High Street c.1905

May 27, 2014 § 2 Comments

Looking down High Street from St. Matthew's steps c.1905

Looking down High Street from St. Matthew’s steps c.1905

This picture shows a very atmospheric view of High Street, Walsall from St. Matthew’s steps, it was taken around 1905 by Arthur Farrington a member of Walsall Photographic Society. His younger brother Frank Podmore Farrington was also a member of the Society and several of their photographs will be used throughout this blog.

Below are the three Farrington brothers, Frank on the left, Arthur in the middle and eldest brother Charles. The family, from around 1900, ran the old-established company, Eyland & Sons Limited of Lower Rushall Street, more about the company in future blogs.

Farrington brothers copy

Two other members of Walsall Photographic Society were the father and daughter duo of Frederick and Freda Alice Blanchard. The name Blanchard will be will known to many in the town as Frederick (1888-1968) was the last headmaster of the old Blue Coat Schools on The Bridge before becoming the first headmaster of the new school in Springhill Road when it opened in 1933. His daughter Freda (1918-2001) was a teacher at both Blue Coat Infants and Junior Schools, the headmistress at these schools was Emily Farrington, sister of the three brothers above.

The two photographs below were taken by Frederick on his quarter plate camera around 1920 and shows St. Matthew’s steps and the market. Unfortunately the one of the market with The Woolpack in the background is suffering from camera shake which detracts from it somewhat, nevertheless, two very atmospheric photographs of the old town now long gone.

St. Matthew's steps

On page eleven of The Book of Walsall by Marilyn Lewis and David Woods there is a quote from Sir John Betjeman in 1959, it reads:

“Walsall is a borough which is obviously proud of itself and I thought that if the local council could turn the old High Street into something worthy of the charming and modest buildings, Georgian and Victorian, above the shop-fronts, it could be made into one of the most attractive streets in England. This is the age of local councils. Their increased powers mean that they can make or mar the treasure they have inherited from the past. Local pride can save a place…..short sighted cash considerations can ruin it.

He knew a thing or two did Sir John……….many realised this and listened, others chose not to and Walsall was one of the latter sadly!


© Walsall Life 2014

§ 2 Responses to High Street c.1905

  • Robert Edwards says:

    Dear John,

    I’ve only very recently come across your Walsall life web pages; I was searching for Gillitty Fields, where I used to walk. I was born in Walsall in January 1947, and lived at 104, The Crescent. My mother’s father worked at Eylands for a very long time, and I still have a few of their items made as Christmas gifts for customers. Both my parents were members of Walsall Photographic Society, and I remember the name of Arthur Farrington often being mentioned. My mother’s sister often talked of Freda Blanchard; could they both have been in amateur dramatics?

    I could write much more, only I wanted to check that you are still active with your blogs before doing so.

    It would be great to hear from you. I can tell you a bit more about the gyroscope, too!

    My best wishes,

    Robert Edwards

    • Hello Robert,

      Always a pleasure to receive a message like yours, we have never met (as far as I know) and yet we have quite a lot in common reading through your email. So pleased you came across Walsall Life, yes it is still active, although I haven’t posted any new articles for quite a time now even though I do have several in the pipeline.

      Like you, I was born in May 1947, at Sycamore House on the Birmingham Road, and our paternal grandfathers both worked at Eylands. I have my grandfather’s toolchest he used at Eylands which is full of prototype samples of buckles etc, I think he began working at Eylands around 1912. All of the wonderful photographs of inside the factory circa 1905 were taken by Arthur (and some by Frank) Farrington with their plate camera. So your parents must have known Arthur Farrington, Freda Blanchard and her father Frederick (headmaster at Blue Coat) through Walsall Photographic Society as they were all members. Not sure if there was any connection to amateur dramatics though, but then again I did not know them personally.

      Again, as you did, me and my two pals from Sandwell Street used to go up to Gillitty Pool as the houses had just started being built, would that be late 1950s early 60s? I knew two people from The Crescent, one was Geoffrey Brown, a fellow pupil at Chuckery Senior School and the other was Susan Heap, a Joseph Leckie pupil who, if I recall lived with her grandparents.

      I am intrigued by the gyroscope and interested to hear more. Thanks again for contacting me.


      John Griffiths

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