A travellers resting place

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Only loosely related, I know, but this is a cracking image of one of the last landlords of the pub. Image from ‘Memories of old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale.

A couple of days ago I featured here the request by Graham Kennison to find out more information about the lost Travellers Rest pub in Walsall Wood, which stood just over the canal bridge in Walsall Wood, round about where the carpet warehouse is today between Screwfix and Brickyard Lane.

Graham wrote:

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?

As expected, the Walsall Wood contingent – led by the young David Evans – sprang into action, and I feature below David’s research which is stunning and complete. David has been very diligent, and this has involved a lot of calling and asking around. I know he’s worked very hard on this – and I’m indebted to David, Barry Yates and I think Brian Stringer may have helped make contact, too.

This is a fine example of the community spirit this blog can engender at it’s best and I thank everyone profusely.

We’re still looking, however, for good pictures of the Travellers Rest. If you have one you’d be kind enough to let us scan, please do get in touch. Comment here, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Cheers!

David wrote:

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The spot in question is at the back of the unit in the centre of the image. Look for the twin downspouts. 3D rendering from the astounding Apple Maps.

The Lost Gate

Brownhills bobs blog recently received a request for help from a gentleman in Scotland, who needed to locate a precise place of the canal towpath in Walsall Wood. I am delighted to be able to help and take the opportunity to offer my sincere personal thanks to Mr Barry Yates, Walsall Wood Mon™ without whose help this would not have been possible. I also wish him and his wonderful folk group, The Staffordshire Men continued musical success (Music never leaves You) – thank you, Barry.

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The Travellers Rest, a long lost Walsall pub, as depicted in ‘Memories of Old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale. 

The Lady in the photo is Barry Yates’ aunt. He lived in the house just visible at the right hand edge of this photo.

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You can just see the pub sign behind the telegraph pole. This would be looking toward Walsall from the canal bridge; Screwfix in now down on the left where the terraces are. Image from ‘Memories of old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale.

This image shows the Travellers Rest just past the row of cottages where John Blakemore lived. Barry told me that John lived ‘two doors from the pub’.

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This image cased some debate in the comments to the original article. The lad has his back to the High Street, and that’s Walsall Wood Bridge in the background, the large Chapel now long gone. The wall on the far bank is still present, though. Image from ‘Memories of old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale.

In the above image, you can see the gate behind Trevor. There is a gentle drop in the level of the canal edge bricks, partially obscured by grass, in line with Trevor’s shoulder. This is an important feature.

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Nice hat! The drop in the brickwork is well-remembered. Barry Yates on Saturday, and photographed by David Evans.

This is Barry Yates, brother of Trevor Yates, standing at the same spot on the towpath, four paces from the gentle drop in the level of the newer blue bricks.

Immediately behind Barry is this modern fence, where the gate once stood. There are two drainpipes from the roof at this spot. The building is a carpet shop, and is by the car sales , opposite the junction of Hall Lane and Walsall road, Walsall Wood.

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These downspouts mark the spot. Image kindly supplied by David Evans.

Barry began to recount some of his childhood memories as we walked along the towpath… Hopefully we will share a cup of tea after the festive season and put these in to an article for the blog.

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Barry, with the other members of The Staffordshire Men folk group. Image supplied by David Evans.

Immense thanks to a true Walsall Wood gentleman, and renowned folk singer Mr Barry Yates.

David Evans
5 Dec 2015

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Bob’s note: Just one question, lads. Is this a relative, too? Image from ‘Memories of old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale.

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14 Responses to A travellers resting place

  1. David Evans says:

    Thanks Bob, for this super presentation..
    cheers Graham

    kind regards
    David

  2. Graham says:

    Amazing! Thank you everyone for making such an effort – and congratulations on such a great result.
    John talked so much about Tommy Fenn that it’s wonderful to see his picture. Fingers crossed that a good picture of the outside will turn up.
    I’ll pass all this information onto John’s family.
    What a strange coincidence that Barry Yates lived by John. I was at the Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust Gathering in September and sat listening to the Staffordshire Men without realising the significance of who was singing.
    After we left the Gathering we sailed round to Walsall Wood, much of the time along the route John used to take his horse boat. We stopped off and visited John, as it turned out for the last time.

  3. Peter Leek says:

    What a great story about The Travellers i too was bought up there spending many hours in there with my Auntie Lil Yates (Barry & Trevors Mom). I also remember Nelly Fenn and Johnny Fenn. I used to be looked after by my Aunti and Nelly while my Mom went to work at Dolman’s in Hall Lane..

  4. David Evans says:

    Hi Peter
    Dolmans? a works , factory…?I wonder what they made.. or still make….and if any other readers have info and memories., please
    cheers
    David

  5. cj says:

    hi dolmans used to make leather purses and wallets etc

  6. Jacqui Blakemore says:

    Thank you Graham, Barry & Trevor Yates and David Evans for the help.
    John Blakemore was my dad and had so many stories about growing up in Walsall Wood, living and working on the canal.
    Lots and lots of fantastic memories.

  7. Peter Leek says:

    Dolman’s used to make leather wallets, purses ect, I remember growing up on the Hussey Estate and me Mom used to also do outwork for Dolman’s, we always had a large glue pot on the stove for Mom’s work. She worked there for over 25 years god rest her soul

    • Lee schofield says:

      Your mom probably knew mine, Pat Schofield, started at 15 I believe and worked for them till she passed in 2000 aged 60. I too remember the glue and purses everywhere on the dining room table!

  8. Graham says:

    By way of thanking everyone who took such trouble to respond to my enquiry I would like to make my own small contribution to the story of the Travellers Rest.

    In the Spring of 1954 a boat passed the pub on its way to pick up some coal. Normally it would have picked up its load and returned to the pub for the night but, unfortunately, when they got to the colliery their coal was not ready so the boat was unable to return to the Travellers for the night. One of the boat’s crew was a young man, Tom Foxon, who went to have a career on the canal and who then became a noted canal author.

    In his book “No 1″ he gives the following decription of the pub and the ajoined terrace of houses as they passed the next morning,
    “….the next obstacle to be negotiated was the main road bridge at Walsall Wood, situated in the middle of a sharp S bend, a test of skill for the helmsman at the best of times.
    On our right, between the main road and the towpath, lay the backyards of a row of terrace houses and a pub. This was the “Traveller’s Rest”, or “Traveller”, as it was more usually referred to, and while it goes largely unsung in books about canals, it was the last canalside pub where a group of horse boats would tie up and stable their horses for the night”. A buxom woman carrying a baby appeared at the yard gate of one of the houses and a shouted conversation – in broad Black Country dialect on her part – took place….over the widening gap between us.”

  9. Ralph Lefevre says:

    Hi. I live next door to Lil Fenn in Hall Lane next door but one to where Lil Yates used to live and remember Barry and Trevor .John Fenn lived next door to the Yates family. The David Yates watching the coal train isn’t related. He lived in Queen Street Walsall Wood with his dad Fred until recently and is a good fried of mine. He now lives in Burntwood.

    • David Evans says:

      Hi Ralph
      many thanks for your comments. Most appreciated and kind of you. I wonder if David has photos of “the Wood” he would like to share with readers..That’s a big please.
      cheers
      David

  10. Jane Radford says:

    John Wesley the landlord of the Travellers Rest was my Great Great grandfather! Thanks for posting the pics and story

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