Small increments

I’ve noted here before that change to a place most often happens incrementally, in small but contiguous steps. Sometimes it can be large and dramatic, as when Brownhills was reshaped by the construction of Hillards (now Tesco), or when the M6 Toll was built. More often than not though, change is fractal, fractional and fragmented. A building is replaced here, a road slightly changes course there, and so on.

Recently, we delved into the history of the Salvation Army Hall, in High Street, near to the Warreners Arms, and I featured the photograph below:


From Geoff Harrington & Clarice Mayo’s wonderful book ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’. Click for a larger version, and note the Warreners Arms outhouses, built in the same style as the pub.

The image was taken from Severn House, the smallest of the four tower blocks eventually built in Brownhills – it’s the pink one that still stands today next to Silver Court. From the Warrener’s Arms, top right, to bottom left, spans the High Street. The road leaving to the left no longer exists as anything other than a path. Reader Peter asked what it was called in  the comments to the original article.

The book caption to the photo actually tells us, but only realised that after digging into the mapping archive, and I believe I’ve found a map contemporaneous with this image give or take a few years. The map has been scanned, and I include it below.

The road was called New Street. New Road – which still exists today – would be out of shot to the lower left. I think the map, and the image are both late 1960s. Bear in mind there is some inherent ‘lag’ in the mapping due to surveys taking place some time before drafting.


This is a 1:2,500 Ordnance Survey paper print of central Brownhills. I don’t have a date for it, but I suspect it to be late 60s, about the same time the photo was taken. The map is fascinating, and very large; click it for t he full size version. Bear in mind it’s been scanned from drafting film and is exhibiting some geometric distortion.

The relevant section in the photo I’ve cropped out and annotated below.


here we can see where relevant features on the photo are on the map. New Street is highlighted in green; it was truncated as part of the Warren Place development, then still ongoing. The gasworks would be out of shot to the right. Note the wonderful outbuildings of the Warreners, in the same gabled style. The photo caption notes the houses had been cleared from New Street. Click for a larger version.

Here’s what it looks like today:

Note that Humphries House – also still extant – is built directly on the site of the town gasworks.

There is a huge amount of interesting stuff on this map. It really is a gem, and shows the increments of the 60s and 70s in mid flow.

Take this section from Ogley Hay, around the Parish Church of St James:


Ogley Hay, late 1960s. What is the Calvary Mission? Click for a larger version.

There’s stuff here relevant to the postcard I shared last week; note the war memorial at the Church Road entrance to the churchyard of St. James; Ogley Hay County Primary School on to the left of shot, where I thought were houses – that’s actually the front of that school, isn’t it? Notice also the Police Station – higher up Church Road than I imagined – and the Calvary Mission, whatever that was, or is.  I have a feeling that’s still there.

Note also, the section of Short Street from Church Road to Brickiln Street has yet to be constructed.


A wonderful postcard, and another demonstration of how historical threads intertwine.

There is more interest at Co-op corner:

co-op corner

When did the junction change from this bizarre layout? Middleton House Club – now the site of the tyre depot and nearby industrial units – when did that go?

Other stuff on the main map I noticed; check out the detail of the High Street. The structure marked ‘platform’ behind the old Co-op – what was that? The Regent Cinema, Station Hotel and basins. Detail around the Pier Street Bridge – Pike Helve – and around Holland Park, The Hussey estate and Station.

One of the most intriguing things is Silver Court. It’s bigger to the north by some degree than on the map, which shows the offices as being in the middle. They aren’t in real life. What happened there?

If I get time over the weekend, I’ll see if I can’t correct the geometry a bit and make this map into a Google Earth overlay.

If you spot anything, please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Untitled 6

This imagery from Bing! Maps shows that Silver Court, bottom left, is anything but symmetrical which is not how the map above shows it to be. Anyone know the story? Click for a larger version.

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26 Responses to Small increments

  1. David Oakley says:

    Hi Bob,
    The Calvary mission is the Brownhills Pentecostal Church, in Brickkiln Street, dedicated on 17th May 1952, Pastor Sid Ceney, who I remember as a Walsall Wood youngster. The Church has a vigorous website which contains a picture of the Church. Due to a ‘typo’ the word ‘Galgary ‘ is used in the text, which is more indicative of the annual Stampede, which apparently still goes the United States.

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    The first hit for a quick search “calvary mission brownhills” is surprising:
    “The Assembly Of God Church, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines started in 1979 through the pioneering efforts of the then newly wed couple, Pastor Eduard and Sister Vivian Advincula, together with an English couple Ian and Pauline, who at that time were missionaries sent to San Antonio from Calvary Church, Brownhills, UK.” and “In 1991 Mt. Pinatubo erupted, which totally destroyed the new church building.” see

    • Julie Ceney - Welsh says:

      This is our sister church in the Philippines. My Dad Pastor Sid Ceney went there to host a crusade in 79. Missionaries went out from the congregation. We continue to support them today and receive regular updates. (Along with 4 other families in mission around the world) A little bit of Brownhills in the Philippines. 🙂
      Calvary church is still going strong. It began in a room in a pub in Brownhills,The Wheatsheaf I believe, and the current building on Brickiln Street was built 1952. Extended 1982.
      I think there are details on the website of an open air tent crusade the founders held on Holland park in the 1950s.

