In the Regency period


In 1953 whilst attending Watling Street Junior mixed School, the whole school attended a special showing of a film of The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. I remember how at times we sat there solemnly watching such a regal affair and how at other times the whole theatre erupted as the new crowned Queen paraded in her Golden Coach to Buckingham Palace. Image from ‘Around Pelsall and Brownhills in old photographs’ by David F Vodden.

There has been some discussion of late on Facebook and other places about local cinemas, and with Russia topical at the moment too, this is a good time to share this one from reader Sam that came in a few weeks ago.

I once commented on the above photo of the Regent Cinema – It stood on the site of Ravens Court, itself on the site of a lost pub called the Royal George – and I said it was odd seeing the Soviet flag displayed in Brownhills High Street. Of course, I knew this was because they were one of our allies in the war at the time, but it still seems incongruous.

Well, reader Sam has pointed out that the people of Brownhills (and by extension, clearly the UK as a whole) were supportive of the Soviets during the war as one would, I think, expect.

Sam sent me the following clipping:

There are several points of interest here – we have mentioned Mrs. Parsley here on the blog before, and she seems to have been a formidable lady, but I was ignorant of the fact that her husband was an Army Major. Secondly, I had no idea the Regent had been a concert venue at all. Thirdly, who were the Pioneer Corps and what were their function? Article from the Walsall Observer and South Staffordshire Chronicle of 21 February 1942.

Sam said:

Dear Bob

There was some correspondence in the past about the Regent Cinema, referring to a photograph with the Soviet hammer and sickle flag displayed, on 25th May 1945.

Not only was Russia an ally of Britain during the war, but the residents of Brownhills enthusiastically supported them, as is shown by the attached report of a fund raising concert held in 1942  (Walsall Observer and South Staffordshire Chronicle, 21st February 1942).

Also possibly of interest is the advert for a concert at the same venue featuring Sam Rowbotham and his ‘Futurists’ 5th April 1942…

Quality or re-production not great- downloaded by me from British Newspapers on-line.


Over forty two pounds? That’s a lot of money, particularly in wartime. Wow.

I’m interested in several aspects: We have covered the redoubtable Mrs. Parsley a few times on the blog, and she seems to have been quite a strong character in wartime Brownhills, but I had no idea her husband was a Major – it would be nice to know more about him.

Just who were the Pioneer Corps, and what was their function in being stationed here? Were they local?

Finally, the Regent as a concert venue is new to me. Were other local cinemas so used? What concerts and acts played the Regent? Anyone famous?

Sam also supplied this clipping, similarly from 1942:

Now I’m assuming this would be jazz or dance band, can anyone light this up please? Walsall Observer, 28th March 1942.

Just who were the Futurists, were they big at the time and what did they play? It sounds wonderful. Also, I’ve asked before – what was Brownhills Nursing Association, please?

Thanks to Sam for raising some remarkable questions and opening a window on another aspect of local history.

Come on cinema-goers, what do you know? Comment here, or mail me: Brownhillsbob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

This entry was posted in Brownhills stuff, Followups, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, Shared media, Shared memories, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall Wood stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to In the Regency period

  1. The Royal Pioneer Corps was a British Army combatant corps used for light engineering tasks. It was formed in 1939 and amalgamated into the Royal Logistic Corps in 1993. Pioneer units performed a wide variety of tasks in all theatres of war, including stretcher-bearing, handling all types of stores, laying prefabricated track on beaches, and effecting various logistical operations. Under Royal Engineers supervision they constructed airfields and roads and erected bridges; they constructed the Mulberry Harbour and laid the Pipe Line Under the Ocean (PLUTO).

  2. David Evans says:

    was the lead pipe, the pipeline under the ocea, made in Oldbury? I visited the Mulberry museum in Normandy some years ago..A piece of the lead pipe was on display..

  3. aerreg says:

    hi bob i knew mr and mrs parsley well they lived in a large house bottom left down mill road they had a daughter valerie and son if i can recall name peter they had alovely garden hence dads frienship as you remarked mrs parsley was a leading member of the WVS along side nelli bradbury also memories of the regent and the days of jack turner with his cry SHURRUP on the od occasian when the film broke and wisterling began one and nine a double seat at the back happy courting days yes we did sell little paper flags for russia i can recall on one ocassion stand on school avenue corner an elderly lady said sorry ive got no change ime just going to the bank to change this producing from her purse a large piece of white i cant honestly say exactly say the amount but it was the largest amount of money my young eyes had seen and the memouries still of it still linger in my yes grandad weve heard it before days thanks for the memory god bless


    • Julia Willett says:

      Hi Reg. I too remember Mrs Parsley very well. She became a very active member of Brownhills TG as well as the WRVS. When I was small my Mum took me with her to Mill House when the guild were rehearsing for a show. It was a fabulous house and I helped Mrs Parsleys Mum to make refreshments for the music and drama group.
      She later married Mr Burton from Stonnall and went to live there. Mr Burton had a farm in Stonnall and I belive one of the roads with new homes on it is called Burton drive or similar where his farm was.
      She gave me various nik naks over time which I still treasure.
      When Mr Burton passed away she moved to the retirement apartments on Aldridge Island. I believe her daughter became totally deaf and had a hearing dog. Then Mrs Burton became blind, but still kept an interest in guild activities till she passed away late into her 90’s.

  4. aerreg says:

    should have put white paper money note they were woppers in those days from 10 pounds upwards

  5. aerreg says:

    re live shows at the avion at aldridge were familier at one time i recall going to see diane doors live on stage there then again who could forget that on the subject of pluto talbot stead spring to mind they were one of the leading tube manufactorers of that period another fact on the regent it was one of the first wide screens in the countrey finaly mr mrs parsley did the opening ceromony at the british legion club in lichfield road just a bit of grey matter stiring for snowy white day god bless

  6. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    the article, F company take aim, 12 Nov 2017, shows Colonel Cartwright, and the article The Pride of Brownhills 21 Nov 2014 shows Major Parsley and his wife beside the plaque. Both articles have interesting comments. I think some of the local readers may remember the Major from their childhood. A big thankyou to Sam for the interest and for raising the topic. You never know, there may still be some little paper flags around…..
    kind regards

  7. David Evans says:

    Brownhills Urban District, Council meeting, held in committee on 8 July 1942..”it was decided that the Aldridge Colliery Band be engaged on four occasions on dates which will coincide the the efforts of Comforts Fund, Home Guard and Nursing Association ( noted under “Holidays for Workers”)”
    Perhaps there are local press reports of these events?

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