A temperamental old lady


Ralph Ferrie in his lorry ‘Bessie’ at the Walsall Show in 1966. A truly remarkable image generously donated by Tony Winn.

When I playfully prodded Tony Winn earlier in the week to see if as one of the most knowledgable contributors on the subject of Ralph Ferrie, he might have information on one of the entrepreneur’s old trucks, I never expected to strike gold. But by goodness, I did.

After posting the picture found by local history wonk [Howmuch?] of a young lad pulling on the starting handle, I never thought the vintage wagon it might expand into the history thread it did. But as readers so often do, you took the information an ran with it.

See the remarkable comment thread on the history of the truck, and how it very possibly featured in a major film. We’ve still not identified the lad, though.

Yesterday, Tony sent me the above great photo and news clipping at the foot of this article. We now learn the lorry was called ‘Bessie’.

Tony wrote:

Hi Bob,

I thought you might be interested in this newspaper cutting and photograph taken at Walsall Show in 1966.

Ralph Ferrie is obviously at the wheel and the ‘mechanic’ is John Petty, a local businessman who owned a scrap yard down the Butts in Walsall.


Brownhills Motor Sales was Ralph’s company (which was started by his father Charles), and for a while existed where the Co-op stands now on Streets Corner in Walsall Wood. There were also workshops variously behind the Station Hotel and alongside the old railway line up on the A5 at Watling Street, Brownhills.

Thanks to Tony for a wonderful contribution – who’d have thought such a seemingly incidental thing could spark such interest?

Anything to add? Comment here, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.


Ralph, ever the showman. I assume this would have been from the Walsall Observer in 1966. A remarkable clipping supplied by Tony Winn.

This entry was posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Just plain daft, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A temperamental old lady

  1. pricekatie says:

    the good old days

  2. Peter says:

    THE Tarmac Group’s Roadstone Division has bought the whole of the shares in Brownhills Motor Sales Ltd, bodybuilder and repairer and motor agent and dealer.
    The company is also a main dealer for British Leyland and Tarmac hopes the acquisition of the company will enable the Tarmac group to improve its existing facilities for buying and selling its large fleets.

    the above was found in Commercial motor.com from an original article dated 9th April 1976.

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