Bowled over?


Remarkable, seemingly unarchived Aerofilms image of Walsall Wood from 1926, kindly supplied by David Evans. Click for a larger version.

Here’s a quick one for Friday. Reader and top Walsall Wood whizz David Evans has finally managed to get hold of a full copy of the Aerofilms image of Walsall Wood from 1926. This is an interesting one, as it’s not yet listed on the archive of Aerofilms work.

David says:

Hi Bob
A little Christmas present for your Walsall Wood readers.
This copy of the photo is intact and shows the then new houses along Chester Road, Shire Oak, in the distance. You can just make out ‘The Cape’, which has been the subject of some speculation recently.
The photo was taken just one week after Easter, in 1926.
Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year to everyone.

David is wondering something about this image. If you look central-left, behind the trees and in roughly the area of the rear of the church/Red Lion, there’s a square of enclosed grass. Is that a bowling green? If so, might it be related to these chaps, who were featured a while back?


A group photo featuring some very dapper gentlemen. But who are they, and when was it taken? Image courtesy of Julie Le-Moine.

There was some fine, solid info and no little discussion about this at the time, after reader Julie Le-Moine wrote to me asking for help identifying the image. David Oakley in particular was on sparkling form. But we never quite nailed it.

These chaps look like they may be a bowls club. They are on a close-cropped lawn next to a tall hedge with trees behind. Is anyone else thinking what David and I are?

Is there any record of a bowling green there, predating the one at Oak Park? Did the Red Lion have a history of bowling? Just a thought.

Cheers to David for a wonderful image. Please comment here or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com – cheers.

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21 Responses to Bowled over?

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    the date of the photo ( 12 April, 1926 )is very significant. By Googling “The General Strike 1926” , and “www.; the General Strike”a whole new dimension to our local history and its national context is revealed. The washing lines, the coal wagons on the railway line, the absence of men in the streets..a “burning fuse”?
    kind regards

  2. Pedro says:

    Looking in the Archives there are a few mentions of the Red Lion, but nothing about bowling. However the annual Walsall Wood Horticultural Show was held at the Red Lion Athletic Grounds Aug 1906. Maybe the photo shows a group of contributors?

    A couple of anecdotes…

    John Bates landlord of the Red Lion was summoned for selling whisky diluted to the extent of 5.8% below the statuary allowance of 25% on Feb 4th 1915. He had kept the house for 20 years.

    In the same edition it describes a recruiting meeting held at the Church Hall. Sir Henry Craik said that never in our history had a struggle been more fraught with greater consequences. We are fighting to prevent such a thing happening again, and the sword would never be sheathed until this was accomplished.

  3. woodlandway says:

    Evening all…… I follow the theory about the enclosed land, tall hedges etc etc but it just seems a little large for a bowling green. I’m thinking that the area identified is now partly covered by St. Johns Close, Boundary Road, Keepers Close and Church View??? Looking again at the photograph supplied, to the left of the tree line enclosing the square, potentially a bowling green, there seems to be a paved / tarmaced area forming a square and a couple of paths coming out of it, this seems to be in the area where Bridgewater Close is. What could this have been for? What, if anything, was there before Bridgewater Close?
    Mind how you go……….

    • Hi
      That was the cricket club. Bridgwater Close wasn’t built on it, but I believe Cricketers Close (may not verge right name) was…

      • david oakley says:

        Hi Bob,
        The enclosed green square is the vicarage lawn, which was part of the vicarage gardens. Rev, John Stackhouse held quite a number of fetes and garden parties over the years to benefit various funds. with many little sideshows and attractions on display. Favourite among the younger male villagers was a man protected by a pig net screen, walking about on a couple of trestles with the top hat visible above the screen. You paid a penny for three balls to knock his hat off. Hilarious ?? well, we thought so !!. the grounds and lawn were well secured by the hedges and the only access was through the vicarage grounds after paying your threepence admission.
        The cricket club was reached down a little drive to the right of the churchyard, past the enclosed vicarage lawn, and the back gardens of the houses by the co-op.

        • Pedro says:

          Hi David,

          Any idea where the Red Lion Athletics ground wold be?

          • david oakley says:

            Hi Pedro,
            I had no idea the Red Lion Athletics ground existed until reading the posts from yourself and Staffordshirebred, and my own memory goes back to the mid 1930’s. The close association to the Red Lion pub team and bowling, led me to peruse the 1926 map a little more closely, also to consult a similar map, kindly furnished to me by David Evans on September 16th last, when discussing places of worship, i,e, the House of Prayer in Coppice Road. The latter map is much sharper in detail and I pinpointed the Red Lion premises, by means of the stabling accommodation and hayloft in the rear of the building, which I remember as a youngster. The rear ground to the pub is quite wide and seems to provide room for various outdoor activities, What excited me, however, is Bob’s mention of a possible location for the Julie Le-moine photo, If you look to the top of the Red Lion grounds, you will see an identical manicured hedge,as in Julie’s photo, with the trees behind. We are almost assured that this was, in the past, a bowling venue and that there was indeed, a Red Lion bowling team. On the sharper version it is possib;e to see a man at work on what could be a bowling green, possibly cutting the grass for the beginning of the season, remember David’s date for the photo, “Just after Easter”.
            I am insufficiently skilled to reproduce the photo referred to, but would be quite eager to hear the comments of anyone else who has seen it on the blog, perhaps a considerable quite ago.

