Broadhurst to Broadway……that’s Broadway, New York!

July 17, 2018 § Leave a comment

The Broadhurst 2007
Courtesy of Playbill

The image above shows the Broadhurst Theatre on 235W. 44th Street, Broadway, New York in 2007. It was built in 1917 and owned by the Walsall born George Howells Broadhurst in partnership with the Shubert Brothers. He became a very successful director, producer and playwright as well as managing theatres in Baltimore, Milwaukee and San Francisco.

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“What did you do in the war Dad?”

January 19, 2017 § Leave a comment

Thousands of youngsters growing up in the late 1940s and early 50s regularly asked the question, “what did you do in the war Dad?”, I know I did, on a regular basis too, but answers were few and far between in those days!

My dad, Wanford Griffiths, yes, that’s right Wanford, a name dad hated, in consequence of that he told everyone his name was Wal’, short for Walter or so they thought. At his funeral in 1988 several members of the congregation thought they were at the wrong funeral when the vicar began talking about Wanford as they all knew him as Wal’. He was born at 52 Lord Street, Palfrey in June 1918, the youngest of four children of Frank Hubert and Elizabeth Griffiths. When he joined up in 1939 it was his intention to join the Navy…….so where did he finish up for the next six years……..the RAF!RAF waller 3

The battered RAF wallet that Dad carried throughout WW2 and contains the pictures of the two women in his life, one just a dream and the other a reality! On the right is my Mom, Hilda Millicent (nee Moseley) and the other was his favourite Hollywood film star, Deanna Durbin. « Read the rest of this entry »

JOB TOON – Brush maker, jockey, horse trainer and publican!

April 8, 2016 § 1 Comment

Although Job Toon, the central character in this story was not originally from Walsall he did live in the town in his early life and also ended his days there.  In the years in between he became a jockey, head lad, assistant trainer, trainer/stud manager and finally, the licensee of the New Inn, John Street, Walsall. How many other Walsall publicans can say they came second in the Irish Derby as a jockey and then won the same race a few years later as a trainer?

Job Toon

Thought to be a young Job Toon, an image taken from the German book,  Album des Deutschen Rennsport published in 1900. Courtesy of Tim Cox.

Job was born in 1851 in Atherstone, Warwickshire to Job and Elizabeth Toon, the sixth of their seven children. In the census of 1851 Job was just 5 months old and the family were living in Woolpack Yard, Atherstone where Job senior made his living as a wood turner. By 1861 the Toon family had moved from Atherstone to 4 Birchill Street Court in Walsall where Job senior was now earning his living as a hame maker in the leather trade.  The young Job, now 10 years old had given up on school and was employed as a brush maker at one of the several brush manufacturers in the town.

When exactly the next chapter in young Job’s life began is uncertain but it appears he followed his thirteen year old brother, James, who by 1861 was listed in the census as a groom at Thomas Cliff’s stable in Hednesford. Another apprentice in Cliff’s stable at this time was another thirteen year old, the Champion Jockey of 1866, Manchester born Samuel Kenyon, also aged thirteen in 1861. « Read the rest of this entry »

Murder or manslaughter on Church Street?

July 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

This is really part two of the previous post, Three Drinking Dens of Church Hill. Having previously shared with you the brief outcome of an inquest into the death of John Springthorpe in August 1858, I found the case to be intriguing and decided further research was required. The original charge of murder had been changed to manslaughter which, on the surface seems fair…..but is it? You decide.

I had my doubts as to how the authorities viewed a case of this description in 1858 but upon reading the extremely detailed newspaper reports I changed my mind. It would seem the police and the Coroner made a great effort to find out exactly what happened on that Tuesday morning in Church Street and I for one find the outcome to be anything but fair. This has nothing to do with the professionalism of the authorities in Walsall, the problem for me is the proceedings that occurred at Stafford Assizes a couple of months later.

Church Street today, just the cobble stones remain.

Church Street today, difficult to think this was once teeming with people instead of trees. In the middle of the picture the light area is approximately where the fight took place.

