A shady mystery!

Thanks to longstanding contributor John Anslow, I have a Shelfield mystery for the readers and researchers this fine Sunday – all help with this would be appreciated, please.

John, long time contributor with his late brother Paul sent in a fascinating article last week regarding a collection of Victorian portrait photos, wherein John also informed us of Paul’s sad passing.

Encouraged by the interest in his latest historical conundrum, John’s raised an interesting question from an old news clipping: Where was Shady Park in Shelfield?

John Anslow wrote:

It looks like the typeface of the Lichfield Mercury, but not sure. It’d say like John, 1920s-1930s. Click for a larger version.

Hello again, Bob.

I found this dog-eared and yellowing newspaper cutting while sorting through a box of old documents the other day. It has no date but, judging from the hats and other attire, it appears to be from the early 1930s.

It describes the opening of a new pavilion at Shelfield Y.M. Sports Club by ‘Mrs. Reece, of Walsall Wood’.

Lucy Reece was the wife of Sid Reece, tenant of Dairy Farm around the time of the Great War. This farm, with its magnificent barn, has previously been the subject of much interest on your blog.

The secretary of the club, Teddy Nash, also pictured here, subsequently married Lucy’s daughter, Mary.

Also referred to in the cutting are several people who would have been well known in Shelfield and Walsall Wood for their charitable work and public service; they include Arthur Newbould and Doctor F. R. Roberts.

Arthur can be seen in the picture of the Nurses’ Fete you published in 2014, and Dr Roberts has been mentioned previously here in comments by Reg Fullelove and David Evans.

Do any of your readers remember the sports club or the pavilion? I confess the name “Shady Park” is unfamiliar to me.

 All the best,

 John Anslow

The clipping (above) mentions many locally well-known names in recording the opening of a new Sports Pavilion at the aforementioned park; but I can’t find it in the online archives – nor can I find mention of it anywhere else.

I’m assuming it’s what is now known as ‘Shelfield Park’ or ‘Parklands Playground’ – here’s how it was recorded in 1938:

National Library of Scotland archive Ordnance Survey 1:2,500 scale mapping of Shelfield, issue dated 1938. Click for a larger version.

Note that the park had buildings in the 1930s which would probably be pavilions. Opening Sports Pavillions was a popular leisure investment by councils, social organisations and companies in the interwar period: Many are recorded including Walsall Wood, Lichfield, several in Walsall and across the wider Black Country.

But I can find no reference to this.

Here’s what the park looks like today in modern Google Earth imagery. Click for a larger version.

So: What do you know? Can you help?

If a better crate-digger than me can find this in the archives, or another reference to it, so that it could be dated, that would be most excellent. I welcome all contributions, as always: Comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or find me lallygagging on social media.

This is a fine contribution for which I am, as ever, indebted to John Anslow. The brothers Anslow have shone a beautifully crafted light upon some of the wonderful, little-known corners of Walsall Wood history – from sneaking into garden parties to cocksure monstinks; from dignity in poverty to odd interconnected stories, the Anslow boys have been behind some of my very favourite things to share here.

I am honoured to be able to feature these contributions here. Thank you John.

This entry was posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall Wood stuff and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A shady mystery!

  1. andkindred says:

    Several references from 1939 Walsall Observer to Shady Park Farm, Shelfield, but nothing to locate it. Can’t see it on any of the old OS maps. Andy

  2. David Evans says:

    Walsall Observer, 17 Sept 1932, page 15 ;-

    Shelfield Y.M Sports Club

    “The newly-formed Sports Club football team at Shelfield played their first home match on Saturday when they beat Rushall Labour Club at Shady Park by 4 – 1. Dr Roberts, who is very popular with the young men, kicked off before a good attendance”

  3. David Evans says:

    Walsall Observer 23 July 1932 page 2;-

    Village Cricket Club Revived

    “For ten years Shelfield has had no village cricket club, but recently a number of young men decided to revive it and the use of a pitch at Shady Park was secured. Mr E Nash was chosen as captain and Mr A Stanley as vice-captain, and yesterday week the team played and won their first match, their opponents, Walsall Trinity, being beaten by five runs in an exciting finish. The club has four open Saturdays in August, for which they are anxious to arrange fixtures.”

    There are several articles re Shady Park Farm, Shelfield, dating 1939

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.