Walking group sets off again in Brownhills this afternoon!

Altogether now, ‘I love to go a-wandering…’ – image from Walsall Healthy Spaces Team.

I’m glad to see that some important social activities are resuming in light of their cancellation for lockdown – and the resumption of the Wednesday afternoon walking group in Brownhills is great news.

The Walsall Healthy Spaces Team volunteer led walk will be approximately 45-60 minutes every Wednesday afternoon, including today Wednesday 7th October 2020, starting from Brownhills Community Centre car park (the old Amex or Central Boys School, just off the miner island in the heart of Brownhills) at 1:15pm for a 1:30pm departure.

These great social walks will be exploring our beautiful commons and local open spaces.

This will be a great way to get some exercise and meet folk in a safe, socially distanced event that’s fun and great for a bit of much needed company in these tough times.

For more information on other volunteer led walking groups click here.

You can visit Walsall Healthy Spaces Team on Facebook here. If you attend, why not get in touch and let me know how you get on?

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Why not catch some great footy this evening? Walsall Wood play Selston at Oak Park

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Walsall Wood Football Club’s historic Oak Park ground: heart of the community. Imagery from Apple Maps.

Tuesday 6th October 2020

The Wood entertain Selston FC at Oak Park!

Come watch the lads at home this evening

Kick off is 7:45pm

STRICT SOCIAL DISTANCING WILL BE OBSERVED!

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

Oak Park Football Ground
Lichfield Road
Walsall Wood
West Midlands
WS9 9NP

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A credit to any sports meeting

Also, while I’m busy – a quick bit of Walsall Wood School ephemera for the Wood Massive very kindly sent in by John Barlow, who said:

Hello Bob

I came across this a few days ago and thought it might rekindle a few memories.

Kind regards
John Barlow

what a fantastic find! Thank you John Barlow. Please click for a larger version.

This is a wonderful thing and mentions a lot of names I’m sure will prompt discussion. I’m particularly heartened by the tribute to the lads competing in awful weather! This weekend, that certainly chimes with me…

Thanks to John for sharing a lovely thing. It really is most generous!

I’m sure you lot will have much to say about this, so what are you waiting for? Please do comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot Com or tug my coat on social media.

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A nice local history challenge for a Sunday…. The Kerr family

Here’s an enquiry I received in the last week from Julie Roberts, resident in Lincolnshire but with local family. I think folks might find this an interesting challenge, particularly in respect of an unfound grave in Ogley Hay (presumably St James or the nearby cemetery).

Somewhere in the environs of the the church is an unfound grave to a noted serviceman – can we locate it? Image from my 365daysofbiking journal.

I’ll let Julie explain:

Hi, I love your blog.

I would like to contact a local family history enthusiast who I could talk to about my grandmother’s family. She was Jessie Kerr, born in Brownhills but her mother was from Elgin and her father Charles Campbell Kerr was from Ayrshire.

He was an army training officer and I do have further details of addresses etc. He was a soldier of some repute and was buried at Ogley Hay church yard (I have the funeral notice from the paper) but I have never succeeded in finding it.

My family now live in Cannock, I’m in Lincolnshire but I’m keen to trace Scottish family connections.

Any help would be gratefully received

Yours
Julie ROBERTS (nee Eccleshall)

Thanks to Julie for a great enquiry and challenge for the researchers: If you can help please do comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or hit me up on social media.

Posted in News | 13 Comments

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the rain seems to be clearing it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and most Sundays from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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Why not catch some great footy this afternoon? Walsall Wood play Redditch at Oak Park

Untitled 9

Walsall Wood Football Club’s historic Oak Park ground: heart of the community. Imagery from Apple Maps.

Saturday 3rd October 2020

The Wood entertain Redditch United at Oak Park!

Come watch the lads at home this afternoon

Kick off is 3:00pm

STRICT SOCIAL DISTANCING WILL BE OBSERVED!

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

Oak Park Football Ground
Lichfield Road
Walsall Wood
West Midlands
WS9 9NP

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Woodmen take swift Lye down

Images kindly supplied by David Evans

Last Tuesday evening (29th September 2020) Walsall Wood F.C. entertained Lye Town at Walsall Wood. An more even match than the final score belied, this fine game has very much impressed the young David Evans, who sent the following report:

Walsall Wood F.C. 2 v 0 Lye Town F.C.
Tuesday 29th September 2020

A beautiful  languid autumnal day had seen the sun gently set into the milky glow of evening. Oak Park’s presidential trees stood tall and proud with their naturally tanned leaves. The real grass, finely manicured playing surface of the football field gleamed to grace and welcome the visiting team from Lye.

Paying spectators waited patiently by the Narrow Door to be admitted… They signed in the Book of Names, then sprinkled precious holy water on their hands and, faces covered in reverence, passed through the Hall of Temptation to emerge, blessed and thankful in the Cloisters of Contentment.

A blurred full moon rose slowly above the Bowling Green trees to add reverence and distant mystical glow to the wonders that would unfold.

The two teams emerged in loose formation. These are Covid Times. This evening’s Man in Black, with a short sound from his Acme Thunderer signalled the start of what turned out to be a totally enthralling and heart-warming game of football .

A superb display of bright, positive and naturally exuberant play graced the evening. Lye and Walsall Wood  clearly enjoyed the contest and their joy was self-evident throughout the game. The referee’s presence was thus allowed to be more to observe than to correct, which  gave the game the quality that was so much appreciated by spectators. But that is always how Lye play the game- with good heart and fine spirit. Perhaps other visiting teams will take note this season.

Excellent ground passes from both teams, with well-worked and executed tactical approach moves  – and an evenness in both teams skills produced a captivating and thrilling game for spectators. The minutes passed quickly – always an indication of the quality and endeavour of the players – and half time arrived with neither side yet scoring a goal.

The half-time break gave spectators in the stand the chance to get their breath back, if not to get refreshments. Covid times indeed… And to reflect on the game so far enjoyed.

It was in the second half that the Wood achieved  that much- anticipated breakthrough , at last gaining the first and vital goal. This brought some fans to their feet , of course. But the game so far had been finely balanced and there were times when both goalkeepers’ skills had been  tested.

Several substitutions were made by both teams as the pace of play had been relentless and the emphasis now was to accurate short range passing following initial penetrating long kicks.   Lye had a complement of long-legged players in their side and their prowess when faced with the smart and shorter Wood players produced some entertaining moments that brought applause from spectators.

The Wood scored the second, and ultimately final goal of this evening’s floodlit match  in the latter part of the game, making the task even more difficult for Lye to draw level. But to their eternal credit, they strived hard and correctly, with very little or no frustration in their endeavour and the game remained finely balanced until the concluding sound from the man in black’s whistle.  There was instantaneous  sustained loud applause from all the spectators, and deservedly so.

Walsall Wood and Lye put on a display of excellent football this evening to gladden the hearts of home spectators and to fly the flag of honest sporting endeavour high and proud.

The final score was Walsall Wood 2, Lye Town 0 but, let there be no mistake, Black Country football and footballers have also been the winners.

David Evans

My thanks to David for a great report – and for all those he selflessly writes and sends to me after every match. They really are popular, and a credit to David and the club.

Walsall Wood have a reputation for being a great, community spirited group of people and these reports demonstrate that – it’s an honour and joy to feature them here.

For the good of the Wood!

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90 years ago today: The Grove Pit Disaster

Ninety years ago today, the 1st October 1930, an underground blast killed 14 men working in a coal mine, The Grove Colliery, underneath Brownhills Common. Ten of those lost souls are buried in the Churchyard of St James, Brownhills, in a communal memorial.

Sadly, the memorial is in not such a great state lately.

If you do nothing else today, I’d like you to think of those lost lads, their families and the price they paid.

The miners who gave their lives were:

Alfred Boden aged 49
John Brownridge 34
Ben Corbett 52
John Hackett 33
Alfred Heath 27
Jack Holland 41
Richard Howdle 30
Alex Martin 32
James Malley 33
William Robbins 45
John Scoffam 50
Harry Smith 38
John Whittaker 44
William Whittaker 62

I wrote the following article exactly a decade ago to the hour. I can’t better it, so slightly modified, please remember the debt we owe to those men, below.

A turn of the century photo of a distressed shaft at Walsall Wood Colliery. Image taken from ‘Coal Mining in Walsall Wood, Brownhills and Aldridge’ by Brian Rollins.

Ninety years ago today, on the 1st October, 1930, fourteen men died underground, as a result of a gas explosion at the Grove, or Brownhills Colliery. It is thought that the men perished when a naked light was struck in the shaft. I have featured this incident as a recurring theme over the years, and much has been written by others about the dreadful events of that autumn dawn, pictured in newsreel footage posted on this blog previously. The excellent site ‘Brownhills Past’, has the following to say on the subject:

<The Grove Colliery was the> Site of the worst mining disaster in Brownhills history. An explosion of gas killed fourteen men on the nightshift on 1st of October 1930. The explosion occured in the shallow coal district, 1.5 miles from the shaft bottom. There was a public inquiry into the accident which returned an open verdict as there was “Not sufficient evidence to prove how the explosion occured”. However it was found that five of the dead men were carrying contraband materials e.g matches and cigarettes, and as electricity and safety lamps were ruled out it was stated that somebody may have struck a light. The Grove was not known as a paticularly “gassy” pit and in most parts open lights were allowed. It was also stated that 11 of the men died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and 3 from injuries caused by the blast, 12 of the men may have lived for a while after the explosion.

The pit was opened in 1857 by William Harrison, who also sunk the Cathedral and Wyrley common pits.The pit closed in 1952.

A full report on the accident and subsequent enquiry, sourced from the Coal Mining History Resource Centre can be read here (.PDF).

