I’m after all the tanners!


Park View Wesleyan Methodist Church Sunday School Anniversary 1941. Image generously donated by Barbara Cassidy.

I was a bit at a loss as to how to illustrate the post, and dug into the archives for possibly relevant material, and featured a cracking image donated last year by local Councillor Barbara Cassidy of a Park View Sunday School anniversary in 1941.

Ann and Mavis have together lit the whole thing up, and simultaneously also shed light on a great project by Burntwood Family History Group which deserves much more exposure – those people are doing great work.

Thanks to Ann and Mavis for this, and for the kind words. This is why we all do this, and it wouldn’t be possible without you. I am hugely grateful.

Hi Bob,

As the proxy for Mavis (I am her second cousin and the ‘editor’ of her personal family memories – she is computer-less) Mavis has been able to name for us many of the people shown in the Sunday School Anniversary photograph provided by Barbara Cassidy. It’s quite along list! Starting at the bottom row, working left to right, and to the best of her recollection (better than mine will ever be!) the names are:

Bottom Row, left to right,

Greville Clift; Alan Humphreys; possibly one of the Shingler girls; Molly Saunders; Margaret Allport; Janet Bladon; Mavis herself (sulking, as per David Evans post) because being very tiny, she was placed amongst the much younger children (!); Kathy Norton; Audrey Brown; Sylvia Mason; Betty Deakin; Audrey Humphrey 9sisster to Alan, and a bridesmaid at Mavis’s wedding); Reg Shingler; Tony Freeman.

Second Row from the bottom, again left to right:

1 AND 2 ??? (but Mavis says a few of the group were evacuees and not that well known) thereafter Chris Burgin; Pam Griffin (her cousin);Janet Hayward; possibly Betty Lloyd; Sylvia Brown; ??; Janet Beard; Maureen Whitehouse; ?? possibly surname Allport?; Frank Norton; John Smith

Third Row from left to right:

1 and 2 ??; Edna Taylor but maybe Betty Hayward; Rhoda Hassal; Betty Highway; Jean Wordley; Hazel James; ??; possibly Betty Hayward; 10-12 ???

4th Row from bottom, left to right:

Maurice Buckley; ?? Rowe?; Myrtle Dawes; ??; Margaret Shingler; ??; Jean Farmer (mother of Barbara Cassidy); 8-10 ???; Beryl James; ??

The Choir – 5th row from bottom, left to right:

Gwynneth Osborn??; An evacuee teacher??; ? Deakin; ?? but played the organ; ??? but was the pump organ person (?); Conductor, Frank Buckley; Edna Brown; Jessie Dennis; Jenny Bladon; Edi Farmer; Daisy Beddows

6th Row, left to right:

1 – ??; David Smith (whose house was the one struck by the thunder bolt referenced in the latest episode!); ?? Rowe?; Flossie Deakin??; Harold Buckley; “Mr” Maddox; Joyce Deakin; Bill Deakin; 9-12 ?????????

Now, one of the lads in this photo, maybe not too far from the left in the first row, was referenced in Mavis’s original text about THAT thunderbolt, but suspect David Evans decided discretion was called for so omitted part of the original text that formed part of that particular tale. I just love it. It read

‘…the scullery was all rubble, and there was xxxxxxxx (name omitted in case his grandchildren were to read this!!!) scrambling about the floor, saying “Come on Mave, it’s blown the meter off the wall, and I’m after all the tanners (sixpences)!! Everyone was in the living room and it was just as if the roof has hanging on its own – it had been lifted off the wall. Today everyone would have been evacuated.”

Hope that a few of your readers will now be able to identify their grans/grandpas, and if the descendants of the entrepreneurial youngster who scrambled for the tanners read this, maybe they can claim their inheritance!!!

On a slightly different tack, but (kind of!) still Mavis related


The map in question, supplied by Walsall Local History Centre.

The latest Mavis episode starts with a map of Ogley Hay from 1902, and this is coincidentally of particular relevance to Mavis. The original image was kindly made available by the Walsall Local History Centre to Bob Houghton, who was researching the life of Mavis’s uncle – also my grandfather – Thomas Fairfield – as part of the Burntwood Family History Group Memorial Project. Bob annotated it with places relevant to Thomas’s life, and this is the image now shown. Thomas, like Mavis, was born in Foxes Row, and lived all of his short life in Brownhills. He attended the same primary school. We believe he worked at the Cannock Chase No 7 pit (does anyone out there please have a photograph of this mine – I can’t find one) until he enlisted for war. He was killed on The Somme in 1916. Anyway, you will know that the splendid Burntwood Family History Group has researched a fair number of local men killed in WW1 (and is now doing some WW2 lost servicemen), and for those of your readers who find these mini-biographies of special interest, they might like to be aware that the BFHG now has a second, subsidiary website for the Memorial Project mini-biographies –  These mini-biographies not only cover the war years, but give a lot of information about the communities and lives of the soldiers prior to their enlistment. Great and very informative reading about the locality they lived in as well as the sacrifices to the war effort.

Best wishes to you and many thanks for all you do to embrace, remember and celebrate the Brownhills folk and their lives – past and present.

Ann (Grinstead)

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3 Responses to I’m after all the tanners!

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    cheers, Ann ..and thanks for the mention of Burntwood History groups work, too
    kind regards

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    Re the chapel picture:
    In the choir, thr man right at the back, just left of centre, balding, is John Court. I believe he played the organ. He married Dad’s aunt Lizzie Dennis, but I don’t think she is there.
    On the back row second right is Samuel Dennis and, I think, third left, his wife Harriet; my grandparents. Sam apparently sang falsetto, which is more generally called counter tenor these days.
    Fourth right is Jessie Brotherton who would marry Alan Dennis in 1942. Alan is fourth left. Next is Alan’s brother, Derrick Dennis, my late father, who would have been about 15. Jessie was a soprano, who as a young woman had the chance to go professional with a big band, but her parents refused to let her travel to London. Dad did operate the organ bellows, but I think he might have passed it on by then. Having said that he was no great chorister!
    I remember the thunderbolt, or at least the aftermath. Someone said it was ball lightening. Complete destruction, anyway. I think they lived in a caravan while the new bungalow was built.

  3. aerreg says:

    Thank you for the memouries of the sermons if only my wife was here to see them some of her cousans and school pals of our younger days and the friday night dances at the memo have gone through my mind roghda hassell boy could she jidder bug meories of the tanner the begging piece short trousers white frocks full congregations thanks again god bless i think we called sevens the fly

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