Sharp shooters from the Wood

Joseph Birch in the hat, seated, but who are the other gentlemen? Picture taken at Walsall Wood Labour Club in 1954. Note the dog. I had no idea that there was a ‘Brownhills Districat Airgun League’. Picture kindly donated by Beverley Hollyhead.

Beverley thinks this was taken in the Hussey Arms in Brownhills, but isn’t sure. Samuel Birch is the man with the gun. Names for the others would be appreciated. Picture courtesy of Beverley Hollyhead.

A couple of great images here from reader Beverley Hollyhead, of local air gun shooters in the mid 50s. I’m hoping we might be able to name some of these prizewinning marksmen, so for those who were around the area at that time, especially the Walsall Wood contingent, please do have a good think.

Beverley had this to say:

Thought you might quite like a couple of old photos I have found, unfortunately I am not very competant on the computer so I can’t work out how to type anything next to each photo! The one from Walsall wood Labour club is fairly self explanatory, the man sat down wearing the hat is my uncle Joseph Birch who used to live in Salters Road but I would love to know if anyone can name any of the other people.

The one that is inside a pub is possibly the Hussey Arms Brownhills, possibly also the same year or thereabouts. My father Samuel Birch is the man in the middle front of the pic holding his air rifle, again can anyone put any names to the others in the photo, my uncle Joseph Birch is also there on front row 2nd from right. I am presuming its the Hussey Arms as that was my fathers local pub but it could be anywhere…

I thank Beverley for her generosity in sending in these two excellent images, and invite readers to comment on them. You know the drill; BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, or comment here. Cheers.

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9 Responses to Sharp shooters from the Wood

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a big thankyou to Beverley.. In the bottom photo one of the gentlemen may be the same person shown presenting awards to young cyclists in the article “School Daze”.. a local councillor or chairman of the council?

  2. Ray Wall says:

    Hi Bob,

    I am greatly indebted to Beverley for the two photos. My Grandfather (Chris Wood) – 3rd from the right in the top pic and holding the smaller trophy in the bottom pic. As previously mentioned on Brownhills Blog, I grew up in Brookland Road and for a few years lived in the clubhouse accommodation, which I think was owned by Bennie Yates when I was a boy (and known as Cintra House) Between opening hours of the club, my Grandad – would let me use his air rifle in the clubhouse where the metal target was located. A small central hole in the target was the bulls eye and if you scored a bullseye a bell would sound. In those days, airguns rivaled darts in the clubs. Of course, I knew the Birch family, who when in the club, treated me to many packets of Smiths crisps! To the left of my Grandad, the tall young guy may be surnamed James (Castle Road?, but I.m not sure of this) A close friend of my Grandad was Freddy Bryant who was into motor bikes, and my failing memory is that he was killed on his bike, in Rushall or Shelfield. Without wishing to cause distress to anyone, if I am wrong, is Freddy the one sitting at the table with the trophies, next to Joe Birch, in pic.1? I will be must interested, Bob, as names are put against faces in the two pics. Incidentally, My Grandad joined me in Canberra, Australia in 1965 and had a contented retirement until his death (94 years) in 1976, Thank you again, Beverley – you have made my Sunday, even though the Aussies are doing so poorly in the Games! Best wishes from Ray Wall, Sydney Australia.

  3. BEV says:

    Hi Ray, I’m so glad I have made your day, I used to spend a lot of time with my mom and dad, uncle Joe and auntie Martha (dads sister) at Yate’s club on Brookland rd when i was a kid in 60’s. My mum had an addiction to peanuts and I can remember her sitting in the club rubbing the skins off the peanuts and there would be huge pile them on the floor at the end of the night.. lol… Its funny what little details stick in your memory.. My auntie Martha (think her surname was Martin) used to live right opposite the club and I spent many happy hours flitting between the club and auntie Marthas’s. I’ve recently been looking into my family tree and the Birch family had been in Walsall wood for quite some time, they were canal boatmen in the 1800s and eventually ended up in the coal pits, My dad had his own coal merchant business before the 2nd world war but unfortunately one of his brothers didnt do such a good at looking after it while he was away at war and when he returned home he had no business left.. Were you a £10 pom ?? I can remember a discussion when I was a kid about whether we should go to Australia but my dad was against it fullstop… Bev

  4. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    I have been told that a Mrs Bostock ran the club..she used to run the Beehive pub in Hall Lane. This may help to jog a few memories, I hope
    best wishes to Ray in Sydney!

  5. david oakley says:

    Hi Bob and Bev,
    So pleased to see a photo taken at Walsall Wood Labour Labour Club and to recognise some of the marksman. The man at the right of the first photo and on the left of the second photo is Johnny Poxon, founder of the Labour Club, club president and one-time councillor. Poxon Road named after John Poxon, comes along the route where the old club used to stand.
    The smaller man behind Joe Birch in the first photo is a Mr. Cresswell who lived in Salters Road and the man to the right is a Mr. Mills who lived near your Aunt Martha, in Brookland Road.
    I knew the Birch’s very well, living opposite the business in Salters Road.
    Sam would sometimes take me with him, in the lorry. I would be about eight or nine and they were high spots of my young life. We would go to the Coppy Pit, then on to customers. Sam was the livewire in the business, without a doubt,
    although old Mr. Birch, your grandfather, Bev, served customers from the coalshed,to coal which was carried away by means of small heavy trolleys with small cast-iron wheels. Joe never took an active part in the business but was a driver for Collins and a wartime special Constable. The other brother, Tom took over after Sam was called up, There was also a sister, Harriet and an elder sister, Martha who lived in Brookland Road, she had a daughter Margaret, same age as myself. The Birch family was completed by a black mild-mannered spaniel called Bo. Thanks for the photos, Bev, with such local memories.
    Especially of your Dad, Sam. Don’t think I ever saw him again, after the war.

  6. Dave Cresswell says:

    Hi David, there were many Cresswells around Brownhills, Ogley Hay and Walsall Wood. I wonder if you have any details of Mr Cresswell in the photograph like first name or age etc so I can look to see if he is related.

    • david oakley says:

      Hi Dave,
      I think the man in the picture was George Cresswell. I would estimate that he would born around 1920 or so. I don’t remember seeing him around the Wood until after the war, so quite likely he was born elsewhere
      and married a local girl. Good luck in your research.

  7. BEV says:

    Hi David, I’m so glad people are coming forward with names, and I’m finding out information on my family that I didn’t know. Unfortunately I never met my grandfather or grandmother they both died before I was born and my dad never chatted about them much (wish I’d had an interest in ancestry before my dad died), after the war mom and dad moved to the Hussey Estate in Brownhills but Uncle Joe stayed on in the family home in Salters Road, I knew he worked for Collins but didn’t know he was a special constable, he later moved to aldridge and died about 1981, Dad died the following year. Funnily we also had a dog called Bo, I just checked with my elder sister Della and she said dad named him after his family’s dog. I’m so grateful you have such a good memory, thanks Bev

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