These days of uncertainty and perplexity


St. James in Brownhills is now over 160 years old, and despite the hideous extension, still retains the wonderful air of a Victorian urban church.

A remarkable donation in from the Dorothy Ruddock collection and the red hot scanner of David Evans, the wonderful period piece that is the 1951 booklet celebrating 100 years of St. James Parish Church, Brownhills – packed with history and fascinating adverts.

St. James was opened in 1851, and this booklet isn’t to be confused with the remarkable history on the St. James website which can be accessed here, this is more like an event programme, but is in itself very interesting indeed.

I’m particularly intrigued by the somewhat dour introduction by the Bishop of Lichfield, signed Edward Lichfield (was that name a thing of fortuitous chance, or an ecclesiastical convention?) and he says:

I AM very happy to commend to the people of Brownhills the Centenary Cclcbrations which are now in active preparation. I trust that many of the parishioners will rally round their Church and by their loyal co-operation give their witness as members of the Church of Christ to the place of the Christian religion in these days of uncertainty and perplexity.

I trust that Cod’s blessing may rest on all the efforts which are now being made.

Edward Lichfield

Is the Bishop referring to bad times for the country, his religion or what? That seems a very odd and downbeat thing to say. I welcome views on this.

This booklet is contemporary with the Brownhills Music Festival one featured before, and the prevailing air of hard times is also present, but there are great adverts for long gone names of Brownhills: Clentons, Brookes, Central Cafe, Caters, Joes. Brookes note they are at Manchester House, and the list of brands Kingstons Shoes supply is excellent ‘Boofers, Lily, Gypsy Queen’ to name a few. Note Jessops Chemist sells wines and spirits, and Garratt’s really are advertising sliced bread. Oh, the modernity!

The Do You Know piece on page 31 might well raise one or two eyebrows…

You can download the whole thing in PDF format at the link below, or click on any page in the gallery.

St. James Centenary Booklet and Programme 1851-1951 (PDF 6 megabytes)

Thanks to Dorothy and David, and please, if you spot anything or have any observations, please don’t hesitate to comment or mail me: BrowhillsBob at Goolemail dot com.

Fill your boots!

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4 Responses to These days of uncertainty and perplexity

  1. Martin Layton says:

    What a great find!
    Like you I loved the adverts.
    The programme for the day lists the Mattins address by the Lord Bishop of Lichfield Dr E.S. Woods, so I think he signed with his title in the introduction.

    I wonder if the Saxon King buried in 584 AD (page 31) was anything to do with the Brownhills Horde? Barracks Lane isn’t a million miles away…

  2. Trev says:

    Well done David great stuff

  3. John Anslow says:

    My guess is that “these days of uncertainty and perplexity” referred to the Cold War, particularly the onset of the Korean War and the Soviet’s acquisition of an atomic bomb. Life in Britain was genuinely austere, and cities such as Birmingham still bore the scars of war: people who were just beginning to recover from 1939 – 45 were fearful of being drawn into another global conflict.

  4. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Garratt’s bakery,!! Lichfield. Iced buns@2d and cream buns@3d.. to make any child’s mouth water…
    happy memories of a certain tuck shop in Lichfield .. uncertainty and perplexity indeed.
    I wonder if there are any photos of that incredible funeral car!
    kind regards

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