Close, but no cigar? The Castles seems to have been the colloquial form of Castlefort, or Castle Gate. A wonderful image from ‘Memories of Old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale.

An interesting enquire from reader Mike Stackhouse, who’s researching his family history. Mike mailed me to ask the following:

Hi Bob,

I wonder if you could help me. I have been doing a bit of family tree tracing and with the release of the 1911 cencus have a little problem…

It lists my Gran as living at The Fort, Brownhills, nearr Walsall, and i cannot trace where it is. I know that she later lived in Bug row (Silver St-Pier St) Pear tree lane and Red Lion Lane all of which are fine, as I was bought up in Pear tree Lane and The Avenues.

My brother says it may mean Castlefort, Walsall Wood… who knows? I hope that you or one of your assosciates can help,


Mike Stackhouse

This is a very interesting question that’s worthy of discussion. I’ve never heard the term before, but I do wonder if any readers have?

The area of Walsall Wood near the old hill fort I’ve always known as Castlefort, and the the area at the brow of the hill as Castle Gate. It seems this was colloquially known as ‘The Castles’ by many older folk, but not “The Fort’, as far as I know.

6332 Striking miners at Bug Row, Coppice Common, Brownhills, early 1900s

Striking miners at Bug Row, Coppice Common, Brownhills, early 1900s. The terraces in the background are probably Bug Row itself. Image embedded from Stuart Williams photo stream on Flickr. Click the image to see it there.

Bug Row was just off what today is known as Coppice Side – a row of terraces not far from Marklews Pond and Engine Lane, now lost under factories. Other than that, I have no idea.

Answers, comments and all the usual stuff to BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, or comment here, please.

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10 Responses to Fortitude?

  1. Trevor Brown says:

    Hi Bob I was born in Castle Rd Walsall Wood and it was always called up the Castles from the Vigo Corner

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    A grand uncle of mine (so the computer tells me), Henry Dennis and his wife Kate (nee Price) and children lived at The Fort, Brownhills, Nr Walsall. The census page says this was on Watling Street. A clue is that people named Brooks lived there. I can remember them living there, partly as one was an old school friend of my Dad, and remember there was a shop there. They lived on the south side of Watling Street, almost opposite Castle Street.

    Some time back there was a picture of the lost Queens Head ( and the lady in the foregournd appears to be standing outside the Brooks house. The wall is a different shape today as some of the front garden was taken for widening the road in the late sixties. Oddly enough, Henry’s grandson George caught an enormous pike in “the pool”.

    Castle Street was known as The Fault at the time.

    There could be other Forts, but that is the only reference I am aware of in Brownhills. Presumably, it’s an allusion to Knaves Castle.


    • Hi Andy

      Cheers for that, yet another excellent contribution, as ever. You guys always leave me speechless.

      Wonder how the name The Fault got it’s name. Mining related, or a corruption of fort/fold or some such?



  3. Clive says:

    Hello to all. I have found this article which states; Theft of coal. Richard Green, miner, the Fort Watling Street Brownhills. Was summoned for stealing coal. Value of 6d, the propety of Hannah Bedford, farmer.
    Lichfield Mercury June 1912.
    Hope this helps.

  4. Andy Dennis says:

    1911 Census.

    Gladstone House, off Howdles Lane, Brownhills (now accessed from Chapel Street), Hannah Bedford, head, 59, widow, farmer, born Clunbury Salop. 4 grown up children working on farm and one boarder, a gardener aged 73.

    The Fort …, Richard Green, head, 45, miner, born Wellington Salop. Wife Alice and 3 children, all too young to work. They had 7 children in all, but 3 had died. You could, perhaps, see why he was struggling!

    Apparently, between 1901 and 1910 wages had fallen 10% in real terms and the country was on the verge of one of the worst periods of unrest in its history, including the national strike of 1912. This became known as “the great unrest”. By 1910 the Welsh miners were already in a bitter dispute and this would spread.

  5. Pedro says:

    Thank you Clive and Andy,

    We must not forget how much some people were struggling!

    All the best Pedro

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  8. Heather Richardson says:

    With reverence to Gladstone House, I have lived here since 1983. Prior to this I lived here with my parents in 1962 . It has always been known as Gladstone Cottage up until the late 1960s when it became Gladstone House.


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