Sometimes I get material in to the blog that unexpectedly surprises and delights – and after a horrid week of too much work stuff, technical troubles and unreliable hardware this great contribution from John and Paul Anlsow is just what the local history doctor ordered.
The Anslow chaps have made some astounding contributions to our record of local history and have created so much interest and debate here on the blog – they 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.
Yesterday, they sent me the following wonderful image of a group of children at St. John’s School in Walsall Wood, which they think is from the Edwardian era – but they really are open to contributions.
Take a look, what do you know? Comment here, or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.
I’d like to thank Paul and John not only for a great piece of the local history jigsaw, but for restoring my faith after a troublesome week. Thanks, lads.
John Anslow wrote:
Paul and I have been rummaging through boxes of old photographs again and we found this one that might be of interest. (attached)
Last June, you posted a photograph from the 1890s showing children at St John’s school near Streets Corner. I’m ashamed to say that I failed to identify my grandmother correctly in that picture: Paul assures me she is the child in the second row from the front, fourth from the left. She appears to be a little younger than the girl I pointed out, so the photograph might be older than I thought, possibly as early as 1897.
The picture that has come to light is of children in Standards 6 and 7, and we are convinced it too was taken at St John’s School, possibly in the Edwardian era. If you look at the brickwork and the windows, they appear identical to those in the picture you posted six months ago.
Neither of us remembers seeing this photograph when we were young, it wasn’t passed round at family gatherings as the first one was, and we can only guess, therefore, that it might have been given to our mother in more recent years, following the death of one of her cousins.
Paul thinks that it might have been among the possessions Ethel Lewis (née Jackson), who lived at Shire Oak and who died, we believe, in the 1970s.
Ethel (born 1895) was the daughter of our grandmother’s much older half-brother, Joe Jackson. The 1901 census shows his family living at Bradbury Cottage (It’s That Man Again!) two doors further up the hill from the Thatched Cottage at Streets Corner. There were three daughters and another three on the 1911 census, though one child, Laura, had died in 1908, aged 11.
If the photograph dates from early 1900s, it might well include Ethel and one or more of her sisters; the only clues we have to the year are the hairstyles and dress of the older girls and teachers. An Internet search revealed this image of Parisian haute coiffure from 1898 (attached) so it might be possible to estimate the date of the school photograph from that. I realise of course, it might have taken a few years for Paris to catch up with Walsall Wood!
As with all photographs of the period, everyone appears very solemn; there’s only one little girl in the middle of the fifth row back who shows even the hint of a smile. Contrary to rumours put about by the Americans, this had nothing to do with poor teeth: it was just that showing one’s teeth was thought to be a sign of aggression or even lunacy. Studying the picture carefully, I can see resemblances between some children and suspect there are several groups of sisters here.
I imagine that any current primary school teachers seeing this photograph will immediately recognize similarities between these children and their own classes: in some respects the past is not such a foreign country after all.
Thank you once again, Bob, for providing this forum for us to share and discuss our history.