More than just a grocer…


Headley’s Store, as featured in Bill Mayo and John Sale’s ‘Memories of old Walsall Wood’, image scanned and sent in by Susan Marie Ward. Click for a larger version.


With the wonderfully kind help of the readership, we’ve identified the mystery Headley shop featured in the recent photos supplied by Richard Starbuck, as being on Walsall Wood High Street, where the Midland Bank later had a small branch.

Susan Marie Ward, human dynamo and wonderful writer behind the remarkable Staffordshirebred, supplied the above excellent quality photo scan from Bill Mayo and John Sale’s book ‘Memories of old Walsall Wood’, showing the same shop.

I knew I’d seen it somewhere…

Susan is appealing for help with a challenge of her own. She asked:

It’s a hundred yards of shops with great interest to me….would love to find an image of my Great Grandfather Enoch Blann’s small retail enterprise. He was in Kelly’s directory as shopkeeper 1912, died 1913. The site of the shop was pointed out to my mom by her mother in law as just before the bridge on the left.

As I have mentioned in Staffordshirebred, he also sold fish and chips and ice cream, and there was a legacy of this into the next generation. My Granny Horton, his eldest daughter did similarly at Vigo in the 20s, and her sister Florrie had a fish and chip shop somewhere near the Rising Sun. Florrie married (Edwin) Tom Hodgkinson…..that name may be familiar to you, although, I have never met my second cousins.

One good turn definitely deserves another, and your help with this would be most welcome. Please, comment here or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

While we’re about it, Mike Stackhouse had a go at pulling the detail out of the photo sent in by Richard – he did much better than I managed… cheers, Mike.


Richard Starbuck says, ‘Joseph had 3 girls and 2 boys, from left to right – Harry, Mary, Nell and Annie. William was there eldest son and isn’t in the picture. From their dates of birth I think the picture is from around 1912.’. Image kindly supplied by Richard Starbuck. Click for a larger version.

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12 Responses to More than just a grocer…

  1. David Evans says:

    Good morning Bob, and Susan
    from Susans description we may have a photo already in this blog. The article, Walsall Wood; a short history by Margaret brice, which appeared here July 2012 shows the large c 1910photo.( this photo has appeared in various publications with various dates!). To the right in the photo you can see Whiteheahd’s chemists. Then we see the Wesley methodist Church..this is not the Ebenezer church.That one was by Oak Park and is shown in Bill Mayos book , in fact ….then a small shop with three people standing outside. This may have been the shop you are looking for.
    There is a much clearer print of this photo in Bill Mayo’s book, memories of Old Walsall Wood…centre fold spread
    To try to better date this photo I asked David Oakley about the tram. This double decker shown came in to service in 1906..
    In Margarets same book there is also a later photo of the HIgh Street, not showing the Wesley Church ..but here you can see the left hand side of the road.
    On the Walsall side of the canal bridge the houses have all gone..but, there is a set of steps leading down to the original Hall lane junction. There was a shop at this steep corner .
    So, from “just before the bridge on the left” reference we have two possible photos.
    Incidentally, the little shop and the three people ..This was known as the WhyNot fish and chip shop post WW2..
    Headleys shop is by the White House…already discussed in the blog some while ago. and one errand some of us recall is having to fetch” half a peck of corn for the fowl” from Headleys shop…. The cockerel was for Christmas dinner!

    kind regards


    • David Oakley. says:

      I remember the ‘little shop with three people’ referred to by David Evans and remember it opening as a fish and chip shop, just after the war. Up until then the premises had seem to be uninhabited for a number of years, with just bits of old junk visible through the windows, and a decrepit air of abandonment, although in the photo of 1906, it looked like a viable business. The original decaying shopfront was replaced by the new owners with quite a modern frontage. The shop was originally the “Wye Knot, as distinct from the similarly phonetic ‘Why not’ and the accent of the first owner betrayed that she came from that part of the country. Quality-wise, the fish and chips were okay, nothing more. Pressed further, I would say that “They wor a patch on wot yo used to get from Copes of Aldridge Road, Claytons of Brookland Road, Boden;s of Coppice Road, Beamand’s of Lichfield Road and Cornes of Linden Road”. Happy days ?? Happy eating !!.

  2. Dave Edwards says:

    I remember as a kid going down “the wood” to a similar shop, opposite the church, think it had a upstairs that sold fishing tackle? late 60’s-70’s

  3. I’m very grateful to David for sharing his memories and knowledge to help me pinpoint Enoch Blann’s haulage and food business in Walsall Wood. I am really looking forward to further investigations now, and promise to share the conclusions! What a fantastic forum for exploration this blog always provides!

