Can you help tell the story of a local historian please?

I have an enquiry in here from old friend of the blog Peter Chadbund who’s long had an interest in the life, times and work of respected Norton Canes local historian and writer Jack Harrison.

Jack wrote the sought after and in some quarters controversial book ‘The King of Norton Canes‘ amongst other works, a title that remains sought after and discussed to this day. The book was published in 1990 and like Jack’s earlier work ‘Above the Black Diamionds’, is now very hard hard to get hold of.

Well, Peter is trying to find out what became of Jack. I’ll let him explain.

A very hard book to find now.

Hello Bob,

You may recall that we corresponded some time ago withregard to Jack Harrison’s books.

I am trying to tie up the loose ends of various things, including miscellaneous notes that I made about Jack and his tales. The reson for my contacting you is to ask if you know when Jack died – I was told that he passed away a few years ago (if he was still alive he would be 110!) but I cannot find anything on the internet about his death (in fact there is very little about him at all on there). 

Years back when I was singing around the folk clubs I put togerther a little “show” telling about Jack’s life and singing songs based on some of his stories, which I would like to compile into a readable document, thus it seems only fitting that I should include the date of his passing.

Best wishes for 2019
Peter Chadbund

If you can help, please do get in touch – Comment here, hit me up on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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16 Responses to Can you help tell the story of a local historian please?

  1. andkindred says:

    Happy to have a look. What was his proper name? John? Middle name(s)? Where and when (1908?) born?

  2. Reg Fullelove says:

    hi peter i knew jack very well he used to come and visit me when he was writing his hand made book which was publised later he was a very strong knowledgeable character we spent hours talking about wimblebury norto and heath hayes i was at his book launch he battled continully with cannock council about a footbath which rang along his property in burntwood road norton canes sadly he had a phew problems after the publication of his books his knowlege was so exat some folk recocognised family membersand were upset it was a shame as there was no scandal just honest simple history sorry i cant give you an egsast of the year he past on possibly 5 or 6 years or more ago to me he was a grand old friend and historian god blesshim i also kknew billy harrison a distant relative but thats another story god bless

    • Pedro says:

      Thank you Reg for your comments, they are of particular interest for me as they relate to the article I wrote for the Blog… “The Wimblebury Pit Accident of 1927: A Cover Up.”

      In that article I reproduce a little from Chapter 5 of the “King of Norton Canes.”

      Jack writes… “From past experience they were aware that many months would elapse before the findings would be released to the general public. Those who had witnessed the incident talked among themselves, but they were careful to hold their tongues when any official was about. ‘Was the accident caused by human error? Or had a fault developed in the installation of the new machinery?”

      “…As the casualties were brought up the shaft the men from the surface went down on the opposite cage. One by one the stretcher cases were brought to the surface and transported to hospitals or the Accident Home. Since the Wimblebury Colliery did not possess any ambulance of its own the victims were transported by vehicles sent from other pits, and a number of men were carried away in an open lorry.”

      In the early stages after the accident an Officials of the Colliery Company stated “that none of the injured men was in a critical condition.  A slight over-wind caused the accident. Work proceeded immediately afterwards.”

      Later…”The descending cage containing 19 men suddenly dropped to the bottom of the shaft. The cage was within five feet of the pit bottom, and 14 men an youths were injured. Each of 5 had a leg fractured. Two or three others sustained injury to the spine, and all were removed to hospital. They were reported last evening to be going on satisfactorily.”

      In fact two men died in this incident. There is very little written in the Lichfield Mercury, even though questions were asked in the House. It would not surprise me if the “establishment” were not best pleased with the description.

      Has anyone located “Above the Black Diamonds?” It many contain much of interest to anyone studying the social side of mining on Cannock Chase.

  3. Martin says:

    I borrowed this book a few years ago, “The King of Norton Canes”, from a friend who lived in Norton Canes, who sadly pass away a few Years ago, i wish now that i’d tried to have brought it, a very good read,pity you can not buy it now unless you are lucky to drop on a second hand one.

  4. Reg Fullelove says:

    hi peter had time to think it must be over ten ore more thtt jack past on mayebe 15 time flies as we get older and it always seems just like yesterday with a pen god bless

  5. Keith Bradbury says:

    Yes, Pete, I agree with Reg that it must be a good decade or more that Jack passed on. I was in touch with him for a while prior to that. One of my last fond memories of him was that he made a request to hear Tackeroo Junction’s Mermaid, the B Side to our Come On Wolves, on the Richard Walker Folk Sow in the week that we were disbandng the band and the Traf Club in the early 90s. Of course, Pete you and I appeared together for interview on the Richard Walker Folk Show on Radio Shropshire sometime prior to that.

  6. Reg Fullelove says:

    if you are lucky you may find the two books black diamonds and the kings of norton the orignal he made by hand quite a task the to my mind sadly it was published as two books bless him good hunting annd god bless

  7. Wendy Rowe says:

    Hi I’m Jack Harrison’s granddaughter. In response to the original post from Peter Chadbund my grandad passed away in October 2000. He was 93 years. Hope this helps you compile your document.

    Kind regards,


  8. Reg Fullelove says:

    hi pam i dont think so i knew the harisons in woodbine terrace many years ago when i ived in brownhills i became a friend of jack when i came to heath hayes some 50 od years ago there were several harrington families i knew in those days

  9. Reg Fullelove says:

    sorry entered harrington in error should read harrison

  10. Peter Chadbund says:

    Jack gave me a few copies of his books to sell at gigs where I was performing the songs relating to his stories. They only seemed to sell around the Cannock area (not surprising) and I still have a spare copy of “Above the Black Diamonds”. If anyone wants to buy it for £15 inc post (by Paypal) email me one gets it.

  11. Pete Birks says:

    Hi Jack Harrison was my Uncle who I was very fond of. If anyone wants info perhaps I can help

  12. janette walters says:

    i have a signed copy of above the black diamonds, it was my mothers who lived in norton canes…a great read from the past era.

  13. Reg Fullelove says:

    i remember jack writing the book black diamonds before he had it published the oroginal was nand writton no tital he would come a show me his latest stories bless hin a good old mate

  14. Reg Fullelove says:

    irememember jack hand writing what is called black diamonds whe it was pblished he used to cme and show me his latest chapters agood old mate

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