The word on the Streets

That Young David Evans has been at it again. I pointed out ages ago that he was researching the history of Streets Corner in Walsall Wood, and through months of diligent and patient research, David has written what must be the definitive account of the history of this place.

I thank David for his wonderful contribution, and welcome anything else folk may have on the matter. Streets Corner is one of those names that if we’re not careful, may slip into history, like Bullings Heath and Holly Bank, so it’s good to see the matter nailed in such an effective and illuminating way.

As ever, cheers old chap.

David wrote:


Streets Corner Bungalow, as known to many of us. Note the curved glass bays, iconic of the 1920s and 30s. Image by Howmuch?

The poor quality photocopy below, of an article which appeared in the Cannock Advertiser newspaper in 1967 was recently given to me by a member of the Walsall Wood Jackson family’s descendants who was doing research in to the family tree. The original thatched cottage was replaced by a (then) modern bungalow which was built in the late 1940s or early 1950s, and which has also now been demolished.


From the Cannock Advertiser; sometime in 1967. Please click for a larger version. Image suppled to David Evans by the Jackson Family.

I was intrigued by the details given in this article, as well as the image of the thatched cottage. A reverse time-line through the local census returns helped to trace the Street family in that cottage  back as far as  1841. The 1801 census and 1801 Molseley dole records that are shown by Sue Lote at Walsall Foreign Family History helped me to place three cottages at that site, and to name the occupants in 1801. One name was common to these three sources – that being Rowe/Roe.

Fortunately I have been able to view the 1750 Tithe map for this part of Walsall Wood, the relevant section included below.


A section of the Walsall Wood Tithe Map of 1750. Image supplied by David Evans.

The Lichfield Road runs from Walsall (to the left of this map) towards Lichfield (to the right). The Shire Oak tree is shown – this stood just to the north of the Streets Corner, and is where a footpath now leads to Holly Lane, which used to join the Lichfield Road there. This is an important reference marker, as nearby we can see three dwellings.

The 1841 census for this part of Walsall Wood, the Turnpike Road (Staffordshire – Walsall – Aldridge – district 5 – image 7) shows  these three families; John Street aged 60, who is described as a ‘nailer’, and his wife Elizabeth, aged 60; Lewis Nutting aged 66 , bricklayer and family; Hannah Rowe aged 27, pauper, with children Jabez aged 5, Mary Rowe aged 4 and Richard Rowe aged 2.

The newspaper article suggests that the thatched cottage was ‘…probably over two centuries old (in 1967).’ Certainly, we can see that it was there in 1750. But when could it have been built? Quite recently a descendant of the Jackson-Street family contacted me. I was told that an oil painting copy of the thatched cottage in 1736 has existed at one time. I understand that the nailer’s anvil may still exist and be in the family’s possession.

I was shown this remarkable original and unpublished photo of Maria Street, the old lady who lived the cottage with her husband, George Street. This seems to be the same lady in the other notable photographs of the Streets Corner cottage.

David Evans, July 2013


Maria Street, a remarkable image of an iconic Walsall Wood lady. Image supplied by the Jackson Family.


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18 Responses to The word on the Streets

  1. Pedro says:

    Definitive indeed! Thanks to David and Bob.

  2. Clive says:

    Lichfield Mercury; The wife of Robert Street gave birth to a son, date May 1904, place Ivydene, Shire Oak. maybe of use to you Dave and Bob.

  3. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    the name of the photographer of Maria Street is printed on the reverse of the photo card….it is
    G L Oldbury …and the card measures 16cms x 10.5 cms. I wonder who this person was, and if other local people ..and their dwellings..were photographed

  4. fred butler says:

    There used to be a sign on the front of the bungalow saying .”streets corner bungalow :” my late father made it for Les Jackson.

  5. David Oakley says:

    Sincere thanks to David Evans for his ‘Streets Corner’ article, particularly his research into the Thatched Cottage of the ‘Streets ‘, from whom the corner took its name, so many years ago.
    Mr. Street’s occupation as a ‘nailer’, intrigued me, and turning to the old photo of the cottage, the old nailers workshop is clearly to be seen, added later, according to the ‘Cannock Advertiser ‘ cutting from 1967, but the vast chimney erected in order to accommodate the nailers hearth, is clearly there, to the right of the picture, but notice the tiny dimensions of the workshop, often described as “…. small. And when the fire is unlit, give the appearance of dilapidated coal holes”
    There were several ‘nailing communities ‘ in Walsall Wood, about that time, and even earlier, many nailers migrated from the larger Black Country towns in an effort to supplement their income with farm labouring when times were hard, even so, I was a little surprised that the Cannock Advertiser claim that …..” This was the origin of Walsall Wood’s old fame as a nail and chain making centre”. To me, mining and brickmaking springs more easily to mind.
    I would love to see a picture of the old nailers anvil, probably still in possession of the family. The nailers anvil was a little different to the blacksmith’s anvil, in which two square holes were cast to hold the bore into which the red-hot nail was placed, before the top was flattened to form the head, the pointed end having previously been dressed by hammer, on the anvil. Various shaping tools of different dimensions could be inserted into the two cast holes, making a secure base for hammering. A practised nailmaker could shape a nail in 12 strokes , from severing it from the rod,cutting it to size, by means of a simple gauge , pointing it and forming the head. In an average working day, 1250 nails would be made, bringing in an income of fivepence three farthings !!
    Nailers were the victims of the nail dealers, known locally as ‘Foggers’, who would supply the raw material from the rolling mills to the nailers , allowing a minimum for ‘waste’ A Fogger would expect 54 lbs of nails to be made from 56 lbs of iron. Although merely a middleman, he fixed his own prices to the nailers, before re-selling at a profit to the nailmasters. In some cases, in the more heavily populated areas of the industry, he ran the local ‘Tommy Shop’ and would pay a proportion of the meagre earnings in tommy notes, in which inferior goods would be purchases at inflated prices. A much hated man.
    The invention of the machine- made nail, marked the decline of the hand-made nail, but luckily, Walsall Wood, by then, had other strings to its bow, in the aforesaid coalmining and brickmaking industries, yet there must be many old families, in ‘The Wood’ , who, could they trace their ancestry back, far enough, may easily stumble across a ‘nailer’. The ugly little workshops and forges have all gone, with , perhaps the last remaining proof being centred on that photo of the thatched cottage at Street’s Corner, so thanks again, David Evans, for this latest contribution to Walsall Wood’s historical past.