This dreadful loss of life was a terrible blow to the town, and there are several photos of the funeral procession through Brownhills, featured on Chasewaterstuff’s blog. The wonderfully comprehensive history of St. James Church speaks of the mourning:

At 9:18 pm on 1st October 1930 a terrible explosion occurred in the Grove (Brownhills) Colliery beneath the “Fleur De Lys” public house. The funerals of ten of the miners who lost their lives in the disaster took place at St. James Church on 7th October. A solemn procession starting from the Council House made its way along the High Street into Church Road, (lined both sides by the whole of the Ogley Hay and Brownhills community), to the Church where Vicar W.E. Wibby held the funeral service. The miners were laid to rest in a mass grave divided into ten sections in Great Charles Street Graveyard with full military honours as six of the men had fought in the Great War.

These were dark events, but they were by no means unique; there were huge numbers of men and boys killed or maimed in the course of coal and mineral extraction throughout the victorian era, right through to the second world war. Conditions for these hard, determined people gradually improved – but it was not until the social and political upheavals in the early decades of the 20th century that major strides were made in either welfare, healthcare or health and safety. We have the campaigners, socialists and strikers of the period to thank for the legacy they left us, that nearly a century later, not one of us has to accept injury or death at work to be an occupational hazard.

The miners who died at the Grove pit were not unique. Many will speak reverently of their bravery, of their resilience, of their stoicism. But these were not special men, they were just ordinary working blokes, earning their living in a filthy, harsh and deadly industry. An essential industry that warmed homes, powered trains and ships and melted metal, but one which was riddled with shortcuts, dangerous practices, crooked mine owners and employee abuse. That those who died were somehow more than those who did not is an oft-repeated myth; men found work where they could, and the pits represented a relatively good living, more often than not followed by a living death from industrial respiratory diseases. Time and societal advances artificially separate us from them, yet had we been born of the period dominated by Old King Coal as they were, we’d be down the pits, too. The line we draw is thinner than ever we’d think.

Reflect on the victory that those communities fought for – an honest, safe day’s work for a living wage; democratic representation; full recourse after the unthinkable should happen. Today we relax with every modern comfort imaginable precisely because millions of workers like those lost deep under Wyrley Common fought for a better world. We must never ever forget what we are the beneficiaries of, nor the privations and hardships suffered in order that we might enjoy a brighter day.

As civic leaders and nostalgic historians erect pointless and irrelevant statuary to lost generations of the workers who fuelled both the industrial and social revolutions, politicians are hastily dismantling the institutions that those generations died in the creation of. Members of the government speak of the need to streamline the NHS, to end the perceived tyranny of the Health and Safety Executive. Our own Prime Minister talks darkly of the Welfare State. It is almost as if an opportunity has been seized.

If we let them destroy this priceless legacy, then we insult those men who today, we remember. The men below, the men of the foundry, factory floor and mill, didn’t suffer what they did to see this destroyed. We must be vigilant. Once the social state is lost, it won’t ever be put back.

Today I will raise a glass to fourteen lost men. Rest in peace, chaps. You may be gone, but you’re not forgotten.

The Grove Pit as surveyed around the mid 1920’s. It stood on Lime Lane, just where the landfill is today. Click on the image for a larger version.

The Men Below

Steve Skaith / Mike Jones

Album, tour, albumen – you’re still picking at the shell
And you know you should be glad of the living
But it seems like a living hell sometimes
And on this playing stage you play so hard
But so much harder still – is the life beneath, down deep in the seams
Where your hotel nights are the stuff of the dreams
Of the men below

Imagine, having to fight
To work two miles down from the air and the light
And imagine, having to plead
That a job that can kill, is a job that you need

Darker blue this darkness, than a pale young miner’s eyes
Who has to see the convoy lights come shining
And can’t close off his surprise
With his one poor piece of paving, pressing hard against his palm
Knowing it might be the only way he’d ever get to spend another day
With the men below

And who knows what we all owe
To the boys in the dust – to the men below?

And who knows what we all owe
To the boys in the dust – to the men below?

And who knows what we all owe
To the boys in the dust – to the men below?

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Churches, Environment, Events, Followups, It makes me mad!, Local History, Local media, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why not catch some great footy this evening? Walsall Wood play Lye at Oak Park

Untitled 9

Walsall Wood Football Club’s historic Oak Park ground: heart of the community. Imagery from Apple Maps.

Tuesday 29th September 2020

The Wood entertain Lye Town at Oak Park!

Come watch the lads at home this afternoon

Kick off is 7:45pm

STRICT SOCIAL DISTANCING WILL BE OBSERVED!

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

Oak Park Football Ground
Lichfield Road
Walsall Wood
West Midlands
WS9 9NP

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brownhills Central School: A 1930s mix?

A real treat here today for folks interested in Brownhills Central School and the history of education and schools in Brownhills, and a great addition to the tranche of photos from the same school some decades later sent in by Margaret Hampton: Old friend of the blog Margaret Thompson, now resident in Australia, has sent this wonderful 1930s school photo from Brownhills Central School.

‘Brownhills Central Mixed Classes I and ?’ – a fantastic image thought to be from the 1930s shared very generously by Margaret Thompson. Click for a larger version.

I had no idea Brownhills Central was at any time mixed education. Can anyone shed light on that please?

Margaret kindly sent me this remarkable image and said:

Hello

I was sent this image which includes Joyce Birch top row third from the left.  Joyce was born about 1930 so this would be mid 30s I imagine.

Joyce is my first cousin once removed.  I live in Australia but have met Joyce a number of times and also stayed with her in her family at Dartford in Kent.

Regards
Margaret Thomson

Again, one thing even at this early stage that stands about this school and its photos is the relaxed nature of the photo: A little different to the usual stiff, stood to attention school images we normally see at this time.

Thanks to Margaret for a wonderful donation which I hope will generate some debate and discussion!

If you can help with any names or memories of this class or school, please do: either by commenting here, finding me on social media or you can even mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since it’s such a lovely autumn day it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and most Sundays from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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It’s time for the rut – beware, folks – the deer are getting horny….

Time to repeat this post as I’m starting to hear stories of deer with a cob on again…

The above excellent video is a fallow deer stag filmed up on Cannock Chase by reader, contributor and top friend of the blog Peter Barker. That stag really has romance on his mind…

This is just a quick note to warn people given to exploring the open spaces of the area that over the next 8-10 weeks or so the deer population will be getting amorous – it’s rutting time for our large brown friends, and that means one thing: the heaths around Brownhills, Clayhanger, Pelsall and Chasewater in particular are likely to be host to rather grumpy, aggressive stags guarding their female harems.

Deer are normally gentle souls on the whole, but a hormonal stag with love on his mind will be aggressive and prone to attack, and such animals will, and have in the past charged humans and gored dogs.

To avoid being on the unexpectedly rather sharp end of several hundredweight of cervine cassinova with an attitude issue, please keep a respectful distance and keep your dogs under control at all times. Even if they look like they’re just loafing, these normally docile creatures can turn nasty at a moments notice. This warning applies to anywhere where deer have been spotted – from the heaths of Chasewater to the commons and woods of Brownhills, Jockey Meadows, Clayhanger Marsh and even Sandhills – and now they’re as far south as Sutton and even Brookvale Park in Witton!

Deer are not the cleverest of animals, so it might also be wise to take extra care when driving, as the biological imperative is probably outweighing their small amount of road sense at the moment. That excellent local wildlife blogger Chaz Mason posted this warning  a couple of years ago that’s still very much relevant:

N.Tipton 1
Image by Neil Tipton, originally posted on Chaz Mason’s blog.

This week I have been informed that the young male Red Deer have commenced play-fighting locally – by now you should all be aware that this is the first indication that the annual Red Deer Rut is now underway and within the next couple of weeks the older stags are likely to become more territorial.

DOG WALKERS PLEASE!

If you are over the Marsh and Mere for the next couple of months please keep your dog close and if you see any deer PLEASE put your dog on a lead.

I am not in the least bit worried about the deer. For most of the year they will see your dog and run away as fast as they can – but that ain’t now!

These stags are main-lining on testosterone and WILL NOT RUN AWAY. In fact they will not only stand their ground to protect their females they will attack your dog. Over the years I have been aware of at least three instances of local dogs being stabbed by Stags, luckily, so far with injuries-only and no fatalities.

20141001EOS-7D0866-as-Smart-Object-3
Would you argue with this? Image by Derek Lees, originally posted on Chaz Mason’s blog.

If you insist on exercising your dogs right to run free and unhindered then please exercise that right somewhere else until at least late November.

As I have tried to impress upon you –
this is not to protect the deer – IT IS TO PROTECT YOUR DOG!

I may not have a dog but I do have great affection for them and many of you know that I regularly time-share many of yours so I hope that you take this warning very seriously. Rutting Deer are a magnificent sight but if you want to watch this display, then please show some respect for the animals and also, some common sense.

Lecture over – Chaz

Of course, once the aggression is over for another year, the commons and heaths will again be given over to the disgusting and lewd mating behaviour one normally sees there. The animals, however, will be behaving impeccably.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Cannock Chase, Chasewater, Clayhanger stuff, cycling, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since it’s such a lovely autumn day it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and most Sundays from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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Catch a great match at Oak Park this afternoon – the Woodmen face Gresly!

P1000426

Walsall Wood FC have a great reputation for entertaining football, and a keen, loyal and friendly bunch of supporters! Come join in the fun this Saturday and see some cracking football.

Today, Saturday 19th September 202

The Wood are at home, entertaining Gresley

Walsall Wood FC versus Gresley FC

Kick off is 3:00pm

Social distancing will be fully observed!

For the Good of the Wood! 

Oak Park, Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood. WS9 9NP.

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

 

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why not join this Sunday’s Walsall Wood community litter pick?

The next Walsall Wood community litter pick by Walsall Wood Wombles take place this  Sunday 20th September 2020 – and all are welcome to join in.

The Wombles said:

Reminder it’s the litter pick this Sunday! You need your own equipment , unfortunately because of covid I can’t supply it.

You can get everything you need delivered to your door if you contact Beth Deeley or Richard Upton from Walsall Council’s Clean and Green department.

The pick starts at 10.30am from Beechtree Road carpark.

Also clean and green are doing a litter pick sunday 27th sept 10am round Oak Park to help with the litter issue round there too.

All welcome!

 

The Walsall Wood Wombles are a great initiative by top community person Teresa Webb.

