Illuminating Ray – one for the researchers?


The Anglesey Arms is long gone – but the memory remains. It was believed to be the favourite haunt of Brownhills entrepreneur and character Ralph Ferrie. Image from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

I have here an excellent enquiry for a Sunday afternoon which I feel many readers will be very, very interested in – not least Andy Dennis, if he’s passing, but maybe others concerned with the Newtown area on the Watling Street, which has been the subject of so many past articles here on the blog.

Colin Ray wrote to me in the week with a couple of great pictures and an intriguing enquiry:

Hi Bob

I have just found your blog while researching my family history.

My late mother born 1910 was born in a cottage in Newtown, was baptised in the Primitive Methodist Chapel and was at Watling Street School. She died in 2006. I have her Birth and Baptism Certificates and a class photograph of Watling Street School form 1915 or 1916.

Mother described where she lived up until her marriage in the late 1920s as a terrace of cottages with a railway behind and a field, a canal and then a tar works in front. She used to fetch jugs of beer for her uncles from a pub near the cottage. Her mother, she said, ran a small shop in the terrace. I am trying to establish exactly where this might have been. From the description of the railway and tar works it sounds like the area near the Chase Inn, but it may have been cottages near the now demolished Anglesey Arms.

Watling Street School

Dorothy Emma Tunstall at school, around 1915. Image kindly supplied by Colin Ray.

My mother was born in 1910, so I think the photo must be about 1915. She is the girl in the centre, leaning back slightly with the dark curly hair. Her maiden name was Dorothy Emma Tunstall. I hope people find this of interest and perhaps might be able to identify others. If you get any information I would love to see it. As I said before I am trying to find out exactly where the family cottage was and which pub my other used to visit to collect the jugs of beer from for her uncles, who were miners.

Mum 16 2

Dorothy Emma Tunstall as a young lady aged 16. Image kindly supplied by Colin Ray.

In 1911, when she was nine months old, the family, including her grandmother, mother and uncles are described as living in Newtown Brownhills, and I would like to try and narrow this down to exactly whereabouts this was, which I think must either be near the Chase Inn or the Anglesey Arms.

For interest I also attach a photo of her age 16.

Colin Ray

For illustration of the area, and in case Colin hasn’t seen it, I also include Fred Shingler’s Watling Street film as it shows many of the buildings concerned, just about to be lost.

Please, if you can help, comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

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21 Responses to Illuminating Ray – one for the researchers?

  1. Mick Bullock says:

    I am pretty sure where COLIN is talking about would be the terrace houses next to the Chase pub where the service road is now,there is the canal,the railway and as far as I know the tar works were where Charringtons were later.There wasn’t a Railway or canal near to the old Anglesey Arms.

    • Colin Ray says:

      Thanks for that Mick, very helpful. I have just remembered that my Mother used to say how she would spend her time collecting Bilberries along a lakeside at Norton Canes Colliery. I think this must have been in the area that is now Chasewater Country Park.

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    Hello Colin / All
    I’ve only ever heard Newtown to refer to the area from Newtown Bridge, where the railway crosses the Walting Street (A5), and eastward to the Chase Inn and beyond.
    Looking at the sequence of 1911 census records on Ancestry the order goes eastward: Knaves Castle (image 196), Canalside Nr Freeth Bridge, Watling St. (198), Nr Chasetown Sidings, with Triangle struck through (up to 206), Chase Inn (208), Whitehead / Tunstall (246), Cox – last in Ecclesiastical Parish of Ogley Hay. There are more records for Newtown including a Sycamore Cottage, which is the name of No 86 today. Old maps show a lot of terraced houses east of the Chase Inn, so it appears the Tunstall family lived towards the eastern end.
    Parish of Ogley Hay looks odd at first sight, because I thought the boundary was the Watling Street, with the north side being in Hammerwich, but there is a difference between the Civil Parish and the Ecclesiatical Parish, so in 1901 the Chase Inn is recorded at Newtown, CP of Hammerwich and EP of Ogley Hay.
    The geographical information fits this location perfectly, as Mick points out. The tar works, known locally as “The Chemical”, stood on Lichfield Road, above the west bank of the canal, where the new blue Castings building stands today. I belive its main function was to process waste products from the town gas works.
    The Mount Pleasant Primitive Methodist Chapel stood on the north side of Watling Street roughly midway between the canal and Castle Street. This is distinct from the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel which stood further west at the corner of Chapel Street, across from the Prince of Wales.

