Park up, take a pew…

Watling st school

Foundation laying for a new school building at Watling Street, Brownhills – but who are the dignitaries, and when was this? Image from the Walsall Observer, supplied by top bloke [Howmuch?]

First up – an apology to regular readers. Content has been a bit thin this weekend, as I’ve been taking it a but easy, sorting my bikes out, doing family stuff and generally attending to things occurring in the background. Normal service will resume later. Apologies if you’re waiting for something in particular. To be quite honest I’ve been knackered the last few weeks and a rest is what I’ve been needing. Feel free to prod me by email or on social media if there’s something you particularly want.

Anyway, on with the show…

Over the last few weeks, a newspaper clipping (included above), found in the Walsall Observer archive by [Howmuch?] has caused a whole heap of interest. Reporting the laying of a foundation stone for the ‘…new schools at Watling Street’, readers have debated where it might actually relate to, as it clearly wasn’t what we now think of as Watling Street School.

I did some map wonkery and thought it might be the new Sunday School at the Park View Methodist Church, further up the Watling Street, on the opposite corner to the Prince of Wales pub, which is now houses.

Since then, we explored some unexpected history of St. Thomas’s Mission Church nearby, had some great reader input, and managed to connect two lost friends!


David Evans has found this 1963 wedding photo taken at the side of the Park View Methodist Church. I think we can all agree that from the windows and brickwork detail, this is the same building, the New Sunday School in the Observer clipping would be on the far side of this building. David credits Brian for this wonderful image – but I’m not sure who Brian is. Please, if you’re passing, either David or Brian, please pipe up!

The young David Evans (who’s not been in the best of health lately I hear, get well soon old chap) has been beavering away and turned up the following two photos. One nails the issue of location perfectly, and I’m sure the other will spark memories.

David said:

Hi Bob

I was delighted to read Barry Aylett-Warner’s recent contribution regarding the Park View Methodist Church that once stood beside the Watling Street in Brownhills.

I hope to compose a more thorough article in due course, but in the meantime here’s a photo of the last building to be used as the church… I think this building is the one featured in your recent blog article, ‘Tell me on a Sunday’

The Walsall Local History Centre lists the minutes and records for this church in their archives. These are dated 1866 to 2001. (The accession record is 1132), whilst the records for Mount Pleasant Primitive church, which once stood further along the Watling Street, date from 1867 to 1965. The accession reference i3 318/49-52.

I would like to thank Keith Rothery, circuit archivist for the Cannock Chase Methodist Church for his help

kind regards


There’s a host of other material to come from David on this matter which I look forward to preparing when I have more time, but for now, just marvel at another local history puzzle solved by group co-operation…

You lot really are remarkable. Thanks to you all.


This is what was left of the Park View Methodist Church (or Chapel?) in it’s later years, again found by David Evans. David says Park View closed around 2001, and this was taken towards the end of it’s life. The old church in the picture was demolished in 1974, and the congregation moved into the ‘new’ Sunday School, which remained. I believe this image to have been donated by Keith Rothery, circuit archivist for the Cannock Chase Methodist Church. A very interesting image, I must have passed this hundreds of times, but can’t quite recall it – now the site is housing.

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15 Responses to Park up, take a pew…

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    The building behind the wedding group was the chapel. If the stone laying ceremony is at that site, it is on the other side of the chapel (which is the backdrop to that picture, too).
    The white building, last photo, was a new building on the site of the Sunday school.
    The groom in the wedding party is Brian Simpson. The lady about a quarter of the way in from left with a white handbag is Ethel Shingler, with her husband Fred behind her left arm – I believe he was the superintendent. There are a few other faces that seem familiar, but I’m sure others will have a clearer idea. I think Cllr Cassidy will recognise some of the people on the right!

    • Hi Andy

      Yes, that’s how I understand the physical layout – I noted it in the captions. Wonder what happened to the foundation stone?

      Cheers for the ID of the folk involved.

      I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember this building for days, to no avail. Like ‘Plumbers Paradise’, I just seem to have never really noticed it in any depth… which makes me wonder what else I’ve missed.


  2. Ade Reid says:

    Yes but can anybody shed any light on the church that was there before the chapel was built and also the factories that run along side Chapel Street right up to Whitehorse Road to the where there was a newsagents called “Dots”.I remember this because we used to play in the derelict factories inbetween 1970 and 73? when they were demolished to make way for the houses that now stand there.

