The Canes Gang

Norton Sq.1909

A lovely period postcard image of Norton Canes, kindly supplied by reader Alan Harvey.

It seems I’ve been a bit lax here on the Brownhills Blog. Reader Alan Harvey sent the above image for readers to peruse, and made the following plaintive request:

Hello Bob,

Great blog but you need more on Norton Canes, you know ‘Life in the Northern Wastes of Brownhills!’

I have attached a photo of Norton Square in 1909, not very clear I’m afraid. It shows a band marching past, the T.A. I suspect.

Alan Harvey.

Alan, you’re quite right, I don’t have much on The Canes, mainly because I don’t have personal connections there, so rely on what comes in. We have, of course, covered the Conduit Colliery and a few other tales, as well as David Evans’ great work on the Chapel there.

You’ll be pleased to know that in coming weeks I have some great material lined up including a stunning historical description of the village and other stuff relating to the collieries.

However, I’m always open. I’d love to feature more Norton material, so if any readers have got photos, tales or other historical gems from over the water, please do drop me a line on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

This blog is for everyone, and I welcome any history from the area.

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24 Responses to The Canes Gang

  1. David Oakley says:

    Hi Bob,
    What mixed memories for me, Norton Canes and Empire day. I spent many happy Saturday nights in the Yew Tree Inn (is it still there ?) back in the 1960’s. An old mate, Stan Bartram lived right on Norton Square and used to play the piano in the Yew Tree at weekends. So packed you could hardly move. What a wonderful old pub !
    Empire Day brings back memories of my schooldays. This was a really important day at the time, celebrated on 24th May. Flags or patriotic bunting bedecked nearly every house and many celebrations were planned, processions, carnivals and maypoledancing. The photo kindly sent in by Alan Harvey shows quite a gathering of spectators, so I imagine it must have been a typical Empire Day procession. My guess is that the Norton Dandies Jazz Band would not be far behind.
    At school in the ‘30’s in Walsall Wood, the wheezy old harmonium would be carried into the playground and we would march around it in a large circle, singing,
    “Today we bring our flags to school and proudly march along,
    For this, you know is Empire Day, so join in cheer and song.”
    This would be followed by a lecture on the meaning of Empire day, leaving most of feeling how very lucky the little children of other lands must feel to be part of the the great British Empire.
    Best part of Empire Day was the half holiday that followed !

    • Peter says:

      Hi David….. Thanks for your thoughts and memories, again. I can’t place the picture or Norton Square? Where is Norton Square? I know the area of the bridge, is it far from there?
      I think Empire Day was renamed Commonwealth Day in the 50’s? but I thought it was in March?


      • David Oakley says:

        Hi Peter….Norton Square remains in my memory for some reason. I have checked Google Earth to try to pinpoint the area, but after more than 40 years the place has completely changed. The Yew Tree was a little old pub just off the crossroads from what I believed to be Norton Square, or is it the bridge ? Perhaps an old Nortonian reader can help us on this one.
        Regarding Empire Day, I can be a little more positive.. Empire day was founded in 1904 and was celebrated on the 24th May. In 1958, due to new post-colonial
        relationships it was renamed Commonwealth Day. In response to Commonwealth leaders in 1976, who wanted a completely fresh date to remove the memories of colonialism, the 2nd Monday in March was selected.

  2. Pedro says:

    Lichfield Mercury 20th August 1910…Norton Canes

    On Friday evening a well-attended meeting of the committee of the Empire Day Celebration was held in the Memorial School…

    …and preparations are being made to entertain nearly a thousand children. It was decided that Mr H Gidwell should try and engage two brass and string bands.

  3. Alan Harvey says:

    Norton Square is where the Burntwood Road from Norton Bridge (Coop Store) meets the Heath Hayes to Walsall Road. There are a pair of Victorian semis from where, I believe the photo was taken. I have a couple of others taken from the same vantage point.
    Alan Harvey.

  4. David Oakley says:

    Thanks, Alan, right on the button ! My friend, Stan Bartram lived in one of the Victorian semi’s you mention, large garden, as I remember. The Yew Tree pub was a few yards down the Burntwood Road, on the right-hand side.

    • Alan Harvey says:

      I was told that the semis were lived in by the village doctor and the village police man. It might be possible to identify them using censors records. Photography was an expensive hobby; my guess is that it would have been the doctor. The old Yew Tree pub was knocked down about 1970, I think. A pub of the same name stands further along the Lichfield Road about where the Conduit Colliery offices once stood.

