A bricked-up time capsule…

This remarkable 1970s image from Ian Broad shows a mystery shop, bricked up. Do you know what it was?

Last week here on the blog I had an absolutely terrific response to the photo supplied by Ian Broad of 1982 Shire Oak School leavers outside the Royal Oak pub in Shire Oak – well, spurred on by that, Ian has sent in another wonderful picture of the row of shops that once stood where Wilkinson is today, and where Ian’s family had the shop Tom’s Cabin for many years throughout the 1980s.

Ian wrote:

Hi Bob,

I hope you’re well. Loved the post you did about our 1982 school leaving day.

That post of yours with my Schools out ‘82 pic really started something.

One of my old classmates spotted it and posted a link on FB – loads of old school mates are gradually re connecting on there and there’s even mention of a reunion.

There are well over 100 comments on the Facebook thread.

Love your blog.

I just came across this pic of the High Street, Brownhills. Circa 1978, looking from Ravens Court end towards the Station Hotel.

Marie’s fruit and veg shop is clearly visible, next door is the bricked up newsagents that turned out to be a ‘time capsule’ when we bought it off the council.

There were still magazines and sweets in there as if it was bricked up without being distributed.

I wonder if the shopkeeper died suddenly?

Next to the bricked up frontage is May Browns hairdressers that my dad bought to open as a carpet shop.

After the alley way us Wood Brothers bike shop.

The owner was Roger. I think he was Australian. His son was Max. It’s a bit vague after that, hard to see the detail in the pic.

All the best,
Ian Broad

This will bring back many memories for lots of people, although I suspect the image may predate 1978, and I’d welcome comment on that please.

What particularly interests me are the bricked up shop, and the one to the left of the greengrocers. Do you know what they were?

I know there were several transitory businesses here over the years – I recall a pet shop about here in the late 1970s with tortoises in the window. I also remember being left in one of the shops with a friend of my mother who worked behind the counter. I think it was a grocer, in the early 1970s. The lady was called ‘Doreen’ I think. I know nothing else, but I am wondering if it’s that bricked up shop.

I remember Woods Bike Shop well – the one chap was indeed Australian. They occupied three units in a row, and proto-Bob had his first bike from there one Christmas. I remember being terrified of changing gear. I know the shop was still there in some form until at least 1984.

Toms Cabin occupied the hairdresser and the bricked up shop, clearly, and from the photo below that Ian has supplied before which shows the shop, it seems that the legendary CK Electronics – home of the cheap, refurbished TV and VCR – took on Marie James shop and the one next to it. If I remember correctly, there was then a gap filled by an advertising hoarding to the Natwest Bank which was the start of Ravens Court.

It’s always a pleasure to feature material like this on the blog.

Thanks to Ian for another great memory-jogger, and if you have any memories of this row of shops, or can answer my question, please do comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Toms Cabin, some time in the early 1980s I think. Image from a previous post and Kindly supplied by Ian Broad.

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A very special Day for Mylee – today!

Out of sadness – a great event to pull the community together.

There’s a wonderful event today, Sunday 18th February 2018 from 1pm until 5pm at St. James Church Hall, Brownhills, to have fun and to celebrate the life of Mylee Billigham who is being remembered throughout the area with a wonderful display of pink ribbons and bows.

The murder on January 2oth has left the community in a state of shock and sadness, but people have pulled together to raise funds for the family and remember the eight your old.

With that in mind today 1pm-5pm at St. James Church Hall, Brownhills there will be a fun day to remember Mylee, which will be free to enter and a whole host of fun attractions will be taking place – bouncy castles, stalls, raffles, games, rodeo bull, food and drink, balloons, cakes and more.

The local community and businesses have really pulled together in this time of adversity and sadness – I’m astonished at the effort that’s gone into this event and other activities going on in memory of Mylee.

If you want to find out more you can visit the event Facebook page here or the Mylee Fundraising group here.

You can donate to the fund in Mylee’s memory directly here.

I’d hereby like to than Caroline Jayne Watkinson, Jodie Worrall and Holly Sowden Sault for their work with this. True community spirits and people that Brownhills can be really proud of.