        • Ann Cross says:

          Hi, thats what I thought it must be, we went to several of those events, I remember one year there was a fancy dress competition which we entered!

    • Jean Willey says:

      I agree with you – woodlander – the field behind the church and with the canal as a boundary, which became the cricket ground, has a bowling green and two tennis courts – one grass and the other hard – a tall wire netting fence encloses them both. As seen with a magnifying glass and an enlarged map.

      • Jean Willey says:

        The group of men you are trying to identify – to the extreme right of the photo there is a machine with writing on it – the writing can be seen to the right of the man’s left forearm. Can anyone identify the writing, it could be a clue! or even the machine!

  4. The newspaper archive mentions the Hussey Arms Bowling Ground, and matches therein.

    • I mean thereon! I have looked at The Lichfield Mercury 1908 – an account which helpfully lists the Hussey Arms Team and their opponents from The Red Lion, Walsall Wood. The usual suspects appear: Jewells, Arblasters, Cresswells!

  5. BEV says:

    A few points.. back in the 60s I used to watch my dad play bowls at the Hussey Arms and I vaguely remember a couple of people used to play in slippers! so it sort of makes sense its a bowling group and that definately looks similar to the Hussey – it was definately very enclosed by either a tall hedge, wall or fence not sure which. Is that a bench in the background?? why are they not sitting on it?? or is it some sort of roller contraption for the grass??

    • BEV says:

      also something odd about the man in the middle front…his bottom and legs look in an unnatural

  6. Clive says:

    Thanks for the christmas present Dave, enjoying it very much indeed.

  7. pedro says:

    Just to make clear, are we looking for someone with the name Hollender?

    The Tamworth Herald covers 1926 and the Bowling League is the Wilnecote and District League, but Walsall Wood are not mentioned.

    The Lichfield Mercury coverage ends in 1916 but I have found that in August 1915 Walsall Wood played Brownhills Recreation. The league is not mentioned but the players are listed below, Brownhills winning by 130 to 120. Ten players are listed in each, but they may have had second and third teams.

    It may be possible that there was one team that called themselves Walsall Wood and played at the different venues. There are also a teams for Horse and Jockey Walsall Wood, Walsall Wood Black Cock.

    Walsall Wood: E Gwilliam, G Oseland, W Dennis, J Hinton, E Leonard, F Hughes, H Hodgkiss, J Glover, H Wilson, Joe Lees.

    Brownhills: Ted Dorsett, T Smith, Tom Dorsett, F Austin, F Smith, R Bradbury, J Hewit, J Russell, A Johnson, E Bray.

    Other nearby teams were Brownhills West, Pelsall, Lichfield, Kingsbury.

    The Vine Bridgtown, Brownhills Central, Brownhills Hussey Arms, Brownhills Rising Sun, Birchills Walsall, Heath Hayes Coronation and St John, Anglesey Arms, Cheslyn Hay

  8. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    many thanks to Pedro and to David Oakley…again!! Black Cock Inn bowling green. Where? I wonder. Mention of there having been a bowling green in front of the Royal Oak Inn at Bullings Heath was made during the conversations with the kind Francis family, though it seems to have been before their time..and may be before the time of the present Black Cock Pub building. Was this the Black Cock Inn’s bowling green?
    kind regards

  9. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Hello Pedro
    The goes..I understand it was an un-made track/lane, an L shaped track that ran from Friezland Lane to Brownhills Road..following Occupation Road and present-day (upper) Commonside, more or less. If you Google Earth these co-ordinates..on the 1945 timeline photos..You may get an idea of it.
    52 38 07 58N; 1 55 25 74 W
    but…this little track is the source of many a “debate”. The black and white photo (1926 aerial one) gives a hint of it..but I hope a much clearer copy of this photo can be posted at some stage.
    BUT..where did such a name come from? A shepherd’s cape..?
    kind regards

  10. Pingback: I can see clearly now | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  11. Pedro says:

    Bowling Green

    On Monday evening at the Rising Sun Inn. one of the old coaching houses situated at the junction of the Watling Street and Chester Road, a new bowling green was opened, when a good company was present. Lieut.-Colonel W. E. Harrison. J.P., C.C. performed the opening ceremony, and was heartily thanked for his presence and support, on the motion of Councillor J. Mellor, seconded by Mr. S. Heath. The green is 37 yards, long, and 24 yards wide, with a good pavilion at the entrance end. The Brownhills Town Band was in attendance at the opening ceremony, and gave musical selections durring the evening under the leadership of Mr F Morris Messrs J Davis and Chirm have been appointed Secretary and treasurer respectively.

    15 May 1914, Lichfield Mercury

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