Bradford on Brownhills

We’ve recently covered a fair bit about schools in our area. There were Andy Dennis’s wonderful sports day photos of his mother, following the staff photo postcard. David Evans has been trawling through the records of St. John’s School in Walsall Wood, to fascinating effect. More of David’s work will be featured later his week.

Here’s something found by Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler in the newspaper archive that crosses over from the Ogley Hay school into the area covered by Doctor Bradford’s predecessor, Dr. Maddever in his report to the health of Brownhills in 1910.

Bradford Road on the Hussey Estate was named after the good doctor, who at one time practised from Coombe House, nearby. Like his predecessor, he was clearly a good and well-respected medic. How appropriate that some of what would then have been the best social housing in the town bear his name.

This is a great find and tells us much about Brownhills during the 1930s. Maybe starting to feel the pinch of the great depression, and soon to be heading into war, Brownhills was clearly still achingly poor, but improvements have been made.

Oddly, the description of the high classrooms with hopper windows would have been apposite to my own schooldays, 40-odd years later.

My thanks to Peter, this is a wonderful find, and a great one to reflect upon on a cold day such as this.


I suspect this image was of the school, and contemporary with the report. A very hard-up looking bunch. As Clarice and Geoff allude, these were no ‘Good Old Days’. From ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

Depressing Schools at Ogley Hay

Lichfield Mercury 14 July 1933

Medical Officer’s outspoken comments.

A complete overhaul long overdue. 

Outspoken comments on Ogley Hay schools are contained in the Medical Officers report for the Brownhills Urban District Council area.

A complete overall of these schools is long overdue states the Sanitary Inspector. The interior of the schools gives one a feeling of depression, and the contrast with the adjoining modern school makes this all the more obvious.

The lighting is bad. The rooms are very lofty, being approximately 25 feet in height from floor to apex. In some cases the windows are placed too far from the floor, and as a result many of the desks are shadowed. The schools are said to be over 100 years old, and internal decoration has not been carried out for over 10 years. The walls are very dirty, and the roof timbers which are exposed must be in a filthy condition, as it would be difficult for the school janitor to endeavour to execute the work of cleaning at such a height.

The nails in the floor project so much that they may prove dangerous to the scholars. The rooms are warmed by central heating, and each room is provided with a fireplace. Ventilation is provided by means of hopper windows and roof louvres. The sanitary accommodation is a matter of concern. Several defects in regard to drains were observed. A large portion of the playing ground is of loose ashes.

The Cinderella.

On the general sanitary conditions of the Urban Area as a whole Dr. Bradford refers to considerable progress made during the year, but regrets that Norton Canes continues to be the Cinderella of the district in the consequence of mining subsidence, making it impossible for the local authority to institute a proper sewage scheme.

Norton Canes, he says, has never enjoyed the amenities shared by other portions of the Brownhills Urban area, and he makes an urgent plea for consideration of the scheme for sewering the district.

A survey of housing conditions leads the Doctor to state that the district has been combed for houses which may be dealt with by demolition and he is able to say that good progress is being made. There is only one real slum district in the area, that being at Ogly Square, and action has already begun there.

Overcrowding is still a subject which must be seriously considered before anything like equilibrium between housing and population can be established. Dr Bradford is pleased to be able to report that record figures have been obtained during the year in the sanitary conversions of properties.

He regrets that Norton Canes does not seem to be alive to the benefits of the nursing service, and that at Brownhills, where they have a Nursing Association, there is an increasing difficulty in raising the necessary funds.

His general comment is ‘in my opinion the time is past when such an important branch of the health service should depend so much voluntary work, and on charity.’

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2 Responses to Bradford on Brownhills

  1. Rob says:

    May have been a bit basic when I attended (60s/70s), but unlike today’s modern schools the central heating had the remarkable ability to function in sub-zero temperatures, and I can’t recall it ever closing due to weather.

  2. That photograph is haunting.

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