Bless this tiny house

Many of us may not have noticed the diminutive House of Prayer in Coppice Road, Walsall Wood. In my lifetime, I don’t think it was ever a place of worship; I remember it being used as another add-on yard for the ubiquitous Ken Hodges Builder’s merchants, and when that closed, being converted into a private residence.

The history of this tiny, but lovely chapel had, I’m sad to say, never occurred to me. Then I received the following article yesterday, from Davids Evans and Oakley, top contributors to all things Walsall Wood here on the blog.

I think you’ll agree this is fascinating. Thanks so much to you both for the hard work and warm memories.

Just one thing… do you still have a copy of the disc? I’d love to digitise it and make it available here. There’s so little local music preserved, I’d love to capture a bit of it. I’m sure your playing is wonderful…

Cheers, lads.

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The House of Prayer: once a chapel, then part of a sprawling builders merchants, now a beautifully restored family home. Picture supplied by David Evans.

David Evans wrote:

Hi Bob

I  received an e-mail asking me about the House of Prayer and quickly forwarded it to David Oakley, to ask him what he remembered of the House of Prayer in Walsall. This is his  reply, which I am delighted to share with your readers. I would also like to express my thanks to David for his readiness to share this part of our local history in this way.

David Evans, February 2013

Hi David,

Thank for your email regarding the House of Prayer, I’m happy to say I do know a little bit about this, as most of my Sundays afternoons and evenings were spent there, for twelve years or so.

My first problem was the age of your correspondent, somewhat younger than myself, so he could have been attending, at the time that I was spreading my wings elsewhere. This was borne out by his referring to Mrs Craddock as a Sunday school teacher. There was no Mrs Craddock in my time, but then I remembered – A young Annott Craddock had moved from Clayhanger Road chapel into Walsall Wood, Camden Street, actually. With his young bride, they had started to attend the House of Prayer, what was more natural than she would become a Sunday School teacher?

Your correspondent falls into the common error of thinking that all the local Craddocks are interrelated to Howard Craddock. I do not think they are. All the Craddocks that I was acquainted with were zealous members of the Christian Brethren, mostly based at the Clayhanger Road chapel and nearly all working for C.T. Craddock. a credit draper from High Street, Brownhills.

No one was employed by Howard’s wholesale business. I never detected any evidence of relationship between the two families. Howard and his family of Lorin, Roy and Graham seemed a little independent force, I never knew whether they were church or Methodist.

mysteryquiz21

Howard Craddock’s family in the 1960s outside their wholesale warehouse in Brownhills. From left to right, Graham, Roy and Lorin Craddock. The question is, were they related to the Craddock family that frequented the chapel in Clayhanger Road?

[I’m hoping either Richard Burnell or his partner Rose can help here. I’m fairly sure that that Rose is a member of the Howard Craddock clan, and can maybe help clarify things here – Bob]

Charlie Cope, a godly man, was indeed a miner and worked at The Lady pit. Teddy Teece had never been in the pits, to my knowledge, and worked during the war years for Pitman’s Sunshine Products, a food firm at Four Oaks. Joe Scragg worked as a driver for Collins, and Lander Cooper was an ambulance man. Lander lived in Beechtree Road, but his daughter, Ethel, married Sam Ensor, a slaughterman, moving to Hilda Hancox’s old house in Brownhills Road, taking posession of the old slaughter-house behind the property. Lander and his wife moved there in his old age.

Mr. Parker, another teacher was a miner and apparently lived to a good age. He lived in King Street. Sunday School hymnbooks were ‘Golden Bells’ but at the front was a blackboard with a large fold-back collection of hymns, large enough to read from the back of the hall.

Charlie Cope played the organ at both Sunday school and evening service. Choruses were popular at Sunday school, such as ‘I lost them on Calvary’s Hill’, ‘Running over, I am H-A-P-P-Y’.

A few years ago I made a disc of all the hymns and choruses I could remember from the 1930s, indifferent organ playing, of course, and sent it my sister in Worthing, to see how many she could remember…

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Flats now stand on the site of the builders merchants, and the House of Prayer has a new lease of life. Image from Google Maps.

