I always love being able to publish old local photos that have never been shared publicly before, and I have recently received three cracking scans donated to the Brownhills Blog by local Councillor Barbara Cassidy, as well as an additionally interesting historical item which I’ll detail in a future post.
Some weeks ago, Barbara commented on the blog that she had some images she’d like to share if we were interested. I was of course delighted, and David Evans kindly offered assistance. I am indebted to both.
Last week, Barbara put aside time from her busy schedule to meet with David, who wrote:
I am delighted to be able to offer these three fascinating photos of events from the community of Watling Street Brownhills in years gone by.
I wonder if readers can please help Mrs Barbara Cassidy who has very kindly donated these images, to identify the people in the photos, and I extend my personal thanks to her.
I think readers will agree, these images are very evocative, and could well be the key to unlocking some new local history threads, or expanding upon old ones. Many folk of a certain age will remember both Mrs. Craddock and Mr. Preece, and I’m sure several readers may well be pictured in the surrounding assembly of children.
Mrs. Craddock may well be recalled with fondness by Walsall Wood folk too, as she lived in Lichfield Road, Shire Oak, for many years.
The group photo on Howdles Lane is also somewhat remarkable, not just for the people, but for the buildings in the background. David Evans explains that it’s thought to have been taken behind, or near to Doody’s Club. Does that ring any bells?
Barbara Cassidy had this to say about her family history in the Howdles Lane area:
My mum was brought up in Howdles Lane from the age of 3 years old and was a life-long friend of Andy Dennis’ mum.
I have photos of my family in Howdles Lane when it was just a dirt track in the ’50s and, although the surroundings look poor, everyone is very glam in their Sunday best. There was a real sense of community in that area then.
My grandfather, John William Farmer, was a very popular soul (1888 – 1961) and he had a close friend (Frank Howdle) as I recall who’d sit in the front garden and chat to passers-by in decent weather.
My uncle David Smith lived in a semi where the bungalow (around no.23) now sits. I was born in a house on the corner of Howdles Lane and Watling Street which was demolished around 1966 to make way for the row of shops which now exist and remember tales of my mum and her friends and neighbours hanging their washing out on the lines on the common near to the pub on the other side of the A5 which was The Anglesey Arms.
There was a row of shops which faced the A5 where the bungalows are now. The chippy was ‘Ginny’s’ and a lovely lady, Mrs. Kendrick and her son, Roy, ran the grocery store.
The club, always known to me as ‘Doody’s’ was also there and was run by Mrs Doody who, I am told, ran a tight ship – a bit like Mrs Walker in The Rover’s Return. The Anglesey Road/ Chapel Ave/Street/Hanbury estate was built in the late 1950s. I understand it was all pig farms and the farmer was paid ‘a pound a plot’.
The final image is possibly the most stunning. A wartime photo of the Park View Methodist Church Sunday School anniversary in 1941, it shows a time capsule of that period with remarkable clarity. There are some wonderful faces there, and I sure many can be identified; it’s believed the father of blog contributor Andy Dennis is present on this one.
I would like to thank Barbara for a really excellent contribution, and invite readers to help with any details you may know; people, obviously, but also and details of the events or locations. This really is the stuff that makes local history such fun, and it’s wonderful of Barbara to share such rare and fascinating photos.
Please comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.