Remembering a Brownhills life with Aer Reg: Part 1, childhood

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The great Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove: a great man and true Brownhillian.

This blog has attracted many entertaining characters and contributors over the years, all of which without exception I’ve been proud, flattered and delighted to host – but I can honestly say the one I’m always thrilled to hear from is Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove.

The 87 year old honorary Grandfather of the blog community, this remarkable man has been astoundingly generous to us over the years, both with his time and by sharing his work as a poet, raconteur and historian.

Reg introduced us to the work of Brownhillian camera whizz Edgar Prtichard, after all, whose 1934 Carnival film was later narrated by Are Reg to beautiful effect. Reg has told tales of his youth, of Brownhills of times past, contributed and discussed unusual photos and generally been a shining light to the blog community.

Reg’s comments on posts have a huge following of their own, even though he refers to them himself as gobbly-goo. They are delightful, fact packed witty streams of consciousness that I wouldn’t be without.

Long may it continue!

Reg has been kind enough, via the wonderfully resourceful David Evans, to supply his life story for the blog, which I’ll be featuring here over coming weeks in serialised form. The first episode covers a childhood in Brownhills that’s touching and funny, and raises some questions over local slang which I’m hoping readers will debate.

Thanks Reg, for being Aer Reg – whatever form you arrive in today – poet, commentator, historian, wit. You are a remarkable man with great passion and generosity and thank you from all the community for sharing what you know and love.

Please do comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!

The Avenues were originally called ‘Garden City’ by the council, and appear to have been bare brick, not faced as today. Image from a postcard of the period.

Reg Fullelove wrote:

I entered this world on June the twenty fifth, nineteen thirty, in Lichfield Road, Brownhills. A council house rented by my grandmother Alice Trawford. My Mother and Dad. Nelly and David, shared family life with tiny brother and myself, four uncles, Jack, Big Jack, Elijah & George, along with their Mother Alice, her husband, not known to me, had died from a pit accident before I was born.

I spent my childhood years up until I married Brenda in Lichfield Road.

Looking back a for a moment. High Street, in a Brownhills not known today, was full of character, stories and a way of life full of nostalgia. Long past but well remembered.

My childhood adventures and world were spent around and within the buildings and the avenues. The avenues have their part in history, the houses being far stronger constructed than the modern houses of today with good old 9 inch solid brick walls, each with pantry, bathroom and coal house. The coalhouse a must because traditionally it was a ooal mining area and predominately a mining community.

A common sight on coming home from school were piles of coal on the footpath, the “allowance coal” being part of miners pay for the shifts or days wont done over a monthly period. What a ritual it was, first the stack would be cleared from the coal house, then in sequence by bucket, bath or if you were posh wheelbarrow, the coal would be stored. Big, lumps on the front to secure the cobbles at the back. Finally the odd last bucket was given to an elderly neighbour The big lumps were known as rerkers. A large piece would be placed on the dieing gleads of the day at night, just before bed time, where it would slowly burn until morning when Mom or Dad would break it up to create a fire for the day, hence the phrase ‘crack the rerker’

Strangely Cornwall played apart in Brownhills history. The reason was, those council houses were constructed by men who came from Cornwall. The tin mines were closing, depression set in and tin miners sought work wherever they could and some lodged within Brownhills. My Mother in law, Mrs Hayward, found room for one miner and often would tell me how grateful the men were to find work and have a good meal, and to he able to send money to their famines back home.

Street games were seasonal, marbles, hop-scotch and cricket. A paling (part of a fence) became a bat, and if you were lucky to have to have a leather football you had mates forever. Girls tucked their dresses in their bottle green knickers, played skipping, handball, hopscotch and did corking, all happily together, boys and girls.

Schools were segregated, boys and girls. Roland Thompson junior boys. Miss Hall senior girls, Miss Alan infants and Mr Oaks to name hut a few. The prize of the day in the infants school band was a triangle or tambourine. On all feet were a pair of black pumps.

