In good Stead

As you know I’m very into local industrial history here on the blog, and there’s an area of it that has not received much coverage since the sad death of grandfather of all Walsall local history, Jack Haddock.

Image from Grace’s Industrial Guide.

I am of course talking about Birchills and North Walsall. There were many industries here as I’ve addressed more than a few times on the blog – from iron and glue works, to the canal, to the now long passed power station. All employed large numbers of people and helped make Walsall prosperous.

One such factory was Talbot Stead tubes, latterly TI Stainless, then Stirling Tubes. This was a large tube mill on the Green Lane in Walsall, heading to Bloxwich, where TK Maxx’s operation is today. It was almost opposite the South Staffordshire Waterworks HQ.

The works closed in 2001 and was razed soon afterward.

A rather odd promotional video for Sterling Tubes from the 1980s, I’d have said. 

I have covered Talbot Stead before, and always appealed for more information; thankfully a kind man called Peter Miller got in touch recently to share the material he gathered from his father who worked there in the golden years of the plant.

I’t a joy and an honour to share material of this quality, especially at the moment when so little work seems to be. going on into recent industrial history of Walsall. I thank Peter from the bottom of my heart.

If you have anything to add, please do: Comment on this post, you can mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com of wake me up with a loud ‘Hey you!’ on social media.

Without further ado, I’ll let Peter tell the story.

Peter Miller wrote:

Hi all.

My name is Peter Miller.  I live in the Chase Terrace area but originally from Leamore, Walsall.

I was looking through Bob’s blog (which I have done many times) and noticed a post about Talbot Steads in Green Lane, Walsall.  The post date was August 8th 2013.

Myself, I know it as Talbot Steads but also as a place my dad worked at, Tube Investments and TI Chesterfield.

I worked partly over the road at the once TI Sunhouse, their other TI Sunhouse factory was in New Road, Walsall, behind the church at the top of the market.  That is where I started my apprenticeship in 1979.

Anyway, back to Talbot Steads. My dad James (Dusty) Miller worked there for almost 25 years, his employment starting on the 21st June 1947 and terminating on 30th October 1971.  He retired at the age of 61 on the grounds of ill health, although he manged to attain the grand old age of 98.

So, he was one year off getting his gold watch but sadly the company would not give him this even after all his hard work and reaching the status of Stockyard Foreman.  He did, however, get some pots and pans for my mom.

My dad, like me, kept a lot of memorabilia, this amongst his other life memorabilia has been carefully stored in my loft since 2008 (this being the year he departed this world).  So, we can calculate he was born in 1910.  He was in fact born in Sunderland and married a Leamore lass (my mom).

Having seen the post on BHB, I contacted Bob and asked him if he would like a copy of this memorabilia, he told me he was really interested.  I sent him copies and mentioned I could do a short write up to complement the images.

So, without further ado, let’s get onto the memorabilia.

What’s included:

  • Pension Documents (Personal info removed)
  • Various booklets (E.G. Work’s handbook, rules etc)
  • Plastic circular conversion tables
  • TI Stainless Tubes Monthly Magazine (October 1966)
  • An Old wage packet
  • Life assurance and general pension documents
  • Calculation of redundancy payment
  • A second calculation of redundancy payment for me as a comparison to my dad’s (This will become apparent in explanation)
  • I have also included a newspaper cutting about Paul Wellings who was killed in an accident at Talbot Steads. Paul was related to me through a marriage.
  • A Walsall Observer newspaper cutting of an article referring to my dad who sent in a photo of a Talbot Steads work outing taken in 1926

Pension Documents:

Illustrates documentation for the General Staff Pension and Life Assurance Scheme.  At the time of leaving Talbot Steads my dad was only on £25 Per week after a service of 24 years.  Not the best paid job in the world, don’t know how he manged to look after his wife and 2 young sones aged 7 and 8

Images very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

Various Booklets:

Here we can see a rule book, a works handbook, a Talbot Stead handbook and a Forman’s guide to national agreements which has some names written in the back which may be familiar to someone.  I believe J Whitehouse refers to my mom’s cousin.  There was also a Derek Whitehouse who worked under my dad, he was my mom’s nephew. Apparently and unfortunately for him, he was sacked by my dad for misconduct.

Images very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

Plastic Circular Conversion Tables:

These days we just google but this was not available all those years ago.

Images very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.


TI Stainless Tubes monthly magazine:

Here we have the monthly magazine for October 1966. There are a few articles and names that someone may be familiar with.

On the rear cover are two photos from a monthly photo competition.  The two boys eating ice cream are myself and my brother, the photo was taken by my dad.  The photo was the competition winner but it was in joint place with another.  I wonder what became of the little girl.

The articles mentioned are company news, general activity, production, staff reduction, skills transfer, quality control, diary with upcoming appointments, news of a wedding and sports pages.

You can download a searchable PDF version by clicking here, or use the gallery below.

Images very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

An old wage packet:

Not sure of the date of this wage packet, possibly, late 70’s, I think.  As a Stockyard Foreman, my dad was not on a great deal of money. So, looks like he was on 20 pounds and 10 shillings.

I remember talking to kids at school, as you did and asking what their dad’s were on, one lad said 50 pounds a week as his dad was a lorry driver, that sort of thing sticks with me.

