Reg Morris – a great Brownhillian

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Reg Morris – stuntman, fundraiser, father. Image from Marie Morris.

A couple of weeks ago here I mentioned the late, great and absolutely legendary Brownhillian Reg Morris – a man noted for his fundraising, community spirit and acts of bravery, showmanship and mischief. Reg held many world records, as was very well loved locally for his charitable endeavours and for his constant charm and mischief.

Reg was born and grew up just on the Lindon Road side of Clayhanger bridge, on the site of what is now Bridgeside Close, formerly Bourne Tools, and before that, the terraces where Reg lived. As an adult, he worked at Edward Rose (Wagon Industrial) on the Pelsall Road, and later life was involved in several community projects.

I received such a positive response to my mention of Reg that I was stunned, and came to be in conversation with Reg’s daughter, Marie. Marie generously agreed to write about her father, and I think all will agree she has written a warm and beautiful account of a remarkable man.

This is also an appeal, too; fellow local blogger Mick Stackhouse has been appealing for a while to try and find a copy of a book written by Reg and sold in Joes sweet shop in the High Street in Brownhills. Mick remembers it was red, and Reg used to keep a copy in his pocket, and may well have been an account of a boy growing up in Brownhills. Can anyone help with this? Anything at all would be a help.

Reg’s book was said to be published with the help of Phyllis Taylor, a local teacher, who knew the owner of Joes. Mick thinks the book was published in the late 1950s, as fellow lads from the Central School all bought copies.

If anyone has a copy, or knows where one may be found, please do get in touch; both Mick and I would love to see it and Marie didn’t know about it at all, and is obviously very keen indeed to learn more.

Thanks to Marie for such a well written, warm and lovely account of a great Brownhillian, and most of all, a brilliant father. A lovely article I’m honoured to publish here.

If you can help, or just have any memories of Reg, please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!

Marie wrote:

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Reg in the mid 1970s. Image generously supplied by Marie Morris.

I spent a big part of my childhood believing my grandad’s name was Sam, it was a long time before I realised it was James, as my dad, Reg Morris, was well known as Sam’s son.

What can I say about my dad? He was the greatest man I’ve ever known and loved! and very quickly learned he was well respected, and loved by many throughout Walsall and surrounding areas. He pulled all sorts of crazy hairbrained stunts, for example spending his honeymoon on a bed of nails… yes that’s right his honeymoon! That’s crazy I hear you say. yes I thought that too, until he told me all the crazy was to raise money for children’s charities around the world. Then I thought to myself that’s not crazy that’s amazing!

Most of Dad’s stunts broke world records as he claimed them for his own; amongst them were spending over 40 days and nights in a beer barrel up a pole at the Spring Cottage in Shelfield; lying on a bed of nails/broken glass, whilst Adrian Wigley played electric organ sitting upon his belly and a random person pulled from crowds, broke slabs on his chest with a lump hammer or ‘ommer’ as dad used to call them; walking on hot coals and glass.

I asked him once how he could stand it, especially the hot coal. He replied ‘Ah you Dow need shoes when you’ve got feet as hard as mine!’ and winked at me. He’s blew 27 feet long flames fire eating and breathing. I remember watching one video as a child thinking ‘Wow my dad’s amazing he’s like a dragon!’

I’m not sure which pub but he managed to burn down – it was a cellar in a local he was blowing a flame in. I wish I’d thought to ask why on earth he thought flame breathing indoors was a good idea in the first place! it was during one of these crazy fire stunts he managed to burn a lung, when he drank the alcohol instead of spitting! My mom quickly rushed to him with a cup of water, which turned out to be more alcohol!

I just found out today after some digging that some guy called Top ate 9000 torches thinking my dad’s record was 8000 after writing to the Guinness records they wrote back that the attempt wasn’t good enough – the record was held at 13,115 by some Englishman named reg Morris. He also pulled trains vans and barges with his teeth (no wonder his top set were dentures). He pushed a cannon ball round Walsall with his nose for 32 minutes, while crawling on his hands and knees, spent 4 days and nights lying on 4 razor sharp swords (which spent the rest of their days hanging on my dad’s bedroom wall) – I’d almost forgotten about that one. Me and my brother used to use the frames they were placed on as horses in our back garden, and pretend we were traveling the world.