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    Presumably, and going on the architecture, the chapel behind the wedding group was the original Victorian building? 1860s? Seems unlikely that there was anything there before that.
    I only recall one factory. Next to the Sunday school was a row of houses. I think next to that was a pair of semis immediately before the factory. The manager lived there with family, name of Pitt. The factory made wheelbarrows and closed in the summer of 1970. As I recall it both business and family upped sticks together.
    I think there was a warehouse between the White Horse and the backs of houses at the top end of Chapel Street. The front room of one of the houses had been converted to a “corner” shop. I only went in there a few times, preferring Ellis’s shop by the Prince.

    • Ade Reid says:

      Thanks Andy,that does seem to connect with my memories of Chapel Street(only being 7 years old in 1970)and definitely remembering the “corner shop”.Cant seem to remember the shop you refer to?Only one I can remember was the one which would have been the hairdressers shop and I think the chap that owned that was called Terry??And that would have still been going in 1974?When I used to walk down the “Black Path” to the Central boys school for my 1st year at big school.Having lived in Chapel Ave from 1968 onwards,are you a local lad from that forgotten area of Brownhills?If so I cant seem to put a face to your name???

      • Andy Dennis says:

        Hello Ade. I am indeed a local lad. Went to Watling Street JMI 1965-70, then Shire Oak, then to university, so our paths may not have crossed. An auntie lived in Chapel Street and we used to go there sometimes after school. Looks like you’re enough years younger that the shop may have gone by the time you remember – a lot of old houses were demolished around 1967-70 and auntie’s (No. 45) was among them. I’m fairly sure Ellis was still there in 1970, right next to the Prince at back of pavement, but must have gone soon after. There is still a hairdresser behind the Prince and there was another shop next to that (since converted to residential). I think next to Ellis was a hairdresser, so maybe the shops in Chapel St were to replace them?
        About the same time the old folks bungalows at Watling St / Castle St appeared, as did the parade of shops where the Coop is now.

        • Ade Reid says:

          Hi Andy,yeah must have just missed you.I was at Watling Street in 68 -73.Was Mr Preece the headmaster when you were there?I then went to the “Comp”in 73 -74.I knew most people from Whitehorse Rd to Howdles Lane and Chapel Street.Best years of my life spent around the old church in Chapel St and having crab apple fights in the warehouse that you describe.And spending days over the sandhills next to the canal and playing “army in the fuzzogs (next to the A5).Innocent days but happy days,left Brownhills in 91 after getting divorced and moved to Stafford for my sins.Parents live in Norton Canes so always have a ride around the old stomping ground when I go to see them.It just aint the same.Still happy memories and you don’t forget them.

          • Andy Dennis says:

            Ah, the fuzzogs! We used to play hostage. Just as likely to be playing cricket or footie in the park or on the cricket outfield. As you say, happy days.

            Btw, the wheelbarrow factory was Deeley’s.

        • Just reading your reply the little shop was owned and run by my grandma Phyllis Buckley for quit a few years she sold up before I left brownhills in 1969 so I would say mid 60’s don’t think it stayed as a shop after she sold and my uncle Jonah Deakin also had a shop on watling street that was later taken over by the Kendricks that was opposite deacons ave by the flats. It’s so good to read these threads takes me back to my early days Watling street school, brownhills central boys school and much more keep it coming.

        • Kevin Ellis says:

          Hi Andy – my mum says she closed the shop in late 1970 – we spent Xmas ’70 at a new house in Walsall. She says there wasn’t a hairdresser next door to the shop – she used to have her hair done at the one round the corner – us 3 brothers went to the barber’s round there, too. I recall the barber always had a plentiful supply of paper which he gave to children to draw on!

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  5. Richard Buckley says:

    I remember park view well from my early years living in Howdles Lane the picture you are showing is the church hall there used to be double doors were the park view sign is we used to use this for boys brigade and youth club in my youth!! I left Howdles lane in 1969 we lived at no 21 a bungalow that was attached to a cottage.

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  7. It may be a couple of years late but I have found a pamphlet and some press cuttings from the 1975/6 demolition and rebuilding.

    I have loaded them here —-

  8. dawn hendon says:

    My grandad owed Deeley’s the wheelbarrow factory, we lived at 21 chapel street, my dad built a lot of the houses in the street after the factory closed down

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