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!
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.
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.