You can check out the Facebook page for Walsall Wood Wombles here. They’re a great community spirited collective and you really are welcome to pop along.

Thanks to all who participate: Real community in action.

Previous local litter pick events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make these even better!

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Why not join the Orange Army litter pick this morning in Brownhills?

There is a community litter pick event taking place in Brownhills this morning, Sunday, 13th September 2020 from 10am, meeting at Smithys Forge car park in Lichfield Road, Brownhills (Just off the Miner Island)  – all are welcome to join in.

The pick is being organised by local litter group The Orange Army who put a huge effort in to several litter picks in Brownhills recently – the last one attended by over 30 people – for which I and the blog readership would like to extend our thanks for a top job well done!

Take a bow, folks.

the Orange Army – top local community spirit in action! Image from their Facebook page.

It’s easy and fun to join in with these community picks as all kit will be provided!

The pick is being run by committed local volunteer Natalie Dawson and others for the benefit of the the town, so it’ll be a worthwhile event to get involved with and help improve the local environment.

The organisers said:

Hi everyone just a little reminder of our litter pick on Sunday 13th we have had a small change to where we’re meeting!

I have asked Smithy’s Forge if we can use their car park and go to the gardens for refreshments afterwards 😁 they have kindly said yes which is great 👍

I have updated the event and Sunday 13th September 2020 we’ll meet at Smithy’s Forge car park for 10am at the Rhino Pluming van and we will split into groups!

We now also have 2 first aiders amongst the group 💪🏻 

Looking forward to seeing you there 🧡🦏

You can check out the Orange Army’s Facebook page here.

Previous local litter pick events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make this one even better!

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Walsall Wood away to Worcester City this afternoon

Worcester City have a great new ground at Claines Lane.

Saturday 12th September 2020

Walsall Wood FC away to Worcester City in a big-name match!

Worcester City FC, Claines Lane, Worcester WR3 7SS

3:00pm kickoff

This is a ticket only match restricted to 300 spectators in compliance with social distancing rules – you can purchase your electronic ticket in advance by clicking here.

Please come and get behind your local club

For The Good Of The Wood!

Check out the club website here.

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Walsall Wood beat Romulus in lively start to MFL season

Images very kindly supplied by the young David Evans

A boisterous home match against Castle Bromwich team Romulus at Oak Park kicked off the 2020/21 MFL football season at Walsall Wood on Saturday (5th September 2020) and saw the visitors beaten in a hard fought, somewhat lively match.

Roving and loquacious football correspondent the young David Evans was there on a fine afternoon on the cusp of Autumn, and sent the following billet-doux:

Walsall Wood FC 1 v 0 Romulus FC
Saturday 5th September 2020

After the endless months of waiting, at last the Midland League got under way – this time for real – as Walsall Wood welcomed their opponents Romulus FC who hail from from Castle Bromwich.

This turned out to be a sporting contest that is best characterised in one word. Rumbustious. It is one of the more exotic and aromatic of adjectives that is seldom appropriate in modern usage – but not today.

Today was a thoroughly rumbustious game of football played at full tilt by both teams.

The first sector of this sporting encounter saw Romulus, dressed in their Everton mint black and white stripes, play some accurate ground passes and took the game to the defending Walsall Wood, glorious in their Empire Red strip.

The game evolved and developed, Wood faced the artistic tactics and game-play that the visitors were evidently intent on employing. Both sides were resolute and determined to out-turn their opponents in close encounters. This, not surprisingly, resulted in some untoward clunks and clatters, which necessarily brought the attention of the eagle-eyed man in black. He wore a a fine new strip, pressed for the memorable occasion, and, with greater frequency, the official was required by events to bring from his pocket both yellow red cards to grace the circumstance. With sharp eye and even sharper HB pencil he noted all pertinent details in his black book .

The flow of play seemed to be an ill-measured mixture of hesitant, gentle and (mercifully) measured football at times, with some superb through passes and smart running by players of both sides.

The half time whistle was blown. The score was nil-nil and gasping players headed for the refreshing delights and delicacies that awaited them in their changing-rooms. Thick slices of Angel cake, petits fours, steaming mugs of Darjeeling, and gentle, polite, vocabulary-enriching conversation from their caring managers.

Then, with another blast from the Acme Thunderer, the players emerged in to the warm late summer fresh air to resume their fine yet gritty combat. A new pattern of football emerged as visiting players tried to employ a different timbre to their challenges, and fell foul of the rules of engagement with increasing frequency. Some adjudged contrived falls were swiftly noted; their offenders swiftly reprimanded. The erstwhile beauty of a fine game was withering before the perplexed and vociferous youthful home supporters, whose choice of expressions was mostly acceptable.

There were several quite heady incidents where the rigour of the game, perhaps flavoured by an over supply of adrenalin, brought the game to a brief stop. Sometimes following awkward challenges on the rich and tiring real grass pitch, and perhaps as a result of its own contours, of course. At other times a simple breakdown in team and individual discipline brought no favours to the visiting team, or their bench, it must be said.

But, as the match went on it seemed to be heading for an odd result, with the visitors now down to far less than the full complement of players, and a Walsall Wood losing a player, victim of an instance of inelegant game-play [Balanced reporting as ever, as it should be *cough* – Bob].

Near the end of this wearisome and fragmented encounter, Walsall Wood were awarded a free kick near the penalty box . The Romulus goalkeeper had rightly been shown a straight red card by the hard-worked and harassed referee. A superb, blistering shot took the ball straight as an arrow into the visitors goalmouth. This was the only goal of the match.

The match ended with the final blast from the jaded referee’s whistle. Home supporters all round the pitch and in the stand applauded their team’s composure and resolve. Players shook hands and the two team managers and their entourage left to partake of a well earned cup of tea. This had been a hard fought, rumbustious game of football for both sides here at the Theatre of Dreams.

Enjoyable, nonetheless. Of course.

David

Thanks to David there – For The Good Of The Wood!

Walsall Wood Football Club are a top local side with a big-hearted faithful who know how to have a great time supporting their lads, and welcome all comers to come enjoy great local soccer.

The boys from The Wood have been at the heart of the local community for a century or more, so please do go check out a match or two if you’re curious.

 

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Why not join the Orange Army litter pick next Sunday morning in Brownhills?

There is a community litter pick event taking place in Brownhills next Sunday, 13th September 2020 from 10am, meeting at Smithys Forge car park in Lichfield Road, Brownhills (Just off the Miner Island)  – all are welcome to join in.

The pick is being organised by local litter group The Orange Army who put a huge effort in to several litter picks in Brownhills recently – the last one attended by over 30 people – for which I and the blog readership would like to extend our thanks for a top job well done!

Take a bow, folks.

the Orange Army – top local community spirit in action! Image from their Facebook page.

It’s easy and fun to join in with these community picks as all kit will be provided!

I like to give as much notice of these sessions as possible as so many people afterwards express sadness that they would have taken part if they’d known sooner…

The pick is being run by committed local volunteer Natalie Dawson and others for the benefit of the the town, so it’ll be a worthwhile event to get involved with and help improve the local environment.

The organisers said:

Hi everyone just a little reminder of our litter pick on Sunday 13th we have had a small change to where we’re meeting!

I have asked Smithy’s Forge if we can use their car park and go to the gardens for refreshments afterwards 😁 they have kindly said yes which is great 👍

I have updated the event and Sunday 13th September 2020 we’ll meet at Smithy’s Forge car park for 10am at the Rhino Pluming van and we will split into groups!

We now also have 2 first aiders amongst the group 💪🏻 

Looking forward to seeing you there 🧡🦏

You can check out the Orange Army’s Facebook page here.

Previous local litter pick events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make this one even better!

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Great local football today! Walsall Wood at home to Romulus at Oak Park

Walsall Wood’s famous stand and the hearty welcome the club is famous for.

Saturday 5th September 2020

Walsall Wood FC at home to Romulus FC

Don’t break your vows be at Oak Park tonight and be faithful to your local heroes

Social distancing to be observed!

3:00pm kickoff

Please come and get behind your local club as they continue kick off local football once more

For The Good Of The Wood!

Check out the club website here

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Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since it’s such. nice day it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and every coming  Sunday from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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Don’t forget there’s your local Navy Cadet Force Open Day today!

Just a heads up that the local Navy Cadet Force – T.S. Vigo based in Walsall Wood in the units opposite Barons Court on Lichfield Road in Walsall Wood – are having an Open Day today, Saturday 29th August 2020.

There will be loads of family fun and games going on from 10am until 4pm, with laser fun, the Community Drum Corps Band, gamers hub, the community family library project New Chapter, vintage carnival games, Cadet Force displays and demonstrations.

This is a really good chance to find out what the Cadet Force is all about, and if you have youngsters who may be interested do pop along!

TS Vigo are  a fine group of youngsters and an absolute credit to our community.

 

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Wood stand strong against Tamworth tempest

Oh to be back where they all belong. Image kindly supplied by David Evans. That green kit is very…. Distinctive.

Walsall Wood FC last Tuesday evening (25 August 2020) got in what has been a very rare thing so far this year – a match at home. With full social distancing and pandemic safe measures, encouraging audience and gate, this will be a welcome return to business for all at The Wood whose faithful feared they might never see a match again.

The Woodmen and fans braved dreadfully windy weather and a rather wet pitch to face down Tamworth FC, and held the visitors to a respectable 1-1 draw in very challenging conditions. It’s good to see them back – and standing in the centre of a circle of respectful distance (I’m told they did this with him pre-pandemic, too) was the young and loquacious David Evans, pad and pen in hand, ready to record this momentous return.

David sent the following report:

Walsall Wood Fc vs Tamworth, Tuesday 25 August 2020:  A genuinely friendly match…

Walsall Wood Fc 1 v 1 Tamworth FC

It had been such a long time since the hallowed turf of the Theatre of Dreams last saw a meaningful pre-season match of this calibre. With due respect paid to the regulations and full application of social distancing in place, Oak Park welcomed its first spectators this season to rejoice with hearts full of anticipation as they entered by the narrow door, newly installed by the track which runs along the back of the clubroom… To sign in, hand wash, and then glory at the smart club, the freshly cut green turf of the pitch, the bright new Ron Tranter shelter, and  the corner flags, flying rigid in the thunderous winds.