Spending money on Sunday was a sin, and there was notice telling scholars not to bring money to spend on sweets. Star Cards were issued and stamped with a star for normal attendance, ‘S’ for sick and ‘L’ for late. For years my attendance was 52 out of 52. There was an annual Sunday School Treat when after the tea party in the hall, we would go down to Wint’s field in Coppice Road for races and other activities.

The benches were made of red plush with one narrow backrest, leaving room for a smaller child falling asleep to slip down between the bench and the backrest. A loud bump and a frightened yell gave notice of this quite frequently!

The hall was lit by gas radiators, which was ample, even in winter. Most of the prayers were made by the Elders who prayed from the heart, no written prayers, but some would go on and on, until I was forced to open my eyes and look about.

Well, that seems all I can dredge up at the moment, David. If you old friend makes any more specific enquiries about the House of Prayer, let me know. Only too pleased to help.

Cheers,

David Oakley

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16 Responses to Bless this tiny house

  1. Dave Edwards says:

    Big Oaks from little acorns grow……Thanks

  2. Peter says:

    Even after Hodges had long gone I remember the “House of Prayer” was taken on by a couple of guys as a carpentry manufacturing type facility? This would have been around ’97 / ’98?

  3. Clive says:

    Some time around the year 2000 the Lee family were making concret fence posts and gravel boards etc in the old Chapel.

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  11. Emma says:

    I attended this church the House of Prayer for many many years from 1978….a beautiful church, Mr Cope who was the organ player along with Mrs Poxon on the piano. The lovely Mrs Scragg and Mrs Teece. I am in contact with elders from the church still to this day….

    He is Lord was across the front of the pulpit, the floor used to open to reveal the baptism bath…full immersion.

    Happy happy days x

  12. Ian says:

    This was my parents church from around 1967/8. They were married there by Joe Scragg (I can vaguely remember him tootling around in one of those light blue disabled ‘carriages’). I remember Charlie Cope well such a gentle man he gave me his Hammond Organ when he left Commonside upon marrying again. The Elders back then were Charlie Cope and Bill Rollinson (Bill worked as Castings and was highly regarded by his colleagues). Teddy Parker and his wife were my parents neighbours in King Street before the properties were condemned.

    As for a place of worship it stopped around 1985/6. The typical week consisted of Tuesday Prayer Meeting, Wednesday Ladies Group, Friday some sort of youth club. Sunday 10.30 Breaking of Bread (as we called communion), 1.30 Sunday School (amazing to think at it’s height the kids in the Sunday School could easily outnumber the adult congregation), 6.30 Gospel Service. The congregation split as with so many of these Brethren Gospel Halls, they didn’t move with the times. Sunday School Songs sounded like they were written for the Victorian Music Hall.

    Sunday School trips and parties were huge affairs. Going to Weston we’d often take 2 coaches. Just imagine no CRB checks, permission slips, just turn up, some non church moms might come. Happy days.

  13. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    I can now add that Wint’s field has been successfully located. It is now Wyre Close, in Coppice Road. My thanks to Mrs Hewitt for this info.
    kind regards
    David

  14. Emma Roffey says:

    I attended this lovely church from the age of 8 to 16

    Mr cope was still playing the organ at both morning and evening service with his renditions if he is lord.

    The benches were no longer there but replaced by wooden seats which I know went to rose and Gilbert’s on the same road who had set up a little chapel in their back garden

    I spent every Christmas and new year here to. Endless trips away. What a wonderful time it was for us all

    We used to huddle round the little gas fire on a Sunday morning

    I would love to re visit it as a home

  15. Alastair Craddock says:

    Charles Craddock and Howard Craddock were brothers, there were originally 11 brothers and a sister, John Craddock who helped found the gospel hall at Clayhanger road and Ira Craddock who helped start the House of Prayer in Coppice Road were also their brothers

  16. Reg Fullelove says:

    i have many happy memories of the happy hours i spent at the gospel hall in school avenue brownhills the chorases sang oftenenter my mind

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