      • David Oakley says:

        Thanks Alan, I can imagine the village doctor and the village policeman living in those houses all that time ago. Must have been two of the grandest houses in the village, and certainly very large, compared to the modest housing available. for most of the villagers. The loft would house a full-size snooker table. Stan lived there for fifty years or so until
        about the late 1990’s. I remember the pit, on the right-hand side, coming into the village.
        Nice to know the old name of the pub has been preserved.
        So very grateful to you for all your help.

        • Keith Arnott says:

          Hi everyone,
          I used to live in the house next door to Stan Bartram and his wife Barbara, from 1947 to 1968. My parents moved in there with my father’s brother and his family after his demob from the RAF at the end of WW2, his brother and family moved to Chasetown not long afterwards. I was born in February 1947 so lived my first 21 years on the square. You are right about the loft (attic) it was enormous!. Each house also had a cellar. I seem to vaguely recall mention that that it was a police house at one time. I think the houses were built just post the Victorian era. There is / was a stone set in the side wall of “our” house with the name Mayfield (I think) and a date which from memory was 1913, however it was such a long time ago so I my memory may have failed me.
          I remember the old Yew tree pub very well and it is where I had my first pint of Butlers Bitter when I had reached the age of 18. Prior to that i had sneaked the odd pint of Ansells Mild at the British Legion where my father was a member.

          • Andy Wilmot says:

            Hi Keith
            I too grew up in the same house as you and I remember Stan next door! You could quite often hear him practicing on his organ in the daytime.
            My parents bought the house in the late 70’s and I am currently in the process of buying it off them.
            That ‘enormous attic’ you talk of was my bedroom during my teenage years!
            I have always been fascinated about the history of the house given its age (Mayfield 1909, as it says on the stone on the side wall).
            I was hoping you could provide me with some interesting stories about the house or even photos of it from when you were there if you have any.

            • Jacqui wilmot says:

              I have loved reading the info on this site as I have always lived in Norton as well as my parents and grand parents.
              For the past 38 yrs we lived at Mayfields Hednesford Rd ; I loved the house from the first time we looked around it and purchased it from the Grays family.
              It is interesting looking through the deeds of the house and see the names of people who lived their.
              Stan and Barbara were lovely people (who lived next door) they were so friendly and Stan as well as being an accomplished organ player his garden always looked immaculate.
              I am pleased that my son and his wife will be moving into the house and hope they love living there and making it their home as much as we did.

      • sue says:

        I believe one of the Doctors in Norton was called Dr. Bagarutti (unsure of spelling) my friend who is now in her seventies recalls many stories of her childhood in the area, particularly of the Dr who assisted with her birth.

  5. Pedro says:

    Might be a long shot, but if you look in the picture linked below, in the middle there is a clock and buildings that might correspond to the 1909 postcard?

  6. Hi folks

    Can I just thank everyone for their fine contributions here?

    I know I don’t comment much, but it’s all very much appreciated. Sadly, the work of creating new stuff and dealing with email leaves little time to participate in discussions here, which is sad.

    Your man Alan asked for Norton stuff – and so much fine material is offered freely. That’s why this blog is such a joy to work on. My gratitude is immense, and it’s so nice to have such a polite, inquisitive little community.

    The great thing about this is that comments are recorded by Google too, so what once may have passed as a transitory conversation in a pub or queue has become a permanent record of a discussion for others to explore and learn from. This is hugely important for local history.

    In the next week I have some stunning Norton Canes material to post up – with a remarkable thing for tomorrow or Saturday. Please stick with it.

    It may not be fast, but I get there in the end.


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  10. Jessie Swan says:

    PC Machine lived in the house in Norton square in the late1940’s

  11. jerry in rugby (was guildford as a kid) says:

    My grandparents had the yew tree in the early 70s Len & Daisy Allen – I recall a courtyard and outside toilets, a snug , saloon public and smoke I think one bar was called?
    Also a side window for off sales??

  12. wildseawitch says:

    Does anyone have a photo of The Yew Tree Inn, Burntwood Road, as my paternal grandmother and family lived there in 1891/1901 according to the census – indeed are you related to the Salter family?

  13. PhyllisEdwards says:

    Love to see the photos of Norton canes my husband came from there how do I join

  14. dave says:

    does anyone have any pictures of a small holding that was at the end of hill street norton canes i think it was demolished in the 60s my wife was born there in the 50s her gradad was jack shepard

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