Anyone fancy some detective work?

1865 Application for Water Supply2

It starts clearly enough… image supplied by Chris Pattison.

South Staffordshire Water historian Chris Pattison continues to send me fascinating bits and bobs of local water-related history he finds in the company archives, and every one of them has been an absolute gem.

This one, however, has me flummoxed, because as many of you know, I’m terrible at reading old handwriting. So I’m hoping readers might be able to help…

Chris says of these scans:

Hi Bob

I don’t go into the archives specifically looking for items related to Brownhills, but invariably and I suppose unsuprisingly they do crop up.

This one is an application for water supplies to some premises in the district and interestingly one of the occupiers is named William Roberts. The document is undated but it’s sandwiched between one dated March 1865 and another dated May 1865, so that gives us a clue. I believe the term ‘memorial’ is an old fashioned alternative for memorandum. It would be interesting to see whether anyone can identify the location of the premises.

No doubt Dave Moore will make an announcement soon, but just to let you know Friends of Sandfields is now on a formal footing with a chairman (Dave), a secretary, and a treasurer (me) plus a signed constitution and a small cash deposit (from donations) to open a bank account.


So, what can you guys make of these, please? Comment here, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Thanks to Chris who has donated some wonderful material on South Staffordshire Waterworks and connected matters over the years: he really is most generous and I thank him profusely.

1865 Application for Water Supply

Struggling with this, can you help please? image kindly supplied by Chris Pattison. Click for a larger version.

1865 Application for Water Supply1

And this one… any help gratefully received. image kindly supplied by Chris Pattison. Click for a larger version.


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25 Responses to Anyone fancy some detective work?

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    To avoid duplication of effort I can do this. Most looks easy enough.
    At first sight it looks like the top end of the High Street, but I will check censuses to see how they are clustered (or spread).

    • Cheers Andy – what a star!

      • Andy Dennis says:

        I’ve done the first page, but I can’t make out the marginal note. Do you think it would be acceptable for me to submit this to Rootschat – an online family history community, which has a page for help with handwriting? (Some of the contributors are in the genius class.)

        I see “Wm Harrison”, but the rest has me beaten.

    • I think that would be fine. Go ahead. Cheers old chap!

  2. says:

    Here you go Mr Bob, we’ve had the team working feverishly on your request, this is what we have to date. Some is guesswork that you’ll probably be able to correct from your own knowledge.

    To the Secretary of the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company We the undersigned being owners and occupiers of House property in the High Street Brownhills. (We found the capital H in house interesting) Are very desirous of having a supply of water from the Company’s works and will commence using it as soon as soon as the company have completed the mains. Entreating your favourable consideration We are your obedient servants

    Then a list of owners and occupations and Rentals

    Mrs(?) Harrison Ale(?) house at 10/0/0. 60.-.- Mrs Harrison (Unreadable word) at 8/0/0 24-0-0 (Unreadable) Inn William Roberts (Ditto for rental or 11-0-0)All rentals from here seem to be ditto or 11 Post Office Geo(?) Thacker(?) Shop Grocer Henry Walker or Waller Shop Grocer (possibly crossed out or overwritten) John Burns Shoe Shop Robert Gibb or Gibbs (Blank) Ellen Holland (Blank) Will/William Griffith (Blank) John Griffith (Blank) John/Jane/James Swane(?) Bakers shop H Walker (Blank) Isaac Green (?) (Huge element of doubt on that one) Thomas Seedhouse T Seedhouse and Arblaster Thomas Cresswell Joseph Ball J** Bayley Samuel Arblaster 2 houses. 1 house, and ditto Humphrey Thompson, Samuel ******* and others will have it or 4 brothers/others will have it (huge guess again)Hope that helps, we’ll keep working Judy, Thomas and Tony Jakeman (Yes we were outside but we got distracted)

  3. Bob and Chris-
    Like Andy, I can do nothing with the margin note and the name below Harrison’s totally flummoxes me, but I think I may have made some headway with the rest. Can’t help with the location, I’m afraid, since I live some way away from Brownhills. (For what it is worth, I have fairly recently transcribed the surviving notebooks of the engineer James Brindley. It was a thoroughly enjoyable business and gave me some useful experience with old handwriting).