Gone were the months of isolation, desperation, insulation, consolation, frustration; now the fresh air and open space, and two teams of players, busily warming up, stretching, dashing, dancing, leaping, tiptoeing through  lines of cones, reaching to touch toes, flex muscles, loosening sinews and tendons.

Now, with a beautiful new refreshment bar and kitchen to grace the occasion, and that mouth-watering aroma of beef-burgers, hot-dogs and special chips sizzling away, paper cups, bottles of sauces  all in regimental order, the scene was complete.

Visiting spectators from Tamworth and beyond were greeted with warmth and sincerity. We were all eager to see a live game of genuine soccer between two fine teams. We were going to thrill, applaud, sigh, lean forward in our seats.

The visitors wore an apple green strip bearing the word ‘Turpin’ on the back of their shirts. The visiting players seemd to be large, muscular, heavy body builders. Walsall Wood players, who wore their Lionheart Red strip, looked eager, and ready to take on their opponents with their fine display of nimble and fleet of foot soccer, accurate passing, and the grit and pluck that  characterises Walsall Wood. [Grit and pluck indeed – Bob]

The  whistle was blown and the match – contest – was under way with Walsall Wood showing their speed and deft play, to some consternation from the heavyweight opponents. The away dugout had a vocal assistant whose spirited guidance was for every ball, every pass, and whose obvious enthusiasm and perception… Was delightful.

This fixture, though classed as a friendly match, was full of  meaningful play and thrust, especially from the visitors. Walsall Wood, as always, rose to this physical challenge with patient confidence and co-ordinated play. Two very different sides, two different approaches, and quite gladiatorial in its way. This kept all the spectators enthralled at the rapid to and fro, with the unpredictable and gale-force tempest also raging, and eventually Tamworth scored the first goal from a corner kick and the gift of ‘overwhelming physical presence’… In a blur of bulbous green figures bearing down heavily on the defenders. 

Half-time brought the long-awaited break, A time, as is customary, when team managers serve their players a cup of tea and cucumber sandwich, and proffer gentle conversation.  Meanwhile, spectators busily re-hydrate, and replenish empty bellies.  Beefburgers, hotdogs, those special chips… And piping hot tea… All from the hatch to the posh spanking new kitchen.  

The second half brought new players, new tactics and the playing surface continued to delight and reward determination. This real grass surface allows for a greater palette of playing skills to be presented and employed by players.

An eventual penalty… There had been quite a few instances of heavy play… Was awarded to the  home team who scored the equalising goal in the final minutes of this entertaining and positive work-out for both teams. All the players contributed fully in their individual ways to the spectacle and joyful evening.

David Evans

Thanks to David once more for taking up the reigns of star reporter and posting an honest, entertaining match report – it really is an honour to feature them.

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

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The drought ends: Walsall Wood at home to Tamworth this evening

Can The Wood beat Tamworth on home turf in this momentous friendly?

Tuesday 25th August 2020

Walsall Wood FC at home to Tamworth FC

Don’t break your vows be at Oak Park tonight and be faithful to your local heroes

Social distancing to be observed: Maximum 150 spectators allowed so get there early!

7:45pm kickoff

Please come and get behind your local club as they kick off local football once more

For The Good Of The Wood!

Check out the club website here

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the rain is clearing it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and every coming  Sunday from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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Why not join the Orange Army litter pick this Saturday Brownhills?

There is a community litter pick event taking place in Brownhills this Saturday, 22nd August 2020 from 10am, meeting at the gates of Holland Park – all are welcome to join in.

The pick is being organised by new local litter group The Orange Army who put a huge effort in to litter pick the park last weekend 25-26th July 2020 – for which I and the blog readership would like to extend our thanks for a top job well done!

Take a bow, folks.

Image from the Orange Army Facebook Page.

It’s easy and fun to join in with these community picks as all kit will be provided!

I like to give as much notice of these sessions as possible as so many people afterwards express sadness that they would have taken part if they’d known sooner…

The pick is being run by to local, committed local volunteer Natalie Dawson and others for the benefit of the the town, so it’ll be a worthwhile event to get involved with and help improve the local environment.

The organisers said:

Hi to all!

We have decided the next date for our meet if anyone would like to join us it is the 22nd of august.

Meet at the gates of Holland Park at 10am we have plenty of equipment that we can provide for you.

We have plenty of equipment for extra people if they wish to help out occasionally or regularly if they wish!

Thanks all
The Orange Army 🧡

You can check out the Orange Army’s Facebook page here.

Previous local litter pick events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make this one even better!

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Don’t forget there’s a Navy Cadet Force Open Day in Clayhanger coming soon

Just a heads up that the local Navy Cadet Force – T.S. Vigo based in Walsall Wood in the units opposite Barons Court on Lichfield Road in Walsall Wood – are having an Open Day soon, on Saturday, 29th August 2020.

There will be loads of family fun and games going on from 10am until 4pm, with laser fun, the Community Drum Corps Band, gamers hub, the community family library project New Chapter, vintage carnival games, Cadet Force displays and demonstrations.

This is a really good chance to find out what the Cadet Force is all about, and if you have youngsters who may be interested do pop along!

TS Vigo are  a fine group of youngsters and an absolute credit to our community.

 

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Shattered Dreams

It’s not very often I do politics here anymore – it’s not that I’m no longer political, or that I’ve mellowed, even: It’s more that the current political situation in this country and the wider world is now so far beyond reason and parody that even my long lost and dearly missed friend The Plastic Hippo would have a hard time writing about it.

It’s like living in a Charlie Broker script every day. Image from the Daily Telegraph.

I received a note on the A level farce that’s unfolding on Saturday from a good friend of the blog who wishes to remain nameless. It’s very eloquent on the matter of the deeply iniquitous, shambolic and downright contemptuous handling of the estimated exam results currently wreaking havoc on a generation’s ambitions – and I feel it should be shared here.

This is such a political and statistical car crash that it’s breathtaking. The people responsible for the disastrous software that created the mess refused help from statistical experts in creating a working algorithm, because the two experts involved refused to sign five year gagging orders. That this was even an issue shows the calibre of politician we’re dealing with.

Meanwhile, can the kids count on the support of the local Tory MPs? Steady Eddie Hughes and Wendy ‘Will there be a photocall?’ Morton remain characteristically silent, Fabricant continues his usual peacock strutting. These people have nothing but contempt for the youngsters who have had their dreams dashed.

Our esteemed MP will be putting on her serious face if she comments at all. ‘Is this glum enough, Jeff?’

I had hoped that with a Boris led government, that although he would be a flag waving blowhard, there might at least be some leadership at last. I was wrong – his absence throughout the A Level crisis, and continual deputising of other issues shows the PM as weak, apathetic and his government rudderless.

This country and its youth deserve better.

Secret Teacher wrote:

As a Brownhillian now teaching elsewhere, I am proud of my roots and grateful for the opportunities given to me by my teachers. I was lucky in that my A-level results were decent enough for me to go to university and then pursue my chosen career. The same cannot be said for a large number of Brownhillians in the class of 2020.

Whatever your political colours, I would hope that few would disagree that the handling of this year’s A-level results has been devastating for many of our young people. The pandemic saw public exams cancelled and centre assessed grades submitted that were then to be standardised by exam boards. Thousands of students across the country have had their teachers’ estimates downgraded by a flawed algorithm simply because of their postcode or the size of exam entry. My niece is one of many Brownhills youngsters who falls into this category. She impressed five universities enough at interview for them all to offer her a conditional place. Thanks to her teachers and her relentless hard work, she was on track to achieve three top grades and attend the university of her dreams this year. But alas her hopes were dashed when the aforementioned algorithm reduced her grades in such an unfathomable manner. She is now in limbo because her first choice of university that liked her so much at interview says that the grades she was awarded in exams that she did not even sit are not good enough.

Whilst the overall national statistics might look good on the surface and whilst I understand the government’s need to paint a national picture that is broadly in line with previous years, the fact remains that the right students have not necessarily been awarded the right grades. An algorithm that has downgraded teachers’ estimates by not one, but two and sometimes three grades in numerous cases is not fit for purpose. By all accounts, this is what has happened to so many of my niece’s friends, fellow Brownhillians that chose to do A-levels as a passport to the next stage in their life, whether that be university or another equally valid path. I have been hearing of high-performing students who have gone from A* to D. How can this be?

The government’s solution of the so-called triple-lock is of no consolation. Students can accept their calculated grade, appeal to receive a valid mock result, or sit autumn exams. For many, putting forward their mock results is futile. When students sit their mocks, they haven’t finished the course, they have less time to revise and do not take them as seriously as the real thing. Moreover, they have four months of further study after their mocks in which we as teachers see their progress soar. Furthermore, the opportunity of sitting exams in November is of no use to students who have set their heart on going to university this year.

It is clear from social media that many MPs from across the political spectrum are fighting this injustice for their constituents. I would like to call on Wendy Morton MP, if she is not already doing so, to do the same on behalf of the young people of Brownhills. If you agree with me, I would urge you to drop her a line. Our MPs are after all elected to represent all constituents and I’m sure that Ms Morton has at heart the best interests of these students who through no fault of their own have been let down by the system. I think politicians of all parties would do well to remember that these students are of an age to vote. They will not forget the way in which they have been short-changed and how they were represented the next time we go to the ballot boxes. And I have a sneaky feeling that we’re about to see same unfold but on an even bigger scale when GCSE grades are released on Thursday.

SecretTeacher

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When the fighting stopped

Shenstone: The quiet, leafy village holds a little known story of wartime, and postwar endeavour. Imagery from Bing Maps.

I’m always fond of little-known local histories here on the blog, and some months ago, old pal of the blog and top lad Ian Bourne got in touch to tell me of a history he had a bit of a childhood connection to: That of Major Eric Sadler, who was stationed in Germany immediately at the end of World War Two.