This film, made by the remarkable Edgar Pritchard is narrated by Aer Reg. Turn up the volume, grab a brew, and smile along…

The street had its own special scenes, horse and carts were the main transport for Co-op milk and bread and Hartshornes bakers from Chasetown, Mr Allans horse and cart brought miners allowance coal, supported by the very modern transport of Bill Booker, who was the proud owner of a lorry.

He would deliver coal on weekdays and became a furniture removal man at the weekend. On the subject of coal, if you did not qualify for the allowance coal it could be purchased in a very heavy barrow, one hundred weight at a time from Gert Sutton’s shop. The speciality food shop was Alice Wood’s fish and chips, a must a pennath of her chips and a few batter bits wrapped up with loads of vinegar. What a treat, I can still taste that final suck of vinegar through the paper as I write. Perce Jones met the early morning train each weekday to collect his daily fresh fish off the train at Brownhills station.

Pocket money was unheard of, errand money was earned at a penny of half penny given for errand run was a treasure, spent on ice-cream from Walls ice­-cream man as he came along with his tricycle boxed fridge or Selwyn Smith with his horse and cart, “ice-cream” was his street cry and what a banquet it was if mom or dad gave you a drinking glass or jug to be filled. Mr Boston’s and Mr Plumb’s speciality was a Yo-yo, a round biscuit style wafer, Beechnut, Wrigleys spearmint could be got from a machine. I remember every fourth go, you got two beech nuts.

A penny bar of Cadburys, a prized filled bar, and of course liquorice wood and liquorice stick. If you hadn’t got a penny, depending on the season, rhubarb and sugar, carrot, or pigeon peas. Autumn was scrumping time for apples, save me the corkle please. Monday morning was milk money day, tuppence half penny for five bottles and you had to drink it even though on a winters day when it was sickly warm because it had been put by the school radiators to thaw out.

Sunday school was part of lifes way, mom and dad went to the Wesleyan chapel as most of the Fullelove family did. I was not forced to go but in my own special way I followed the path of those around me. My earliest recollection is of the Salvation Army down High Street, then known as Catshill. I was given a linen backed star card, book full of choruses. It was not marked as star cards but. marked as cartridges. Those choruses still stay in my mind today, Wide wide as the ocean, Zacchias was a very little man, I’m H.A.P.P.Y. Eventually following my embarrassing Sunday school anniversary at Westley, when I was placed in the pulpit with the preacher, I ended up at the Gospel hall in School Avenue.

Reg Fullelove gives great talks, too, like this one in 2001.

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29 Responses to Remembering a Brownhills life with Aer Reg: Part 1, childhood

  1. Kay Torne says:

    Thank you Aer Reg so much. Reading this has transported me back to my childhood in a flash, liqorice wood, warm school milk, a pennath worth of chips with vinegary batter bits, a treat indeed. What great times they were back in the day.
    Thanks Reg

  2. andkindred says:

    Thanks, Reg. Those large lumps of coal we referred to as “bankers”. I wonder if that was a hangover from the Leicestershire / Derbyshire area. These modern briquettes maybe a bit less messy, but they don’t do the same job. Andy

  3. Thanks Aer Reg and David, will look forward to further instalments
    Dave (Eddy) Edwards

  4. Elaine Venables formerly Boulton says:

    So many memories cant wait for the next instalment

  5. I am one of the very few can say they have been a close friend of Reg more or less since he was a child, when every body in Brown hills knew every body else.At that time we had our own Law .court, two picture houses, four bowling greens, two railway stations, and a Council of our own. I don’t think we have one of these now. Keep up the good work Reg.XXX.

  6. David Trawford says:

    Hiya Reg i really enjoyed reading your blog my name is David Trawford my dad was George and my grand father was Sam who could have been brother to Elijah not sure though , iknow he did have a brother called Frank who lived by the chase inn i was wondering if you know any think about the Trawford history not many Trawfords locally but quite common in Linconshire kind regards Dave

