And the Rest?


The Travellers Rest, a long lost Walsall pub, as depicted in ‘Memories of Old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale. Do you have a better photo, or know were the canal gate was?

I’d like readers top help with the following fascinating enquiry please, that reaches me from Graham Kennison, who’s looking for some rather specific information about the Travellers Rest pub that used to be in Walsall Wood.

Graham would also like a decent photo (and that would be a great addition to the blog, too).

I’m sure the Walsall Wood contingent will be able to help with this one, and if you can, please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Graham wrote:

Good morning Bob,

Firstly, thanks for keeping up the blog – I don’t know how you find the time – but it is a great resource and greatly appreciated – by me at least!

A good friend from Walsall Wood died this week and his family would appreciate some help from you and your readers.

My friend was brought up in the terrace of houses that included the Travellers Rest, near Walsall Wood Bridge. The pub, stables and canal made up much of his childhood world. His mother used to say that she always knew where he was, “ if he wasn’t on the cut he was in it!”. During school holidays he would hitch rides with passing boatmen & when he left school he worked on the coal boats. Although the trade was then in its dying years, so his career was short lived, John always had a great love of the canal.

His wish was that his ashes should be put into the canal by the gates from the towpath into the Travellers. The problem is that, although he said that the gate posts could still be seen, the family don’t know exactly where they are. I walked along the canal in September and couldn’t locate them. I live in Scotland at the moment so can’t easily pop back for another look!

Could any of your readers help to locate the gates?

Also does anyone have a good picture of the Travellers that they would be happy to let us scan? We would also appreciate any pictures of coal carrying on the canal in the Walsall Wood area and of the canal at Walsall Wood colliery in particular.

The strange thing about the Travellers is that, although it was a long-established pub and canal stables, it doesn’t seem to appear on any maps. Perhaps some of your stable of star historians can tell us why?

Kind regards,
Graham Kennison

My thanks and best wishes to Graham for his kind words and I wish him all the best for his touching and thoughtful enquiry.

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32 Responses to And the Rest?

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    I think the blog article Faggits!Faggots, Dec 3 2011 shows young Trevor Yates standing on the canal towpath and just by the gates. Perhaps it might be possible to check an old map of Walsall Wood, but I think they were behind present day Screwfix base or very close nearby.
    Oakparkrunner blog may have a photo of the pub…but, yes, the only photo Ive ever seen of the Rest is the one in Bill Mayos book, shown above. Good luck with your search Graham. I do hope that readers can help you more..perhaps the Yates family or other Walsall Wood families have other photos!
    kind regards

  2. stymaster says:

    I might be wrong, but the picture David mentions looks to me to be taken looking southish, with Lichfield Rd on the left, in the vicinity of the current health centre (previously a used car sales lot). If you look you can see the tram cables poking over the roofline. I may be wrong though, but the line of the canal looks right.

  3. Pedro says:

    February 1910. Owner Robert Ball, licence John Wesley…

    ….house is great convenience to the canal boat men, they stable their horses there at night, and was the only house in the district that had such a convenience. Between Shelfield and Shire Oak there were only 7 houses on the main road, and this house was used largely as a house Of call by market gardeners.

    …. They’re being good space in the front of the house for carts. The tenant had been there six years, and pays £50 a year rent….

    (More info if needed)

  4. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    the picture I refer to shows Trevor with the big Wesley chapel in the background..which stood opposite the St Johns Health centre in the High front of the chapel is the side of Ecobs chemist. Behind Trevor closer to the camera is Jacques. yard which was south of the canal bridge the photo is south of the canal bridge,with the gates to the Travellers Rest pub behind Trevor. Some while ago. I did show the photo to a lady who had lived in the row of cottages by the pub and she immediately recognised the tow path as. being where the longboats moored overnight. She used to play on the pubs railings, seen in the photo, when she was a girl..

  5. David Evans says:

    Hi Graham
    we are fortunate to have such a rich blog to help…..If you look up the blog article “Meet me on the corner”, May 20, 2012 you will find a map of Walsall Wood, and it has the Travellers Rest…look for 694 and PH..I think the stables are shown, too.
    kind regards

  6. Andy Dennis says:

    Stymaster is right. The lad is standing on the east side of the canal north of the bridge in the area marked on the map beside the large number 642. This is the right angle for seeing the chapel to the south as it is. Therefore the caption on the Bill Mayo picture must be wrong if the Travellers Rest was where David says it was.