I knew nothing about this at all, but the story sounded intriguing. Ian wrote to me:

Hi Bob,

I spent some years as a lad growing up in Shenstone. My mom and dad bought our house from a retired solicitor and Major, Eric Sadler.

He kept part of the very large garden and built a bungalow to retire in, at the bottom. We had a connecting gate into his garden, and we would all look after him. I used to go down and cook his meals sometimes, and he’d surruptitiously reward me with a can of Ind Coope beer, bless him.

Lovely old fella, but he had some fabulous history. During the war, just after D-Day he was sent in to help ‘run’ a small German city, and kept a diary. This was serialised by the Birmingham Post & Mail in the early 80’s, and my dad kept the cuttings. I have them, they were spread over three days by the paper, including a few pictures.

Ian

I jumped at the chance, and Ian very kindly and thoroughly transcribed the article into three parts for me to serialise here on the blog, which I’m proud and honoured to do.

I feature the first instalment here today, and would like to ask if you knew the Major, or anything about his story at all.

The immediate postwar in Germany, and the implementation of the Marshall plan is little discussed in the UK but was key to shaping our current era.

My thanks to Ian for a lovely thing, he really is a gentleman.

If you have anything to add, please do: Comment here on this post, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my jacket on social media.

Major Eric Sadler (retd) at home in Shenstone with his wartime photographs. Image from original 1984 Birmingham Post article.

The Birmingham Post, Thursday February 16, 1984

When the fighting stops, life does not automatically return to normal straight away. One of the many British officers who were charge with the duty of setting up military government in Germany immediately after the fall of Hitler was ERIC SADLER, a Birmingham solicitor before and after the Second World War. He kept a fascinating and detailed diary of his experience, from which we shall be publishing brief extracts today, tomorrow and on Saturday.

To the victor the toils…

“I got a medal from the other side at the end of my consular seven years: Officers’ Cross First Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

“It’s the BVK1. One polite chap said, ‘Excuse my asking, but is that the number of your motor car…?’”

Gentle amusement ushers in the story of the souvenir of Eric Sadler’s stint as Consul for Germany in Birmingham, which he carried out until 1975, alongside his duties as senior partner of a Birmingham firm of solicitors.

There is more to come.

Gentle

“And I got the TD for 24 years’ undetected crime on our side. War counts double, so that’s 12 towards the 24, and I did a bit before the war and a bit after.”

At his home in Shenstone, near Lichfield, the gentle amusement becomes an uninhibited chuckle. Improbability is all, and you cannot tell Eric Sadler anything about appreciating the unlikelihoods of life.

He has been tuning in to its quirks and its incalculabilities for most of his 76 years and it is not difficult to get the impression that by now he could do it with his eyes shut while taking a crash course in Swahili.

It is a tendency which even includes the circumstances of his birth at Erdington.

“In 1907, Erdington was still in Staffordshire – so when I choose, I call myself a Brummie, and when I don’t, I am a Stafford.”

Unmistakably, Eric Sadler has got his life taped – but, somehow, it is taped on his own terms. When it manages to surprise him, he enjoys its presumption to the full.

Diary

This is a quality which adds piquancy to his Detmold Diary, a day-by-day account of the six weeks he spent in 1945 as legal officer with No. 121 Military Government Detachment, responsible for the administration of an area the size of an average English county, just before and just after the end of the war in Europe.

Detmold is a German town which lies between Hanover and Munster; unlikely to draw itself to the attention of the average British taxpayer in the ordinary course of events; of no significance to Major Eric Sadler until he and the other members of the small force of which he was a part arrived there to assume the functions of the local authority and lay the foundations of a return to normality.

Detmold is a town with a long history and I suspect this old cafe has seen a lot of it, good and bad. Image from the Detmold Tourism Information site.

Where Detmold achieves distinction is in the Sadler documentation of the birth-pangs Detmold’s peace, seen through the eyes of an outsider charged with making them as smooth and swift as possible.

The diary was originally scribbled on bits of paper, then handwritten as a fair copy and sent home, two or three days at a time, with his letters to his wife, Marjorie.

Its current, typed version, includes fading photographs of places and people. One shows the handful of officers and other ranks who comprised No. 121 Military Government Detachment.

Another is of August Herbst, resplendent in breeches, multi-buttoned jacket and epaulettes. It is a picture with special memories.

“I regarded him as my German right-hand up to the time I came home. But he had not got what every other German employee of ours had to have, which was security clearance. About two years later I learned why.

Pilot

“He may have been in the uniform of the fire brigade, but he was an ace German pilot. He had fought in the Spanish Civil War and he had Germany’s highest decoration for 20 bombing raids over London.

“We met him again when we went back in the 50s and the hotel proprietor put us up in what had been the colonel’s bedroom…”

In 1928, long before any hint of the war which was to take him to Germany, Eric Sadler had been articled to Jeffrey Parr & Co, solicitors, of Temple Row, Birmingham – the firm of which he was to be senior partner from 1952 and to which he became consultant about three years ago.

His early Territorial Army service saw him take a commission with the 5th Bn, South Staffordshire Regiment, in 1938. Later, he transferred to the 7th Battalion and went on a junior staff course at Brasenose College, Oxford. By the time war came, he was a captain.

Eventually, there was what he recalls as “the gauleiters course at Wimbledon.”

REME were stationed at Detmold Barracks during the Cold War, and I’m sure Eric would be familiar with this view of the site from an early 1950s image by Tony Briscoe.

Gap

“It was for officers destined to go into Germany and fill the gap between battle won and hand-over to full civilian government. The doodlebugs were around at that time, to liven things up.

“Then some of us went on to a bit more learning about military government with the Americans in Manchester. We had a medical examination before we could be attached to them.

“When I had joined the TA, I was simply told to ring the MO. He said, “Are you all right?” I said I was, and he said, “In that case, I don’t need to see you.”

Eric Sadler crossed the Channel some weeks after D-Day in 1944. He and a handful of others were put into the first of the American landing craft which met them a few hundred yards off Arromanches.

“We came to a juddering halt. One of the crew investigated round the back and fished up a cable which was entangled in the propeller. The American officer in charge said, “Get your bloody hatchet out and cut it” – which we did.

“It could have been carrying all the communications for the whole of the invading force, for all he knew. A light-hearted lot, these Americans…”

