On the Sunnyside of the street

That there Young David Evans has been busy again investigating the physical geography of the land between Walsall Wood and Aldridge, at Kings Hayes and The Vigo. David has previously done some excellent work on the landscape and history of Walsall Wood, and this article continues that trend.

Both David and I have had a feeling for a long time now that the seeds of Walsall Wood as a village lie in this spot, and that there is much history to be discovered here. Kings Hayes Farm is very old, and I think there was very probably some kind of supporting settlement.

Here, David explores the history relating to an old cottage which, I must confess, I’d never noticed before. Thanks to him, and of course to his host, Simon Taylor, for bringing to light yet another bit of otherwise lost history.

As usual, comments and email welcome: either at the foot of this post or to BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

David wrote:

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Who lived in a house like this? Image by David Evans.

The Vigo , Sunnyside, and its oldest house

I was intrigued to notice a derelict old house at Sunnyside when I was taking photos of the nearby stream some while ago, for the article ‘Going with the Flow‘, June 16th. This 1884 map shows the site of the derelict farmhouse, in field no 734.

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Ordnance Survey 1884 1:2,500 map of the Vigo area. Image kindly supplied by David Evans. Please click for a larger version.

A recent blog comment by local historian Clive Roberts (In ‘The word on the Streets‘, July 21st), where nail-making in Walsall Wood was mentioned as being recorded well before 1736, and the name Creswell being one nail-maker at that time, set me thinking.

We know that the part of Walsall Wood known as the Vigo dates back further than 1800, sourced and referenced in the article Where you go, Vigo too, but how far back can we trace a settlement there, what was the activity of the settlement, and does anything remain of the original dwellings?

Lets see what we can find:

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The Vigo in 1884. Orienting this today is quite hard, as so much of the landscape has changed. Image kindly supplied by David Evans. Click for a larger version.

Vigo shows as the settlement in this 1884 map. It is the building in field 734 that is of interest. This place is now a busy industrial site, opposite the Fire Station and Kings Hayes Farm. In this map a track leads to this building from the top left, and there is a field 732 that lies between the building and the road by Kings Hayes Road.

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The 1750 Tithe Map for Walsall Wood. The cartography isn’t great, but remember this map was about legality and responsibility, not landscape per se. Image by David Evans. Please click for a larger version.

This is part of the 1750 tithe map for the same area. Kings Hayes farm had yet to be built but lies to the right of the field with the name Thos Creswell, with its cottage in the field. In fact there are three dwellings occupied by Creswells here, with a dwelling occupied by Mr Wilcox to the left. We notice the line of Castle Road leading to the right, with Thomas Allen’s dwelling there. Was this a farm ?

The Jo Yates parcel of land, with Mr Wilcox as one neighbour, and Thomas Creswell as the other neighbour… It is quite possible that this building may the derelict house, which then became known as Sunnyside Farm in later years, and which is half-hidden in the modern busy yard that surrounds it.

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This looks like a very old house. Image supplied by David Evans.

I would like to thank Mr Simon Taylor, owner of the property, for allowing me to take and publish these photos, I understand from him that the buildings there were originally two identical cottages adjoining each other, and that in the 1970s one of the two buildings was modernised, as we can see, and the other was left uninhabited.

David Evans, August 2013

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That’s some renovation from the original… Image supplied by David Evans.

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8 Responses to On the Sunnyside of the street

  1. I’ve nailers in my family history, all from Bromsgrove, North Worcestershire. I’ve come across the Creswell name as Nailers in Bromsgrove and is a very well known nailing family. The small side building could very well be a nail shop, heath and nail hammer and anvil there in. I’ve a history book on the Bromsgrove Nailers kicking around somewhere, See if I can find it out.

  2. Pedro says:

    December 13th 1940 Sell by Auction…Vigo Farm, Walsall Wood…

    Sectional Poultry trough, 24 ft by 9ft and five others; Wood and galvanised shed 15ft by 10ft; Poultry appliances, farm implements and tools and surplus household furniture.

