Film footage of Brownhills Carnival, 1934


Cannock Chase Colliery Band in full effect, in 1934.

Sometimes, something so special happens that it can’t possibly be bettered. Personally, I think this is that moment for the Brownhills Blog. Thanks to the generosity of the Fullelove family, and particularly Mr. Reg Fullelove, I can share a very rare, beautiful and fascinating record of Brownhills at play and at ease with itself in 1934/5.

I’ve known of the existence of this film for some time – it’s been talked about by historians and Brownhills elders in hushed tones for years. Thanks to the patient, dedicated work of Reg, the Young David Evans and Bill Mayo, we can now see a wonderful historical record of the first Brownhills Carnival.

David Evans visited Reg at his home, and with his permission, recorded the film and a great, captivating narration from Reg himself. Listen to the memory, the warmth; the passion in Reg’s voice. The great memory of the pig roast, the pride at a town beautifully turned out.

Without the time freely given by Reg, David and Bill, none of this would be possible, and the history would stay hidden. I am proud and honoured to be able to share this with the community.

Please note that the film has been shown in public before, at a presentation by Brownhills Community Association, which I think occurred in the mid-1990s. Bill Mayo allowed scans of the accompanying programme leaflet to be taken, and I’ve provided these below, as well as a transcription of the main text in order that it’s searchable. The leaflet was prepared, apparently by one T. Mason, who clearly did a whole tranche of supporting research, to which I tip my hat. If you have any further information regarding this presentation, please do get in touch.


The first of a long tradition. Please click for a larger version.

The film and narration remain the property of Reg Fullelove, and the leaflet by T. Mason. Please, please share this post as much as you like, but don’t link to the film directly – it’s disrespectful to the material and it’s owner to separate the explanatory content from the film, as I’m sure you all understand.

I’ve been working on this all week, so I hope folk can understand why posts over the last few days may have been a bit patchy.

While we’re on the subject of film, and the Fullelove archive, we have more footage to come, but it’s a little bit different to this, as well as (hopefully) audio and diaries of the late, great George. This has been a great community effort, and I thank all involved.

I’m aware there is also a film circulating in local history circles made by the camera club in the 60s. If anyone knows about this, and how I might share it, I’d be grateful. BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Brownhills First Carnival, 1934

The first united Brownhills carnival was held on Saturday September 1st, 1934. The ceremony took place during the Carnival Dance held at the Memorial Hall on Thursday, August 30th, both the King and Queen being crowned by Councillor J. Blakemore, chairman of the Brownhills Urban Council. Little Miss June Hopkins, presented the Queen with a bouquet of carnations and sweet peas.

Master John Sadler, the Crown bearer, looked resplendent in his suit of blue brocade satin matched with White breeches, white hose and black, silver buckled shoes. Whilst the King, Mr Wal Deakin, cut a regal figure in his fiery red wig, green velvet suit, adorned with the ‘official’ chain of office and high cavalier boots.

The Queen, Miss Lily Barrington, aged l6, who was the niece of Mr Jack Barrington, the well known local sports handicapper, wore an ankle length dress of white Chiffon and a royal blue velvet cape edged with ermine.Her three beautiful Maids Of Honour, Misses Neenan, Heath, and Neale wore gold taffeta dresses, with puffed shoulders and gold leaf headresses.

The entourage was completed with two young train bearers, Master Denning and Miss Denning. Master Denning in a suit of Dark green velvet edged with gold lace, and Miss Denning in a Taffeta dress of a lighter shade of green complimented by a silver leaf headress.

The procession commenced at the ‘Warreners Arms’ and the route embraced Walsall Wood, Shire Oak and Ogley Hay, streets and houses along the way being lavishly decorated with flags and bunting. Apart from two light showers the weather was favourable, ironically the first of these started just as the musical acocupmiment to a merry-go-round began with the tune ‘Come over to the sunny side’.

The Queen and her retinue were carried in an ornately decorated chariot, and behind followed over twenty picturesque tableaux. Judged to be the most effective was ‘Bluebells I’ll gather’, arranged by Mrs Rose Owen of Ogley Square. It was happily reminiscent of the old song with a party of children apparently romping in a glade that bad been constructed with charming natural effect.

