On Parade once more!

Well, that’s a few parish notices sorted out, so we can get on with a bit of history – and a great enquiry has come in from well-respected community elder Doug Birch MBE who has posed a number of really interesting questions about Holland Park, the Black Path and The Parade.

An early postcard of the bottom of the Parade, looking toward Watling Street and the back of the Hussey Arms. Note footpath on one side only and the rough nature of the road. Image from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geof Harrington.

Without further ado, here’s the mail I had from David:

Hi Bob

 A plea for help from a very respected member of the community.
I have had a wonderful telephone conversation with Mr Douglas Birch MBE this morning in which the following queries have been raised. Please can your readers and researchers help to answer them
1. When was the Parade ( the road that runs from Chester Road to Watling Street in Brownhills) built and opened?  Who built the Parade?
2. When were the  lines of magnificent trees planted along the Parade, near to the Chester Road?
3. When was the Black Path in its present form laid out? ( This path runs from near the library, crosses the common and leads to the Watling Street, near the Comprehensive School, I think….Is this an old way or a new path?

4. Half way along the Parade was the cricket field. Mr Birch recalls there being an old cottage near the entrance to the cricket field..by some sort of a track? 

5.  What was this track?
6.  When was the Band stand built… and demolished?
With my sincere thanks and kind regards

These are corkers and thanks to Doug for asking, and to David too for typing them up – where to start?

Well, we covered the early days of Holland Park in the Old Holland article here, and the bandstand itself has always been a fascination of mine, I’d love to know more about that.

This turn of the century 1:1,250 mapping shows no Parade as such, but several routes over the common, one, closest to the current road, appearing to be on some sort of embankment. The origins of the Black Patch can be seen too. Mapping from the NLS Archive; click for a large version.

It has been said (and I’m hoping for help here) that The Parade followed the line of an early coal tramway. Is there any proof of that? There certainly wasn’t evidence of much of a road there on early mapping.

The trees – that fine avenue – I remember being saplings as a child; I remember when we had the cold winters in the 1970s the council used to erect a length of willow fencing on that grass as a snow-break.

Firemen practice hose drill in front of the bandstand at Holland Park in this evocative 1970s picture kindly shared by Godfrey Hucker. The building behind the fire engine was Brownhills town morgue.

I think the bandstand went in the 1990s but a remnant of it still remains, visible in the back wall of the toilets in Holland Park.

If you can help with any of these questions, it would make Doug a very happy man indeed – so please contribute if you know anything. Comment on this post, mail me or hit me up on social media.

The Junction of The Parade and Chester Road in Brownhills. Early 1960s, I suspect; note the lack of the Fullelove shelter. There’s the Hussey Arms in the distance; on the left the row of houses demolished for the Police Station. Just out of shot on the left would be the Fire Station. Image from a postcard for sale on eBay by GuyArab, spotted by reader Dean Rogers.
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19 Responses to On Parade once more!

  1. Jo Bennett-Smith says:

    My Grandad, William (Bill) Lydall, told us stories of him going scrumping as a young lad along the black path. Apparently there was a ditch separating an orchard, where the school field is, from the path. Grandad was born and raised in Brownhills and didn’t leave until he married in the 1930’s so I guess there’s been a path there for at least 100 years.

  2. Pedro says:

    To narrow down the time the parade came into existence. It appears on the 1938 OS Map, but not on the 1915.

  3. Geof Harrington says:

    The Parade was just a cart track used by the bin men to empty the ashes they had collected from the houses, as where the trees are the other side of what used to be the cricket pitch was the tip. It was the Parade before I left school in1935.

  4. Graf Harrington says:

    The black path has been there all of my lifetime. The Parade was build before I left school in 1935. I have a feeling the trees that lined the Parade were planted by the senior girls from Ogley Hay school. I think Doug is getting mixed up with the cottage that stood approx between the hussey and George Fulleloves memorial, on the other side to the cricket pitch. What year the bandstand was put up , or what year it came down, all I can say it was a waste of money, and I love brass bands.

  5. andkindred says:

    My father (no longer with us) remembered “High Nob”, as he said what is now The Parade was called, being “unmade”. He was born in 1926, so his memory is probably from the 1930s.

  6. andkindred says:

    The line of The Parade is shown on the OS 1st Ed 1834. I suspect it is a very old route.

  7. Pedro says:

    There is a mention of The Parade in 1933.

  8. Pedro says:

    November 1927 BUDC surveyor asked if something could be done to the footpath across Brownhills Common. It was extremely dangerous, and it was a wonder that there had been no accidents there. It was known locally as” high nob,” and as everyone knew, it was 6-8 feet above the level of the Common and for cyclists, at night especially, it was extremely dangerous.

  9. Pedro says:

    September 1928, a discussion of construction of a new road across Brownhills Common from Hendesford Rd, Brownhills West, to the Chester Road. It was agreed that the road cut off a dangerous hairpin bend at the junction of Chester Rd and Watling Street.

