As the dual carriageway came through

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A lady – I wonder who she is? – smiles at Fred filming her, bows, and walks on.

I’ve had a bunch of film clips for a while, which were recorded in short sections and obtained by the young David Evans from Barbara, the daughter of Fred Shingler who ran the Park View Methodist Chapel, which used to be on the Watling Street, just on the corner of Chapel Avenue.

The clips are taken from family cinefilms recorded by Fred, and feature the lost world of the A5 Watling Street just as the road was being converted into a dual carriageway. Barbara kindly allowed David access to these family films for use on the blog, and I have reassembled all the clips into a eleven minute film, and it really is quite something.

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The shops in the Howdles Lane precinct are still a building site.

In it you will see the Watling Street, and the Howdles Lane area, in what must be the late 60s and early 70s. The maisonettes on the corner (now demolished) – look quite new. There are terraces over the road, and a shop. The precinct off Howdles Lane looks new. We can see Charringtons Oil Terminal, and the black path, running across a very tree-less common. Busses in Walsall livery pull up, and pull away. A lady, caught on film, bows and smiles; a man in his window waves at Fred.

All this ties in nicely with the Mavis Woodhouse material, of which the next instalment is due in a couple of days – this is the area that Mavis is writing about.

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Charring tons oil terminal in the sunshine.

Like the Brownhills Cine Club film, there’s much to see here – and I wonder if Fred was involved with the club?

Please do comment, and let me know what you spot, or recognise. Thanks to Barbara for allowing such generous access to her father’s work.

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29 Responses to As the dual carriageway came through

  1. Dave Fellows says:

    Absolutely brilliant! Lived in Knaves Castle Avenue for 20 years, good to see some old haunts. Amazing how much has changed.

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    I wondered when these would emerge. Well done all for getting them into the public domain. Here are a few notes from my recollection of the area.
    Obviously, the clips are from a period of a few years, probably from about 1966 to 1971. Much of the film is from the upstairs window of Fred’s house, which still stands jut east of Deakin Avenue.
    The opening frame shows how open the end of Howdles Lane was with the row of houses on the north side of Watling Street (this is where Cllr Cassiddy lived). Notice the wet road. This was a particular hazard for pedestrians and, though I can’t see any serious potholes in the shot, there usually were several in which one could have taken a bath or get a shower simply by walking by! The technique for walking to school was a sort of Fartlek training. Before the M6 was built as an alternative it was difficult to close the road for repairs. They even used Howdles Lane as a diversion when they carried out repairs in about 1963, which is perhaps why the road looks as good as it does. This was the main road from London to Manchester, Liverpool and the port of Holyhead.
    At 0:26 the camera is pointed east and the Queens Head is central.
    At 0:49 we must be looking from the back window across what is now the school to the Avenues in the background.
    At 1:18 we return to the houses opposite and (presumably) Deakin’s shop, though the name looks more like Marklew.
    1:45. This is more like the average speed of traffic, but fewer goods vehicles than I would expect. 2:12. Typical “rush” hour conditions. Well, this was the M6 of its day!
    2:33. Walsall Gloria bus to Brownhills and Walsall.
    2:48. This lady is Fred’s wife Ethel. Same as in the first picture.
    3:20. Wandering about the common. Background: Park View Chapel centre, with the Sunday School to left, then the row of houses whose ladies hung out washing – this was not filmed on a Monday? To the right the Prince of Wales and two shops, a newsagent / sweet shop and hairdresser.
    3:38 Fred himself doing a “Hitchcock”. I think he must have been on the cricket field.
    4;22. This is the sort of heavy traffic I recall.
    4:33. Demolition in progress. Queen’s Head already gone, the rest empty.
    4:48. See what I mean about getting a shower?!

    I’ll do some more later – things to do …


  3. Martin says:

    This is wonderful film, takes me back to my Childhood and youth by the time they started work on the dual carriageway I had left Howdles Lane, (1967).
    As Andrew mentions, Deakins shop, then a Family named Walkers took it over in the 50’s and then in the early 60’s Kendricks rings a bell? there was also a Butchers Shop next door Horace Breeze and his wife, and then a family named Broadhurst run it till the end.
    In away it was very sad to loose the community as I knew as a child but we have to have change some times for the better some times for the worse that’s progress, a lot of the houses were in poor repair and the A5 was a bottle neck with the heavy traffic it carried at the time.

    It was also nice to see the classic cars and lorry’s on the Video, thank you for putting it all together it is a treasure, it is marvellous how these little Gems keep turning up.

    Kind Regards.

    • I don’t know about classic cars but I think I spotted a glimpse of me in my first car shortly after I had qualified to drive. It was a grey Minivan.

      At the time I lived in Castle Close. As a new driver turning onto the A5 from Castle Street was a daily lottery as the road works changed almost daily – which side of the cones today? The small wheeled Mini was already a bit of a wreck but I wonder if negotiating the various cliffs caused by cutting down and building up the different lanes was connected with the rear sub-frame disintegrating not long after?