  4. David Oakley. says:

    Thank you, Susan. Being a Vigo kid, I am eternally grateful to your Granny Horton for setting up the fish and chip shop in the 1920’s, less than 100 yards from where I lived. She apparently sold it to Mr, and Mrs. Stone, perhaps in the late ’20’s who passed it on to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor in the early ’30’s. Taylor’s kept the shop until the late ’30’s, then sold to Mr. and Mrs. Cope. Snr. who kept it throughout the war, before retiring and passing the shop on to Mr. and Mrs. Cope Jnr, who were still there into the ’50’s, all, praise be, keeping up the wonderful standard of tasty fish and chips, set by Granny Horton. When the Avion opened, programmes were displayed in a fixture on the gable end of the shop. This concession enabled the lucky occupier to two free tickets per week. Just imagine being born into that family !! free fish and chips for every meal and free admission to the pictures ! Pure bliss !

  5. Joe Headley says:

    I can’t go back further than the 50’s but I remember the fish and chip shop on Vigo corner very well, every Saturday I would walk from High St up to the Vigo to watch and wait the arrival of racing pigeons to the lofts of Nip (Harlod) Bates. We used to enjoy a bag of chips whilst assembled in Nip’s garden, now all built on of course. Prior to the development of Nip’s garden which was directly opposite the fish and chip shop but with Knight’s store in between, there also existed a bench where the local miners would congregate for a chin wag etc. Much good humoured banter of which life is now so short happened there.
    I remember too a shop just over the canal bridge on the right going towards Walsall which was known as Florries, it wasn’t a fish and chip shop but a sort of general store right on the corner of Hall Lane, not where Hall Lane is now but much nearer the bridge.
    There was a fish and chip shop lower down towards Walsall more or less opposite the Travellerer’s Rest which in those day’s was run by the Fenn family. I can see the lady who ran that shop in my mind’s eye but for the life of me I cannot remember her name, Gloria is the first name that springs to mind but a surname completely eludes me although Cashmore seems to ring a bell.
    If that is of any help I’ll be pleased.

    Joe Headley

    • David Oakley says:

      Thanks, Joe, for those Vigo memories. I lived opposite Nip Bates, (Sunday name, Harold). one of the many characters in the Wood, when every street or road boasted its own ‘peculiar personality’ of one sort or another. Nip never married, but lived with his mother, Jess, in the house of Bill Swain, later Councillor Swain. Nip just lived for his pigeons, a bonding which was scarcely justified, as the pigeons returning from a race, would often park on the rooftop, looking down nonchalantly as Nip rattled the tin containing pigeon corn, in an effort to get them down to record the race time in the pigeon clock,
      I remember the bench, and shared it so very often, absorbing the local culture and wisecracks, more like belonging to a ‘Vigo family’. Big, rough miners, many may have been, but the intelligence was manifest in the conversation and topics, and given a further choice between the pit and the brickyards, many would have held their own in a much higher commercial sphere. There was also a respect for young minds, and any profanities in their adult conversation would be speedily amended if youngsters were present. Great memories !

      • Joe Headley says:

        Hi David’
        I am guilty of not looking at this site often enough and have consequently missed two posts for which I apologise most profusely. That bench was a seat of learning and I thank my lucky stars that I grew up in Walsall Wood and all the rich culture that went with it. Two regular occupants of the bench were Lal Bird and his brother Eddie both pigeon men and both were the salt of the earth. I often think of both, after a lifetime spent in the pit both suffered from back disorders and pain associated with that. I remember as a boy laughing as they adopted all sorts of poses to try and ease the suffering but later in my own life I knew all too well that agony. I’m free from it now but often think of Eddie saying ” I hope you never know what its like” when really he ought to have kicked my backside!
        Mothers family lived in London and I remember going on the train, my sister too and coming home we got off the bus at the Vigo and my sister said “oh, smell the lovely “pity” air”. What silly but poignant things we remember.

    • Garfield weston says:

      Joe please get in touch log time no see,Garfield

      • Joe Headley says:

        Hi Garfield, sorry about the late response, I trust you will forgive me. I have so many happy memories of times spent at your home with your mom and dad, you and Dean.
        Please let me know how everyone is and how you are and where you are.
        Kindest regards

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