Institutional bias – what’s the deal here?

I’m indebted as I have been previously San Antonio resident and Walsall Wood ex-pat Porktorta who’s put some time into sorting out the colour on the image of what I (apparently , incorrectly) presumed wast the Walsall Wood Miners Institute last week – and he’s done a spiffing job; but not just that, it seems I may be mistaken about the building depicted.

A nice restoration by Porktorta – but I’m none the wiser. Can you help? Image from the Bill Mayo collection, shared with kind permission of Bill himself.

The photo featured last week – kindly shared by David Evans from Bill Mayo who was kind enough to allow me to post it here – shows a building on the corner of Brownhills Road and Coppice Road, Walsall Wood, where Oak Park Leisure Centre stands today (well, it’s grounds, at least).

In the background can be seen the twin pitheads of Walsall Wood Colliery, where Brownhills Business Park now is, and the old Colliery Offices which I believe survived until the 1980s when they were, if I recall correctly,  destroyed by a fire.

Now the institute was definitely on this corner, but I have reason now to believe the building here was actually a colliery staff house and the institute, apparently demolished here, may have been next doo (to the left in this picture.

In what seems to be a truly international effort, John Blanchard from Auckland, New Zealand was one of several to comment. He sent the following mail:

Hi Bob.

 In my recollection, my maternal Grandfather, William Ernest Share (deputy Manager of Walsall Wood Colliery until he retired in 1952, aged 75) , told me that the property identified as the Walsall Wood Miners Institute on the corner of the what was the “Magazine field” was a house occupied by a Mr Buick who was (possibly) an Engineer at the mine in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. I have a feeling that Mr Buick owned an Buick car from the USA.

Does this re-ignite memories from others?


John Blanchard
New Zealand

Well, I’m completely foxed now, so I really need folk’\s help here. I have other material to come for the institute itself, but my real question is this: What the Dickens happened to it? Was it this house? Something different? When and why did it close?

Thanks to Porktorta for a lovely restoration, John for some good solid info and everyone else who’s commented. This is turning into a real group effort. Thank you all!

If you have any more information or memories of the institute, please do get in touch – you can comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my sleeve on social media.

Ordnance Survey 1:1,250 scale mapping overlaid onto Google Earth imagery showing Walsall Wood Colliery and the Institute (Highlighted) showing just how much has changed – including the alignment of the whole junction. Imagery from the National Library of Scotland Archive. Click for a larger version. 
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8 Responses to Institutional bias – what’s the deal here?

  1. David Evans says:

    a huge hello to John Blanchard in NZ and I hope you are well, John
    many thanks for the info
    curiouser and curiouser

    kind regards

  2. Pedro says:

    In January 1943 William Ernest Share was timekeeper at WW Colliery.

  3. ray share says:

    in a previous post i said i delivered newspapers to the bewick familey the house i think was also the institute outside on the corner was a blue police telephone box w e share was my grandfather too john blanchard is my cousin

  4. Eryl Powell says:

    Fabulous bit of pulling together there! I’m fascinated by the map because our son has just started work at the Maybrook Industrial Estate. This means he is working at the exact site of the Walsall Wood Colliery, and my family history research says that his ancestors on his mother’s side worked there!!

  5. Clive says:

    The Institute became very popular to the point when they could not cope with the amount of people attending the venue, so they started using the basement at Streets Corner School (now the boiler room) hope this is of some help.
    I covered the Institute in my book: Snippets of History in and around Walsall Wood.

  6. Trevor Wood says:

    Re Rays post. I so remember that “Blue Police Telephone Box” One day me and a couple of friends were walking back from Streets Corner School. I for one could not resist from opening the little blue door on the box. When we did to our amazement the light on top started to flash and a siren went off. I ran home so quick that my mother thought we had been let out of school early.
    I never did it again and none of us to my knowledge ever told any one (Until today)

  7. Trevor Wood says:

    On the map just north of the “Brickworks” and just prior to The Wheel Inn but on the same side and at right angles to Lindon road was a dirt track with a terrace of cottages down there. Can anyone the its name

    • David Evans says:

      Hello Trevor
      some while ago Lynn Lynk posed the same question
      Perhaps , if she reads this, she may be able to give you the answer

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