Do the walk…

Now this is an interestingly odd one I received a few days ago from reader, contributor and planning geek Andy Dennis. Andy has made great and regular contributions here, and never ceases to surprise with the detail and thoroughness of his research.


The sport seems to have old roots – certainly back into the 1700s. This poster from an article about Pedestrianism on the wonderful Dabbler blog. Click on the image to read it.

Here, Andy touches on a sporting phenomena which seems to largely have lapsed: pedestrianism. These days, power or nordic walking would, I think, be comparable, but almost comedic as it sounds, this was a high stakes, highly disciplined thing. We’ve mentioned it before; it was featured in Gerald Reece’s book ‘Brownhills: A Walk into History‘, which I quoted in my May 2012 post ‘A Day at the Races‘.

I’m interested in the characters involved, and any further light that can be shed. Certainly, some of the names here sound familiar.

If you can add anything, please do comment on this post or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!

Thanks to Andy for yet another great talking point.


The Fleur de Lys: scene of a great sporting victory? Image supplied by David Evans.

Hello Bob

In the newspaper archive are some surprising events and on Friday 7 July 1916 the Lichfield Mercury included the following:

Walking Match. — On Saturday great interest was manifested in a two-mile walking match for £5 aside, the competitors being Wallace Shingler of Newtown, near Brownhills, and Samuel Jones, of Little Norton. The former is a well known local pedestrian, and has a good record. The event was decided on the Watling Street Road, from Bridgtown to the Fleur-de-Lys, Norton Canes. Shingler was the favourite. Both men kept pretty well on even terms for the first mile, but in the last mile, which was nearly all rising ground, Shingler proved himself the better man. He forged ahead, and when about a quarter mile from the finish Jones retired, and Shingler won easily. Mr. James Harrington officiated as referee.

I first became aware of the existence of Wallace John Shingler as he is mentioned in the deeds to my house. In 1911 he lived at the Chase Inn, where his father George Shingler was the publican. Later he married the daughter of the licensee of the Anglesey Arms, and in 1921 was granted a temporary license there (Lichfield Mercury 24 July 1921).

There are also some reports of shooting matches and WJS seems to have been something of a crack shot.


The Anglesey Arms stood, I think, where the maisonettes were between Deakin Avenue and Watling Street, themselves now removed for a new development. Image from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

In 1921 Wallace John Shingler became treasurer of the Anglesey Arms Female Benefit Society, taking over from Mr T Yates, who had been the licensee. The purpose of the society seems to have been a form of private health insurance with some support for unemployed members. The main items of expenditure, for example 1920-21, were on medical officers £170 2s 6d, sharing to members £118 15s and death claims £44. The earliest report I can find is from 1910, but it was still going in 1940, when the overall income exceeded £500.


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4 Responses to Do the walk…

  1. Bob Houghton says:

    I am researching the life of a soldier that died on the Somme in 1916. His name is Thomas Fairfield and he was brought up on Fox Row. On the 1901 census he is there and so is Wallace Shingler. Thomas and Wallace were the same age and lived virtually next door to each other and probably went to the same school.

    I have heard a family story that Thomas was a runner. After reading this Blog I wonder if he was into Pedestrianism and not running. As Thomas and Wallace lived close it is likely they developed the same interests. Unfortunately at the date of the contest Thomas was in France and died in the November.

    Do you have any knowledge of Thomas Fairfield into pedestrianism?

    Bob Houghton

    • Pedro says:

      The Lichfield Mercury of 4 Feb 1921 describes the erection of a memorial cross at Brownhills in memory of the 67 men from the parish who gave their lives in the Great War……Thomas Fairfield is named

      • Bob Houghton says:

        Thanks Pedro,

        I already have lots of general information on Thomas as I’m just putting the finishing touches to a 31 page story about him. It should be on the Burntwood Family History Group web site soon.

        He is listed on the Staffordshire Roll of Honour; St James Church in Brownhills and Chase Terrace Memorials; the Thiepval memorial in France; as well as the one in Brownhills Memorial Hall.

        The reason for my comments were the association with Wallace Shingler. The two children were brought up together, living in the 13 miners cottages on Fox Row and attending Watling Street School. Their interests were also similar as Thomas was thought to be interested in running and quite probably shooting.

        I suspect that he took part in pedestrianism with Wallace, but that would have been before Thomas married in 1912. I would love to be able to see any further information connecting Thomas to Wallace, especially in pedestrianism.

        The article on the blog said that Wallace was a well known local pedestrian, and has a good record. So are there any further records of his exploits?


  2. Pedro says:

    For the record Walter Shingler has a few mentions in football and air gun shooting 1920-5

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