    Here we go, line for line:-

    To the Secretary of the South
    Staffordshire Waterworks Co
    We the undersigned being
    Owners and Occupiers of House
    Property in the High Street, Brownhills
    Are very desirous of having a
    Supply of water from the
    Company’s Works and will
    commence using it as soon as
    soon as the Company have completed
    the mains.
    Entreating your favourable
    We are
    Your obedient servants

    Owner Occupier Rental
    W.B.Harrison six houses at 10-0-0 60
    three houses at 8-0-0 24
    [? Heber Tan?] Willm Roberts “
    Post Office Geo Thacker “
    Shop Grocer Henry Walker “
    Shop Grocer John Dunn “
    Shoe Shop Robert Gibbs “
    Ellen Holland “
    Will Griffith “
    John Griffith
    Saml Swan “
    Baker’s Shop H.Walker
    —————————————————– “
    Thomas Seedhouse T.Seedhouse
    E.Arlbaster Thomas Cresswell
    Joseph Ball J.J.Bayley

  4. Andy Dennis says:

    Got this wrong. Probably Harrison, but Wm and not ale houses,

  5. Clive says:

    The property next to Willm Roberts is; Station Inn.

  6. Pedro says:

    William Roberts is probably the Station Inn, better known as the Station Hotel

    • Pedro says:

      Sorry Clive, had the page up previously! In fact William died at the Hotel. One of the few who did stay in the district!

    • Pedro says:

      William Roberts became the tenant at the Station Hotel in 1860, when it was owned by William Harrison. He later bought the Inn and died there in 1906.

  7. Pedro says:

    After posting the above, I wondered just when William Roberts actually bought the Station Hotel outright. Am I reading the note in the correct way in assuming that William Harrison owned the whole block, and the second column shows the occupiers?

    This could be quite revealing!

  8. Clive says:

    Hello Pedro. William Roberts was an intresting bloke, not only did he make a lot of money, he was very charitable man, he funded the Brownhills fire brigade and many local charities.
    Trust your keeping well,

  9. Pedro says:

    Sep 1876 Rushall Licensing Meeting…

    Magistrates present Messrs J Harrison and F James. The adjourned application of Wm Roberts, of Station Inn, Brownhills for a renewal of his licence was first considered. At the previous meeting the renewal was opposed by Superintendent Hill, on the grounds that the applicant had a large room in his house which was used for musical and other performances akin to theatrical performances. It was shown that no enlargement of the premises had taken place since last year. The licence was renewed.

    (Note that the magistrate J Harrison could well have been the elder brother of William Harrison!)

  10. Chris says:

    To the Secretary of the South Staffordshire Waterworks Cy.
    We the undersigned being Owners and Occupiers of House Property in the High Street, Brownhills
    Are very desirous of having a supply of water from the Comapny’s works, And will commence using it as soon as soon as the Company have completed the Mains
    Entreating your favourable consideration
    We are
    Your Obedient Servants

    WW Harrison six houses at 10/0/0 60
    Three houses at 8/0/0 24
    Station Inn William Roberts
    Post Office Geo. Jackson
    Shop Grocer Henry Wade
    Shop Grocer John Dance
    Shoe Shop Robert Gibbs
    Ellen Holland
    Will Griffith
    John Griffith
    Saml Swain
    Bakers Shop H Walker
    Isaiah Baird?
    Thomas Seedhouse T.Seedhouse
    E Arlbaster Thomas Cresswell
    Joseph Bale J T Bayley
    Samuel Arblaster 2 houses 1house 2/6
    1 do[ditto] 4/0
    Humphrey Thomson Saml Carlin

    + others will have it

    In the margin , not magnifying very well I think it says ‘These are Wm Harrison’s tenants as above’ I think these would apply to the six names starting Thomas Seedhouse ending JT Bayley.
    [I think that the succession of dittos in the rental column might either mean that they all copied each other, or might be implying that they are all £10, although I am not sure whether this had any electoral significance at this point]
    The point of it being to persuade the company that there would be profit in retailing the water, rather than just running it straight to Walsall or Bloxwich. I’m not sure where the water is coming from at this time.
    Humphrey Thompson is hard to read and I cheated by using the 1861 census. There are only 89 people called Humphrey living in Staffordshire. Humphrey Thompson is living in Harrison’s row, neighbours William Roberts, innkeeper and Henry Wade grocer.