He surrenders to the memory with an air of agreeable disbelief. As ever, the man behind the Detmold Diary is enjoying the improbabilities.

~~~~DIARY EXTRACTS~~~~

Tidying up in the smouldering ruins

Sunday, April 8, 1945

Detmold is not badly damaged, but it looks a mess. A few buildings are smashed or burned, many damaged and most front window glass shattered.

Rubble and glass in the gutters: streets and pavements pitted and cratered: tram wires trailing and twisting: bent and broken light and tramway standards: no gas, water or electricity. Some damage by bombs – some when the town was captured by a single American battalion.

The battle started on Sunday 1st April, reached its climax and ended on Wednesday 4th April; we are here three days after the German Army went. In a few places it still smoulders and has that same curious sweet burnt wood smell, so noticeable in ever damaged town.

Tuesday, April 10

Colonel’s Conference. In the woods around Lemgo, a town fairly near, are said to be hundreds of German soldiers. An emissary is going to tell them they may give themselves up at 2.30 tomorrow and that the British do not ill-treat prisoners of war. A food store big enough to feed an army is in the town, we have taken a few things for ourselves.

Displaced persons in Detmold include 200 Poles, 140 Jugo-slavs, but the unnumbered majority are probably Russians. A handful of British Military Police are said to be in Detmold; the only other British troops.

Wednesday, April 11

Herr Chef wants pieces of wood for the window mending. I sign an authority for him – I sign almost anything, most of us do. Whether we have authority to do so is another question.

Just the car for the job…Maj Eric Sadler at the wheel of the four-seater drop-head coupe 1700 cc Mercedes-Benz which he requisitioned. Image from original 1984 Birmingham Post article.

After I had done a little arranging and tidying, the Colonel sprang on me that I must next provide water and electricity for the Yanks up at the airfield. Called on my reliable messenger for Herr Brand and the Detmold electricity man. Herbst showed me the four-seater drop-head Coupe 1700 cc Mercedes Benz which he had selected for me to requisition. It was laid up and dusty but obviously a beauty. It was the private property of the Oberfinanz Prasident of Munster. However Herbst said the O.F.P. was a Nazi and didn’t need a car anyway.

Friday, April 13

One officer has issued all our drivers with pretty triangular yellow flags with black skull and crossbones to stick on their vehicles. The drivers quickly take them off when I point out they are sporting the emblem of the German S.S. Totenkopf Division!

A German complained  about looting. I said in war soldiers will loot and he replied that the German soldiers were the worst!

I suspect this is a very close model to Major Sadler’s commandeered car. Isn’t that special? Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Dinner with the usual courses and drinks and deep discussions about definitions of fraternisation and collaboration. An American interrupts us for some sort of pass – as usual I sign it. Retired to write. John Shadbolt came with a problem – German garage proprietor has been helpful, our colonel says he must empty cars out of his garage. This sort of question will keep on arising. C’est le guerre. And the Germans have lost it.

I doubt whether I have ever done so much in a single day before, but it is constructive. Since the war began, I have never (except on leave!) felt happier or better in health.

Coming in part two:

Learning that setting up military government means being a Jack of all trades…

References:

Detmold https://www.britannica.com/place/Detmold-Germany

German Order of Merit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Merit_of_the_Federal_Republic_of_Germany

TD award https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_Decoration

I think this is Mr. Sadler’s car https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_W136

Bad Salzuflen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Salzuflen

HITLER IS DEAD https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44131106

VE Day Broadcasts https://www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/anniversaries/may/ve-day-broadcasts

 

Posted in News | 7 Comments

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the rain is clearing andlockdown is eased, it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and every coming  Sunday from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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A mystery of time and place – can you solve it please?

While I’m very busy elsewhere (sorry folks for continued low output), the local history work continues in the background, via the tireless and thorough work of folk like the young David Evans, who’s turned up a mystery photo in a collection he’s been donated.

David feels the photo is local, and possible the early part of last century.

Does anyone recognise this, either via the schoolroom or anyone in it?

It’s a very interesting one. David feels in may be as early as the 1920s, but to me the dress seems a little too modern and well to do.

I’m thinking more 30s/40s maybe even 1950s? Don’t know.

If you can help please do: Comment here or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. You can, of course, always find me on social media somewhere too.

My thanks to David, all the blog contributors and readers for their patience with my absence at this time. It is certainly true we live in unprecedented times and they’re keeping me flat out. Sorry.

A school room, we think maybe local. Why is the lass in the foreground holding up a number 2? Love the flowers on teacher’s desk, suggesting maybe this was a lady teachers class. Click for a larger version, image kindly scanned and donated by David Evans.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, right now!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the weather seems decent and that lockdown is eased, it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are back there this afternoon – and every coming  Sunday from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Lichfield Waterworks Trust to recommence their vital work

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Sandfields Pumping Station – a great historic building with immense history and social significance – not just to Lichfield, but to the Black Country. Lichfield Discovered and local historian Dave Moore have saved this valuable asset for the community.

Sandfields Pumping Station champion and public historian extraordinaire Dave Moore has been in touch to share the latest news for local history enthusiasts and members of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group – Sandfields is reopening at last!

In the current pandemic, the trust has had to suspend meetings and activities like any other such organisation, but with the tentative resumption of normality, the trust have taken the decision to open the station back up and recommence their restoration activities – from this Friday, 7th August 2020.

Dave said:

Lichfield Waterworks Trust are pleased to announce that Sandfields Pumping Station will be re-opening to members only on Friday 7 August 2020
 
After careful consideration, the trustees of Lichfield Waterworks Trust are pleased to announce that Sandfields Pumping Station will be commencing a staged re-opening on Friday 7 August.
 
The first stage of this re-opening will be for members only by prior approval by our Health and Safety Manager Phil Bowers. Anyone wishing to attend will need to firstly notify Phil of their intention to attend by email by clicking the link below:

phil.bowers682@btinternet.com

The trust has put in place a number of Covid-19 safety procedures that are essential you follow. You will be briefed when you arrive on site.

Do pop over to Dave Moore’s blog and check out the history of Sandfields Pumping Station, an almost forgotten gem – the group also has a Facebook page.

Dave is, of course, one of the leading lights of Lichfield Discovered, along with Kate ‘Cardigan’ Gomez from Lichfield Lore.

It’s great to see people like Dave encourage a better attitude to our historic buildings -please do attend if you’re able, it’s sure to be enlightening and educational.

 

Posted in Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Just plain daft, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Locked out: A miner’s pay packet from 1928.

John Anslow – local historian and along with his late brother, one of the foremost chroniclers of the history of Walsall Wood – has been emailing again with another fascinating artefact from The Wood and he makes some fine observations upon it, and in particular on the General Strike and life in the 1920s.

John also has some questions to ask, and I hope readers can help with those, please – John has been responsible for some of the most important articles on the blog over the years, and I’d love to see what readers think about this one.

A miner, lost too soon, and his wife – Abe and Eliza Anslow, taken around 1918. Image kindly supplied by John Anslow.

Without further ado, John Anslow wrote:

This might interest you and your readers, Bob.

The photographs show what I believe to be my grandfather’s last wage packet, dated 8 June 1928; he died shortly afterwards, aged 38.

Abe Anslow was a coal miner (a hewer, on the death certificate) and that particular week in June, after mining one-and-a-half tons of slack and two tons of ironstone, he took home eighteen shillings and eight pence, or about 93 pence in today’s money.

According to the CPI inflation calculator, £1 in 1928 would have had the same purchasing power as £63.24 today.

This little scrap of paper set me thinking, and I should like to enlist the help of those who know much more about local mining history than I do.

 First, the wage packet itself.

Images kindly supplied by John Anslow: Click for larger versions.

 (i) The stall number, I believe, refers to an eight-yard section of the coalface allocated to a pair of hewers.

(ii) The seam is identified with the letters “D. T.” Any ideas?

(iii) What are the “percentages” referred to here? (H2 – 3s 4d and 1 @ 8s 9d)

(iv) I hadn’t realised that ironstone was mined in the coal pits hereabouts.

Next, the historical context.

From what Dad told me (8th June 1928 was his seventh birthday) the 1920s were desperately hard times for mining villages such as Walsall Wood, though he recalled many instances of people looking after their neighbours and struggling through together. I have mentioned in a previous comment on your blog the arrangement Abe had with Mr Headley, who supplied animal feed on credit and was repaid in bacon when a pig was slaughtered.

The General Strike of 1926 must have been particularly harrowing for mining families. As you doubtless know, it was called in response to the miners being locked out by the coal owners on 1st May 1926 after refusing to accept a cut in wages and longer hours – “Not a penny off the pay, not a second on the day”.

In coal fields throughout the land, miners were out of work for over six months but gradually began drifting back, on the owners’ terms, during October and November. I assume events in Walsall Wood mirrored those in the rest of the country.

It’s doubtful there’s a local resident alive today who remembers the lockout – anyone capable of doing so would now be in their late nineties – but perhaps readers can recall tales told to them by parents and grandparents.

Finally, a few comments about local industrial history.

I am dismayed that people barely twenty years my junior know nothing of the General Strike, let alone its causes or the hardships endured by the miners and their families. Nor are they aware of the poverty that was endemic in mining villages right up to the Second World War.

It is not my intention to embarrass you, Bob, but your blog plays an invaluable role in keeping the folk memory alive: helping us to remember who we are and where we have come from.

I was fortunate in being able to talk to people of my grandparents’ generation who, in turn, related stories their grandparents had told them. In two degrees of temporal separation I was back to the years when the canal first came through the village.

This experience makes me feel rather like the elderly lady who, when interviewed by a journalist in the 1850s remarked: “My first husband’s first wife knew Mr Cromwell and said he was a very nice man!”

 All the best,
John Anslow

 An afterthought

For completeness, and so that you can picture the man who spent his working life kneeling deep underground, hewing coal for such meagre recompense, I have attached a photograph of Abe and his wife, Eliza, taken around 1918.

  • John

I welcome all view, clarification and memories on this, and I know John will too: 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.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, this afternoon!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the weather seems decent and that lockdown is eased, it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are finally back there this afternoon – and every coming  Sunday from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

Swan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

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Get ready for the next Orange Army litter pick coming soon in Brownhills!

There is a community litter pick event taking place in Brownhills soon (Saturday 22nd July 2020) from 10am, meeting at the gates of Holland Park – all are welcome to join in.

The pick is being organised by new local litter group The Orange Army who put a huge effort in to litter pick the park last weekend 25-26th July 2020 – for which I and the blog readership would like to extend our thanks for a top job well done!

Take a bow, folks.

