Today, thanks to the eagle eye of reader, fellow local blogger and freind of the blog @thestymaster, plus the dedication and guile of a couple of regular blog readers and contributors, we have managed to catch the last days of a local, doomed landmark: St. John’s School, in Walsall Wood.
Yesterday morning, at 9:40am, @TheStymaster tweeted the following:
Looks like St John's School is coming down (@BrownhillsBob)— Chris Bartram (@thestymaster) March 4, 2014
At this time, I was well out of the area at work. But I sent out the call via social media and a hasty blog post, and several readers answered the call. Notable in particular were the young David Evans, and reader Peter.
David really played a blinder. He had this to say:
I managed to chat to the demolition workers and get some pictures.
Bricks will be reused as will tiles, the buildings are being professionally dismantled rather than merely demolished.
I hope to go in to the building next week, at the invitation of the Site Manager, all kitted up etc. to follow the dismantling process.
The Site Manager has kindly offered to look out for stamped bricks – he was certainly a very decent chap!
David certainly seems to have worked his charm to get the access he did! Remarkable stuff. Peter was also impressed with the guys doing the work:
It seems as though things have just started in the last day or so, only had a mobile phone but the pictures seem to have come out okay!
Spoke to a couple of the chaps working there, they seemed quite relaxed about photos etc, one even wanted to know if he could do his hair first…
Anyway heres a selection of photos
Peter, Roving reporter from the Peoples Republic of Walsall Wood (PRWW)
Thanks to both chaps for the dedication and readiness to drop everything and help blog readers learn more about what’s going on on their doorstep. This building has been an eyesore for years, and it’s good to see progress finally being made in its redevelopment.
For those interested, I wrote an article recently about the planning history of the site, and David transcribed the log books of the school over several wonderful articles. British History Online has this to say about the history of the building:
St Johns school building,Walsall Wood from 1859 to 2014
In 1859 a larger school with a teacher’s house was opened in Lichfield Road on a site given by Lord Bradford. The old school and teacher’s house were sold and the money applied to the new buildings. (fn. 61) An infants’ school was added in 1882. (fn. 62) In 1885 men from the village who attended Sunday morning classes in reading and writing at the schools built a new classroom for the 1859 schoolhouse and altered and added to the infants’ school. (fn. 63) The mixed school was again enlarged in 1898. (fn. 64) The schools were reorganized into junior and infants’ schools in 1932 and were merged into a single school in 1974.
Thanks to everyone who helped, and here’s to watching the demolition (sorry, dismantling) – and hopefully to great newbuild replacing it.
This is a great piece of local history. My sister in law, Ann Martin that was lived at the school. Her mom was caretaker for some time. Im sure she will be interested in this article. Well done to all for the potential being uncovered.
Dave (Eddy) Edwards
My great aunt “Miss Powell” was headmistress of this school in the 1950’s/1960’s. I am sure a lot of your readers will remember her. I remember visiting the school with my great aunt for a christmas party around 1964/1965. So sad that our historical buildings are left to rot.
I was at that party. It was the end of my 1st term at school and I believe later in 1965 we had another for Miss Powells retirement. By then she was the teacher of the 5 year olds and that lovely lady taught me to read. At that time the Headmistress was a lady called Miss Prentice.
I too remember Miss Powell as a teacher of the 5 year olds and Miss Prentice as head teacher, Her sister, Mrs Hitchin(?), taught in the juniors and her niece Margaret was at school the same time as me,
I remember Mr Millgate such happy memories
My sincere thanks to David Evans and to ‘Peter’ for these initial pictures of the early work on the old school. I well remember the old arched doorways on the interior shots , and can still remember the location of the various classrooms and was delighted the discover the building was to be dismantled, rather than demolished, so much of the fabric may remain, but in another form.
What a debt of gratitude we owe to David Evans. In his own inimitable way, by his courteous and interested approach in everything appertaining to local history, he manages to evoke such a ready response and co-operation from so many valuable and primary sources, aided and abetted, of course by Brownhills Bob and the blog team. I feel so fortunate, sitting up in the ‘pound seats’ of the blog and having all this history unfolding before me, although living many miles away from my original Vigo home.
In reply to Jane Booth, ‘Miss Powell’ was my first ever teacher in 1936, teaching the five-year -olds in the infants school. I was pleased to see that she made such a senior position, some years later. If my old memory is correct, she had a sister, Mrs Hitchen, who also served for some years at the Junior School, both sisters living next-door to each other in the High Street.
Taking another look at the old school , I was quite puzzled to see a classroom missing.
The classroom was to the right of the building, adjoining, but slightly behind the main building, extending across to a point about three feet away from the boundary wall, leaving a three-foot ‘pass’ connecting the two playgrounds. Mr. Giles taught in this classroom in the late ’30’s.
Looking at David Evans’s photos of the rear of the school, photo No.2 and an even better close-up in photo No.8, it is possible to see masonry traces of an earlier building affixed to the main building, and reading the buildings history from 1859, men from the village built ‘a new classroom’ for the 1959 schoolhouse, and the ‘mixed school was again enlarged in 1898. My point is, does anyone else remember this classroom, which was still in use in the war years, and was it condemned, or something, during the life of the school or after its closure.
Yes, I do. I went into that “missing” classroom in September 1967. it was used for the 1st year Junior pupils and the teacher was a Miss Fox.
to David…just spotted your comment..the fiver is on its way..when the ink has dried, that is
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Sorry, we never found out for sure.
There are other pubs (in better condition) for sale locally – The Chase is till up for sale I think and the Royal Oak has just come on the market.
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