Brewing up with Sheila Norris


A group photo, seemingly over a century old, showing a gathering outside the long-gone brewery that stood behind the Shire Oak pub. Worth clicking and looking at a large version closely. Image very kindly supplied by Sheila Norris with permission of Marion Stimpson.

Well, here’s a thing – last week we were deliberating over a photo purported, although seemingly unlikely, to be from an early Brownhills Carnival, when old friend of the blog Sheila Norris postulated that perhaps one of the gentlemen present was in a group photo at the Shire Oak which she had in the family collection.

I asked if she could share the group photo, and Sheila has very kindly done so – and it’s a cracker. I’ve not seen this before, and it’s remarkable.

I’ll let Sheila explain:

Hello again, Bob

Here is the old photo of the Shire Oak Brewery which my cousin, Marion Stimpson, found in her father’s collection of photos. (E.E. Jones, of the High Street photographic shop).

Mari is happy for me to send it on to you. She has no idea where it came from and Jones is my father’s side of the family even though the photo depicts my mother’s Southall side! Quite a mystery.

Joseph Southall, landlord of the pub, is the portly gentleman in the bowler hat seated on the right of the photo. Is that a half peeled banana in his hand?! Notice too the bottle of wine and two glasses next to the gentlemen at the front!

We know Joseph was landlord in 1901 because of the other photo (on the front of Clive’s book) where he is holding his baby son Jack, born in 1901. The woman standing behind Joseph in the brewery photo may be his wife Emily (Penton).

If anyone can name others in the photo I’d be very interested to know about them. I believe outings often used to start off from the pub so this might have been such an occasion, although the bottle of wine suggests otherwise.

The photo on the front of Clive’s book is supposed to be an outing for local pigeon fanciers, or so family lore tells me.

I was going to copy in Clive on this email but no longer seem to have an address for him, so perhaps you could forward it to him for me? Many thanks.

Hope this helps.
Best wishes,

Thanks to Sheila for that – a wonderful photo donation which I’m sure Clive will appreciate as will all the other readers!

The best version I can lay my hands on of the other group Shire Oak photo is below; if Clive is watching, if he has a better version I’d love to share that too if he doesn’t mind?

If you have further information, or anything to add, please don’t hesitate to shout up: comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks, as ever, to Sheila, Clive and everyone who contributes so selflessly.


An iconic photo of a gathering outside the Shire Oak. Try assembling in the road like that today! Image scanned from the cover of ‘Snippets of Local History in and around Shire Oak’ by Clive Roberts.

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7 Responses to Brewing up with Sheila Norris

  1. Sheila Norris ( nee Jones) says:

    typo in the email address, Bob: air. Presumably this should be “at” ? Don’t want valuable contributions going astray.

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a big thanks to Sheila and Marion for this amazing photo. My first thoughts are its possibly a meeting of pub owners..notice the Shire Oak sign held up for the photo, and barmaids in their best dresses and aprons and the brewery staff leaning out of the window for the photo
    A celebratory event..the bottle of wine…and buttonholes in some gents lapels.
    The row or gents seated..the most important men in the group….
    and one gent..seated, not looking straight at the camera..Buster Keaton?

    Clive’s photo seems to have lot the brewery..see the blog article “Cracking up” .but has someone’s pony and trap in the image

    kind regards

  3. Clive says:

    First a big thank you to Marion and Sheila. This is just guess work, in 1910 Shire Oak Brewery won a gold medal for there ale, this maybe a photo of Thomas and son (George Boulter) plus the staff celebrating there win. By the way Sheila Joe Southall as a black dog on his lap, I had a look at the photo using some soft wear, increased the brightness, and can just make out the dog. I would have loved to have had the photo for my book on shire oak.
    Best wishes Clive

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