  7. David Evans says:

    Hi Graham…this is WalsallCouncils library of photos…search..walsall wood..and image
    w03015. is the aerialphoto of the south of the village, showing the Travellers Rest, canal etc…and the image has details of how to proceed etc. The excellent photo library has images of canals etc, but not necessarily at Walsall Wood
    some blog readers also have connections with families from that very part of the village..what was your friends family name, please.
    kind regards

  8. David Evans says:

    hI Andy
    the wall between the canal and Beech Tree Road from the bend to the bridge , is still there…it can be seen in the photo aclickintime now has both aerial photos of the village….check the position of the towpath…

    • Andy Dennis says:

      Got it now. The 1884 map does not show the chapel that is in the picture, but the 1919 map does! At that scale – grid is 100 metres – the gate was about 50 m south of the bridge.

  9. aerreg says:

    lots of memouries stired again of my early working days and people in walsall wood however it stired another memory and puzzle as i recall from the brigdge onward to shelfield the open road was knwn to me as the iron dish any clues why // GOD BLESS

  10. Graham says:

    Thank you Bob Bloggers! What a great and thoughtful response, and so quickly.

    The maps were very interesting and I see that the Travellers is in fact on both maps. I still find it strange that what must have been a big and important establishment is only marked as “PH” and not given a name. Since it served the boaters on the canal, was it a bit of snobbery on the part of the cartographers perhaps?

    The photograph of James Yates is interesting fbit of canal history. The brick edge of the canal had clearly just been built up but the towpath still needs to be back-filled. A clear sign of the subsidence the canal suffered.

    My friend’s name was John Blakemore and if you cut him open he would have had “Walsall Wood” written right through him. He had an amazing memory and could recall his days on the canal as though he had just tied up his boat yesterday.

  11. Andy Dennis says:

    I’ve never understood the OS approach to naming pubs, it seems at best arbitrary, but maybe there is a mapping expert out there?

  12. David Evans says:

    Hello Graham
    wow! the name Blakemore is a real Walsall Wood name! Many thanks…I wonder if you remember some of his canal stories..perhaps to send ,like the Travellers Rest itself, this important part of Walsall Wood life , though often recounted in families,seems to be unrecorded for posterity, sadly
    Did you know there is a Blakemore Road in the village? and for a reason…
    kind regards and best wishes, and a thanks to Andy for comng up trumps again.

    Trevor Yates was standing at the bottom of his garden for the photo. There was a big gate from the canal to the pub. so the bargees could take their horse to the stables.
    The as yet unrepaired canal bank, and the new bricks, helps to date the photo. I think bloggers will be able to give you a date for this!
    The Travellers Rest was still open for trade in 1960

  13. Graham says:

    David, Thank you for yet more information.
    John was part of a large extended family although he didn’t know all of the Blakemores in the village. He had an uncle who had two wheel horse drawn carts which were used to deliver the coal allowance to the local colliers. The cart had two wheels so that it could be easily tipped.

    It is the old story, of course, I should have started writing down John’s stories much earlier than I did. Had we have known that his health was going to deteriorate so rapidly I would have collected more. I am working on an article for a canal magazine. Before he died John knew that they were going to publish it, I’m just sad that he didn’t see it published.

    It is the site of the big gates that I am trying to locate. Perhaps the photograph will help me. However, if any blog reader can pin point it for me I would be very appreciative. John said that there was still a gate post standing – but in September I couldn’t see it.

  14. David Evans says:

    Hi Graham
    pleased to report that the exact spot of the gate has been located. More to follow in a while.
    an important football match beckons
    Kind regards

  15. Pedro says:

    The Travellers Rest was quite an old establishment; it was up for Let in 1864!

    • Pedro says:

      Mr. John Wesley, Traveller’s Rest In Walsall Wood, was elected to fill the vacant seat on the Executive Committee….Walsall and District Licensed Victuallers’ Society…October 1906

    • Andy Dennis says:

      I notice in that article it is described as “that Old Licensed House”. I’d say it looks Georgian and may have been built to draw trade from the turnpike road.

      It is not named in the 1861 census, but a few records from the Boot Inn, going towards Hall Lane at Public House, Thos Cresswell, publican & bricklayer. The Boot Inn was run by a William Davis in 1861 and he is listed in 1851 as tile maker and inn keeper. Assuming that was also The Boot, at a similar distance is Ann Cooper, victualler and farmer, which could be the Travellers Rest.