    • aerreg says:

      hi david sorry apart from my mom and her sister may and brothers i have little details of the trawford family my grandad died following a pit accident i believe some time before i was born however i recall a tall gentleman used to call periodicaly to visit the family and he was always was treated with great respect this could have been grandads brother throuhout my travels i too have spoken to other trawfords as david has said one of them lived in the walsall wood district ialso me t one in blockswitch what intreags me are the family names of your relatives are compaterble there was a brother of my mother called sam he died before i was born what i do know they lumbered me with three christian names reginald arthur david as they used to say when on pay parade inthe RAF when asked name number WE DONT WANT YOUR LIFE HISTORY ha ha god bless

    • aerreg says:

      hi david sorry to be a pest as ive sat here thinking if its of any interest prior to living in lichfield road the trawford family lived in
      a cottage in clayhanger at the junction of church street down a long garden in my mind i have recalled the ever family tales they told of their pranks and stories and the ever faithful coment in them days we had to go to chapel as kids the responce here we go again like me just now god bless o

      • David Trawford says:

        Thankyou for your information my Grandad was from Clayhangar buts about as much as i know Kind regards David

    • PorkTorta says:

      Hello David!

      I’m a Trawford (Brownhills branch) but have been in Texas (America, not DIY) for the last 17 years or so.

      Not sure how we weave together, but this might help…

      My Dad is Robert Trawford. His Dad was Geoff, and he was married to Florence. Geoff (my Grandad’s) brothers were Frank and Leonard.

      Ring any bells yet? I’ll gladly offer more info If you’d like some.

      All the best, Ben

      • PorkTorta says:

        Just read Andy’s post about the census. I believe John Trawford’s son George was the father of my Grandad, Geoff. I may be wrong, but i believe I’m right. Certainly, my grandad was very close to his aunt Nellie growing up, after his father died.

        Interestingly, on our side of the family Nellie was the only female Trawford born for 100 years until my daughter Penelope in 2011. Seems we have a predisposition for making boys!

      • David Trawford says:

        Hi Ben be grateful for any information that you have all that i know about Trawford family that my granddad was from clayhanger he married Clara [ Travis] they had four children George my dad Doris and Noreen and another son Sam junior who died in infancy.They moved to Lichfield Rd Pelsall were i was born my cousin Anthea lives in that house now and her sister Viv lives next door my grand parents moved to Leyland Croft Pelsall in the 70,s were they both passed away in the 80,s.I know my grandad had more than 1 brother but not how many 1 lived at Smethwick and he had a brother who kept the Goat public house at Brownhills West he was married to Mary they never had any children . regards Dave

  7. David Evans says:

    Hello David
    I think a Trawford owned a lot of land in Walsall Wood, seen in 1750 tithe map..more or less where the canal runs , Hall Lane
    Kind regards
    David

  8. Janet Tolley says:

    Hello Reg. My late husband used to be in a choir that was run by a Mr. Fullelove was he a relative of yours

  9. aerreg says:

    hi janet yes he was my uncle my father was david uncle george was the chorester and conductor of several choirs infact all the fulleloves in browhills had good choral vouces except ONE me i kid myself and love music but infact ime tone deaf i talk the leg off an iron pot and enjoy fellowship of others god bless

  10. Sheila Norris ( nee Jones) says:

    Thank you so much for this, Reg. I have printed it out in extra large print for my father ( 94). He was born at Oak Villa, Lichfied Rd. but moved to Clayhanger when just 3 weeks old. I’m really looking forward to reading it with him this morning. Please keep’em coming! Best wishes, Sheila.

  11. andkindred says:

    1911 census: At Bridge Street, Clayhanger; John Trawford, 47, married 19 years, coal miner, Alice Trawford, wife, 38; children Nellie (12), John (9), Elijah (8) and George (5). All born at Clayhanger. There was one other surviving child. John and Alice (Harrison) were married at Walsall Wood in 1892.

    1939 Register: Elijah Trawford, born 1903, at 39 Chester Road, Brownhills with wife Maria. Elijah was a fireman for Brownhills UDC, formerly a bricklayer. Next door was Cyril Tabberer, also a fireman.

    Because Aer Reg is still with us I cannot search the 1939 register for his family. Alice died before the register, earlier in 1939. A John Trawford died in 1929, aged 61, which fits. I searched the newpaper archive in Findmypast, but found no report of a relevant mining incident. This John’s parents were Elijah and Annie (Cross). In 1881 they lived on Clayhanger Lane.

