The man in the centre

William Briggs Jr - Middle row third from right

A probable 1940s church photo – with William Briggs highlighted in the centre. Can anyone put names to these people, or identify the church, or indeed the occasion? Image kindly supplied by Tony Briggs.

I’ve received a fascinating enquiry from reader and friend of the blog Tony Briggs. If the name sounds familiar, Tony is the gentleman researching the history of St. Matthews mental hospital in Burntwood, who appealed for help with images of the now lost hospital a year of so ago.

Tony sent me the above lovely photo, and other than his grandfather William Briggs being in the middle of the group, he knows nothing about it. He’s wondering if anyone can help him find more out about it, and maybe learn more about the life of his grandfather.

I’ll let Tony explain:

Dear Bob,

Bit of a longshot this, but I was wondering if you could post the enclosed picture on your blog to see if anyone out there could identify the people featured.  It is definitely local – it may have been taken outside the church in Chadsmoor, but I’m not sure.

The picture was taken – I think – at some point in the 1940s.  The only person I know in the picture is my Grandfather, William Briggs (I’ve circled him in the picture).

Unfortunately, I know very little about him but have managed to find a few pictures and anecdotes from here and there over the past few years.  He was a patient at St. Matthews hospital a couple of times, and that is what led me to compile the St Matthews picasa album you featured on your blog last year.

I would really like to put names to the faces, and also try and find out the purpose of the picture if possible.  As an even longer shot, if anyone out there remembers Bill Briggs from Huntington, 1903 – 1974 (for better or worse!), I’d be delighted to hear from them.

Thanks for your help.


Tony Briggs

If you know anything about this, or indeed, have any memories of life at St. Matthews, please do comment here or drop me a line on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

It really would be great if we could illuminate this bit of local history for Tony.

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6 Responses to The man in the centre

  1. Florence says:

    I do not know the gentleman but was wondering if Tony has any connection to the Briggs family initially from Staffordshire.

    The name William Briggs was the name of my uncle. I have been trying to find some trace of him for many many years as he and my father were split up as young boys after the death of their father in 1911

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  3. Wendy Collins says:

    Hi is there any link to your family from Liverpool. I have a picture taken a bit later than this one of my husbands grandfather. We thought it was Liverpool but it’s definitely the same doorway.

    • Tony Briggs says:

      Hi Wendy, not that I know to, but it could be possible. Thanks, Tony

      • Wendy Collins says:

        Mystery continues the same woman is on both pics and one guy is wearing slippers on my pic. Can’t reconcile the bricks with any of the hospital buildings though

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