These stunts how ever came to a stop when Dad fell off a ladder and broke his back and suffered a ruptured appendix – but that didn’t stop him from raising money… He turned to eating and drinking. All sorts of weird things that even crazy would deem crazy! Daffodils, sheep’s brains and gravy, and many other animal appendages we’d never consider eating!

Some of these me and my 3 younger brothers and sister were present for (since a lot of them took place on family holidays), like White Acres in Devon for example, we watched him wash down over 90lb. of hotdog sausages with so many pints of bitter I lost count, breaking 2 records that day.

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Reg was always up to something – this article was from 1979, and poted on Facebook by Diane Smith. The picture is believed to have been taken at the back of the Station Hotel, possibly on the roof of a local taxi. Click for a larger version.

My personal favourite however will always be sitting in a bath full of maggots for over 9 hours at a fishing convention. I remember sitting next to the bath grabbing handfuls feeling them wriggle through my fingers. I asked him if he had tight pants on (he was stripped down to his underwear) and he said ‘What on earth made you ask that?’ I said because the maggots could wriggle up your bum they’re wriggling through my fingers and he just responded with his big booming laugh I remember so well. He said ‘Ah they Dow bother me, me and George (George Poole) stick em under ar tongue fishin to keep em warm.’ I said ‘ew no you don’t that’s disgusting!’ – at which point he picked some up and put em in his mouth and turns round and said ‘Nah, its alright they dow taste that bad…’

Unfortunately my dad passed away on December 17th 2004, three months after his 60th birthday. To this day whenever I tell someone my name I get ‘Oh I haven’t seen you since you were such and such you’re Reggie Morris’s daughter…’

Of all the things my Dad achieved he’d tell you his greatest was spending 6 and a half weeks up a pole that its just mind over matter, but to me his greatest achievement was being my Dad and my favourite memories will always be the maggots, seeing him sitting in his chair legs crossed book in one hand cigarette in the other singing along to the radio, taking walks up Snowdonia, his laugh and my favourite of all getting to watch him throw my eldest daughter up in the air, catch her, make crazy noises and make her giggle like no one else ever could.

He may be gone but I am very much assured that Reginald Harry Morris will never be forgotten.

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34 Responses to Reg Morris – a great Brownhillian

  1. stymaster says:

    I remember the Spring Cottage pole-sit stunt well. Think I may have commented about it here, a long time ago.

  2. David Smith says:

    I am in touch with the daughter of Joe’s shop that was mentioned with regard to Reg Morris’s book and I forwarded the link of the page to Rosemary. I also remember Reg, he was a regular when I worked behind the bar in the Railway Tavern – when the Robinson family kept it – what a character.

    • Sandra says:

      David could you plz sgwt info on tge book if possible im reg’s second child ( now woman) sandra morris and ive always known about dads book

  3. kathy bull [nee cooper] says:

    what a blast from the past he was a lovely man I remember him well ,I remember seeing him pull a lorry with his teeth and rope ,everyone new reg and loved him he always had a smile he did lots for charity he so does deserve a mention ,anyone from Brownhills who did well does iam glad to say my grans brother was the Brownhills bomber dicky dorset ,iam very proud to say I was born and grew up in Brownhills ,and to add I think everyone knew my dad George Kelly .

  4. Dad was a legend most of his stunts were done before Marie and the others came along now as for his book he wrote our aunty Phyllis has a copy of it or cousin jenny has it in the loft I’m still waiting to see it myself

  5. Lisa says:

    We still have a video of him eating daffodils to raise money for our disabled centre, it was recorded by Central news, they interviewed him and recorded him doing the challenge, fabulous !!!