Images very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

Life assurance and general pension documents:

Next up are 3 documents relating to a life assurance scheme and the general staff pension scheme.  These documents relate back to the 40’s and 50’s and have kept in reasonably good condition.

Images very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

Images very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

Calculation of redundancy payments:

Here is an interesting comparison referring to redundancy and severance payments.  My dad asked for early retirement on the grounds of ill health.  He had suffered bronchitis for many years and was also affected by the results of shrapnel wounds from his activity in WWII (That is another story).

After 24 years the company offered him redundancy (with no gold watch). I imagine this was to stop his pension kicking in until the correct start date.  In the end my dad had to accept this and accepted redundancy in 1971.

His payment for this was £720.

As mentioned earlier, I worked for TI Sunhouse.  This is where I started my toolmaking apprenticeship.  Unfortunately, after just over a year the company went into administration.  For this I was paid £656 severance pay at age 17.

£720 for 24 years service against £656 for 18 months service must have felt like a kick in the teeth for my dad.

Images very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

In addition to the documents, here are some photos.  First two show my dad in the stockyard and the second two show him with the spoils of his redundancy.

Image very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

Dad (James Miller) on the right. Fred Crump (on the left) 1963

Image very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

1960. Talbot Stead stockyard. Dad, back row second from the left with Fred Crump to his right. Others unknown.

Image very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

Retirement 1971

Retirement 1971 (DIY stuff and pots and pans)

Additional Memorabilia:

Factories can be dangerous places to work and accidents can and do often happen.  You may have heard about the incident at Talbot Steads in 1957 when two people were killed at the factory after being overcome by fumes trying to save some factory workmates.  The name of one of those people was Paul W Wellings.

He was actually related to me through marriage as he married my mom’s cousin Edna Constance Jones.

The photo below is one that was supplied to a local newspaper by my dad.  It shows Paul Wellings as an ARP, photograph taken during the war in the 40’s.  My grandad William (Bill) Fellows is also shown, front row, left.

Image very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

The second photo shows 38 Former employees of TI Chesterfield, Walsall, trip to Blackpool to lobby trade union leaders to increase pensions, dated 2nd September 1973.  My dad is shown centre holding a newspaper.

Image very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

The third photo was also supplied to a local newspaper (The Walsall Observer) by my dad and shows a Talbot Steads works outing in 1926.

Image very generously supplied by Peter Miller. Click for a larger version.

If anyone has any information with reference to people in the various photographs this would be most appreciated.

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11 Responses to In good Stead

  1. David Smith says:

    Hi Bob, not really industry but I remember in the local newsagents on Lichfield Road, large tins of crisps – Jones? – and I am pretty sure they were made locally – plain, salted only none of your fancy flavoured ones in the 50s & 60s. What happened to them?

    • BrownhillsBob says:

      Certainly was industry!

      I believe they were made in Brickyard Road or that area. No idea what happened. Several local pubs have old tins of Jones Crisps.

      I have a feeling David Evans is your mnan for this…


    • Anthony Thacker says:

      Hi David, I remember their factory being in Eardington Road Aldridge.

    • David Evans says:

      Hello David
      I think the former Primitive Methodist Chapel that still stands near the junction of Leighswood Road and Brickyard Road, Aldridge was once Jones Crisps factory.I think the blog has the history of that chapel, courtesy of Mr John Sale, with some interesting comments, . The crisps were extra special and, as you remember, were known for their large tins, their flavour and little packets of salt in each bag.

      kind regards


      • David Smith says:

        Thanks for that David, we haven’t been back to brown hills since mother died 10 years ago so I guess there have been some changes. I remember the wimpey flats being built and saw them being demolished what has replaced them? D

  2. Sean Yates says:

    I remember the crisp factory well. My auntie, uncle and five cousins lived in Leighswood Road a few doors up, next door to John Sale. I can remember my auntie and John’s mother having conversations over the adjoining wall. Anyone who can remember the 1950/60’s comedian Arthur Evans “over the wall conversation” sketches would able to picture the scene I seem to remember also that the Jones factory was the first building in what was then called Leighswood Row.

  3. Peter MIller says:

    HI. Thanks for putting this up Bob. Just got to get my head around WordPress now. I may use this as my first post and link back to your site if this is OK. I will edit mine so it is slightly different. Then onwards and upwards. I already managed to delete the first page of my unpublished blog but have managed to get it back. LOL

  4. Reg Fullelove says:

    a memory joger inn the days when harpers buses ran from aldrige the starting point was by jonnes crisps in my mind i can sill see the bus loaded to capacity with the conducter hanging on to the front rail unable to get his tickets from the danilo clan happy days i remeber seeing diane doors live on stage ups i think my grey matter is slippig the danilo was cannock come on what was the name of the cinema at aldrige and what memouries do you have help ha ha

  5. Reg Fullelove says:

    PS brain working it was the AVION

  6. Jean Willey says:

    Hello Reg
    You are thinking of the Avion. My dad could never understand why a gang of us went to the pictures on the Harpers bus that got into Aldridge at 5 pm on a Saturday and we came home on the 9.30 pm bus. These times didn’t coincide with the picture programme. We went in half way through the ‘b’ film. The Avion had the advantage of double seats! you must remember those!

  7. Reg Fullelove says:

    hi jean happy days also the one nine double at the regent brownhills on second house saturday night bless ya

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