Tom’s Cabin: from thatches to rugs!

I remember Tom’s Cabin well. To the other side of the arch was a pet shop for a while, AH Taxis and Alpha Sports I think. Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Way back. six years way back, I wrote about the (still derelict) old bungalow at the old driveway to Shire Oak Quarry, just of Shire Oak Hill on the A461 near Sandhills, and was interested in the history of this sad, lost home; several folk got in touch and a whole thread emerged about life in the bungalow from Ian Broad, intertwined with the history of his father’s shop in Brownhills, Tom’s Cabin.

Toms Cabin, a carpet shop in the spot formerly occupied by Ladies Hairdresser May Brown was run by Ian’s father. May was, of course, wife of noted barber Tommy Brown who used to operate from a shed in the back yard of May’s shop.

I’m glad to say Ian has been in touch again over the last few days an supplied some wonderful images of the shop, which would be where Wilkinson is today. Ian has also supplied a whole bunch of images relating to the bungalow too, which I’ll feature later.

Hi Bob,

Remember I told you Mrs Brown hairdressers was bought by my dad? Well here’s a pic of how the shop looked just before opening. Mrs Brown loved that my dad called the shop Toms Cabin as her husband was Tom Brown ‘the black’ barber.

If you look down the alley way you can see the asbestos black and white ‘Cabin’ which was Toms barbers. That’s where the poster I have was from.

The second picture is from when we took the shop next door to expand the business. I’ve written about the history of that shop before I think. It was a newsagents and next door to Marie fish / fruit and veg shop.

The first pic is late 1977 or early 1978 I think. The second one is prob about 1981.


Ian initially wrote a lovely piece about those days, and what he remembered of them including a wonderful artefact of Tommy’s shed – I include it below as the two pieces are inextricably linked.

Thanks, Ian for a lovely memory and more pictures to add to the history of the High Street: I’m sure this will provoke much discussion. Please feel free to comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!

Now, here’s a thing. I remember looking through that arch many times, but I would have sworn that shed was light blue and white, not black. Was it once blue, or is it a false memory? Image kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

Hi Bob,

Love your blog 🙂

I grew up in Brownhills, I was 8 when we moved here from Wales in February 1974.

My Dad was the Area Manger for Topmix, Hoveringham Group. We lived in the bungalow in the quarry lane. I know a fair bit about that house and surrounding gardens/orchard. There was even a tennis court there back in the day! The lawn turf was from Warwick Castle grounds. You have a pic of the bungalow in its current state on your blog. I signed up and commented but not sure it’s gone live yet [It has – Bob].

Anyway, in 1978 my Dad was made redundant so he bought a shop on the High Street.

May Brown was retiring and selling the hairdressers shop, No 22 High Street. Her husband was Tom Brown and he had a barber business behind the hairdressers. It was originally nothing but a little shed but later he had an asbestos building erected which was quite big. When we got the shop it was still as it was when he was running the business there. I’m afraid the only thing I have from back then is this poster I have attached. Yes, it’s really from Tom Browns barber shop! Don’t know why I kept it, I think I took it to show my grandparents in Manchester so it just ended up in all the stuff I’ve kept over the years.


I think a few readers could do with this! What a wonderful thing. Image courtesy of reader Ian.

What’s funny is that my Dad already had a name for the shop before he bought it. Toms Cabin. Mrs Brown couldn’t believe it. It was a carpet shop.

I remember Mrs Brown had a sheltie dog called Sheena.

The Wolsey car they owned was still in the garage behind the shop when we bought the shop in 1978. I don’t think Mrs a Brown drove. It hadn’t been moved for years but old Mrs Brown used to have someone charge the battery and start the engine every so often. A guy who my Dad knew bought it off Mrs Brown.

