The wonderfully generous Ruth Penrhyn-Lowe has again been in touch with some fascinating Aldridge imagery for readers to pore over; these four photos are really, really extraordinary and I’m hoping you lot can expand on the wonderful descriptions, maybe put some names to the young faces and generally expand the knowledge as you never fail to do.
Ruth has previously sent scans of some remarkable local postcards of Brownhills, and another large set of Aldridge, all beautifully scanned and explained. Contributions like this make compiling this blog such a fun thing to do, and I can’t thank Ruth enough.
I know it’s Aldridge, but hey, we have plenty of soft southern readers down in there, and I know lots of you are interested in Aldridge history too.
Ruth had this to say:
Firstly – Thank you so much for you blog – it makes this displaced Midlands lady very homesick! I remember hours of walking across Cannock Chase with our dog, cold evenings enjoying the lights at Walsall Arboretum and so much more, all memories triggered by the wonderful articles you feature.
Secondly – sorry I know these are photos that stray over your borders as they are Aldridge but I hope that they are of interest to some of your followers – and if anyone can name any other team or class mates that would be amazing! Also sorry for the long description of the brickworks photo – I have edited some of Dad’s more personal memories, please feel free to cut again if it then fits better with your blog.
Leighswood Brickworks: From front to back – open scrubland then Beddows clayhole, then brickworks. First chimney stack from left Joberns Brickworks. To the right row of fence posts would have been the boundary of Woods Cottage, the level crossing keepers home which became derelict after the line closed in 1930s and was gradually demolished during the war by people scavenging for wood for fires and any other useable materials.
The line of fence posts and telegraph poles going from left to right was the line of the railway between Aldridge and Shefield.
In the cluster of buildings surrounding the fourth major chimney stool the “Aldridge Bricks and Coal” offices also within this cluster stood the older two storey house of Harry Bounds.
The kilns were surrounded by outer screens during the war to prevent any glow seeping out for enemy planes to see.
Amongst other memories this photo triggered (my Dad thought was probably taken late 40’s, possible even early 50’s) was the abundance of wildlife supported on this scrubland – skylarks, lizards, rabbits and the occasional slow worm. Many of Dad’s relatives worked at Joberns and I have a glass paper weight my paternal grandma won, I believe in a chapel poetry writing competition, which is apparently made from an old milk bottle melted into a greenish splat in one of the kilns!
Dad also recalled his granddad showing him how to crack open iron-stone rugby ball shaped lumps which could be found here – together they sometimes drank the rusty coloured ironstone water contained within… health and safety Dad!
Sorry this is so bitty, but Dad’s hand written description of this one photo (the original was destroyed I’m afraid so all I have is this scan but it was taken originally by Dad) covers two A4 sides and is quite difficult to get my head around, but I hope these few notes make sense.
The other photos, which are all scans from originals I do have are:
The Canal Basin Leighswood with remains of railway support. Canal boats were loaded with coal from Leighswood Colliery” – Dad thought this image was contemporary to the brickworks photo
The football team, the ball reads ‘Tigers 1923-4’ I believe my Granddad George Shaw is the goalie with the flat cap, my Dad thought there was another Shaw (possible Jack), a Baker and a Sly (he thought it might be Len Sly 4th from left on the bottom row)
The class photo is of Aldridge School Class III 1921. My Granddad George Shaw is at the extreme right of the back row. The teacher is possibly Percy Stephens and the only other name my Dad thought he remembered was ‘Leggy’ Hawkins, 4th from the right on the second row down.
I do hope these are of some interest. I can’t help thinking that it might be best, at some time, to arrange a visit up to the Midlands so that you can see what there is in this collection, because while it is all treasure to me, some of it is more than likely stuff you have already seen or will be just too personal or outside your patch to be of interest and I don’t want to drive you bonkers with a drip-drip of emails or inundate you with floods of unusable stuff!
And can I just finish by saying PLEASE keep your blog going, it isn’t just a resource for locals it is a wonderful and fascinating place for all those of us ‘far from home’! Thank you!!
Very best wishes
Ruth – thanks so much for your continued, lovely contributions. I’m really grateful for your generosity. Feel free to bombard me with scans – I don’t mind and haven’t rejected one yet! It’s all interesting, and in my experience, people find fascination in images that are very often mundane to the uninitiated, so please do feel free to continue!
And readers – you know what to do. Please feel free to comment here, or mail me at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.
Observations welcome, and handwriting expertise would be welcome, just like last time, please.
Comment here or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!
I love the old photos from wherever, it’s all history and it’s all on our doorstep. It brings back memories to me too as my friend and I used to canoe on that canal at Leighswood some 50+ years ago and even got pulled over by the water bailiff and was fined for not having a license. Swimming over at the Atlas, it all brings back such happy memories of long hot summers spent over the “batters” doing no harm to anyone or anything, just “chilling” as they call it with our mates … Wonderful happy times, evoking memories of yore by just one or two photos. Long may you reign Bob….
I echo Ruth’s comments…and thank her for these wonderful images. The class III is interesting.. large classes in those days..or were pupils grouped in to Standards? ( like Key Stages nowadays, perhaps) It seems some of the pupils are younger than others. I wonder how many of these pupils had lost their fathers in the Great War.
Ruth, a huge thankyou…..and to Bob for this super presentation, my thanks, too.
Lovely photos Ruth. Thank you.
I’ve got the deeds to my home in Leighswood Avenue, built by the Aldridge, Brick, “Tile” and Coal Company in 1936. The basin I believe would be just before the Canal Bridge on the right, heading out of Aldridge along Leighswood Road. From memory, the Cottage that is on the right before the bridge is called something like Wharf Cottage.
Yes, you’re right about the cottage at least.
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lovely photos,the school one is interesting as my uncles went to school there,still trying to work out dates/ages though !! .Could the picture of the canal be where the Aldridge marina is??.Love this site,thanks Bob.
i am investigating the Harrison family tree and I was wondering if there is a chance you are Lillian harrison(Taylor) daughter.
As this post mentions the brickworks, some might be interested in the pictures in this post of mine which show the area in 1975.
Love the picture of the canal basin with the remains of what is thought to be the railway support. The last bastion of a bygone era.
Could this be near…1938…Right hand side at the top and zoom
and many thanks to Ruth1
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Thank you Ruth! The wildlife comments ring bells with me because I think my father spent his childhood foraging in Aldridge. He was a hungry lad. The best mushroom field was apparently where McKecknies just about still stands.
The canal basin was located the ash mound side of leighswood road bridge where wharf cottage stood,a mrs gardner lived there, it ran alongside the brickyard to shelfield railway there was a brick bridge about 20yds from the railway bridge on the walsall wood side the railway bridge had many of the planks missing and was an adventure playground to us kids.The canal basin was a very good fishing spot.You could follow a path from the end of the basin through the ash mounds and an old mine building to stubbers green road.
That’s exactly how I remember it,
sorry forgot to thank Ruth for bringing back wonderful memories
After a few emails backward and forward with old friends in england , they seem to think that the brick bridge I mentioned near the canal basin was called barnfield bridge we always call it the donkey bridge.It was our access to the atlas pool on the barnet and beddows side of the canal.looking at the photo that ruth supplied the steel and wood rail bridge was to the right of the basin and the brick bridge was about 20 yds further to the right. hope this pinpoints where the basin actually was.