  10. David Evans says:

    Brownhills Urban District minutes;-

    December 1932.
    “It was recommended that the Miners Welfare Committee be requested to provide a bandstand, a number of seats and to complete the Brownhills scheme as soon as possible.

    October 1934
    ( minute 338) “Bandstand Holland Park. Members decided to meet on the park in order to decide upon the position of the dais which will ultimately form the base of the bandstand”


  11. David Evans says:

    Holland Park

    Brownhills Urban District minutes;-

    November 1933
    The council resolved that Brownhills Common Recreation Ground be named Holland Park in memory of Mr Holland and in recognition of the great interest taken by him in the beautifying of the common.


  12. David Evans says:

    The Parade? no reference as such, but …

    Brownhills Urban District minutes

    June 1932. Midland Tar Distillers were paid £16 19 2 for tar. Tarmac Ltd received £39 0 10 for tarmac and kerbs

    December 1932. £600 19 3 was paid to Limmer and Trinidad Asphalt Co Ltd for asphalt macadam
    February 1933 Limmer Trinidad Asphalt Co Ltd were paid £849 0 1d. Pelswood Quarries Ltd were paid 14s for slag

    March 1934 the council paid Tarmac Ltd £1146 3 7d for tarmac, paving and slabs

  13. Reg Fullelove says:

    rethe band stand the preset one was built when we lived in chester road north we came to live in heath hayes 59 YEARS AGO i recall a visitig mobile circus visiting there were hire wire acts and motor byke performances i cant recall a band playing there a bit of a white elephant by the way dough was right there was a building on the right it was a cricket pavilion one crickter i recall was harry fisher son of the cobbler in lichfield road

  14. Marie says:

    My Mom has a certificate for planting one of the trees on the parade, children from Watling street school were picked to do this.

  15. Pingback: The Parade route | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  16. David Evans says:

    No room now for non party man

    A £1500 bandstand of “ modernistic design” is to be built by the Town Council in Holland Park here ( in Brownhills) and because of it Dr F R Roberts, former council chairman, has resigned.
    Dr Roberts, who has never belonged to a political party, has sat for 14 years as the Independent representative for Walsall Wood.
    Last night he said his resignation was a protest against the “political dictation “ of the council’s policy which, he claims, is forcing the local people to pay an unnecessarily high rate.

    High Feeling

    “It is the bandstand which has really brought things to a head as far as I am concerned. It will cost a 6d rate. Feeling is running very high in the District about it.
    I know that the majority of my electorate are against spending such a large sum of money for something which is of so little use to them. Already the ratepayers are paying 2s.6d in the pound in rate more than is necessary.”
    “This year, he said eh council had increased its rate from 22s 6d to 24s in the £ – although last year it met all its commitments by spending only 21s 4d of the rate it levied. At the meeting to discuss the estimates we usually managed to knock 2s 6d off the Finance Committee’s proposals. This year it was only 2d.
    “One of the reasons is that the council has decided to buy some new vehicles and is paying for them out of revenue instead of applying for the customary loan. As a result the rates will have to meet the full cost all at once.
    “But protests in the chamber, he said, were a waste of time because there was no longer any place for Independents. Opposition in debates just produces constant rancour, bitterness and bickering, which makes a fiasco of rate-fixing and economic administration.
    “Local government is being dominated by “majority parties” and since Labour gained seven place out of 12 on the Council last year the situation has steadily deteriorated. Whatever I say or do is voted down.”

    Councillor F D Breeze(sic) the council’s Labour chairman commented “ I think some of the doctor’s allegations are exaggerated. I do not think he is being fair in putting all the blame on the Labour side. There has been a great deal of provocation from the Independents.”

    The bandstand was described by a council official last night as “ very modernistic in design” He added “ The council hopes that it may encourage the formation of a local brass band.it could also accommodate parties.”

    Birmingham Daily Gazette, 5 April 1954

  17. David Evans says:

    Brownhills Council Items

    King George V Fields Foundation have expressed regret they cannot consider the Council’s
    application for a grant for a proposed bandstand and enclosure in Holland Park, Brownhills.
    Tool sheds are to be purchased for all parks in Brownhills district

    Lichfield Mercury 22 April 1938

  18. David Evans says:

    They have the new bandstand – but no band

    Brownhills – The Urban Council here have built a £900 “ultra modern” bandstand in Holland Park but cannot find a band. They planned to open the Bandstand on August Bank Holiday

    Brownhills has no town band and the Council will have to advertise again for one.

    Last night the chairman, Mr G A Jones said “ We were too late and they were all booked up.It would be rather a fiasco if we officially opened it without one.”

    But a council official said “It is not a bandstand anyway. We have called it a rostrum. It can be used for choirs or for meetings and we have been trying to find a more suitable name for it.”

    Birmingham Daily Gazette, 24 July 1954

  19. Martin says:

    That’s what my Mother use to tell me David,before the Bandstand they had a Band, after it was built they had no Band,and i know all the time i use to walk from Watling Street as a Child in 1950’s and Teenager 1960’s across the Black Path to Brownhills i never saw a proper Band play there.

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