  4. Andy Dennis says:

    As promised.
    5:19. This would be about 1970.
    8:07. Approaching Brownhills bridge and turning right into Pelsall Road.
    8:39. This in interesting. It shows the kink in the main road on the Newtown side – Chase Inn in the background. You can see this on old maps, showing how the railway was more important.
    9:01. This shows more. The road going off to the right is where the slip road is from A5 into Chase Road. And an old telephone box we didn’t get in the New Year Quiz.
    9:42. The aqueduct.
    9:51. Earlier again. Queens Head on the right.

  5. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    the individual clips were taken by setting up and aiming a camcorder at the television as it played through the whole vhs tape…starting to record as and when…a long afternoon! Near the end of this collage..around10minutes or so is a brief shot of Mavis Woodhouses little chapel, the Mount Pleasant..on the left of and very close to the road. This is the only image I have been able to find of this chapel. Are there others out there?
    My personal thanks are extended to Barbara..and especially to you, Bob for this excellent visual presentation. Love the soundtrack, too, ..empathise with the violinist!
    kind regards

  6. Clive says:

    Great video. Its amazing how much the area as changed since the widening of the A5. Just aswell Fred Shingler made the film for us all to enjoy in the future. Big thank you to Barbara for sharing it with us all, and Dave for converting it to digital video for the Blog, and not forgetting Bob.

  7. Gill Gaiser nee Deakin says:

    Hi! That was Auntie Ethel Shingler in the movie crossing the road, waving & bowing – also Fred and Ethel walking across the common. There were glimpses of both the front and back of the house belonging to my grandpa Jonah Deakin and where I later moved to after his death in 1951 – “The Hollies” # 49 and also the Stores where I lived until 1952 right across from the entrance to Deakin Avenue [just called The Avenue when I lived there] which was where my Grandparents Tongue lived. I do believe there was a quick glimpse also of Central [Deakin’s] Stores adjoining Deakin’s Buildings as well as Park View Chapel – great memories!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Pedro says:

      Would the surname Tongue, mentioned here, be any relation to the Joseph Tongue mentioned on the Brownhills War Memorial for WWI?

      • Gill Gaiser nee Deakin says:

        Yes, my grandpa William Tongue who lived in Deakin Avenue was the older brother of Joseph Tongue whose name is on the memorial. So he was my great uncle. He joined the 1st Bn of the Prince of Wales Own West Yorkshire Regiment in 1916 and was sent overseas to serve in France and Flanders.

        Joe was among those men who died in one of the many desperate incidents during the first day of the German 1918 Spring Offensive [also known as ‘The Kaiser’s Battle’ or Die Kaiserschlacht] on March 21st. He was listed as missing in action for a year and is remembered with honour on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

        • Pedro says:

          Tanks Gill

          I have some info on Joseph Tongue that I will send to Bob so as to forward to you.

          All the best Pedro

          • Gill Gaiser nee Deakin says:

            Great maps – interesting to see the changes – thanks for the links

          • Gill Gaiser nee Deakin says:

            Much appreciated – look forward to seeing it.

          • Ian says:

            Hello Pedro, I have just seen your posts. My wife is the Great Granddaughter of Joseph Tongue. She would be really interested to see any information you have of him.
            Ian Meadows

            • Gillian Gaiser says:

              Hi Ian, Joseph is my great uncle which would make your wife my 2nd cousin once removed! Is your wife Lynsey? I would be happy to be in touch as I do have information about Joseph and his family – I have done a lot of family history over the years. You can get in touch at gillian dot gaiser at gmail dot com

  8. Gill Gaiser nee Deakin says:

    Might you be interested in the stories I have written about my Deakin family – specifically the two Jonahs and John Henry? The do tie in nicely with Mavis Townsend’s information?

    • Yes, thank you – those would be wonderful!

      You can email me on Brownhillsbob at Googlemail dot com.


      • Martin says:

        Hi Bob.
        I know that it will be a good read , Gillian put the biographies of the Deakins on the web site a few years ago, with her permission I printed it of, so people with out a computer who knew the Deakin family could have a read, even if you did not know the family I think your readers will still enjoy the history of area of Watling Street from the late 1800’s onwards.
        Kind Regards.
        Martin Littler.

  9. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    at 9.18 minutes of the film there is a grey Vauxhall Wyvern parked among the roadworks for the new canal bridge over the Watling Street, near to Newtown Bridge…interestingly the article Fast and Sluice shows just such a car, this time by the canal and valve house at Chasewater dam.
    Coincidence , or the same one?
    kind regards

  10. aerreg says:

    i remember mr and mrs shingler well a lovely couple mrs shingler worked along side with mrs wildmon in west richards electricit

    y shop as i recall we were great friends in your past blogs i noted remarks about a lorry accident i recall the shop was emily rickards fruit shop by massie cockroms hair dressers down the entry was tommy browns mens hair dressers we would leave our bykes down there in the old chasetown electric days while we popt across ti idars cook shop for cuppa and sosage cob may bevan had a toy shop and then davices grocery store and rupert craddock estate over the past weeks it has been wonderful to relive my younger days and an atmosphere ov felloship characters dignatries held with such respect of brownhills bye gone dayes god bless from aer reg

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  12. Pedro says:

    For anyone interested the development around Deakin Avenue, from 1883 to 1946, see links to OS maps and zoom in…





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  18. roger fletcher says:

    born and bred in castie street in 1950 the film brought back loads of happy memories thank you

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