Memories of Clayhanger and Brownhills, all the way from the Isle of Man

This photo from ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington was taken during one of Clayhanger’s notorious floods. 

It’s always good to hear from ex-residents of the area and their memories, and here’s a lovely one that cam in a couple of weeks ago from Bryan Fletcher all the way from the Isle of Man – Bryan’s a former Clayhanger lad.

Bryan has written warmly of his memories of Clayhanger and Brownhills and I’m sure many of these memories will chime with other readers, and make me recall the work of Martin Dingle and also that of the greatly missed Michael Edwards.

It’s always sad to return and find the place you remember so fondly has changed, I guess but Clayhanger in recent decades has really changed for the better considering it’s polluted, isolated and flooded past. Sadly that meant many memories met with the bulldozer.

Thanks to Bryan for a lovely thing and if you can add to the recollections, please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com – thanks to Martin for a really interesting curiosity.

Martin wrote:

Greetings from the Isle of Man!

Hi there Bob.

I was nostalgically combing through memories of the Walsall Wood colliery where my Pop, (grandad ) was a collier.

What memories!

I was born in a miners cottage at 57, Clayhanger Lane in 1946. My Pop’s name was Samuel James Fletcher and my Nan was Dorcas, (nee Rickaus).

The Duttons House that stood on the canal between Catshill Junction and Clayhanger Bridge is subject to some pretty wild claims about subsidence. Image from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geof Harrington.

We used to walk from and to Walsall and from and to the doctors at Walsall wood. I re-call the Wheel pub by the pit, it was where we got off if we were lucky enough to get a bus. The number 11 was to the other end of the lane I think.

In our row were five more houses, the Billings, the Days, the Talbots, the Ecclestones and one other chap I can’t re-call. the next door fella used to tap on the back of the bogey’ole, (indoor coal cupboard), door and I thought he was a ghost.

There was an old tin chapel halfway along the lane and a railway bridge over it, by gum we had some fun on that bridge!

Adjacent to our row of houses was the two overseers house opposite and the gangers two houses at an angle up a little dirt track. Further down towards the village was a stream under a little Bridge with Howdels? shop just before the bridge. We loved messing about in the stream but as I got older the stream got dirtier and filthier until even kids wouldn’t play in it.

The Iron Bridge in the late 80s from David Hodgkinson. How well we remember it…

We would walk into Brownhills through  the ‘Spot’ where the big ponds on the the other side of the road from I think sand extraction caused a lot of subsidence. We then went over the iron footbridge over the ‘cut’.

My Nan could never understand why ,’they’, wouldn’t let her take over a small house that had submerged it’s whole bottom floor. She reasoned she could live in the top floor!

If we walked the other way to the top of the lane and into Brownhills we saw the meandering canal and the massive china clay workings with their great Cat bulldozers looming over this little fella. Well I was then. (H and H) eat ya heart out. Finally we would end up by the railway station and then on to Poxons the butchers and of course the Co-Op, (was that number 70046)? hah.

I took my boys to see where I lived a good while back and, SHOCK, HORROR! None of it existed, all gone, disappeared. Just as though the little community I was born and raised in never existed, ever.I checked on Google, No, nothing. There was absolutely no sign whatever, no brick no old fence, nothing.

Right I’m going to cry into my cocoa now.

Just thought you might be interested in the ramblings of an old Clanger.

All the very best

Bryan F. (for Fletcher, of course)
Denham, Isle of Man


Clayhanger from the air, as Bryan would no doubt remember it, in an Aerofilms image supplied previously by Brian Stringer.

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6 Responses to Memories of Clayhanger and Brownhills, all the way from the Isle of Man

  1. Eryl Powell says:

    I’m trying to orientate the Aerofilms Clayhanger pic! Where is what??

    • BrownhillsBob says:

      Close as I can get with Apple Maps and the lateness of the hour

      Best wishes

      • Denise Lines says:

        Sorry tried to do thumbs up, but it registered thumbs down! Brilliant photos.

        • Mary Mayo says:

          The road to right of the frame is High Street. The house on the extreme right could be Caddick House?
          The railway line runs across the middle of the frame, you can just see the railway bridge.
          Church Street runs across the bottom of the frame, showing the rear of the George & Dragon as it was then. Opposite the George & Dragon is the front of the Church.

  2. SHEILA NORRIS says:

    Loved reading this as my Dad ( 94) grew up in Clayhanger but what really intrigued me was “Denham, Isle of Man” I’m also an ex-pat (from Chester Road, Stonnall) living in the Isle of Man near Port Erin but haven’t heard of Denham ( thought it was near Uxbridge, Middlesex) Is it a house name? Loads of us over here, I’m always asking people if they come from the West Midlands and when they reply how did you know that ? I always say: takes one to know one! Met a chap from Walsall only a couple of days ago while walking round my local nature reserve. Anyway, Bryan, excellent stuff. More of the same please!

  3. Tina hill says:

    So interesting. Thanks for the post it would be lovely to meet up when I am next in the IOM. Obviously not this year. I am just starting out on doing marshalling. I live it on clongha, when I came back to the area, I couldn’t believe how big it was. I remember having Mandy’s coaches come and take us to school. Then Mr Wickson got a coach..

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