An intriguing enquiry reaches me from local historian and blog dynamo the young David Evans, who’s after a rather specific bit of history relating to a lost courtyard of dwellings in Brownhills High Street Called ‘The Metz’.
One enduring subject of very much debate here that continues to receive a lot of attention is the thorny subject of the Marklew family, Marklew’s pond off Coppice Lane, William Roberts and the claim that the farm was one of the last Tommy Shops operating.
Readers may well recall the awful and largely forgotten story surrounding Colenal James Kilian, and his cruelty and subsequent disgrace following the mistreatment of soldiers at the U.S. Army base stationed at Whittington, near Lichfield, duringWorld War Two – it’s a subject we’ve touched on occasionally and is little known about here in the UK, but somewhat notorious in the USA.
In my last article, I pointed out that I’d received extra information on a couple of posts over the weekend – both on the Anglesey/sea question, and also on the Mine Rescue Team image shared by John Sale and Bill Mayo.
The great Bill Mayo, local historian and photo collector, has recently been digging in his files and found a few mystery images, like the one above of a local mines rescue team.
I keep returning to the subject of the man I consider to be the father of modern Brownhills, the one and only William Roberts – railway plate layer, ganger, publican, entrepreneur, civic stalwart, JP and philanthropist.
by reader Mandy Cockram, whose mother went to Ogley Hay Girls School in Brownhills in the e
I am indebted to friends of the blog and top local historians Clive Roberts and Stuart Williams who both sent me copies of the following image of Coalpool Pleasure Grounds taken I believe around 1910.
Last week I revealed the mystery archive where I’d been finding all those great architecture pictures, and also pointed out that the filing system was curious, in that there seemed to be several dislocated images in the system – including the one of ‘Harden Hall’, which actually turned out to not be a Walsall image at all.
I love it when I ask an innocent question here that I think is throwaway, and through some mistake I make, or some side debate, a whole new historical vista opens up – and this has been the case this week the the history of Sandhills, Shire Oak, and the Brawn and Lane family dynasties.
Incisive and tenacious historian Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has been quietly continuing his investigations into the Old Hednesford Colliery Disaster, the 1911 accident that was brought to our attention when Reg ‘Are Reg’ Fullelove donated a poem he’d come to have in his collection to the blog.
I must say there hasn’t been enough local history stuff here of late and it has also been too long since I last featured a research article by the incisive and tenacious historian Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler.
A couple of weeks ago, I ran an article here that has proven remarkably popular: a story of amazing sporting heroism and a subsequent life of administering fair play as a snooker referee – the wonderful life story of local man Geoff Harrington.
Last week I featured an article by local history Rapscallion Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler about a text, available for free via Google Books called ‘Black Diamonds or the Gospel in a Colliery District’ written around 1860 by mystery author HHB.
This is an important one, and I think there may well be more to follow, as top local history wonk Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler is not one to let sleeping dogs – or local history matters that are niggling him – lie.
The interesting history of William Roberts – the father of modern Brownhills – continues, and this time, Peter ‘pedro’ Cutler has taken issue with some other, intersecting local history, and just when exactly William Roberts came to Brownhills as a lad, and where he lived when his family moved here.
Back to William Roberts, then – railway plate layer, ganger, publican, entrepreneur, civic stalwart, JP and philanthropist – a very rare man in his time, he appears to have been generous, considerate, imbued with a real sense of social justice, and was undoubtedly a sharp-dealing rogue too.
There’s something I’ve been needing to get off my chest for a good while, and it won’t go away – however, recent finds and articles on the blog have brought it to the fore in my mind, and this is as good a juncture as any to brooch the subject: William Roberts is not recognised enough in our collective history.
As you will no doubt be aware, it’s the centenary of our entry into World War One on Monday, 4th August 2014, and Walsall Council and other organisations in the borough have arranged some interesting, respectful and well considered events to mark the 100 years.
I’m pleased to say that, somewhat like rust, Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler never sleeps, and his tireless and somewhat relentless pursuit of the evidential history behind some of the commonly accepted ‘authoritative sources’ of local mining history continues unabated.
It’s interesting to note that Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler is coming over all iconoclastic again – and I, for one, welcome it, as Peter has a fine record of kicking over the statues of the local mining history – particularly in regard the the Harrison colliery dynasty.
The really fascinating thing about curating this blog is the way it inspires people to look into not just history, but the retelling of it; I have been banging on for years that we need to be careful not just of our own accounts and beliefs, but also of those accounts we hold as truths from authoritative sources.
Last weekend, I revisited for the first time in ages the subject that was once so prominent here – Chasewater dam – but not in reference to the recent renovations, but to the creation of the reservoir and the failure of the earthwork dam in 1799.
From time to time here, we mention the history of Aldershawe, the estate and large house overlooking Lichfield from high on the hill near Wall – this remarkable and secluded property is, of course, closely intertwined with the Harrison family who owned it for a time.
Mindful of the day and occasion, regular contributor and blog stalwart Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler wrote to me with an interesting couple of things to check out relating to the Second World War and Birmingham – I wasn’t aware of either, and they’ve been eye-openers, to be quite honest.
