Music in the shadow of darkness

Step into another world. I love the rendering of the dog. So much of it’s time. Click on the image to download the whole program in PDF format(about 2 megabytes, could take a while on a slow connection).

Now, here’s a thing. It is probably the most complete illustration of Brownhills in that peculiar, post Second World War twilight hangover period I’ve ever seen. Found by local historian Clive Roberts, it’s both a sad, and joyful thing. It’s the complete scan of a program for the Brownhills Sixth Annual Music Festival, held on Saturday, October 7th, 1950.

This is a large booklet, consisting of some 36 page scans, containing both program detail, listings, participants and most interesting to me, adverts for local businesses. This is the sad part – if you read the testimonials for butchers, for example, several refer obliquely to the then ongoing rationing. Note the Poxon & Sons copy says with some ennui:

We shall be pleased when once again we can give you unrestricted quality.

Bradshaw’s similarly note:

We endeavour to please you under present conditions

And even the trusty Co-Op tailors are circumspect:

Whilst we must admit there is an acute shortage in men ‘s & boys’ clothing, we realise that this shortage is no excuse to be any the less courteous to our friends.

Our endeavour is to find you just what you require, and with that thought in mind we have built up our stock as far as the prevailing restrictions will allow.

Call and have a look around – we would like to help you in your clothing problems.

This is a town under the same immense pressure economically as the rest of the country, and appearing to consequently let off steam in the art of music. Scholars of Brownhillian history – and indeed local street nomenclature – will notice many names here that are familiar; Patterson, Bradbury, Roberts. Seedhouse, Simmonds, Harrison (yes, that Harrison). George Fullelove, the great Brownhills chorister, was recorded as conductor of the Brownhills Male Voice Choir.

Please download a copy and read it – it’s like a glimpse into another world. I particularly love the instructions to visitors on how to find the venue:

To make things run smoothly for all concerned, will you please note that :-

The Schools arc situate in Great Charles Street and Church Road.

Competitors arriving by train proceed down the Bridge, turn left along the Lichfield Road, off which is Great Charles Street (sharp right).

Competitors arriving by bus or charabanc from Walsall or District proceed along Main Road to Railway Station entrance ; turn righl along Lichfield Road.

I thank Clive immensely for sharing this wonderful find with us, and emailing me such wonderful scans. Just when you think you must have nailed every gem the Brownhills history cannon has to offer, up pops another…

A snapshot of a lost place. Click on the image to download the whole program in PDF format(about 2 megabytes, could take a while on a slow connection).


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  • What a wonderful document, many thanks Bob and Clive. Interesting that Greg Challis the builder (p2) lists no telephone number or any other way of making contact. Perhaps he had no telephone, perhaps it was a mistake in the printing.
    And I’d almost forgotten the concept of the ‘outdoor’ for alcohol sales (E Breeze, grocer, p22), though I tend to associate the term more with the hatch in a pub where your dad might send you on a Sunday morning to get a jug of beer for the lunch table. And where, in your teens, you’d chance buying a bottle or two of cider for an illicit drink.

    • david oakley

      Hi Mick P,
      Couldn’t help smiling at your reference to Greg Challis, the builder, a dear old friend from very many years ago. Typical Greg !
      A very competent builder, but known to scribble estimates on the back of a fag packet. In the 1930’s would build a house for £103 (Yes, they they are still standing in Walsall Wood!). Greg was a Suffolk man by birth but came to Brownhills as a young man, naming his house “Suffolk House” in Lichfield Road, although the publication of this address is a tad too late to attract orders from the 1950 advert. Greg died about 1970, aged 78.

  • Pedro

    A big thank you must go to Clive for making this available to all. The name Brownhills could be substituted, and with a little imagination would apply to many other towns.

    Regards Pedro

  • David Evans

    Many thanks, Clive. What a wonderful booklet..interesting to see the name of one Brownhills baritone contestant ! What a wide range of classes and choices of music and spoken elements, too! Most appreciated

  • Peter

    What an absolutely fabulous find and thank you to Clive of course, and to Bob for putting it out there. You could just imagine Mainwaring the Bank Manager, Jones the Butcher, Pike and Godfrey attending the event. This must take a few folk back in time. Interesting to see that Goodings the Shire Oak Garage owners of Chester Road (Shire Oak Traffic lights?) are in Walsall Wood! Do many people consider those traffic lights to be in Walsall Wood these days?

    Regards Peter.

  • David Evans

    HI Bob
    no Brownhills or Walsall Wood entrants in the elocution competition?

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