The young David Evans is a man of some resource. From an unknown Walsall Observer clipping with very little information found by [Howmuch?], we have expanded with the help of readers and contributors a history of the Park View Methodist Chapel and it’s attendant community, a story to which I have still much material unpublished and waiting to add.
David has expanded on this recently, by talking to his extensive contacts and visiting Walsall Local History Centre. He’s prepared this superb article, which I know you’ll love.
From the very basic beginning of this historical thread, the subject has expanded massively. This is why we do this, and I thank not just David, but all of the reader help help and contributions.
A good question to ask here is does anyone know the rest of the opening poem?
Comment, correction and catcalls welcome in the comments, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!
‘The wind blew up the Watling Street,
The sun shone on the Crown,
The Monkey climbed the Pear Tree
And the White Horse kicked him down’
The north of this place, from Brownhills West to Newtown. A community of surprises and hidden treasures. To the eastern end of this short stretch of the Watling Street a large hoard of buried Saxon treasure was recently unearthed, treasure that was hidden and forgotten hundreds of years before the Normans arrived, and before the present Shires were established. Perhaps we may learn the full story that lies behind this large cache of gold one day.
The Knaves Castle, sadly grubbed out many years ago, stood beside the Roman Road, and here, too, perhaps one day we may learn the full story behind this round earth embankment.
To the western end of this settlement of present-day Brownhills West the Roman Road takes a gentle turn to head north-west and regain a more logical straight line. But this seeming diversion does raise questions.
In more recent times a canal was constructed, a nearby shallow valley was dammed to create a reservoir for the canal system, and several railway lines were built. Brownhills West had its own railway station, there were bell-pits dug in the common across the Watling Street, the common saw extensive deep coal mines to the north, west and south of the community from the mid 1800s.
I wanted to learn what remains of the coal mining community. Fortunately there were four churches and chapels along the Watling Street. Perhaps some records had been put into archives?
Can we learn something of the community from any of their records?
Park View Wesleyan Methodist Church stood by the Watling Street on the corner of Chapel Street. This is the indenture for the purchase of the land to build their chapel, in 1866.
This later indenture shows the siting of the chapel:
In 1930-1 a Sunday School building was constructed by the side of the chapel. This is the architect’s drawing, dated April 1930.
Each Wesleyan and Primitive Church community had its group of members called Trustees who were legally responsible for paying off any debt the church incurred, and repaying any loan or mortgage. This was a heavy personal commitment that such trustees made in those early days. These trusts were renewed when necessary, when members died, when new loans were undertaken etc
This is one of the trust documents for Park View Wesleyan Methodist Church:
Further along the Watling Street, and near to The Fault, almost opposite the site of the lost Knaves Castle, there was another chapel, Mount Pleasant Primitive Methodist Church, which stood there from 1867 to 1965. An amazing document from this church survives; the baptism book which was used during the entire life of the chapel.
This, more than any other surviving document, gives a graphic and accurate picture of the employment of the local parents – ’miner’ in almost every case.
This chapel’s surviving minutes show that a ‘Sunday School’ extension to the rear of the church was built in 1925, at a cost of £290, that various new trusts were made over the years, that the church building started to suffer from dry rot in 1958. In 1965 with the imminent road-widening scheme for the Watling Street uppermost in their minds, perhaps, the trustees unanimously agreed to close their ‘redundant chapel’, at their meeting on 2 November 1965.
In 1967 the land and the building were bought by Aldridge Brownhills Council who paid £950.
David Evans June 2014