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.
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.
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.
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.