There’s been a great article about the Fun Day and fundraising efforts at the Birmingham Mail – you can read the full article here – but I include a shortened version below.

Pink bows adorn the area in memory of Mylee. Image from Lisa Hughes.

Family Fun Day launched in memory of tragic Mylee Billingham

Friends and neighbours heartbroken by little Mylee Billingham’s death have rallied together to put on a family fundraising day in her name.

Mylee’s Day has been set up to raise money for the family after the eight-year-old was found with stab wounds at a bungalow in Valley View, Brownhills, near Walsall, on January 20.She died later in hospital and a 54-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Friend and neighbour Caroline Watkinson decided to put on a raffle to try raise money for mum Tracey Taundry and her two children following the tragedy.

But she was inundated by people in the community wanting to help out and so they decided to stage a fundraising day.

Mylee’s Day will happen on February 18, from 1 to 5pm at St James Church Hall, Vicarage Road, Brownhills.

Friend and neighbour Caroline Watkinson decided to put on a raffle to try raise money for mum Tracey Taundry and her two children following the tragedy.

But she was inundated by people in the community wanting to help out and so they decided to stage a fundraising day.

Mylee’s Day will happen on February 18, from 1 to 5pm at St James Church Hall, Vicarage Road, Brownhills.

“It started off with a raffle and then we came up with the idea of a whole day of fundraising,” said Caroline, from Brownhills.

“We’ve been inundated, the response has been phenomenal, the kindness of people is amazing.

“Tracey grew up on my road, she is like one of my children.

“She’s happy that we’re doing this for the family.”

There will be free entry to the family day and it will feature a:

  • Bouncy castle
  • Rodeo bull
  • Magician
  • Clown
  • Balloon drop
  • Guess the weight of the cake stall
  • Tombola
  • Auction
  • Raffle
  • Name the teddy stall
  • Beauty stall
  • Food and drinks stalls

“It will be a traditional fun day with loads to do for all the family,” said Caroline.

“Everyone has been so kind. The bouncy castle and rodeo bull are being donated for free and the burger van is coming for free and giving us a percentage of his takings, it’s the same with the sweet stall too.

“We’re being given free use of the church hall too.

“I have to stress it’s not just me doing this, so many people have come together to raise money for the family.”

Since Mylee’s death, people in the community have been making and wearing pink bows in a display of solidarity following the shock of the little girl’s death.

“We’ve all got pink bows on our doors, we’ve made stickers for cars and we hope everyone will wear pink bows to Mylee’s Day too,” added Caroline.

Local businesses have got involved, with 50 fundraising tins being held in restaurants, cafes and pubs.

Baby shop Bonnie Babies in Bloxwich has donated a Silver Cross pram and a Reborn doll for an online raffle, the latter of which has already raised a whopping £750.

The group, which also includes neighbours Diane Smith and Jodie Worrall, have also been emailing local companies to get involved and are hoping to get some footballers or local celebs on board too.

A GoFundMe page has already raised nearly £3,000 for Mylee’s family. Find out more here.

“I’m proud to be from Brownhills,” said Caroline.

“People have been in touch offering everything from designer bags to champagne for us to raffle off.

“I think every hairdressers in Brownhills has offered us a voucher for a free cut and blow dry, and we’ve been given a tattoo voucher too.

“Some people have done a 10 mile sponsored walk in the rain.“I’m really proud of our community and how everyone has pulled together to help.

“We hope to raise lots of money to help the family in any way we can.”

Find out more by visiting Mylee’s Fundraising Group on Facebook.

Posters are up in local businesses – please support this wonderful event. Image by Agnes Mathieson.

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Ahead of the curve

Image Kindly supplied by Lee Bashfoird

I’ve been sent in a lovely gallery of local drone photographs by keen drone pilot Lee Bashford who’s been trying his machine at various spots around Chasewater and Brownhills.

As you know, I love drone photography and have previously featured such photography by local lad Steve Martin and also a flight video of the new housing development at Silver Court Gardens in Brownhills.

I particularly love in these shots how the wide angle really gives curvature to the earth and make you realise the extent of the new build redevelopment in Brownhills.

