Shenstone murder tragedy, 1929

I noticed there was some interest over this tragic occurrence shown by members of the Stonnall Local History group on Facebook in the last few weeks. Thanks to the efforts of Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, we have located the following two news reports of the incident. I’m sorry, they’re a bit hard to read, but I don’t have the time right now to transcribe them. This was a terrible, terrible event, and it persists in the history with the cottages now being known as ‘Murder Cottages’, the use of which term prompted the original query.

From the Tamworth Herald Saturday, 27 April 1929. Click for a larger version.

From the Tamworth Herald Saturday, 20 April 1929. Click for a larger version.

I’d recommend you tune in to the group in question, but the admin has banned me from the group for committing the heinous crime of attempting to discuss an alternative view to some of his increasingly bizarre assertions about points of local history. A historian that cannot debate and engage with his peers in a friendly and sociable manner is a very unfortunate thing indeed. I personally put huge effort into publicising Julian’s work to a wider audience, yet my efforts to push his las two articles to Brownhills Blog readers didn’t even receive acknowledgement. The apparent loss of what was once good humour is a tragedy, and I feel very sad indeed that someone who wrote such engaging amateur research seems to be losing their way.

It’s impossible to recommend people join and post in a group where posts are arbitrarily deleted without warning and where people are frozen out for daring to question the view of the admin.

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18 Responses to Shenstone murder tragedy, 1929

  1. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    many thanks… Pedro for finding this, and to you for publishing the full story of the murders on your blog.
    kind regards

  2. Clive says:

    Very sad story. Good detective work Pedro and Bob well done.

  3. Mike Hawes says:

    Its a sad story , I wonder if the people living there now in the recently refurbished cottages know the history, imagine the shock at finding out. That said , their position now just off the busy A5 and a short cut missing out the busy island means the traffic down there can be quite hair raising. I was driving to the A5 that way and a car came off the A5 at about 60mph and nearly hit me head on, murders 80+ years ago need be the least of their worries, having a car come into the living room would be more likely.

    Shouldn’t waste a moments thought on a the stonnall group , I saw that site ages ago and it seems like just one or two people there , more of a personal blog than an actual *group*.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Desmond Burton says:

    Sorry to add to this thread so belatedly, and I hope you don’t mind me making a few comments here on your blog, Bob – don’t know where else to put them, and you are welcome to hit the ‘delete’ button if you prefer!

    As someone who was fortunate enough to learn about the newly-formed Stonnall Facebook group last September through the blog (when you were writing about Arthur Burton’s war exploits) and who, incidentally, has read every page of the new ‘Discovering Stonnall’ book with great interest, I am sorry to read some of these comments above.

    The Stonnall Facebook group has attracted over 60 members since it was established a year ago. Many have family connections with Stonnall going back to the early 20th century, and some even further. We have members living outside the village, as far afield as Wales (that’s me!), Canada, Thailand, and Australia. All of us, however, have some interest in the village, many contribute to the archive with photographs, memories, research on old village families, history of the church, etc; and all of us enjoying sharing what we have with others. The past year has unearthed a wealth of fine photographic material from attics and storerooms, some of it far superior to that in the Stonnall book (sorry, Lynne!), to everyone’s mutual interest and benefit. The group also has excellent contacts with Stonnall church and many local people. I have had numerous faded memories corrected or rekindled by participating in this group.

    However, I don’t believe that many members are interested in debating or analysing the various interpretations of what constitutes ‘history’ and the role of the historian, and I have suggested that this kind of discussion, which at times can become rather heated, is kept off-line between the individuals concerned. This does not detract from the value of the group as a fascinating source of information about Stonnall. Personally, I am really sorry that you’re no longer in the group, Bob, as I thoroughly enjoy your informative comments and insights, but I hope you still read our contributions and I hope you don’t mind us reading your blog!

    I would strongly urge Mike to have a second, rather closer, look at the Facebook page (and the about-to-be-launched website) – and perhaps even join us! – rather than dismiss us all out of hand. And I am amazed that after 6 years of research on Stonnall Lynne was not aware of Julian’s work or the Facebook group 8 months after its formation. I think the LSCHG is missing an opportunity here, just as it is by not appearing to recognise that many people now living outside Stonnall have far more knowledge of the village, at least as regards its past, than some of those within! I wonder, for example, why the LSCHG website is so impersonal and inactive, with no attempt to attract new members. Are outsiders welcome, or is it a closed group? That said, I was very impressed by most of the book, Lynne, and it is wonderful to see a picture of Wordsley House garden on the cover! [Bob, however, might not agree with the website blurb: “In the 18th century this road was frequented by Tom King (who was born at the Irish Harp further along the road towards Little Aston) and Dick Turpin both notorious highwaymen.”!]