  3. Emma Smith says:

    Hi Colin, As you know we have a Tunstall connection through my Great Grandfather Edward Tunstall, I think he was the Uncle of your mother. His Wife Gertrude Smith had a brother Caleb Smith who married Julia Aldridge but my nan said they ran The Chase Inn as some stage but I haven’t found any written evidence to confirm this but she is adamant it was The Chase Inn. I know the Tunstall’s and the Smith’s were all from this area. Hope this helps. Emma x

    • Colin Ray says:

      Hi Emma, nice to hear from you, thanks very much for the information. I am slowly adding to the family history. Colin

  4. Pedro says:

    1939…Glaze Coach Tours Ltd…Super Luxury on wheels…starting point Chase Inn, Newtown, Brownhills.

    Also a mention of Caleb Smith, Garage proprietor of the Chase Inn, Newtown. in trouble for not having a conductor!

  5. Andy Dennis says:

    Lichfield Mercury 31 May 1935
    Robert Caleb Smith, of the Chase Inn, Newtown, was summoned for driving without due care and attention … case dismissed.
    Lichfield Mercury 13 May 1938
    Robert Caleb Smith, of the Chase Inn, Newtown, was summoned for using a public service vehicle without a conductor and with an excessive number of passengers … fined 5s and 10s.
    Lichfield Mercury 22 Dec 1939
    Caleb Smith, a garage proprietor, of Chase Inn, Watling Street … witness to a road accident.
    Looks like he ran the Chase Inn between 1935 and 1939.

    • Emma Smith says:

      Colin my nan also said that her grandparents Caleb Smith Senior and Ruth Green used to live in the house next to The Chase Inn. Emma x

    • Emma Smith says:

      Andy, where can I find more information in relation to the above newspaper articles please.
      Emma x

      • Andy Dennis says:

        Hello Emma
        I subscribe to findmypast dot co dot uk, which is a resource for genealogists, including some newspaper archives. Another source is britishnewspaperarchive dot co dot uk, which you have to pay for also. There are various packages and sometimes free weekends when you can download to your heart’s content.
        That said, if you send a message to Bob we could communicate direct.

        • Emma Smith says:

          Thank you I will keep my eye open I subscribe to Ancestry at present. I will email Bob direct. Speak soon.

  6. Andy Dennis says:

    In 1911 Caleb, 21, miner, and Julia, 21, lived at No 5 Mount Pleasant Cottages, Watling Street. Next record was another Caleb Smith, 50, colliery engine winder and wife Ruth – the younger Caleb’s parents? This must have been somewhere near the Prims.

  7. aerreg says:

    re the anglesy pub the cottages were known as foxs row anna foxs owned them i knew her she spent many hours in one of them occopied by my wifes aunt clara birch and family anna ended her days in a nursing home in lichfield the pub became derelect and its last tennants were steevy coopers pigs re chas ferrie i remember him when he came to brownhills he occupide the warehouses by the canal side by the canal side behind the station hotel i knew him personaly

  8. aerreg says:

    recaylip smith his coaches were housed opposite the pub on the lichfieid side of the newtown bridge whhere the terrace resteraunt stood and was made of curragated sheets there were some cottages along side the pub the friar family being one i recall to my mind we just called it the newtown pub it was a small comunity other names i recall are paynes and pearce jacksons little did we realize in years to come it wasto be a golden area god bless

  9. aerreg says:

    sorry to be a pest the tar works if she looked from her front window across the road from the cottage towards caylips garage she would have seen the chemical works in lichfield road the canal flowed between bless her she was right lovley memouries

    • Colin Ray says:

      Many thanks for your comments, and to everyone, this has really helped me piece a few things together.

  10. Andy Dennis says:

    I’ve had a look at the old Ordnance Survey maps. The 1884 and 1902 editions show the Chase Inn and two terraces of houses immediately to the east. The 1919 and 1938 maps show two pairs of cottages immediately east of the terraces; these would be Edwardian. The 1911 census has just four households between the Whitehead / Tunstall house and the end of the parish. If the enumerator really was proceeding in an orderly manner the last four records would be the two pairs of cottages and the Tunstalls would be the last terraced house. The Edwardian cottages are still there, though one has been extended.

    The 1938 map shows two large buildings next to the Chase Inn, where Reg says Caleb kept his buses.

    • Colin Ray says:

      Andy, That’s great information, it narrows things down to where the family might actually have lived I have not seen the older OS maps. I don’t suppose they indicate that the end cottage may have been a shop? Mum used to say that her mother Mary Hannah Tunstall used to run a small sweet shop and general store.

      • Andy Dennis says:

        I doubt you would be able to discern a shop from the mapping. People used to convert the front room into a shop, a bit like Arkwright’s in Open All Hours. There were several in the area: locals will recall Mrs Dean’s sweet shop next to the Queens Head, Prior’s sweet shop in Chapel Street, Ellis’s next to the Prince of Wales and I dare say Gwyn Evans’ butchers at the bottom of Paul’s Coppice. Doubtless, many more. Just down the road from me Mrs Smith had a veranda at the side of the house from where she sold fruit and vegetables.

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