I had this one in a couple of days ago from Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, who continues his dogged research into local mining history, and the relationship between those above ground and those whose labours they depended upon beneath them.
Now here’s a wonderful thing from local history Rapscallion Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, who in his usual inimitable style, has been rootling trough the newspaper archives for references to the air raids alluded to in the St John’s School log book I featured at the weekend.
Back in May, 2013, Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler turned up the intriguing story of Cecil Poynton, a footballer of some note from Brownhills, and at the time, we could find little about the chap, and it seemed that in the annals of local sporting history, Cecil was somewhat overshadowed by the seemingly more well-know Dickie Dorsett, whose career has been covered here previously.
We have talked a lot recently about the Birchills Ironworks, Talbot Stead Tube Works (latterly Sterling Tubes), and have ruminated on the nature of metal bashing and other industry – in his initial perusal of The Graphic, Peter spotted the following article relating to metal production in Cleveland, and I think it’s worth a read.
Found coincidentally to reader Alan Harvey’s request for more Norton Canes, this article on the village, from the Saturday, 30th January 1886 copy of The Graphic, is a remarkable travelogue written by a visitor to a small, dirt-poor community, just before everything changed.
Sister Dora is a beloved, dear heroine of Walsall; remembered long after her passing, she is a local heroine whose memory shines like a light in the grim, darkened industrial past of Walsall – her statue – finally restored to it’s rightful place on The Bridge, in the town centre – still sees regular laying of flowers and visits by those interested in the remarkable history it records.
The Ogley Square slum was indeed cleared – and as can be seen today – the area of Catshill and Ogley Hay around it became the site of huge social housing development – however, the site of the Square itself became the location of a new pub..
This week, we’ve got the follow up article regarding Ogley Square from the Lichfield Mercury of Friday, 8th February 1935 – this is a great summation of what’s happened, and also points out that Brownhills was one of the first towns to act on slum clearance legislation.
It is with great pleasure that I can now continue the story of the slum clearance of Ogley Square in 1935, thanks to the efforts of an anonymous reader and top friend of the blog Richard Burnell.
Continuing the Carnival theme (can there be a better one for such a summery spell?) Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has been weaving his rapscallion magic and dredging the newspaper archive, finding two pieces in the Lichfield Mercury of 12th July 1935 and 25th July of the same year.
Walsall Council, unwanted silver tableware and a disgraced, abusive US Army Colonel – Walsall hasn’t recently become mad, it’s always been a bit bonkers.
Here’s an excellent find sent to me this morning by Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, in response to my somewhat tenuous enquiry about Jasmine Cottage.
I said I’d return to the subject of Walsall Wood F.C. in due course, and today, I have some interesting pieces of the jigsaw to throw in, courtesy of readers. I’ve got other contributions on the subject to come, too, which will be developed in a subsequent post.
Here’s a great follow-on post to the Ogley School staff image featured here last weekend. Top reader and local historian Andy Dennis has sent me a couple of lovely school group photos featuring his mother, thought to be from the 1936 sports event at Chase Terrace, which was mentioned by Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler in comments to the same post.
What I really enjoy about doing this blog is those times when we get a historical snippet, then explore it through various avenues, take it and run with it. Often, this not only reveals the story to be different to that originally stated, but also a fascinating journey through what would otherwise be lost local history.
In honour of the great footballing occasion currently bestowed upon Walsall Wood, the inexhaustible Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, assisted by young David Evans has been making busy with the newspaper archives, and unleashed a deluge of historical articles about our favourite local soccer club.
With local history, it’s all a bit winding and interleaved. Sometimes, you start researching one thing, and follow a straight line; and then, all of a sudden, things you never expected crop up, and you end up researching something utterly different.
Reader Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has again been ferreting in the newspaper archives, and this time has taken a look at crimes coming before Brownhills Petty Sessions – a magistrates court for the town, that sat regularly and dealt with low-level crime.
We all know the three-faced liar in Brownhills. The Council House Clock – stopped, restored, restarted, stopped, restored, restarted. I lie in bed on warm summer nights and hear it chime the hour over a sleeping, somnambulant town, usually incorrectly. It’s a thing of pride, embarrassment and hilarity in the community.
I should have known, really. No sooner had I delved into the fascinating world of the Brownhills surge stack, then Ian Pell, railway historian extraordinaire, had written to me with a whole bunch of new information, clarifications and even a few questions.
It seems like we’re in a period for odd historical tangents and discoveries. It all started with Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler’s classic bit of gentrified nimbyism from ‘Captain’ Harrison at Aldershaw(e). From there, we alighted at Sandfields Pumping Station at Lichfield, and found a wonderful, but neglected steam engine. We’ve found since, via Peter’s further diligent research, and that of Dave Moore, a chap clearly expert on the matter, that there was a long forgotten water tower in Brownhills.
Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has been in touch with a lovely quick snippet he spotted in the excellent History of the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company, which is available online for free. It really is an excellent read and deserves wider exposure.
Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has been continuing his diligent work of researching the history of the Harrison Company and Family, looking into the darkest corners of the mining industry in Brownhills and its surrounds over a century ago. Peter is particularly concerned, as I am, that the truth of the conditions these men worked in should…