From bananas to Walsall: never a dull moment


First up: Longstanding friend of the blog and top bloke Tony Jakement spotted this advert – it isn’t the one at Walsall, but could this be what Chaz Mason remembers being on the Midland Road Goods Shed in Walsall? Image from the North Fife blog.

Rail material is a very strong thread on the blog at the moment – and I love it so much, with Ian Pell, Simon Swain and others providing some great material – and as ever is the case, a highly tangential post following an enquiry by Chaz Mason has led to even more.

First up, though: that Banana advert (yes, Chaz remembered an advert for Fyffes Bananas, but had a significantly different recollection of it, which I’ll still not mention yet) – could it have been like the one above posted on the North Fife Blog? Quiz whizz Tony Jakeman spotted it. What do you think?

Tony wrote:

Bananas. That’s what the ad was for. Wall was painted black with an incredibly black skinned lady in a multi coloured skirt possibly with bananas on her head. Wasn’t it a banana ripening shed it was painted on? I’m off to consult with Google

Nest up, on the subject of the sidings – a mammoth post, just right for a lazy Sunday, from Ian Pell – thanks to Ian for all of his hard work, there is some remarkable stuff here. I bet that buffer mishap made the driver’s eyes bulge a bit!

As ever, thanks to all contributors, and if you have anything to add, please do: comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Walsall Shed Talk gets posted!

Hi Bob

I think the first place to start is with a map of the area after Bridgeman Street had been diverted and the underbridge created. This was probably not the best of ideas as immediately adjacent to the bridge was the Ford Brook. The rest as they say is history, the bridge flooding together with the station on numerous occasions.


Image generously supplied by Ian Pell. Please see text for details.

The map was produced after the quadrification of the railway between Pleck Junction and Ryecroft Junction in 1887 and shows the sidings which surrounded the station area. In Station Road the unmarked building was the stable block for the railway owned horses. Next to the grain shed was a wagon turntable which survived well into the 1960’s.

To the south of the station were sidings which became used for carriages. No.7 siding lead to the Potato shed (you can just see the “P” on the building. No. 9 siding lead through the Allsop shed. This was created by Henry Allsop who leased the land from the Earl of Bradford from 3rd October 1855 on an 88 year lease. This building by the 1950’s was known as ‘Shannon’s shed’, a reference to John Shannon & Sons Ltd, clothing manufacturers of Shannon Mill. They ceased trading in 2000 and the beautiful building was destroyed by fire in 2007. (Hope I got the dates right!?).


Image generously supplied by Ian Pell. Please see text for details.

I haven’t been able to track down any photographs of the poster but here’s a Michael Mensing photograph (cropped and enlarged) of the north side of Shannon’s shed in 1976. The building was swept away with the development of the Saddler’s Centre multi-storey car park.

The small white building I think was a gate house/weighbridge (confirmation appreciated) in the Midland Goods yard on the other side of Bridgeman Street. The building behind was the NCL freight terminal which BR built in 1962-3 as a sundries and parcels depot to serve the North-east of the West Midlands. No longer standing, is the 2-storey Midland Railway Goods shed. This building appears to have gone just prior to this date, although later OS maps still show it existing.


Image generously supplied by Ian Pell. Please see text for details.

The above photograph is another by Michael Mensing, this time taken in 1959 and showing the former Midland Goods shed on the left. This is the building circled by Bob in the aerial photo. Presumably the poster was either attached to the gable end of the building or formed one of a series similar to those shown below on the boundary to the site. This photograph was not taken in Walsall; instead it shows part of Lawley Street, Birmingham in LMS days.


Image generously supplied by Ian Pell. Please see text for details.

The only photograph I have of the gable end of the ex-Midland Goods shed is a very grainy Walsall Observer picture of the early 1970’s. This shows the Tasker Street facing end rather that the gable facing Bradford Square. It is on the far right above and beyond the vans. Could they even be carrying bananas? Nice thought, but I think that type of banana traffic had ceased by that date. To the left of the Midland Goods shed in the far haze can just be made out the Shannon shed and just to the right of the shunting lamp is the Grain store. On the far left is the BOAK stack and building. If anyone knows how to “de-grain” such photos, I would greatly appreciate their comments, as the newspaper clipping comes from one of my very old scrap books!


Image generously supplied by Ian Pell. Please see text for details.

The next photograph shows you why it is important to fix your posters firmly! This is Bridgeman Street looking away from the station towards the LNW Goods shed in Long Street. The class 25 ran through the buffers before performing its balancing act. Unfortunately, no date, number or author is known for this marvellous photo.


Image generously supplied by Ian Pell. Please see text for details.

Finally, I think I’ve kept the best till last. This photograph is probably an ‘official’ BR photograph. It recently appeared in a By-lines (Dec. 2015) railway magazine article together with several other s of the area. The photograph dates from 18th June 1953. The posters are for National Savings, Ansells Spotlight Ale and Royal Navy courses. Perched above and to the left of the bridge is Walsall No.2 signal box.


Image generously supplied by Ian Pell. Please see text for details.

Hope the above is of interest.

Kindest regards

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5 Responses to From bananas to Walsall: never a dull moment

  1. Pedro says:

    The story of Fyffes can be seen on link below. But I would be surprised if the picture was actually one used by the company. It seems out character to all the other adverts that were used in the newspapers.

  2. David Evans says:

    hi Bob
    A super series of articles..enjoying every moment..Big thanks to all concerned….My childhood memory of that part of Walsall is mainly of the toyshop at the arcade nearby, near the cenotaph..There were also odd articulated trucks..three wheel cabs, going to the goods yards. the flooding in the underpass was a frequent event!
    Kind regards

  3. Pedro says:

    Jan 1931….Some bananas, which have been grown in the Arboretum, are being sold at sixpence each for the benefit the Mayor’s Christmas fund for boots and clothing for children and aged people. The bananas are said to have an excellent flavor.

    Dec 1945…Bananas on the way to Midlands…34 wagon loaded with bananas have begun their journey to the Midlands from Avonmouth docks. The bananas will be on the sale to the under 18s in a weeks time, were sorted on a conveyor belt before being packed into heated railway vans. The first wagon to be loaded was for Halesowen…..

    ….. Several visitors to Avonmouth docks, Bristol, claim to be the first to slip on banana skins in Britain for five years…. A civic party which welcomed the 10 million bananas which arrived yesterday…

  4. Pendeford sidings says:

    The picture of the Class 25 overhanging the road is actually at Stoke-on-Trent

    • Kevin Ellis says:

      I had my doubts that this was Bridgeman St Walsall (the retaining wall is wrong). Thanks for the clarification!

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