Second was ‘Faith Hope and Charity’ by Mrs M.A. Bowker of Holly Bank, Walsall Wood, the three virtues being represented by a group of children dressed in blue and white costumes. A creditable third place was awarded to Mrs T. Dewsbury of Ironstone Rd, Chase Terrace for ‘Nursery Rhymes’. Little Boy Blue, Little Jack Horner, The Queen of Hearts, a Maid of Honour and Jack and the Beanstalk were among the characters portrayed. Mrs. Dewsbury herself, dressed as Old Mother Hubbard, had a part in this happy little scene.

For the younger children there was a special section that provoked fierce competition. The first prize together with tbe R.A. Jones’ challenge cup was awarded to Mrs Chris Wood of Brawnhills for ‘A Welsh Tea Party’. The children being clad in typical Celtic attire with the well known quaint conical hats. The second prize went to Mrs Pearce of Brownhills and the third to Mrs Wheal of Shire Oak.

The boys of Brownhills Central school, carrying scenery painted by themselves, and under the direction of their art master Mr D. Marklew represented the characters from ‘Puss in Boots’. Whilst the children from the Walsall Wood senior school, dressed in attractive sailor costumes, composed a ‘Gilbert and Sullivan’ type operatic party

An interesting tableaux was put on by the Brownhills British Legion, for drawing the van that carried the legicmaires and their standards was a grey horse named Tan. A notice fastened to his harness stated ‘I’m an Old Soldier too’.

It transpired that Tan had served with the artillery in France during World War 1 and on his demob in 1919 he had been bought by Mr W. J. Baines of Brownhills, to begin a career in road haulage.

The Brownhills Nursing Association furnished an appropriate scene with a neatly  arranged haspital ward complete with nurses, doctor and patient. ‘Noah’s Ark’ was adjudged to be the best trader’s exhibit and it won the Steers’ Challenge Cup for Saddlers Ltd, timber merchants, from Brownhills.

These were but a few of the eye catching features of the large and extremely varied procession, marshalled by Mr C.B. Rcbinson and with the Cannock Chase Band at it’s head. Other music was provided by the Brownhills Boy’s Brigade and three jazz bands, Tolson’s Music Weavers from Fazely, the Lilacs from Wednesbury and the Melody Makers fran Smethwick.

Cycling and foot races opened a generous programme at the fete ground, these included displays by the Handsworth Motor Cycling Club, the Brownhills Fire Brigade and the pupils of Miss Gripton’s Dance School, Hednesford.

Two whole pigs were roasted by Mr Harry Johnson of Cradley Heath, who was said to be the World’s Champion Roaster. Originally it bad been intended to roast an ox, but thinking that this might be a little too ambitious, the carnival organisers decided on a pig, this was subsequently increased to two pigs when it became evident that the carnival was to be well supported. The sandwiches provided by these two unfortunate beasts were sold at sixpence each.

Despite clashing with the Nortal canes carnival, approximately 5000 people attended the festivities and a profit of over £160 was made, half of this given to the Nursing Association and the other half donated towards the reduction of the debt on the Memorial Hall.

Among the receipts were £55 12s 6d from the ‘gate’, £16 Os Od from the dance and from the collecting boxes £29 16s 6d. The champion collector was Miss Yates with £1 16s Od, closely followed by Mrs Woodfield with £1 l5s Od to her credit.

brownhillscarnival34pagetwo copy

The wonderful text (transcribed above) by T. Mason, which must have taken an immense amount of research. What a wonderful thing it is.

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29 Responses to Film footage of Brownhills Carnival, 1934

  1. Just fantastic.

  2. Clive says:

    What a fantastic film, you could`nt put a price on this wonderful film. A big thank you to Reg Fullelove, Bill Mayo, David Evans, and anyone else involved in the making of this wonderful film of our History. and not forgeting Brownhills Bob for putting it all together for us all to see.

  3. Martin says:

    A real gem, so wonderful to hear names from my childhood, that have long gone from us.

  4. Pedro says:

    What a wonderful contribution to local history, and a great commentary. Quite a contrast to the one on the 1957 Sutton Jamboree, no dripping down your chin on that one!

    A big thank you to Reg. Loved the reference to Prince Monolulu, a name that always fascinated me when my old man used to talk of him. In the days of 100 to six!

