Well, thanks to top local history lad [Howmuch?], I have been loaned a copy of the Clive Roberts book to peruse for the the blog. It’s really very interesting, and a welcome addition to the cannon of historical works covering Brownhills and Walsall Wood.
‘Snippets of History in and around Shire Oak’ is a very comprehensive history of the pub at the crossroads of the Lichfield Road and Chester Road, and of the brewery that few realise towered over the pub for many years. The author has clearly undertaken lots of research from many disparate sources, and crafted them together well into an engaging, chatty and relaxed read.
There’s plenty of quirkiness too, with ephemera such as adverts, images of promotional objects (including a very interesting find by the author himself), historical pictures and anecdotes. Far from just concerning himself with the Inn, however, Clive turns his attention also to the matter of the tree that gave the pub and it’s hill the name, and also to events and stories from the immediate area.
I’m very impressed with the book, particularly after wondering what it was going to be like after first hearing about the project a couple of years ago. I had wondered if there was enough material, but the writer has more than met the task in hand, and created a lively, engaging history that represents its community and history well.
As with all authors I mention here, do buy a copy of Clive’s book while you can. It’s not a huge print run, and such books can be very hard and expensive to obtain when out of print. Copies of Gerald Reece’s ‘A walk in to History…’ for example, are currently changing hands for upwards of £40 on eBay. Do get a copy of this while it’s still at a sensible price!
The other reason to buy this – or any other local history book for that matter – is that we need to encourage local, small-scale writers and amateur historians. Reading this book, I feel sure that the author has more great work to come and if encouraged, I’m sure Clive will teach us much through his continued explorations in local history.
‘Snippets of Local History in and around Shire Oak’ by Clive L Roberts is available from Downes Newsagents in Brownhills High Street, Walsall Local History Centre, in Essex Street, Walsall, and Walsall Leather Museum, just on the ring road opposite Tesco in Walsall, priced at a pocket-pleasing eight quid.
My thanks to the boy [Howmuch?] for lending me his copy until I can get one myself.