A few weeks ago, the young David Evans started exploring the history of Walsall Wood Cricket Club here on the Brownhills Blog, following some great contributions by Julie Le-Moine. Steadily, we’re building up a good record of the lost cricket club, which stood where Boundary Close is now, behind St. John’s Church and the Library (then, the Co-op).
In the course of his research, David has turned up some photos and news clippings which allow an insight in the clubs progress over the years, and hopefully may jog a few memories.
David had this to say:
Here’s a couple of news clippings and some photographs which have been kindly donated for use on the blog by the Crutchley family of Walsall Wood.
I would like to extend my personal thanks and gratitude to the Crutchley family, especially to Linda, Cynthia and Alan who have welcomed me in to their home and have generously offered this wonderful insight in to the history of the Walsall Wood Cricket Club.
I understand that the club closed in the 1990s . The sweet sound of leather on willow became a distant but glorious and abiding memory for all those who had enjoyed watching and playing spectating a quintessential English game.
I echo David’s gratitude, of course, and also thank him for his hard work. We’re interested to see if any of the people here can be identified, and what memories people have of the club – lots of people seem to remember Walsall Wood Football Club – not so many the Cricket.
Likewise, sporting memories of Brownhills clubs and teams also welcome – Brownhills Town FC and Brownhills Cricket Club have barely had a mention here in five years. Let’s see if we can correct that.
Please comment on this post, or mail me at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.
Cricket booming at Walsall Wood, 1947
Purchase Of Ground Is Club’s Biggest Venture
Walsall Wood cricket club could become one of the leading clubs in the district, Mr. Frank Beasley told 50 members at the annual supper on Thursday last. The decision to purchase the club’s ground was, he said, the biggest venture the members had ever undetaken, and in appealing to Walsall Wood people for their full support, he added, ‘We want them not only as members, but also to come to sit in the pavillion and watch the game.’ A cricket club was as much a part of village life as the church [or] the women’s institute. The Walsall Wood club now had the best fixture list in its history, and it was up to Walsall Wood people to give the club the support it needed.
Councillor J. D. Holland said the village would be ‘a very naked place’ without the cricket club. The decision to buy the pitch was a step in the right direction, and there were outside bodies who were willing to give financial help once the club had proved to their satisfaction that it had a good case.
The Brownhills Council might sometimes appear to resemble a sports ground, even if the members did not always ‘play cricket.’ The Council was, however, always glad to do everything possible to encourage sport in the district, and the help which had been given to clubs in Norton Canes and Shelfield could be extended to the Walsall Wood club if it were required.
It is understood that an appeal for funds to buy the ground has realised more than £70 since it was opened in November. The total cost of the ground and pavillion is about £350.
Walsall Wood cricket club’s new pavilion
Tonight (Friday) sees the opening of Walsall Wood Cricket Club’s new pavilion with a get-together of present and former players in what the club are earnestly hoping will open up a new era for the club. For so long one of the unfashionable clubs in the area, the crunch came towards the end of last season when it became painfully obvious that their restricted shed of a changing room would not survive another winter. But, if the club lacked amenities, they did not lack spirit or endeavour, and a committee, called the pavilion project committee, under the chairmanship of the former skipper and now second team skipper, Alan Collins, was formed.
Grants were obtained from the Ministry for the Environment, the Lords Taverners, the national Playing Fields Association. More help for the bar was obtained from Watney Mann and the club’s own building fund swung into action.
But what money the club obtained it was obvious it would fall short of the target unless voluntary help was obtained. This is where the spirit of the club began to really emerge and wherever possible, members got time off from work with one or another appearing at odd times to give what assistance they could.
Weekends of course were the really big working occasion, with even the club president Len Bailey lending a hand with the most menial of tasks.
Even this might have been of little help if Alan Collins, together with the professional help of Charlie Shakespeare had not shown some acute business sense coupled with selective purchasing.
Gradually the pavilion took place, and tonight will see the culmination of their efforts, which has resulted in a building , which has cost the club only £6000 but which has already been valued at £11,000.
Although highly proud of the club’s efforts, Alan Collins was quick to give credit to all those who had put in so much effort on the club’s behalf and to erect this, a symbol of the Walsall Wood cricket to come.
