Mines, Methodists and Music – the Deakin family by Gillian Gaiser

1916 abt Deakins Central Stores

Deakins Cetral Stores was next to Deakins Buildings on the A5 Watling Street. Photo courtesy Gill Gaiser.

The Mavis Woodhouse material featured here recently has certainly spawned some interesting tangents, one of the most interesting of which was the conversation the sprung up in the comments to the Fred Shingler Film a couple of weeks ago, between Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler and Gill Gaiser.

Gill (a Deakin herself) pointed out she had lots of material on the family she’d previously written, and has very generously sent me copies for publication on the blog; the three chapters she’s sent me are a bit big for individual articles, so I’ve made them into downloadable PDF file for people to read.

You can download them at the foot of the post.

These are wonderfully well-write, fascinating works and very high quality historical research; It’s a pleasure and honour to be able to feature them here.

I’m hugely thankful to Gill for her wonderful and fascinating contribution, and I hope the debate continues; I’ve forwarded all the relevant information too, as Peter had some stuff to send Gill too.

There’s so much going on at the moment I need a secretary I think…

Gill wrote:

Hi Bob

As Martin Littler mentioned in his post, he and I communicated about Brownhills in the past but I lost his email address – likely when i changed computers – if it is possible either to forward his current address to me or to ask him to contact me I would really appreciate that. [Done – Bob]

I will attach the three chapters from my ‘book-in-the-making’ [Mines, Methodists and Music] about the 2 Jonahs and John Henry. They are quite long – John Henry runs to 24 pages; Jonah Sr. to 15 pages and Jonah Jr. to 20 pages and I am sure you will just want to take snippets from them which you think are appropriate and of interest. There are names and dates for younger folks who are still living so I would not want facts included which might identify them as I’m sure you understand without their permission. No problem with identifying my sister and I though! In between chapters are for the wives of the 3 J’s.

There is also a photograph of Central/Deakins Stores taken about 1916 which might be of interest. People in that photo are Jonah Sr and Jane nee Shingler and almost hiding behind Jonah is Esther Hassall nee Shingler – mother of Ethel in the movie. In front is Charlie Deakin [born 1900], Jonah Jr. [born 1906] and Samuel Shingler [1850-1930] father of Jane and Esther and grandfather to Ethel]

I have also written about my own childhood which would be sort of contemporary with Mavis Woodhouse – she being just a few years older than me. The period from 1939-49 is included and runs to 14 pages. You can let me know if that is of any interest.


You can download the chapters at the three links below: they’re all small files so should download quickly. They’re PDF files so you may need Adobe Reader if they don’t load, but everyone has that these days I think.

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18 Responses to Mines, Methodists and Music – the Deakin family by Gillian Gaiser

  1. Pedro says:

    Thanks Gill for sharing such an interesting story.

    I like the reference…

    “…a great migration to the little village of Brownhills in Staffordshire. Many of its participants dubbed the exodus from the East Salop Coalfield as the “Great Trek” and it was partly responsible for the steady growth in the size of Brownhills at this time. From a population of 222 in the 1840’s it grew to a population of almost 12,000 by 1894 when the Brownhills Urban District was formed.”

    In 1889 William Bealey Harrison had failed to be elected for the new Staffs administration…He had been told by the oldest inhabitant, that some 40 years ago Brownhills was a desert, inhabited by deer and black game, and that between there and Hednesford, there were only a few houses, while today there were various villages in all directions. They ascribed that increase in population, industry and prosperity of the district largely in the first place to Captain Harrison’s father, and in the second place to Captain Harrison himself.

    Now we have some idea how the Brownhillian accent came about!

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a huge thanks to Gill and to your goodself for putting this on the blog.Fascinating reading and super photo.
    I think Jonah may have introduced a real Brownhillian accent to Canada, too!
    kind regards

  3. Pedro says:

    October 1934

    Windows 40 and 41

    DEAKIN’S STORES, Watling Street….Est 1900…still going strong.