Thanks to Lee for a wonderful chance to see our area from a new angle, I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future – if you’d like to get in touch with him, please feel free to comment here or drop e a line – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!

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A Saint Jimmy riddle…


1884 1:1,250 mapping showing St James Buildings, just on the road to the east of Chasewater. Imagery from the National Library of Scotland (NLS) Archive. Click for a larger version.

Had a good one in from old friend of the blog Bruce Littley a week or so and it’s a very good question: Bruce has found a set of buildings on the Hednesford/Brownhills Road between Brownhills West and Norton Canes called St James Buildings, that existed just by where the dog track used to be but I believe is now new build housing.

Bruce wrote:


Long time no speak, how you are keeping well.

I note this morning some comments on the Heath Hayes page about the collieries and there was one which gave the opportunity of comparing then and now maps.

As is my want I scrolled the map around a little to look at points of interest for myself.

On the Brownhills Road, between Brownhills West and Norton Canes, where the race track was constructed was an area known as St. James buildings.

Have done a search on the site, and did not get any hits that appeared to be the correct hit.

Query, has it ever been discussed on the site at all?

Have done a search on Google and nil so far.


I’ve found thing about the place, which seems to be a row of terraced houses with a well in the yard, and shouldn’t be confused with St. James Square, a notorious courtyard of houses often called The Mets that stood in Brownhills High Street for years about where Wessex Court is today.

Its also interesting that both Norton and Brownhills have a parish church of St James, which is often confusing.

It’s a great question though – so thanks to Bruce for that, and what do you know? Please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

St James Buildings where they would be these days, just to the north east of the former dog track: I believe this is currently a building site. Imagery from National Library of Scotland Archive. Click for a larger version.

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Walsall Wood play Chelmsley Town at Oak Park this afternoon!

Welcome to the Wood, Chelmsley!

Saturday 17th February 2018

The Wood are away playing Chelmsley Town at home!

Can the boys from The Wood continue their success and stay top?

All the gate proceeds from this match will go to the Mylee Billingham fund.

Kick off is 3:00pm

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Visit Walsall Wood FC’s website here

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A match for Mylee – this morning at Oak Park!

A lovely fundraising event is taking place this morning at Oak Park Active Living Centre’s 3G Sports pitch – a charity football match in aid in support of the Mylee Billingham fund.

Proceeds from the Walsall Wood home math that afternoon will also be donated to the family.

Kickoff is 11:30am – come and support this worthwhile and uplifting event.

What a wonderful thing!

Special day today – Saturday, 17th February 2018 – as we play our “Match for Mylee”.

Come down and support our coaches, parents and fans taking part in a game at Oak Park Active Living Centre ⚽

11:30am kick off!

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Buses by Night 2018 – great Aldridge event on this Saturday!

A great one for photographers is this.

This Saturday afternoon and evening (17th February 2018) there’s a great, innovative event taking place at Aldridge Transport Museum just off Northgate – Buses by Night, which is your chance to ride on some great old vehicles and see the local sights and photography hotspots – like Lichfield Cathedral – at night.

At the foot of this post is the full events list for the museum for 2018 – there’s so much going on. Do get up there, it’s wonderful.

The Museum said:

The first running day of the season, ride free bus services into the evening, with opportunities for night photography, too. Museum will be open, with all our usual exhibits to see. Note, the Museum WILL NOT be open until 14:00.

A good mix of guests due with both a Bristol KS & KSW from Roger Burdett, together with a Manchester (SELNEC) Fleetline, an ex-Nottingham Excel from Andrews and the inaugural rally event of former WMT Optare Solo 313.

Our own 2222 expected to run and 4 others, although both VR 4714 and Tracline 8110 are still missing waiting for final rectification work.

See timetable already posted – 4 free services running over a 6 hour period.

See event Facebook page for more details

See our website & Facebook page for updates

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

Event Admission £5 adult, £2 child, £13 family

Event will run from 14:00 to 20:00
01922 454761 Registered Charity no. 519216

Timetable may be subject to change! – Check website or Facebook page for details. Click for a larger version.

So much going on! Click for a larger version.

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