  3. Clive says:

    Newspaper articale dated Aug 19, 1771
    To be sold freehold farm called Kings Hayes in the Parish of Aldridge. Good Farm House with out buildings and upward of 30 acres of land, all lying within a ring fence, together with a right of common without stint. Also 50 oak and ash trees growing at the said farm. which is in the tenure of Henry Sidons.
    Yes the date is 1771.

  4. David Oakley says:

    Hi Bob,
    As a Vigo kid, myself, I am familiar with all those old buildings featured on the old maps, kindly supplied by David Evans, but never associated them with a possible nail-making industry.
    although reading historical notes recently I note that King Hayes Farm and buildings in the vicinity could well be associated with this old industry.
    What interested me greatly, was the name Creswell. Beyond the old cottages in Aldridge Road; there lay a small lane, which ran down to Sunnyside, we called it ‘the back lane’. The only house in this lane was at the Sunnyside end, occupied in the 1930’s and ’40’s by a Mr, Cresswell. In the old map there is a track which leads down to the other properties shown on the tithe map, belonging to other members of the Creswell family.
    Perhaps a bigger, and more recent claim to fame by the Creswell family is shown by the fact that Amos Creswell, born in that old house, was destined to become President of the Methodist
    Conference. and in the pre-birthday lunch, given by the Queen in 2006 to celebrate her 80th birthday had the honour of sitting next to her. As for his prime place at the table, Amos said,
    “I’m the son of a working-class family, from a working-class area of the Midlands, and largely self-educated, and so you don’t expect that, do you ?”.
    Not bad, for a Vigo kid !!

  5. Pedro says:

    May 1925…Freehold building land for sale, or let.

    Apply, A Seedhouse, Vigo Farm, Walsall Wood.

    *******
    July 1904…Jewel Robbery…a broach and bracelet the property of Thomas Allen, Walsall Wood.

    ********
    Jan 1901…BUDC accept tender of E Cresswell of Walsall Wood for erection of a new stable and saddle house.

    *******
    1899 T Cresswell was a builder in Walsall Wood.

  6. Pedro says:

    September 1901….Mr Samuel Amos Cresswell, Occupation Road, Walsall Wood, application for licence to sell beer not to be consumed on the premises….

    An Off Licence refused…

    Mr Lewis said the house was situated on the junction of Hollander Lane and Occupation Road. There was not a fully licenced house, putting it roughly, within a quarter mile. The only other accommodation for drinking in the immediate neighbourhood was Dalton’s “Off” licence and Cresswell’s “Off” Licence, distance 430 and 500 yards, so that practically there was no “Off” accommodation within a quarter mile.

    The district was a growing one, inhabited by mainly by the working classes. Since the last licence was granted 14 years ago, 50 houses had been added in those two streets. The applicant the gave evidence, and was cross-examined by Mr Jackson, to whom he said the landlord of the property for which a licence was asked was Mr Ball, who was an owner of public houses and owned the Traveller’s Rest Inn, which was 415 yards away.

    The applicant took possession of the house, on August 7th, and he could not say that the premises were really furnished at the time. When he went there he had some furniture which he did not like to take there. He did not take his wife and family to live in the house until the previous week. He had slept there himself for about 15 nights. He had arranged to pay £20 a year rent but did not expect to pay it if the licence was not granted. The house had been built for the purpose of the application. He wanted to supply the district, where there were about 90 houses. Rexamined, the applicant said he was not tied in any way and could deal with the brewers he chose.

    Evidence as to the applicant’s character and the site of the premises were called. The Bench without hearing the opposition, refused the application.

  7. Peter says:

    A big thank you to David for the article, very interesting. I live within a stones throw of this area and am really keen to learn more about “The Vigo” as and when, also a big thank you to Roy Taylor, he could so easily have said no but instead was very kind to allow access and photography of his land.

    Peter……..

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