  6. Pedro says:

    Walsall Wood does not seem to be mentioned in connection to nailing in the Archives. During 1865, 20,000 were eventually on a strike of 12 weeks, and some of the places mentioned were Bromsgrove, Old Hill, Rowley Regis, Halesowen, Dudley, Lye, Gornal, Blackheath, and Sedgley.

    For more of what David says see…

    Nailed to the Poverty Line…

  7. Clive says:

    One of my ancesters was a nailer (the maker of) John Creswell of Walsall Wood, date 1671.
    So the trade goes back a long way.
    Whilst doing my research on my family tree i did notice there were a lot of Nail makers in Walsall Wood and the local area around the 17 and 18 century, maybe later also but did`nt cover later dates. maybe of use to someone!

  8. Pedro says:

    Another site…The Black Country Nail Trade…

    Includes the Nailmaker’s Strike poem (circa 1842)…

    Oh, you nailmakers all that day remember well,
    The last strike of which this tale I tell,
    How cold and hungry we that heavy day,
    To Bromsgrove Town did take our toilsome way,
    And these nail forgers, miserable souls,
    Will not forget the givers of the cause,
    Nailmasters are hard-hearted viles,
    And the way we took was 13 miles.
    Oh, the slaves abroad in the sugar cane,
    Find plenty to help and pity their pain,
    But the slaves at home in the mine or fire,
    Have plenty to pity but none to admire,
    Now, I wish I could see all nail dealers,
    Draw such a load as did we poor nailers,
    And see such punishment and such smarts,
    That it might soften their hard stoney hearts.
    Oh, you nailmakers all that day remember well,
    The last strike of which this tale I tell,
    How cold and hungry we that heavy day,
    To Bromsgrove Town did take our toilsome way,

    The lines that caught my eye were…

    “Oh, the slaves abroad in the sugar cane,
    Find plenty to help and pity their pain,
    But the slaves at home in the mine or fire,
    Have plenty to pity but none to admire,”

    This sentiment can also be found in connection with the South Staffs Coal industry. The 1842 Royal Commission Report on Children in the Mines, mentions that orphans were taken into South Staffs coalfields from workhouses in other parts of the country and made to serve very long apprenticeships until they were over 21, and with very little pay. The author remarked that slaves and children sent over to the West Indies were treated in a more humane way.

  9. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a big thankyou to all those who have kindly offered their amazing comments! Nailer John Creswell’s dwelling can just be made out on the extreme lower left edge of the section of tithe map shown above..left of Harris house image …which seems to take nailing in Walsall Wood us as far back as 1671, thanks to Clive.
    kind regards

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  11. Clive says:

    Here we have another local nail maker.
    Post Office Directory of 1854; Benj Bickley. Shire Oak.

  12. Clive says:

    Sorry that should be chain and nail maker.

  13. David Evans says:

    Hi Clive
    1861 census..Staffs- Shenstone parish – district 28…..
    “Catshill” entries end, then in to ” Friezeland”..first dwelling Craddock, second dwelling Danks, then Benjamin Bickley , nailer, aged 62, his wife Elizabeth aged 70, their daughter Ann aged 29 and grandson William aged 2; then Craddock, then..yes, a Jackson..miners.
    I wonder, just wonder, if Bickley was living in what became the famous fold in Friezland Lane!
    Many thanks Clive

  14. David Evans says:

    Hi Clive
    Benjamin Bickley in 1841 census, making nails..the next entry shows a Mr George Walton, publican…and a noticable lack on miners thereabouts…just argicultural labourers…and a shoe maker!

  15. Clive says:

    Whites Directory of 1834
    Nail makers of Walsall Wood and Shelfield
    Homer Hy (makes tacks only)
    Jackson Chas
    Jackson Saml
    Jackson Thos
    Jackson Wm
    Jackson W, jun
    Maybe of use to someone out there!

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