Useful Hints

There is still a steady trickle of information coming in on the late, great Edgar Pritchard and his amateur cinefilms, of which I think the most notable is ‘The Poacher’s Apprentice’, the wonderful short, silent movie about a young lad befriending a greengrass, filmed in and around the village of Hints, near Tamworth, in 1952.

Brownhills camera whizz Edgar filmed the 1934/5 Brownhills Carnival and made the comedic short Hope Springs Eternal, both of which I featured here before I really understood the genius of the man. We now know of the existence other films – mainly due to the diligent research of Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, which I’m hoping to get a look at when I get some time off and can travel to the archives holding them.

Since I posted The Poacher’s Apprentice here a few months ago, much of the interest has come from Hints itself, and highlighted some of my early, incorrect assumptions. For the benefit of readers and others who might have missed it, I’m going to pull this prescient comment into the light from Hints resident Peter Edwards:


Your two posts have been brought to the attention of Villagers today, and are fascinating.

We live in ‘The School House’ and have done so since 1980. Comments as follows:

The Poacher

The picture is actually Rose Cottage – the School House is the bit that runs at right angles to School Lane. We have salveged the old village pump – it’s in our back garden after a tractor & trailer broke it off at ground level! There is no truth in the Church bell being the old school bell – the school bell was saved after the school was converted into housing, it was stored at the back of the Village Hall but unfortunately about 1990 someone nicked it! The Church bell is he original from 1883 and has been refurbished, so it IS rung for Church services.

Untitled 9

This is the best angle I can get on Bing! Maps of The Schoolhouse and Rose Cottage. The blind’ gable is an interesting feature. Click for a larger version.

Taking the Hints

The old school gates ARE original – they lead on to what was the old school quad and we use them every day to secure our cars!

The building known as ‘The School House’ was built about 1728 – it together with Rose Cottage was originally three cottages, converted to two. It used to be the Headmaster’s house from which he ran the school, but James Chadwick built a new school about 1860, just to the east – you can see it on one photo with the bell tower.

Might have more info if you ask!

Peter Edwards

Peter, that’s absolutely brilliant – thanks for the help. The funny thing about Hints is I never stop learning about the place. Sorry it took so long to feature this here, but the backlog at the moment is quite considerable. I am, of course, interested in your offer and will be in touch in the next week.

Hints Post Office. [Some readers may remember in the 80s (and probably beforehand) there was also a cafe here called 'Rosa's' - It's now a private house - Bob].

Hints Post Office (left), on a postcard kindly supplied by Joe Headley.

There was also another comment that’s worth highlighting. I spoke of a transport cafe that I remembered in the 1980s on the A5 at Hints, that was in the same building as the Post Office: mistakenly, I called it Rosa’s: I was wrong about that, too, as Bob Wright informed me:

In the 80’s it was ‘Maria’s cafe’ but this picture was taken long before that time.

Any information on the bakery next to the cafe and Post Office would be interesting, especially when it opened and who ran it, could solve a mystery that l was told of, concerning a child.

That’s fascinating – I never realised the bakery existed. Can anyone help here please, or add to the comments made by Peter? If you can, please feel free – either here on this post or to BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!


Edgar Pritchard in a self-portrait. Clearly a remarkable and talented man.

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9 Responses to Useful Hints

  1. David Evans says:

    The video is blacked out..because of its privacy it you or myipald?

    Sent from my iPad


    • Hi David and other readers – there is a bug with mobile devices and Vimeo at the moment. I’ve modified some stuff my end and should now be sorted. Please shout up if it isn’t.

      I love Vime but they won’t stop tinkering with it


  2. Sheila Norris ( nee Jones) says:

    The thing I remember about Hints from my childhood ( 1950/60s) is going to see some performing chimps having a tea party. I believe they were the same chimps used in the PGTips tea adverts when commercial TV started. We have some old cine of the tea party somewhere.
    Does anyone else remember this? The name of the woman who ran this is on the tip of my tongue…..

    • Joe Headley says:

      There used to be a small Zoo along Hints Lane towards Hopwas, the chimps were a great attraction as I recall too. I’m not sure if it was the forerunner of Twycross Zoo but Molly Badham certainly had the PG chimps there in the late sixties.

  3. David Evans says:

    Molly Badham..perhaps..would love to see the fillum

  4. Hi folks

    Molly and Twycross did indeed start at hints. If you go through the village towards Tamworth, at the brow of the hill take a left towards Hopwas. Just on the right of Hints Road there is a bungalow stood in large grounds, overlooking Tamworth. That was where Twycross Zoo started, and Molly worked from.

    During the (now sadly discontinued) Open Gardens festivals at the village there has often been a display about the zoo and Molly’s work, and I think there might be a framed collection of pictures on the wall of the bar there (although I could be wrong).


    • Peter Edwards says:

      Yes, it was the forerunner of Twycross Zoo. We still have flower festivals in the village in September. There is a full display of village history in the Village Hall done by Eddie & Val Shaw – also theyve done a remarkable book – the village has 3 copies for loan and there’s also one in Lichfield library and Staffordshire record office. If anyone wants to borrow one you can contact me on 01543 480088

  5. Paul Smith says:

    Hello there
    my brother alerted me to the film! My uncle John Weston Smith is the poacher formerly I believe Batman to Lord Montgomery. he told me once he had to lose a train load of stuff at Dunkirk to stop the germans getting there hands on it when they had to evacuate.
    He was known as Jack Smith to all but his mother He lived at Stratton on the main road I was 8 at the time the film was made, I went to Hints school and recognise the teacher Miss Burgess she taught everything there were only about 30 Kids. I dont recognise the boys but most likely look like the Gibson boys from the top of the hill.
    Jack and his next door neighbour Ben Paul, were responsible for the building and planning of the village Hall Jack was chairman of the Local council.
    The previous head teacher Miss Loader and her sister lived in the schoolhouse whilst I was in the school 1949 until 1955. I have a few photos of the party in Clarke,s barn at the coronation and Dancing round the maypole. I recognise all the places in the film It is where we used to play on the way home from school the bridge opposite Robin Petfords House. The church where I was a choir boy.
    I do remember going ferreting with Jack and my Dad on Taylors farm.

  6. Paul Smith says:

    My Dad bought the Newspaper shop at Mile oak and i used to deliver the news papers to the Badhams

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