More Monkey business

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The Monkey Puzzle turned out to be the former Wilkin pub in Brownhills West, now the Thai Lanna restaurant.

A couple of weeks ago I posted an enquiry by reader Margaret King about the location of a pub her Dad remembered from when he was evacuated to Brownhills as a small boy: he remembered the pub as ‘The Monkey Puzzle’, which had me somewhat perplexed.

Of course, readers came to my aid and pointed out the pub in question was undoubtedly The Wilkin, now a Thai restaurant. I also found that the Wilkin Pit nearby, was also colloquially known as ‘The Monkey’.

The Struggling Monkey pub on Northgate, between Walsall Wood and Aldridge, now renamed the Lime Kilns has only existed since the 1960s, as Northgate was a later construction than many people think.

Margaret King has been back in touch with a very kind message of thanks to readers for their help – this is you folks making a real difference. I love the note about ‘the lake with a railway running through it’ – Roy would have known that as Norton Pool, now Chasewater, and that still matches the description very well!

Thanks to all, and if you can help with Margaret’s further questions, please do…

Margaret writes:

Hi Bob,

Many thanks for the quick reply.

I had a look on your link below, you have lots of helpful readers who know their stuff!! My dad and I looked on googlemaps to see if he could work out which road he stayed on, and we used the street view function where you can view a road as if you are walking along it. The road my dad guessed at had a fork in the road and a thai restaurant in the middle, at the time he didn’t think this was the place as the houses were all post-war so looked so different to what he remembers, but it sounds like
that definitely was the right place!

The story of how my dad ended up there is this:

My grandad was called George King and he was a lorry driver, delivering bits and pieces all over the country. He got friendly with a family there in Brownhills and this is where my nan and dad and uncles went to stay.

My nan was called Margaret King, and my dad is Roy King, and there was also my uncle John and twin baby brothers. My dad thinks he recalls going there twice, once earlier on in the war, the family returned to London but then went back towards the end of the war. My dad remembered one trip up there, my grandad was transporting a glider somewhere which was on the back of the lorry, it was a bit of a squash in the lorry cab so my dad and his older brother sat in the glider while my grandad drove, that wouldn’t be allowed these days! He can’t remember where the glider went though, if it was dropped off in or near Brownhills or not.

My dad was born in 1940 so would have only been very young (although his memories are all correct so far! He also remembers playing at the lake that had a railway line running across the middle of it), but John is older so may have made friends with someone who still lives there, or someone may remember my grandad George or nan Margaret, or Peggy as she liked to be called? If you could throw these names around to your readers, it may ring a bell with someone who remembers that far back.

If not though not to worry, it is a bit of a long shot. And you have already been so helpful, confirming the pub so we know we are looking in the right place.

If you do happen to shed any more light then please do let me know, but if not, many many thanks for your help already.

Kind regards

Please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thank you.


The Monkey was an odd little pit – it’s mound is still evident in the centre of the Wilkin estate. Image from ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

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12 Responses to More Monkey business

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    References to the Wilkin Inn or Old Wilkin Inn that I have found go back to the 1871 census, when the licensee was the widow Lucy Follows. I recall it being Ye Olde Wilkin Inn before it became a restaurant. It appears that name was in continuous official use. The other pub nearby was the Pear Tree Cottage and again the name seems to have been in continuous use from 1871 to when it closed some years ago. Still, the Wilkin could have been known colloquially as the Monkey Puzzle.

    Am I right in thinking there was a monkey puzzle tree near to Baker’s garage as was?

    • Martin says:

      Hi Andrew, I don’t know about the one by Bakers Garage but I remember a monkey puzzle tree on the A5 (Watling St) between Wilkin Road and Hednesford Road quite a big tree.
      kind regards.

    • Philip Ward says:

      At the bottom end of Hednesford Road on the corner with the Watling Street, there were two Monkey Puzzle trees in the front of a house that was at the time owned by the Smith family. There were three daughters, Linda, Sandra and Trudy, I cannot recall the parents names. That was during the sixties.

  2. paul cook says:

    yes there is a monkey puzzle tree a large well established one only about 20 yards from the wilkin i have known it for 50 years

  3. aerreg says:

    Hi bob just had a thought re the elderly gentlemans story of the glider after the war george seedhouse sold war time gliders up the fortt follk made sheds out of the imay be wrong but is this where our friend delivered his

    • Tony Thacker says:

      I lived in Wilkin Road for 22 years.Ye olde Wilkin Inn was only ever called the Monkey…Glider bodies (still in wartime cam) were over the road from us belonging to the Hewit family.

  4. aerreg says:

    HERES anther memory seeker we have spoke of the monkey the pear tree the wilkin the goat who remembers princess knob it was located at the brow of the hill by albuts road also toward norton in the dip were the garden centre was stood a very old caravan of fair ground type opposite was a glass lit platform of the old midland line another old memory at the top of albuts road common side for many years in the hedge road was a peace of rock a meatirite years ago before the northern relief i was contacted for information of its where about i often wonder why i never found out hope my thoughts have not bored on the other hand it could start debate ha ha god bless should read gas light lit platform

    • Philip ward says:

      I had relatives that lived in the bungalows on Princes knob. The bungalows were I’m led to believe built by my uncle, John Lees, who had the corn merchants at number 10 Hednesford Road, next to the Rose Villa, later the working men’s club. His daughters Dora (Woolridge) lived in one, his other daughter, Stella lived next door, whilst his son John lived for a while in the house to the left of the entrance to Chasewater by the Wilkin.

  5. aerreg says:

    Hi Bob, just thought i would drop a line to say my daughter has informed me that it is bad manners to use CAPITALS when making a reply so my apologies to you, Pedro and others who i have been replying to with one finger CAPITAL replies. I really wasn’t shouting or getting annoyed 🙂

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