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Sister Dora….the town thanks you

June 25, 2014 § 2 Comments

The portrait by W. Munns that hung in the committee room of the Cottage Hospital.

The portrait of Sister Dora by W. Munns that hung in the committee room of the Cottage Hospital.

By all accounts, Monday 11th October 1886 in Walsall was a dismal day so the photographs show us that recorded the days events. A heavy mist hung over the town, a combination of the onset of autumn and the filthy atmosphere created by the town’s industry that always seemed to be there, but that day the people of Walsall turned out in their thousands to honour a good person who put the community first. It was the day Walsall honoured Sister Dora by unveiling a grand statue of her on The Bridge in front of the George Hotel. « Read the rest of this entry »

Flight Sergeant Edward Berwick

June 10, 2014 § 1 Comment

Flight Sergeant Edward Berwick, 1218149, RAF Volunteer Reserve. Wireless Operator and Airgunner.

Flight Sergeant Edward Berwick, 1218149, RAF Volunteer Reserve. Wireless Operator and Airgunner.

Edward standing in the front garden of his parents house at 230 West Bromwich Road.

Edward standing in the front garden of his parents house at 230 West Bromwich Road.

Edward Berwick died on his 22nd birthday, 13th July 1944, a long, long way from his home at 230 West Bromwich Road, Walsall. Edward, who was the eldest son of Edward senior and Sarah Berwick, volunteered  for the RAF in February 1940 and was called up in August of that year. A year after joining he won his wings as a wireless operator and airgunner. In 1942 he went out to Kenya and subsequently served in the Middle East, Sicily and Italy. At the time of his death he was on his second tour of operations. As a child he attended Palfrey Schools and was a prominent member of St. Matthew’s troop of Boy Scouts, serving for a short time as a scoutmaster as well as being a member of the ATC (Air Training Corp). On leaving school he was employed as an engraver by F. H. Reckless & Sons Limited of Bridge Street. A memorial service for Edward was held at St. Matthew’s Church on Saturday 25th October 1944. « Read the rest of this entry »

A granny’s tale

June 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Prison Warder William Henry Fellows (1882-1970)

Prison Warder William Henry Fellows (1882-1970)

Many years ago when I was a small boy my grandmother, Elizabeth Moseley (neé Fellows) used to tell me a tale about her cousin Bill from Bridgnorth.

Bill was born William Henry Fellows on 3rd March 1883, the fourth of nine children born to Benjamin and Isabella of Bernard’s Hill, Bridgnorth. Bill’s father Ben was the brother of my gran’s father Thomas who lived in Hospital Street, Walsall.

Bill began his working life as a bricklayer’s labourer in Bridgnorth according to the 1901 census but 10 years later he was living in lodgings in Islington, North London and was now a prison warder at Pentonville Prison.

The tale she told of Bill was his connection to the infamous wife murderer, Dr. Harvey Crippen. The tale my gran’ told was of her cousin Bill finding Dr. Crippen with his wrists slashed, using the broken glass from his monocle in an attempt to cheat the hangman from performing his duty. As the old adage goes “never spoil a good story with the truth”, that’s being a little cruel to my dear old gran’….she was almost right! « Read the rest of this entry »

The Moseley family of Caldmore Road

May 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

Emma and Henry

Emma Moseley (neé Emery 1855-1926) with her four children, from the left, William (1882-1956), Henry (Harry 1881-1933), Sarah Ann (1879-1957) and the youngest Patience (1884-1959), the old lady seated is the mother of Emma, Emma Green (neé Chambers 1820-1898). This photograph was taken in the backyard of 2 Caldmore Road, Walsall around 1890. Next to the family group is what is thought to be the only known picture of Emma’s husband, Henry Moseley (1850-1886). I cannot be absolutely sure it his Henry but in the top left corner of the negative the name “Moseley” is inscribed preceded by what looks like a letter “H”. The fellow in the picture looks an affluent chap, would a silver-plater, that was his occupation, have looked like this? Henry died aged 36 on the 30th November 1886 at the Brompton Isolation Hospital, Kensington, London, what was he doing in hospital 120 miles away from his home town and more to the point why? « Read the rest of this entry »

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