Jack Haddock 1927-2016: Walsall has lost a true son

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jack Haddock and neighbour Taj. Image from Walsall Express & Star.

Last night (Tuesday, 29th March 2016), Walsall lost one of it’s greatest citizens: Historian, raconteur, photographer, chronicler of change, cyclist and friend to thousands, Jack Haddock.

There’s a lovely eulogy to Jack on Walsall Local History Centre’s blog here.

Jack’s loyal friend, Robert Selvey, posted the following message on Jack’s appreciation page on Facebook a few hours ago:

It is with real sadness that I post to tell you all that Jack Haddock hung up his bicycle clips yesterday for the last time. He passed away peacefully in the Manor hospital at teatime. He had been ill for a short while but mercifully was comfortable with no pain at the end. He was immensely proud of the record he has left for the town so I hope we will all keep his memory alive, both here and in our hearts. Goodbye old friend, I for one am richer for your friendship.

Jack Haddock, born in Hospital Street in 1927, lived in the same council house until his death, and spent his free time recording his beloved town – trains, busses, buildings and people. Jack spent lots of time at the Local History Centre and was never too busy to talk, never too proud to help. A true gentleman, kind and funny – he was always in conversation with someone.

This blog, and so many involved in local history in Walsall and beyond, stand on Jack’s shoulders.

He was a great photographer, recording many thousands of images that provide a remarkable record of Walsall and beyond; Jack authored several books, as well as starring in a video about his life for Walsall Housing Group.

What Jack gave us was not glamorous or attention seeking. It was the gift of a kind, thoughtful uncle – a history and gentle guidance to treasure. In an age where anyone making a Facebook page and learning to use Google image search is calling themselves a historian, Jack was a very rare person indeed: he recorded, curated and created material for us all to enjoy. And he shared it freely, with great pride.

Jack was also a remarkable cyclist – you always knew when he was in the History Centre because you’d see the trusty bike there; he rode many thousands of miles and I hope I’m still riding like he was in such advanced years. Never again will I be passed in Leamore by a wee dot of a man gliding effortlessly past me, smiling gently.

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Jack as a younger man, before an iconic view of Walsall. Image from the Jack Haddock collection.

The civic elders of Walsall, in my view, never showed Jack the appreciation her deserved: While happy to laud fading pop stars, a man who had done more for Walsall’s history than any other I know remained relatively overlooked, and in my mind Jack should have been awarded the Freemanship: but then, Jack was already a free man of Walsall. He knew this town, he wandered it’s streets and paths and Walsall will never know a more faithful son.

I spoke with Jack many times, and his influence echoes through the Brownhills Blog and all my work online; he remains an inspiration to me, and I wish I’d known him better.

I don’t know where you’ve gone Jack, but if there’s a loco shed, I just know you’ll be in there, camera round your neck, stood by the stove, chatting to the railmen and laughing.

Rest in peace old chap.

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13 Responses to Jack Haddock 1927-2016: Walsall has lost a true son

  1. Andy says:

    Great write up , for a great man. He really should of been awarded the freemanship…..the least that he deserved. Ain’t too many people around that knew more about this town than him….sad dad loss R.I.P. Jack .

  2. Excellent write up Bob, Walsall has indeed lost a unique talent. By coincidence I recreated one of his images a few weeks ago: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gary_crutchley/26046477782/

  3. Andrew johnson says:

    Rip jack haddock Webster Rd will never be the same again even when I was growing up till now always seen you on your bike a true gentleman

  4. stacey kirby says:

    R.i.p jack had meny of chats about how u lived years ago and all the things u saw such a lovely man fly high with the angles xxxx

  5. Donna timmins says:

    God bless jack haddock a true gent and friend webster rd has lost an inspiration rip x

  6. Angela Hill says:

    RIP to a local legend x

  7. David Spiers says:

    Jack had knowledge of days gone by. He was always helpful in finding information. He was a real gentleman. He told me he rode 10,000 miles a year on his bike, until the last few years. I don’t know if many are aware that, he was the only person to ride his bike on the M6. The day before it opened from Cannock to Great Barr, he was given permission because of his thousands of photographs taken whilst it was being built. A sad day, but remember him with affection. R.I.P

  8. Geoffp says:

    A sad loss, I only met Jack a few times, mainly at the Local History Centre by chance, but he was always so friendly and willing to share his vast knowledge. At least his wonderful collection of photos, etc remains as his legacy. RIP Jack.

  9. David Holden says:

    A great great loss to Walsall so sad fish was a great man one of the very best.He was a true gentleman and a good friend.

  10. Ted Dutton says:

    True Walsall man – we will all miss your knowledge. You will be missed Jack Fish! From Ted Dutton ( ex neighbour).

  11. Asim Qureshi says:

    I lived in Walsall for 15 years and during this period I came to know Jack Haddock very well as I lived very close to his house. We used to have a great talk about the railway in Walsall and his love of jazz music. He was a great man and extremely friendly to everybody. Walsall should be proud of his work which he did voluntarily for the library and the history of Walsall. Walsall’s name is synonymous with Jack Haddock and vice versa. He was a unique and unambiguous man and I am sure even the great late Jerome K Jerome will be very honoured to just have the company of this unique man. May he rest in peace. His memory will live on and I was fortunate to know him. He has left a great legacy for his beloved town of Walsall for which Walsall should bestow some kind of memorial in his honour on behalf of the town.

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