A real Cape Crusader!

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The Cape is the area in central Shire Oak, from Friezland Lane up Commonside to Ccupation Road and on to Brownhills Road. It’s seen many changes over the years. Imagery from the wonderful Apple Maps.

I’ve been contacted via Facebook by blog reader Jane Davies Worallo who’s been talking to her dad, James Davies lately about his life growing up in an area of Shire Oak known locally as The Cape.

We’ve mentioned this mysterious, almost lost area here before, when the young David Evans delved into the historical record to find out just where The Cape was. It’s an interesting exercise in lost place names, much like Bullings Heath was.

James remembers with some clarity the people, landscape and notable events of this place and I’d like to thank both he and Jane for so generously sharing the memories, which I’m sure will be of interest, and perhaps inspiration to others.

If you have anything to add, please do – either comment here, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Hi, My name is Jane Davies Worallo and I wanted to let you know that my Dad, James Davies was Born at number 66 Occupation Road, Up the Cape, Brownhills in 1947.

He has shown me the aerial map of Walsall Wood/Shireoak and talked me through who lived where, the limited number of businesses in the area, etc. When my dad lived up The Cape his home was the only one on his side of the road for quite some way. Over the next couple of days we aim, father and daughter, to produce a project which we will welcome you to share. I believe my Father, James Davies Is the true Caped Crusader!

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Shire Oak was quite different before the heavy traffic came along. Image from ‘Memories of Old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale.

As promised, some memories my dad has of living ‘Up the Cape’.

Dad was born in 1947 and lived in a rented farm house, 66 Occupation Road, Up the Cape, Walsall Wood. At the top of the Hill was a Giant Oak Tree, Hence the name Shire Oak. In 1957 the council started building council houses, at the time my dad’s home was over 100 years old, but was subsequently knocked down to make way for new houses.

The shops my dad remembers being on the Brownhills Road included Sid Law’s radio rentals, Polly Wady and Hancox’s. the Pit was still operating but it closed in 1964. Mr Richardson was the gate man at the pit. He would hand tags out to the men as the decended into the pit, when they came back up they handed the tags back to Mr Richardson. If a tag was missing it meant a man was still down the pit.

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Shire Oak and Walsall Wood in a 1948 aerial image kindly donated by Gerald Reece. Note just how sparsely populated the area was then. Click for a larger version.

In 1952 my Dad started at the infants school, walsall Wood School and then went into the junior side of the school. Some of the teachers my dad recalls are Mrs Clenton, (Brian Clenton) who’s husband owned a butchers shop on Lindon Road. Miss Alice, Mrs Langford, the head teacher was Mr Barker.

Occupation Road was then a dirt track which went all the way round to Commonside. Friezeland lane came along later. The corner shop at the Junction of Friezeland lane, Commonside, Occupation Road was run By Mrs Guest.

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Street or neighbourhood parties were a big thing locally back in the day. This one was for V.E. Day up in Castlefort, but the Coronation ones a few years later would have been much the same. Image from ‘Memories of Old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale.

In 1953 for the Queen’s coronation my dad remembers everyone setting up tables and trestle tables in the field attached to his home and people brought food and drink. The whole community was involved. On The gate were two union Jacks and dad remembers winning a race and receiving some plastic sun glasses.

Opposite where my dad lived was a small field where the pit ponies and horses were brought to live out the remaining time of their lives. Dad remember’s Ruddock’s geese chasing people up the lane as they walked past, and Dad used to chase them away for a thre’penny bit. Mom’s would say ‘Thank you Jimmy’. Mr Ruddock would pay my dad to collect eggs from under the hedgerows, but dad always ensured some eggs made it home! 

People my dad remembers living along Occupation Road include Dufty, Roberts, Smiths, Tonks and Beardsmore families.

Mr. Matthias lived at the bottom of The Cape, and coming up Occupation Road there was Gladys Preece and Mr Ruddock. Motor cars were very rare.

Dad remembers idylic times where he grew up at 66 Occupation Road, up The cape, Walsall Wood.

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An iconic aerial view of Walsall Wood looking up the High Street to the North East. The Cape and Shire Oak are upper left, and at this point, still mostly fields. This sho taken by Aerofilms in 1926. Image supplied by David Evans.

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8 Responses to A real Cape Crusader!

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a huge thanks to Jane and to her father for this article. I think Jimmy will find that it was Sid Collins radio and tv shop in Brownhills Road.( next door to my grandparents’ house).Sid Laws shop was on the HIgh Street Brownhills.
    Polly Dixon’s shop and her one penny licorice sticks..instant confectionary paradise, and black teeth!
    If Jimmy had an elder sister he might be interested to have a look at the 1953 violinists photo.. find Dazed, article, 2014.He may recognise some other budding fiddlers, too.
    my kind regards to you both and my best wishes
    David

    • Hi Bob,I think it was Polly Wady’s shop and I remember her ginger cat would sit in the shop window on top of the boxes of sweets, that were unwrapped. Mr. Mathias lived next door to my grandmas. I remember teachers from the junior school Mr. Ashford. Mr. Shingler. Miss Tann. Miss. Murcott. Mrs. Langford was Miss Hatton and she married Mr. Langford from the senior school. Miss Ellis was my first teacher and she later became Mrs. Holland. I think Stanley Wright lived in Occupation Rd. and I knew the Dufty girls. June, Wendy and Pauline. I could go on for a lot younger. I was born in 1945 and lived up Shire Oak Hill opposite Holly Lane. Ann

  2. Thanks David and Ann, all names from my past too. We were all in primary school together and Ann and I in the same class in the “senior school”.

  3. David Evans says:

    HI Ann
    Oops..Polly Wadey..did Polly Dixon own the Woodbines and sweets shop by the gates to the Oak Park.Mr Lees senior lived in the cot by Oakleys double fronted house in Briwnhills Road….later Jim Lees lived in a bungalow in Roberts Close…the old Irish Cemetery..Stan Wright is one of the four coronation day soldiers in the group photo..He is the sailor!…Colin Arnold was the RAF pilot.He also lived in Occupation Road, I think. Trevor Brown and Malcolm Wadey complete the group in the photo
    We were all so fortunate to have the playing fields just by the school…loved the swings!
    Kind regards
    David

    • Nice to hear from you David. Yes it was Dixons shop by Oak Park. It was Madeline Dixon’s grandma’s. I remember “uncle” Jim Lees. Winston Oakley. Aunty Alma Taylor, Aunty Eva and Roy. Your Nan and Grandad Dunning. Beamands fish and chip shop. Mr. Yeaomans had a wooden hut wireless shop next door to Mrs. Blakesmores drapers shop. As I said I could go on longer (although it says younger in my previous message!). I can’t see the photo of the soldiers you refer too. Best wishes Ann.

  4. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    The “Crowning glory” article shows the SAS , cadets, Walsall Wood detachment of 1953, I believe.
    cheers
    David

  5. Julie Whitehouse says:

    Hi my mom Dorothy Stroud nee Ruddock is the grand daughter of Mr Ruddock , my nan and grandad lived in Dulce Domum , My grandad was Robert Ruddock snr he will be remembered for keeping bee’s as he supplied most of the area with honey ..mom lived in the white bungalow on the corner of Occupation Road until two years ago . She remembers The Cape very well , after reading the blog she has gone through from Streets Corner to past Occupation Road naming all the families who lived there .
    Best wishes Julie

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