Crawling under the hedge

Oh my goodness – yet another wonderful image has been sent in to the blog by John and Paul Anslow, whose previous contributions to our record of local history have created so much interest and debate here on the blog.

John and Paul have worked on, and contributed to many absolutely remarkable articles on Walsall Wood history over the years here; from the movers and boneshakers of times passed, to the solemn gravity of child labour.

Today, there’s something I had no idea of the existence of – the annual Nurses’ Fete. I’ll let John explain – he writes about these images beautifully.

And thanks to John also for his kind words; thankfully the midnight hound is back in the kennel. Sometimes, it gets on top of me a little bit, but I do so love doing this and it’s impossible to be down for long with such beautiful and precious contributions. Thank you.

John Anslow wrote:

Nurses' Fete

Yet again, another remarkable image from John and Paul Anslow, which is beautifully scanned. Please click on this, and look at the full size version; do you recognise anyone?

Hello again, Bob.

The recent discussion about the site of Spurrell’s factory in Walsall Wood prompted Paul and me to look again at an old photograph, which we think might be of interest to you and your readers.

It originally appeared in the Walsall Observer and, judging from the headwear, probably dates from the early-to-mid 1930s. It was taken at The Nurses’ Fete: a fund-raising event that we think took place annually up to the Second World War and which was held each summer on the Jockey Fields.

The original Horse and Jockey was a few yards further ‘up the Wood’ than the present pub, and had long strip of land on its north-eastern side where events such as this fete, dog races and other sports regularly took place.

The camera points east from the Jockey Fields towards Walsall Road. The house with the advertisements on the gable wall, in the top-right corner of the picture, stands on the site now occupied by Shoesave; we assume the buildings in the centre are Deepmore Farm.

If the number of infants is any guide, there must have been a Bonny Baby Competition taking place.

The distinguished guests, seated centrally, include Councillor Harry Carter (trilby and carnation), chairman of Aldridge Council in 1935, and next to him Arthur Newbould, the blind brother of Harry Newbould (who played trombone in the Colliery Band. See post of 24 May 2014). Arthur was born in Walsall Wood but owned a small shop in Shelfield and had been active in the movement to obtain pensions for the blind. One of the Walsall Wood GPs (centre-parting and white bow tie), possibly Doctor Stuart, is seated further to the right. The lady with the bouquet is probably Cllr Carter’s wife, Evelyn, and the lady next to her could just possibly be Arthur’s wife, Ada. All must have been actively involved in this charity, but we don’t know in what capacity.

Around the time of this photograph, a friend of our Dad’s, Ron Parkes, was living in the house shown in the top left of the picture. Dad (Bernard Anslow) lived with his widowed mother and brother Abe in the terrace next door.

Dad and Ron would have been in their early teens and, unable to afford the entry fee, they stole into the Nurses’ Fete by crawling under the hedge. Seeing that the bicycle races were about to begin, they managed to obtain passes to collect their bikes, returning with them a few minutes later. Ron won his event and Dad took first prize of 7/6D in slow bicycle competition. (That would have been a substantial sum in those days, and Paul and I wonder if we have misremembered the amount.)

We should be interested to know the names of other people in the photograph: those babes-in-arms would now be in their eighties!

All the best, Bob; I hope that the black dog that was stalking you when you posted on 24 September has been chained securely in his kennel. You have many devoted followers who appreciate your efforts and see this blog as an invaluable source of news and local history: a unique combination of the parish pump, the public bar, the extended family, the Working Men’s Institute and the local library.


John Anslow

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12 Responses to Crawling under the hedge

  1. Nice description of the Bobosphere, John. Gorgeous photo too.

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a super photo!
    many thanks to John for this and for his notes. Whippet racing behind the Horse and Jockey Pub, then. I have heard of this, apparently unofficial, sporting activity having taken place there in dyas of yore, from three sources, one being very closely connected to the Inn at that time.
    I wonder if your readers have records , or photos etc of the events.
    and I concur with the thoughts John expresses in his final paragraph
    kind regards
    p.s. I wonder when Dr F Roberts arrived in the village

    • Pedro says:

      Hi David,

      Detailed Results for October 1907….Dog racing at the Horse and Jockey grounds!

      Lichfield Mercury April 1928..

      For the supporters of greyhound racing the next best thing to the genuine article is available in the shape of whippet racing, which proved immensely popular when introduced last year, and which this year will take place in Beacon Park. But it is hoped that one unfortunate incident will not occur again, as was the case last year, the encroachment on the course by the spectators. This held up events for quite a time and the crowd was only kept back with difficulty…

      June 1927…All devotees of whippet racing and the increasingly popular greyhound racing will welcome a new publication entitled “Dog Racing” (2d net), which is the only paper in the world that deals solely with those two sports…

    • Ann Cross says:

      Hi David,
      My Grandmother Mary Emily Cross died in March 1939 and her death was certified by Dr Francis R Roberts, if that helps.

  3. Clive says:

    Great photo and memorys John and Paul, thank you for sharing them with us all on the blog, and thank you Bob.

  4. Ann Cross says:

    Lovely Photo, thanks to John and Paul, and to Bob.

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