      In 1841 Ann Cooper and husband John, farmer, lived along from Iron Dish, one record away from John Rock, publican, and wife Mary, who are listed respectively in White’s Directory 1834 and 1851 for The Boot. It appears reasonable to suppose that Ann Cooper was running the Travellers Rest, though there is no mention in the above directories.

      As I said, I think it is probably much older.

  16. Pedro says:

    Well this is my theory, a long shot!

    The license for the Boatswain’s Well, Walsall Wood, was changed in 1861 from William Davis and Thomas Stokes to William Davis only.

    In 1861 census Thomas Stokes was at the Red Lion, and William Davis was at the Boatswain’s Rest (census a little unclear but Boat… Can be made out)

    Could it be that sometime after 1861 the Boatswain became the Travellers? Boatmen and Travellers!

  17. Andy Dennis says:

    Right then. Between us, Pedro I think we have it.

    1861 census Solomon (not Thomas) Whitehouse, publican & brickmaker, Boot Inn. Harrod’s Directory 1861, p 206, Solomon Whitehouse, Old Boat – I think this is a typo. Later on the pub was known as the Old Boot.

    Harrod’s, p205, Davis & Stokes, Boat Inn (the Davis bit threw me off the scent).

    Confusing, eh!

    The giveaway is an article in the Staffordshire Advertiser 11 Jan 1862 – Freehold public house … Walsall Wood … to be sold … “that well-accustomed old licensed public house, known by the sign of the Boat, … now and for many years in the occupation of William Davis …”

    So, I agree with you about the name change, though I think what we both misread in the 1861 census for William Davis was really “Boat Inn”. It seems it was sold in 1862 and renamed Travellers Rest before the 1864 article you found. (Thomas Cresswell and the Coopers were obviously running some kind of un-named pub or beerhouse nearby.)

    The name “Boat” implies a relationship with the canal, so maybe they were built about the same time. According to Ray Shill (p 27) completion of the Daw End Branch was announced on 30 Nov 1801, which ties in with the Georgian appearance.

    Whoever named the second of these establishments had a screw loose?

    • Clive says:

      Hello Andy. I’m doing some research on Walsall Wood Pubs, and as you say, with the typo errors it makes things as clear as mud. So far a have found; Boat; Old Boot; Boot and then the Travellers Rest, so far it seems that the Boat became the Travellers Rest, but the boat may have been demolished and another pub built and named the Travellers rest. just got to sort 6 pages of info out, then the mud may be a bit clearer!
      Good luck, your going to need it to sort this one out mate.

      • Pedro says:

        BUT what about the Boatswain’s Well!

        The advert for transfer of license in Staffs Advertiser May 11 1861 says Boatswain’s Well, Walsall Wood!

        • Clive says:

          Oh no not another one, cheers Pedro, I’m going to find myself a new hobby!

          • Clive says:

            Hi Pedro. Checked my records and the William Davies in the newspaper report of 11 may 1861, looks like another typo as in the census report of 1861 william Davies is the publican of the Boat Inn, I know which media I trust! how the boat Inn became the boat swain’s well, I have no idea, maybe the reporter had to much ale!

  18. David Evans says:

    Hi Pedro and Andy
    Love Walsall Wood and love the blog. The Red Lion public house changed its name a few years ago, and is now called..wait for it..Boatmans Rest. Thanks for all your excellent research. I owe you both a pint or ten…perhaps in the Drunken Duck?
    kind regards

  19. Pedro says:

    On the OS Map surveyed in 1882 it very much looks like the Old Boot is close to where Boatsman’s Lane appears. I wonder if this accounts for the census marking?

  20. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob, Pedro, Andy, Clive
    re;-the 1861 census for Walsall Wood. Mention is made in the first page ,of the Wesleyan chapel ( this was the first chapel, opposite the Travellers Rest) which did not open until 1862.suggesting that Mr John Cordwell the enumerator, may have taken a very long time to write up the ledger, from his first notes. However, he does mention “the Vigo” in the description of his walkabout.
    see Walsall district 10 . Used William Davies , Walsall Wood, as starting point to access this register

  21. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a postscript. Mr Cordwells M is so like his W…see his ” Minor” and “Widow”…

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