  5. David Oakley says:

    What a unique piece of local history ! Sincere thanks to all the team who worked so hard in putting this together, and presenting it in such a delightful way.
    As a rather aged contemporary of Reg Fullelove’s , I was entranced by his comments, bringing so many memories back for me, one was ‘The arrival of the bands’, or Jazz bands as we called them at the time. Reg’s comment was “So many bands, don’t know how they got here, perhaps by bus? Most of these bands arrived by hired charabancs, and we would eagerly await their arrival. The band would be dressed in their marching outfits, together with their supporters . We knew all the outfits by sight and would scream out their name on recognition. We would then gaze at the charabanc owner details. to note the far distant home for this particular band, Tamworth or some such place would seem like the ends of the earth for a boy who had never been any farther than Walsall in his life.
    Reg took obvious pride in the quality of the Fancy Dress, and we can share his pride. Ideas for fancy dress would begin to take root as Spring opened up into Summer. Nowadays, one would go to the nearest costume shop and select a suitable costume. Not in those days. Dresses were handmade, often fashioned by gaslight . A hand-operated Singer sewing machine would be used by some participants, other would rely on needle and thread – and a good thimble. A prolonged labour of love and pride, and what excitement ! trying it on, before the family and gauging its likelihood of a prize.
    Nice to see some people I still remember, among the prizewinners. Dick Southall, never seen without his riding breeches and Marjorie Beak. Marjorie’s father was a local butcher and had a distinctive closely rolled and waxed moustache, most of the riding horses were kept in the field behind Lichfield Road, bordering Brook Lane. Mrs Bowker, who came second in the tableau, had a large field adjoining her house in Holly Lane, facing the common, which ran down to Salters Road, the Redcaps, Walsall Wood’s jazz band would practice there, and over this open space, the sound of the kazoos and the thump of the drums, would drift down to Salters Road and lull me to sleep on countless warm nights.
    Finally, may I say how essential these Carnivals were, to the community. Most people worked up to Saturday lunchtime, no five-day week. Reg Fullelove remarked on the happy atmosphere at the Carnival. These events were bringing brief glimpses of happiness and relaxation into the hard, workaday lives and would be talked about and savoured for weeks before and after the event, creating a sense of identity which was so important within the community, at that time.

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  7. m4rkmyword says:

    I used to watch the carnival from The Warreners Arms when I were a lad, not in 1934 but more recently in the late 70’s early 80’s.

    Great footage.

  8. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    This film, and especially the personal commentary , are a local treasure. I am amazed at the clever technical computer wizardry that has been performed to assemble and then publish all of the material in this memorable article..and extend my personal thanks .
    Reg mentioned the costumes..I wonder if readers have their own photos, perhaps their relatives helped to make the costumes, even. Over a cup of tea at Norton Canes a while ago , one dear lady ,recalled helping her mom to make the costumes and the hats.
    My thanks for this excellent presentation
    Kind regards

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  10. Sheila Norris says:

    Dear Brownhills Bob,

    David Evans recently alerted me to the wonderful film, kindly contributed to the website by Reg Fullelove, about the first Brownhills Carnival, 1934. I am the granddaughter of Richard Southall (senior) who won the prize for best turned out horse and niece of Richard Southall (junior) who came second. (My Great Grandfather was Joseph Southall, landlord of the Shire Oak Inn in times long past)

    “The Cossacks” mentioned in the film included Richard Southall junior and my mother, Cynthia Southall ( although probably in later carnivals as she would have been only 9 in 1934).They were trained by their father, Richard Southall senior, who had learnt such skills in the Army where he had been a riding instructor with the Twentieth Hussars. He was a regular soldier for 10 years and served on the Western Front during the Great War.

    My mother often told me about the marvellous riding shows they put on for the carnivals and for the gymkanas in Oak Park, and was particularly proud of her brother (known as Dickie) who could perform many stunts on horseback. They and other teenagers, including possibly Ron Beak, were trained in Cossack riding by Richard Southall in Beak’s field which is where Castlefort School stands today. My Aunt, Audrey Proffitt (nee Southall) was the youngest of the family and never learnt to ride but still remembers going to watch them training there.

    As both my mother and uncle died some years ago now, I asked her to tell me more about the stunts they performed and she told me how strict her father was with the young riders – “no, no, no, start again”.