From what I can make out behind the two chaps top left was the Coppice Road Club where Bridgewater Close road runs down now,
My grateful thanks to David Evans and the Crutchley family for providing this ‘blast from the past’, in the form of the 1957 photo of the Walsall Wood Cricket team. In the front row, second from the left is Dennis Baggot, to the right of him is the evergreen Jack Harrop. Perhaps the most important member of the squad comes next – tea lady Mrs. Lashford, while on the same row, extreme right. is a young looking Alan Collins, who played such an important part in later years, in the subsequent purchase and development of the ground. Behind Mrs. Lashford, the chap in the sweater looks like Mr. Lashford, (I forget his first name) who often opened the innings for the Wood, but could also ‘turn his arm over’ when required.
If one looks closely at Dennis’s left hand, you will see some fingers missing. This was due to a brickyard accident, in which presses and cutting wires took quite a toll of hand digits in those days. I knew at least three instances in our little neighbourhood, Health and Safety measures were not so clearly defined and enforced then, as they are today.
It would be great to try and establish more about the Coppice Road Club as it came up in discussion recently during a post about Bullings Heath and Pepper (Pot) Alley etc, there was an old inclosure map that showed a number of clubs one of which was on Coppice Road and called “Aldridge Club”. Was The Aldridge Club a forerunner of the Coppice Road Club? Looking at the Inclosure map it would appear to be where Bridgewater Close might be today?
Thanks for the photographs there fascinating
My personal theory is that the Aldridge Club was a bit lower down, a bit closer to the junction with Camden Street. In the 70s, there was an off licence there, does anyone remember that building?
Yes, this building stood well back from the road, and in the 1930’s/1940’s was well screened by trees. My mother’s family, (The Corfield’s) lived directly opposite and my mom’s first job in 1914 was as a young domestic servant to the family. She recalled her first job ‘in service’, as scrubbing the steps.
bottom right on the team photo is my uncle Alan Collins , guessing he would be in his late twenties early thirties
Hillary I can assure you the club was where Bridgewater Close turning is today.and there was a shop further down the road on the opposite side of the road, a white building which still stands today as a dwelling.Not sure about the it being a off licence thou.
Sorry for the mis-understanding, I was referring to the Aldridge Club mentioned in Woodlandway’s comment, not the Coppice Road Club, that was indeed where Bridgwater Close is today. (I have e-mailed a copy of the relevant map section to Bob.) From David’s description, I think he has the right building…it sat behind some huge conker trees.
Having left Walsall Wood more than fifty years ago, I had to resort to Google Earth to get my current bearings. The off-licence would be situated in the vicinity near to Wyre Close, while the Coppice Road Club would be as stated, I was a member and regular user of this grand little club for a number of years. Regarding the shop further down. but on the other side of the road, this belonged to Reeves’s in the 1930’s/1940, but was later taken on by Connie Hilditch, shortened familiarly to ‘Connies’. In the light of a difficult period for small shops, due to ‘self service’ and the advent of supermarkets, the shop became one of the increasing ‘Open all hours’ type, a boon to forgetful householders when other shops were closed.. I remember when there were four shops in Coppice Road, not counting Howard Craddock’s who was an wholesale grocer, now alas, gone, all gone !
Many thanks for your excellent presentation and for all your work in collating the notes. I share your hope that the history of other local cricket clubs will emerge in due course…perhaps readers can help…..
a big thank you to Lynda and Cynthia… most of the cricket team names;-
front row from the left; Glynn Holloway, Dennis Baggot, Jack Arrap, Mrs Lashford, Leter Lashford, Allen Collins
back row, from the left; Wilf Vann, George Crutchley,Ralph Lashford……..
again, a big thankyou to Lynda and Cynthia Crutchle for these names..the photo of the gentlemen, one gentle man standing in the background…
third from the left is Mark Cresswell with Wilf Vann to his left
Seated at the far end of the table is Billy Bunn and George Crutchely is seated from the right
Also on Mark Cresswells right are his brothers in law Tom and Harry Barratt.Harry wearing glasses. Picture was taken in the 60’s. At an old players reunion. I am Marks son Robert and played for the Wood for a number of years and captained the 2nd. XI
and the first cricket pavillion? Dennis Blakemore ( Jockey Joe’s son) described it a being wood, two rooms,sliding glass doors) and situated behind the Horse and Jockey. This implies that it was probably shared by footballers and cricketers.
At last a likely image of this has been found…on display in Walsall Wood Football Club’s smart newly-refurbished clubhouse..with a 1912/13 season Walsall Wood YMF team .
And what happened to the pavillion?
“When the cricket club moved to the field behind the church( c 1947 ) it was dismantled and taken there!
A lorry from the brickworks helped the men to transport and reassemble it. The men worked to level the rough ground to make a good cricket field”.
source;- Graham Cresswell, who I thank for this piece of the club’s oral history.
I wonder who the other helpers were?