In theatre


This was a great find: spotted in a charity shop in Lichfield, this is an interesting period piece, and opens up a bit of Brownhills history I didn’t know existed. Click on the image to download the full program in PDF format (Adobe reader required).

Every so often, you come across something that catches you unawares; like the surge stack I posted about yesterday, sometimes a little bit of lost history comes tumbling out of nowhere and raises a whole bunch of other questions.

So it is with this curious little artefact of Brownhills history. Until I happened upon this programme in a charity shop in Lichfield, I had no idea there was ever really any kind of amateur dramatic history in Brownhills. Yes, I’m aware of school productions, and of the wonderful Brownhills Musical Theatre Company, but I had no inkling that there was a longstanding and apparently successful am dram tradition here.

The program I bought for a pound dates from 1978. It’s celebrating the St. James Players 21st anniversary production of Pillar to Post. But this is more than a guide to the current production – there’s a potted history of the players, a list of all their members and participants over the years, photographs of the current cast, and even a list of all the productions they put on.

As usual with these sorts of books, the adverts are as interesting as anything. It’s like a roll-call of lost Brownhills shops. I wouldn’t have been long after this that all the local telephone numbers changed from four to six digits.

The group appears to have been resident in Brownhills Church Hall, and I wonder what became of them – a web search turns up nothing (although there are several groups worldwide of the same name). Did they fade away, give up, what? When was their last production? Where are these people now?


These people weren’t messing around – a well designed set and great costumes.

I recognise a few names. John Cross could possibly have been a local headmaster – I think of St. Johns or Castlefort, although I can’t remember. I’m fairly sure Frank Handley lived in Clayhanger and Worked at Edward Rose. There are familiar surnames – Creswell, Orgill, Heath, Bishop. I don’t recognise many of the productions, although there are some familiar old staples – See How They Run, An Inspector Calls.

One of the things that leaps out at me reading this is the peculiar, curious and slightly officious voice the history and listing of previous players is written in.

I’d love to know more. If you have any recollections, or know what became of the St. James Players, please do comment here or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com Cheers.

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11 Responses to In theatre

  1. Jane Booth says:

    St James Players became Brownhills Players in 1982 and performed many successful productions at Brownhillls School until the late 90’s. The remaining group still meet on a regular basis to reminisce about past productions when we all had energy to build the sets and perform the plays.

    • Please, Jane, I’d welcome any memories, tales or ephemera. This is clearly a thing that needs recording for posterity.

      If anyone can help with this, please do contact me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!


  2. Dave Edwards says:

    I remember Ethel Hiley working in the offices @ United Carriers, nice lady & a bit of a drama queen.

  3. Rob says:

    I remember Carlton White being captain of the cricket team that my dad was a member of.
    I think he was instrumental in the formation of St James’ Players as his involvement in the cricket club reduced.
    A really top bloke from what I can remember who was very positive and got things done. He was also very enthusiastic about his engineering work at the local (Brownhills UDC?) council when they weren’t as well rewarded as they are today.

  4. PorkTorta says:

    John Cross became my mom’s Headmaster at Street’s Corner (Walsall Wood JMI), and was there until retirement.

    As far i can remember (and this is a bit hazy) the Bradbury ladies, Dylys and Brenda, were also active with the same local Gilbert & Sullivan society that my parents took part in – shows were at Shire Oak, Brwnhills Comp, Aldridge Youth Theatre, and a couple outside at the Arbo too. Dad was producer/director for many years, and Mom was a member of the chorus.

    i THINK that Graham Orgill might be my best mate Mark, from junior school’s, dad. Haven’t seen either in nigh on 27 years, so forgive me if i’m wrong. Following on from Rob’s post, Graham & Mark were both members of Brownhills Cricket Club. Is this the team that Carlton White and Rob’s dad were members of?

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  7. Neil White says:

    Hi ya. Just googled my Grandads name an this come up. Remember my Gran saying something about this when I was younger. That’s definitely him in the picture although he never had a moustache. Sure my Grandad served on the old Brownhills town council. Which used to be based at the current Brownhills library.

  8. Tim Green says:

    Hi Bob, in the advertisement sections, KH Green was my dad, Ken Green, He and I were both born in the old house that preceded the current vicarage at the same address. I am sure you know Geoff Harrington? He and my dad were best mates. LESUES hairstylists was owned by my sister, Lesley and her friend Sue Boxall, hence LESUES. I remember most of the businesses advertised and for a short time did a paperround for NSS newsagents. I live in the ISA now but follo wyour blog with great interest.

    • JOHN BARLOW says:


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