A case of the trots!

trotting (640x454)

Trotting was a huge equestrian sport at one time. Image kindly supplied by Andy Dennis.

A great image has come in from friend of the blog and long time contributor Andy Dennis, who’s dug out this fascinating picture of a once prominent local sport that used to take place in Brownhills.

The original trotting track in the town would be on what is now Brownhills School’s field, between the Black Path and the former railway – indeed, the A-Z bizarrely still shows it. That track closed I believe when the new stadium opened near Chasewater.

Andy had the following to say about this photo:

Hello Bob

Here is a photograph taken by my uncle Frank, who was a keen photographer in the 1940’’s and ‘50s. There is no information as to where it was taken, but I think it was local.

He would have developed this himself. I wonder if any of your followers can work out where it was?


Great thanks to Andy for that – and it’s worth noting the spirit of ingenuity that drove local sportsmen and hobbyists to use their industrial or craft skills to make their own equipment, modify vehicles and so on.

We’re doing quite well with material from the trotting stadium and sport now, with the story of the Race of the Year in 1977 when the place was used for a motorbike race day, and we found an advert for the facility that gave the opening date of the Stadium.


Chasewater Stadium never really took off. Image from ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

Reader Fred Butler recalled trotting there fondly, and there has been great material in the comments.

This is a fascinating bit of social history and thanks to Andy for taking it further; the sports and pastimes of our area are steadily being forgotten in the modern age, and I think it’s important that we document them as far as possible.

Anything to add? Can you identify the location of Andy’s photo? Comment here please, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.


The crap people try and flog on eBay. A seller is selling this advert from a 1971 publication. Fortunately, the picture is useful.

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17 Responses to A case of the trots!

  1. Martin Littler says:

    Hi Bob. Oscar Johnson a Walsall Business Man use to have a trotting track by the Black Path just before you got to Holland Park, through the Fifties, never knew whether it was legal or not, i know Oscar had many a battle with Brownhills Council over access.


    • My first ever summer holiday job was working for week in Oscar Johnson’s stables at Walsall. I remember Moke, too. I was 14 and got paid 5 shillings for the week. Great experience. Does anyone remember my brother Bill Howe? A wonderful fount of knowledge on harness racing.

      • Bobby Buckle nee Warwick says:

        Yes I remember Bill Howe. I worked on the track training & driving in 1973 & 1974 when women were finally allowed to drive in the races against the men
        Bobby Warwick

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    Thanks, Martin (& Bob). I recall the track that was where the school playing fields are today. My young mind assumed this was to train for races elsehwere. I can’t reconcile the buildings in the background to either that place or Pool Road. However, if it was before my memory, say 1964, some of the buildings might have changed.

  3. aerreg says:

    if its of any help both comments are correct oscar had a track on what we called the black pad it ran from the old queens to the council house brownhills in my mind the back ground buildings would be the old foxes row area because going toward newtown there was the row then some smemise then johna deakins then a small lane syd dawes lived on the corner re the trotting track that was where coxs colliery was back to oscars track ime not sure of my facts but something tells me that there was a race track there before oscar ime sure though my trusty arcive friends bless them for what they do and the plesure they give and keep our grey mater active will sort me out god bless

  4. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    The tall double fronted building might bb the one on Watling Street, opposite Castle Street. ?…Knaves Castle area?

  5. Andy Dennis says:

    Hello David. This was my first thought, but where does the more or less pyramidal roof on the building to the left fit? And where are The Avenues? Same goes for Reg’s reply.

    • Martin Littler says:

      Hi Andrew.
      Been looking at the photo trying to work out what the back ground buildings are we may be looking at Jonah Deakins house which would be the first house on the left of the photo if so then the old House would be opposite Castle Street Ken and Betty Brookes old house, but i have never been the back of that house so not sure, or we may be looking in the opposite direction all together, but what ever its a good photo.
      kind regards Martin.

  6. aerreg says:

    hi andy if its of any help as i tried to explai in my amature way the avenues arrived following the demolition of foxes row and the old adjaction buildings and the flats were built as i said further down i recall a small lane another thought on the corner of knaves castle were a number of houses and of course what we used to call the little chapel in those days being as it was black country day yesterday may i close with these words YOME A BOSTIN BLOKE KEEP GOOIN WOT YO DO GOD BLESS YA

  7. Allan Riley says:

    FYI. Trotting is still a very popular sport in Australia. And many trotting tracks still exist round the country. Still going strong and big race is the InterDominion Championship, In Perth WA this year.

  8. Malcolm Palmer says:

    When I was still at school my friend acquired a JAP speedway bike and we used to take it to Oscars track, by the black path (we never knew who owned it then) when we could get hold of Methanol, (I usually got that from Brownhils Trucks on what is now the common by Watling Street Infants school). Two problems, the track was not a perfect oval and someone was always chasing us off because we didn’t have permission.

    • Steven. Jolly says:

      Hi Malcolm I to remember the track and you riding your bike around at a good speed I remember a sargent bloor who lived next to the track and a Steven Kendrick and his motorcycle his follies owned a grocery store opposite the flats on watling street good memories Steve Jolly

  9. Leanne Smith says:

    Hi my partner is Edward Johnson, his farther was Oscar Johnson Jr, and his grandfather was Oscar Johnson senior, my partner knows the bloke in the picture he has more pictures with him. His name was mock he was the stable boy who came from south Wales to work at Oscar Johnson senior stables. My partner has loads of pictures and videos from theses days and so much information he could tell you about. It’s a legacy of his family and something I feel should not be forgotten. please get in touch if you would like to know more.

    • John says:

      Hi Leanne. You must be Anthony’s sister-in Law then. I remember visiting Auntie Joan’s house- Portland House? while she was still living there. That beautiful sun and moon pendulum clock upstairs. Ant told us many stories about Oscar snr. Oscar snr also had a trotting track in Prestatyn.Cheers. (John) .

      • Sara says:

        Hi John, I’m Anthony’s niece. Edward is Anthony’s cousin. Oscar Johnson is my Great Grandfather, I knew him well, I can remember Mock (Dai Morgan) Joan Johnson was my Great Aunt, I knew her well xx all gone now sadly, but the memories live on through all of us xxx

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  11. Carl titley says:

    The above photo the driver was a welsh man Dai Morgan Rees known by all as Moke .

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