The rest was history


Jim Gould in more recent times. Image kindly supplied by Brian Edwards.

Here’s something I’m quite fascinated by, as it’s cropped in in several discussions I’ve had of late, and it’s related to a book I need to catch up on, just to see what all the raving is about…

Brian Edwards has been in touch again, from Vancouver where he now lives; but Brian grew up locally and has recently spoken of his memories of life here and in a particularly popular post, of the Shelfield Youth Club.

This time, Brian remembers his years at Shelfield School being taught history by a rather remarkable man; Jim Gould, and recommends the book he wrote ‘Men of Aldridge’, which as I say, a few folk have commended to me of late, and I’m currently tracking down a copy.

This is a remarkable memory, and I welcome reader comment – either here, or to BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Thanks to Brian for yet another wonderful contribution.

Brian wrote:

Hello Bob

I was just reading this article on past farming and would like to bring your attention to a landmark that I am sure has been dismantled in the way of progress.

When arriving at your first history lesson at Shelfield Senior School in the 50s early 60s you would have been lucky enough to have been graced with the knowledge of Mr. Jim Gould. Mr. Jim Gould was a Spitfire pilot in the war and after the world calmed down somewhat Mr Gould needed to find a job and lucky for Shelfield he chose the teaching of history.

The first field trip was really a field trip and he would march his students from the school and down Mob Lane from where he would pick up a public pathway through the fields that lead on down to Ford Brook (the one that rises a spring below where Brownhills council placed their dump). Once the class had come upon the brook it was then followed until you arrived behind what we knew as Wardies Farm which I believe is properly named Grange Farm which was my last paper on my route before heading onto school.

So it was nearing the back of Grange farm that sits beside The Coppie Woods that Mr. Gould’s discovery was displayed to his students. It was a mound of stones, not field stones that a farmer had removed but stones that were used a lot farther back before farming had arrived. This pile of large stones were black and charred from fire; this pile of stones were from the time of stone age man and they were used for heating water in vessels after the stones had been removed from a fire and placed in the water.

Mr. Gould was a most honourable and renowned historian who went on to write a book by the name of Men of Aldridge of which I have a copy sent me by a friend who discovered it in South Africa. I thought that this story would stir the minds of many in the region and when Spring arrives warm it may take them on a short hike to what hopefully will be a new discovery for them, that’s if as I say it hasn’t already been dismantled.

You may also want to do a search of Jim Gould and Men of Aldridge because he covers everything back to the stone age. On a final note; just a few years back my wife Glenys visited Jim Gould who was still living on the Erdington road Aldridge, if he is still gracing a pathway on this earth maybe you should ride on by and introduce yourself to him.

I have attached a photo of Jim for you. I’m sure he would not mind being part of this.

Have a good day.


There are teachers and there are teachers and if you were to ask any pupil of Jim Gould their eyes would shine with his memory. My wife asked where he acquired his education for teaching history; what teachers training college and such and he replied, ‘after the war I just thought that the knowledge that I carried should be shared, so I applied for a history teachers job and got it’.

The rest was history.

Cheers again

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21 Responses to The rest was history

  1. Gillian Smith says:

    Jim Gould was my great uncle. He sadly passed away a couple of years back.

    • Sorry to hear that, Gillian, my condolences.

      Clearly a remarkable man

      Best wishes

      • Gillian Smith says:

        Thank you, he certainly was…

      • Gillian Smith says:

        Bob, following on from this thread which has been great to read by the way, I have a photo of my Great Uncle Jim in his Naval Uniform which I would like to publish, how do I go about this? I’ve tried to copy and paste the photo but I’m unable to publish it…can you help please? Thank you

  2. I went to shelfield school and used to go with Mr Gould every Saturday morning to the back of the Trooper Inn at Wall and dig for roman remains I used to treasure the bits of roman pot and glass that we found and were allowed to keep,I believe he was a member of the Lichfield archeology society and a wonderful teacher.

  3. Jim Gould was a friend of my Uncle, Joe Brangan, who died many years ago. I have a signed copy of Men of Aldridge, given to me by Joe’s daughter Lynda. Lynda and I went on the Wall dig one day with Uncle Joe. The only thing I remember was getting clipped by a stone Lynda had thrown. I do like archaeology though so the visit must have had some lasting effect. I thought Mr Gould had died a long time ago too; was surprised to hear it had only been two years ago.

  4. Malcolm Case says:

    Just goes to show that you don’t need a degree or other formal qualification to make a good and respected taecher.