I remember the lady that owned the fruit and veg shop was called Marie. She had a mustard Rover P6 but was a shocking driver…

The shop in between the fruit and veg shop and Mrs Browns hairdressers was bricked up for years. (Wood Brothers bike shop was the other side of us across the alleyway by the way). We eventually bought the bricked up shop, No 22 I think it was, from the council and extended the carpet shop. When we knocked through it was like a time capsule. It was a newsagent/sweetshop. I was only a kid but I remember everything was from the 60’s. Magazines had Elvis and the Beatles on them. Sweets still in jars, cards on the counter with hair combs on them etc. Unfortunately my dad didn’t really think any of it was of value so it all got skipped by the builders 🙁

I’ve got some pics somewhere of the shop when it was Toms Cabin and also the later extended Carpets and Curtains by Toms Cabin.

I can remember a bunch of stuff about the High St shops etc if you’re interested in anything particular.

Hope this was interesting for you.

All the best,

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9 Responses to Tom’s Cabin: from thatches to rugs!

  1. aerreg says:

    here we go again down memory lane i knew tomy the black well we used to leave our bikes in the old electric days by his salon then dash off up the entry to IDAS CAFE for our bacon sandwich he was the perfect gentleman and greatly respected re the shop on the left was EMILY RICKETS fruit and veg marries was jaimses further dow toward the regent they also rold fresh fish another bit of gobbly one after noon a lorry plowed into the shop i called rickets i cant remember the year it was when i was a retain fireman at the time yes times have changed i have an old carnival programe in it are adverts one inperticular is tommies yes he also had a gentle mans sence of humour thanks for the memory god bless

    • IAN BROAD says:

      No.., Marries shop was definitely next door but one to ours. She used to drive her Rover down the alley next to our shop and park behind her shop. She sold fruit veg and fish.

  2. Martin Littler says:

    Remember those shops well,James fruit and veg and also wet fish, Salt’s Fish and chip shop, i think they went to Canada after, my Mother use to go to May Brown , they were big friends and even after May finish at the shop she still did my Mothers hair at the house up Brickiln street, for some reason i always went to Gordon Roberts on the corner of Church Road and High Street
    I remember when a coke lorry (i think that what it was carrying ) went into Bevin’s shop, killing a Woman that was walking out side the shop on the foot path,if Mrs Bevin had not gone in to the back of the shop she may have been killed as well (so the story go’s),this was in the 1950’s, i still can see the tarpaulin sheet they hung in front of the shop, i was only an infant in those days, but as always stayed in my mind.

  3. Tom Brown the barber was a lovely man and as I found out later the money my mom gave me to give to him got changed into smaller coppers and he sent exactly same back in an envelope. Mom told me after a few years that he knew my mom was short and cut my hair for free.

    Mom made him some cakes from time to time that I take round

  4. I first had my hair cut by Tommy 1928 when him and May shires the same shop. He had the front half, and May the rear with a big curtain dividing the two. After my father finished working at the pit Tommy never had a penny off him. If any one was collecting for a good cause Tommy was the first one they went to. The next shop to Tommy’s was Heamies paper shop, then came Marrie James fruit and veg, she and her brother Cliff also had the next door and sold wet fish and next to that was Holloway’s fish and chip shop, this was before Regent was built. The Regent was built where the Royal George pub stood, known as the fourpenny shop. It was owned by William Roberts, my. Grandfather was licensey .Tommy was the only barber in this area to singe your hair after it was cut.

  5. IAN BROAD says:

    Bob, you know, thinking about it there was some evidence of old pale blue paint on Toms old barbers ‘shed’. It was asbestos / wooden construction. We used to store rolls of carpet and underlay in there. Best, Ian.

  6. Lisa says:

    My fathers family were from Brownhills and i remember so many stories. Does any one know where tom brown was from originally?

  7. Reg Fullelove says:

    lisa sorry cant help and idont think many of us old uns know but tommy was agentleman in every way rescted by all who knew him i emember him well and he was significant part of brownhills in his dayand had a nice sence of humour as noted in his advert in a 1930s carnival programe i have

  8. Pingback: Clearance – everything must go! | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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