      I attend with my family and run the coffee morning on Wednesday from 9:30am. Do pop in 🙂
      Calvary Pentecostal Church
      Brickiln Street Brownhills

  3. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    thanks for this fascinating map…..
    there seems to be the host of the WW2 British restaurant ( see;-Mrs Parsley and the ladies photo) by the blocks of garages near the Central Schools……. no Catshill ( or SATshill?) Primary School yet, a very interesting house by the Junior school in Church Road (“who lived in a house like this?”), the remains of the “Interchange” and the Civil Defence building, and the Metz.
    many thanks
    kind regards
    off to another kind of Calgary stampede at Oak Park this afternoon! Yeehar.

  4. Peter Leek says:

    I do remember my Grandad’s shop on the corner of New Road/New st and High Street and my dad’s workshops were in the drive leading off that little road, spent many a Saturday down there when i was a kid

  5. Peter says:

    Fantastic post Bob, thanks for getting a conversation going. I don’t know the story behind Silver Court and the layout but can only assume the original Silver Court was extended on when the buildings that were between it and Silver Street were demolished? Interestingly what we know as what was Wessex Close seems to have been called St. James’s Place??? Okay there’s an obvious link with the name of the local Church but it seems quite some way away? I’m sure a young Pedro (Who’s far cleverer than I am) could delve into some records somewhere and see when a name change was effected between St. James’s place and Wessex Close, it may give some clues as to the age.
    Keep up the good work……….. Only really started looking at this……… More comments to come?

    • Pedro says:

      Hi Peter,

      The newspaper archives, online, for the Lichfield Mercury run from 1883 to 1953, but with some years missed out.

      Can’t find any mention of Wessex Close.

      Mentions of St. James Place from 1896 to 1924.

  6. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    “a clickintime Walsall “has two very interesting photos, both aerofilms photos..Ref 3725(search Brownhills) shows the Metz in 1926 (became Wessex Close), and ref 3723 (also search Brownhills) shows new Street and its houses , in 1972,the Metz having been demolished for the Wessex Close flats.
    Re;- the map you have kindly published ..the works in Silver Street, by field no 7224..was the Co-op dairy ,( source; local resident) but had not yet been built in 1926! The house by field 7224 ,I think ,was Leamore House, which has been mentioned before in the Pike Helve discussion, I think. Behind the Railway Tavern in Lichfield Road, in Narrow Lane..the group of five “buildings” was a chicken farm, (source, local Seeds Lane resident)
    I believe there was a plan to create a road parallel to the HIgh extend Short New Road..which would have run through the doctor’s surgery in Brickkiln Road, but this did not materialise.Did this scheme form part of the Silver Court/Wimpey high rise flats development scheme initially?
    Thanks for this excellent map, Bob, and also to Walsall “clickintime” library of photos. Sadly Aerofilms seems to have ceased to exist! I live in the hope that the Express and Star photo library will come about one day!
    kind regards

  7. gabriel says:

    The mention of Middleton House Club & Institute really had me wondering: I must have passed it hundreds of times since the late 60s (if it was there then) but just cannot for the life of me remember it. I googled in search of a picture to jog my memory and didn’t find anything. But I did come across something on The National Archives’ website which has quite picqued my curiosity. The catalogue lists a 40 minute – silent – film from 1963 called “Story of a Town”, made by Brownhills Cine Group

    “…including footage showing Brownhills UDC planning officers at work, Coombe House; construction of new houses, flats and other local amenities; schoolchildren at Mob Lane Comprehensive School, High Heath, Pelsall engaged in arts and craft work and other practical subjects; readers and staff at Rushall & Brownhills Libraries (the exterior of Brownhills and the interior of Rushall Library) St. James’ Church; Wyrley & Essington canal, from Jolly Collier bridge; brickyard and gas works rear of High Street; Walsall Wood colliery; boatyard of Yates Bros., Lime Lane, Pelsall; Grove Colliery; Watling Street; Chasewater; Perfichrome chrome plating factory; general views of town and traffic on Chester Road, including brief shots of Brownhills Station; Brownhills Fire Station; local shops; Police Station; old houses being demolished; entertainment at Middleton House Club, Lichfield Road…”

    The film is held by Walsall Local History Centre on Essex Street. Have any of your readers seen it? Or know if there are other copies? This one apparently originated from “E. R. Jones (Photography), Walsall” – surely a typo, should it be “E.E. Jones”?

    It is on a VHS brick – lord knows what condition it is in, and how much longer it will be of use. A good candidate for digital preservation!

    • Hi Gabriel

      Clive is bang on – there’s a copy in the LHC; but I’ve also heard tales of a version on DVD circulating. I’m trying to get hold of a copy, and coming up empty handed.

      Please, if anyone has a copy,do get in touch. It’s a remarkable film.


  8. Clive says:

    Hello Gabriel, I have veiwed the video at WLHC and as you say it is on vhs cassette, its poor quality and needs digitising before it disappears into the noise. anyone that wants to view it will have to book a session as they have to get a vhs player and a tv out and set it up for you.
    Hope this is of use.

  9. gabriel says:

    Thanks for the replies, Clive and Bob. It would be a crying shame if a visual record like this were to disappear, given the technology available to us in the 21st century – one of the reasons why I supported the E&S bid for lottery funds to digitise their photo archive. It only costs around £15 to have a VHS cassette transferred to DVD to a professional quality (using broadcast industry standard machines, with time-base correction and image processing). I might get in touch with the WLHC and see if they would accept a donation to undertake this.

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  19. pete carroll says:

    Hi bob, great map, love seeing the old brownhills. I never knew we had a fire station! Many things on there is never knew about. But one thing intrigues me, I used to live in Park Close, off Narrow lane. What is the little building in-between narrow lanes and the memory. Any ideas?



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