Image from the Orange Army Facebook Page.

It’s easy and fun to join in with these community picks as all kit will be provided!

I like to give as much notice of these sessions as possible as so many people afterwards express sadness that they would have taken part if they’d known sooner…

The pick is being run by to local, committed local volunteer Natalie Dawson and others for the benefit of the the town, so it’ll be a worthwhile event to get involved with and help improve the local environment.

The organisers said:

Hi to all!

We have decided the next date for our meet if anyone would like to join us it is the 22nd of august.

Meet at the gates of Holland Park at 10am we have plenty of equipment that we can provide for you.

We have plenty of equipment for extra people if they wish to help out occasionally or regularly if they wish!

Thanks all
The Orange Army 🧡

You can check out the Orange Army’s Facebook page here.

Previous local litter pick events have been a huge success, so let’s see if we can make this one even better!

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All aboard – for the reopening of a local treasure!

I’m pleased to be able to gradually announce the reopening of local attractions and facilities as they happen, following closures for the pandemic response – and how strange it is to type that even still!

One of the most welcome will be the Aston Manor Road Transport Museum, based in Aldridge, which has announced reopening is to take place on Tuesday 11th August 2020 at 10:30am.

Initially opening will be Tuesdays only, and the museum will remain closed all other days including at weekends – but it is hoped that normal hours can be resumed by the end of August.

Even Salvage Hunters paid the museum a call! Image from the Museum Facebook page.

Restrictions to enable social distancing will be in place, and sadly there’s had to be a slight entry fee increase, but at at £4 for an adult, £11 for a family and kids entry staying at £2 it’s still cracking value.

The museum management posted on Facebook:

[See above for our] initial announcement of reopening – watch this page for further notices and updates.

We are not planning any events in the immediate future, but will continue to assess the situation as time goes on.

Although we are looking at the possibility of some static events – watch this space!

See our website & Facebook page for updates

Welcome back to all at the museum and I wish everyone well. Please do get over and support this gem of a local museum. It really is a fascinating place.

Aston Manor Road Transport Museum
Shenstone Drive, Off Northgate, Aldridge, Walsall W89 8TP2

More details can be found on the museum Facebook page.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can you help Walsall Wood kick off again?

One of the sadder social side effects of the pandemic locally has been the necessary, and totally appropriate cessation of community sport, in particular Walsall Wood Football Club.

As things inch back to normality, sporting activities are resuming and The Woodmen are looking for sponsors for the first team and others, and they’re offering a great competition whereby you can get your name on the team’s shirts for a pocket pleasing £20.

That’s a fair old prize for the winner! Image posted on Twitter by Walsall Wood Football Club.

If you’re interested in supporting a wonderful, historic and very successful community football club, you can take part in the competition to become sponsor by texting Justin of BBG Consultancy on 07939 075285 your team selection on the card shown.

I look forward to seeing the resumption of football and the wood and the Oak Park Ground throwing the gates open once more.

Rest assure that when The Wood kick off once more, full coverage will be posted here!

For the Good of The Wood!

Pick your tea, then text Justin as above. Good luck! Click for a larger version. Image posted on Twitter by Walsall Wood Football Club.

 

 

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Ogley hay Juniors in the late 60s: Who can you spot?

Ogley Hay Juniors, May Day 1965. Image kindly shared by Gail Hughes.

I’m indebted today to local lady Gail Hughes who posted this wonderful pair of Ogley Juniors photos  – the upper one appears to be from the annual May Day event in 1965 (which has featured here many times before from different years) – and Gail thinks the class photo is from around 1969.

I always love these images as they look so relaxed and happy, not the traditionally stiff school photos we normally see. It always strikes me how content the kids were in the pictures from the various Ogley Schools, like the kids were in the Portman Collection of Walsall Wood school photos we also chronicled and shared here.

Gail wrote:

I can name quite a few.

Boys I remember starting from left:

Robert Horton, Paul Norgrove, Alan Tonks, Martin Milner, Mark Mason, Shaun Murphy, Michael ?, Raymond Woodhouse, Roy Holyman, Kevin ? , Andrew Shears, Timothy Whitehouse ( I think)

Girls: Heather Yates, Carol Toddington, Julie Probert, Christine Pearce, Ann Wootton ( I think) Karen Rhead, Susan Sunderland and Patricia Morris.

Kim Parry, Sue Whittaker , Kim Taylor, Karen Slatter, me Gail Pemberton, Joy Middleton, Sue Teece and Wendy ?

Please fill in the missing ones.

Another photo must have been taken because a lot missing from my year.

Happy Days!

So get to it – what do you remember? Comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or buttonhole me on social media.

Thanks to Gail for a gorgeous pair of images that are bound to be very popular indeed.

Ogley Hay Juniors, thought to be around 1969. Image kindly shared by Gail Hughes.

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Fancy finding out more about local wildlife? You can, this afternoon!

If you, the kids or grandkids are at a loose end today, since the weather seems decent and that lockdown is eased, it would be an excellent chance to grab the young ones and nip up to Stubbers Green where you can chat to, and learn all about local wildlife with the Swan Patrol.

The Patrol are finally back there this afternoon – and every coming  Sunday from 1-3pm and have bird books, binoculars and a wealth of knowledge to share – so why not join them? There’s so much more local wildlife than people think!

Ann Lawrence said:

qSwan Patrol every Sunday 1-3pm

Please bring wild bird seed, sweet corn, porridge oats, lettuce, peas, chopped up vegetables, rice etc to feed the birds.

We have binoculars and bird books available to use. Stickers for the children

The reserve is by the pools on Stubbers Green Road, between Aldridge and Shelfield.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

A journey down the lost canal in pictures

Andy Tidy, otherwise known as the Canal Hunter and creator of the great canal history series on YouTube that I have plugged before here about lost local canals – including our own lost stretch of canal from Ogley Junction to Huddlesford, the Lichfield and Hatherton canal – has published an interesting new video.

This lost line, closed in the 1950s is currently being restored by the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust which will eventually rebuild the waterway through Ogley Locks, Summerhill, Wall and Lichfield near to that other newly rejuvenated gem, Sandfields Pumping Station.

Andy Tidy is of course the proprietor of the Jam Butty, a boat selling preserves that will be recognised by anyone attending a local canal event.

At wall, it’s hard to believe the canal came this way, but you can still see the line if you look hard.

The new video is an archive photo tour along the canal, and can be seen below, really bringing the history alive. I commend it, and the rest of Andy’s wonderful work, to readers.

You can find out more about the Canal Hunter series here in my previous post on Ogley Locks.

Andy Tidy has created a wonderful series that I adore, and You can subscribe here – there are already a lot of great episodes, including one on the lost Slough Arm in Brownhills and all about the Black Cock Bridge which I featured previously here.

My congratulations to Andy for a lovely, beautifully produced and informative series of films. I commend you to subscribe.

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Beware – bike theft is a growing problem locally

It’s time, I’m very much afraid, to issue another warning – theft of bikes and ebikes in the Brownhills and wider Walsall area continues to escalate in the wake of the bike boom and  general retail shortage of new machines since lockdown.

Bikes are highly nickable at the moment. Make sure yours is secure. Image from Maya Cycle.

Bikes are in demand right now with the pandemic waning and lockdown relaxation, so are easy to sell sell on the black market, sales sites, etc.

The local police posted the following helpful advice today:

Good afternoon

Lockdown has seen a lot of people dust off their old bike and get back cycling. With a lot of people holidaying at home this year you may well be planning a few bike rides.

We wanted to share our top tips for keeping your bike safe.

Always lock your bike when you leave it – even if it’s only for a few minutes. We would recommend using a D-lock.

Lock it in a busy well-lit area, where lots of people are walking past. Nothing puts off a bike thief as much as an audience!

When at home it’s safer to lock your bike in a garage or shed or keep it indoors rather than leave it in the garden.

There are more tips on our website if you need them https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/your-options/cycle-theft

We wish you a safe staycation and hope for some lovely weather.

Please ensure you lock all your outbuildings, and secure your premises as best you can. Don’t leave valuables on view in cars, and make sure anything that could be used in a burglary – ladders, garden tools etc. – is securely stowed away.

There are some good security tips for sheds and outbuildings at this page here and yet more at this link here. The most important tip I think is not just to lock your bike in the shed, but use a bike lock when it’s in there: Preferably to a ground anchor, but if not to something that will be hard or noisy to separate it from. It won’t stop a determined, professional thief but could alert you to the local opportunistic neds.

Get a decent lock too for when out and about. Tips on those and how to use them properly can be found here.

If you’re offered a cheap bike, tools, car stereo equipment or gardening kit, think hard about where it might have come from, and by all means grub the people flogging them into the rozzers – the stuff is probably nicked. Next time, it could be your stuff they take.

Anyone with information on the recent spate of thefts is urged to contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 or you can speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local media, News, planning, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why not stay at home Wednesday and meet Walsall Humanists in your lounge?

Here’s a quick plug for Lichfield, Walsall and South Staffordshire Humanists – a philosophical debating group – who have their quarterly meeting this Wednesday 15th July 2020 at your home! They are trying this time, since Coronavirus restrictions mean they can’t meet in the usual pub, a videoconference on Zoom instead.

The meeting kicks off at 7:45pm and goes on until about 9:45pm.

Old pal of the blog, Charles Street let me know about the group and their meeting schedule a while back, and this video meet-up looks like fun! Also don’t forget the fact that’s it’s completely free to attend.

If you’re interested in philosophy, the nature of what we believe and accept, this could be a great evening with like minded people. Without leaving your house!

The group said said:

Hello All
As using video conferencing it is so easy to do. You can hold an on-line meeting in the time that it takes you to get to a physical meeting.
So on 15th July we shall be holding our next on line meeting.
General consensus is to do this even after whichever year lockdown ceases.
This will be a Zoom Video Conference. By now we should all be experts at this.
I am advised with the system that we have that we can have a meeting for up to 100 for 40 minutes.
Sometimes the system allows a first meeting to continue past the time. However the other option is to schedule another meeting immediately afterwards.
So here is the plan.
We will meet at 7:45 pm British Summer Time. Wednesday 15th July. I mention BST in case, this time, any of our overseas friends choose to join us.
Then at 8:35 we will schedule another meeting and continue.
If you want to participate, if you haven’t already done so, please download the Zoom Communications app.
After setting up Room, please contact us on the following email address:  lichfieldhumanists@live.co.uk so we know who to send invites to with the relevant entry code and password. If there are any topics that anyone would like to discuss please mention that too.

The Lichfield Walsall and South Staffordshire Humanist Group LWASS meeting. 

3rd Wednesday meeting every quarter for those interested in Humanism, Atheism, Secularism and related subject areas.
We meet on the 3rd Wednesday every quarter January April July and October at 7:45 pm ish until 9:45 pm ish for those interested in Humanism and related matters.
However if you are enjoying the debate you can stay until  closing time if you like  Zoom boots us off
Venue: Your Home where we are all staying.
The Walsall Arms – 17 Bank Street, WS1 2EP
Humanists UK can be explored at https://humanism.org.uk/

Humanism is a comprehensive life stance that upholds human reason, ethics, and justice, and rejects supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition.

If you would like to know more about Humanism the following link may be a good place to start.