  6. Mike Stackhouse says:

    Thanks for such vivid memories of Reggie Marie! I know that I will never ever forget him. I do hope that your Aunty has a copy of the Book, so that we all can see it. If you do find it I would love to scan in, if possible, and put it back on either Bobs or my own, or even both blogs. As I told Bob, I well remember going with him down to Joes to pick up a few copies of it. Best of friends, at school, because we were both born on the same day, same year! Bostin Bloke, Another of those who work for the community, just like another boy from those days who passed lately, Derek Haycock. Derek (with Mr Coleman) of course started the Brownhill’s Tartans Marching Jazz Band. While they were doing that, at our house we were busy making uniforms and hats etc for The Wyrley equivolent of the Tartans. Something missing from the young uns life, these days. Learning to be with others part of others and doing things for and with others. I don’t know much about The Tartans charity work, but The Bluebirds as well as Wyrley, did things for Charity back then.

  7. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    delighted to read about Reg. Many thanks , Marie. I understand Adrian gave a quite memorable show at the Brickmakers Arms once. Would love to learn about the Tartans Marching Band, please Mike.
    kind regards
    David

  8. Peter Leek says:

    I remember Reg very well, having grown up in Brownhills and having lived across the road from them in the Avenue’s, he was a great man and have spent many a hour or two helping with his stunts. What a nice letter off little Marie, me and the wife are sat here now tryin to remember her brothers names now we’ve remember Marie and Heather but it’s been about 17 years since we lived across the road .

  9. Ivor Morris says:

    Rate this piece as I’m the younger brother of reg and still miss him now, don’t remember much about the book so would love to see it.

  10. George says:

    Just a small correction on the article above by Marie Morris
    (Reg was born and grew up just on the Lindon Road side of Clayhanger bridge, on the site of what is now Bridgeside Close, formerly Bourne Tools, and before that, the terraces where Reg lived.)
    There seems to be some confusion over Bourne Tools & Timings tools. Timings Tools was the larger of the two and owned most of the land from the Clayhanger Bridge. including the old Gentleshaw Sand and Gravel premises (Greatly Enlarged) and used as a press shop RKG Pressings.
    Bourne Tools was built as a Camping Showroom with tents erected on the grass lawn in front.
    There was originally a Bungalow between Bourne Tools and Timings that was bought by Timings and demolished, they also bought the land behind the Anchor Garage
    Bridgeside Close is built on the drive of RKG Pressings that in later years housed Timings Tools.
    Originally on Lindon Road between Anchor Garage and the then Brownhills Clothing Co.
    Reg Morris worked for some years in the 70s at the stores at Timings Tools Lindon road site

  11. Crikey I had forgotton about reg Morris…. remember seeing him in that barrel outside the sportsman pub …… I lived next door to his brother ivor for donkeys years as well x

  12. Ian Neil says:

    lovely memories Marie, I can remember smashing paving slabs with an ‘ommer on Reg’s stomach while he lay with his feet on one chair and his head on another in the Brookland Road Club and on another occasion he lit the bonfire at the Middle Oak with his fire breathing! happy days 🙂

  13. davina smith says:

    Is reg morris married to wendy tompston from willenhall as a brother name terry x

  14. Len Boulton says:

    How could anyone ever forget Reg. spent many a hour with him as part of the Mountain Service Club (an offshoot of Brownhills and Manor House Youth Clubs) The scrapes and tales are endless.

  15. Irene Haycock says:

    Iloved Reggie We shared an Aunt Elizabeth (Lizzie) Morris and spent many hours playing together as nippers when we visited aunt Lizzies he was a right little so and so even then always full of mischief so many happy memories and sadly missed.

  16. CLIVE POOLE says:

    well wel reg hi work with with reg reg lived with we for about 6 yer hi was with reg when set fire to the grand at w hamton good regy clive poole god blees reg

  17. Stephen Swain says:

    Great guy, knew him well from his days at Butlers Foundry on coppice side. Did some crazy stunts, and i remember my dad organising Reg to perform at Pelsall Carnival.
    Happy days

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