    John had siblings named William (born 1870), Sarah (1871), Florence (1873-1954), Charlotte (1877), James (1879-1965), Elijah (1880), Samuel (1885) and Ellen (1887). This from a public tree on Ancestry.

    Hope this is of interest.

    Andy

    • David Trawford says:

      Hi Andy thanks for the info really trying to find out were the Trawfords originated from i know in Linconshire its quite common but whether they originated up there and moved down here looking for work or the other way round i dont know. I did,nt realise that they went way back to the 1700,s though nice to know other people are interested in there family history kind Regards Dave.T

  12. aerreg says:

    thanks for this mornings information bless you all interesting stuff for me you can always learn first comment my mothers christian name dad called her ellin some called her nelly others helen she also bless her disputed her birthday dates we didnt argue we loved her secondly brenda and i lived in 39 chester road after uncle elijah next door to cyral at that time there was a number of firemen living in those houses i was a retain fire man cyrils dad is the person standing by the photograph of brownhils councils horse drawn fire eengine a popular photo of collectors so thank you and god bless must go and get my spell check

  13. davidoakley says:

    Hi Bob,
    Greetings, Reg. Just watched your 2001 filmed talk for the umpteenth time, and found it as informative and funny, as ever. My sincere thanks for everything, memorabilia, so generously offered, comments and poems that go to the heart of the feelings of ordinary folk.
    Of a similar age, part one of your life story rang many bells within my own early life experiences, Selwyn Smith’s ice cream man, Joe, we called him, in his yellow, painted cart, if you ‘hung on the back of the cart’ for, say, half a mile, Joe would give you a ha’penny cornet to be rid of you. Many a dusty urchin trudged that half-mile back home, licking his cornet in quiet triumph. The Beechnut spearmint machine on Vigo corner had a scratch on the dispensing knob, which, to the knowledgeable, if in the correct position, would provide two spearmints for the next ha’penny. Closely guarded secret, that. Having two sisters in the family, I soon learned corking, and with a wooden cotton spool, four small brads or tintacks and a little wool I could still create a yard or two, even now. Mr Allen, the allowance coalman, lived in Walsall Wood, and was the uncle , I believe, of ‘Hovis’ Brown our Australian friend and fellow blogger.
    So many memory bells, Reg. So many pleasant tones, some a little cracked and out of tune, but that’s life. Isn’t it? Looking forward pleasurably to your next instalment, my thanks to Bob and David Evans for their efforts in bringing this forward for us, Thank you.

  14. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a huge thanks to Reg for sharing his life story with us, and especially to your goodself for the time and work you have put in to this wonderful presentation. Most appreciated.
    kind regards
    David

  15. Kay Torne says:

    Amazing. Simply amazing.
    I was wondering if aer reg is connected to Lynn Fullelove, that my sister and I
    knew? She and her family lived on the Chester Road not far from Wilkin Road
    We lived in Shannon Drive. Also the Birches lived a few doors down from the Fulleloves, mum Dorothy who owned the chippy on the Shannon Drive estate and her daughter Karen Birch, who I went to school with.
    Would be interested in knowing what they’re up to these days?

  16. aerreg says:

    hi my love any fullelove with E appears to be part of the clan ihave over the years traced the name our little flock came from breedon on the hill in warwicksher prior to that east anglier they were vicors who came from france here comes the funny bit their name was FULL OF FLUFF not fullelove fullers were a treader of cloth now you would not slept tonight if i had not told you that ha ha to be serious yes i knew shannon drive well and the houses you refer to god bless

  17. Pingback: Remembering a Brownhills life with Aer Reg: Part 4, Our friends are electric | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  18. Pingback: A belated, but heartfelt happy birthday to Aer Reg! | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  19. LORRAINE HENFREY says:

    Hi i was just wondering if anyone remembers Samuel Jones that lived on Chester Road,Brownhhills,he died in the 1940s but ran one of the mines ,he had two children Rita and Neville,they lived next to the Husssey Arms,they also lived next to the Princeps.after my Grandfather died they lived above the grocers shop.

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