If you tune in to the meeting please drop me the word and tell me how you got on – the Humanists have a whole bunch of stuff going on and their website above is worth a look: I’ve always been a big fan of Birmingham Sceptics in the Pub who post some very interesting, thought provoking stuff on social media.

Tell me more: Comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or tug my coat on the antisocial media.

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Elementary my dear Watson…

Postcard view of the Grove Colliery, from whence Grove Cottages were probably names. Image from the book ‘Brownhills and Walsall Wood on old picture postcards’ by Jan Farrow.

While I’m busy today, here’s an interesting family history enquiry from Jo Clifford, who’s tracing her family which seems focussed on the Pelsall area – and I know we have lots of the Pelsall Contingent in.

Jo wrote:

Dear Bob,

I’ve been researching my family history (which is centred, for generations, around Pelsall, Bloxwich and Shelfield) and, during the course of my investigations, I came across your blog. I am not sure if it actually covers the areas I’ve mentioned exactly but I found the parts about the history of the area completely fascinating all the same.

I know it is a long shot but I wondered if you, or any of your contributors, know anything about the Watson family that were registered as living in Watson’s Lane in Pelsall in the 1901 census, at Wolverhampton Road in 1911 and at The Grove Cottages, Norton Road, Pelsall in 19030 [sic – think that’s 1930 – Bob] probate documents. The head of the family was an Enoch Watson who was a coal miner. His wife was Clara Jane.

They had many children but my direct ancestors were Harry Watson and his wife Edith (nee Nicholls) who lived at Irene Villa, Green Lane, Shelfield in 1911. Harry was a solicitors clerk at Enoch Evans & Son in Walsall (I think his boss Enoch Evans was once Mayor of Walsall and Harry was a pallbearer at Enoch’s funeral). Edith is sometimes listed as a school teacher and their children, Harry Charles, Madeline, Donald Eric (I believe Donald may have once been struck by lightning and suffered an injury that led to him dying of diabetes in 1929 but I am not sure if this is true), Joan Edith and Jean Yvonne.

Harry was my great grandfather but I know almost nothing about him.

Apologies if your expertise doesn’t cover this area but I live in Suffolk and don’t know your part of the UK at all (yet).

Many thanks, in advance, for any info you may have or any direction you could point me in.

All the best,
Jo Clifford

If you can help, please do – and thanks to Jo for a fab enquiry. Please comment here, seek me out on social media or even email on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers all!

Posted in News | 13 Comments

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.

Posted in News | 11 Comments

A heartfelt happy birthday to Aer Reg!

 

Aer Reg contemplating the unveiling of the refurbished George Fullelove Memorial Shelter at The Parade, Brownhills. Image Kindly supplied by David Evans.

Today, Thursday 25th June 2020), is a very important date for one of the foremost members of this little online community: Happy (belated) birthday to the Grandfather of the Brownhills Blog, Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove, now resident in Norton but a Brownhills lad through and through – and 90 years old today!

Reg is a wonderful local historian, poet and community elder, and his comments on the blog have their own cult following and we all love every one. But more than that Reg has donated over the years a huge amount of meterial, from films like this one of the 1934 Brownhills Carnival that opened up the remarkable history of Edgar Pritchard, to photos of old times, to local ephemera, great tales of his youth and of course, his brilliant poetry.

Happy Birthday old lad, you’re a star and the blog would not be what it is today without you.

All of us here look up to you, and I can’t think of a better Grandfather the blog could have – but you’re not just that, you’re a most excellent friend to us all, too.

Posted in News | 16 Comments

Some mystery Brownhills photos, Walsall Wood Cricket team and young Violin wranglers – a photo special!

I’ve had some terrific photo submissions for the blog in recent weeks and also some great articles in the bag – including a mammoth one that’s very special indeed from old pal Ian Bourne. Sorry updates and new material is limited at the moment: I have not given up but with the wider state of things at the moment I’m working very long hours on a number of occupational projects and my time is sadly limited. I had hope things would slow up by now, but it seems not.

Anyway, here’s a couple of remarkable images beautifully scanned by reader Jean Willey, and a bit of a mystery set from reader Carole Roper.

Walsall Woos School violin class, 1953/4. A great photo with some great faces in it. I’m particularly intrigued by the three girls on the right of the middle row. They look like real characters, I must say – but such a happy picture all around.  See text for some names. Image kindly supplied by Jean Willey.

Hello Brownhills Bob

Can you make use of these?

The first photo is of of Walsall Wood school violin class, 1953, teacher Miss Tann.

Top row – 2nd person Dennis?  3rd person Jean Ensor, 6th Glyn Evans, 7th Miss Tann.

 2nd row – 1st Christine Mansell, 6th Sheila Pratt.

3rd row – 4th Hilary?   5th Andrew?  7th Glenda Fulilove.

Bottom row – 5th Arthur?

The second photo is of members of Walsall Wood Cricket Club, around 1948/50ish. First person top row is George Cresswell and 4th person bottom row is Jack (John William) Ensor.

Update: I think I could be 10 years out with the date of the Cricket club photo. The appearance of my dad, he has a full head of hair! And looking at his 1940 marriage photos, leads me to believe that the date was more likely 1938.

[From the clothing to the gents on the left I would agree – Bob]

Perhaps others can fill in the rest of the names?

Regards
Jean Willey (nee Ensor)

Walsall Wood Cricket Club – date in question – some great local faces here. I also welcome opinions on if this photo is local, and if so, where taken? See text for some names. Image kindly supplied by Jean Willey.

Thanks to Jean for two bits of WalsallW good local history gold there – so very much appreciated.

Secondly, I have four images which are sadly a bit compressed from reader Carole Roper, which nonetheless I hope can great a debate.

I feature them below:

Carole said:

Hello

I was brought up in Brownhills and have just been looking at some old family photos I found in an envelope marked old Brownhills photos.

I know one is of the rising Sun pub. Not sure where others are. I thought maybe you or your readers might be interested.

I do have a few more also.

Regards
Carole Roper

Well, I know the upper right is the Rising Sun – I’d know those gables anywhere, but the rest have the better of me. Can you help at all?

And Carole – I welcome any images. Thanks so much. Please send any you have, and thanks for your generosity!

It’s submissions that keep the blog going, and thanks for every one. Please be patient with me while this strange time passes. If I don’t stop work soon I’ll drop with exhaustion…

If you have anything to add, please do: Comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or find me half asleep on social media.

Thanks to all!

Posted in News | 27 Comments

Can you help Ray find an old workmate, please?

Just had this interesting enquiry from Ray Hart, who’s looking for a former workmate who lived at least for a time in the high rise blocks in Brownhills, and worked at Hardy Spicer (Now GKN Driveline) in Erdington, near Castle Bromwich.

I’ll let Ray explain:

Good afternoon Bob.

I’m searching for a very old pal of mine Ray Fryer.

Ray and I worked together at Hardy Spicer in Erdington circa 1962, at the time Ray and his wife lived Lozells. In 1967 I think? They lived in one of those blocks of flats on the left as you drove into Brownhills from Birmingham. Waine, Bayley & Humphries Houses.

There’s no problem at all. I’m sure many of us have been having a good sort out as a result of Covid 19. During one such sort, I came across some photo’s of Ray and his toddler daughter playing with my toddler son, in our garden taken in the summer of 1967.

Like me he would be in his mid seventies. It would be brilliant to meet him again, and of course, give him the photographs.

Look forward to any info my may be able come by.

Many thanks
Ray Hart

Did you know Ray Fryer or his family? I don’t recognise the name, but I do know many people in the Brownhills and wider area worked at Hardy Spicer so I think we have a good chance of reuniting old workmates here.

If you can help, please do. If you know anything, please mail me, preferably on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com and I’ll hook you up.

Hardy Spicer – now GKN Driveline – was just a quick hop down the Chester Road from Brownhills and id still a large employer of local people. Imagery from Apple Maps.

 

You can comment on this post too, but obviously I may have to edit any personal info posted, but will pass it on.

Thanks to Ray for a lovely enquiry and I wish him luck in his search.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Abnormal load likely to cause traffic issues in Brownhills this week

An important one here from Staffordshire Police who are warning that a large, abnormal load is coming through Staffordshire and through Brownhills this week.

The load is a 40-metre oxygen tank being transported from Cheshire to Warwickshire.

Tanks for the tipoff: Image from Staffordshire Police.

The tank will progress through the county of Staffordshire over five days in total, but dips into the West Midlands on Thursday when it will traverse the Watling Street and Chester Road in Brownhills, from where it will got to Four Oaks and back to the A5. That’s a long way to avoid a railway bridge!

This is the first of four similar loads in coming weeks. I’d ask for people’s patience and welcome any photos of this remarkable load readers would like to share – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

This kind of work is exactly what we need to get the country moving again. so best wishes to all involved.

Staffordshire Police wrote:

Warning to motorists as police set to escort large oxygen tank through county

Police are warning motorists of likely delays and diversions next week as officers help escort a large, medical grade oxygen tank through the county.

The tank – which is empty, 40 metres long and 6.5 metres in diameter – will be picked up on Monday 15 June and will make its way from the Cheshire border through areas including Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stone, Stafford, Rugeley, Cannock, Brownhills and Shenstone – finishing up in Warwickshire on Friday 19 June.

This is the first of four similar pick-ups over the next six weeks and we’ll be working with tree cutters and BT telephone engineers to ensure the load fits under trees and cables throughout the journey.

The full route:

Monday 15th June, Day 1:

  • At roundabout, turn right onto A34 in Congleton
  • Turn left onto A34 at Talke
  • Continue on A34 through 4 roundabouts
  • At roundabout, turn left onto A52 in Newcastle under Lyme
  • At roundabout, turn right onto A527
  • At roundabout, turn left onto A34.

Day 1 stops at Strongford

Tuesday 16th June, Day 2:

  • Continue on A34 through 9 roundabouts

    End of Day 2 at RedHill

Wednesday 17th June, Day 3:

  • At roundabout, turn left onto A513 Beaconside
  • At roundabout, turn right onto A518 Weston Rd
  • At roundabout, turn left onto A34 Queensway in Stafford
  • At roundabout, turn left onto A34 Lichfield Rd
  • At roundabout, continue on A34 Queensville
  • At mini roundabout, turn left onto A513 Weeping Cross
  • At double roundabout, turn right onto A51 in Woseley Bridge
  • At roundabout, turn left onto A51
  • At roundabout, turn right onto B5013 Station Rd in Rugeley
  • At double mini roundabout in Rugeley, continue on B5013
  • At roundabout, continue straight onto A460 Hednesford Rd
  • Continue on A460 through 10 roundabouts to Cannock

    End of Day 3 Great Wyrley

Thursday 18th June, Day 4:

  • At roundabout, continue straight onto A5 Watling Street
  • Continue on A5 through 1 roundabout
  • At roundabout, turn right onto A452 Chester Rd at Brownhills
  • Continue through 1 roundabout
  • At roundabout, turn left A454 Aldridge Road
  • At roundabout, turn left at Four Oaks Station onto A5127 Lichfield Road all the way back up to the A5
  • At roundabout, turn right onto A5
  • At roundabout, exit onto Roman Rd/Watling Street through Hints

    Day 4 Stops half way along Watling St

Friday 18th June, Day 5:

  • At roundabout, in Fazeley, turn right onto A4091

You can keep up to date with the movements on Twitter via @Tactical_Police.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

A token of my curiosity

Here’s a quick one for a Sunday afternoon – reader Elaine Griffiths has sent me the below image of a token that’s been dug up in a Norton Canes garden.

A curious find dug up in a local garden: But what was the Pelsall March? Image kindly sent in by Elaine Griffiths.

The question is simple: What is it, and what does it commemorate?

It bears the legend ‘Pelsall March 1906’ I think, but that could be 1900 or 1908. It’s a heart-shaped double pierced token, and from the green staining possibly brass or copper.

Anyone got any ideas? A quick Google threw up nothing.

I know there were lots of church and chapel related parades in the period, but I don’t think I’ve seen a token like this before.

Any ideas? Please do shout up: Either comment on this post, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or whisper in my ear on social media.

Cheers to Elaine for a great enquiry!

 

Posted in News | 4 Comments