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!
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.