A treat for the choir and an ignominious extraction


Wow – an 1887 account balance sheet from St. Thomas’s Mission Church. Image supplied by Eryl and Lesley Powell of Watling Street School.

Continuing with the surprisingly rich seam that is the thread originating from the 1931 Watling Street School Walsall Observer article, I’ve had a couple of excellent reader contributions which I just have to share. Things are a bit topsy-turvy this weekend, for obvious reasons, but this may help to lighten things just a little bit.

First up, Andy Dennis was good to his word – as he always is – and transcribed the balance sheet found in the roof of Watling Street School and kindly supplied by Eryl and Lestley Powell. It’s a fine thing.

That’s a big cleaning bill. Wonder what constituted a treat for the choir?

St Thomas balance sheet

Andy Dennis does a top job at transcribing the found balance sheet from St. Thomas’s Mission Church, found by Eryl and Lesley Powell.

Meanwhile, a fantastic email from Barry Aylett-Warner. Barry has said some lovely things about the blog, but more importantly, has recounted his memories of life as a pupil of the Park View Sunday School.

I don’t mind admitting I laughed aloud at a couple of passages in this wonderful recollection. Barry, please, if you’d like to write anything about your life in Brownhills, your memories or anything else, you’d be most welcome. You really can write, old chap. Top stuff.

Barry wrote:

Hi Bob,

First time I’ve contacted you, but long-time admirer of what you and your regular contributors do.

This rich treasure trove is our heritage and should freely available to all who are interested. (Unlike my local history society who gather and hoard and charge for the privilege).

I’m contacting you for two reasons – firstly the article on the ‘Watling Street School’. I was a classmate of Martin Littler, both at Park View Sunday School and Watling Street Primary.

I agree with everything said about the disposition of the structure and as best my failing memory will allow, those windows on the west side of the chapel certainly look familiar.

The chapel was ‘run’ by the Shingler family (Fred and Ethel), who lived on Watling Street opposite (but prior to) the shopping centre. The title of ‘superintendent’ springs to mind.

The chapel was patronised on high days and holidays by the locally famous Jonah Deakin, who seemed to be related to most of the local ‘names’, including my ancestors the Marklews and the Bentleys.

I was forced to attend sessions twice each Sunday, with the morning service in-between, and remember it as a mainly dour experience, despite one of my cousins being a ‘teacher’.

The year’s highlights were the anniversary (of which Martin has a photo I think), which had a sort of American Pageant feel to it and the Harvest Festival – to which we seemed to contribute a significant quantity of our home grown produce.

There was an annual outing to places such as Drayton Manor Park or Alton Towers (before they became over-commercialised) and I remember the packed lunches well (fish-paste sandwiches!). One year a classmate who I won’t name, (still lives locally), had to be ignominiously extracted from a lily pond with the handle of the patriarch’s walking stick.

There was another Methodist Chapel near Castle Street, and, one day, I enquired why we walked (from Newtown) past this one to Park View.

Back came the answer ‘Because we’re better Methodists than them’. I didn’t go much after that.

The second reason is a request – could you pass my email address on to Martin. We’ve both changed providers and failed to let each other know – we can’t afford to let ten years pass at our age. [Done! – Bob]

One of my regrets is that callow youth places no importance on heritage, so I’ve not kept any memorabilia or photos of those precious days, but if any anecdotes or memories may be of interest…

Keep up the good work.

Barry (Aylett-Warner)

Thanks, Barry, what a splendid contribution – anything other readers have to offer is, of course, welcome too. Please comment here, or mail BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!

park view 2

Jack and Nancy Dennis get married around 1946, in a cracking image with the Park View Chapel in the background. Photo kindly supplied by Martin Littler.

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9 Responses to A treat for the choir and an ignominious extraction

  1. John Anslow says:

    Barry hasn’t lost his talent for writing. I recall that a piece of his, written for his form magazine when he was 13 or thereabouts, provoked the headmaster to apoplexy. “The Gaffer”, as the Head was known, resembled Adolf Hitler with National Health glasses, and his outburst was indeed reminiscent one of the dictator’s perorations.

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  8. Frank Dennis says:

    I lived on the A5 opposite where Deakin Avenue is now until the age of 6 and grew up in the Park View Community – and ran a youth club there for a few years until about 1965. My Mother and Father, Alan and Jessie Dennis were Members as were my Grandparents Sam and Harriet Dennis. One of the earlier organists was Walter Deakin, who moved to Woking and formed a very successful building business with Frank Buckley and also conducted the Epworth Choir which became quite famous in Surrey. Geoff Maddox took over as organist and then Barbara Shingler succeeded him (Fred and Ethels Daughter) We were married in Park View Church.
    When Jonah Deakin retired from conducting the Sunday School Anniversary I took over as Conductor for the next 16 (?) years although the Sunday School adjacent to the Chapel then became refurbished as a chapel and meeting place so that the Chapel could be sold.

    I also attended Watling Street Primary School from age 4-6. Interestingly you say Jenny Horton took over the Pub as Manager – Peggy Horton (any relation ??) used to come to Park View and lived with her parents almost next door to the Pub in Chapel Street.

    In those days most of our social life revolved around the Chapel — we had sit down suppers on New Years Eve and carried on a tradition started by our parents putting on games and reviews and entertainment on the Sunday School Stage before opening the front doors at 12 oclock to hear all the Pit Hooters for what seemed like miles around ushering in the New Year.

    Frank Dennis

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