    We endeavour to give you the BEST QUALITY every time. Therfore our endeavour is your safeguard…..

    …..Give us a trail, you won’t regret it.

  4. Clive says:

    Nice one Gill

  5. Martin says:

    What a wonderful old photo and how clear considering it was taken around 1916, of Central Deakins Stores, I wonder who’s Hat was on the step next door? this as I mentioned in Fred Shingler Film was the Butcher’s shop when I was a lad1950s.

    Thank you Gill for bringing part of the Watling Street History back together.

  6. Marion Smith says:

    Having live in Brownhills all my life and having grown up with Mavis wood house and Gillian and Jennifer Deakin before.they emigrated and having been on Park View Chapel anniversary under the direction of Mr. De akin as we called him it was really great to read Gillian’s account of her Mom and Dad in Canada. Even more nostalgic for me because I lived in Foxs Row from the age of two until I was twenty one when the council compulsory purchased and condemned them. I got married from that small house at Park View Chapel which I attended from a child at Sunday school under the direction of Fred and Ethel Shingler until well into my married life one of the last things there was my husbands funeral service. Of course it’s no longer there and when it was being demolished I asked if I could have a brick for old times sake they gave me an inscribed one (Mrs.A.W.Taylor) I never found who she was. So you see I have great memories of living on Watling Street even as a girl popping into Ginny’s for 3 penorth of batter bits and at 77 yrs old I’m still here.

    • Gill Gaiser says:

      Marion, what was your maiden name?

      • John Bennett says:

        G’Day Gill Gaiser, Andrew Bennett a distant cousin of mine (he shares my great great grandfather Henry from Red Hall) credits you as source for some of info in his family tree, I would like to know original sources of those that relate to me also. Cheers, John Bennett in Western Australia

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  10. Kay Geldard says:

    Thanks for sharing this…very interesting reading. I have part of Gill’s family tree, passed to me by my mum, Florence Shingler. (daughter of Teresa and Sidney Deakin). I remember the Memorial Hall very well!
    I now live in Australia with my husband, Barry. We are very keen skiers, so we were very interested to read of the associations with Whistler and Kamloops. We will be visiting Sun Peaks and skiing in the Cariboos in 2016. Kay Geldard (née Shingler).

    • Steve Green says:

      Dear all – and Kay Geldard especially,
      This was the world I was brought up in, after my family moved from Bloxwich Walsall to Howdles Lane in 1961. My brother Paul Green was born there in 1962, and still lives locally and even organises the occasional Music Festival in the area!
      Fred Shingler’s film was wonderful to see – I think I may even have seen my late father’s purple Ford Cortina on it! (at 1:57 to 1:60 – I must take a closer look).
      Ginny’s chips and batter bits were still a massive treat on Fridays in the 1960s, Marion.
      As for me, I lived in Howdles Lane up till 1974, and went to Watling Street Primary followed by Shire Oak. However, I didn;t stay local, and I ended up leaving for, firstly, university in Scotland, and many years later moved to Sheffield Yorkshire, where I now live and do daily “battle” within the NHS. That said, I have never forgotten – and indeed am publicly very proud – of a childhood spent in Brownhills, and of my extremely well-retained yamyam accent (although my kids have Scottish accents).
      And I wanted to wish Kay Geldard well. I remember Kay Shingler, as she was then, vividly, at both Watling Street and Shire Oak (you had a good friend called, I think, Christine), although at the time I had no idea you were a member of “Brownhills Royalty”!. It’s very good to know that you are still alive, well, prospering and internationally mobile, Kay, and best wishes to you and your family.
      Otherwise, best wishes to everyone else too. Anyone who remembers me, good or bad, please feel free to get in touch.
      Professor Stephen T Green
      Lead Consultant Physician
      Infectious Diseases & Tropical Medicine
      Royal Hallamshire Hospital
      Sheffield S10 2JF

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