    One stunt they used to do was to ride 3 abreast with others standing on their shoulders to form a pyramid, with one balanced right on top( a total of 6 participants) She remembers the top boy falling off and hurting his shoulder on one occasion but it wasn’t her brother. They used to run and vault onto the horses. They also used to perform the “V.C.Race”. This entailed racing in pairs, one on the horse and the other standing on the ground. The rider would gallop towards his partner (Dickie on the horse, my Mum standing on the ground in our family’s case), reach down, sweep up the partner, throw the partner onto the back of the horse bareback, and then gallop over jumps. Richard Southall senior could slip from the saddle while moving, slide underneath the horse’s belly and climb back up the other side. This was the only trick that Dickie could not accomplish. However, he could hang backwards off the horse while galloping to snatch a handkerchief from the ground. He was a marvellous horseman and was a junior show jumping champion at only 16.

    My Aunt does not remember the troupe being formally called “The Cossacks” but the type of riding they did for carnivals and shows was known as Cossack riding.

    My cousin ( another Richard Southall ! ) son of Dickie, told me recently that his father in later life pointed out a field in a place called Canwell near Sutton Coldfield saying that his father had dropped him there one day to train with a touring Russian Cossack horse riding company. Richard Southall senior gave them some cash and Dickie lived and trained with them in the field for a week or two. Dickie also told his son that once at the circus the audience was asked if anyone could emulate the circus horsemen by riding round the ring standing on the back of a horse. He jumped on and won some prize money.

    My Aunt is a little sceptical about the Canwell story as she does not remember this and Dickie had a tendency to tell tall stories but who knows? He was certainly talented.

    Audrey tells me that the carnivals she remembers from her childhood were always led by her father. I know he used to wear his old dress uniform from the Hussars on such occasions and there is just a glimpse of a Hussar on horseback in the procession in the film, so I suspect this is my grandfather. The person holding the decorated horse’s bridle at the beginning of the film and described as Mr. Seedhouse by Reg looks very like my grandfather, in fact. When my father saw the footage he immediately remarked that it was his father-in-law and my Aunt agrees it is her father, Richard Southall.

    My own father is nearly 90 and remembers going to the carnivals (he grew up in Clayhanger). The thing he most remembers is the pig roast! He says a sandwich cost about 6d – very expensive but delicious. He also remembers hearing about the Norton Dandies and mentioned another band known as the Double Sixes, whose emblem was a double six domino.

    My grandfather’s brother John Southall (always known as Jack) worked at Craddock’s Farm, Shire Oak, and was the one who dressed up the horses for the carnivals in their fine brasses, ribbons and plaited manes etc. He and his wife Louie lived in the cottage immediately adjacent to the Ivy House Off-Licence. It is shown in the photo of Ivy House, also on the blog. My mother and her siblings were all born next door but one in the end cottage, 101 Lichfield Road.

    Many thanks to Reg for sharing this wonderful film and letting me experience a little piece of my parents’ and grandparents’ world.

    Sheila Norris (nee Jones) 13th August 2013.

  11. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob,
    a huge thank you to Sheila, please!

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  13. Clive says:

    Reading the program i see the old horse in the video was named Tan, it was demobed after the first world war and purchased by a Mr W. J. Haines, of Brownhills, to begin a career in road haulage.
    Lucky horse, most of the horses were just left over there after the war. after all the crap they had been through!

  14. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Brownhills Urban District Council minutes
    Minutes of a meeting of the council held in committee, 8 May 1957
    minute 1124. Housing, 283,285,287 HIgh Street Brownhills. Owner Mr Selwyn Smith
    “The Clerk submitted the report of the District Valuer with respect to the acquisition of premises 283, 285 287 High Street brownhills (0.365 acre) from Mr Selwyn Smith.
    resolved that the land be purchased…£169.”



  15. dine hunter says:

    wow fantastic showed mom 86 this film she was a cheslyn hay girl but worked at the grove colliery and her dad william matthews (bill) and his brothers were in the cannock chase colliery band showed in the clips they also played for walsall wood and alridge made her day thank you

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  27. patrick Hall says:

    fantastic film footage, most effective costume 2nd place was my aunt Iris Hall. Sister to Harold Hall my father of Meadow cottage 234-236 High Street, behind Dunn & Hales garage. Their parents Sarah Yates married Harold Hall snr and farmed Meadow farm which backed onto the canal. Iris married local man Bill Brookes, they had a son Michael who was well known in Brownhills. I believe Iris was carnival queen once.

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