not Brookland rd. It’s been a long time since I lived in the area! Think it was by Dr. Roberts’ house. (re my post 19th Jan).

    • cj says:

      yes i think it was next to beechtree doctors i thought the name was cunnington as i was at school with there daughter ( but i may be wrong )

  12. David Evans says:

    Hi Tone
    post war Walsall Wood’s policemen ..Bolas, Bethel and a Scots Pc who was the last to live in the PoilceHouse.( From a reliable source ).

  13. Darren says:

    When did the National provincial bank open or close in brownhills, does anyone know?

  14. Pingback: Rhyme and reason | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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