Before Rebecca


Rebecca and her brother at Dudley Zoo in 1959. Isn’t this a belter of a photo? Image from her family archive.

I have a whole host of other newish blogs I need to plug here, but rather than do them in a group, I’ll do them one at a time. There’s a fine cycling blog sprung up in Lichfield and a great wildlife one I’d like to introduce, too.

This one, however, is a bit different. This is the blog of Rebecca, who spends a great deal of time with her mother adding names and background to family photos. This is a uniquely intimate and beautiful blog – not huge wordy posts, just great images with short explanatory passages, or longer tales as they crop up.

This is a wonderfully warm, human blog written in a beautiful way – and it’s local. Please pop along and check it out.

Hi Mr B,.

Just a few words of appreciation because if it wasn’t for yourself, Linda and Kate I would never have had the courage to do the blog with Mom. We are thoroughly enjoying it.

I’m not too sure what to write for your blog so I have done this:

When I was little and Dad worked away I used to climb in to Mom’s bed and ask her to tell me about the olden days. She used to tell me all the stories of when she was growing up until I fell asleep. Dad was also a great story teller himself and we loved listening to his tales. I love history, especially local history as it’s what I can relate to and I’m sure my parents stories are the reasons I love it so much.

Unfortunately as I grew up I grew less interested in their history. I started the family tree a few years ago and when I came across a stumbling block I also stopped doing that too. Then two years ago Dad passed away. As usual I realised there were 1000 questions I hadn’t asked him. So, I turned to mom and her boxes and boxes of photos.

We’ve picked up the family tree and we’ve picked up those photos and we’re going to make sure Mom’s (and our) history is not forgotten. The blog is not just for me but for the whole family and for anyone else that is curious (or just plain nosey).

Is this too much? I’m not sure what to write. Anyway, thanks a million as I know you are a busy man (or mon as Grandad would say).

Kind regards


This s a brilliant blog I’m happy to share with readers – and if you’ve been thinking about starting, this is a magical approach to take. Thanks to Rebecca for a wonderful thing indeed.

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5 Responses to Before Rebecca

  1. Seem to have some grit in my eye… hold on…

    (seriously though, beautiful blog, lovely idea)

  2. David Oakley says:

    What wonderful memories and such a multitude of photos, utterly enjoyable to one who remembers that era. Rebecca has a remarkable memory for Walsall pubs. ‘The Barrel ‘ in Wolverhampton Street was, as I remember it, the only Atkinson’s house in the town, and was kept by an old Scotsman. The ‘Swan’ , as mentioned by Rebecca, in Park street, or to give it its full name, ‘The Swan with Two Necks’ , was a very bright, clean pub, while across the road, ‘The Three Cups’ lay between the Durham Ox and the New Inns. The pawnbrokers her mom used to patronise was Herrick and Cordwells, who had a shop there, as well as the pawnbroking business,while the Mayfair Dance Hall, had the distinction of being a club, you enrolled and has a membership card, this gave it the unique advantage of being able to open an a Sunday night as well as weekdays.
    The domestic properties in Bridgeman Street, Navigation Street and Marsh Street, soon fell victim to a clearance programme once Beechdale Estate was completed. Many of these houses were bug infested, no reflection on the tenants, the removal being carried out by the Public Health Department. The system was for the van to turn up early at the house to be vacated, all furniture plus matresses and bedding were loaded on, the van then made its way to Station Street, Bloxwich, Public Health yard and offices, canisters of zyclon gas were places inside the van, by an employee wearing a respirator, and the rear doors sealed with masking tape. This gas was the deadly cyanide gas used with such horrendous effect in the Jewish death camps. The gas would do its work, killing all vermin and woodworm. The van would be re-opened at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and the gas dispersed by fan. The van would then go back to the tenants who were waiting, rather anxiously, in the new house for their belongings, and unloaded. The smell of gas would still be there,unpleasant, but not at all lethal. This procedure ensured that no infestation would be transferred into the new property..

    • John Barnes says:

      David, I too loved this story, and your own blog. Living as I did, near to the many pubs and places mentioned. I loved the Barrell pub just up thar entry. However, there was another Atkinsons pub just further up Wolverhampton St called The White Horse. Everytime I think of Atkinsons beer, my mind takes me to my national service days. Stationed at Colchester and short of money to come on leave, I thumbed a lift from the main road in Colchester – it happened to be a Atkinsons beer lorry. I asked to be dropped off at St Albans, but as we neared St Albans the driver asked me where I was going to. I said the A5 at Chelmsford then to Lichfield [no motorways then]. I`m going to Burton he said, I`ll drop you off at Lichfield. I had been in Colchester millitary hospital for a number of weeks and was wearing my red tie and had gauze dressing on my neck.The driver dropped me off in pouring rain opposite the Walsall bus in Lichfield. As I ran to catch the bus I slipped and my dressing and tube came off just as the bus pulled away. The driver came across, jump in he said, where about in Walsall have you got to go. I said if you can drop me off at the working mens club in Rushall I can walk home from there. I asked him how much I owed him. Nothing he said, we often give sqauddies lifts – leave me a pint at the White Horse in W`ton St and tell him its for delivery chap – he`ll know who you mean. That was way back in 1954. I got a lift with my first arttempt about midday and arrived home before midnight.

  3. buster3640 says:

    Thank you Mr B for your kind words and time, they are very much appreciated. If it wasn’t for yourself (and a couple of others) on Twitter I wouldn’t have had the courage to start the Blog with Mom. Mom’s loving the added comments and memories from everyone and hopefully they’ll keep coming.
    Once again, thank you 🙂
    Best wishes,
    Rebecca and Dot.

    • Sorry that I hadn’t dropped by for a while. So glad that you’re doing the blog because it is wonderful. True, proper family and local history and I just love the way your Mom knows all the pubs! She’s a walking encyclopedia on Walsall! Bostin!

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