  5. Geoffrey Boulton says:

    Jim and his wife helped with the Youth Club at Aldridge Methodist Church in the 1950’s.

  6. Geoffrey Boulton says:

    Jim and his wife helped with the Youth Club at Aldridge Methodist Church in the 1950’s and set with some of the members at the back of the church on a Sunday evening.

    • Gillian Smith says:

      Yes Geoffrey they did….My great aunt was called Dorothy. My parents also went to the same youth club… Sheila Newell (Burns) whom Jim was her uncle and my father John Burns.

      • Len Boulton says:

        I have a drink once a week with Peter Newell who must be Sheila’s brother Jim was his uncle.

        • Gillian Smith says:

          Len, Peter Newell is my uncle and Sheila, his sister is my mother!! Small world!!!

          • Geoffrey Boulton says:

            I remember Sheila and John very well. Sheila used to live on Quicksand Lane. I met Shirley Keatley a few months ago and she said that they had moved down south. Have you their address? We will all be 80 soon! Dorothy Gould used to visit my mother in Leighswood Road when she was housebound. Best wishes – Geoff Boulton.

            • Gillian Smith says:

              Geoff, yes we all moved to Cornwall 8 years ago. If you can let me have your email address I will send you my parents address as well as their email.

              • Geoffrey Boulton says:

                Dear Gillian, Thank you for your news and remember me to your mom and dad. I have put some comments recently on “Aldridge Past and Present”. best wishes, Geoff.

                • Gillian Smith says:

                  Thank you…. Will end you an email with their details.

                • Gillian Smith says:

                  Geoff I’ve sent you the email with my parents address and email. Could you send me the link concerning ‘Aldridge past and present’ which you mentioned in your previous comment. Thank you.

                • Geoffrey Boulton says:

                  Dear Gillian, Thank you for your prompt reply. “Aldridge Past and Present” is on Facebook.
                  Best wishes, Geoff.

                • Gillian Smith says:

                  Thank you Geoff. Just to clear one matter up after speaking to both my mother, Sheila and my uncle Peter ( Jim Goulds nephew and niece) I can confirm that Jim Gould was not a spitfire pilot but was in fact in the Navy.

            • Gillian Smith says:

              Forgot to say Geoff mom ( Sheila) lived in Station Road.

  7. Pedro says:

    In the book Men of Aldridge Jim Coombes says…

    “Other evidence of early man is to be found at Pelsall and in Sutton Park. On the east bank of the Ford Brook, close to Pelsall station is a grass-grown mound of stones, all broken and cracked by heat, and in Sutton Park, by the Milking Gate, are six similar mounds. These were usually described as “pot-boilers” for it was thought that primitive water vessels could not be exposed to fire, and so water was boiled by dropping in stones that had first been heated. This theory has not been abandoned, but it is now thought that heated stones may have served other purposes also, such as that of drying grain.”

    (The mounds in Sutton Park are thought to be Bonze Age.)

    Edited from Sunday Mercury (11 December 2011)…

    Experts believe they have found evidence of a 4,000-year-old Stone Age camp in the Midlands – thanks to a dog walker. Roger Hall discovered a handful of strange-shaped rocks while walking his pet pooch in picturesque Cannock Wood, Staffordshire (England), but experts have identified them as flint ‘flakes’ – the off-cuts from tools crafted by Stone Age Man.

    “If confirmed, they could mark the spot of the only Neolithic camp known in our region,” says Roger Knowles, a member of the Council for British Archaeology. He is convinced that buried beneath the grassland is a link between the period when mankind changed from nomadic hunter-gatherer to village dweller.

    Norton Canes Historical Society chairman Roger is now calling for a full excavation of the site after contacting the Staffordshire County Council archaeologist. He said: “There have been previous individual finds from the Stone Age – tools, weapons and burial sites – but never a settlement. It’s very exciting. I’ve studied the area time and again. There’s a sandstone cliff and I wonder if the people of that time built their settlement against it for shelter.” He added: “It would not have been a big community, a couple of families at most living in thatched dwellings surrounded by a wooden blockade.”

    The slivers of stone handed by Mr Hall to Roger is the evidence that the Cannock Wood tribe had access to flint – in an area where the stone is not native. Roger explained: “They either discovered flat pebbles of it in the River Trent, or it was imported from down south.”
    In 1907, two London archaeologists discovered a New Stone Age ‘flint factory’ on nearby farming land. The haul included 600 flint blades and 40 complete implements. “How two experts from London discovered it is a mystery,” Roger said. “I’m not even sure of the exact location now.” The flint items are kept at Hanley Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, and Roger is determined to get them back.

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