Do you remember Joan and Les Jackson?

Old friend of the blog Andy Dennis has asked if I’d share his quest to find out what became of local artist Joan Jackson and her husband Les who lived near Newtown, Brownhills: A painting created by Joan hangs in Stonnall church and one of Andy’s readers, Wendy Cooke, is trying to find out more about this talented and accomplished artist who was a friend of Andy’s parents.

Joan has previously been mentioned in several posts on Andy’s blog.

This is yet another great article on Andy’s fascinating blog, which I commend to all readers with an interest not just in local history but wider genealogy too.

If you can help Andy and Wendy, please do: As a random suggestion, has anyone tried Walsall Society of Artists who may well have known Joan?

Andy Dennis wrote:

A remarkable and beautiful picture by a lost local artist. Can you help find out what became of Joan and her work? Image originally posted on Andrews Kindred by Andy Dennis.

This original oil painting was based on a photograph, probably black and white, taken before Joan and her husband were forced to move after the house was condemned in about 1967.

Recently, I received a request from Wendy Cooke, who wrote:

I am interested in finding out about a picture of St Peter’s Church Stonnall painted by a Joan Jackson of Brownhills and which hangs in the vestry of St. Peter’s Church, Stonnall.

I am doing voluntary work as a Church Recorder for NADFAS (National Society for Decorative and Fine Arts). I would be interested in finding out any History about the artist and her work.

I have looked on the internet and came across your website.

Thank you in anticipation.

I don’t know very much about Joan, as we visited infrequently, and I tended to gravitate more towards her husband, Les.

What do I think I know?

The birth of Joan Davies was registered in the first quarter of 1920 at Cannock, Staffordshire, indicating date of birth in that quarter or towards the end of 1919, though I believe a period of six months was allowed.  From recollection, Joan was local to Brownhills, so she was probably born somewhere north of Watling Street and west of Howdles Lane.  The precise date and location could be found out by obtaining a copy of the Entry of Birth from the General Register Office (GRO), reference:  1920 Jan-Feb-Mar Cannock 6b 1193.

In the spring of 1946 Joan married Leslie Albert Jackson (GRO ref:  1946 Apr-May-Jun Cannock 6b 1171).  After marrying, Joan and Les moved into number 43 Chapel Street, generally known as the back lane, which I believe Les had inherited from his grandmother.

Les (1919-1996) was an engineer of some considerable ability and was suitably rewarded by his employer Parsons, for whom he designed, among other things, turbines for generating electricity in power stations.  As a hobby, he also made astronomical telescopes, including the lenses, from scratch. While there they were close friends with my parents and together they would go dinghy sailing, walk on Cannock Chase, and play cards, a favourite being canasta.

Joan, I think I recall, had some kind of office job that was also quite well paid, so, having no children and no mortgage, they were comfortably off, though ostentation was not their thing. Joan was relatively tall, slender and had fair hair, which she always wore short: definitely a practical sort, but although she stood for little nonsense, always seemed warm and friendly.

There were no children, and I never knew anything about family on either side.

As I recall it, Joan only took up painting upon retirement, probably in 1985.  By then they had moved to 9 Watling Street, at the eastern corner of Watling Street, Dawes Lane, just down from Knaves Castle.  I only went there a few times, the last when Joan was rather tipsy, but I do remember there was a wall covered with her works, all framed by Les.  They included landscapes, among which were several in Wales, local scenes and still life. After that we lost touch and when I enquired someone else was living at 9 Watling Street, but they were unable to say what happened to them.

I am reasonably confident that Les died aged 77 in 1996 (GRO ref: 1996 Oct Walsall A52A 0751A 84).

What became of Joan, or her paintings, or, indeed, Les’s telescopes, I have no idea.

So, does anyone know more?  If you can help, please contact me through the contact page, or directly to andrewskindred at gmail dot com.

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8 Responses to Do you remember Joan and Les Jackson?

  1. andkindred says:

    Thanks, Bob. Somebody must know something? …

  2. Ade Reid says:

    Would these Jacksons be any relation to Don and Audrey Jackson who lived opposite me in Chapel Avenue Brownhills In the !970s and 80s ?

    • Lisa says:

      Was that the same Audrey Jackson who was the secretary for Brownhills Comprehensive?

      • Mrs. BrownhillsDavidNotBob says — Yes that was the same Audrey Jackson who was the secretary at Brownhills Comprehensive. in 1993 ish I went back to school as an adult to do some NVQ’s in Administration and Audrey taught me Word Processing at the same school. Both my sons went to that school as well. I know someone who is still in touch with Audrey and says she is well.

  3. Mrs. BrownhillsDavidNotBob says — Joan and Les were a lovely couple. We got to know them as we bought a house that belonged to Albert Derry (I don’t recall if it was Joan or Les’s Uncle) on the Watling Street in Brownhills in 1976. On Albert’s death the house became Joan and Les’s. We lived very happily there for over 30 years. We exchanged Christmas cards and such for years.

    I am not sure if we knew about Joan being an artist, but I think I do recall lots of paintings around their bungalow.

    Yes I know Les did pass away, after that she moved into a block of Retirement flats, Homebell House, next to the Post Office in the centre of Aldridge. I often used to see Joan on the bus going to and from Aldridge to Walsall and we would have a lovely chat. She said the bungalow had become too large for her and the garden was proving somewhat of a chore for her. I recall exactly the last time I spoke to Joan it was July 4th 2005 on the bus from Walsall to Aldridge. She was very happy and in good spirits, but that was 12 years ago now. We still lived in the house on Watling Street then but have since moved. Sadly, I haven’t seen her since.

  4. Laurence Thacker says:

    I knew them, although my connection was with Les as I shared his interest in astronomy. My brother befriended him first, Les was working part time at Shire Oak school looking after the tools and whatnot in the metal/ wood work classrooms. A part time job after retiring. My brother was a sixth former at the time and had popped into the metal work room to pick up a project he had finished.
    When my brother, Neil, mentioned he shared, along with his brother, an interest in astronomy Les invited us both up to his bungalow on the A5 near the Charringtons Oil site.
    He and Joan made us very welcome with sandwiches and cake laid on and after tea we were escorted out to Les’s workshop to see his scopes and all his telescope making kit. For those with an interest in astronomy Les had a 3in refractor and 6in Newtonian reflector, both made by him. They performed very well as I recall. We made several return trips over the next few years but we moved from Hammerwich in 86 and my brother had started uni after finishing A levels so we lost touch. My last visit was to take a Christmas card and Joan meet us at the door and explained Les was not well and so we did not intrude. I still have a 100 in Moon map Les gave us on one visit which was the best available before the advent of satellites and was used by NASA for the early Apollo Moon missions.

  5. Steve Raybould says:

    We lived at 37 Chapel St. My Nan and Grandad at 41 Chapel St. I can just about remember them from my childhood. These houses are no longer standing, demolished late 70s.
    My Aunt (85) and Uncle (86) were both friends with them. I recall as a kid star gazing in their back garden – all “home made” kit.

  6. andkindred says:

    Presumably, your Nan and Grandad lived at 41 from about the end of 1960, when my grandfather died? Andy

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