    • Pedro says:

      1895 was the first meeting of the BUDC, where William Roberts was the Chairman and JT Bayley a member.

      • Pedro says:

        From the Lichfield Mercury on the death of William Roberts…

        ‘….and in 1860 he heard from an old inhabitant of Brownhills, Mr. Jospeh Marklew, that the Station Hotel was Vacant. Mr. Roberts immediately came over, and satisfactory arrangements being made with the late Mr. Harrison, of Aldershaw (Capt. W. B. Harrison’s father), he first became the tenant of the house and eventually bought it.”

  11. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    wow…! I wonder if Pedro’s note re the date of the first BUDC council meeting also gives the date of the photo of the council members; blog article ” Electoral deformity”, June 15.. and what I ahd been told about it.
    kind regards

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  13. Pedro says:

    Looking on the 1861 Census Harrison’s Row may comprise of numbers 186-197 over four sheets. These do not include the six names at the bottom except perhaps JT Bayley.

    At the top of the memorial it says that Harrison had six houses at £10 and three at £8. These could be on the first and second sheets, and may have been carried forward. As Harrison owned the Station Inn in 1860, he could well have owned the situation of the Post Office and Grocer’s shop etc

    As this was 1861 it may be most of Brownhills. Maybe a Harrison stranglehold!

    180. William Holden
    181. William Moore
    182. John Cox
    183. Charles Dunn
    184. Joseph ??
    185. Joseph Langley
    186. Thomas Colley…………..Harrison’s Row
    187. Charles ??
    188. John Griffiths
    189. Thomas Poxon……Harrison’s Row
    190. George Thacker….Post Office…(agent for Wolver BS)
    191. William Roberts….Station Inn (known to be owned by Harrison in 1860)
    192. Humphrey Thomson…(pattern maker)
    193. Henry Wade….(grocer)
    194. Samuel Carlin…..Harrison’s Row
    195 Abraham Chadwick
    196. Edward Evans
    197. Joseph T Bayley
    ……….End of District……

    Possibile candidates for the other names…

    Thomas Seedhouse
    J Seedhouse
    E Arblaster……Walsall Wood (farmer of 110 acres)
    Thomas Cresswell…..Church Street, Ogley Hay (also Walsall Wood)
    Joseph Bale
    JT Bayley…..Councilor

    Samuel Arblaster….at 175, a gentleman,Walsall Wood. Being at or next to the Primitive Bethel Methodist, Catshill.
    Humphrey Thomson (as above)
    Samuel Carlin…..(as above)

    [Robert Gibbs was at 179 and down as shoemaker, but not head of household. 179 is marked as Catshill

    William Griffiths was probably the son of John Griffiths and both signed. ]

  14. Pedro says:

    The Isaiah is probably Craddock.

  15. Pedro says:

    Thomas Seedhouse and Samuel Arblaster are entered as shopkeepers in White’s Directory of 1851. There is no mention of the Station Inn, could it have been purpose built by Harrison along with Harrison’s Row?

  16. Pedro says:

    Further info for Brownhills in 1860 from trade Directory


    Arblaster Edward, farmer
    Arblaster Henry, beer retailer
    Arblaster Samuel, Jolly Collier
    Batts Thomas, Lamb
    Bayley Thomas, chemist
    Bickley Samuel, beer retailer
    Birch John S, mine agent
    Carlin Mary Ann, shopkeeper
    Conduit Colliery Company, coal owners
    Dumbleton William, farmer
    Evans Edward, shoemaker
    Gregory Charles, farmer
    Hanbury William, Colliery owner
    Harrison William, Colliery owner, Cathedral Colliery
    Hartshorn William, beer retailer
    Owen John, grocer
    Poxon Joseph, Swan
    Roberts William, Station Inn
    Seedhouse Edward, mine agent
    Stackhouse Elijah, Hussey Arms
    Stanton George, shopkeeper

    Thacker George, furnishing ironmonger and manure agent, and agent to Wolverhampton Permanent BS, and Birmingham fire office.

    Webb Mathew, colliery agent
    Yates Thomas, Sun

    Post Office, George Thacker, receiver. letters arrive from Walsall at 8.40 am and dispatched at 5.40 pm. Money orders are granted and paid at this office.

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