    We don’t all have to agree on everything (or even anything), of course, but wouldn’t it be preferable if all the groups claiming to be interested in Stonnall history actually worked in closer harmony??

    • Desmond

      Whilst I appreciate your point of view, any admin of any group who arbitrarily, and without warning, bans members from their group for the apparent sin of questioning their view of history is operating neither democratically nor with community spirit.

      This wasn’t about what a historian is, or was, but about the discussion of history. Being open to challenge in a adult, open manner.

      Julian banned myself and Jeepboy, not the other way around.

      Take another look? We can’t, we’re banned!

      As to deleting your post? Why? Because I may not agree with it? That’s how others work, not me. Your view is welcome and I invite debate.

      Of the 60 odd members, only a hardcore few post. I’m sure it’s great for you, but I’ll keep doing my thing here; all the free promotion and support I gave Julian counted for nothing.

      I just found the whole thing rather daft, to be honest.

      None of us own history, it’s a communal thing. Anyone who seeks to silence voices isn’t recording history of a collective, true kind but an edited version of it.

      Best wishes


  5. pedro says:

    Sort me out here chaps! If you are interested in local history, which may include Stonnall, then you have to join Facebook?

    regards Pedro

    • There is a Stonnall Local History group on Facebook. I believe they’re setting up a website. The proprietor has banned myself and Jeepboy from the Facebook group. We both questioned stuff, in the way many do here.

      There’s also a ‘Real World’Lynn & Stonnall Conservation & Heritage Society, who’ve published a large work on local history, donated free to every resident of the village under a National Lottery Grant. There seems to be some frostiness between the two groups.

      Here, questioning is welcome and I’m happy to be proven wrong. It should be about the conversation, not the premise. Hence my “echoes’ post.

      It’s all rather daft.

      Best wishes


  6. pedro says:

    I have no connection with Stonnall, and I also went over to the The Julian Ward Davies site from Bob’s Blog.

    There is a lot of extremely interesting information on the Blog, but some of the content may be open to question. So it seems to me that if I find something that really needs to be addressed, in the interest of “Truth”, then I have to join the “Club”.

    This is particularly worrying to me as it closes off sources of information, whether they may be right or wrong. On Bob’s Blog there has been, and indeed will be, the ability to challenge some of the glaring mistakes that have occurred in published books, and also in the sometimes debatable interpretation of history.

    Regards Pedro

  7. David Evans says:

    Hello Desmond
    there is this “expansion” article in this blog which you might find interesting..where views have been expressed by a few readers
    “Echoes..lets think for a minute”..March 18 2012
    kind regards

  8. Desmond Burton says:

    Many thanks for that, David, and thanks to others for their response to my comments. Des

  9. Graeme Fisher says:

    As a subscriber to both camps, I tread warily amongst you all; I gave material to the Stonnall book, I’ve given freely to the facebook group, and I’ve sought to discover the history of the village where I grew up, and to perpetuate the research that my dad Eric Fisher undertook in the dark days before the internet. I’ll not take sides, but I’m sad that a falling out occurred. Bridges should be built, different opinions should be accepted, and local history should benefit.

    • Hi Graeme

      Good to hear from you.

      Can I just clear something up here, please?

      There isn’t, and never has been, a ‘falling out’. I just found myself banned from the Stonnall group one day without notice, or the courtesy of an explanation.

      That’s after contributing photos, sorting maps and all sorts, including promoting Julian’s work.

      Banning someone – without telling them why – is disingenuous, and confirmed something I’d felt for a while. The only reason I can see is that I had the temerity to challenge Julian on some of his wilder assertions of ‘fact’.

      But, as old Groucho Marx said ‘I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member’, so perhaps it’s for the best. The politics of the whole thing seem to be rather odder than I initially suspected.

      The Stonnall group has unearthed some remarkable material, and that’s good to see. For that, it’s a very good thing indeed.

      I stand by my original assertion that history isn’t ours to own or moderate, and the recording of it should be as democratic as possible. That’s why this site doesn’t have ‘members’, and all are free to join the conversation.

      Nothing said here is ever deleted or edited unless unlawful, obscene or requested by the originating poster.

      Best wishes


  10. Pingback: History is a mosaic | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  11. Kay says:

    Is this the cottage on the lichfield road just past the wall island en route to lichfield

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