A nice gentle one for a Saturday afternoon here, and people interested in the borderlands between Aldridge and Walsall Wood, known as The Vigo – David Evans have been in conversation with local man Ken Massey, who lived there in a more rural time, and has kindly donated mages of the farm and life there.
We’ve covered The Vigo before, both in terms of history and physical landscape, which David Evans has explored thoroughly, as the area is very significant to him, having also grown up nearby.
These images remind us of a surprisingly recent time when the area was less industrial and more bucolic – and the recollections are fascinating. I thank Ken and David profusely for yet more wonderful work and a great contribution to our collective local history.
If you have anything to add, please do: comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.
Ken Massey wrote:
My Uncle Jack Wootton working in the clay hole on the left of Coppice lane, travailing from the Walsall Wood road. The date of the photograph is about 1960 not long before he retired as the other two men are his apprentices that took over blasting the clay out. By this time they had progressed to pneumatic drills to bore out the shot holes, Uncle Jack had used hand drills for years.
Uncle Jack lived in Salters road with my aunt Minnie and cousin Frank. He didn’t live long after he retired. We would sit on our bikes on the railway bridge and watch frim drill and load up the shot holes and then dinner time the gang would all climb on the dumper and go up the ramp to the canteen. Uncle Jack would then light the fuses and retire to his cabin. Usually two or three faces were worked on, uncle Jack kept one face in front of the digger gang.
A Welsh/Arab yearling filly, belonging to Norman Miller. The location was the small meadow on the corner of Walsall Wood Road and Coppice Lane where B&M now stands this was rented from Aldridge Council. Approximate date late spring 1960 or 1961, in the back ground is Sunnyside farm (Tailors Transport). Over the back of the pony is the gable end of Vigo Farm house, soon after Norman Miller rented this from Joberns Holdings. In the near background is Coppice Lane at that time after the brickworks had finished for the day and at weekends it was a quiet country lane where the local kids learnt to ride there bikes. On the left hand side is the near completed landfill or tip, where Big K was to stand.
Four foals and the Welsh/Arab filly at Virgo Farm about late autumn 1962, the year of the big freeze 1962/3. Across the field to the left are the Prefabs in Vigo road; through the hedge are some newer houses probably council houses. And further up the original houses from Vigo corner to Sunnyside drive. And to the right of them are the new builds in the Back Lane, at this time Mr Simkins had still got his piece of land in Back Lane where he grew vegetables.
Two of the small foals at Vigo Farm 1962, in the background you can see some of the house and buildings that made up Vigo Farm. The building on the left is a stable block with room fore four ponies or cobs. This end of the building was a tack room with a door through to the stable (the tack room door is seen open). On this end had been two traditional pig sties with covered housing and runs with feeding troughs, but while the place was empty they and the stable had been vandalised. It took a lot of work to repair the stable and tack room; this was built with blue engendering bricks and would have been built much later than the main house and barn.
The large gable end is Sunnyside row and what I can remember is that there were two cottages in the row with central entry. Dave Hatton and his wife lived in this end cottage, they where an old Walsall Wood family.
The house was very interesting; it consisted of three bedrooms with fireplaces in each. A curved staircase exited into the middle bedroom and you walked through the end of the middle bedroom to access the other two rooms. Each room had a window. The rooms had at some time been wallpapered and the lining paper was pages from The Farmer and Stockbreeder, dated 1952 we where told that people by the name of Popalton had lived there at this time.
Downstairs consisted of three main rooms with a small scullery or dairy with a raised stone sittall along one side, and a number of meat hooks in the roof, you could imagine a couple of sides of bacon hanging from them, this room had probably been added later. There was a kitchen with a small range that had been smashed and a brown stone sink that miraculously was intact. A back door exited to a brick garden path. The middle room had a larger range also smashed, and a wooden mantle shelf. A medium sized window and the front door led into this room, the other room possible the sitting room or the front parlour had been plaster boarded and a modern for that time tiled fire place fitted. This room would not have looked out of place with a two seated settee, an arm chare a radiogram and a small 50s black a white television in the corner.
The barn was nothing spectacular; the one end had two small buildings added on as lean-tos. This end was set out as a thrashing barn with two double doors and space each side to store a cut crop (wheat or oats). The space inside the double doorway would be used for thrashing out the grain and the draft passing through the doorway was used to winnow out the chaff from the corn. The remaining third of the barn was a loosebox with a hay loft over the top and a space to feed a hayrack for the loosebox. On the end of the barn was a lean-to brew house, housing a large copper boiler and at least two stone Belfast sinks and a well. This building had been completely vandalised and demolished, but we did salvage the two sinks to feed pigs in.
Norman Miller, family and friends rented Vigo Farm from Joberns Holdings from the very early 60s to the later part of the 60s. Norman lived in Walton road and worked for Baraett & Beddows for a very long time. Horses and pones where kept at Vigo farm and some pigs where bred and fattened there.