There has never been enough attention paid anywhere that I’m aware of to the Victorian father of modern Brownhills, William Roberts – sometime railway plate layer, ganger, brewer, publican, entrepreneur, civic stalwart, JP and philanthropist, William was a very rare man in his time, and appears to have been generous, considerate, imbued with a real sense of social justice, and was undoubtedly a sharp-dealing rogue too.
I’ve covered the larger than life story of this remarkable man a fair few times – who to my knowledge and great shame, lies unrecognised by the town of Brownhills as a civic entity – including his obituary, will, other historian’s work on him and stories of his empire.
Today, out of the blue, David Evans sent me an image connected with Old Bill that I’ve never seen before to my knowledge. It shows a brass band in uniform, purportedly behind the Station Hotel, outside the Roberts Brewery in Brownhills which was the seat of the Roberts great empire. The photo is of course, featured above.
The image contains the ‘ghostly image’ perhaps, of William himself – or perhaps someone else – who moved as the shot was taken.
This amazing photo caught my attention in Brownhills library this morning. The legend says that it shows a local band. The legend mentions that there is a ghostly image with it of William Roberts, publican and important local man.I wonder if readers can help to identify which band this is, and who the tuba player, wearing a bowler hat is. I wonder where the photo was taken?Did William Roberts really take part in his boxing bouts in a ring behind his Station Hotel, or is this urban myth?Thanks to the librarian for allowing me to take the photo and to send it for further researchkind regardsDavid
Now we have a suspicion the man with the tuba may be the monstink featured here. They do seem quite alike, and Mr. ‘Monstink’ Bradbury had previous brass band form, as you can read in the related article here. That’s also a fine hipster beard the hirsute young lads today would be proud of…
Please, if you can help identify the band, exact location or anything else connected with this image or the Roberts history, please do get in touch – you can comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at googlemmil dot com. Thanks.
My gratitude as ever to David for his sharp eye and constant hard work in pursuit of our history.
I am terribly sad that William has not even a plaque in his honour in Brownhills, and before I shuffle off the mortal coil or finally lose my marbles, I’d really like one of the successes of this blog to be achieving some kind of memorial or civic recognition no matter how small, to the original Mr. Brownhills.