July 17, 2018 § Leave a comment
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. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 24, 2018 § Leave a comment
For Thomas Gameson & Son the year 2018 is quite a landmark in the company’s history as this will be their bi-centenary…….quite an achievement today.
As a lad growing up in Walsall in the 1950s one place that was always full of intrigue for us kids was the Gameson site in Dudley Street and the surrounding areas. Even on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings when the site was quiet there was always a plume of pungent smoke or steam being emitted from one of the many chimneys…….and then there was the permanent smell!
August 24, 2017 § Leave a comment
Anyone that knows this site will have seen the digitised versions of my Walsall Lives calendars and this post alludes to the August page in the first calendar I produced back in 2002.
On 10th March 1900 the Volunteer Service Company, which was only formed weeks earlier, set sail for South Africa. The Company consisted of three Volunteer Battalions of the South Staffordshire Regiment, the 1st Handsworth, 2nd Walsall and the 3rd Wolverhampton.
One of the photographers who recorded the Volunteers return was Arthur Farrington who was probably assisted by his brother Frank, another keen photographer. I have three photographs of the event and the first is shown below showing the large crowd waiting for the soldiers to appear. Note the men and women standing on the small balcony above the main entrance to the George Hotel. « Read the rest of this entry »
February 10, 2017 § Leave a comment
Frederick Blanchard was Headmaster of Blue Coat Senior School for many years and also a prolific photographer, a member of Walsall Photographic Society. His daughter Freda, also a teacher but at Blue Coat Infants and Junior Schools was also a member of the Society some years later. During his lifetime he took thousands of photographs with a plate camera in the early days and later film camera.
Around 1920 Frederick took six photographs on glass negatives showing various buildings in Walsall town centre very late at night. The images have an eerie look about them and it makes one wonder who…. or what lurks in the shadows?
Plate cameras were bulky things to lug around and taking photographs with them, even in good light was tricky so to do this in darkness was the ultimate challenge. Frederick didn’t make a bad job of it as you will see, only one photograph suffered from some camera movement. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 23, 2017 § Leave a comment
With all the talk of global warming and adverse weather it seems meteorology has only been “invented” in the last 40 years, bit like sex was invented in the 1960s! But in 1895 the weather hit Walsall hard in the form of a hurricane.
The report from which the information has been taken was first published in the Walsall Advertiser on Saturday 30th March 1895.The General Hospital in 1935 badly damaged in the hurricane 40 years earlier. Although the hospital had been extended by this time the wards with the long windows on the left was where the chimney came through the roof. The chimney stood behind the thin building with the pointed roof adjoining the new extension.
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!
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 »
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 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 »
July 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
It has been ten years since I self-published the first edition of A Complete Record of Walsall Races & The Hednesford Training Grounds and almost from day one I regretted the fact that I never registered it with the British Library…….in other words, it didn’t have an ISBN. At the time it seemed like a good idea as it added to the cost of producing the book. In the ten years that have passed I have produced many books for local history societies and individual authors and quite a high percentage of them have been registered with the British Library, it one was of these authors that allowed me to register this revised edition.